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
A pith helmet in the capital of the British Empire might not seem that odd at all. A helmet made of pith with a London maker/retailer stamp does seem a bit more odd – especially when one considers that the majority of helmets produced in Great Britain were in fact made of cork. As we’ve noted cork and pith are two distinct materials, and English hatters opted for cork, which came from nearby Portugal; while we have found that Indian hatters worked with sola pith, which was more common in the subcontinent.
There are no doubt countless exceptions to the rule, and both Roland Gruschka and I have discovered Wolseley helmets that seem to have been made in India. This is interesting as the Wolseley was a helmet largely produced in cork. Shortages of the material in World War I resulted in helmets with straw bodies as noted by two examples in my colleague Stuart Bates’ collection, and during World War II shortages of cork resulted in helmets being produced out of pressed felt. Continue reading
When the German army headed to North Africa and other tropical regions during the Second World War it utilized the sun helmet. The Luftwaffe, Germany’s air arm, followed ground units to the Mediterranean theater where it made up a significant portion of the “Afrika Korps,” and included the Fliegerführer Afrika.
The Luftwafffe personnel, who included air crews, Flak troops and support units were equipped with a variation of the Model 1940 sun helmet. Continue reading