The following photo is of my great aunt Hattie’s husband, Will (Bill) Whitcher, and her brother Bill Whiting. The writing on the back of the photo is “Bill Whitcher and Bill Whiting, Home on furlough 1918.” My father tells me that only Bill Whitcher (left) was home on leave, and that Bill Whiting (right) “was never in service and could not pass a physical due to a boyhood hunting injury. He and [his brother] Tom were hunting quail and Uncle Tom accidently shot him in the hip. My mother always said that she was told that he was wearing a heavy jacket which kept the injury from being more severe.”
Note the differences in the two men, one in uniform with a soldier’s posture, staring straight at the camera. The other looking to the side, in a relaxed slouch, wearing leather cowboy wrist cuffs and fur leg chaps.
Bill Whitcher registered in the First World War I Draft Registration of June 5, 1917, for men ages 21 – 31 when he was 26. Bill Whiting registered in the Third Registration, September 12, 1918, for men 18 – 45, at age 19. Note that height on the registration cards is listed not as a specific number but as tall, medium, or short, and build as slender, medium, or stout. When Bill Whitcher registered, he was a farm laborer working for Hattie’s father. Bill Whiting listed himself as a farmer working for his older sister (by 18 years), who by then was Mrs. W. J. Whitcher.
- The Doughboy’s Uniform and Equipment (from the blog, Soldiers’ Mail: Letters Home from a Yankee Doughboy 1916-1919)
- The Evolution of Western Wear (from True West magazine)
- Women in uniform, World War I edition (from the National Museum of American History)
This post was updated since its first publication and is part the #30PostsHathSept Blog Challenge. There is still time to join (just publish 20-30 posts in September)!