The Real Reason for the "Notch" in the WWII Dog Tag

(by David Steinert)

Contrary to popular belief, the "notch" in the WWII dog tag was not designed so the dog tag could be placed in the teeth of a deceased soldier for identification.

As the information on the dog tags evolved the notch remained on the dog tag. The notch was designed so that the dog tag was held securely in the embossing machines. There were a few different embossing machines used during the war.

The "Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29055.

The "Graphotype" hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29055-50.

The "Graphotype" motor-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29065.

The "Addressograph" pistol-type imprinting machine, Model 70, Medical Department Item #99387

addressograph_2.jpg (27579 bytes).

The Addressograph Model 70

The Model 70 "Addressograph" was a pistol-type imprinting machine used by the Medical Department during WWII. Its function was to transfer the wounded soldier’s identification information directly from his dog tags to his medical records. The notch in the dog tag would align and hold the tag securely in the "Addressograph". First the dog tag was inserted into the imprinting machine. After the medical document was aligned in the "Addressograph", the trigger on the imprinting machine was pulled and the information on the dog tag was transferred to the medical document through the ribbon of carbon paper located inside the "Addressograph".

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Illustration from the Instructions for the Addressograph Model 70

Sources: The Officer’s Guide, 9th Edition, July 1942, Army Regulations AR 600-35, Section VI, 31 March 1944, AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944, FM 10-63 Graves Registration, 15 January 1945, War Department Pamphlet 21-13 Army Life, 10 August 1944, TM 12-250 Administration, February 10, 1942, Army Service Forces Catalog MED 3, 1 March 1944, Quartermaster Supply Catalog QM 3-4, 1945, WW2 period Magazines & Recruiting Posters (all documents are from the author’s collection)


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