Original U.S. WWI M1917 SBR Gas Mask with Carry Bag named to USGI in 5th Field Artillery 1st Infantry Division
Original Item: Only One Available. Of the 5,250,000 gas masks of all types produced by the U.S. during the war, 1.6 million of them were the improved version of the British SBR. This mask was officially known as the U.S. Corrected English Small Box Respirator or the U.S. Corrected English Model (CEM). Produced in six sizes (1 through 6) from January to March 1918, the CEM was one of the two most commonly worn American made gas masks used by the AEF.
Despite complaints from France regarding the British SBRs uncomfortable mouthpiece and its despised hated nose-clip, American gas experts determined that this type of respirator provided the best protection. Ever since the failure of the ASBR, American gasmask designers toiled to modify, improve, and ultimately make the American version of the SBR more comfortable, more reliable and stronger than the English mask that it mirrored. After numerous revisions, by October of 1917, the design had been perfected. Upon passing a comprehensive battery of field tests, the CEM respirator went into full scale production in January of 1918. It would be the very first U.S. made gasmask to see service in the gas soaked trenches of the Western Front.
This is an very good example complete with the mask, connection hose, filter, and carry satchel. It also still has the metal "spring" in the bottom that goes under the filter, and even has the original packet containing instructions and repair tape. The mask is in good condition, though unfortunately the rubber has become quite hard, so there is no way for us to unfold it anymore. The hose is still somewhat supple, but the elastic straps are also gone. Early Rubber unfortunately is not as stable as later examples, and after 100 years virtually any type of rubber can harden.
The best part about this example is definitely the markings on the back of the satchel. It has the soldiers name, regiment, and operating number on the left side:
BAT B. 5 F A
The right side even has a drawn in 1st Infantry Division insignia, which was the division that the 5th Field Artillery Regiment was under during WWI. It was responsible for 155mm Artillery, most likely the French Designed Canon de 155 Grande Puissance Filloux (GPF) mle.1917.
Genuine examples in this overall very good condition are always hard to find, especially ones with markings like this with great research potential. Ready to display!
History of the 1st Division in WWI:
The First Expeditionary Division, later designated the 1st Infantry Division, was constituted on 24 May 1917, in the Regular Army, and was organized on 8 June 1917, at Fort Jay, on Governors Island in New York harbor under the command of Brigadier General William L. Sibert, from Army units then in service on the U.S.-Mexico border and at various Army posts throughout the United States. The original table of organization and equipment (TO&E) included two organic infantry brigades of two infantry regiments each, one engineer battalion; one signal battalion; one trench mortar battery; one field artillery brigade of three field artillery regiments; one air squadron; and a full division train. The total authorized strength of this TO&E was 18,919 officers and enlisted men. George S. Patton, who served as the first headquarters commandant for the American Expeditionary Forces oversaw much of the arrangements for the movement of the 1st Division to France, and their organization in-country.
The first units sailed from New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey on 14 June 1917. Throughout the remainder of the year, the rest of the division followed, landing at St. Nazaire, France, and Liverpool, England. After a brief stay in rest camps, the troops in England proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre. The last unit arrived in St. Nazaire 22 December. Upon arrival in France, the division, less its artillery, was assembled in the First (Gondrecourt) training area, and the artillery was at Le Valdahon.
On 4 July (Independence Day in the United States), the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, paraded through the streets of Paris to bolster the sagging French spirits. At Lafayette's tomb, one of General John J. Pershing's staff said, "Lafayette, we are here!" Two days later, 6 July, Headquarters, First Expeditionary Division was redesignated as Headquarters, First Division.
On 8 August 1917, the 1st Division adopted the Square Table of Organization and Equipment, which included two organic infantry brigades of two infantry regiments each; one engineer regiment; one signal battalion; one machine gun battalion; one field artillery brigade of three field artillery regiments, and a complete division train. The total authorized strength of this new TO&E was 27,120 officers and enlisted men.
On the morning of 23 October, the first American shell of the war was fired toward German lines by a First Division artillery unit. Two days later, the 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry suffered the first American casualties of the war.
By April 1918, the Germans had pushed to within 40 miles (64 km) of Paris. In reaction to this thrust, the Big Red One moved into the Picardy Sector to bolster the exhausted French First Army. To the division's front lay the small village of Cantigny, situated on the high ground overlooking a forested countryside. The 28th Infantry Regiment attacked the town, and within 45 minutes captured it along with 250 German soldiers. It was the first American victory of the war. The 28th was thereafter named the "Black Lions of Cantigny."
Soissons was taken by the First Division in July 1918. The Soissons victory was costly - 700 men were killed or wounded. (One of them, Private Francis Lupo of Cincinnati, was missing in action for 85 years, until his remains were discovered on the former battlefield in 2003). The First Infantry helped to clear the St. Mihiel salient by fighting continuously from 11-13 September 1918. The last major World War I battle was fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. The division advanced seven kilometers and defeated, in whole or part, eight German divisions. The war was over when the Armistice was signed. The division was at Sedan, the farthest American penetration of the war, and was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany.
By the end of the war, the division had suffered 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds. Five division soldiers received Medals of Honor.
The division's dog-mascot was a cairn terrier known as Rags. Rags was adopted by the division in 1918 and remained its mascot until his death in 1936. Rags achieved notoriety and celebrity as a war dog, after saving many lives in the crucial Argonne Campaign by delivering a vital message despite being bombed and gassed.
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