Sgt. York artifacts to tour USA

This just in from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Mastriano; the Sgt. Alvin York artifacts that he discovered have been moved to the US.  I just have one question:  When will they come to Tennessee?


In February 2009, the actual artifacts recovered from where Sergeant York earned the Medal of Honor on 8 October 1918, were transferred to the Center of Military History (CMH). This included roughly 1,000 of the most important items, encompassing some 30 different types of American and 70 different types of German items, personal effects, equipment pieces, etc. The items included German and American bullets, cartridges, canteens, pieces of belts, buttons, combs, brushes, mirrors, whistles, bottles, bayonets, watches, first aid kits, entrenching tools, coins, gas masks, horse shoes, harmonicas, mess kits, straps, hooks, etc.

This endeavor goes back to our extensive research in the US and German archives to once and for all resolve the debate on whether there was evidence that York accomplished the incredible feat of capturing 132 German soldiers after eliminating a German machine gun position and single handedly fighting off a bayonet attack. The artifacts from the fight between York and the German Imperial Army were exactly where they should have been – even after ninety years. After thousands of painstaking hours in the French Argonne Forest, we carefully recovered these valuable pieces of American history.

After the recovery of these items was accomplished and our findings were concluded as accurate, we worked with officials in France, Germany and the USA to construct the Sergeant York Historic Trail on the battlefield and erected two monuments to forever preserve and mark the location where York’s incredible feat occurred. These were dedicated on the 90th anniversary of the event in October 2008. See for details.

Moving the artifacts took coordination with an incredible amount of diverse government officials from Europe and the United States, customs, the US Army and the USAF. The flight was fantastic and we flew in an USAF C-17 cargo plane, we sat within eye-shot of the artifacts.

Upon arriving in Washington DC, we documented each item with professional artifact technicians from the Center of Military History, who now have responsibility for the items. They plan to first display these items in the Pentagon and then in museums around the nation (CMH has oversight of some 53 museums around the world).

During the handover of the precious artifacts, CMH conducted a ceremony that included members of the York family and the CMH leadership. The purpose of this event was to celebrate the preservation of the physical evidence related to one of the most amazing feats of heroism in American history.

As for our efforts in the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition, we thank all of the people in France, Germany and the United States who have helped make this happen. Our work is not done. We intend to continue to improve the SGT York Historic Trail in the Argonne Forest of France and to do our part to honor the legacy and heroism of Alvin York for the next generation.

17 Responses to Sgt. York artifacts to tour USA

  1. Walker says:

    What is this?! No ten page diatribe about whether he is right or wrong? My heart be still.

  2. History1917 says:

    He is wrong…..

    A C-17 to transport the artifacts! How many tax payer dollars paid for this?

    These artifacts came from the center of the main attack of the 328th Infantry and not the York action.

  3. Hunter says:

    It is a good point – why isn’t the stuff going to Tennessee? York’s home state have had a raw deal all along with this man, but he don’t care, and it don’t matter where the stuff goes, he got it from the wrong hill anyway.

  4. History1917 says:

    To answer your question; I do not think LTC Mastriano’s artifacts will come to Tennessee or at least to the Museum in Pall Mall since the people their support Dr. Tom Nolan and his findings.

  5. Walker says:

    Do you really think a C-17 would be chartered to fly over a few pallets worth of stuff? I would strongly suggest that the C-17 was making the run anyway and there was enough room for the pallets. So not really a waste of tax payers money…

  6. Walker says:

    Furthermore, the artifact probably aren’t going to Tennessee because Sgt. York is a national hero not just a Tennessee hero. In addition, who is to say the state of museums in Tennessee because of the chronic budget shortages due to a lack of income tax.

  7. Michel says:

    Calling them battlefield artefacts would be more in line with the truth. Interesting as they are they say nothing whatsoever about the actual York location. Strange how every historical map i have seen shows that these artefacts have been found in the main line of attack…

  8. History1917 says:

    The SYDE boys sure are quiet these days now that more and more peope are starting to realize that these “artifacts” are actually from the center of the main attack of the 328th Inf and not where the York action occured.


    Since that C-17 is “making a run anyway” would it be allright if I put a few pallets of stuff on the next flight…. at tax payers expense because it sure would be expensive if I had to pay for it to be done on a commercial flight that was “making a run anyway”.

  9. History1917 says:

    Silence from the SYDE crew…………………….
    Wonder why?

    They know that they have been searching in the wrong area without proper authorization, mainly by not requesting a proper permit from the French regional archaeologist. What about the export of French cultural property in reference to the artifacts shipment to the CMH? Did they have written authorization to export these artifacts to Germany and then aboard a tax payer funded Air Force C-17 to the US? I doubt it.

    Why did the CMH accept artifacts with no provenance? In other words, why did they accept bags of artifacts loosely identified as coming from a particular location? It is apparent that the artifact distribution maps drawn by Mastriano were created “from the hip” to tell the distorted version of the story they want people to believe.

    These artifacts will soon be displayed – (at tax payer’s expense) – in the Pentagon honoring the service of both York and Mastriano. I think folks are starting to figure this out that it is more about “M” than York and is all self serving for “M”.

    And what is with General (ret.) Zabecki and Dr. Clarke from the CMH still supporting the SYDE claims?

    Are they as ignorant as we think they are by not having a look at the detailed US accounts of this fight found in the National Archives and Records Administration?

    Have they even taken time to look at the actual German accounts of the German units involved in the German archives and see what they really have to say? I doubt it, but …. We have, and they do not say anything close to what the SYDE has to say. But, according to the SYDE and their followers, the Germans had a better understanding of a battle. This is a battle the Germans were no the loosing side from the git go. To these ignorant people 1918 Germans were far superior to the victorious Americans and their allies even though they were loosing every battle. Also they live in a state of denial when considering the fact that the A.E.F (especially the 82nd Division) spent a full month in 1919 covering every step of the way with officers from each battalion in order to record their history. The Germans never returned to the Argonne, not even to bury their dead. …….. hmmmm…….. Go figure…….

    It is apparent to not only me, but many others, that the SYDE boys have been illegally relic hunting in the center of the 328th Infantry attack and NOT the area where the York fight occured which is located outside of the 82nd Division sector on the left flank.

    Hey! How much to get a guided tour of the site by Doug or Kory personally? They are there just about every weekend with a group of dignitaries.

    I thought that ANY monument honoring American activity in the Great War had to be approved by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Seems this battlefield destruction project (they call a monument) organized by the SYDE received no such authorization, but, strange as it sounds, it seems that the local French residents report that ABMC grounds keepers from the Meuse Argonne Cemetery are performing regular maintenance at the site to prevent the inevitable demise of the SYDE monument of historical distortion. Without regular maintenance weather and time will eventually erode the base of this monstrosity and send it to the bottom of the slope. It was necessary to create such a large platform by the excessive removal of top soil and foliage to create enough space for the color guard and dignitaries for the 4 October, 2008 ceremony. Maybe someone should ask Phil Rivers, the director of the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, if this is true.

    Take a look at the plaque on the monument itself. It is covered with minute hairline fractures. In the matter of a few years water will penetrate these fractures and the wonderful work honoring York, Mastriano, O’Keefe and the Bill Rudge Ministries will be forever lost.
    No concern to Big “M”, he is about to publish the greatest distortion of all entitled: “Lions of the Argonne”.

    I wonder why, as much as Big “M” honors the German figures in this battle, he did not take the time to locate Lt. Fritz Endriss’s grave? I will give you a clue, he is buried in Buzancy.

    You guys are pathetic………

    Hey SYDE! – Watch out! – Torpedo in the water!!!

  10. History1917 says:

    Take a look at what SGT Hulka has to say:

    And here too:

    “Lghten up Francis”…. I will remember that quote of yours. Did you say “hi” to Tom and Michael last week?

  11. History1917 says:

    Has anyone seen the last issue of the Dutch magazine “Wereld In Oorlog, Nr. 11, 2009” (The World at War, issue number 11, 2009)? There is a very interesting article about this very debate found starting on page 7.

    Through a Dutch friend of mine I was able to understand the following key points from this article;

    1.) From the author’s interviews with Dr. Clarke, the Director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH), Dr. Clarke stated that he issued the famed “SYDE – CMH endorsement letter” not as support for the findings of Mr. Mastriano’s, but rather to say that the CMH was a supporter of his research – not the results. This letter was written at the request of Mr. Mastriano who thought he could obtain French sponsorship with this letter for what he planned to do.

    2.) French Sponsorship; well it looks like from this article that the French regional archaeologist for the Champagne-Ardennes Region did not issue a permit for or otherwise authorize Mr. Mastriano’s relic hunting activities and therefore it appears that Mr. Mastriano’s relic hunting could be considered an illegally activity flagrantly violating French cultural and archaeological law. I am sure the same applies for the French cultural artifacts, which were presumably illegally exported at US tax payer’s expense to the CMH aboard a US Air force C-17. I am sure there is a lot more to follow of this aspect of the story. Mainly concerning why the artifacts will be displayed in the Pentagon when in reality these “artifacts” were more than likely illegally excavated, illegally exported from France and worst of all, are artifacts that have nothing whatsoever to do with the specific engagement of SGT. York, the patrol or the German units involved that resulted in the capture of 132 German prisoners of war.

    3.) The famed French Military letter of endorsement appears to be nothing more than an internal memo discussing the creation of the “York Trail” and has absolutely nothing to with endorsing anything Mr. Mastriano claims.
    Also, from the way I read this article, a least one member of Mr. Mastriano’s team, who was assisting Mastriano in digging artifacts after his final report had been issued, disagrees with Mr. Mastriano’s methods and findings. I have a question; why did the SYDE continue to relic hunt for artifacts after their 100% certainty repot had been issued? I wonder; are all of the artifacts shown in the photos above really from the SYDE “York Spot”, or are they from anywhere in that region? I do not see any method of marking or identifying any of the individual artifacts shown in these photos as I would expect and have seen in other archaeological reports. Does that mean that there is no “real” provenance for these artifacts? Does that mean that they were found only where Mr. Matriano says they were found?

    At any rate, I cannot wait to see how this turns out, but from the way this latest article reads, it looks like some of Mr. Mastriano’s core supporters are starting to run for cover or back step on previous “endorsements”.

    I again encourage everyone to examine the documents I have so often mentioned in great detail and in previous entries in this blog that Mr. Mastriano and his followers refuse to acknowledge.
    This debate is far from over, only warming up…… so to speak.

  12. History1917 says:

    There has been another “discovery” that needs to be discussed here.

    Please take a look at this article:

    Initially I thought this must be some kind of a joke, but after a little more searching I found the original army press release:

    A short time later I received this email written by this man and here are a few excerpts:

    “From: Douglas Mastriano
    Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 6:39 AM
    Subject: Important SGT York discoveries from October 1918″

    “Two amazing discoveries to support the York Spot:”

    “We are pleased to announce the recovery of a significant discovery of artifacts related to where Sergeant York accomplished his amazing feat.
    So what?”

    “1. The discoveries confirm our conclusions as to where York fought on 8 OCT 1918
    2. York did what he was awarded the Medal of Honor for (silencing the detractors)
    3. One God-fearing man made the difference – an example of us today
    4. This important piece of American History is preserved for the next generation”

    “While working on the Sergeant York Historic Trail, we uncovered the personal effects and the complete identification tag of a German soldier involved in the fight against York’s battalion on 8 October 1918. The soldier of whom we speak is Gunner Wilhelm Härer.”

    “On 8 October 1918, Wilhelm Härer was assigned to German Lieutenant Paul Lipp’s portion of Humserberg. Lipp commanded the machine gun which Alvin York assaulted and destroyed. Lipp himself was captured by York. As a result of York’s actions, Wilhelm Härer’s gun crew fell back under heavy US pressure. As they withdrew, Wilhelm Härer fell in battle. He was declared missing in action.”

    “The discovery is the strongest undisputable piece evidence directly linking a specific soldier with the York spot. This is significant in that the detractors can explain away buttons, and collar disks – which hundreds of soldiers carried. However, the recovery of Wilhelm’s ID tag is harder to ignore and adds further confirmation of our work and conclusions as to where York earned the Medal of Honor. This discovery was followed by the recovery of two badly damaged US military tunics of soldiers from York’s BN – again, complimenting our earlier findings regarding the York spot.”

    After reading the article and this email I was not only disturbed, but equally surprised and amused by what this man now claims. Here are my thoughts on this “discovery”:

    1.)Since when do Boy Scouts do archaeology? Especially on a World War One battlefield? It is documented that not only high explosive was used in the valley west of Chatel Chehery on this day, but Phosgene gas as well. Being that approximately 20% or more of first world war artillery shells did not explode I am not sure if this is appropriate “work” for Boy Scouts tromping around the woods with metal detectors and shovels.

    2.)Would the French regional director of archaeology issue a permit to Boy Scouts to conduct surface metal detector archaeology? I doubt it and I bet his remarks about this discovery will be VERY exciting. Does the Center of Military History and other supporters of this man know that not only were these artifacts illegally excavated and exported from France, but the archaeology was done by Boy Scouts? They can answer for themselves when the time comes.

    3.)Now to the disturbing part; if what this man is saying is true then they found the grave of a German soldier who is still listed as missing since October 1918. I can see that a small case of artifacts were “repatriated” to the town where this soldier came from, but no mention of his remains. Instead of doing the correct thing; which would be immediately cease all excavation as soon as a suspected burial is located, notifying the local mayor’s office, the Gendarmamarie and the regional archaeologists’ office the Boy Scouts continued to “loot” as many artifacts as they could find. (The thought of Boy Scouts conducting serious archaeology paints a very comical and humorous picture in my mind, but one cannot overlook the very serious cultural, ethical and morale violations that have apparently occurred as a result of this “discovery”.)

    In my opinion, if the truth were known, they probably only found the dog tag and the other items were found on the same hill so they simply grouped them together to make the story more “sensational”. But, we must give them the benefit of doubt since they presented a case of artifacts that seem to contain the dog tag, a gas mask, what looks like a soldiers boot heel with the leather still on it, buttons and other artifacts. Again I would ask; where are the remains of this soldier? Even if they “thought” or “felt like” he might have been removed and transferred to a military cemetery after the war they are nevertheless obligated to turn the excavation work over to professional archaeologists. If even a finger bone had been found that would be enough to say this soldier has been “found”, but what apparently has happened is the artifacts were “looted” and this soldier still remains in a “missing” status. I do not think that the findings, opinions or conclusion of Boy Scout archaeology can be taken very seriously and they are not qualified for excavating a missing soldier’s presumed final or temporary resting place. But, without having the proper authorization to begin with it would be self incriminating to inform the same agencies that would have arrested them had the known what they were doing in the first place. Better to get out of France with the “loot” as quickly as possible and make the announcement on a local level, become a hero for a small German town and continue to dazzle an evidently very naïve Center of Military History.)

    4.)Ok, so we have a dog tag from a soldier that belonged to the 125th Landwehr Infantry, what does that have to do with confirming the “York Spot”. This tag was found exactly where it should be, on the hill the 125th occupied during the battle.

    This man says: “The discovery is the strongest undisputable piece evidence directly linking a specific soldier with the York spot.”

    I thought they said earlier that the 21 pistol cartridges were the most undisputable evidence linking a specific soldier to the York Spot, and in this case SGT York himself, at least according to this man’s claims.

    5.)Again we see that this man says that the 125th Landwehr was on the Humserberg and York defeated the machine guns on the Humserberg. If you look at the 1918 German 1;25,000 map sheet or the official German report about the incident you will clearly see that the Humserberg is actually located just southwest of the town of Cornay an nowhere near this hill. In the German records there are only one or two accounts that mention this hill specifically and in both cases they refer to it by using the elevation reference “153”, the map grid square number the hill is located in “1429” or simply refer to it as the hill west of the “Schlossberg” (Hill 223). The Americans called this hill “Hill 167” for the elevation reference found on the 1918 French 1;20,000 map sheet. Strange that in the American documentation and Signal Corps photographs there are many references to Hill 167 and that it was taken by the main attack of 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry and not the SGT Early/York patrol. All American accounts show that the “York fight” took place on the western facing slope of the hill located directly southwest of Hill 223, or “Hill 2” as the Germans called it and not where this man claims to have located the exact spot with “100% certainty”.

    6.)“100% certainty”, “conclusive, the search is over” and “undisputable piece of evidence”, these are terms not often used in the archeological, historical or scientific communities, yet they are found throughout this man’s writings and articles written on his behalf. What is he afraid of? Someone else may come along and prove him wrong in the near future? Sure seem so.

  13. MALCOLM STEELE says:


  14. History 1917 says:


    What you witnessed is a fraud and it has been exposed.

  15. History 1917 says:

    Here is the link to an article published last February by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology – South Carolina State University. The author, James Legg, participated in Dr. Nolan’s 2009 campaign of archaeology in the field at Chatel Chéhéry France where the York action occurred.

    The article, “Finding Sergeant York”, starts on Page 18. It takes a minute or two to download.

    Click to access legacy_v14n1.pdf

  16. History 1917 says:

    It appears that Wikipedia online encyclopedia has made a few changes on the Alvin C. York article in the last few days. Scroll down to the new chapter called “Site if Sergeant York’s Heroics”

    Finally Wikipedia has added information about the research of Dr. Tom Nolan from the Middle Tennessee State University. In the last three days there has been a lot of activity in Wikipedia, especially on the article “Discussion” page.

    Look at “ANSWER PART 3” here:…at_description

    And a new discussion chapter called “Controversy: Battlefield Location”…field_location

    Here is an excerpt of text from the “Controversy: Battlefield Location” discussion. It is what a retired US Army officer has to say about the controversy and Wikipedia.

    “It needs to be brought to their attention that Dr. Nolan’s work was performed under the oversight of a doctoral dissertation committee and he successfully defended his findings to the committee. His work was done with utmost intellectual and unbiased research methodology. Dr. Nolan’s info would lend more credibility to Wikipedia’s narrative than that of Colonel Mastriano.”

    “Peer reviews will start accepting Dr. Nolan’s findings since Colonel Mastriano’s writings did not meet rigorous research standards. In order to maintain their credibility, Wikipedia should emphasize Dr. Nolan’s work and treat Colonel Mastriano’s conclusion as a competing layman view of the York account.”

    “The importance of this is representatives of the French government are trying to promote the Argonne as a tourist WWI destination and have been “forced” to accept Colonel Mastriano. If Mastriano is accepted over Tom, then world wide visitors to the site are going to go away with a skewed historical account of what happened there. The French are caught in a dilemma as to finding a historically accurate solution to this issue without damaging French relations with the US Military.”

    “Wikipedia needs to understand that this is not a personality battle between Dr. Nolan and Colonel Mastriano and their respective supporters. And they need to understand that Mastriano, although first to publish, should not preempt Nolan. He could not rush his dissertation to be first. Mastriano, however, must have known about Dr. Nolan’s research and rushed his in order to get name recognition.”

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