Original WWI U.S. Army 3rd Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment M1917 Doughboy Helmet Shell - 2nd Division
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of an original U.S. Army M1917 "Doughboy" helmet shell, which is marked on the front with a 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division insignia. The shell is maker marked with a stamping on the underside of the rim that reads ZA 181. 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 about 75% or more of the original textured finish, with the interior finish even better, close to 90%. There is some dirt and rust on the shell, which we left in place to preserve the patina. There is also an area of rust that has been ground out long ago, which was starting to flake. The liner of this helmet has been lost to the ages, with only the felt top pad remaining, with a short length of the leather chin strap. Most likely exposure to moisture caused the liner to rot out.
The best feature of this helmet however is definitely the original hand painted U.S. Army 3rd Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division - Indianhead Division emblem in the center of the front of the helmet. Soldiers under this division used specific colors and shapes behind the "Indianhead" to designate which unit they were in, and the "red square" indicates the 3rd battalion of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, part of the U.S. Army Third Infantry Brigade. The Unit Insignia maintains much of the original paint, though it is a bit faint and worn.
This is a very nice example of a Unit Marked 2nd Infantry Division helmet shell, marked for the 3rd Battalion 23rd Infantry regiment. All original and ready to display!
More on the 2nd Infantry Division - Indianhead
The 2nd Division was first constituted on 21 September 1917 in the Regular Army. It was organized on 26 October 1917 at Bourmont, Haute Marne, France. At the time of its activation, the Indianhead Division was composed of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, which included the 9th Infantry Regiment; the 23rd Infantry Regiment and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion; the 4th Marine Brigade, which consisted of the 5th Marine Regiment, the 6th Marine Regiment and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion; 2nd Brigade of field artillery; and various supporting units. Twice during World War I the division was commanded by US Marine Corps generals, Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen and Major General John A. Lejeune (after whom the Marine Corps Camp in North Carolina is named), the only time in U.S. military history when Marine Corps officers commanded an Army division.
The division spent the winter of 1917–18 training with French and Scottish veterans. Though judged unprepared by French tacticians, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was committed to combat in the spring of 1918 in a desperate attempt to halt a German advance toward Paris. Major General Edward Mann Lewis Commanded the 3rd Brigade as they deployed to reinforce the battered French along the Paris to Metz road. The Division first fought at the Battle of Belleau Wood and contributed to shattering the four-year-old stalemate on the battlefield during the Château-Thierry campaign that followed.
On 28 July 1918, Marine Corps Major General Lejeune assumed command of the 2nd Division and remained in that capacity until August 1919, when the unit returned to the US. The division went on to win hard-fought victories at Soissons and Blanc Mont. Finally the Indianhead Division participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive which ended any German hope for victory. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was declared, and the 2nd Division entered Germany, where it assumed occupation duties until April 1919. 2nd Division returned to U.S. in July 1919.
The 2nd Division was three times awarded the French Croix de guerre for gallantry under fire at Belleau Wood, Soissons, and Blanc Mont. This entitles current members of the division and of those regiments that were part of the division at that time (including the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments) to wear a special lanyard, or fourragère, in commemoration. The Navy authorized a special uniform change that allows hospital corpsmen assigned to 5th and 6th Marine Regiments to wear a shoulder strap on the left shoulder of their dress uniform so that the fourragère can be worn.
The division lost 1,964 (including USMC: 4,478) killed in action and 9,782 (including USMC: 17,752) wounded in action.
History of the M1917 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 MkI 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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