The First World War ( 1914-1918 ) obviously didn’t get that name while it was still raging*, on account of the Second one still being a few decades in the future. Some called it ‘the War to End All Wars’ (which didn’t quite turn out that way), others labelled it ‘the Great War’, although that qualifier was a bit misleading – more a comment on its size than on its enjoyability.
Not that there wasn’t any fun to be had in the trenches, in between bouts of severe carnage. This helmet is a nice example of trench art, showing a map of the Western Front. The brim of the helmet is marked ‘H.G. Booth, 110th TMB AEF France 1918-’19’. Henry G. Booth was a cook for the 110th Trench Mortar Battery. AEF stands for ‘American Expeditionary Force’.
The helmet map shows
- England (with London, Winchester, Dover, Southampton, Hull and Liverpool indicated)
- Holland (‘Amstradam’ marked)
- Belgium (one city highlighted, name not legible)
- Luxemburg (a bit too large)
- the Alsace (shown separate from Germany and France; the city of Metz indicated)
- the north of France (with Calais, Lille, Le Havre, St Malo, Brest, Paris and three other cities shown) and
- part of Germany (Cologne, Coblenz, Mayence – i.e. Mainz).
* As hinted at by some people in the comments section, and recently confirmed by an email I got from Philip Jenkins, a history professor at Penn State (on whose authority I take what he says about the subject to be true): “It was fashionable as early as 1918 to refer to the then-raging war as the ‘First World War’, the correct assumption being that it was indeed only the first instalment, and more to come.” What a gruesome thought!