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WWI Helmet of Lt. Henry N. Flynt
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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When the U.S. Army entered World War I, it did not have a helmet as a part of its uniform. Helmets were part of ancient and medieval warfare, but with the advent of firearms they gradually fell out of favor as warfare had less close-in fighting. By the late 19th century, only some light cavalry units wore them. That changed suddenly in the first year of the Great War. Artillery shells had been "improved" and now sprayed shrapnel, and trench warfare meant that the head was most often exposed. The French army was first to adopt a helmet in late 1914, soon followed by the other combatants. The United States was neutral until 1917, and its army had not changed with the times. But when the country entered the war, the army quickly changed its mind. Looking around for a model, they took the British helmet and only very slightly modified it to create the M-1917 model helmet. Henry Flint wore this helmet when he fought as a lieutenant in the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade of the 78th "Lightning" Division. The 78th Division fought in all the major campaigns of the U.S. part of the war, including the Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel and Lorraine campaigns.
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