Original U.S. WWI M1917 Refurbished Doughboy Helmet of the 50th Aero Squadron
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 fantastic camouflage design featuring the insignia of the famous 50th Aero Squadron on the side. The 50th Aero Squadron insignia is the Dutch Girl, the trademark emblem of Old Dutch Cleanser, which was adopted to represent that the squadron's focus was to “clean up on Germany” during WWI.
The helmet does not have a liner but does have a chinstrap (broken).
The unit was first organized as the 50th Aero Squadron with 149 men at Kelly Field #1, Texas, on 6 August 1917. Moved to Kelly Field #2 on 12 September and designated as a school squadron, personnel entering training for engine mechanics and performed field garrison duties. Was moved back to Field #1 on 17 November and was designated a service squadron, being equipped with Curtiss JN-4 aircraft and pilots, and entered training for combat service in France.
On 20 December 1917, the 50th transferred from Kelly Field and ordered for overseas duty. It moved to the Aviation Concentration Center, Camp Mills, Garden City, New York and arrived on 3 January 1918. Departed from the United States on transport #508 (RMS Carmania on 9 January, arriving Liverpool, England on 24 January. Once in England, the 50th was moved to RFC Harlaxton, Lincolnshire and began advance training prior to being sent to France. Instruction was received in aircraft rigging and engine repair, along with gunnery, radio, photography and aerial bombing.
Combat in France
Departure orders for France were received on 3 July 1918, the squadron departing from the port of Southampton, arriving in Le Havre, France on 14 July. Entered service with the Air Service, AEF at St. Maixent Aerodrome on 17 July. After receiving additional personnel, supplies and equipment, was moved to the combat flying school at Amanty Airdrome for aireal observers on 27 July. At Amanty, the squadron received American-built De Havilland DH-4 and after training was received on the DH-4s, the squadron was designated as a Corps Observation squadron and assigned to the I Corps Observation Group. It moved to Bicqueley Airdrome on 8 September for combat duty on the front. The squadron adopted the Dutch Girl insignia, trademark of Old Dutch Cleanser. To the fliers of the 50th Aero Squadron, the Dutch Girl meant one thing: "Clean up on Germany." The insignia was painted on the aircraft, and squadron members wore matching pins above the right breast pocket on their uniforms.
In combat, the mission of the 50th Aero Squadron was general surveillance of the enemy rear areas by means of both visual and photographic reconnaissance. These missions were carried out for the purpose of intelligence-gathering and informing First Army headquarters informed of enemy movements and preparations for attacks or retreats of its infantry forces. The 50th identified enemy activity along roads and railroads, ground stations, various storage dumps and airfields; the numbers of fires and activities of enemy aircraft, and the amount of anti-aircraft artillery was also monitored and reported. Due to the nature of the missions and the depths of enemy area which was penetrated, the missions were carried out at high altitudes, usually between 4,500 and 5,500 meters.
The 50th's first combat mission was flown on 12 September, being assigned for observation duties in support of the 82d and 90th Infantry Divisions as part of the St. Mihiel Offensive. It flew two artillery surveillance flights to help adjust the artillery barrage on enemy forces for the 90th Division, and also six reconnaissance missions, observing and photographing enemy forces in the rear areas and reporting that information to the 82d Division Commander. The weather during the offensive, however, was extremely poor. Fortunately, the enemy air activity was very slight at the beginning of the offensive, but a day or two afterwards, there was a marked increase in enemy activity. One observer was killed in action, and one plane, with its observer and pilot failed to return during the Offensive.
After St. Mihiel, the squadron moved to the Remicourt Aerodrome in preparation for the next American offensive, in the Argonne Forest. There it joined the 1st and 12th Aero Squadrons. Movement to Remicourt was delayed until 24 September due to weather. On the 26th combat operations began supporting the 77th Division, the 50th Aero Squadron flew its first missions of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive with a complement of 15 pilots, 15 observers, and 16 aircraft. Initially the aircraft flew observation or dropped messages.
At the beginning of October, units of the 308th Infantry Regiment were cut off and surrounded by German troops. Able to communicate with division headquarters only by carrier pigeon, the battalion-sized force inadvertently supplied division headquarters with incorrect coordinates of its location. On 2 October the 50th Aero Squadron searched for signs of the cut-off battalion, and on 5 October the division commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Alexander, requested that the 50th Aero Squadron locate and resupply the "Lost Battalion" by air with ammunition, rations, and medical supplies.
On 28 October, the squadron was moved from Remicourt to the new airdrome at Clermont-en-Argonne, where it continued combat operations until the 11 November Armistice with Germany.
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