Monday, June 2, 2008

Canadian MkII Steel Helmet: Oh! Canada

This is Canada.

This is the Canadian flag.

This is a Canadian.

I've always been a big fan of Canada and Canadians.

Canada is a very beautiful and huge country with cities both modern and baroque. The diversity of climates, economies, and people make Canada a dynamic and exciting place. The people, and government (aren't those supposed to be the same thing?) are a tolerant and live-and-let-live bunch.

I'm always a little surprised that Canadians aren't nearly as smug as they could be about how much more civil they have made North America than their southern neighbors know, we with all of the guns.

There, then, are my feelings on Canada. Herewith are my observations and opinions on the helmet Canadians used for the first half of the Second World War - the Mk 2.

I'll drink to that! The jaunty tamo'shanter thingy is certainly of questionable ballistic value. Let's get something more suitable on this Canuck's head.

Front view: This lid was acquired with two layers of disruptive netting.

That this MkI, MkII, MkIII design served for so many decades is just about beyond me. The profile of this helmet is unchanged from the First World War. Its relatively shallow design provides little cover for the wearer's temples and none for the crucial brain stem of the soldier. Compared to the family of German helmets of the time, as well as its contemporary the American M1, the MkII begins to look downright ludicrous.

But, that being said, how do you argue with...


I'm certain that the shiny steel screw fastening the shell to the suspension is a replacement.

Interior view showing the suspension which, with the chinstrap, is a quantum leap forward from the suspension of the Mk1 of the Great War, both in protection to the wearer, and in durability (not to mention ease of manufacture).

The Canadian version of the "king's broad arrow".

This rubber crosspiece found in the crown of Commonwealth helmets is an unusual material that can often be spongy and fresh looking one day, and then, seemingly overnight, harden and crumble. This one is in almost factory-fresh condition.

With the suspension removed.

This chinstrap is the type with the springs in the upper reaches. The fabric is so acidic that it is slowly destroying itself.

The manufacturer's markings on the rim of the shell...

and in the suspension (see comments at bottom of the page).

Apparently the netting has been on this helmet for some time leaving a distinctively mottled pattern on the surface of the painted steel.

Three sewn-in paper labels are affixed to the fabric chinstrap. The actual significance of each is unknown to me:

Does "LG" indicate "size large"?

Is this one an inspectors mark?

The last one is the most intriguing.

One word "THANKS".

Is this, perhaps, a personal message from a defense plant seamstress in Guelph, Hull, Windsor, or Vancouver to any young Canuk soldier serving so very far away from home?  A small tribute from a grateful citizen trying to "do her bit"?

I can only conjecture, but the romantic in me hopes that that is exactly what it is.

As always, thanks Canada.

accession number: MOA hmar.214.60.15
Model MkII Canadian helmet.
Acquired 1985, Lansing Michigan.
Purchase price :$10.00
Condition: excellent


Mannie, Your helmet was made by General Steel Wares (GSW) and the liner was made by Viceroy Manufacturing Company (VMC). That`s a correct combination. Both were made right here in Ontario. As you suspected, the Liner retaining bolt has been replaced with a regular nut/bolt.
As for those tags on the chinstraps.. .ya` got me! I`ve never had a Mk.II that had them (tho` I really like `em! ;) ) Maybe Roger can shed some light...

Thanks for the kind tribute to Canada... you`re welcome to visit
anytime! :) ~MERK

I agree with Merk about the helmet details, an also about the labels, I remember hearing something similar about little labels sewn into the helmets wishing good luck an gratitude from home before, for the guy on
front line to get one of these it must have been must have been heartwarming to know you hadn't been forgotten an your efforts were appreciated, a nice bit of humanity there.

You might also wish to mention that in all Canada manufactured over 1.1 Mk.II helmets.Asside from GSW,the Canadian Lamp
Company (CL/C) of Windsor ON and the Alumin Good Company (AG/C) made Mk.II helmet bodies.


No I have not seen a tag like that ob\n a chin strap before, but it's the sort of thing which would rapidly dissapear after the helmet had seen any use. Anyway I like Mannie's suggestion it might be a little tribute left by a munitions worker. By the way all Canadian Chinstraps were made by Backstay Standard in Windsor.

The helmet properly is indeed a Mk.II but GSW stamped their bodies Mk.I because it was offically the Body Steel Mk.I to the Helmet Steel Mk.II.
Strictly speaking any map of Canada from WWII should not include

Mk.II helmets were made in Canada between 1940 and 1943

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