Original U.S. WWI M1917 Doughboy Helmet with Co. L 125th Infantry Regiment Felt Tapestry

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very good example of a U.S. M1917 "Doughboy" helmet, which features original period textured OD Green paint and is complete with all parts. This really is a good example of these helmets, many of which are now just shells, completely missing the internal rigging.

The shell is maker marked with a stamping on the underside of the rim that reads X H O. 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 on the outside of the helmet, with a lot of the original texture remaining. The interior is also very nice, though there is some oxidation on the inside of the brim in areas. The helmet has light overall dirt and dust, which we have left intact to preserve the lovely patina.

The liner is present, and in good condition, especially considering the age. The oil cloth is in good shape, as is the netting underneath, and the top strap is stamped with size 6 7/8. There is however definitely wear to the top pad, which is almost entirely missing. The original label on the top has mostly worn away. The chin strap is present and fully intact, showing only light age and wear.

Included with the helmet is a very nice diamond-shaped felt tapestry, measuring about 36" tall and 32" across, made of red, white, and blue felt with a purple backing. It is marked to CO. L 125TH INF, or Company L of the 125th Infantry Regiment. At the bottom it has the crossed rifles for infantry under a "stars & stripes" shield, and U S A for the U.S. Army.

This unit was first raised in 1852, and fought during the Civil War as the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. After several name changes and consolidations, the unit became the 125th Infantry Regiment, and was summarily assigned to the 32nd Infantry Division - "Les Terribles" in 1917. It was as part of this unit that it fought during WWI. Definitely a unit with a long and interesting history.

A great example of an authentic WWI "Doughboy" helmet from WWI, complete with a great unit marked felt tapestry, ready to display!

The 32nd Infantry Division in WWI:

The 32nd Division was activated in July 1917 at Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas of National Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin furnished approximately 15,000 men, and another 8,000 troops came from Michigan. The division was made up of the 125th and 126th Infantry Regiments (63rd Infantry Brigade) and the 127th and 128th Infantry Regiments (64th Infantry Brigade), as well as three artillery regiments within the 57th Field Artillery Brigade. On 4 August 1917, Battery F, 121st Field Artillery regiment was the first unit to arrive at Camp MacArthur. The remainder arrived as soon as trains could be mustered for transportation.

After arriving in France, the Division took part in the following major campaigns:

  • Battle of Marne
  • Battle of Oise
  • Meuse-Argonne Offensive

It was during these actions that the Division gained the nickname "Les Terribles". The division fought in three major offensives, engaging and defeating 23 German divisions. They took 2,153 prisoners and gained 32 kilometers (20 mi), pushing back every German counterattack. During the drive to capture Fismes, they successfully attacked over open ground at great cost. The unit suffered 13,261 total casualties: KIA-2,250; WIA-11,011.

General de Mondesir, the 38th French Corps Commander, which the 32nd served under, went to the front to observe the fighting. When he saw how the 32nd cleared the Germans out of their reinforced positions with unrelenting and successful attacks, he exclaimed, Oui, Oui, Les soldats terribles, tres bien, tres bien! General Charles Mangin heard of it and referred to the 32nd Division as Les Terribles when he asked for the division to join his 10th French Army north of Soissons. He later made the nickname official when he incorporated it in his citation for their attack at Juvigny. 

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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