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The Story of the Sun Helmet Continues

While things have slowed down a bit Stuart and I remain committed to reporting on the history of tropical headdress.

MilitarySunHelmets.com is grateful to have run a special article by author Nick Komiya on the development and evolution of the Japanese sun helmet.  We thank Nick for allowing us to republish this detailed study on the Japanese tropical helmets, and we once again extend our thanks to Benny Bough, Pedro Soares Branco, Enzo Faraone, Dr. Chris Flaherty, Roland Gruschka, James A. Holt, Clive Law, Shea Megale, Piero Pompili and Michael S. for their excellent contributions to this site.

We’re always interested to hear from our readers.

This story won’t end anytime soon.

Peter Suciu
January 2017

British Desert Goggles: Khartoum to Tunis

Figure 1. Left, Sudan (1882-98); Centre, Mesopotamian (1914-18); Right, North African (1940-43

Here the term ‘Desert Goggles’ is taken as those goggles which seem to have been issued to British Empire Troops specifically for use in desert campaigns in the late 19th to mid 20th Century. These goggles differ from the more ubiquitous; dust; general purpose; transport; tank; dispatch rider; mountain and snow goggles issued from mid-WWI by most nations, in being campaign specific. The three main goggle types discussed here were used in the Sudan (1882-98); the Mesopotamian (1914-18) and the North African (1940-43) campaigns respectively.

Continue reading

The Pressed Fiber “Wolseley Style” Helmet

Since launching this website in early 2012 we’ve encountered numerous helmets that haven’t been largely documented, if documented at all. We’ve come across a number of helmets that can only be described as variations of the classic British Wolseley style helmet. These have included helmets made of sola pith, but recently a far more unusual example was offered for sale on eBay. It is a Canadian-made helmet that appears to be based on the naval helmet that was based on the Wolseley. Continue reading

The Mexican Sun Helmet

While various sun helmet patterns – all likely influenced by or based on the original British colonial pattern – were adopted by the nations of Europe, as well as the United States and even South American nations, it is largely forgotten that the military of Mexico also adopted a similar pattern. Little has actually been written about these helmets however.

Authors P Jowett and A de Quesada describe these helmets in a little detail in their book The Mexican Revolution: 1910-1920 (Osprey Publishing, 2006). The authors noted that Mexican Federal Army soldiers wore “Mexican artillery model sun helmet(s) without insignia.” Continue reading

A British-Made Cork Polo Helmet?

The origin and the evolution of the study of some patterns of sun/pith helmets will likely never be fully understood – and there remains much confusion regarding the “polo” style tropical helmets used by the South African military prior to and during World War II. As we’ve previously noted these helmets replaced the British-made Wolseley pattern helmet. Polo style helmets had been field tested during the Ipumba uprising of 1932. By 1935 these were widely in use and replaced the Wolseley.

Research suggests these were made of cork in South Africa and the Netherlands before the war, and gradually replaced by pressed felt helmets made in the UK in 1941-42, as well as pressed fiber helmets made in Canada. But one helmet that was recently acquired seems to be unique in that it appears to be a hybrid British-made/South African example made of cork construction rather than felt but lacking the ubiquitous ventilator cap found on all other South African produced helmets. Continue reading

A Unique War Trophy

American GIs liked their war trophies, which is why there is such a military collectibles hobby in the United States today. Helmets seemed popular and while steel helmets captured (or liberated as the case may be) from German soldiers were certainly favored, so too were sun helmets.

Here is one of the rarest examples we’ve encountered. It is a first pattern German tropical helmet, of the type used by the Afrika Korps during its campaign in the desert. What makes it truly stand out is that the German shields have been removed and replaced by American collar insignia – and this might be the only example of this display of war booty that we’ve seen. Continue reading

ACME Press Photo of the Pressed Fiber Sun Helmet

It has been long established that the American pressed fiber sun helmet was used as both a civilian and military helmet, but one key detail that has largely been uncertain for sure is what year the helmet was even considered for use by the military.

While it now appears that this helmet pattern may have likely been based on the British “Standard Pattern” that was used by the USMC in Haiti in the 1920s and early 1930s, a long forgotten ACME publicity photo has surfaced that includes a date: 7-8-37. Continue reading