US ARMY WW2 DOG TAGS(submitted by Alain Batens)
Last updated December 7th 2002
MILITARY DOG TAG HISTORY20 DEC 1906 Official introduction of ONE Dog Tag
06 JULY 1916 Official introduction of SECOND Dog Tag, i.e a full pair is now available
12 FEB 1918 Official introduction of ARMY SERIAL NUMBER (too many identical names e.g Brown, Jones, Williams ...)
OCT 1938 Start of tests related to introduction of new Identification Tag
TAG, IDENTIFICATION, M-1940 - Stock No. 74-T-60 Official stocklist number + nomenclature, adopted 1940
NECKLACE & EXTENSION Stock No. 74-N-300 Official stocklist number + nomenclature, adopted 1943
Length 40" (distance between 2 Dog Tags 1 1/2") - in 1942, the first tag is to be suspended on a necklace 25" in length, while the second tag is to be fixed to a separate necklace extension not further than 2 1/2" under the first one - first models were in cotton, plastic, nylon, rayon.
The official metal necklace was only introduced in 1943 (with hooks & catches)
The bead type (initially sold at PXs) quickly became popular and gradually replaced the 1943 issue, it was made out of 2 lengths of stainless steel beaded chain, approximately 28" and 6" in length, easy and practical for general use.
DOG TAG 2' X 1-1/8"   official dimensions, with notch at left (to position tag on the embossing machine) small outer rim, and hole (dia 1/8") for necklace
DOG TAG SILENCERS Dog Tag silencers were introduced around the end of the war, in order to prevent clanking of the metal elements.
"Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock No. 54-M-29055,
"Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock No. 54-M-29055-50,
"Graphotype" motor-operated embossing machine, Army Stock No. 54-M-29065,
"Adressograph" pistol-type imprinting machine, Model 70, Medical Department Item #99387
EVOLUTIONDec. 1940 - Nov. 1941
Nov. 1941 - Jul. 1943
Jul. 1943 - Mar. 1944
Mar. 1944 - Apr. 1946
Religion P (Protestant) C (Catholic) H (Hebrew) in case the soldier had no specific religious preference, NO letter was printed!
For Dog Tags, it should be noted that there are many changes related to wartime shortages of strategic materials, involving manufacturing of these items in monel, brass, steel, stainless steel. In December 1940, the Army had to make a choice between brass or monel - they chose the latter (stronger alloy with brass & nickel content) because nickel was on the list of critical items.
Brass was used as a substitute standard in mid 1941, but by the end of 1942 due to a large growth of the US Armed Forces, there was a shortage of both brass and monel, and now brass was also on the shortage list of critical items; so the Army had to look again for another solution, by end March of 1942, stainless steel became the substitute material. Although steel was also on the critical list, it was somehow still available in fairly large quantities (as compared to some other raw materials) for other applications, like Dog Tags!
Because of the continuous evolution in war time industry, material shortages of different metals and/or metal alloys appeared on several occasions. However, the Army still issued smaller lots of steel and monel Identification Tags (quantities were still available in some depots). This variety in production only stopped at the end of 1943 - early 1944, when production reverted only to stainless steel! (let's not forget that by May 1945, the Army numbered over 8 million men and women).
Towards the end of 1967, the Army announced its intention to drop the use of the Army Serial Number! Between 1967 and 1969, before switching to Social Security Numbers, most Identification Tags had both indications, i.e. Army Serial Number + Social Security Number! Finally the Army Serial Number was dropped June 30, 1969, and as such the new data (on Dog Tags) looked as follows:
1st line = SURNAME, 2nd line = FIRST NAME + INITIAL, 3rd line = SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBER, 4th line = BLOOD TYPE + RHESUS FACTOR, 5th line = RELIGION.
NOTESThe Quartermaster Corps is charged with the storage and issue of Identification Tags and embossing machines for use therewith - the Medical Department is charged with the storage and issue of machines for transcribing entries from Identification Tags - machines for transcribing data from Identification Tags, complete with instruction books, will be issued to such personnel of the Medical Department, as may be designated by The Surgeon general.
(Circular No. 151, 3 December 1940)
The above was necessary, since the Medical Department was responsible for registration of vaccine inoculation and blood type.
... Always wear your Identification Tags . These are considered part of your uniform, and your Officers may ask you to show that you are wearing them at any time on or off the Post ...
War Department Pamphlet 21-13, Army Life, 10 August 1944
... Identification Tags will be worn by each member of the Army at all times and may be removed temporarily ONLY as the necessities of personal hygiene may require; one Tag to be suspended from the neck underneath the clothing by a 25-inch noncorrosive, nontoxic, and heat-resistant material looped to form a necklace, and the second Tag fastened to the necklace below the first Tag by a 2 1/2-inch extension of material similar to the necklace. The Tags, embossed as provided in AR 600-35, Section VI, will be issued to each member of the Army as soon as practicable after entry into service ...
AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944
... One Tag to be suspended from the neck underneath the clothing by a cord or tape 40 inches in length passed through the small hole in the Tag, the second Tag to be fastened about 2 1/2 inches above the first one on the same cord or tape, both securily held in place by knots...
War Department Circular No. 262, December 19, 1941
... One of the two Identification Tags, worn as prescribed in Army Regulations will be attached to the remains when interred. This includes any and all interments in the Theater of Operations - the first battlefield interment, as well as the interment into a temporary cemetery for subsequent, final disposition . The duplicate (i.e. second) Tag will be removed at time of interment and attached securily to the grave marker about 2 inches from the top ...
It is also interesting to note that
... in battlefield burials, when Identification Tags are missing, identification should be made by members of the organization of the deceased. Positive identification obtained should be made of record and a copy of same placed in a canteen, bottle or other container, and buried with the body ... if one Tag is missing, the remaining Tag will be buried with the body and the grave marker, marked with the name, grade and Army serial number, until a substitute Tag is made ... in case there is no Tag at all (both are missing), all available identifying data should be recorded on two slips of paper, each placed in a separate bottle or in the most practical container available, and buried six inches below the surface of the ground, centered at the head of the grave (this information is later reproduced on a metal label by means of an embossing machine, and attached to the marker by personnel of the Graves Registration Service)...
FM 10-63, Graves Registration, 15 January 1945
SOURCESThe Officer's Guide, 9th Edition, July 1942, Army Regulations AR 600-35, Section VI, 31 March 1944, AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944, FM 10-63 Graves Registration, 15 January 1945, War Department Pamphlet 21-13 Army Life, 10 August 1944, TM 12-250 Administration, February 10, 1942, Army Service Forces Catalog MED 3, 1 March 1944, Quartermaster Supply Catalog QM 3-4, 1945, WW2 period Magazines & Recruiting Posters (all documents are from the author's collection)
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