This is a special study of Japanese tropical helmets by Nick Komiya, and is presented in four parts.
1939 March, Design Patent Granted for the Type 98 Sun Helmet Liner System
On 10th March 1939, the Patent Office Granted Utility Model Number 264722 to a Shotaro Fujioka of Tokyo for his invention of the flexible liner size adjustment system he developed for the Army’s Type 98 Sun Helmet. Fujioka was an employee of the Army’s Main Clothing Depot. The Army had applied for this on 2nd April 1937, just before sending the prototypes out for testing in Taiwan. Similar to a patent, but simpler to obtain, it is the same as the German Gebrauchsmuster system (when items are marked DRGM). Continue reading →
MilitarySunHelmets.com presents a very 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. This was originally published on the War Relics Forum.
In my past research on helmet covers, I came across quite a few documents discussing sun helmets, as they were often tested together in the same tropical test sessions in Taiwan. So when a recent question popped up about an early model sun helmet, I had a chance to review my files and thought I could have the whole picture of sun helmet development with only a little more digging for missing links. I was actually finishing a new complete history of the IJA’s pay book, but due to the lack of one early sample to study and confirm a couple of details, I had to shelve the project for later completion and was in search of a handy project instead. Continue reading →
As we have previously noted many nations that had no colonial empires had soldiers don sun/pith helmets at various times. One of the more unique examples of this is Poland – a nation that didn’t even exist as an independent land for almost 150 years.
After achieving independence in 1918 and fending off an invasion by the Soviets in 1920 the nation of Poland was again occupied by invaders again in 1939. With the nation occupied by the Germans – as well as the eastern portion of the nation essentially annexed by the Soviet Union – many Poles fled to Great Britain to continue the fight to liberate their nation. The terms of the Allied Forces Act 1940, which was an Act of Parliament passed in late 1940, gave legal authority for the recognized sovereign governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland – all of which were under German occupation – to raise, equip and maintain independent armed forces on British soil.
These Polish soldiers eventually formed the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, and headed to the Middle East where they joined Free French soldiers in liberating pro-Vichy French Syria and Lebanon. This Division later served with General Montgomery’s Eight Army in North Africa, and throughout this campaign was outfitted in British tropical uniforms and sun helmets.
Less well-known than the Australian slouch hat, the New Zealand campaign hat – known as the “Lemon Squeezer” – has since World War I been closely linked to the Kiwi soldier. The iconic hat was introduced by William George Malone, an officer in the New Zealand Military Forces, and issued to soldiers serving under his command in the 4th Battalion of the Wellington (Taranaki) Rifle Volunteers. The hat was adopted by Malone’s unit as it was meant to mirror the outline of Mount Taranaki on New Zealand’s north island.
The hat, with its tall peak allowed “run off” in the rain, proved popular with the Wellington Regiment. It was then adopted by the rest of the New Zealand Infantry Division on January 1, 1916 – by which time it had already seen its baptism of fire half way around the world. Continue reading →
With the fall of Hong Kong on December 25, 1941 and Singapore on February 15, 1942 the British suffered two of its greatest setbacks in the Far East during World War II, with the latter being described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the “worst disaster” in British history.
Some 80,000 men were captured at Singapore and untold equipment with it. Today it is possible to encounter British sun helmets (and even steel helmets) that were possibly captured by the Japanese in either Hong Kong, Singapore or in the later invasion of India. However, as it is all too easy to add a Japanese cap star to a helmet these should be viewed with suspicion at the very least. One has turned up that does have all the right signs that indicate that it is likely the “real deal.” Continue reading →
One great irony of the era of imperialism and European colonial empires is that the French reached their colonial zenith as a republic. In fact an overseas empire was seen as a way of restoring the prestige of France following the humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. As we’ve noted in past articles the French utilized their own style of “colonial” pattern helmet. Continue reading →