Sunday, January 4, 2009

Danish M. 23-41 civil defense helmet

(For the video version, click here)

What's not to like about Denmark? It has a long tradition of standing up to bullies during WWII, and more recently here.

 My introduction to the Danes (aside from Danny Kaye's protrayal of Hans Christian Andersen) was a really cute exchange student when I was in high school.  I decided then that I'd like all things Danish.  My instincts were good.

In my collection I only have two helmets from Denmark.  For many years it was difficult to find them in the States at reasonable prices.  Eventually, as the Danes switched over to composite helmets, and ebay turned the world in to a garage sale, I was able to acquire two of my own including this piece, a Danish M. 23-41.

At the risk of sounding like one of my least favorite ebay dealer dodges, characterized by the phrase"as I'm given to understand",  nonetheless, as I'm given to understand (there, I said it) from other collectors as well as the Marzetti book Combat Helmets of the World (1996, pp. 56-57, fig 23.7) that this particular helmet was used by the Danish resistance movement during World War Two, as indicated by the red stripe painted along the crown of this helmet.

On to the helmet in question.

This distinctive helmet has that unmistakable Danish profile.

Although it affords a great deal of coverage, I find the widely flared skirts restrictive to peripheral vision.

The top view shows the longitudinal stripe to good effect.  The original black, smooth finish, as well as the light weight liner leads me to believe that this helmet did not start its career as a combat helmet but rather a police or civil defense helmet.

The liner is pretty conventional in the European sense.  The leather is in outstanding condition, bright and supple.

A hanging slot in the rear skirt of the helmet.  Hey! go here for a Youtube video of the M.23 produced by a guy in Denmark.

Four fairly diminutive rivets secure the liner to the shell...

passing through these leather washers which serve as spacers between the liner and the shell.
There's a good 1/2 to 5/8 of and inch clearance here, which is good for the health of the wearer's skull.

The liner and the chinstrap couldn't be more different.  The liner is fresh and the strap is cracked and weathered, leading me to believe that the strap predates the liner, which may have been a replacement during the career of this lid.

Unlike the typical European helmet, this one has a dearth of markings, only this single serial number appears lightly on the inside skirt.

The typical drawstring adjustment in the crown of the liner affords varible distance between the top of the wearers head and the shell of the helmet.  This is the only adjustment point available on this liner.  Definately not a "one size fits all" situation.

Altogether a fine looking helmet which may have an interesting past.  I hope more information is forthcoming.

Click here see what makes Denmark so cool.


Anonymous said...

Cool--straight outta Agincourt! You a stamp collector, too? Noel

Mannie Gentile said...

No, Noel. I just liked the graphics.


Mannie Gentile said...

This comment from "M55q" via my Youtube site:


I first of all want to thank you for your video about the Danish m23 helmet!! --> [ Museum of America Danish M23 41 ]
It is not the often I see references on the very special helmet!! And very beautiful helmet!!

But I would like to, maybe, enlarge your knowledge about this very helmet!!
First of all was it produced on a factory called Glud & Marstral in Copenhagen... A very special thing with this factory is that it originally produced: emailed mugs, and other kitchen related things...
The helmet is a part of a uniform system called m23 aswell!! Complete with boots, spade and the first khaki uniform!!

And you are actually right!! It is an civil defence helmet... The army issued helmet has a different liner (The famous eight leather flaps!!) , and a decal in the front!! It is also MUCH MUCH heavier.
The finish on the army issued helmet is slightly greyish with bits of sawdust in it...

About the red colour... The resistance NEVER coloured their helmets with any special colour... Neither in or after the war... Some resistance groups like the communistic BOPA or the Konservative Holger Danske; SOMETIMES painted the name of the group on the helmet... I have NEVER seen that red line before.. ( and I live in Denmark, and collect my self.. Not even on the resistance museum... Where they got tons of helmets from the different resistance groups!!)

But thank you soooo much for posting!!

Best wishes from a fellow collector, and I hope it was worth reading!!


Anonymous said...

Few days ago my and my friends have found few this type helmets in the bottom of the lake in Masurian(erlier, part of ostpreussen.)All of them are lying among a lot of german equipment(including german helmets and other their WW2 stuff-even few armor vehicles we've found there:P ) Could you tell me, how could that helmets get there? All helmets still have danish forces mark at the front( tree lions with nine hearts and leafs around). We try to restore them and then give it tu museum.

M55q said...

Adam -

Unfortunately 3000 Danish men chose to fight on the German side of the war... (1000 chose to fight alongside the British... And thousands more chose to fight in the resistance)
The ones that chose to fight alongside the Germans, were equipped with the equipment at hand... And because there was large quantities of M23 helmets in stock... Why not use them?