During the Second World War the St. Louis, Missouri-based International Hat Company, formerly the International Harvest Hat Company, produced the “pressed fiber” sun helmet for the United States Army, Marines and Navy. Tens of thousands of these were produced by International Hat Company based on the pattern developed by Hawley Products Company.
It is well-known, and widely established, that the United States Marine Corp used the International Hat pith helmet as both combat gear, as well as a standard part of the Marine Corps training uniform. In both roles the helmet had one major drawback – it didn’t provide adequate ventilation to the wearer’s head.
Part of the author’s collection of Pressed Fiber Helmets
Sadly little has been written on the American “Pressed Fiber Helmet,” which actually was in service longer than other other helmet with the American military. While we’ve previously noted that this pattern helmet was produced by two companies – Hawley Products and International Hat Company – little of its history and variations have been chronicled.
While a definitive timeline is still very much a point of conjecture and speculation, this author has attempted to create a reasonable timeline of that follows the evolution of the helmets.
A color photo showing US Marines training while wearing the pressed fiber sun helmet
When the helmet of the United States Marine Corp in World War II is discussed it is likely the M1 steel helmet with the famous herringbone twill cover. But in fact this wasn’t the only helmet used by the USMC. Continue reading