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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:


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Hi, I am relatively new to the forum and I just wanted to share some experimental shin-guards I recently acquired with everyone. The only information I have been able to find on them has been in Bashford Dean's Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare. There are no markings anywhere on either of them. If anyone has any information on them or would like to share something of their collection they are welcome and encouraged to do so!







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On December 27, 1917, Gen. Pershing cabled an order for 35,000 pairs of shin guards to the Ordnance Department.  The Armor Workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art made three model sets designed to protect the shins from low-velocity projectiles and shell splinters.  The Armor Unit sent one set to G.H.Q. A.E.F. for evaluation, one set to Sparks Withington Co., and the Metropolitan Museum kept one. 


The Ordnance Department awarded Sparks Withington the order for 35,000 sets, and it produced 13,511 of those.  Sparks Withington stamped the guards from its supply of helmet steel .036in thick, having an analysis of 1.2-1.5% carbon, 12-15% manganese, .04% sulphur, .10% phosphorous and .30% silicon.


In tests at the Army Schools in France in April, 1918, the guards resisted perforation by grenade fragments, but were badly torn and mangled by rifle and machine gun fire.  In further tests conducted in early May at the First Corps Schools in Gondrecourt, France, the guards were badly shattered by grenade fragments at a distance of two feet.  On May 23, 1918, Gen. Pershing sent a cable asking that no more be manufactured or shipped overseas. However, the order was delayed in its delivery to the Armor Unit, and on June 28, 1918, the Ordnance Department shipped 10,426 pairs to the A.E.F.  The AEF Ordnance Department Equipment Section decided that the protection they afforded did not justify the extra weight and recommended against wide issue.  The Ordnance Department canceled the contract with Sparks-Withington and the 3,075 sets still in the US went into dead storage at the Springfield Ordnance Depot.  

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