While there has been various threads on painted WWI helmets and the use of possible camouflage helmets being used pre-armistic, I have yet to find a thread about Divisional or unit painted helmets being used Before November 11, 1918. So i figured I would start a discussion about it. I am hoping other, more knowledgeable members who focus on the AEF will also contribute here.
Anyways I will start things off with the 26th Division. Which is my prime collecting focus.
In March 1918, the 101st Machine Gun Battalion was ordered to apply a green diamond to the front of their steel helmets.
(See photo #1) which is mentioned in their post war unit history.
Around the same time I am guessing, the 102nd Machine Gun Battalion was also ordered to do similar but instead they were ordered to paint a red 5 pointed star on both the front and rear of their steel helmets. While the unit history fails to mention when, one can assume it was early in the war as it was done at the same point they were issued dog tags. See photo # 2 which was taken from the 102nd's post war history.
I have also included a photo of members of the 102nd MGB advancing to the front line at Chateau Thierry in July 1918 (photo #3). It appears the soldier in the center has some sort of marking on his helmet but it is far to unfocused to ever really figure out if it is in fact a red 5 pointed star.
Photos 1,2 and 3 courtesy of A.M. Crane