Decorated trench coat
This intricately decorated trench coat belonged to Second Lieutenant Howard K. Dyer, Company F, 302nd Engineers, attached to the 77th Infantry Division. Dyer was born in Calais, Maine, and, according to a regimental history, coached the 302nd Engineer football team while training in the U.S. After the war he returned to his hometown. The use of unit insignia arose spontaneously near the end of the war, mostly in the form of cloth patches appearing on uniform coats after the November 11, 1918, armistice. However, many solders made use of their free time by creating far more elaborate artwork on their uniforms and equipment, such as this example of Dyer’s parent unit, the 77th Infantry. The 77th Infantry Division was formed from soldiers drafted from the greater New York state region, as suggested by the Statue of Liberty insignia. It arrived in France in April of 1918 and entered the battle in July, participating in the Oise-Aisne and Meuse-Argonne Campaigns. The 302nd Engineer Regiment was assigned to support the 77th Infantry throughout the war. In this role, it performed all manner of military engineering tasks, including building and maintaining bridges, roads, railways, and fortifications and clearing obstacles, wire, and mines, all while sometimes under fire. Several times the 302nd Engineers were forced to provide their own security and fight with the infantry soldiers it supported.

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Photo by: Eric Reinert |  VIRIN: 220624-A-DS407-001.JPG