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 →
At the recent Show Of Shows (SOS) in Louisville a fascinating helmet was found – and to say I’ve never seen anything like it would be an understatement. It appears to be a commercial/civilian sun helmet likely from the 1930s. It features a USMC EGA (Eagle/Globe/Anchor) stamp on the front, and the faint remnants of a USMC stamp on the inside rear visor. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
The 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.
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 →