Images of the Spruce Squadrons of the First World War

details of photo of 57th spruce squadron

I collect primarily postal history of the United States domestic area in the First World War.

However, during my research I found out about the Spruce Squadrons. These were Army men assigned to harvest, transport, and process spruce lumber for airplane production.

The worked primarily in 1918 in the states of Oregon and Washington. See my Spruce Squadron page.

Many of these WWI images are available for viewing on my Spruce Squadron images on Google photos.

CLICK ON THE THUMBNAIL IMAGES TO VIEW A LARGER IMAGE

Group Photo of the 2nd Spruce Squadron -- These men were permanently assigned to Vancouver Barracks for the duration of the War. Note that they have rifles, as they were present to keep the peace in the spruce logging areas, in case of violent union activity. They did not take part in spruce logging operations.

More information about the 2nd Spruce.

Group Photo with Banner of the 452nd Aero Squadron (Construction) -- This is a portion of a larger group photo. It highlights the original unit designation of the 71st Spruce Squadron.

Photo of Railroad Operations of the 69th Spruce Squadron -- This photo shows members of the 69th Spruce, as they prepare a load of sand for ballast used in railroad construction. Many Spruce units performed construction work only, and did not actually cut down trees. More information about the 69th Spruce Squadron.

Photo of Members of the 69th Spruce Squadron with a Steam Locomotive -- This photo shows members of the 69th Spruce, posing alongside steam locomotive used as part of railroad construction. More information about the 69th Spruce Squadron.

Once the railroad was built, this locomotive would be pulling cars with spruce logs for processing into airplanes.

Book Illustration of a Group of the 79th Spruce Squadron -- This is the scan of a book page showing the group photo. More information about the 79th Spruce Squadron.

Detail of Photo of Men of the 57th Spruce Squadron -- This image was shared by the family of one of the men in the photo. Even though the photo is damaged, you can get a pretty good idea of what the men looked like in 1918. Note that some of the men are not wearing Army uniforms. Many of the Army men working the spruce dressed as loggers, that outfit being much more practical for the hard work performed, than Army fatigues.

The good detail of the photo lets you see the mud on their boots. The Pacific Northwest is pretty well-known for its rain.

More information about the 57th Spruce Squadron.

Real-Photo Card with Patriotic Words for Spruce Soldiers -- This unusual real photo postcard was probably sold to the soldiers working the spruce lumber in Oregon and Washington during the First World War. It has the image of an original drawing (probably pencil or charcoal) showing a forest with WWI-era airplanes flying above. Below the picture are stirring words about working the spruce being just as good as "going over the top".

While we may not feel as enthusiastic about trench warfare today, the young men cutting timber in 1918 were frustrated, because they wanted to be in the fight. However, their contribution to the huge increase in airplane components needed overseas was a critical service during that period.

In fact, there was an attempt to provide a way for the Spruce men to train and transfer to Europe, but the program was abandoned after the Armistice. Note also, that many of the men assigned to the Spruce Squadons were 'limited service' men, either too old, or not phsically fit to serve on the battle lines in Europe.

Spruce Soldiers at Agate Beach, Oregon -- This is a scan of a real photo picture postcard of some soldiers from a Spruce Squadron located at Agate Beach, Oregon. The photo was probably taken in 1918. Notice the flivver (Ford Model T) that they are posing on and around. The fellow in the goggles is probably the driver. (He is the 5th man from the left in the front row.)

Spruce Soldiers with Logging Truck -- This is a scan of a real photo picture postcard of some soldiers from a Spruce Squadron arranged in, on, and by their logging truck. Note the very large spruce log on the truck, being transported to the mill for conversion into airplane components.

Some of the fellows in this picture appear to be wearing civilian attire, but many Army men wore logging clothes, as the typical fatigue uniform was not up to the heavy labor involved in spruce logging.

The license plate on the truck clearly shows that the truck had a special government plate indicating "U.S. Army" and "Signal Corps".

Spruce Soldiers Building a Railway -- This is a scan of a photo generously supplied by a relative of a Spruce Soldier. You can see how they built the railways along the Oregon coast in 1918, so the spruce logs could be transported to the mills.

Most of the railroad construction was performed by hand, including these fellows carrying a rail to be installed.

The photo also gives you an idea of some typical Oregon Coast weather (wet).

The number on the photo in the lower right may be a Army Signal Corps identification, which implies that this is actually an official Army photo.

Spruce Soldiers with Logging Truck -- This is a scan of a real photo picture postcard of some soldiers from a Spruce Squadron on their logging truck. Note the very large spruce log on the truck, being transported to the mill for conversion into airplane components.

You can see some of the logging equipment in the background, including the heavy cables used to pull the logs from the interior areas to the road for transport.

Some of the fellows in this picture appear to be wearing civilian attire, but many Army men wore logging clothes, as the typical fatigue uniform was not up to the heavy labor involved in spruce logging.

Soldier Inspecting Processed Lumber at Vancouver Barracks -- This photo was generously supplied by the family of this man. About a third of the Spruce Soldiers worked at the main 'cut-up' plant at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, and were not out in the forests cutting trees or building railways. At the cut-up plant, the spruce logs were sawn into the precise lumber needed to construct the airplanes of 1918.

This soldier is talleying the amounts of lumber produced, and preparing it for rail transport to the airplane manufacturers.

Group Photo of the 28th Spruce Squadron -- This is the scan of a yard-wide (panoramic) photo of the Army men of the 28th Spruce Squadron.

More information about the 28th Spruce.