Original U.S. WWI 1st Infantry Division Painted British Made M1917 Doughboy Helmet - “The Big Red One”
Original Item: Only One Available. When America was drawn into the European conflict it possessed no steel helmets of its own. They looked to other nations for ideas and selected the British helmet as the most suitable. Britain supplied about half a million helmets to the Americans before production of an American version was started in the U.S. This is a fantastic, genuine Great War hand painted 1st Infantry Division British made helmet, complete with its original liner and chinstrap.
The heat stamp on the underside of the rim is HS 476, a nice and low lot number for a helmet manufactured by Hadfield Ltd of Sheffield. The heat stamp and the split rivets on the chinstrap bales are a solid indication and a good reference point for identifying British made helmets for American use during the Great War. The best feature on this helmet is the hand painted 1st Infantry Division “Big Red One” on the front in a tan shield and what is now faded slightly. The "Red One" Division achieved a number of firsts in World War I--to arrive in France, to be at the front, to fire at the enemy, to raid, to suffer casualties and to be cited in general orders. Thus the insignia is a large, red numeral "one" on an olive drab shield. The "Fighting First" also fought in North Africa and Sicily.
The helmet is in lovely condition with a solid liner, oilcloth, under netting and felt top pad. The leather chinstrap is also in solid condition, but does have a period repair on the right side and the left side is detached from the looped ends. The size stamp is still very legible on the upper portion, 7.
This is actually a fantastic British made example, used by a member of the Fighting First Division. Comes more than ready for display.
1st Infantry Division
The 1st Infantry Division is a combined arms division of the United States Army, and is the oldest continuously serving division in the Regular Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917 during World War I. It was officially nicknamed "The Big Red One" (abbreviated "BRO") after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed "The Fighting First." The division has also received troop monikers of "The Big Dead One" and "The Bloody First" as puns on the respective officially sanctioned nicknames. It is currently based at Fort Riley, Kansas.
A few weeks after the American entry into World War I, the First Expeditionary Division, later designated the 1st Infantry Division, was constituted on 24 May 1917, in the Regular Army, and was organized on 8 June 1917, at Fort Jay, on Governors Island in New York harbor under the command of Brigadier General William L. Sibert, from Army units then in service on the Mexico–United States border and at various Army posts throughout the United States. The original table of organization and equipment (TO&E) included two organic infantry brigades of two infantry regiments each, one engineer battalion; one signal battalion; one trench mortar battery; one field artillery brigade of three field artillery regiments; one air squadron; and a full division train. The total authorized strength of this TO&E was 18,919 officers and enlisted men. George S. Patton, who served as the first headquarters commandant for the American Expeditionary Forces, oversaw much of the arrangements for the movement of the 1st Division to France, and their organization in-country. Frank W. Coe, who later served as Chief of Coast Artillery, was the division's first chief of staff.
The first units sailed from New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, on 14 June 1917. Throughout the remainder of the year, the rest of the division followed, landing at St. Nazaire, France, and Liverpool, England. After a brief stay in rest camps, the troops in England proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre. The last unit arrived in St. Nazaire 22 December. Upon arrival in France, the division, less its artillery, was assembled in the First (Gondrecourt) training area, and the artillery was at Le Valdahon.
On 4 July, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, paraded through the streets of Paris to bolster the sagging French spirits. An apocryphal story holds that at Lafayette's tomb, to the delight of the attending Parisians, Captain Charles E. Stanton of the division's 16th Infantry Regiment stepped forward and declared, "Lafayette, nous sommes ici! [Lafayette, we are here!]" Two days later, 6 July, Headquarters, First Expeditionary Division was redesignated as Headquarters, First Division, American Expeditionary Forces.
On 8 August 1917, the 1st Division adopted the "square" Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E), which specified two organic infantry brigades of two infantry regiments each; one engineer regiment; one signal battalion; one machine gun battalion; one field artillery brigade of three field artillery regiments, and a complete division train. The total authorized strength of this new TO&E was 27,120 officers and enlisted men.
On the morning of 23 October, the first American shell of the war was fired toward German lines by a First Division artillery unit. Two days later, the 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry suffered the first American casualties of the war.
By April 1918, the German Army had pushed to within 40 miles (64 km) of Paris. In reaction to this thrust, the division moved into the Picardy Sector to bolster the exhausted French First Army. To the division's front lay the small village of Cantigny, situated on the high ground overlooking a forested countryside. The 28th Infantry Regiment attacked the town, and within 45 minutes captured it along with 250 German soldiers. It was the first American victory of the war. The 28th was thereafter named the "Black Lions of Cantigny."
Soissons was taken by the 1st Division in July 1918. The Soissons victory was costly – 700 men were killed or wounded. (One of them, Private Francis Lupo of Cincinnati, was missing in action for 85 years, until his remains were discovered on the former battlefield in 2003). The 1st Division took part in the first offensive by an American army in the war, and helped to clear the Saint-Mihiel salient by fighting continuously from 11 to 13 September 1918. The last major World War I battle was fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. The division advanced a total of seven kilometers and defeated, in whole or part, eight German divisions. This victory was mainly due to the efforts of George C. Marshall, who began the war as the division's Deputy Chief of Staff before being elevated to G-3 for the entire AEF in July 1918. Combat operations ended with the implementation of the terms of the Armistice on 11 November 1918. At the time the division was at Sedan, the farthest American penetration of the war, and was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany.
By the end of the war, the division had suffered 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds. Five division soldiers received Medals of Honor.
The division's dog-mascot was a mixed breed terrier known as Rags. Rags was adopted by the division in 1918 and remained its mascot until his death in 1936. Rags achieved notoriety and celebrity as a war dog, after saving many lives in the crucial Argonne Campaign by delivering a vital message despite being bombed and gassed.
The 1st Division returned to the continental U.S. in September 1919, demobilized its war-time TO&E at Camp Zachary Taylor at Louisville, Kentucky, and then returned to New York, with its headquarters located at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
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