Original U.S. WWI M1917 American Expeditionary Forces Tank Corps Doughboy Helmet with Liner

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent example of a U.S. M1917 "Doughboy" helmet, which features original period textured OD Green paint and a painted A.E.F. Tank Corps Unit Insignia. The shell is maker marked with a stamping on the underside of the rim that reads ZB 40. 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, with only light wear from service. There are a few small areas of flaking and oxidation, but no major degradation or denting. There is some dirt on the exterior, which we have left intact to preserve the patina. The liner is present and complete, with some light wear and age related degradation.  There is no size marked, and there is some degradation to the felt top pad. The label at the top is missing, and about half the chin strap is missing, with what remains split partly in half down the center.

The best feature of this helmet is definitely the original hand painted American Expeditionary Forces Tank Corps emblem on the side of the helmet. The Triangle Design with Yellow, Red, and Blue polygons inside is instantly recognizable as the basis for all of the U.S. Army Armored Division insignia, except that the red and blue are reversed for the WWI Tank corps. The triangle is an old heraldic device called a "pile", representing a spearhead, which would later be the name of the 3rd Armored Division. The Division Insignia maintains most of the original paint and is somewhat dirty from service.

A great example of an authentic WWI "Doughboy" helmet shell from the A.E.F. Tank Corps, ready to display!

History of the A.E.F. Tank Corps during WWI:

The Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces was the mechanized unit that engaged in tank warfare for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front during World War I. Brigadier General Samuel D. Rockenbach, as the Chief of Tank Corps for the American Expeditionary Forces under Pershing, organized, trained, equipped and then deployed the first American tank units to the Western Front of 1918 Europe. An initial plan for 2,000 light Renault FT tanks and 200 heavy British Mark VI tanks was changed to 20 battalions of 77 light tanks each and 10 battalions of 45 heavy tanks each. A total of eight heavy battalions (the 301st to 308th) and 21 light battalions (the 326th to 346th) were raised, but only four (the 301st, 331st, 344th and 345th) saw combat.

Captain George S. Patton, the first officer assigned to the unit, set up a light tank school at Bourg, France, starting on 10 November 1917. In the first half of 1918, the 326th and 327th Tank Battalions were organized at Patton's school, while the 301st Heavy Tank Battalion was raised at Camp Meade, Maryland, USA and transported to the British Tank School at Bovington Camp in southern England, for training.

The 326th (under the command of Sereno E. Brett) and 327th Tank Battalions (later renamed the 344th and 345th and organized into the 304th Tank Brigade, commanded by Patton), were the first into combat, beginning with the Battle of Saint-Mihiel (as part of the US IV Corps) on 12 September 1918. The small French Renault FT tanks they were equipped with found the going hard and many were lost or ran out of fuel crossing the battlefield – the Germans, forewarned, had largely retreated from the salient. They then took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (as part of the US V Corps) on 26 September. Major Brett assumed command of the 304th after Patton was injured on 26 September, the first day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive near Cheppy, France.

The 301st, equipped with British Mark V heavy tanks, suffered large casualties in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal on 29 September as part of the British 4th Tank Brigade, under the control of the Australian Corps. Some tanks were hit by shelling before the start line, while others were lost crossing an unreported British minefield. Of the 34 participating tanks, only 10 made rallying. The 301st then seized the village of Brancourt on 8 October, fought in the Battle of the Selle on 18 October, and participated in a night attack on 22–23 October in the vicinity of the Sambre Canal.

During the war, two members of the Tank Corps (both from the 344th Battalion) were awarded the Medal of Honor; Donald M. Call and Harold W. Roberts.

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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