Monday, June 9, 2008

Canadian armored crewman helmet of World War Two

Thus begins a series of eleven or twelve posts profiling the various Armored Crewman and tanker helmets in my collection.

I begin with an early one, the name of which I'm not even certain. Paolo Marzetti, in his masterwork Combat Helmets of the World(1996, p. 222) lists this example: Helmet, Crash, Royal Tank Corps, 1936, going on to note that it was manufactured in England. Here, is the translated text of the same helmet from the 1984 edition:

Helmet in fiber that constitutes the development of the models precedence for tank crewmen
and conductors of Bren Carrier. It has a various design, because and of Canadian construction.

This then, is the identical Canadian twin of the British version. I don't know where in Canada this one was manufactured or by which company, nor do I know the Canadian nomenclature of this particular helmet.

Here is where you, dear reader, can assist me. Any pertinent information you may have about this  Canadian helmet I would welcome in the form of comments (see the bottom of this post). Until then you must settle for my meager information and a multitude of photos taken of the one in my collection.

----------------ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE----------------
It's called a Helmet Crash Tank Battalion, its a copy of the British
Helmet Crash Royal Tank Regiment. 11,500 were made by Saftey Supply
Co.of Toronto, between 1940 and 1943. They were not, in fact cheap as
they were made of cork and cost $7.50 each to manufacture. They
remained in service until 1966. For more details, Canadian Combat
Helmets. See pages 30 and 31 of my book Tin Lids, It's presntly out of
print, but I am sure if you looked on ebay or ABE books you would find
a copy.


Thanks Roger, for that timely chunk of intelligence,  ain't the internet grand? The book referenced above is:
Tin Lids: Canadian Combat Helmets by Roger V. Lucy.  Click here for ordering information.

Front view of this pulp-based helmet. This is a neat little number to accomodate the uncomfortable, head-banging ride afforded by the interior of an armored veichicle with all of its sharp edges, hard surfaces and jutting fixtures. Made of a cork shell covered in painted cotton duck with an ample padded bumper on the front, the wearer's noggin would find plenty of protection in this simple, and effective helmet.

Top view shows the six equal gores of fabric covering the pulp shell, the three rubber-bumper armored ventilation holes, and the front brow bumper.

The web suspension is simple and somewhat similar to the US M1. The headphones are supported in a separate flannel faced, leather yoke that fits snugly, though adjustably,
around the wearer's head.

Close-up of headphone through the apature in the yoke. The flannel actually makes this thing relatively comfy.

Both earpieces are held in place with a simple and ingenious gathered "poke sack" style tightened with a drawstring.

The yoke is fastened to the shell with two buttons positioned in the forward quadrant of the shell, allowing the yoke to "float" somewhat independently from the shell while remaining snugly in place on the wearer's head.

Close-ups of the headphone jack. I'm not certain if these are original to the helmet as Sonetronics is a USA rather than a Canadian company.

Is it just me, or does the chinstrap bring to mind certain aspects of ladies lingerie? I'm just asking.

There we go; the good old Canadian version of the King's Broad Arrow, stamped right on the leather sweatband along with...

this piece of information. Unfortunately, there are no makers marks of any sort that I can find. Again readers, any information you can supply would be greatly appreciated.

The helmet shell and yoke indicate two different sizes, I wonder if this was a way to provide more of a custom fit for the wearer?

Hand stitching penetrates materials that even industrial sewing machines aren't able to.

All in all,  this very lightweight helmet is quite comfortable and seems able to provide considerable protection for the armored vehicle crewman. Like all of the "tanker" helmets of the era this one possess no ballistic protection whatsoever and is strictly for crainial protection against the rigorously uncomfortable life of an armored vehicle crewman.

And, like all things Canadian...

I like it!

accession number: MOA hmarv1.176.20.33
Helmet - Crash, Tank Battalion
Acquired 1990, Grand Rapids Michigan.
Purchase price :$20.00
Condition: excellent

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