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.
Our friends at the National Museum of the Marine Corps recently shared some photos of the above helmet. It is truly something we’ve never seen before. It was suggested that the unique triangular metal plate may have been worn to identify the owner as an “instructor” but more information isn’t available. Continue reading →
It has been long established that there were two makers of the American pressed fiber sun helmet –Hawley Products and the International Hat Company. As we’ve previously noted, the USMC blueprints for the helmets dated back to the 1940s, however we’ve been provided with the original patents from 1935 and 1936. These were filed with the U.S. Patent Office by Jesse B. Hawley, the founder of Hawley Products and apparently the original inventor and patent holder of the Hawley sun helmet. Continue reading →
What is less understood is when and more importantly where the Corps used the Model 1887/89 pattern sun helmets. It has been argued by collectors that the USMC may have adopted its own helmets – which were similar to the Model 1881 helmets that were utilized by some National Guard and State Militia units. It is true that the USMC Band helmets are close to those designs. Continue reading →
The history of the American pressed fiber sun helmet continues to be one that remains shrouded in mystery. However, thanks to my friend and colleague Alex Tulkoff some information has come to light. Mr. Tulkoff recently uncovered original blueprints for the helmet and more importantly a May 1941 dated Quartermaster order, which offers some insight information about the costs of the helmets.
A British-made helmet used by the USMC-led Garde d’Haiti (Private Collection)
The American pressed fiber helmet was used since the 1930s and continues to see use on the shooting range in the USMC to this day. However, its exact origins have been largely forgotten. However, further study and research to the subject reveals that its origins could go back to the late 1920s when the United States was involved in protecting American interests in Haiti.
Apparently too this most American of helmet patterns could actually be based on one of the most British of patterns as well. How this helmet came to be could begin back in 1915 when the USMC began its 20 year reorganization and training of the military of Haiti. Continue reading →