Album of Incredible World War I Photos found in the Museum

By Jonathan Bratten

During research in the museum, an album of small photos taken by an American in World War I surfaced. While the photographer is still unknown, from the photos we know that he belonged to an American ambulance unit that was with the first U.S. troops to set foot in France in June of 1917. Some of these photos have been featured by the Washington Post and in Washington’s Top News.

The photographer was a member of S.S.U. 642, an ambulance unit that had the unique mission of supporting the French, British, and American troops in several different zones of the Western Front. Soldiers from nearly all the armies can be seen in the photos, as well as images of day-to-day life during the World War.

The photographer details his war experience, from the very first moments leaving New York Harbor to the first Americans marching in Paris to tending to the wounded on the front lines. It is a remarkable collection that sheds light on the sacrifices and contributions of the soldiers from the Allied armies.

Here are the photos in their entirety, complete with their original captions.

1. Statue of Liberty taken from Poquebot Espagne June 9, 1917

1. Statue of Liberty taken from Poquebot Espagne June 9, 1917

2. New York's Skyline from Steamship Espagne

2. New York’s Skyline from Steamship Espagne

3. On Board the Espagne. A group of Poilus. The medals are the French Croix de Guerre.

3. On Board the Espagne. A group of Poilus. The medals are the French Croix de Guerre.

4. Poquebot Espagne. French Tricolor at Stern

4. Poquebot Espagne. French Tricolor at Stern

5. Poquebot Espagne. View of Steerage deck during Submarine attack on June 16, 1917

5. Poquebot Espagne. View of Steerage deck during Submarine attack on June 16, 1917

6. Poquebot Espagne. Stern gun and gunner which put Submarine to flight. My lifeboat at left hand corner.

6. Poquebot Espagne. Stern gun and gunner which put Submarine to flight. My lifeboat at left hand corner.

7. Poquebot Espagne. Running thru Sub zone with life boats swung out over side after being attacked.

7. Poquebot Espagne. Running thru Sub zone with life boats swung out over side after being attacked.

8. First view of France taken from The Espagne on the Gironde River below Bordeaux

8. First view of France taken from The Espagne on the Gironde River below Bordeaux

9. Mansion at 21 Rue Raynouard The Home of the American Field Service

9. Mansion at 21 Rue Raynouard The Home of the American Field Service

10. Barracks at American Field Service with Eiffel Tower in Background

10. Barracks at American Field Service with Eiffel Tower in Background

11. Front of American Red Cross Military Hospital No 1 formerly The Ambulance Americain which passed into Gov't's hands on July 22nd

11. Front of American Red Cross Military Hospital No 1 formerly The Ambulance Americain which passed into Gov’t’s hands on July 22nd

12. Ambulancier in dress uniform holding_Sammy_ a 2 month old Fox and mascot of Section O.C. My_Panhard_ Ambulance is in the background

12. Ambulancier in dress uniform holding “Sammy” a 2 month old Fox and mascot of Section O.C. My “Panhard” Ambulance is in the background

13. Section O.C's line of French ambulances, twenty in all. Section O.A. also has twenty cars on the other side of the parking space

13. Section O.C’s line of French ambulances, twenty in all. Section O.A. also has twenty cars on the other side of the parking space

14. At the wheel of No. 172450 'Panhard Lavasseur Ambulance'

14. At the wheel of No. 172450 ‘Panhard Lavasseur Ambulance’

15. Outer court of the Museum of the Invalides, showing trophies captured from the Germans and French and German aeroplanes

15. Outer court of the Museum of the Invalides, showing trophies captured from the Germans and French and German aeroplanes

16. A 'close up' of a German bi plane shot down by the French on the Champagne Front. Notice the German Cross on the tail. At the right are two German 420 cm shells

16. A ‘close up’ of a German bi plane shot down by the French on the Champagne Front. Notice the German Cross on the tail. At the right are two German 420 cm shells

17. A very poor likeness of one WF True in company of a German 420 shell. This will give you some idea of the size of projectiles used

17. A very poor likeness of one WF True in company of a German 420 shell. This will give you some idea of the size of projectiles used

18. One of our occasional visitors, a French dirigible flying over Paris

18. One of our occasional visitors, a French dirigible flying over Paris

19. Just a 'plain bum' supposed to be at attention. W.F. True again

19. Just a ‘plain bum’ supposed to be at attention. W.F. True again

20. Inspection of American Ambulances by Gen. Dubail on June 28, 1917

20. Inspection of American Ambulances by Gen. Dubail on June 28, 1917

21. The spectators at a recent base ball game played 'somewhere in France.' notice the French Poilus, the Canadians, the American 'Sammies,' and the one Hindu soldier

21. The spectators at a recent base ball game played ‘somewhere in France.’ notice the French Poilus, the Canadians, the American ‘Sammies,’ and the one Hindu soldier

22. The American Contingent marching by the Magasins du Louvre on July 4th

22. The American Contingent marching by the Magasins du Louvre on July 4th

23. 'Section O-C Fall In' In the early days of our stay in France

23. ‘Section O-C Fall In’ In the early days of our stay in France

24. America's First Expeditionary Force, 16th Regiment U.S. regulars marching thru La Place de la Concorde on July 4, 1917

24. America’s First Expeditionary Force, 16th Regiment U.S. regulars marching thru La Place de la Concorde on July 4, 1917

26. Watching the American Troops march by the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde on July 4th, 1917

26. Watching the American Troops march by the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde on July 4th, 1917

27. Color Bearers of a French regiment in the July 14th 1917 Parade passing the Bastille. Notice the steel trench helmets and cutaway coats of the 'Poilus'

27. Color Bearers of a French regiment in the July 14th 1917 Parade passing the Bastille. Notice the steel trench helmets and cutaway coats of the ‘Poilus’

28. After barrages

28. After barrages

29. Side view of the Cathedral de Rheims. Under German fire from Sept 1914 to Oct 1918

29. Side view of the Cathedral de Rheims. Under German fire from Sept 1914 to Oct 1918

30. Cathedral of Rheims showing sandbags at foot and every window broken

30. Cathedral of Rheims showing sandbags at foot and every window broken

31. Decorations of 22nd Division, French

31. Decorations of 22nd Division, French

32. Decorations of 22nd Division, French

32. Decorations of 22nd Division, French

33. Decorations of the Flag of the Sanitary Service of the 22nd French Division. It carries a Croix de Guerre with 3 palms, 2 gold stars, and a silver star

33. Decorations of the Flag of the Sanitary Service of the 22nd French Division. It carries a Croix de Guerre with 3 palms, 2 gold stars, and a silver star

34. S.S.U. 642, 22nd Division

34. S.S.U. 642, 22nd Division

35. Chaplain of 22d Division of Infanterie du ligne et les officers et sous officiers de la SSU 642

35. Chaplain of 22d Division of Infanterie du ligne et les officers et sous officiers de la SSU 642

36. Battle Wagon

36. Battle Wagon

37. Doughboy with Croix de Guerre

37. Doughboy with Croix de Guerre

38. Doughboy with half a cat

38. Doughboy with half a cat

39. Murder!

39. Murder!

40. Chacrise, Dec 14th-18th-1917-policing grounds

40. Chacrise, Dec 14th-18th-1917-policing grounds

41. Christmas dinner in preparation, Juvigny, Dec. 23, 1917.

41. Christmas dinner in preparation, Juvigny, Dec. 23, 1917.

42. Saucisse (sausage) balloon tenger near Juvigny

42. Saucisse (sausage) balloon tender near Juvigny

43. S.S.U. 642 in Contonment, Juvigny - Dec. 25, 1917

43. S.S.U. 642 in Cantonment, Juvigny – Dec. 25, 1917

44. '17 - Juvigny - '18, From the Valley

44. ’17 – Juvigny – ’18, From the Valley

45. -Juvigny-1917-1918 Town in ruins under the snow.

45. -Juvigny-1917-1918 Town in ruins under the snow.

46. French anti-avion machine gun near Les Tueries - Jan 5, 1918

46. French anti-avion machine gun near Les Tueries – Jan 5, 1918

47. Juvigny, February 14, 1918, Infantry of 26th U.S. Division passing thru

47. Juvigny, February 14, 1918, Infantry of 26th U.S. Division passing thru

48. Juvigny, French infantry going into line

48. Juvigny, French infantry going into line

49. Juvigny -17-18 Cemetery at the poste de secours of Les Tueries

49. Juvigny -17-18 Cemetery at the poste de secours of Les Tueries

50. Band of the 118th Regt of the line, March 17, 1918

50. Band of the 118th Regt of the line, March 17, 1918

51. English artillery at Ployrou in the Somme

51. English artillery at Ployrou in the Somme

52. Refugees in the Somme

52. Refugees in the Somme

53. S.S.U. 642 - In Convoy on route for Lagny

53. S.S.U. 642 – In Convoy on route for Lagny

54. Coming out of The Somme S.S.U 642 at Vic-sur-Aisne April 10, 1918, Mud and Corruption

54. Coming out of The Somme S.S.U 642 at Vic-sur-Aisne April 10, 1918, Mud and Corruption

55. Line up in Lagny, May 21, 1918

55. Line up in Lagny, May 21, 1918

56. S.S.U. 642 at Braisne, May - 1918 -

56. S.S.U. 642 at Braisne, May – 1918 –

57. Bit of Camoflaged road on Chemin de dame, May 20th 1918.

57. Bit of Camoflaged road on Chemin de dame, May 20th 1918.

58. Two 210mm Guns en route for the front -

58. Two 210mm Guns en route for the front –

59. One of the numerous Saucisse balloons near Louire - Champagne -

59. One of the numerous Saucisse balloons near Louire – Champagne –

60. The rear end of my old voiture which was destroyed and some of France's Algerian troops.

60. The rear end of my old voiture which was destroyed and some of France’s Algerian troops.

61. S.S.U. 642 'En repas' waiting for the Champagne attack to start. Sept 20th 1918.

61. S.S.U. 642 ‘En repas’ waiting for the Champagne attack to start. Sept 20th 1918.

62. Wounded coming into Louain Sept 26th 1918 - Champagne

62. Wounded coming into Louain Sept 26th 1918 – Champagne

63. Loading an Ambulance at Louain Sept 27 1918 - Champagne -

63. Loading an Ambulance at Louain Sept 27 1918 – Champagne –

64. G.B.D. poste de Secours. Ferme Navarin. German second line trenches. Champagne - Sept 28, 1918.

64. G.B.D. poste de Secours. Ferme Navarin. German second line trenches. Champagne – Sept 28, 1918.

65. German prisoners carrying in French wounded at Louain, Sept 28th 1918 - Champagne attack -

65. German prisoners carrying in French wounded at Louain, Sept 28th 1918 – Champagne attack –

66. Two Boche roller kitchens destroyed by French shell of Neuville-Cauroy road. 4 horses, 3 men, and 2 kitchens -Ambulance men examining wounds Oct 9, 1918

66. Two Boche roller kitchens destroyed by French shell of Neuville-Cauroy road. 4 horses, 3 men, and 2 kitchens all from one shell -Ambulance men examining wounds Oct 9, 1918

67. Lake of Ecuiry, Dec 10, 1918

67. Lake of Ecuiry, Dec 10, 1918

68. Long description, will provide.

68. Scene snapped during one the evacuations, the orderlies tend to getting the wounded out into the yard and then we take charge of them. The wounded are in two classes, the ones who have to lie down and those who can sit up. In the picture you can see the blesse’s [injured] on the ground and the men are preparing to lift into an ambulance. The Buicks are being loaded and the Panhards are drawn up in front of the picture.

69. Unkown French and American officers and men

69. Unkown French and American officers and men

70. Unknown Doughboys marching through France, no description

70. Unknown Doughboys marching through France