Thursday, March 19, 2015

Helmet treasure trove; The Boonsborough Museum of History

The next time you're passing through my neck of the woods drop by the
Boonsborough Museum of History in Boonsboro Maryland.
You'll be amazed at what you find there.
Doug the proprietor has been collecting since he was nine (he's now in his seventies) and he has amassed a very large and very eclectic collection which spans the globe from
antiquity to this century.
My wife is his sole volunteer and really knows how to navigate her way along the narrow passageways of the many "back rooms" of the museum.
Doug doesn't specialize in anything but he collects everything...including helmets.
Here's a little tour of just those that were within easy reach.

I took along the trusty 40mm shell that I use as a pedestal for helmet shoots and was rewarded with this US M1917 from the Great War.  This is a really nice example of one of those helmets which were lavishly decorated on the long boat ride home at the end of the war.  This one is decorated with a camouflage pattern as seen on German helmets (see below) as well as
what appear to be laurel wreaths.

My wife, who is quite diminutive, was able to get into the tight spaces beyond my reach to where many of these helmets were residing.
She uncovered, and retrieved for me quite a cache of hardware, including
 this nice m.17 German helmet.

Next up was a German m.16 with a really nice geometric camouflage pattern.

This helmet was mailed home as a souvenir, that's the mailing label, affixed directly to the helmet!

Note that the liner is remarkably intact.

Here, you can see the leather liner band which characterizes the m.16 as well as the name of the soldier who wore it a century ago.
Next off the stack (and it was a stack) came this nice apple-green m.17.

Note the dust.  I was photographing under less than ideal conditions. 
 I wish I had brought a dust cloth with me

Again, the liner is in pretty good condition as is the chinstrap.

This helmet also has the name and unit of the man who wore it.

Visible here is the metal liner band which denotes it as an m.17.
The stack just kept giving.  A nice Adrian infantry helmet, an Italian M33, and then this surfaced...

an M1C paratrooper helmet!

What a beauty.

I wonder if Joe ever though his helmet would ever see the light of day again?
Then, thinking the photoshoot was over, we went upstairs.  Doug wanted me to move some boxes so I left my trusty 40mm shell and backdrop behind.
Which I ended up regretting.

Perched on an antique chair was this m.36A fallschirmjager helmet.
Although the liner was missing, the decal was perfectly intact.

Then came the motherlode, and here's where I really regretted the less-than-optimal conditions
 I had for photographing.
This caught my eye.  It was residing in a dusty corner...

the experimental US model 8 helmet of which only 1300 were produced
by the end of the Great War. 

The hinged visor was intended to provide extra protection for
 machine gunners in advanced positions.

What lived on from this experience was the chinstrap closure that would
 reappear in the venerable M1.

Produced by the Ford Motor Company they saw only
 limited service in the closing days of the war.

The experimental No. 8 along side the liner of Captain Miller, no not the Tom Hanks Character, but the Doctor from Hagerstown Maryland.
When next in western Maryland on your way to Antietam National Battlefield, do stop by the Boonsborough Museum of History.  You can't miss it...

It's the house with all the cannons on the front porch.

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