In the last few years, members of our project team have been trying to collect the names of all members of the 2nd Infantry Division and attached units from the years 1940 to 1945. So far we have managed to gather more than 8.000 names and add them into our digital database. Thanks to this effort we are now able to identify items, equipment or uniforms which belonged to the members of the Division. And to be honest, this is one of the most thrilling activities! Today, we would like to present you one of our recent research projects.
Some days ago we were contacted by Randall Fleury from France. Randall sent us few pictures of this M1 helmet liner with remains of the Indianhead insignia. Of course it caught our attention at first sight. This helmet liner was found in an old barn in Montmédy, France. The commune Montmédy is located close to the Franco-Belgian border. The Division moved through this area at the end of September 1944 when it was headed to the Siegfried Line.
The helmet liner was manufactured by Firestone, according to the stamp inside and fortunately, it was signed with a laundry number “D-2983”. This special number which was used in the Army to identification of clothes, personal items and equipment is consisted of the initial letter of the owner’s surname and last four numbers from his Army Serial Number. Previous owner of this helmet liner also wrote words “Jim” and “Dan” inside. And this is the key information. We started with our research and after few minutes we had the match. Original owner of this helmet liner was identified as PFC James Daniels, Army Serial Number: 33392983.
PFC James Daniels was born on April 29, 1921 in Arnold City, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. According to the documents we have found, James Daniels was brought up in Fayette City together with his 4 brothers and 2 sisters. Before the war he worked in the American Window Glass Company. On October 30, 1942 21-year-old James Daniels entered the service in the Army in Greensburg, PA and was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland. On May 21, 1943 James´s mother Veronica R. Daniels, age 57, passed away at her home at Fayette City. Several months later James Daniels was sent overseas. He was abroad since January 2, 1944 until July 20, 1945 which corresponds with arrival of the Division back to the States. On October 4, 1945 PFC James Daniels was separated from the active service at Camp Swift, Texas.
Unfortunately, we still do not know if PFC James Daniels is still alive nor in which unit of the 2nd Infantry Division he served. This will be the subject of our further investigation. However, we are glad that we could at least briefly tell you the forgotten story of this helmet liner.
Special thanks to Randall Fleury who shared with us this wonderful artifact from his collection.