Helmets of the Defence Forces

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Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby michaelcarragher on Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:00 pm

Can anyone explain the changeover by the Irish Defence Forces from the Stahlhelm-pattern to the Brodie helmet, or point to a source that might explain it?

As I understand, the Stalhelm-pattern was in use at least until 1940; then the Brodie was adopted. Exactly when was the changeover? Who made the decision to replace the older helmet, and what was the rationale, actual and official? Was there a tacit acceptance that our neutrality was more likely to be violated by Germany (working with the IRA) than Britain, and that in such an eventuality our soldiers’ wearing the Stahlhelm would be a potentially fatal liability as we fought alongside the Ancient Enemy against the erstwhile “gallant allies”?

Or was the decision determined by what today would be termed “the optics”?—i.e. an understandable reluctance to be identified with Nazism in the wider world, by that sinister “coal scuttle” helmet?

Yet was there not equally an “optics” factor in adoption of the Brodie, at a time when Britain alone stood against Nazi hegemony? What did Herr Hempel have to say about the change? Why, if for whatever reasons we had to change, did we not adopt the French-pattern helmet? This would have been far less symbolic, surely; and besides, did we not briefly use it back in the ‘Twenties, before adopting the Stahlhelm? (And would not Vichy have had a large surplus just then, available at knockdown prices!)

May I take this opportunity to wish all on the Forum the very best for 2011.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby thepremier on Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:26 am

michaelcarragher wrote:Or was the decision determined by what today would be termed “the optics”?—i.e. an understandable reluctance to be identified with Nazism in the wider world, by that sinister “coal scuttle” helmet?


I have heard (only in conversation, so can't give any sources, sadly) that the army was derided for the similarity between their helmets and the Germans', and that this was the reason for the change. Whether the criticism was from home or abroad, I'm not sure, but think it was the latter.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby michaelcarragher on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:11 pm

Many thanks for that, Premier. It makes sense, and would have done so in 1940.

All the best in 2011.


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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby bannerman on Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:17 pm

Hello Michael
Please correct me if I am wrong but wasn't
that sinister “coal scuttle” helmet?
or as you call it
Stahlhelm
actually called the "Vickers" helmet?
I believe it was made by Vickers in Britain - I'm fairly sure they were not German made. F. Glenn Thompson of the National Museum of Ireland wrote an article about the helmet that appeared in History Ireland Magazine a few months back - that would be worth taking a look at.

Id say Mock or one of the lads who do WW2 Irish Army could also provide information.

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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby michaelcarragher on Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:56 pm

Bang-on, Bannerman.

That helmet, the pattern of which the German army devised in 1915, was indeed manufactured for the Irish Defence Forces by Vickers. This was because the terms of the Versailles diktat forbade Weimar to export military materiel.

Of course, in defiance of Versailles, Hitler later exported that distinctive helmet all over Europe, and even into Africa--with, as the expression has it, extreme prejudice. The stahlhelm of this war can be distinguished by its smoother profile: those of the Kaiser War had threaded lugs in the temple regions, designed to mount bolt-on armour shields for sniping, and because those great geniuses von Manstein and "Fast Heinz" Guderion had restored movement to war, there were far fewer opportunities for sniping this time round, hence little need for a sniper's visor.

By way of aside, the stahlhelm had replaced the pickelhaube, that distinctive spiked headgear of the invincible 19th century Prussian army, and adopted by the various German armies after the foundation of the Second Reich. The shell of this earlier helmet was made not from burnished or enamelled steel, as is sometimes thought, but from "chromed" harness leather; but by the time the First War broke out, leather for all pickelhauben had come to have been sourced from Argentina, and because the British blockade then shut down this trade, the last pickelhauben indeed were made from steel before the stahlhelm ("steel helmet") was adopted. The earlier helmet was far less effective in combat--especially in trench warfare--than impressive on parade, yet it remained the most prized "souvenir" of trench raids or battle.

And can anybody wonder? However blessed we all may be by Allied victory in both World Wars, can any man deny that the Germans had by a very wide margin the most impressive uniforms? Yes, I referred to the stahlhelm as "sinister". So it was.

So was Himmler's leather coat.

So was Dracula's cloak.

Still impressive, though?

Good to hear from you, by the way. I've been too overwhelmed by Christmas gifts and pressure to yet check out your Coolacrease lead of some time back, but I will.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:47 pm

Even during the Emergency , the Vickers helmet was used but replaced by the Brodie helmet, There is a fine example of a Vickers helmet coloured white in the museum in Guernsey with the Defence forces badge on it I think I have a photograph of it and the museum thought it was an old coal scuttle German helmet until I pointed out the Defence Forces Ireland badge upon it.
Na Fianna Éireann Fíor inár gCroíthe Neart inár Láimhe Comhsheasmhacht inár dTeanga.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby michaelcarragher on Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:53 pm

Wonder how that got there!

Quite a lot of work been done of late on the Channel Islands' war. Dr Gilly Carr of Cambridge U seems to be the authority here.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:20 pm

three of the men that served with the german forces of occupation were stationed in guernsey one with heer and two joined the ss, the helmet was from a collection donated i have photos of it some where on a photograph but not on my computer which i know is somewhere in the house. it is coloured white with the black oglaigh na heireann badge upon it. i see there are a few one sale via a really decent dealer called gary o brien in the net,

http://theirishwar.com/original-irish-w ... rn-helmet/

from what i know there were 10,200 purchased in total and of these about 25 were snipers ones with visers on them, this also explains the white colour too

http://members.fortunecity.com/milit/VickersM1927a.htm


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiXsKqQRxf4


http://www.gostak.demon.co.uk/helmets/ireland.htm
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby michaelcarragher on Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:04 pm

Slew of stuff there, Mairtin.

Many thanks indeed.
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Re: Helmets of the Defence Forces

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:12 pm

You are most welcome, If I can help further just ask.
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