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 →
The classic Japanese “Safari” style helmet (collection of Jareth Holub)
One 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 →
Since posting last month about “The Forgotten American Experimental Helmet,” more information on this particular pattern has come to light. Apparently the helmet isn’t really so forgotten as it does appear in several reports and even some news accounts.
Even more interesting is the fact that a collector has come forward not only with some additional details but some photos of the actual helmet! Collector Marc Giles currently owns what is for now the only known surviving example of this helmet. Continue reading →
The story of the Wolseley helmet is well documented, but occasionally even we come across something a little different. In this case it is a helmet that has the basic shape of a Wolseley and at first glance could possibly be dismissed as a “child’s helmet.”
The story gets interesting however. This helmet, which is a bit of a cross between a Wolseley and a polo style helmet, was apparently made in India. Moreover, while we have noted that the English helmet makers principally worked in cork with the Wolseley – with straw and felt also serving when there were shortages of cork – this Wolseley style helmet is made of sola pith!
The helmet is attributed to Major James Skitt Matthews, born in 1878 in Wales, and died in 1970 at the age of 92 in Vancouver. James Skitt Matthews was a well known figure around the Vancouver area, and was appointed Vancouver’s first archivist in 1933. He was also a much respected historian of the city and amassed a huge collection of photos relating to Vancouver. In his early life he joined a local militia unit in 1903 and at the outbreak of war in 1914 was transferred to the Regular Army and fought with The Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles throughout 1916 to 1918 during World War One. His tough no nonsense style made him something of a hero to his men in the trenches. Continue reading →
The subject of this article is a Foreign Service Helmet that I acquired 10 or so years ago from an antique mall in Canada. The seller did not represent it as anything in particular. It was just an old military helmet and plume with no provenance. Since that time it has been the focus of much frustration, as I have tried to nail down exactly what it is. I must thank my new friend Stuart Bates, for his “dog with a bone” attitude in helping me finally identify it, with certainty! Also thanks to Clive M. Law, Benny Bough, and my old friend Douglas N. Anderson, for their assistance and contribution in this effort. Continue reading →
An example of a Colonial Pattern helmet with four panels rather than the more usual and authorized six panels. This example is to an Other Rank of the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey). (Photo courtesy Roland Gruschka)
The 1st Battalion West Surrey was stationed in Malta in 1892 and it appears that this type of helmet was not uncommon in Mediterranean stations for the British Army. However, the Dress Regulations of 1894 state that puggarees were to be worn in such stations as India, Bermuda, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Egypt, the Straits Settlements, West Indies, Mauritius, Malta, West Coast of Africa and Cyprus and that the full Home Service pattern helmet plate was to be worn at other stations, i.e. those where the puggaree was not authorized. There was a term “Mediterranean Order” which translated to no puggaree but full helmet plate and it appears that the cork ventilation was also a feature of this “order.” In 1899 puggarees were authorised for all stations abroad. Continue reading →