Original U.S. WWI M1917 Helmet with Original Paint from the New York 77th Infantry Division - The Lost Battalion
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 US-Made M1917s differed slightly in its lining detail, and exhibited US manufacture markings, such as this example.
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 Fine Example features completely original Textured paint, retained at nearly 100%, and features the insignia of the famous 77th Infantry Division, known as the "Statue of Liberty", on the front. It is complete with liner and partial chinstrap and has original period brown paint on the underside of the shell. The shell is maker marked with the stamping on the underside of the rim YJ 149. This stamp is a known US heat lot code, which along with the solid rivets, indicates that this is a U.S. manufactured helmet. The brim of the helmet does have some bends and dents, which we have left in place to preserve the authentic nature of this helmet.
The chin strap for the liner is almost completely missing below the square chin strap bales. There has been a wire "chin strap" attached to the bales to help display the helmet. The oilcloth however is in very good shape, as is the net underneath. The central pad is complete,though the original label is no longer present.
This is a very nice example of a completely genuine USGI Great War helmet from an legendary division of the US army, ready to display!
The Lost Battalion is the name given to nine companies of the United States New York-based 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:
WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALELL [sic] 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT.
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.
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