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Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

Article about: Hello everyone, I went to gunshow in the area by me, and I stumbled across this beautiful WWI doughboy helmet. The pictures show how well kept this helmet was over the course of time. I saw

  1. #1

    Default Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Hello everyone,

    I went to gunshow in the area by me, and I stumbled across this beautiful WWI doughboy helmet. The pictures show how well kept this helmet was over the course of time. I saw a marking, "CO" (the CO is within a circle) on the rim's underside. What stood out to me was that the soldier wrote down his name, division number and the battles that he participated in on the chin strap. This is what I was able to decipher from the chinstrap writing:

    "W..m (William) U. Day, -Co, D 2nd, Tc(e?)L B.N., St. Mihiel-Argonne."

    I've tried looking him up, but unfortunately, I've had no luck. Would anyone be able to help me match the soldier (and possibly picture of), to the helmet? Also what is a helmet like this worth? All opinions are welcome, and thanks for looking!

    Alex

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Alex: That is a great looking helmet you have! You wrote that the soldier wrote the division number on the strap, but I didn't see that in "W..m (William) U. Day, -Co, D 2nd, Tc(e?)L B.N., St. Mihiel-Argonne." If you can give me the division number, I might be able to narrow your search. I have a copy of the War Department's Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Belgium, and Italy, 1917-1918, GPO, 1920. Dwight

  3. #3

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Hey Dwight,

    Thank you so much for helping me in matching the soldier to the helmet! I think that D 2nd means 2nd Division, and -Co stands for corporal...So what I think this helmet is telling us is that William U. Day was a Corporal in the 2nd Division, I have no idea what Tc(e?)L B.N stands for, but that he also took part in the battles of St. Mihiel and Meusse Argonne. Hopefully, now we can narrow down the search

    Alex

  4. #4

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Alex: I'll take a look at 2nd Division, but usually the progression would be Company D, 2nd Battalion, some Regiment, Some Division. The Tc(e?)L B.N. is a mystery to me, but it might be the battalion identifier--I just don't know because I have never seen anything quite like that. But things were different in WWI than they were when I was in. If you could stretch out the chin strap and post a good quality close-up photo, or photos, of the writing, that would be a help too. Once again, that is a great looking helmet and you did well to snag it. Dwight

  5. #5

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    These helmets are just wonderful items. They are so simple but irresistable. Can you post some more photos, preferably in natural, outside light? Thank you.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Alex: This is the make-up of the 2nd Division in WWI. Every unit in the division took part in the Aisne defensive (3 May-5 June 1918), the Aisne-Marne offensive (18-19 July 1918), the St. Mihiel offensive (12-16 September 1918) and the Meuse-Argonne offensive (1-10 October 1918) plus several other battles.

    2nd Division:
    3rd Infantry Brigade
    9th Infantry
    23rd Infanrty
    5th Machine Gun Battalion
    4th Infantry Brigade (Marines)
    5th Regiment Marines
    6th Regiment Marines
    6th Machine Gun Battalion
    2nd Field Artillery Brigade
    12th Light Field Artillery
    15th Field Artillery
    17th Field Artillery
    2nd Engineers
    4th Machine Gun Battalion
    1st Field Signal Battalion

    I forgot to add in the earlier post that CO usually stands for commanding officer and cpl stands for corporal. And a question; is the CO in a circle written or stamped inside the rim? If it's stamped it mightbe a maker's mark. Here are the companies that produced helmets in WWI
    Edward G. Bud Mfg. Co., Philadelphia
    Sparks, Withington Co., Jackson, Michigan
    Crosby Co., Buffalo, NY
    Bossett Corp., Utica, NY
    Columbian Enameling and Stamping Co., Terre haute, Ind.
    Worcester Pressed Steel Co., Worcester, Mass.
    Benjamine Electric Co., Des Plaines, ILL.
    This is from, America's Munitions, 1917-1918, Report of Benedict Crowell, GPO, 1919

    I will go through Battle Participation to see if I can find any un-numbered battalion whose designation starts with "T" Dwight
    Last edited by drmessimer; 09-30-2012 at 07:10 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    I think you may be right that the Co D 2nd stands for Company D, 2nd Battalion. Sorry for misreading it; this is the first time I've come across soldier's info like this. I'll post a few more pictures of the chinstrap and it's writing in a little while.

    Alex

  8. #8

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    I attached a few more pics of the chinstrap...If CO stands for Commanding Officer, the "Co" on the chinstrap is exactly how I quoted it, with a capital C and lowercase O, which goes back to what you said about it standing for Company D, 2nd Battalion. the 'CO' on the rim is stamped, so you are right that it is most likely a Hallmark.

    Alex

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Alex: If possible, unbuckle the chin strap and lay it out flat and get a good, sharp photograph of the Tc(e?)L B.N. If you have a macro feature on your camera try using it. The important thing is to get as sharp a photo as possible to post here. Dwight

    I have located only four stand-alone battalion-size units that were numbered, 2nd Battalion. They are: 2nd Machine Gun Battalion (1st Div.); 2nd Field Signal Battalion (1st Div.); 2nd AA Battallion (Unassigned); and 2nd AAMG Battalion (unassigned). All but the 2nd AAMG Battalion fought in St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. These were stand-alone battalions rather than battalions in an infantry regiment or an artillery regiment. My guess is that the battalion you are after is a stand-alone unit, but actually, I'm not 100% sure it's actually a battalion. The abbreviation for battalion is usually, Bn rather than B.N. since the title is only one word rather than two as indicated by the two periods. Dwight

  10. #10

    Default Re: Attributed WWI US Helmet; Soldier's name, division and battles written on chinstrap

    Quote by drmessimer View Post
    Alex: If possible, unbuckle the chin strap and lay it out flat and get a good, sharp photograph of the Tc(e?)L B.N. If you have a macro feature on your camera try using it. The important thing is to get as sharp a photo as possible to post here. Dwight

    I have located only four stand-alone battalion-size units that were numbered, 2nd Battalion. They are: 2nd Machine Gun Battalion (1st Div.); 2nd Field Signal Battalion (1st Div.); 2nd AA Battallion (Unassigned); and 2nd AAMG Battalion (unassigned). All but the 2nd AAMG Battalion fought in St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. These were stand-alone battalions rather than battalions in an infantry regiment or an artillery regiment. My guess is that the battalion you are after is a stand-alone unit, but actually, I'm not 100% sure it's actually a battalion. The abbreviation for battalion is usually, Bn rather than B.N. since the title is only one word rather than two as indicated by the two periods. Dwight
    Dwight,

    I took a closer look at the chinstrap, and i saw a few standout points about it: There is no period after the B, so instead of "B.n.", it reads "Bn.", which you had said in the last post. In addition, I saw you asked about the Tc(e?)L. I took a look again at that part of the chinstrap and then compared it to the "E" in "MIHIEL" and realized that the "c" is a scrunched "E". Looking closely with my magnifying glass the "C" actually has a small but visible middle dash that looks just like the bigger E seen in Mihiel. It reads TEL (e and L are small). So it reads "William U. Day- Co 2nd TEL Bn. ST. MIHIEL-ARGONNE".

    Alex

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