Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Doughboys: World War 1 Americans

Doughboy is an informal term for an American soldier, especially members of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. One of the supposed origins of the term was during the Mexican–American War, where observers noticed that U.S. infantry forces were constantly covered with dust from marching through the dry terrain of Mexico, giving the men the appearance of unbaked dough, hence “doughboys.”

I only have four poses from an unknown maker. Three are marching and one is preparing to throw a grenade.

One of the marching men is wearing the M1912 campaign hat with the Montana-style peak, commonly seen by parading troops arriving in France, but not seen at the front. On his back though, together with his pack is his Brodie-style helmet. When the first American troops landed in France they were were not ready for the trenches supply-wise and found they had to rely on Britain and France for much of their equipmenty and supplies, so that by the time they first saw action they closely resembled the British soldiers.

The other marching figure is wearing the peaked cap but without a pack and helmet. Both figures are wearing the practical puttees as well as the ten pouch rifle belt. Lack of equipment such as the gas mask bag and heavier packs seem to place these figures as far from the front, probably on exercise at the rear.

The grenade thrower has a bag slung across his chest and a grenade in his right hand. The Mk 1 grenade is a fragmentation hand grenade used by American forces during World War I. The MK 1 is a time-fused fragmentation grenade and has 32 serrations on it. To start the fuse, the user has to pull the safety pin, then push off the cap on top of the grenade. Right before throwing, the user has to move the switch on the lever away from the grenade in order to start the fuse. This was quite difficult to use in the field. The grenades were often not ignited properly before being thrown, and enemies would return the grenade, this time properly lit. The MK 1 was immediately recalled and production stopped. Unused Mk 1 parts were used to make Mk 2 grenades while factories were retooled to make the Mk 2 "pineapple."

The figure reminds me a lot of Gary Cooper in the 1941 film "Sgt. York."


  1. These Doughboys are definitely MARX - from copy molds, judging by the lack of definition ...

    here is an original ... hi-def and in a nice OD or Khaki ...