Original U.S. WWII US Marine Corps 1st Battalion 5th Marines M1917 Doughboy Helmet With Rings For Wilmer Eye Shields
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an extremely rare example of an original U.S. Marine Corps M1917 "Doughboy" helmet, which is marked on the front with a 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 2nd Infantry Division insignia. All U.S.M.C. WWI helmets are rare, but particularly those bearing specific unit insignia.
This very nice example is complete with a liner and is unfortunately missing the lower half of the chin strap. More importantly, the front still has a genuine blacked brass WWI USMC EGA Badge over the division insignia! The hole made for the insignia has the appearance of being drilled, but after a closer inspection it has the possibility of being punched, then flattened and cleaned up.
The shell is maker marked with a stamping on the underside of the rim that reads ZB 53. This maker marking indicates that this is a U.S. produced shell, which is further indicated by the solid rivets used to retain the chin strap bales.
The outer shell still has some remnants of original paint. There is some dirt and rust on the shell, which we left in place to preserve the patina. There also are a few dents on the crown of the shell. The liner is intact, and still has an intact felt top pad. The oil cloth is in good shape, as is the netting, though the helmet is over 100 years old, so there is definitely some deterioration. This helmet also has 3 holes on each side of the helmet on the skirt for attaching Wilmer eye shields.
The best feature of this helmet however is definitely the original hand painted 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division - Indianhead Division emblem in the center of the front of the helmet. Marines under this division used specific colors and shapes behind the "Indianhead" to designate which unit they were in, and the "red square" indicates the 1st battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment, part of the 4th Marine Brigade. The Unit Insignia maintains almost all of the original paint and remains bold and easy to see, though it is a bit faded due to dirt, which we have left to preserve the authenticity.
The U.S. Marine Corps did not field divisional size units during WWI, so they were made part of the divisions of the U.S. Army. In fact, the entire 2nd Division was for a time during WWI commanded by U.S.M.C. Major General John A. Lejeune himself!
This is a wonderful RARE example of a genuine USMC Great War helmet, complete with divisional insignia, all original and ready to display!
During World War 1 the Fifth and Sixth Marines fighting in France as the Fourth Marine Brigade of the Army's Second Division were forced to wear the Army's uniform. The Marines had only the eagle, globe, and anchor on their soft covers to distinguish themselves from their Army brothers in arms. As this did not sit well with the Marines, a patch was designed to distinguish them from their counterparts. A color background distinctive with the unit with one five-pointed star and an Indian head with full war bonnet were selected. These symbols were also painted on everything the Marines used!
The “Indian Head” that emblazons the symbol of 1/5 is from the US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division patch, of which the 4th Marine Brigade, composed of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments along with the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, made up half of that Division in WWI. This is the same division that John A. LeJeune famously commanded during the war. 2nd ID’s patch was proposed initially because one of the Division’s regiment’s, the 9th infantry, had gained so much fame during the Indian Wars. It was a tribute to the gallantry of their former enemy.
On 25 May 1917, the battalion was activated and deployed to France on 1 June 1917. 1/5 participated in the following World War I campaigns: Aisne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Toulon-Troyon, Chateau-Thierry, Marabache, and Limey. 1/5 made its most notable contribution at the Battle of Belleau Wood on 6 June 1918, when it conducted the first offensive actions of the battle in seizing Hill 142. The battalion, at first with only two companies due to the other companies not being relieved in time, assaulted the open wheat fields of the hill with bayonets fixed under the fire of German machine gun and artillery fire. In a battle that claimed 325 1/5 lives, Gunnery Sergeant Ernest A. Janson became the first Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in World War I. From December 1918 to July 1919, the battalion participated in the occupation of the German Rhineland. It then re-deployed to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia and deactivated in August 1919.
In July 1920 the battalion re-activated to provide security for the U.S. Mail. In March 1927, the Battalion deployed to help stabilize the government of Nicaragua against overthrow attempts by rebel forces. For the next six years, they aided the Nicaraguan government until peace was finally restored. 1/5 was deactivated in January 1933. Shortly thereafter the battalion was re-activated in September 1934 in Quantico, Virginia and served in the Caribbean theater until the outbreak of World War II.
More on the M1917 "Doughboy" Helmet
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.
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