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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Unknown Soldiers: 1918

Unknown Soldiers: 1918

Washington circa 1918. The caption for this one is "no caption." Anybody here look familiar? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.
Update: These officers were members of the Czech Legion; in the middle is Capt. Vladimir Hurban. Thanks to Anonymous and Stanton Square for this info.

 

re: Mixed Dress

> Again the first man on the left seems to be wearing a Russian jacket

It's certainly not a Russian jacket. The pattern rather resembles some U.S. uniforms but I think it's of British origin too. Many White Russian forces used British uniforms then, and Czechs had the same source of supply. The caps are Russian, yes. And maybe the left serviceman's belt.

Czech Legion

Why don't the uniforms match, you ask. The Czech Legion formed before there was a Czechoslovakia -- so they were making it up as they went along. The ribbons were one of the ways they did it, attaching them to whatever else was available. Moreover, there were a number of Legions: the biggest in Siberia, but significant forces attached to France, Italy, and Serbia.

Incidentally, the Masaryk in the middle of "funny hats optional" pic is Thomas G. Masaryk (Jan was his son), and he is, near as I can figure, in a Czech Sokol camp in Connecticut during his trip to the United States to build support for an independent Czechoslovakia.

The result of all this was the First Republic -- a truly interesting nation -- and a great loss to the world when the Allies' "undying" support evaporated at Munich.

If you'd like to know more about the Legion -- the most amazing story you never heard -- you are invited to visit our site, www.czechlegion.com -- we'll have a documentary out soon, probably next month.

Nazdar!

Identifications

I was wondering... when the Shorpy detectives are able to add substantive information to a photo (like the identification of Capt. Hurban) does that information make its way back to the Library of Congress? Have any LoC captions been revised based on information that Shorpians have dug up?

[Not as far as I know. Although the does LOC revise captions based on information gleaned from the Flickr Commons project. - Dave]

Mixed Dress

These gentlemen seem to be wearing uniforms of different nations? The two on the left have Russian caps and the one on the right possibly U.S. Again the first man on the left seems to be wearing a Russian jacket, while the other two look to be wearing British officers uniforms of the period.

[All three caps bear the Czech national colors above the visor. - Dave]

Leather and Laces

Regarding the lacing on the boots, this is a standard military method. It enables your buddy to quickly cut off your boot if you've stepped on a mine or something and need first aid. I remember lacing my Docs like that back in the day because it looked cool.

The middle one with the cane...

...will soon commence with tap dancing to the tune of "Puttin' On The Ritz"..:

Silly pants

I don't care whose uniform they are, those pants with their baggy tops and skinny bottoms look ridiculous to me.

Vladimir Hurban

Thanks to the work of the Shorpians who identified the uniforms as Czech, I was able to determine the fellow in the middle to be Vladimir Hurban. He was later the head Czech diplomat to the U.S. from 1936-1943 and the first Czech ambassador to the U.S. when they established an embassy in 1943. The Life Magazine archive has photos during his diplomatic years. The following article is from 1918, but he was also a frequent visitor to Washington in 1919.


Leader of Czech Army in Capital

Capt. Hurban's Visit May Have Effect on Ally Plans.

Capt. Vladimir Hurban, citizen soldier, leader of the gallant Czecho-Slovak army which has amazed the world by its remarkable action in Siberia, is in Washington conferring with the officials here on the Russian problem.

"Slight of build, not more than 30 years old, Capt. Hurban came here unannounced to report to President Wilson, allied military officials and Dr. T.G. Masaryk, commander-in-chief of the Czecho-Slovak forces in Russia. ...

Washington Post, Aug 4, 1918


His Signature Pose
vladimir_hurban

Well played!

Good work tracking those gentlemen down! I suppose their irregular status explains the relative lack of insignia.

And here I thought they were the Second Cavalry of the First Army of the Republic of Shorpy.

Czech Legion

These men were rallying support for the future Czech government and the somewhat irregular Czech forces attempting to escape the Russian civil war. There is a photo of the two on the right, titled "Funny hats optional," flanking Jan Masaryk roughly halfway through this slideshow.

[After guesses that were all over the map, we finally have the answer. Thank you! - Dave]

Elementary, my dear Watson.

The answer to the question "Where are they from?" is staring you in the face, if you bring your face down to foot-level. Look at the lacing of the boots, at how they run across the boot on the outside and are crossed on the inside. This was a feature of the Hungarian Postal Office (or "Magyar Posta"); all postmen had to lace their boots in this fashion.

Unsure

These don't look like WWI-era military uniforms to my eye. Perhaps they're de-mobbed, say members of the protest army? Or some sort of military fraternity?

In any event, I'd love to learn more about them.

The hats are a bit remindful

The hats are a bit remindful of the Polish army uniform hats just prior to WW II, and the dark and light diagonal stripes, if they were red and white, are the national Polish colors.

Ours?

Are they ours? Those mustaches are a little off-putting. Hopefully someone will recognize the stripes on their hats and can tell us who they are.

Looking Familiar

Is one of them an ambulance driver named Ernest Hemingway? The uniforms look right but the insignia on their service caps looks wrong.

Jack Sprat

That's Corporal Skinny Minnie in the middle...

Not the cocktail, but

White Russian, Polish or Czech? Given the date I suspect there is some connection with the Russian Civil War raging at the time. The uniform of the fellow on the left is decidedly Russian, and the clue would be in those coloured slashes on the caps. If they were red and white, it would suggest Polish.
Maybe someone out there has more specific info on the markings.

No insignia

Are these guys journalists or ambulance volunteers?
The two in jodhpurs-and-puttees are wearing coats cut similar to the British pattern, but have no rank-tabs or unit badges, the only visible ID on any of them are the cap ribbons and whatever the illegible patch is on their left arm.

From L-R: Bing Crosby, Ethan

From L-R: Bing Crosby, Ethan Hawke, and a quite young Anthony Hopkins.

Hope that helps clear things up.

Hmmmmm

No rank or national insignia on any of them

The two cavalry-types in jodhpurs are wearing different hats and Sam Brownes while the third 'soldier' looks like he'd slept in his uniform.

The cap insignia looks more like an airline logo than something military.

Certainly, post-war in Great Britain and here in Australia saw the emergence of small paramilitary groups of disaffected ex-servicemen who banded together under a common political belief. These men were probably soldiers at one time and are wearing just enough of their old uniforms to look official, while not getting arrested. They're possibly communists (oh heavens) or maybe something on the extreme right wing.

Either that or they're putting on something theatrical.

Czech Legion

The uniforms look a lot like Czech Legion uniforms. Especially the two tone ribbons on their hats. Too bad we can't see what the patches are on their left sleeves.

Revise Poles together

I now believe the guy on the right is also a member of this Polish military delegation, although he wears a "British" style cap. The middle fellow holds the highest rank; the one on the right is probably his adjutant; the man on the left is probably a driver. All three arrived by car a moment before.

Adolf?

Um, my first thought was that the one on the left looks a bit like Hitler.

Achtung!

The cast of "Vas ist Mit das Britches?", a cheeky new musical that opens tonight, poses on the front steps of the Bijou Theater.

Poles together

Left and center are members of a Polish delegation; the fellow on the right looks to be of another nation (an American?) in Polish service / a hired liaison.

OUCH! #2

Looks like the gentleman on the left bunged up his index fingernail. And what's with those annoying "fuhrer" mustaches? Am I correct in recalling that they may have once been called "cookie-dusters"?

Guy on the Left

The guy on the left looks like Mr. Memory in Hitchcock's "39 Steps."

Not US or British Army uniforms...

Dunno recognize the uniforms but I don't think they are US Army or British Army from that period. The color swatch on the hat is probably a strong clue, we're probably looking at some country whose national color swatch is White followed by some other color. Poland, maybe???

Familiar? Yes!

That is definitely Lee Van Cleef in the middle. Well, not definitely, but maybe his older brother. Lee was not born until 1925, but anyway...

Not American Soldiers

and no apparent rank insignia except what appears to be a stripe on the shoulder of the man on far right. The uniforms also appear decidedly "non-uniform". If I had to make a guess I would say they were slavic, maybe part of White Russian Kerensky's anti-bolshevik forces on their way to Russia prior to the allied axpedition of 1919.

In the middle

Charlie Chaplin prepping for The Great Dictator?

 
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