Straw and Wicker Helmets

A German World War II sun helmet.

A German World War II sun helmet.

This was the standard pattern used by the Afrika Korp. While most of these were made of cork, there are many examples that were apparently made of weaved straw with wicker support. This example, while in bad condition offers an excellent look at the “inside” of the helmet

While sola pith and cork are among the most commonly used materials in the construction of sun helmets, straw weave and wicker were used at times as an ersatz material, especially in wartime. We previously noted two examples of British-made Wolseley straw helmets in the collection of Stuart Bates. While these are the only two known surviving examples of British straw helmets of this pattern, there are many surviving examples of straw helmets from other countries.

How many of these helmets were produced remains a mystery, but surviving examples given an indication that serious craftsmanship went into their construction.

A close up of the complex straw pattern of the German Model 1940 sun helmet

A close up of the complex straw pattern of the German Model 1940 sun helmet

Another view of the German helmet, it shows the three holes where the Heer (Army) shield would have been attached on the right side

Another view of the German helmet, it shows the three holes where the Heer (Army) shield would have been attached on the right side

Unlike many other examples of straw wicker helmets, the manufacturers of the German Model 1940 sun helmets finished these with linings that is identical to the cork versions.

Unlike many other examples of straw wicker helmets, the manufacturers of the German Model 1940 sun helmets finished these with linings that is identical to the cork versions.

An Austrian World War I helmet, which was the standard pattern used on the Palestine Front. Most of the war-time produced helmets were made of weaved straw likely due to a shortage of cork.

An Austrian World War I helmet, which was the standard pattern used on the Palestine Front. Most of the war-time produced helmets were made of weaved straw likely due to a shortage of cork.

An Italian M28 pattern helmet made of weaved straw. These rare variations made in straw apparently were made in Italian East Africa prior to the outbreak of World War II and never seem to have been covered in canvas

An Italian M28 pattern helmet made of weaved straw. These rare variations made in straw apparently were made in Italian East Africa prior to the outbreak of World War II and never seem to have been covered in canvas

A variation of the Type 90 style sun helmet, it is made of wicker and features no internal lining. The liner band is attached directly to the wicker. It is believed this was likely a late war-time economy measure – but the level of detail in the wicker pattern is impressive.

A variation of the Type 90 style sun helmet, it is made of wicker and features no internal lining. The liner band is attached directly to the wicker. It is believed this was likely a late war-time economy measure – but the level of detail in the wicker pattern is impressive.

A simple Vietnamese sun helmet, it is essentially a simple bamboo wicker hat with a camouflage cloth cover wrapped over it. While less complex in design than the other examples, it served its purpose.

A simple Vietnamese sun helmet, it is essentially a simple bamboo wicker hat with a camouflage cloth cover wrapped over it. While less complex in design than the other examples, it served its purpose.

Peter Suciu

One thought on “Straw and Wicker Helmets”

  1. Enzo F.( from Italy) said:

Hi Peter! , the italian P.H made in weaved straw based on the model 28 is really a product made by CASARINI farm and named in red label: “CASARINI-brevettato”. It was purchased privately by commissioned officers or junior officers for the most part. This model is valuable for its light was produced to overcome the lack of cork during the end 30′s-WW2 period. It ‘still a model tied to the military police (Italian Royal Carabiners or colonial police P.A.I too). In fact, the old pictures that I viewed during several years have seen increasingly worn by the Carabiners or even by engineers but never by a PAI units. The famous book on the PAI history (by Girlando) shows why this model is not included in this department, so I for one am inclined to think this is an “urban legend” of some Italian collectors.

Cheers

Enzo, from Italy

 

 

One thought on “Straw and Wicker Helmets

  1. Enzo F.( from Italy)

    Hi Peter! , the italian P.H made in weaved straw
    based on the model 28 is really a product made by CASARINI farm and named in red label: “CASARINI-brevettato”. It was purchased privately by commissioned officers or junior officers for the most part. This model is valuable for its light was produced to overcome the lack of cork during the end 30’s-WW2 period.
    It ‘still a model tied to the military police (Italian Royal Carabiners or colonial police P.A.I too).
    In fact, the old pictures that I viewed during several years have seen increasingly worn by the Carabiners or even by engineers but never by a PAI units.
    The famous book on the PAI history (by Girlando) shows why this model is not included in this department, so I for one am inclined to think this is an “urban legend” of some Italian collectors.
    cheers
    Enzo.from Italy

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.