Original U.S. WWI M1917 Refurbished Doughboy Helmet of the 25th Aero Squadron

Item Description

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 fine example has been restored with new paint by a master helmet restoration expert. It is a simple camouflage design replicating a documented helmet used by the 25th Aero Squadron during WWI.

Helmet has a completely intact liner and chin strap, with the expected wear and cracking from age. Almost all of the oil cloth lining still bears the oiled finish.  The original paper instruction label is still present under the liner securing rivet. The shell is maker marked with the stamping on the underside of the rim ZC 46.

This is a very nice example of a genuine USGI Great War helmet from an legendary unit of the US army.

The 25th Aero Squadron was an Air Service, United States Army unit that fought on the Western Front during World War I. The squadron was assigned as a Day Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron as part of the 4th Pursuit Group, Second United States Army. Its mission was to engage and clear enemy aircraft from the skies and provide escort to reconnaissance and bombardment squadrons over enemy territory.

The squadron saw limited combat, and with Second Army's planned offensive drive on Metz cancelled due to the 1918 Armistice with Germany, the squadron returned to the United States in June 1919 and was demobilized .

History of the 25th Aero Squadron

A detail of men from the 3d Aero Squadron at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was assigned to the new Kelly Field on 7 May 1917 to erect tents for the First Provisional Recruit Regiment. The next day, after a sufficient number of tents were put up, what became the 25th Aero Squadron began being quartered in Row "G". On 10 May, the first formation of men was held. Between 11 May and 13 June, the men of Row G went though the usual recruit training, a minute allowance of drill and a large portion of fatigue, such as digging ditches, latrines, excavation for road-building, erection of wooden barracks and performing guard duty on what became Kelly Field #1. Quite a few of the buildings erected on the field were the handiwork of the squadron. On 13 June, the unit was formally organized and given the designation of "20th Aero Squadron", however, due to a clerical error, the designation had been allocated to another unit, the squadron was re-designated as the "25th Aero Squadron" on 22 June.

On 1 July, equipment of all kinds was issued to the men, including uniforms, rifles, ammunition belts, but no aircraft. On the 15th, an old Curtiss RE-2 aircraft was parked in front of the squadron. Training was held on repair and rigging this aircraft, and on the 26th, the squadron was moved from their row of tents into one of the new wooden barracks which they had helped to erect. Further instruction on aircraft maintenance continued, and on 15 September, several crews from the squadron were sent over to the airfield to take charge of some Curtiss JN-4As and LWS, which were flying daily from Kelly Field #1.[3]

Training continued though the months of October and November at Kelly Field. On 9 December, the squadron was ready to be sent overseas and was ordered to proceed to the Aviation Prison Center, Garden City, Long Island. The squadron, however, did not depart Kelly Field until 28 December, arriving in New York on 3 January 1918. The time spent in Garden City was short, as on 9 January, the squadron took a short train trip to Hoboken, New Jersey and boarded the RMS Carmania, bound for Liverpool, England. The voyage across the Atlantic was uneventful, the squadron arriving in Liverpool on 24 January. A train was taken south to Winchester, where the 25th Aero Squadron was assigned to the Romsey Rest Camp.

Training in England
At Winchester, it was learned that the squadron would be assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps for advanced training before being sent to the front in France. It boarded a train, first proceeding to London, then changing there, took another train to Scotland, arriving at RFC Ayr at 9:00am on 31 January. At Ayr, the squadron was assigned to the #1 School of Aerial Fighting. After several weeks of intense training by the RFC, the British trainers determined that the squadron was perfectly capable of doing the work they were assigned. The men were divided into different flights, and were given the assignments of maintaining Sopwith Pups, Sopwith Camels, SE.5s, Sopwith Dolphins, French SPADs, Avro 504s, Bristol Fighters and Bristol monoplanes. Also a captured German Albatros was sent there for instructional purposes. On 23 April, the squadron was ordered to proceed to the #2 School of Aerial Fighting, RFC Marske-by-the-Sea, England for further training. There, given the scarcity of British aircraft mechanics, a large majority of the men of the 25th were pressed into service to support the station's operations. Finally, in early August, the squadron, being eager to get to the front, was ordered to proceed to France, leaving on 7 August for the Romney Rest Camp at Winchester. However, due to delays, the 25th did not reach the port of Le Havre until the afternoon of 16 August.

Western Front
After several days at Rest Camp #4, the 25th Aero Squadron boarded a French troop train bound for the Replacement Prison Center, AEF, St. Maixent Replacement Barracks on 18 August for equipping, and personnel processing. Then on the 27th, it moved again to the Air Service Production Center No. 2. at Romorantin Aerodrome, arriving on the 29th. There, the squadron went back to performing the same work it was doing at Kelly Field, that of ten hours of fatigue work each day, unloading steel from cars and placing it in piles. It continued this until 16 September when they departed for the 1st Air Depot at Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome.

At Colombey the squadron was finally classified as a Pursuit Squadron, and also began to receive pursuit pilots. Many of the pilots had been trained in England and had been attached to British squadrons, flying Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s over the lines. During its time in England, the 25th had gained much experience in maintaining S.E.5s, and it was delighted to learn it would be the first American Squadron to be equipped with the British aircraft. However, the S.E.5s which it would be equipped were intended to be fitted with American license-built Hispano-Suiza 8 engines manufactured by Wright Aeronautical. The planes were being assembled by the Austin Motor Company, in Birmingham and Coventry, England and several flying officers were sent to England to ferry the planes to the front. However, this did not proceed as quickly as was hoped, as delays in the delivery of the aircraft in England and with one aircraft being flown to the American Air Acceptance Park #1 at Orly Field, it was held for an engine overhaul, a thorough examination and it needed to be equipped with armament.

On 24 October, the squadron was moved to Croix de Metz Aerodrome, near Toul, where the squadron was assigned to the Second Army Air Service, 4th Pursuit Group. The 141st Aero Squadron of the group was already operating over the lines with SPAD XIIIs, but the 25th was still awaiting aircraft. The next ten days were spent on camp duty awaiting the problems with its aircraft being sorted out. Finally, on 1 November, the first S.E.5 was delivered to the squadron, with the second aircraft being delivered the next day. Deliveries of the planes continued, although at a slow pace though November until the full complement of twenty-one planes was received by the end of the month.

On 10 November, the 25th Aero Squadron made its first flight over the lines, joining with the 4th Pursuit Group in a hunting expedition in front of Metz, with many of the 25th's S.E. 5as missing their "overhead" mount Lewis machine guns. No enemy aircraft were seen, but the squadron bombed German targets in Metz with twenty-pound bombs each pilot carried on their lap. This patrol qualified the squadron as an aerial pursuit unit operating on the front. The morning of the 11th saw another patrol being made over the front, being in the air at the time of the Armistice with Germany. However, again no enemy aircraft were seen, no bombs dropped and no rounds were fired by the squadron. One of the 25th's new pilots flying on the 10th and 11th was Philadelphia-born Joseph E. "Child Yank" Boudwin, the former wingman of Royal Air Force ace pilot Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor, when both men (often with Hugh Saunders as the other wingman to Beauchamp-Proctor) flew S.E.5as with No. 84 Squadron RAF from Bertangles, in the summer of 1918.

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