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    WW1 US Wound Stripes and discharge pins for wounded

    Daniel Murphy

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    Since the US Purple Heart Medal did not exist until 1932, the US Army and Navy needed a distinctive insignia for soldier who had been wounded during an enemy action. The United States took a clue from the British and French and authorized a Wound Stripe. When an American had been wounded he was allowed to wear one gold bullion chevron point down, on the cuff of his right sleeve. One chevron for each wound. These chevrons are identical to the Overseas Stripes worn by US troops on the lower left cuff, therefore there is no way to know which is which unless they are still on the uniform. When a US soldier was discharged he normally received a bronze Discharge Pin. This was (as issued) a buttonhole pin consisting of US surrounded by a double ring containg stars superimposed on a five point star and surrounded by a laurel wreath. However if the soldier/ sailor had been wounded, the discharge pin given was of sterling silver. In civilian clothes this would identify him as a former serviceman who had been wounded. Many times these discharge pins are found on the uniforms of the veterans as they had been worn at post war reunions. When found on the uniform they are invariably found on the button hole of the left chest pocket flap. This will be illustrated below. All of the items on this thread belong to my good friend and collecting mentor D.M.Carr and he has given permission for them to be posted and used for this project.

    Dan Murphy

    Edited by Daniel Murphy
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    • 1 month later...

    Hi, great info and pics!! Quick question, what is the red stripe on the left forearm?




    Stripes on the upper arm are rank stripes. Stripes on the lower right are discharge stripes (people were allowed to wear their uniforms up to 60 days as civilians -although I knew an old doughboy who wore his for a year because he had no money when he got home-he had used his pay to buy a house and had $0 left over and couldn't find a job for a year. His wife and he had dinner at their parents house every other day and that was it for their food.

    Other stripes-as per the post above, are overseas stripes, worn to show length of time overseas.

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    The red stripe on the upper left arm is a discharge stripe. This was worn while enroute to your home after discharge (and even later perhaps as stated above) and was a outward symbol that you had been discharged and were not just AWOL (absent without leave). This way the soldier did not get stopped by every Tom, Dick and Harry wanting to see his papers. In WW1 the US enlisted ranks only wore rank stripes on the right arm, so this was an "empty" sleeve and it did not interfere with displaying rank.


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