Yankees medics show ‘Primum non nocere’ 100 years ago today
A group of wounded German Army prisoners receiving medical attention at first aid station of U.S. 103rd and 104th Ambulance Companies (Field Hospital), attached to the 26th “Yankee” Division’s 101st Sanitary Train. These prisoners were taken from second line trenches during the opening attack of the Battle of Saint Mihiel on the 12th of September 1918, while the Yanks were “over there” as part of the American Expeditionary Force.
Formed largely from six New England National Guard units– half from Massachusetts– as noted by the Army’s CMOH, “During World War I, a press conference of Boston newspapermen was called by the Commanding General [ Maj. Gen. (Nat. Army) Clarence Ransom Edwards, USMA 1883] to determine a nickname for this division, which had just been inducted from New England National Guard units. The adopted suggestion was, ‘Call it the ‘Yankee Division’ as all New Englanders are Yankees’, and a dark blue monogrammed ‘YD’ on an olive drab background was officially designated as the division insignia.
The 26th still exists today, as the 26th Maneuver Enhancement “Yankee” Brigade, in Natick, Mass, primarily a unit of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. In addition to a host of streamers earned on its second trip to Europe in 1944-45, the Yankees earned streamers in 1917-18 for Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Ile de France and the Lorraine, suffering an amazing 100% casualty rate, some 18,000 soldiers.
The Mass Guard celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the division recently.
One enduring legacy of the 26th is Sgt. Stubby, an orphan pup the big-hearted Yankees adopted in 1917 and later became the mascot of the divisions’ 102nd Infantry Rgt. Postwar, he lived at Georgetown University and has been in the Smithsonian since then, still wearing his medals and 26th YD patch.