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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Mystery Helmet


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Hello everyone. Firstly, as a new member I would like to introduce myself. As a child of the 1960's I was brought up on my parents' and grandfather's stories of WW2, plus Airfix models. Inevitable then that for the last 50+ years I have been absorbed with history in general and its military aspects in particular. A few years ago I learned that my paternal grandfather had been a WW1 Tommy, an infantry soldier in the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. This was a complete surprise, it had never entered the family legend until revealed in my father' papers upon his death. Grandfather had died in 1936 from pneumonia, a lingering result from having been gassed at the Somme near Thiepval in October 1916. So now my interest in WW1 is aroused, in particular for maps and British infantry militaria.

I wonder if anyone can help me identify a mystery helmet shell that I bought recently? I've attached photos of it next to my 1917 rimmed-edge Brodie for comparison (Brodie is on the left). It is steel, magnetic, and much rounder than the Brodie. Here are the measurements. Brodie overall front to back, 310mm; side to side, 295mm. Mystery, 285mm circular. Width of brim; Brodie 50mm at sides and 35mm at front & rear; Mystery, 40mm all round. Height, from rim to crown on a flat surface, Brodie is 115mm and Mystery is 122mm. So compared to the Brodie's oval and flatter shape, the Mystery is a true circle and with a more rounded crown.

Inside, the Mystery has no lining nor any means of attaching one. No holes anywhere, even for a rivet at the top. The Brodie bales are 28mm across and the tabs go outboard to the rim, attached by split rivets. The Mystery bales are 21mm across, go into the crown and appear to be spot welded. It has the remnants of a stretchy rubber strap which doesn't feel original. For both helmets the metal thickness is approx 0.05" ie about 3/64" at the rim. The Mystery has a raw edge.

Both are painted dark matt green with no sign of any other colour, the Brodie is rather more khaki in tone. The Brodie has a sand texture, the Mystery is smooth. There are no stamped markings on the Mystery at all, and a stencilled 'I' on one side only.

So there we are. It doesn't feel like a toy or theatrical piece, nor does it correspond to any of the descriptions in the Campaign 1915 book. Any ideas please? An early private purchase item?

Thanks - John









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Perhaps some sort of civil use helmet from WW2?

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Thanks Jools. Perhaps, given that it seems to be mild steel and have welded tabs, but it is very different from a Zuckerman. It was the raw edge that caught my eye as a potential WW1 feature.

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the rounded shape is more WW2 than Great War along with the position of the bales. The leather strap is a bit unusual for WW2 but it’s not of the type usually associated with a Brodie either.


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Thank you both for your suggestions. I'm now thinking it's more likely to be a WW2 private purchase helmet. Still pretty uncommon though, I've never seen another like it. 

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I doubt that it's a Military private purchase helmet as it looks like worse quality than a normal helmet. But a private purchase civilian defense helmet sounds believable. 

Edited by Jools mckenna
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  • 5 months later...

This looks very similar to a helmet I just purchased (ebay, advertised as raw edged Home Office pattern ......). It too has no central rivet hole but has remains of liner attachment lugs, it is also magnetic.

Regards Andy.








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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Andy. My apologies for such a tardy reply, I forgot to tick the Notify button. I've firmed towards the view that these are WW2 commercial home front helmets. There is a new book, Helmets of the Home Front by Adrian and George Blake, which is a wonderful encyclopeadia of examples. It doesn't show a pattern exactly like ours but one or two are close and the sheer variety of styles makes me think that ours is from this era.


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  • 1 year later...

Same helmet type. Mine was dug in argonne region of france. Remains of20210723_125045.jpg.731032b37f49e076c27dc57516ff672f.jpg horizon blue paint. No hole for liner.


They look like adrian bales.?

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