war dept usa number

    In order to help collectors & re-enactors I thought it might come in handy to say a few words about "Dog Tags" worn by Medical Personnel, e.g. Army Nurse Corps - Hospital Dietitian - Physical Therapist - Contract Surgeon, they all had specific prefixes on their Identification Tags, and while dealing with the subject, I think a few more notes on "Dog Tags" in general, would also help ..

BRIEF HISTORY

20 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, adopted 1943

Official stocklist number + nomenclature, length 40" (distance between 2 Dog Tags 1 "in) - 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 " 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, of approximately respectively 28" and 6" in length, easy and practical for general use 2" x 1 1/8".

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

EVOLUTION

1st type Dec. 1940 - Nov. 1941

first line first name of soldier, second initial, surname CLARENCE R JONES
second line army serial number + blood type (space 17)
37337566 0
third line name next of kin FRED JONES
fouth line address, number, street, next of kin 2843 FEDERAL BL
fifth line address, city, state DENVER COLO

2nd type Nov. 1941-July 1943

first line first name of soldier, second initial, surname CLARENCE R JONES
second line army serial number (8 first spaces), tetanus immunization (spaces 10 >12), tetanus toxoid (spaces 14 > 15), blood type
37337566 T42 43 0
third line name next of kin FRED JONES
fouth line address, number, street, next of kin 2843 FEDERAL BL
fifth line address, city, state + religion (space 18)
DENVER COLO P

3rd type JULY 1943-March 1944

first line first name of soldier, second initial, surname CLARENCE R JONES
second line army serial number, tetanus immunization , tetanus toxoid, blood type
37337566 T42 43 0
     
     
fifth line religion
  P

4th type March 1944-April 1946

first line surname, first name, second initial JONES CLARENCE R
second line army serial number, tetanus immunization , tetanus toxoid, blood type
37337566 T42 43 0
     
     
fifth line religion
  P

SERIAL NUMBERS

Regular Army (1940) start with digit 1, followed by a second digit (indicating Corps Area/Service Cd) (there were 9 Corps Area for military administrative purposes, and 4 Army Areas for strategical military purposes) 14130598

National Guard (1940) start with digits 20, followed by a third digit (indicating Corps Area/Service Cd) 20417243

Draftees (1940) start with digit 3, followed by a second digit (indicating Corps Area/Service Cd) 31130734(these were draftees called up by the Selective Training & Service Act)

Commissioned Officers (1921) start with prefix O, followed by hyphen + series of 2 > 6, even 7 digits (1940 starts with box of  23,000) O-57 O-3822 O-1170276

Warrant Officers (1942) start with prefix W, followed or not by hyphen + series of 7 digits, starting with 21 W-2118310

Flight Officers (1942) start with prefix T, followed by a series of digits T-6367

Army Specialist Corps (1942) start with prefix S, followed by a series of digits  S-1038451

Army Nurse Corps (1921) start with prefix N, followed by a series of 6 digits (box of 700,000) N-782136

Hospital Dietitian + Physical Therapist (1942) HD start with prefix R, while PT start with prefix M, followed by a series of digits R.....    M........

Contract Surgeon (1941) start with prefix CS, followed by a series of digits  CS......

WAC (1943) start with prefix L (officer), L-918042, A (soldier) A-205333 and V (W.O.) V-704827, followed by a series of 6 digits, of which the first indicated the Service Cd

Regular Army :

All serial numbers start with digit 1, while the second digit indicates Corps Area or Service Command .

The War Department allotted a sequence of 100,000 numbers to each "Department", and a series of 1,000,000 numbers to each "Corps" or "Service Command" .

Hawaiian Department = range from 10,100,000 > 10,199,999
Panama Canal Department = range from 10,200,000 > 10,299,999
Philippine Department = range from 10,300,000 > 10,399,999
Puerto Rican Department = range from 10,400,000 > 10,499,999
First Corps Area = range from 11,000,000 > 11,999,999
Second Corps Area = range from 12,000,000 > 12,999,999
Third Corps Area = range from 13,000,000 > 13,999,999
Fourth Corps Area = range from 14,000,000 > 14,999,999
Fifth Corps Area = range from 15,000,000 > 15,999,999
Sixth Corps Area = range from 16,000,000 > 16,999,999
Seventh Corps Area = range from 17,000,000 > 17,999,999
Eighth Corps Area = range from 18,000,000 > 18,999,999
Ninth Corps Area = range from 19,000,000 > 19,999,999

National Guard :

All serial numbers start with digits 20, while the third digit indicates Corps Area or Service Command . The War Department allotted following ranges .

Hawaiian Department = range from 20,010,000 > 20,019,999
Puerto Rican Department = range from 20,020,000 > 20,029,999
First Corps Area = range from 20,100,000 > 20,199,999
Second Corps Area = range from 20,200,000 > 20,299,999
Third Corps Area = range from 20,300,000 > 20,399,999
Fourth Corps Area = range from 20,400,000 > 20,499,999
Fifth Corps Area = range from 20,500,000 > 20,599,999
Sixth Corps Area = range from 20,600,000 > 20,699,999
Seventh Corps Area = range from 20,700,000 > 20,799,999
Eighth Corps Area = range from 20,800,000 > 20,899,999
Ninth Corps Area = range from 20,900,000 > 20,999,999

Draftees :

All serial numbers start with digit 3, followed by the second digit indicating Corps Area or Service Command . The War Department allotted following ranges .

Hawaiian Department = range from 30,100,000 > 30,199,999
Panama Canal Department = range from 30,200,000 > 30,299,999
Philippine Department = range from 30,300,000 > 33,399,999
Puerto Rican Department = range from 30,400,000 > 30,499,999
First Corps Area = range from 31,000,000 > 31,999,999
Second Corps Area = range from 32,000,000 > 32,999,999
Third Corps Area = range from 33,000,000 > 33,999,999
Fourth Corps Area = range from 34,000,000 > 34,999,999
Fifth Corps Area = range from 35,000,000 > 35,999,999
Sixth Corps Area = range from 36,000,000 > 36,999,999
Seventh Corps Area = range from 37,000,000 > 37,999,999
Eighth Corps Area = range from 38,000,000 > 38,999,999
Ninth Corps Area = range from 39,000,000 > 39,999,999

WAC

First digit of all serial numbers already indicates the specific Service Command . The War Department allotted following ranges .

First Service Command = range from 100,000 > 199,999
Second Service Command = range from 200,000 > 299,999
Third Service Command = range from 300,000 > 399,999
Fourth Service Command = range from 400,000 > 499,999
Fifth Service Command = range from 500,000 > 599,999
Sixth Service Command = range from 600,000 > 699,999
Seventh Service Command = range from 700,000 > 799,999
Eighth Service Command = range from 800,000 > 899,999
Ninth Service Command = range from 900,000 > 999,999

 Remark 1: religion P (Protestant) C (Catholic) H (Hebrew) in case the soldier had no specific religious preference, NO letter was printed ! Tag silencers were introduced around the end of the war, in order to prevent clanking of the metal elements . There were also special series for the Officer's Reserve Corps (ORC) O-517501, National Guard O-502824, Officers (directly appointed from civil life) O-184747, Officer Candidate School (OCS) O-1287802, and the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (Army) Department (prefix K) . 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 .

Remark 2: due to the enormous increase in numbers of service men, the War Department was obliged to introduce additional series of digits - furthermore some Service Commands inducted more than 1,000,000 men ! Consequently, the W.D. launched a new series of digits for DRAFTEES starting with 4 as first digit, immediately followed by the second digit (indicating Corps Area/Service Command); as a result of this, the Second Service Command received a new series starting from 42,000,000 > 42,999,999 whereas the Fourth Service Command was given another series starting from 44,000,000 > 44,999,999 ! This explains the introduction of series starting with digit 4 . Let's take a serviceman with ASN 42076794 - the first digit 4 points to a new series introduced for draftees called until January 43, while digit 2 indicates the man originates from the Second Service Command/Corps Area .

Remark 3: towards the end of 1967, the Army announced its intention to drop the use of Army Serial Numbers ! Between 1967 and 1969, before switching to Social Security Numbers, most Identification Tags had both indications, i.e. ASN + SSAN ! Finally ASNs were 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 .

Remark 4: about brass Dog Tags; 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 also brass was 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 larger numbers (as compared to some other raw materials) for other applications, like Dog Tags ! Because of the continuous evolution in war industry, material shortages of different metals and/or metal alloys appeared on several occasions, whereby the Army still issued smaller lots of steel and monel Identification Tags (quantities still available in some depots), this variety in production only stopped end 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) .

Important: in order to enable collectors to trace the origin of some ASN embossed on dog Tags, or encountered on documents, you'll find herewith the listing of Army and Corps (later called Service Commands) areas as in use during WWII :

First Army Area

First Corps Area (Maine-New Hampshire-Vermont-Massachusetts-Rhode Island-Connecticut) HQ=Boston, Mass.
Second Corps Area (New Jersey-Delaware-New York) HQ=Governors Island, N.Y.
Third Corps Area (Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia-District of Columbia) HQ=Baltimore, Md.

Second Army Area

Fifth Corps Area (Ohio-West Virginia-Indiana-Kentucky) HQ=Ft. Hayes, Ohio
Sixth Corps Area (Illinois-Michigan-Wisconsin) HQ=Chicago, Ill.

Third Army Area

Fourth Corps Area (North Carolina-South Carolina-Georgia-Florida-Alabama-Tennessee-Mississippi-Louisiana) HQ=Atlanta, Ga.
Eighth Corps Area (Texas-Oklahoma-Colorado-New Mexico-Arizona (partly) HQ= Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.

Fourth Army Area

Seventh Corps Area (Missouri-Kansas-Arkansas-Iowa-Nebraska-Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota) HQ=Omaha, Nebr.
Ninth Corps Area (Washington-Oregon-Idaho-Montana-Wyoming-Utah-Nevada-Arizona (partly)-California-Alaska (attached) HQ=Presidio of San Francisco, Calif.

There were also 4 other Departments (US overseas possessions): Hawaii, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico and the Philippines (prior to their seizure by Japan)

Example: Clarence R. JONES 37337566 can be identified as being a draftee (digit 3) originating from Seventh Corps Area (digit 7), while his folks lived in Colorado (Eighth Corps Area)

NOTES: The 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 N151, 3 December 1940) above was necessary, since the Medical Department was responsible for registration of vaccine inoculation and blood type .

Embossing Machines: "Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N 54-M-29055, "Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N 54-M-29055-50, "Graphotype" motor-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N 54-M-29065, and "Adressograph" pistol-type imprinting machine, Model 70, Medical Department Item #99387

Selective Service Act: Act passed by Congress September 14, 1940, authorizing registration for military service in the Armed Forces of the U.S., of all men in the United States between the ages of 21 and 35 inclusive . It was later extended to include men between 20 and 44; and for non-military service, men aged 18 and 19 and men between 45 and 65 inclusive .

War Department Pamphlet 21-13, Army Life, 10 August 1944 states . 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 . AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944 further indicates . 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 -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 . (War Department Circular N 262, December 19, 1941, stipulated . 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 inches above the first one on the same cord or tape, both securily held in place by knots), while FM 10-63, Graves Registration, 15 January 1945 also states . 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 . Postive 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 grade (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) .

Sources: The 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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