In a recent letter, one lad asked about Dog Tags. But in the old, old days one of the Sergeants or Officers went back over the battle field to identify the Dead, or the Dead were just buried without concern for the identity. During the "Cold Harbor Battle" of the Civil War, men on both sides sewed their name and address on their coats so they could be identified and the family informed of their Death. I'm sure it happened more often than not.
The first Government issue Dog Tags during WWI were round. You were issued two round discs about one inch in diameter during boot camp. There was a metal stamp kit that had metal letters of the alphabet, a metal block and a small hammer. Each man had to stamp his name on the Dog Tags and hang them around their neck with a length of leather thong or shoe string.
Then during WWII the Government issued Dog Tags and I understand it started some time in 1930's. The Army had oval about an inch and a quarter long. The Navy/Marine Corps were a bit more than round as you can see by my Dog Tag from the Korean War (I lost my WWII Dog Tags when I got out after the War).
There was Tetanus Shot date, your Religious preference, and of course name and serial number, and during WWII it was marked USMC or USMCR. An interesting note on Dog Tags, at a Gun Show after I retired, a guy came to my table and handed me a USMC Dog Tag with the name on it and it had the fingerprint on the back. He told me he bought something from Japan and the Dog Tag was inside the item. He gave it to me to see if I could find the owner, so I believe I sent the data to "Leatherneck" magazine and they found the owner who had been a POW in Japan and somehow his Dog Tag was lost while there.
Here's my Dog Tag of the Korean War which is on my key chain along with my Vietnam War Dog Tag.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired