Original U.S. WWII 29th Division 1942 M1 McCord Fixed Bale Front Seam Helmet with Firestone Liner
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Pre D-Day 29th Infantry Division equipment is some of the most sought after material on the collectors market due to the devastating loss the division took on "Omaha beach" in the early morning hours of June 6th, 1944. This is a 100% genuine Pre D-Day 29th ID M1 helmet with a hand painted 29th Infantry division "Blue and Gray" insignia on the front. This is an exceptionally rare helmet and will be a highlight of any WWII collection.
29th Infantry Division in WWII:
The cross-channel invasion of France finally came on June 6, 1944, D-Day, otherwise known as Operation Overlord, codename for the Allied invasion of Normandy. The 29th Infantry Division sent the 116th Infantry to support the western flank of the veteran 1st Infantry Division's 16th Infantry at Omaha Beach. Omaha was known to be the most difficult of the five landing beaches, due to its rough terrain and bluffs overlooking the beach, which had been well fortified by its German defenders of the 352nd Infantry Division. The 29th Division, 116th Infantry was assigned four sectors of the beach; Easy Green, Dog Red, Dog White, and Dog Green. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division boarded a large number of attack transports for the D-Day invasion, among them Landing craft, Landing Ship, Tank and Landing Ship, Infantry ships and other vessels such as the SS Empire Javelin, USS Charles Carroll, and USS Buncombe County.
As the ships were traveling to the beach, the heavy seas, combined with the chaos of the fighting caused most of the landing force to be thrown off-course and most of the 116th Infantry missed its landing spots. Most of the regiment's tank support, launched from too far off-shore, foundered and sank in the channel. The soldiers of the 116th Infantry were the first to hit the beach at 0630, coming under heavy fire from German fortifications. Company A of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry, from the Virginia National Guard in Bedford, Virginia was annihilated by overwhelming fire as it landed on the 116th's westernmost section of the beach, along with half of Company C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion which was landing to the west of the 116th. The catastrophic losses suffered by this small Virginia community led to it being selected for the site of the National D-Day Memorial. The 1st Infantry Division's forces ran into similar fortifications on the eastern half of the beach, suffering massive casualties coming ashore. By 0830, the landings were called off for lack of space on the beach, as the Americans on Omaha Beach were unable to overcome German fortifications guarding the beach exits. Lieutenant General Omar Nelson Bradley, commanding the American First Army, considered evacuating the survivors and landing the rest of the divisions elsewhere. However, by noon, elements of the American forces had been able to organize and advance off the beach, and the landings resumed. By nightfall, the division headquarters landed on the beach with about 60 percent of the division's total strength, and began organizing the push inland. On 7 June, a second wave of 20,000 reinforcements from both the 1st and 29th Divisions was sent ashore. By the end of D-Day, 2,400 men from the two divisions had become casualties on Omaha Beach. Added to casualties at other beaches and air-drops made the total casualties for the Normandy landings 6,500 Americans and 3,000 British and Canadians, lighter numbers than expected.
The entire division had landed in Normandy by 7 June. By 9 June, Omaha Beach was secure and the division occupied Isigny. On 14 July, the division was reassigned to XIX Corps, part of the First Army, itself part of the 12th Army Group.
The division cut across the Elle River and advanced slowly toward Saint-Lô, fighting bitterly in the Normandy hedge rows. German reserves formed a new defensive front outside the town, and American forces fought a fierce battle with them two miles outside of the town.German forces used the dense bocage foliage to their advantage, mounting fierce resistance in house-to-house fighting in the ravaged Saint-Lô. By the end of the fight, the Germans were relying on artillery support to hold the town following the depletion of the infantry contingent. The 29th Division, which was already undermanned after heavy casualties on D-Day, was even further depleted in the intense fighting for Saint-Lô. Eventually, the 29th was able to capture the city in a direct assault, supported by airstrikes from P-47 Thunderbolts.
After taking Saint-Lô, on 18 July, the division joined in the battle for Vire, capturing that strongly held city by 7 August. it continued to face stiff German resistance as it advanced to key positions southeast of Saint-Lô. It was then reassigned to V Corps, and then again to VIII Corps. Turning west, the 29th took part in the assault on Brest which lasted from 25 August until 18 September. After a short rest, the division returned to XIX Corps and moved to defensive positions along the Teveren-Geilenkirchen line in Germany and maintained those positions through October. On 16 November, the division began its drive to the Roer River, blasting its way through Siersdorf, Setterich, Durboslar, and Bettendorf, and reaching the Roer by the end of the month. Heavy fighting reduced Jülich Sportplatz and the Hasenfeld Gut on 8 December.
From 8 December 1944 to 23 February 1945, the division was assigned to XIII Corps and held defensive positions along the Rur and prepared for the next major offensive. The division was reassigned to XIX Corps, and the attack jumped off across the Rur on 23 February, and carried the division through Jülich, Broich, Immerath, and Titz, to Mönchengladbach by 1 March 1945. The division was out of combat in March. In early April the division was reassigned to XVI Corps, where the 116th Infantry helped mop up in the Ruhr area. On 19 April 1945 the division, assigned to XIII Corps, pushed to the Elbe River and held defensive positions until 4 May. Meanwhile, the 175th Infantry cleared the Klotze Forest. After V-E Day, the division was on military duty in the Bremen enclave. It was assigned to XVI Corps again for this assignment.
The U.S. WWII M-1 helmet was only produced from 1941 to 1945. The first production batch resulted with over 323,510 M-1 helmets before the start of the American involvement in the war. This helmet is stamped 230, which indicates the approximate manufacture date of July 1942.
The Ordnance Department selected McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company of Detroit Michigan to produce the steel M1 helmet bodies. These bodies were made from a single piece of Hadfield Manganese steel that was produced by the Carnegie-Illinois & Sharon Steel Corporations. Each completed raw M-1 helmet shell weighed 2.25 lbs each.
The early M-1 helmet shells had a set of fixed chinstrap loops called "bales" and a stainless steel rim. These rims were both rust resistant and had "non-magnetic qualities" that reduced the chance of error readings when placed around certain sensitive equipment (such as a compass).
This helmet is a fine example and still retains all of its original WW2 parts and the shell has all original "corked" grain paint with front seam and fixed bales. It has the original correct sewn on chinstrap with a brass buckle, correct for the pre-war war production period.
The liner is correct high pressure WWII issue and stamped with an F logo over F4 for the FIRESTONE TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY Manufactured in Akron, Ohio this high pressure manufactured M-1 helmet liner is identified by an embossed F in the crown. Firestone Tire and Rubber Company started M-1 helmet liner delivery to the US Army in September 1942. They produced approximately 7,500,000 M-1 helmet liners and discontinued production around August 17 1945 when the war ended.
This true US WWII M-1 helmet liner be identified through the frontal eyelet hole. Other correct WW2 features include cotton herringbone twill (HBT) cloth suspension. This HBT suspension is held tightly within the M-1 helmet liner by rivets and a series of triangular "A" washers. The three upper suspension bands are joined together with a shoestring. This way the wearer could adjust the fit. The leather liner chinstrap is unfortunately missing.
These helmets have become increasingly difficult to find in recent years, especially genuine WW2 issue liners with the correct HBT straps wartime dated. Almost certainly to appreciate in value year after year!
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