Skip to content

158 AEF US 165th IR, 42nd "Rainbow" Division, 1918

Sale price$240.00 NZD

The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) army forces were organised from three types of military service; the regular army made up divisions one through eight, state based national guards units that were federalised made up divisions twenty-six through forty-two, and selective service or draft divisions were numbered seventy-six to ninety-three.

The 42nd Division was formed from the Guards units of several states that had not already been made into divisions. Douglas MacArthur, then a Major had observed that such an organisation would "stretch over the whole country like a rainbow." So was born the Rainbow Division. Future General of the Army, then Colonel MacArthur would serve as the Division's Chief of Staff.

The 42nd was in combat for 264 days and saw action in four major operations; Champagne-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Our set depicts the 165th Infantry Regiment, which was renumbered from the famous 69th New York Infantry, or the "Fighting Irish" which traces its roots back to 1775.

A number of famous soldiers served in the 165th IR, including Lt. Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan who won the Medal of Honor, Sgt. Joyce Kilmer who wrote the poem “Trees”, and Father Francis Duffy, the "Fighting Irish" Catholic Priest.

This set shows the soldiers in greatcoats and fatigue hats with steel helmets tied to their backpacks. Despite the wide variety in shapes and makes of fatigue hat during the war, it came to symbolise the American troops.

Due to sniper action during the war, front line officers came to avoid displaying obvious rank insignia such as the braided arm decorations on greatcoats.