Original U.S. WWI M1917 102nd Field Artilley Regiment Doughboy Helmet - 26th Infantry Yankee Division
Original Item: Only One Available. 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.
This rare example is completely genuine with original paint featuring the insignia of the 102nd Field Artillery Regiment and the 26th Infantry Division known as the Yankee Division.
Helmet is missing the liner and chinstrap and features original brown paint on the underside of the shell. The shell is maker marked with the stamping on the underside of the rim ZA 28.
This is a very rare example of a genuine USGI Great War helmet from an legendary division of the US army.
The 26th Infantry Division was first constituted on 18 July 1917 as the 26th Division. It was formally activated on 22 August of that year in Boston, Massachusetts. The division commanded two brigades comprising national guard units from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The 51st Infantry Brigade contained the 101st Infantry Regiment and the 102nd Infantry Regiment, while the 52nd Infantry Brigade contained the 103rd Infantry Regiment and the 104th Infantry Regiment. Shortly thereafter, division commander Major General C. R. Edwards called a press conference to determine a nickname for the newly formed division. Edwards decided to settle on the suggestion of "Yankee Division" since all of the subordinate units of the division were from New England. Shortly thereafter, the division approved a shoulder sleeve insignia with a "YD" monogram to reflect this.
On 21 September 1917, the division arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France. It was the second division of the American Expeditionary Forces to arrive into the theater at the time, and the first division wholly organized in the United States, joining the 1st Infantry Division. Two additional divisions completed the first wave of American troop deployment, with the 2nd Division formed in France and the 42nd Division arriving at St. Nazaire on 29 October. The division immediately moved to Neufchâteau for training, as most of the division's soldiers were raw recruits, new to military service. Because of this, much of the division's force was trained by the experienced French forces. It trained extensively with the other three US divisions, organized as the U.S. I Corps in January 1918, before being moved into a quiet sector of the trenches in February.
The 26th Infantry Division remained in a relatively quiet region of the lines along the Chemin des Dames for several months before it relieved the 1st Division near St. Mihiel on 3 April. The line here taken over extended from the vicinity of Apremont, on the west, in front of Xivray-Marvoisin, Seicheprey, and Bois de Remieres, as far as the Bois de Jury, on the right, where the French line joined the American line. Division Headquarters were at Boucq.
The stay of the Division in this sector was marked by several serious encounters with the enemy, where considerable forces were engaged. There were furthermore almost nightly encounters between patrols or ambush parties, and the harassing fire of the artillery on both sides was very active.
On 10, 12 and 13 April, the lines held by the 104th Infantry in Bois Brule (near Apremont), and by the French to the left, were heavily attacked by the Germans. At first the enemy secured a foothold in some advanced trenches which were not strongly held, but sturdy counterattacks succeeded in driving the enemy out with serious losses, and the line was entirely re-established.
In late April, German infantry conducted a raid on positions of the 26th Division, one of the first attacks on Americans during the war. At 0400 on 20 April, German field artillery bombarded the 102nd Infantry's positions near Seicheprey before German stoßtruppen moved against the village. The artillery box barrage, continuing 36 hours, isolated American units. The Germans overwhelmed a machine gun company and two infantry companies of the 102nd and temporarily breached the trenches before elements of the division rallied and recaptured the village. The Germans withdrew before the division could counterattack but inflicted 634 casualties, including 80 killed, 424 wounded, and 130 captured, while losing over 600 men, including 150 killed of their own. Similar raids struck the 101st infantry at Flirey on 27 May, and the 103rd Infantry at Xivray-et-Marvoisin on 16 June, but were repulsed. The 26th Division was relieved by the 82nd Division on 28 June, moved by train to Meaux, and entered the line again northwest of Chateau Thierry, relieving the U.S. 2nd Division on 5 July.
As the size of the American Expeditionary Force grew, the division was placed under command of I U.S. Corps in July. When the Aisne-Marne campaign began shortly thereafter, the division, under I U.S. Corps was placed under command of the French Sixth Army protecting its east flank. When the offensive began, the division advanced up the spine of the Marne salient for several weeks, pushing through Belleau Wood, moving 10 miles from 18 to 25 July. On 12 August it was pulled from the lines near Toul to prepare for the next offensive. The division was then a part of the offensive at St. Mihiel, during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The division then moved in position for the last major offensive of the war, at Meuse-Argonne. This campaign was the last of the war, as an armistice was signed shortly thereafter. During World War I the division spent 210 days in combat, and suffered 1,587 killed in action and 12,077 wounded in action. The division returned to the United States and was demobilized on 3 May 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts.
In the years following World War I, the division remained in the National Guard, seeing periodic reorganizations but no major deployments except for weekend training. In 1921, the 102nd Infantry Regiment was replaced in the guard by the 182nd Infantry Regiment. In 1923, the 103rd Infantry Regiment was replaced with the 181st Infantry Regiment. In 1941, the 101st Infantry Regiment was replaced with the 164th Infantry Regiment briefly; one year later it was relieved from the division, along with the 182nd Infantry Regiment, in order to form the Americal Division.
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