The WWI exhibit is designed to portray the equipment and uniforms used by US Army soldiers who served during WWI. Two of the four million soldiers served in France. Many served along our border with Mexico protecting against the raids by Poncho Villa and his bandit army. Soldiers of WWI went to war in 1917 —- almost three years after the war started in Europe, with a lack of weapons and equipment due to national unpreparedness. The country mobilized quickly but Doughboys primarily used British designed rifles, French artillery, French tanks, and a mix of aircraft from France and England. Worse yet, the Army had no system to select its NCOs and officers effectively and efficiently and then train them in leadership.
The uniforms and equipment in the exhibit show a range of items carried or used by American soldiers in WWI. Personal items like issued Army shaving kits, sewing kits, tobacco products, awards and decorations, and uniforms are displayed. Field equipment like the newly designed M1910 pack, web belts, medic equipment, pioneer tools, signal equipment, and camp equipage normal for U.S. soldier in 1914-1918 are displayed.
Additionally, standard small arms used in U.S. infantry units such as rifles, grenades, pistols, trench knives and automatic rifles common to units on the Western Front are displayed showing the variety of different arms acquired from allies and used.
The uniforms include enlisted and officer kits, including the famed “Liberty Belts” authorized by General Pershing but forbidden for wear by returning officers by the Army Chief of Staff.