Category Archives: World War II

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

The French-Vietnamese Leaf Hat

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As previously noted the conical hat – known as the “nón lá” or leaf hat – was in fact widely used in the Vietnam and neighboring regions throughout the 19th century by farmers and soldiers (including bandits) alike.

What is unique about the Vietnamese nón lá is that it has its own origin, based on a legend to the growing of rice in the region. This tells of a giant woman from the sky who protected humanity from a deluge of rain, and she wore a hat made of four round shaped leaves to protect her from the rain – and that inspired farmers to stitch together their own style of helmet. This has evolved over the centuries and various styles have become common in the different parts of Vietnam. Continue reading

The Japanese Bamboo Helmet

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As has been noted the Japanese sun helmet went through several stages of evolution before and notably during World War II. One factor was the ability of manufacturers to acquire the supplies and materials. Helmets that were made of straw and even helmets that were essentially cloth and felt with little in the way of an frame apart from Sanada tape – but one unique and disputed variation is the bamboo helmet. Continue reading

USMC Prototype?

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At the recent Show Of Shows (SOS) in Louisville a fascinating helmet was found – and to say I’ve never seen anything like it would be an understatement. It appears to be a commercial/civilian sun helmet likely from the 1930s. It features a USMC EGA (Eagle/Globe/Anchor) stamp on the front, and the faint remnants of a USMC stamp on the inside rear visor. Continue reading

An Interesting Goggle Type

‘FOUR WAY’, ‘FOLDING LENS’ or ‘SPLIT LENS’ TYPE

1900s Motoring and Early World War I Flying Goggles, World War II Japanese Type 5 Dust Goggles, WWII Russian Tank Goggles, Chinese Tank Goggles, RAF Split Lens &etc.

Figure 1, Pre WWI United States Air Corps pilot wearing folding lens goggles

Figure 1, Pre WWI United States Air Corps pilot wearing folding lens goggles

This goggle type has its roots in France, with most references relating them to ‘early French types’. The earliest advertisement sighted for this kind is dated 1904. They may have been a development of the 19th century ‘Railway Spectacle’ with protective glass side panels (Fig. 3). They could be folded into a very compact shape and allowed good peripheral vision. Continue reading

Sun Helmets of the United States Civil Defense

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One interesting footnote in the history of the American pressed fiber sun helmet is its use by various Civil Defense groups. While the helmets likely were never produced specifically for such use, following World War II many of these helmets were likely adapted for the Civil Defense.

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The High Ranking Officer’s Pressed Fiber Helmet

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The headgear of officer’s has always been somewhat distinct from what the ranks wore – except for combat helmets typically. However, at the tail end of the Second World War it seemed that the American pressed fiber helmet was worn as much by those in command as those serving in the ranks. General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith (center) – who is often credited as the father of modern U.S. amphibious warfare – can be seen along with other American military leaders wearing the distinct headgear. We can only imagine where their respective helmets are now.

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