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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Earle Covington Smith, 7th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division. Notebook with pencil diagram labeled "Toxic Smoke." Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (121.01.00)
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German helmet, probably acquired by soldier Walker Harrison Jordon, ca. 1918. Jordan Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (193.00.00)
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German helmet, probably acquired by soldier Walker Harrison Jordon, ca. 1918. Jordan Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (193.00.00)
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"Toxic Smoke"

Trained as an engineer, Captain Earle Covington Smith requested a commission in the Ordnance Officers Reserve Corps. After a stint as a proof officer, during which he tested various brands of ammunition, he was transferred to France, where he eventually became a gas officer. In his diary, Smith noted the chemical makeup of particular toxic gases, the construction of hand grenades, and how to remove mustard gas from the skin. Serving as an "official nose," Smith worked to ensure that soldiers were properly equipped with functional gas masks, trained to recognize different gases, and able to identify the start of an attack.

This Bavarian spiked helmet likely was brought back to the United States as a war souvenir. The motto on the helmet "In treue fest" translates as "steadfast in loyalty."

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