Tag Archives: World War II

Art of the Helmet Revisited

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Back in late 2012 we offered a quick look at how the American pressed fiber helmets were used as a canvas for some very talented artists. One of the helmets that we included was one from Wake Island, which featured a number of signatures. Now some new, and fascinating, information has come to light on the helmet from a reader. Continue reading

The Dutch-South African Helmet Connection

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South African Artillery in North Africa c1942

For years there has been an argument over the so-called “Polo” style helmet that was captured by German forces and used in the early stages of the campaign in North Africa. This writer actually tried to debunk that these were captured “Dutch” helmets, after a number of sources over the years suggested otherwise.

My argument had been that the Dutch had no African colonies so how could the German military have captured helmets intended for the Dutch Army? Continue reading

The Luftwaffe Sun Helmet

LuftCrewWhen 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

The Canadian Royal Horse Artillery

RCHA2The Canadian military is most remembered for its heroic actions in Italy and Western Europe during the Second World War, but it was still active in every theater of war. More than 1.1 million Canadians served in the Army, Navy and Air Force and its entry into the conflict was the nation’s first independent declaration of war.

During the North African, Middle Eastern and Sicilian campaigns the Canadian army was outfitted in a tropical uniform. Among the more “anachronistic” looking of these was the uniform worn by units of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

Continue reading

Where Are They Now? The Discarded Helmets of World War II

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There are dozens of known images – such as the one above – of piles of steel helmets that were collected during and then after the end of the Second World War. The Germans had collected massive piles of steel helmets from Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and of course France. After the end of the war there were practically mountains of German steel helmets! All of these have been well documented in period photographs.

With conservative estimates the piles could literally be worth millions of dollars, and for collectors of steel helmets these photos have almost mythical quality. However, the question this writer has long had was whether there were ever similar piles of sun/pith helmets? Given the thousands of German and Italian soldiers who surrendered in North Africa at the end of 1943 it must be asked what happened to the equipment – notably the sun helmets. Continue reading

The Camouflage Pressed Fiber Helmet

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The American pressed fiber sun helmet still remains very much a mystery at times. Its history hasn’t been well documented and while the research continues it isn’t clear when or even why changes to the patterns were made. What is notable is that the helmet appears to have gone through an evolution.

Now an interesting example has been discovered and it remains the only such one of its type. As seen above it is a camouflage version, which likely dates from the early 1940s. It features three grommet holes on each side, which are used to hold the liner and chinstrap in place. Remnants of the leather chinstrap remain. This helmet lacks the front grommet typically seen in helmets produced expressly for the USMC. Continue reading

Khaki Sola Pith of the XII Army

XII-1The Twelfth (XII) Army actually existed twice during the Second World War – although the first time it was created as a fictional formation as a Cairo-based deception department. Created by Dudley Clarke as part of the deception plan for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, it was intended to have the Germans believe that the Twelfth Army was going to land in Greece and then advance into the Balkans.

The army’s formation insignia was a trained seal balancing on its nose a terrestrial globe, which is obviously quite different from the above example. This is because in May of 1945 the phantom Twelfth Army was disbanded and a second Twelfth Army was created to take control of operations in Burma from the Fourteenth Army. Continue reading