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When were 'dog tags' introduced


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#1 OpsMajor

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 06:17 PM

On a quick search I cannot find the answer but there must be a thread somewhere a Pal could signpost me to.

When were dog tags first introduced into the British Army. Did they start as 'cardboard' and evolve into metal during WW1?

Mike

#2 CROONAERT

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 08:04 PM

Possibly everything you'll need including introduction dates for the tags of various nations including Great Britain can be found here ... ...A study of ID tags 1869-1918

In brief though ,for Great Britain, ...

January 1907 - a single aluminium disc
August 21 1914 - a single Vulcanised Asbestos Fibre disc
September 1916 - a second Vulcanised Asbestos Fibre disc

Bear in mind that these were the introduction dates rather than first issues (apart from the possible exception of the August 1914 disc)

Prior to January 1907 an 'Identity Card' (esp. for Commonwealth Forces in South Africa) or/and a white glazed calico 'Description Card' (AFB 2067) for British forces was carried while on active service



Dave

#3 OpsMajor

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:21 AM

Many thanks, Dave, I knew someone would have the answer. Do I presume correctly that the reversion to the 'modern' aluminium happened after 1920?

Mike

#4 CROONAERT

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:05 AM

Waaay after! The 1914/16 style discs soldiered on with very little changes (mainly in manufacture and detail) through WW2 and into the 1960's/70s (the latest British vulc. asb.fibre disc I have (judging from the service number) dates from 1982). Aluminium/steel discs of the same shape as the 1914/16 types were encountered in the far eastern theatres during WW2 though (but this was more prolific (issue?) with ANZAC troops at that time). Below is an RAAF example of a pair of these along with an army 'No.1' disc...

Dave

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#5 centurion

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

The general concept appears to have originated in the USA at the Battle of Cold Harbour 1864 when Union Forces making a frontal attack on the Confederate trench line had labels with their identity attached to the back of their coats so the fallen could be later identified.

#6 CROONAERT

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:42 AM

The general concept appears to have originated in the USA at the Battle of Cold Harbour 1864 when Union Forces making a frontal attack on the Confederate trench line had labels with their identity attached to the back of their coats so the fallen could be later identified.



The concept originated before that on a regimental basis with the issue of regimental/battalion/company marker tokens in (some of) the Russian forces in the Crimea (and even earlier on a personal basis), but the ACW was the first time that anyone suggested an actual issue (in May 1862) even though the idea was rejected at the time (though privately purchased/manufactured tags and other means such as the one you mention were widespread). In official circles, July 1866 saw the first experimental issues to a select few , July 1870 saw the first general issue to combattant troops and April 1878 saw issue on a whole army-wide basis.

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#7 Torrey

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:48 PM

The general concept appears to have originated in the USA at the Battle of Cold Harbour 1864 when Union Forces making a frontal attack on the Confederate trench line had labels with their identity attached to the back of their coats so the fallen could be later identified.



Actually, circular metal identification tags were sold commercially to Union soldiers from the beginning of the war on. Most would have the soldier's name and unit engraved or stamped on one side, and some sort of patriotic emblem (bust of General McClellan, bust of George Washington, eagle with outstretched wings, etc.)on the other. They were not common and so surviving examples are quite desirable to collectors of American Civil War militaria today. Regards, Torrey

#8 CROONAERT

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

Actually, circular metal identification tags were sold commercially to Union soldiers from the beginning of the war on. Most would have the soldier's name and unit engraved or stamped on one side, and some sort of patriotic emblem (bust of General McClellan, bust of George Washington, eagle with outstretched wings, etc.)on the other.


Such as this one... (Confederate examples can also be (even more rarely) encountered)...

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#9 centurion

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:30 PM

A confederate one

http://www.civilwarv...lee-id-tag1.php



#10 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 03:30 PM

On a quick search I cannot find the answer but there must be a thread somewhere a Pal could signpost me to.

When were dog tags first introduced into the British Army. Did they start as 'cardboard' and evolve into metal during WW1?

Mike


Mike,
Bodsworth's Uniforms & Equipment Book has much information on I/D discs - pages 303/304.
" During the Boer War, soldiers carried a glazed card in their jackets. This description card ( Army Form B2067 ) listed their details, and gave instructions if the soldier was killed or wounded.

In January 1907 ( Army Order 9 ) changed to a single aluminium disc, to be worn around the neck on a 42 inch cord.
Originally, the disc showed the soldiers number, name, rank, regiment and religious denomination.
In May 1907, marking ranks was discontinued ( Army Order 102 ).

On 21st August, 1914, a new disc was introduced, as stocks of aluminium became exhausted. The new I/D disc was red vulcanized asbestos fibre.
The Field Regulations Part 11, 1909, with amendments of October 1914, stated that - Anyone concerned with burying a soldier, or finding a body after an action, will remove the identity disc and pay book, and will note the number of his equipment and rifle, or anything else likely to assist in identification. Such person is responsible that this information is sent, with the least possible delay, to the nearest commander for transmission to the AG's office.

This practice continued until August 1916, when a 2nd I/D disc was issued. The new disc was octagonal, and green and was worn around the neck, and attached to the original red disc by a cord 6 inches long.
Army Order 267 - 1916, states " in the case of the death of an officer or soldier in the field, the lower disc, known as - Disc, Identity, No.2 red - will be removed, and handed in as required. The upper green disc, will not be removed, but will be buried with the body. Consequently, in cases where the body can be reached, and identified, but cannot be brought back for burial, the lower disc will be removed, to ensure proper notification of death, while the upper disc will remain with the body as a safeguard against loss of identification when it becomes possible to bury -
Army Order 324, October 1916.

Unofficial I/Ds were also used, often in the form of private purchase bracelets or wristlets.

Codes for Religious Denominations :-
BAP - Baptist. CE - Church of England. CI - Church of Ireland. JEW - Jewish. METH - Methodist. P - Presbyterian.
PM - Primitive Methodist. RC - Roman Catholic. SPIRI - Spiritualist. WES - Wesleyian. "

Regards,
LF

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#11 OpsMajor

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 06:15 PM

Thanks All (especially LF for your comprehensive post) - I knew you would come up with the answer
Mike

#12 Wardog

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:27 AM

I was issued green and red tags in 1988 at RAF Aldergrove. I think I had metal tags by '90-'91. So the life of the green and red tags looks to have been slighly longer in the RAF. Regards, Paul.

#13 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:03 AM

I was issued green and red tags in 1988 at RAF Aldergrove. I think I had metal tags by '90-'91. So the life of the green and red tags looks to have been slighly longer in the RAF. Regards, Paul.


Paul,
That is amazing to know the double tag system lasted so long in the RAF. I wonder when the Army I/D tags changed, and does the Navy have a different system ?

#14 CROONAERT

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:23 PM

and does the Navy have a different system ?



The 1982 disc that I mentioned in an earlier post was RN. They followed the same patterns as the army discs other than for a short period in the 1950's when a type of plastic disc was experimented with.



A couple of examples of RN 1907 discs....

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#15 CROONAERT

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:28 PM

and a disc of the 1914 variety...

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#16 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:45 PM

The 1982 disc that I mentioned in an earlier post was RN. They followed the same patterns as the army discs other than for a short period in the 1950's when a type of plastic disc was experimented with.



A couple of examples of RN 1907 discs....


Many thanks for the very interesting information.
LF

#17 CROONAERT

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:53 PM

Just as a point of interest, here's a rare pairing that never gets a mention in sources that only use official documentation... a 1907 aluminium disc paired with a 1914 fibre disc. This isn't unusual in itself (in fact this was a very common pairing prior to 1916/17), but the 1907 disc has new regimental detail post transfer (etched) on the reverse and the 1914 disc isn't stamped but is handwritten. I'd heard of and read about these 'emergency' handwritten discs previously, but this is one of the only surviving (genuine) examples that I've ever encountered in nearly 30 years of collecting and studying ID discs. (This one is now well wrapped up to preserve the writing for the future!!!)



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#18 Wardog

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:01 PM

Just found these on eBay- http://www.ebay.co.u...=item4162e624b4
My number started with 82 so these were a good while after me- though I joined in Jan 83 and did not get issued tags until going to NI 5 years latter. My green and red ones were not stamped by machine as these look to be. Regards, Paul.

#19 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:04 PM

All,

Below is a table I published in Militaria magazine (in French) in 2006 listing all AO, GRO (BEF) and pattern introduction dates (if found) for Discs etc.


Although introduced in 1907 the alluminum tags were pattern sealed in 1906--production beginning well before Jan 1907 so issue fairly soon after (actually only issued on active service more went into storage).


The 21 August 1914 date of the vulcanized asbestos fibre tag was date of pattern sealing__ I have never found an actual GO or GRO indicating authorization of issue (obviuosly it was issued)--anyone find an ACI?

Bodsworth doesn't give a source for his date but does say he used Militaria magazine so I'm assuming the date either came from Dave's website or my article (he does not list the RACD pattern books in his Bibliography were 21 Aug came from in my article.

Note the below table does not list AO GRO concerning burial instructions.

Joe Sweeney

Army Order/General Routine Order--------RACD Pattern Number-----Date of Approval--------Nomenclature--------------------Nature of Change

-----------------------------------------------6444/1906-----------29-Aug-06-----------Disc, identity, aluminium--------Pattern Approval

-----------------------------------------------6453/1906-----------19-Sep-06-----------Cord-----------------------------Pattern Approval

Army Order 9-----------------------------------------------------1-Jan-07-----------------------------------------------Introduction

Army Order 102----------------------------------------------------1-May-07----------------------------------------------Change in Marking instructions

Army Order 83-----------------------------------------------------1-Apr-08----------------------------------------------Issue to Special Reservists

Army Order 75-------------------------------------------------------1911------------------------------------------------Storage instructions amended

-----------------------------------------------8111/1914-----------21-Aug-14------------Disc, identity, Red Asbestos fibre------Pattern Approval

Army Order 287-----------------------------------------------------24-Sep-16-----------------------------------------------------Introduction of second identity disc

-------------------------------------------------????--------------9/?/1916-------------------Disc, identity, No. 1 green,---------Pattern Approval

General Routine Order 1922--------------------------------------2-Nov-16-------------------------------------------------------Second Disc introduced to BEF in France

General Routine Order 2661----------------------------------------30-Sep-17-----------------------------------------------------Instructions on wearing Discs by BEF

#20 CROONAERT

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:40 PM

General Routine Order 1922--------------------------------------2-Nov-16-------------------------------------------------------Second Disc introduced to BEF in France



Thanks for that confirmation Joe. As you'll have seen, I had 'November 1916' mentioned for the date of general issue of the second disc (abroad... I believe that it was issued within the UK (ie. to drafts preparing for overseas service) slightly earlier) , but did not know of the exact date (and had begun to doubt myself as ,other than in a German intelligence report from January 1917, could find no further reference)


Cheers.



dave

#21 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:47 PM

Dave,


I have the GRO's for Salonika and EEF/early MEF and eventually will look up the second disc issue date in those theatres.

I'm sure issue in UK started earlier and may have actually started earlier in BEF with order lagging as I'm sure replacements and new units were showing up with the latest UK two disc scheme.

Did you ever find an ACI or Order for the 21 Aug 14 date of the asbestos fibre tag? I only found the pattern approval date and authorization date and pattern approval aren't usually the same. It might also be a case of so low an issue it was strictly handled in the DEOS and never had to have an army wide order to swicth from alluminum--asbestos.

Joe sweeney

#22 CROONAERT

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 10:10 PM

Did you ever find an ACI or Order for the 21 Aug 14 date of the asbestos fibre tag? I only found the pattern approval date and authorization date and pattern approval aren't usually the same. It might also be a case of so low an issue it was strictly handled in the DEOS and never had to have an army wide order to swicth from alluminum--asbestos.




I never did, Joe, but must admit that it actually dropped down my 'to do list' to a point where I forgot about it! (Freshly reminded, I'll certainly double my efforts and get back to you if anything should turn up). Nothing concrete, but it may be of some small help - the earliest confirmed issue of the VAF disc that I've encountered (so far) is 2nd September 1914 (within the 5th Battalion East Lancashire Regt, though I have no doubt that the 4th Bn also recieved issue the same day... )

Dave

#23 CROONAERT

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:17 PM

...the 1914 disc isn't stamped but is handwritten. I'd heard of and read about these 'emergency' handwritten discs previously, but this is one of the only surviving (genuine) examples that I've ever encountered in nearly 30 years of collecting and studying ID discs.


It would appear that, in the early months of 1915 its was actually quite a common occurance - so common that they get a mention as a 'mispractice' in the Army Orders of 1915 (A.O.206 of 20th May 1915 if anyone's interested - whereby CO's of regular units have their attention drawn to Appendix VIII of Clothing Regulations Part 1 and CO's of Territorial units to paragraph 506F of the Territorial Force Regulations regarding the stamping of discs using 1/8in stamps ). Common or not (once!), they certainly don't seem to have survived the years!

Dave

#24 Graham Stewart

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 10:53 PM

Attached File  AO38 - Feb 1909 (Large).jpg   79.86KB   3 downloads

AO38 of February 1909 confirming the use of ID Discs within the TF.

#25 CROONAERT

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:23 PM

" During the Boer War, soldiers carried a glazed card in their jackets. This description card ( Army Form B2067 ) listed their details, and gave instructions if the soldier was killed or wounded.


LF,

does Bosworth's book show an image of this B2067? ... Just asking because every AF B2067 description card I've ever seen or had only supplies details of the soldier and his NoK, nothing about instructions upon the soldier becoming a casualty (these details tend to be found on the regimental identity cards that were usually only issued on a regimental basis and mainly to Commonwealth troops, not the B2067)....they were also issued before the Boer War, in the Sudan from 1896 for example.


This practice continued until August 1916, when a 2nd I/D disc was issued.


Authorised or introduced , but certainly not issued (and September, not August). This second disc wasn't on general issue until November 1916.


Dave