Jump to content

Damaged WWI M1917 Helmet Grouping


Recommended Posts

A small little grouping that I was able to pick up recently. According to the seller, the grouping was brought back by a veteran of the 27th "New York" Inf. Div. following the end of the war. I usually default to the old adage of "buy the item, not the story", but at the price he was selling the set at, I took the chance.


To provide a little background on the 27th, the Div. was formally founded in 1908. After being released from active duty following the Mexican Crisis in 1916, it was recalled to active duty in July of 1917 and reorganized as the 27th ID from the 6th ID on 1 October 1917.


Following training at Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, SC, the 27th ID left the US via Hoboken and arrived in Brest, France on 10 May 1918. Completing it's final stages of training at Picardy and Flanders, the Division moved into the Dickebusch Lake and Scherpenberg sectors in Flanders.

Over the remaining six months of the war, they'd participate in action in the Meuse-Argonne, Ypres-Lys and Somme Sectors, sustaining nearly a 30% casualty rate. Some of these engagements would include:

  • Battle of Dickebusche Lake
  • Battle of Vierstratt Ridge
  • Struggled to break the German defensive Hindenburg Line (St. Quentin Canal Tunnel)
  • Somme Offensive, 25 September 1918 (Pushed towards Busigny)
  • Selle River, November 1918




Switching focus back to the grouping, it consists of the helmet and a cartridge belt

The belt itself an early M1903 Mills Cartridge belt that was produced post 1907. From what I understand, these were generally issued to National Guard Units (would make sense as the 27th ID was originally NYs National Guard) though they saw service throughout the war. It is heavily stained and shows fraying from use. On the interior of the belt, it's been marked "27 E 13".


The helmet is a US produced M1917 helmet. Besides the missing chinstrap (which has broken off), the helmet is relatively intact. While there's nothing particularly special about the helmet, though the damage is really what stuck out to me the most. At some point, the helmet has received two major dents to the rim which has severely misshapened the helmet. I'd like to think the helmet did it's job and protected some poor Doughboy from shrapnel, but for all intents and purposes, it could've been damaged post-war as well.


Let me know what y'all think




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice helmet, but not shrapnel in my estimation. I just posted my shrapnel damaged helmet, shrapnel US was .451" lead balls, German balls a little larger diameter. The lead balls moved at about a slow 1200 FPS at discharge. As helmets were used for everything under the sun, no telling how it got bent. HE shells quickly dis placed shrapnel, as HE shell created much quicker moving fragments and concussion. Shrapnel rounds were in wide use by the British the entire war, not so with Germany and the French and US, original shrapnel is forward directed slow moving lead balls, HE high velocity non directional high velocity steel shell fragments.Quite possible yours HE large shell case fragment damage.post-180924-0-60167400-1555461289_thumb.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nice group. I'm not sure that the markings indicate use by the 27th Division though. Typically, markings such as the ones on your belt would mean 27th Regiment (could be cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineers, etc), F Company, 13th soldier on the roster for that company. Regardless, the belt and helmet are very nice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cap Camouflage Pattern I

Belt looks like it says F, not E.


917601, I don't think it's possible in this case to tell if it shrapnel or not, here is an impact from a handgun, I believe a .45, on an M1



Link to comment
Share on other sites

This has been an interesting read and I have learned a little about shrapnel. I would like to know if these "round lead balls" were still being used in WW2? This helmet was issued to a black soldier in 1942. It appears to he damaged by a round object and shows what may be lead splatter. Do you have any thoughts on this damaged m1917A1? In addition to the dent midway in the crack there is another shallower dent at the top of the crack. Thanks, keith



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Round lead ball shrapnel shells ( they were directional-forward) dropped out of favor the last year of WW1, most armies switched to HE steel cased which the fragments were steel, sharp, deadly, high velocity, unidirectional and had great concussion effect. Your pictured helmet would be ( in my opinion) text book lead ball shrapnel. The Germans also had much larger capacity shrapnel shells than 75mm. I find battle damaged helmets much more interesting than complete mint state helmets, the stories they could tell must be fascinating. Great helmet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...