Monday, June 20, 2016

Serbia/Bulgaria m.1915 combat helmet

Unintended consequences

It's June 28, 1914 and 19-year-old Serbian Gavrilo Princip made history.  And how.

By killing one of Europe's most insignificant monarchs, Princip plunged the world into a war that cost  thirty-eight million casualties including 25% of the Serbian army.

I bet he didn't see that one coming.

The Serb forces were depleted after the Balkan wars and were sorely under-manned and under-equipped at the outset of the Great War.  Overwhelmed by the Bulgarians, Serb forces were nearly devoured and had to flee into neighboring Albania.

Enormous amounts of Serbian military materiel were captured by the Bulgarians, including French-made Serbian m.1915 helmets.  Those helmets would embark on a long journey which would see them converted into Bulgarian air-defense helmets during World War Two and , eventually, to my helmet gallery.

What keeps this from being a typical French-produced m.1915 Adrian helmet is the addition of the additional split pins and rivets.

In the newer layer of paint is the outline of the original Serbian helmet insignia.

The crest, one of the features that is emblematic of an Adrian, is more than just decorative...

it provides an air-flow through the helmet to provide ventilation and a modicum of comfort for the wearer.  Air enters the slits on each side of the crest...

and exits through this hole in the crown of the shell.

The rivets at the top attest to the variety of liners that this helmet has had.

The original WWI liner brackets, as with all Adrians, were welded to the shell, the evidence of the welds are clearly visible. At some point in the history of this helmet what I imagine were similar brackets were riveted in place of the earlier welded ones.

The large split-pins affix the final liner in this helmet - a WWII Bulgarian, when this helmet was reconditioned with new liner. new paint, and a new mission - wartime civil defense.

The smaller split-pins affix the leather to the band, and the larger pins, the band to the shell.

The band was originally finished bright, very little of which remains intact.

The liner is the type found in the Bulgarian m.36/C of the Second World War.  The chinstrap bears a great similarity to that found in German helmets of WWII, of whom
Bulgaria was an ally.

The liner is of fairly good quality, with the drawstring holes backed by
leather washers.

The sole marking on this helmet is the ink-stamped liner size on the inside of the liner.

And here are some views of the Serbian m.1915 in WWI service.

And what happened to Gavrilo Princip?  he's considered a hero in modern-day Serbia.

It's a heart-warming story of "local boy makes good".  All's well that ends well, I guess

See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Doughboys of Harvey Dunn

American painter, Harvey Dunn (March 8, 1884 – October 29, 1952) was an American illustrator and painter. His best known work is The Prairie is My Garden. He was primarily known for portraying scenes of the Great Plains, but he also made a name for himself
for his images of the Great War.
Do click for larger images, you'll be glad that you did.

A recurring theme for Dunn is the depiction of American soldiers
 fighting through ruined towns.

These doughboys are advancing across a no-man's-land illuminated by flares.

 This work is entitled The Machinegunner

American soldiers in rubber knee-boots perhaps returning from the trenches to a rear-area.

German prisoners as litter-bearers for wounded Americans returning from the front lines.

A Renault tank supports an advance through the wire.

A doughboy fighting through the wire of no-man's-land.

American artillerymen night-firing a 75mm field gun.

Wounded and stunned soldiers after the fight.

An advance through a ruined village.

Dunn's paintings and illustrations provide vivid documentation of American combat that he observed during the First World War

These army trucks trundling along have the look of covered wagons rolling across the American landscape...

not surprising, considering Dunn is best known for his painting The Prairie is My Garden.
(please do click to enlarge)

Dunn died in 1952 at the age of sixty-eight but left a memorable record of the American effort during the Great War.

Friday, May 13, 2016

United States m.1917 combat helmet (UK manufacture)

The "tin lid"

The m.1917 is the American version of the British mk.I "Brodie" helmet.  700,000 British Brodies were supplied to the American forces before production began in the United States.  This is one of those British-made American helmets utilized by
the "doughboy" of the Great War.

The dishpan-like Brodie served various nations well into the 1970s.

An identifying characteristic of this British-manufactured m.1917 is the lapped rim strip.

The American manufactured version of the Brodie
can be identified by the rim affixed with a butt joint.

The British-manufactured M1917 attaches the chinstrap bail with a split-pin...

the American-made helmet has a rivet attaching the bail.

The helmet on the left has the original factory finish of sawdust, and that on the right is a depot refurbished finish of coarse sand.  Both are American helmets.

 The chinstrap is adjusted with a robust iron buckle.

 The single copper rivet, which passes through the crown of the shell, is the only attachment point for the entire liner and chinstrap.  If the leather strap breaks, the helmet becomes worthless to the wearer.  This is not a particularly thoughtful piece of
engineering, in my opinion.

Here the top strap passes through the chinstrap bail and attaches,
by a separate connector, to the chinstrap. 

 A name is penciled on the chinstrap.

 The suspension of the Brodie-type helmet is not particularly elegant, in fact it is quite complicated and not as effective as later helmets.  The headband has uniform slits of which the alternate pairs secure an inch-long piece of tubular rubber, providing some spacing and perhaps shock absorption between the helmet shell and the head of the wearer.

This complex web of netting has a drawstring to tighten or loosen it to adjust the fit.  This seems to me to be an overly elaborate system.

The m.1917 design would soldier on well into the opening days of America's entry into the Second World War, though with a much improved liner and suspension, which I profiled in and earlier post which can be viewed here.

The manufacture's mark in the liner is legible enough to see that it was made in Brooklyn NY.

And now: a graphic salute to the American doughboy.

"The Machine Gunner" by Harvey Dunn

See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.