Saturday, May 18, 2013

Great Britain MkII Dispatch Rider Helmet

This just in...

Rocketing along on their Triumph motorcycles rumbled the Dispatch Riders of the armed forces of Great Britain in WWII, carrying messages hither, thither, and yon and keeping distant points of a moving army in communication with one another.

Two Tommies try to figure out just how lost they are. "I knew you meant left when you said right".

Two distinctly different helmets with the MkII on the left.  Any information from a knowledgeable reader on the helmet on the right would be greatly appreciated.

Now for the walk-around

This is an unissued helmet that had its original box when I acquired it, sadly, the carton went the way of all things.

The distinctive MkII shell was also utilized by the Royal Armor Corps as well as by British airborne forces.

Manufacturer (Briggs Motor Bodies), size, and date.

Perforations in the leather skirt allow the wearer to hear and...

this little felt flap on the reverse side keeps his ear warm and unwonted road noise out.

The rear of the skirt is gussetted to allow a custom fit.

Leather chinstrap with roller buckle secures the unit to the noggin of the wearer.

A Riddell-style suspension provides space between the steel and the head of the wearer as does the thick, coarse felt padding and bumper at the front.

Finished rough, the rivet secures... 

The liner suspension.  Seen to good effect here is the felt padding.

The sole blemish on this other mint helmet is an area of corrosion on the side right at the rolled rim.

Ready to give Steve McQueen a run for his money, our dispatch rider is about to motor off in a cloud of dust and glory,

but McQueen is way cooler.



As you do not have a comment on this helmet here are a few words to add to your fine explanation of this lid. BMB is Briggs Motor Bodies- the company that pressed car bodies for Ford and ultimately became a part of Ford. One of their plants (in the UK) was next to the Ford factory in Dagenham and others at Southampton and Doncaster.

 The only identifiable Triumph motorcycle I can see in this article is the one that Steve McQueen time-travelled to about 1963 to acquire after he had escaped fromm the Cooler-so he would not break his tailbone doing those jumps. The other identifiable bikes are a WLA Harley-Davidson and a BSA WM20 which is a bike I own and a rugged piece of primitive machinery that even the humble British Tommy could not totally destroy! About 120,000 were made during WW2 and they can still be found just about anywhere in the world where British Commonwealth soldiers needed bikes that could take an unjustified hammering and still struggle on!

Friday, May 17, 2013

West German Bundesgrenzschutz M35 - 53

This must have taken some getting used to:


I can imagine Europe as well as the rest of the world pretty squeamish seeing marching, behelmeted, Germans so soon after WWII.  Telling the world that they were marching in support of democracy required some effective public relations work, to that end, grab some popcorn, dim the lights, put your feet up and enjoy this video from the 1950s explaining how these Germans are the "good guys".
Its a fun watch.

The Federal Police of West Germany - the Bundesgrenzschutz were formed in 1951 as a means to thwart smugglers, spies, black marketeers, and other cross-border ne'er-do-wells in the decades following WWII.  Conscious of Germany's troubled recent past the Bundesgrenzschutz was a limited force with only small arms and utility vehicles - not the stuff of world domination.

The Bundesgrenzschutz, or BGS, relieved the United States and Britain from much of the task of policing post-war Germany, the benefit being the men of the BGS knew the territory and spoke the language.

I'd be curious to know what percentage of the BGS were veterans of the Wehrmacht of WWII.  I can only imagine that experienced and disciplined men were an asset to the BGS and a known quantity to the Allies.

And now for the walk-around of what is perhaps the most pristine lid in my collection - the West German M35-53 steel helmet

From head on its a dead ringer for its older brother save for the absence of rivets.

Similarly there are no ventilators as in earlier generations of the stahlhelm.

This helmet is in beautiful condition.  Either it was seldom worn or the soldier underneath it was a fastidious neatnik.

The BGS eagle is sticking his tongue out, I'm hoping it was in mockery of the commies on the other side of the border.

The liner suspension is very similar to the M62 (M1A1)  of the Bundeswehr.

Unlike the M31 liner of WWII this liner can be adjusted to a range of head sizes, in this instance Fritz can comfortably be accommodated in sizes from 53 to 57.

This is the only stamping on the shell, I'm tempted to view this as a date though I hesitate to commit.  Any information from knowledgeable readers will be appreciated.

The quality of manufacturing and materials of this helmet is exceptional and the closer one looks the more one appreciates the attention to detail that has gone into this lid.

Unlike the WWII M31 liner, the brow of this liner is perforated lest Heinz perspire to much while keeping watch on Ivan.  The "24" on a piece of adhesive tape is a mystery.

In a nod to the good old US M1 the chinstrap bales are quite identical to their American cousin.

Nary a sweat-stain to be seen in this immaculate helmet.  Obviously Rolf didn't use pomade.

Four dimples are barely visible on the dome where the spot welds affix the suspension.

A very nice, very crisp manufactures marking.

I can't get over the quality and finish of the leather.

Here is the rolled edge reminiscent of its M35 progenitor.

The decals are bright and crisp.

And look! a fashionable snood for leisure wear.  This cammo net is reflected in the photo below of a Bundesgrenzschutz soldier attempting to aim his tiny rocket ship of democracy toward the communist hordes.

An altogether very handsome helmet indeed, and a nice redemption story for Germany.