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open: Tue.-Sun. 10am-4pm
tel: 512-782-5659

Amazon Smile

Purchase with purpose. Amazon donates to Texas Military Forces Museum when you shop for back to school supplies at Amazon Smile

Its back to school time and when you shop on Amazon for school supplies or anything else you can help out the Texas Military Forces Museum by choosing us when you shop on Amazon Smile. Just click on the link and sign with your Amazon ID. Then choose
“Texas Military Forces Museum” as your charitable organization. With any purchase your make Amazon will donate to the museum. Nothing is added to your total, the money is provided by Amazon.

So shop with a purpose and help support the Texas Military Forces Museum.

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Artifact Spotlight–Italian Coins

This small collection of coins was donated in 2001 and is part of the current museum staff’s ongoing effort to catalog previously unrecorded artifacts in the museum collection. The coins only had a donation date and that they were associated with a 36th Infantry Division soldier but they still have an interesting story to tell.

The top left coin is a 3 Grana coin dated 1810 and came from Naples, Italy.

The top right coin is a 3 Tornesi coin dated 1648 and came from the Neapolitan Republic.

The 2 bottom coins are both variations of the same Roman Republic coin and date from 200-100 BCE.

The front of the coins have Janus, the two faced god for whom January is named.

The back of the coins have a prow of a ship and this one has the visible letters ‘RD”, possibly for TVRD. The coin is a very thick bronze, 40mm. The other Roman Republic coin appears to be all copper.

The 3 older coins all have wear consistent with being buried. While we don’t know the exact story of these coins it is easy to image a 36th soldier resting in a field after the difficult landings at Salerno on September 9th 1943 and seeing something glint in the sunlight and picking up the 3 grana coin. Or during the long, wet winter of 1943/44 our soldier is digging a foxhole, trying to get a little cover from the constant artillery bombardment and finding one of the Roman coins buried in the dirt.

We don’t know why the soldier chose to keep these old coins; possibly as souvenirs to send home to a kid brother or sister or maybe his own young child, or maybe as a memento for his own collection or a sweetheart or wife back home. Did he feel a connection to those long ago Italians who had lived and maybe fought and died on the same soil? Was he injured? Did he make it back home or were these part of the effects sent back to the family of a fallen soldier. We will likely never know the answers to these questions but we can imagine the soldier and see him in films like “A Walk in the Sun” or “The Story of G.I. Joe” both of which were based on the 36th Infantry Division in WWII and we can remember his service and sacrifice told through the objects he left behind.

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Over There- 1918

To commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the 36th Infantry Divisions service in WWI we present “Over There-1918” A Living History program of the “Great War” experience of the US soldier.

On October 7, 1918, the newly created 36th Infantry Division entered combat for the first time as part of the French 4th Army, which was advancing on the left flank of the U.S. 1st Army during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  Over the next 24 days the division would break the German lines near the village of St. Etienne and then pursue the enemy to Aisne River, where the 36th would smash a German bridgehead near Foret Farm.  On October 6-7, 2018 the Texas Military Forces Museum will commemorate the centennial of the 36th Infantry Division’s combat debut on the Western Front with a special WWI battle reenactment. This event will allow visitors to see some of the most common weapons of the First World War in action including a fully restored and operational F17 tank, a French 75 mm artillery piece, a U.S. 3-inch field gun, an MG 08 “Maxim” machine gun, an Austrian Schwarzlose machine gun and a variety of rifles and other weapons.  American, German and French troops using period equipment and wearing correct uniforms will demonstrate the tactics employed by the victorious Allied powers during the brutal final month of combat in the Great War. We invite you to join us as we recall the service and sacrifice of American doughboys in the “War to End All Wars.”

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Giving Tuesday

Tuesday December 3rd is #GivingTuesday. 

Please consider supporting the Texas Military Forces Museum on Giving Tuesday. The museum receives no money from the State of Texas other than the salary of the 3 staff members. We are supported by the Texas Military Forces Historical Foundation, the 501 C3 which raises money to benefit the museum.  Here is a link to their website where you can donate by just clicking the “donate” button: Texas Military Forces Historical Foundation

We thank you for your support.

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Finding Clues in Old Photographs

People often do not realize how much information you can find in an old photograph. As you research your relative’s service keep this in mind.

The image above is of seated soldiers from WWII. On the front it nicely gives us a date of 9-1-43. When you look closer at the picture you see all the soldiers have patches for the Texas Defense Guard (TDG) this was a home guard ( which later became the Texas State Guard), and was comprised of men who were too old, too young for service, or for some other reason could not serve in the regular Armed Forces.
 

Looking closing at their collars and hats we see they are all wearing Marine Corps insignia (USMC). In addition behind the soldiers are 2 Marine Corps recruiting posters, which research reveals were produced in 1942/43. So this is a TDG “Marine” unit. During WWII the Defense Guard Marine unit was based in Houston, Texas.

 

Looking more closely at the individual soldiers we see that the 1st, 4th and 5th soldier from the left all have WWI victory ribbons on their uniform. The 1st soldier has a WWI victory medal with 2 bronze campaign stars and a number “2” during WWI there would have been campaign “bars” so this soldier has added WWII campaign stars to his WWI ribbon.

 
The second soldier from the left has on a cartridge belt with magazine pouch, all the other soldiers have standard belts.
 
The soldier in the center of the back row has a Medic/Red Cross patch on his lower left sleeve.
 
Many of the soldiers have visible rank patches ( mostly some grade of Sergeants)The soldier in the center front has a Lieutenant bar.
 
An finally not as useful but interesting on the side of the photograph are two motor oil cans “Conoco Motor Oil” and “Keystone”.
 

Someone did type information on the back of the photograph showing it was the 48th Bn, Marine unit from Houston with names. It must have been typed in late 1943 or after as they used the term “Texas State Guard” instead of “Texas Defense Guard”

 

So the next time you look at those old photographs get out the magnifying glass and take a real look- those small clues just might help you out in your search.

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Labor Day

The museum will be open to the public on Monday September 2nd- Labor Day.

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Mabry Mixer

Join us for at Mabry Mixer- A History Happy Hour!

These events happen 4 times a year and give you a chance to learn some history, have appetizers and drinks and meet new friends.

Link to the next mixer on June 13: Mabry Mixer featuring Granville Automatic

This is a free event for our members and only $10 for non-members. Not a member and want to join? Join the Foundation

Hord’oeuvres, desserts,beer, wine & soft drinks are all complimentary.
Payment may be made at the door

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Summer 2017 Newsletter

Click on the link below to read the latest edition of the museum newsletter.

Summer 2017 Newsletter

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Texas and the Great War

On April 2, 1917 President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany and on April 6, 1917 war was declared. This week we will be highlighting aspects of the Texas Military Forces in the “Great War” as we begin this Centennial year. Check back daily as we add further details to this blog post.

Tuesday:

In February 1917 Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston, commanding general of the Southern District, died in San Antonio, and facilities at the Leon Springs Reservation were named Camp Funston in his honor. Another camp in Kansas was also named Funston, and since Funston was a native of Kansas, the Leon Springs Camp was redesignated Camp Stanley, after Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley, former commander of the Department of Texas. On May 8, 1917, the First Officers Training Camp was established just north of Anderson Hill at Camp Funston. The purpose of the FOTC was to provide in ninety days most of the junior officers for newly formed divisions. The trainees became known as “ninety-day wonders.” In the spring of 1917 a remount station was established at Leon Springs to process and maintain horses used by the mounted arms of the military services. From the TSHA Handbook of Texas History

Pictures of our Texas National Guard soldiers at Leon Springs in the Spring of 1917


Monday

World War I was a turning point for the United States, and for Texas. Even before the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, Texas was mobilized and already significantly engaged in war preparations and supplying the Allies. San Antonio was already touted as Military City USA . The Texas National Guard had been called out for the Punitive Expedition to pursue Pancho Villa in 1916-17. Texas businesses supplied oil, cattle, horses, cotton, and lumber to Europe. Many Texans had volunteered to come to the aid of the Allies (and some German Texans to the Axis) between 1914 and 1917. The British Royal Flying Corps had even operated three flying schools to train Canadian pilots at Camp Taliaferro in Fort Worth.
The earliest unit of the Texas National Guard which was mobilized for WWI was the 117th Supply Train which was attached to the 42nd Rainbow Division. This picture is of Corporal Walter Tips who served with the unit. His family were well known Austinites and the Tips building downtown is named for his grandfather.


Don’t forget to come by our first Mabry Mixer this Wednesday and learn more about America’s entry into WWI.

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Cataloging Stories

We haven’t done a blog post in awhile and today while cataloging documents and artifacts from the WWI collection of Sgt. Levi Cox we came across an interesting story.

Sgt. Cox served with Company H, 142nd Infantry Regiment during the “Great War”, which later became known as WWI. Among the items from Sgt. Cox was a ship’s paper  from his journey home in May 1919 aboard the USS Pueblo.  This small booklet was given out to the soldiers on May 25, 1919. It includes the church schedule,  small inspirational paragraphs and the following story:


These two soldiers from the 142nd Infantry Regiment who had survived training, the flu epidemic, combat, and 8 months of occupation had perished on their way home. In searching through our WWI service cards there were a couple of interesting parallels between the soldiers:

  • both men were older, 32 for Hovey and 30 for Strong
  • both men had no immediate next of kin listed. Hovey had a friend and Strong had his brother-in-law

Harry Hovey had been born in Brownsville and was living in Mansfield in Tarrant County when he was drafted. Joseph Strong was born in Paris, Tx and was living in Brice in Hall County when he enlisted.

Levi Cox survived the war and kept letters written to his future wife and a small number of other souvenirs to remember his time spent in the “Great War”, a gas mask ( he was gassed during the war, his jacket, his discharge papers,his identification card, a pass to Paris to see the 36th Division play in the football final, and a souvenir map. That he saved this particular ships booklet which mentions the death of a likely friend ( Pvt. Strong who was in the same Company) indicates that the war, and the death of his comrades had impacted his life.

The T-Patch on his jacket is very interesting and likely made by an older French woman he was housed with during the occupation.

Levi Cox during training:

This is just one of many thousands of stories of Texas soldiers who served their county during WWI. As we approach the Centennial of the US involvement in the Great War we hope to bring you more of anecdotes.

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