Original U.S. WWI 307th Infantry Regt. 77th Infantry Div. Named Grouping - M1917 Doughboy Helmet & SBR Gas Mask in Bag

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Set Available. This is a fantastic named WWI USGI Equipment set, consisting of a 77th Infantry Division Marked M1917 "Doughboy" steel helmet and an M1917 SBR Gas Mask, complete with carry bag and filter. The gas mask carry bag has been personalized to U.S. Army Soldier Pvt. 1st Class John Castrogiovanni, who served during WWII as part of Company "F" of the 307th Infantry regiment, part of the 77th "Statue of Liberty" Division. An Italian immigrant from Palermo, Sicily, he became a naturalized U.S. Citizen at the end of 1919, after returning from Europe.

At some point his last name was shortened to "Castro", as shown in the large number of documents included with this set, which are printed out internet research. They include his registration card, a picture of Company "F" 307th Inf. Regt, his name on the outbound and return voyages during his service, and much more. It's not often we get in a great set like this, named with lots of research material.

The helmet in the set is a great example of a U.S. M1917 "Doughboy" helmet with its original liner. It also features a great original period textured OD Green paint on the top side, and is marked on the front to the 77th Infantry Division - Statue of Liberty.

The shell is maker marked with a stamping on the underside of the rim that reads ZA 60. The solid rivets and heat lot number indicate that this helmet shell was produced in the United States. The paint is in very good condition both inside and outside the helmet. The liner is also in quite nice shape, with a very good oil cloth liner, and intact felt top pad. It is marked size 7 1/8 on the support strap in the middle, and still has the original top label almost completely intact. The chin strap is in very good shape, without the tears and degradation we often see.

The best feature of this helmet is definitely the original 77th Infantry Division - Statue of Liberty Division emblem in the center of the front of the helmet. The design is the classic blue trapezoid with a yellow "Statue of Liberty" painted in the middle. The paint and patina definitely match the rest of the helmet, and we have no doubts that it is authentic. There are no chips or missing paint, and it is one of the best original insignia we have seen.

The included M1917 SBR Gas Mask comes complete with the filter, carry satchel, and instructions. It still has the large spring under the filter, which helps to space the filter from the bottom of the satchel. Unfortunately the mask itself, as well as the hose, have become very stiff due to deterioration of the rubber. The mask is mostly crushed now, and definitely unable to fit on a mannequin. This is unfortunately the fate of almost all WWI U.S. gas masks, as the early rubber was not really able to last 100 years. Even modern rubber often deteriorates in a few decades, depending on the composition.

The carry satchel has lots of faint personalized markings on one side, and we can make out CASTRO as well as his serial number 1705864 on the right side. Below the serial number it is marked CO F 307 INF / 77 DIV.

A great example of an authentic name WWI "Doughboy" helmet with an original SBR gas mask, named to a soldier in the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. Ready to research and display!

The 77th Infantry Division was organized from draftees, drawn mostly from New York City, and trained at Camp Upton in Yaphank, NY in the central part of Suffolk Country, Long Island; the camp is now Brookhaven National Laboratory. The division consisted of the 153rd and 154th Infantry Brigades.

The 77th Infantry Division was the first American division composed of draftees to arrive in France in World War I, landing in April 1918; overall it was the seventh of 42 divisions to reach France. The division fought in the Battle of Château-Thierry on 18 July 1918.

It sustained 10,194 casualties: 1,486 killed and 8,708 wounded. The division returned to the U.S. in April 1919 and was deactivated that month.

The 154th Infantry Brigade was composed of the 307th and 308th Infantry Regiments and the 306th Machine Gun Battalion. While the division had been recruited as a National Army unit from the New York City area, attrition and replacements had complicated the complexion of the unit. For example, Company K, 307th Infantry, had been redesignated from the former Company L, 160th Infantry, California Army National Guard. The company had belonged to the 40th Division, which had been converted into a depot division in August 1918.

The "Lost Battalion" of World War I fame is the name given to nine companies of the United States 77th Infantry Division, roughly 554 men, who were isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before 194 remaining men were rescued. They were led by Major Charles White Whittlesey. On 2 October, the division quickly advanced into the Argonne, under the belief that French forces were supporting the left flank and two American units including the 92nd Division were supporting the right flank. Unknown to Whittlesey's unit, the French advance had been stalled. Without this knowledge, the Americans had moved beyond the rest of the Allied line and found themselves completely cut off and surrounded by German forces. For the next six days, suffering heavy losses, the men of the division were forced to fight off several attacks by the Germans.

The battalion suffered many hardships. Food was short, and water was available only by crawling under fire to a nearby stream. Ammunition ran low. Communications were also a problem, and at times they would be bombarded by shells from their own artillery. As every runner dispatched by Whittlesey either became lost or ran into German patrols, carrier pigeons became the only method of communicating with headquarters. In an infamous incident on 4 October, inaccurate coordinates were delivered by one of the pigeons and the unit was subjected to "friendly fire". The unit was saved by another pigeon, Cher Ami, delivering the following message:


Despite this, they held their ground and caused enough of a distraction for other Allied units to break through the German lines, which forced the Germans to retreat.

History of the M1917 Helmet

The M1917 was the US Army's first modern combat helmet, used from 1917 and during the 1920s, before being replaced by the M1917A1. The M1917A1 helmet was an updated version of the M1917 and initially used refurbished WW1 shells.

The M1917 is a near identical version of the British Mk.I steel helmet, and it is important to note that when the US joined the Great War in 1917 they were initially issued with a supply of around 400,000 British made Mk.Is, before production began state side. The M1917 differed slightly in its lining detail, and exhibited US manufacture markings.

M1917 helmet liners typically show a paper label at the crown and the dome rivet head. The liner is set up as on the British versions, with an oilcloth band and net configuration, attached to a leather strap, riveted to the shell. The chinstrap is leather with steel buckle.

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