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The Story of the Sun Helmet Continues

A New Year and new information continues to be uncovered on the sun helmets. It has been nearly four years since we launched the site, and we have discovered facts and offered new insight into this most fascinating of subjects.

We’re always interested to hear from our readers.

Once again we wish to thank 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.

This story won’t end anytime soon.

Peter Suciu
January 2016

The Animal Brands of Japan

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The classic Japanese “Safari” style helmet (collection of Jareth Holub)

LabelsOne of the great misconceptions of Japanese tropical headgear of the Second World War is that the pattern known to collectors as “English,” “safari” or “European” was in fact produced outside of Japan. This is likely based on the fact that the helmets are similar in shape externally to the various Indian pattern helmets but also because the maker labels inside are in English. Continue reading

The Third Reich’s Tropical Sun Helmet – Made in Italy

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One still hotly disputed debate surrounds what was the first sun helmet utilized by the Third Reich. It is true that the Kriegsmarine used a pressed fiber styled helmet that was a holdover from the days of Weimar Republic’s navy but by the outbreak of the Second World War the German military wasn’t exactly planning for combat in tropical regions.

Much of this changed with the fall of France in June 1940 and the opening of a campaign in North Africa later that year, followed by the invasion of the Balkans in the late spring of 1941. In other words the German military planners likely didn’t have a plan when it came to tropical uniforms or equipment. It is therefore possible that the first pattern of sun helmet used in the Mediterranean theater were of Italian origin! Continue reading

A Mysterious Neck Curtain – Finally Unveiled

NC1Neck flaps or neck curtains to be attached on a sun helmet are much rarer to find than any kind of helmet itself. No wonder one tries to get hold on any flap that comes along. Like the one that is the subject of this article. Now, this example but turned out to be something completely different, than a piece of military equipment. But – nevertheless – it is interesting to learn more about it. Continue reading

West Indian Soldiers in the Great War

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Soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment on the Albert to Amiens Road, September 1916

The West India Committee, one of the leading British-Caribbean charities operating in the UK, has strived to recognize the contribution made by Caribbean soldiers to the Allied effort during the First World War. Continue reading

The Dutch-South African Helmet Connection

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South African Artillery in North Africa c1942

For years there has been an argument over the so-called “Polo” style helmet that was captured by German forces and used in the early stages of the campaign in North Africa. This writer actually tried to debunk that these were captured “Dutch” helmets, after a number of sources over the years suggested otherwise.

My argument had been that the Dutch had no African colonies so how could the German military have captured helmets intended for the Dutch Army? Continue reading

The American Pressed Fiber Helmets Blueprints

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The history of the American pressed fiber sun helmet continues to be one that remains shrouded in mystery. However, thanks to my friend and colleague Alex Tulkoff some information has come to light. Mr. Tulkoff recently uncovered original blueprints for the helmet and more importantly a May 1941 dated Quartermaster order, which offers some insight information about the costs of the helmets.

Continue reading

The Afghanka Hat: The Soviet’s Tropical Headgear

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An early 1980s Soviet Afghanka cap of the type used during the summer months in the Soviet Union and by Soviet forces in Afghanistan (Collection of the Author)

While Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union controlled vast territory, in each case it was truly an empire without far off colonies – apart from some brief adventures during the Imperial era and the Soviet’s proxy wars of course. However, the Soviets did utilize a number of summer uniforms including light weight khaki colored tunics and other clothing. Yet it wasn’t until the 1980s that a true form of “summer headgear” was developed.

This was the Afghanka hat – a type of boonie hat – that was utilized by the Red Army following the 1979 Invasion of the Soviet Union. The hat was developed with the other Afghanka uniforms and equipment, which was needed as the rugged countryside of the Central Asian nation was known for its extreme hot daytime temperatures in the summer and its equally bitter cold nights in the winter months. The boonie hat was developed to keep the rays of the sun off the wearer’s head and out of his eyes. Continue reading