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The military identity plate (unofficial name in English: Dog Tag) is an element of the uniform that provides the identity of the wearer, in the event of his death (disfigurement, disappearance of his comrades, etc.) would compromise the certainty of its identification. Men's Dog Tag Necklaces were only during the second half of the nineteenth century that we were concerned about finding a way to systematically identify the dead on the battlefield. The first initiatives did not come from the military but from civilians (in the United States, for example, during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).

On the German side, it seems that the idea of ​​providing soldiers with a means of identification comes from a Berlin craftsman who proposed to the Ministry of War to equip his men with an identity card, more or less the example of the "plaque of dogs" (a sort of fiscal stamp proving that the master of the animal had paid the tax well). These were subsequently called "dog tags" in military jargon (United States, England, Australia ...). In French, this translates to "dog plate" because of their resemblance to dog medals.

Various formats exist in the world. In the US military, for example, dog tags provide family name, first name, social security / identification number, blood type, and religion.

This information is written on a piece of metal; a plate that is worn by means of a metal chain around the neck. During the Second World War, the date of the last tetanus toxoid vaccination was added as personal information. Note that the use of a plaque is mainly used for the identification of the dead and wounded.

The wearing of dog tags is required at all times by soldiers on the ground. The plate is always made up of two parts. One, removable, is easily recoverable (broken) by a third party on the deceased soldier. It contains information enabling the competent office to draw up a loss report even if the body could not be recovered. The second part remains, in principle, permanently with the body. The object is thus buried with the body; possibly nailed to the coffin. The registration plate contains the information necessary for the body management service (name, religion, date of birth).

On the American model (the best known thanks to the movies) the part remaining on the body is attached to a chain placed around the neck of the soldier. The removable part is, in turn, attached by a small chain (easy to break) to the main chain. Interlocking (noises) between the plates causes a clatter that the soldiers eliminate. Surrounding, thus, a rubber band moving parts, as can be seen in the last photo of this page.

On another model more common (used among others by the French, Canadian, Israeli army ...) is a perforated plate that can be easily broken so that the officer can recover his part and leave the other that is connected to chain.

 

History:

During the Civil War (1861-1865), some soldiers fixed the paper notes with their address on the backs of their coats. Other identifications were used by soldiers on their backpacks or on the belt buckle support.

Badge manufacturers have noticed a market and have begun to supply it periodically. Their plates were usually formed to indicate a corps, engraved with the soldier's name and unit.

Metal plates were also made of brass, drilled with a hole and usually marked (on one side) with an eagle or shield and expressions such as "war for union" or "freedom," union, and equality ". The other side bears the name of the soldier, the unit and sometimes a list of battles in which he had participated.

A New Yorker named John Kennedy wrote to the US Army in 1862, offering to provide records for the entire federal army. The national archives still retain the letter as well as the answer, a refusal without explanation.

The US military first authorized dog tags in general order no. 204 of the Department of War, dated December 20, 1906:

"An aluminum dog tag, the size of half a silver dollar and the appropriate thickness, stamped with the name, rank, company, the carrier's regiment, will be worn by every officer and enlisted man in the army and whenever the soldier is on the battlefield.

The plate is hanging on the neck, under the clothing, by a rope or a strap passed through a small hole. It is prescribed as part of the uniform and when it is not used as indicated above will usually be kept in the possession of the owner.

The plaque will be published by the Department of War free of charge to enlisted men ... "
The army changed the rules on July 6, 1916, so that all men have two plates: one remains with the body and the other must go to the person responsible for the burial for record keeping. In 1918, the military adopted and distributed the serial number system, and the name.

The serial numbers are stamped on the dog tags of all men enlisted. (Serial Number 1 was assigned to Chicago enlisted man Arthur B. Crean during his fifth enlistment period).

During 1969, the army adopted the social security number for personnel identification. Instead of two plates, some national armies use only one with a half that can be easily separated.

It circulates a myth about the notch located in one end of the dog tags of the US Army during the Second World War. It has been claimed that the function of this cut was to allow a soldier who found one of his comrades on the battlefield to place the plate belonging to it in his teeth to ensure that the plaque would remain with him. the body, which would have allowed its identification. In fact, the notch simply serves to hold the plate in place on the machine that duplicates the information for the medical service "the addressograph model 70".

After the Second World War, the Marine Department adopted dog tags used by the Army and Air Forces; a unique shape and size have become the American standard.

During the Vietnam War, soldiers were allowed to place rubber mufflers on their dog tags so that the enemy would not hear the metallic noise. Others taped both plates. Still others chose to wear a plaque around the neck and the other plaque on the lace.

Since the 1980s, a change has been made in the way of printing dog tags. Prior to this period, the system was stamped by hollow type printing. This version called "indent" is found on the models of the Second World War, the Korean War and that of Vietnam. During the '80s, the army adopted the embossed embossed printing which allows a much clearer reading of the information marked on the plates. This type of engraving is still used in the US Army.

Dog tags are traditionally among the elements used to pay homage to soldiers who have died on the battlefield. The rifle of the soldier mounted with the bayonet is held vertically, with the helmet on top. The dog tags are then hung on the handle or on the rifle.

Recently, the military has stopped calling dog tags and has adopted the name ID tags. It seems that in the 1990s, enlisted trainees complained that the term dog tags was offensive.

 

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