Original U.S. WWI A.E.F. 503rd Engineer Battalion M1917 Helmet with Camouflage Textured Paint

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This genuine Great War helmet is a very fine example with excellent complete liner and chinstrap. It is authentic in every way.

The shell has original period camouflage textured paint in yellow, black, green, dark reddish brown and blue. The front is marked with 503 over a Castle Insignia for the 503rd Engineer Service Battalion and A.E.F for the American Expeditionary Force. The shell is maker marked with the stamping on the underside of the rim ZC 177. Helmet is complete with complete liner and chinstrap.

The 503rd was part of the 20th Engineers. No story of the Forestry Lingineers in France can be fittingly told without frequent recognition of the worth of the various auxiliary troops who served with the Twentieth Regiment. Reference to the tabular resume of the Forestry organization shows the existence of three distinct groups: the Service Companies, who were, at the last, actually parts of the Twentieth; Engineer Service Battalions, and Quartermaster troops attached for duty to the Forestry organization.

Of the three classes, the Service Companies were incomparably the most important in their value to the Regiment, both by superior training, longer service, greater administrative efficiency, but chiefly because they actually became a part of the Regiment whose devotion to duty, when duty meant only hard, continuous, unrequited toil, was unsurpassed and probably never equaled in the whole grim business of winning the war.

Practically none of our Service Companies were organized with a \iew to Forestry attainments. The 28 companies were formed as seven distinct Engineer regiments, only the first of which w ere in France any length of time before being assigned to duty with the Tenth and Twentieth.

The first four Service Companies went over as the 503 rd Engineers. They arrived in France shortly after the First and Second Battalions, having sailed November 26th, 1917, aboard the transport "Aeolus" ' and landed at St. Nazaire December 10th. The outfit was thoroughly scattered; one company was assigned to the Pontenx District, where they took over the operation of trains on several French branch roads, handling the products of the 1st Battalion of the Tenth (the 11th Bn., Twentieth), and thr Fourth and Sixth, at Mimizan and Castets. Other detach- ments of the 503rd served with the Fifth Battalion at and near Cjien, and with Co. E, Tenth Engineers, at Ciez-Colloutre, in the same district.

With the exception of the first four companies, all the service units were composed of colored troops, with white officers and sergeants. Most of them had had a thorough military training, and were sent overseas with the expectation of front-line duties.

This is an excellent example of a genuine USGI Great War helmet from an legendary division of the US army.

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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