Item:
ON5400

Original U.S. WWI M1917 Refurbished Helmet 42nd Infantry Division - Rainbow Division

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, and this is such an example. The US-Made M1917s 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 42nd Infantry Division known as the Rainbow Division. The helmet also has two wound stripes in yellow.

Shell is in excellent condition but it is missing the liner and chinstrap.

History of the 42nd Infantry Division in WWI:

WW2 Combat chronicle:

When formed and activated for World War II, the 42ID was a unique unit, as it was a reconstitution of the Rainbow Division from World War I. Except for the division headquarters, none of its earlier elements had reformed in the interwar period, so the Army Ground Forces filled its new units with personnel from every state. From the division standup at Camp Gruber until the division stood down in Austria, at every formal assembly, the division displayed not only the National and Divisional Colors, but all 48 state colors (State Flags). To emphasize the 42ID lineage from the 42ID of World War I, Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins activated the unit on 14 July, the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Champagne-Marne campaign in France.

Following training at Camp Gruber, OK and the journey to Europe, the three infantry regiments (222nd, 232nd, & 242nd) and a detachment of the 42ID Headquarters arrived in France

at Marseille, 8–9 December 1944, and were formed into Task Force (TF) Linden, under Henning Linden, the Assistant Division Commander (ADC). TF Linden was task organized to VI Corps under 7th Army. TF Linden entered combat in the vicinity of Strasbourg, relieving elements of the 36ID on 24 December 1944.

 

In January 1945, defending a 31-mile sector along the Rhine, north and south of Strasbourg, TF Linden repulsed a number of enemy counterattacks, at Hatten and other locations, during the German "Operation Northwind" offensive. At the headquarters of the First Battalion, 242IR, Private First Class Vito R. Bertoldo was waging his 48-hour defense of the Command Post, for which he received the Medal of Honor. When the battalion CP was attacked by a German tank with its 88-mm. gun and machine gun fire, Bertoldo remained at his post and with his own machine gun killed the occupants of the tank when they tried to remove mines which were blocking their advance.[10] On 24 and 25 January 1945, in the Bois D’Ohlungen, and the vicinity of Schweighouse-sur-Moder and Neubourg, the 222nd Infantry Regiment held a position covering a front of 7,500 yards, three times the normal frontage for a regiment in defense. After a two-hour artillery bombardment the 222nd Infantry Regiment was repeatedly attacked by elements of the German 7th Parachute, 47th Volks Grenadier Division, and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division. During the ensuing struggle one company of the 222nd IR was surrounded, but only withdrew from their position and infiltrated back through the Germans to the regimental lines after exhausting all but 35 rounds of ammunition. For 24 hours the battle raged, but the Germans were never able to break through the 222nd IR lines. For this action the 222nd Infantry Regiment was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (2001). After these enemy attacks, TF Linden returned to reserve of the 7th Army and trained with the remainder of the 42ID which had arrived in the meantime.

On 14 February 1945, the 42ID as a whole entered combat, taking up defensive positions near Haguenau in the Hardt Forest. After a month of extensive patrolling and active defense, the 42ID went on the offensive. On the night of February 27 Germans laid down a heavy contingent of artillery and mortar fire and under this the elements of the 6th Mountain Division were withdrawn and replaced by the 221st Volksgrenadier Regiment.

In the brief period this unit had been in the line it had come to respect the Rainbow and fear its patrols and raids. "Is your Division a part of Roosevelt's SS?" asked one German when captured. The remark was passed along and men kidded each other about being in the Rainbow SS. The 42ID attacked through the Hardt Forest, broke through the Siegfried Line, 15–21 March 1945, cleared Dahn and Busenberg, and mopped up in that general area, while the 3rd Army created and expanded bridgeheads across the Rhine. Moving across the Rhine, 31 March 1945, the 42ID captured Wertheim am Main, 1 April 1945, and Würzburg, 2–6 April 1945, after a fierce battle. Schweinfurt fell next after hand-to-hand engagements, 9–12 April 1945. Fürth, near Nürnberg, put up fanatical resistance, but was taken, 18–19 April 1945, by the 42ID.

On 25 April, the 42ID captured Donauwörth on the Danube, and on 29 April 1945, liberated some 30,000 inmates at CC Camp, a NSDAP prison camp. The 42ID passed through Munich, 30 April 1945, and ended its campaign by crossing the Austrian border north of Salzburg.

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

 

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