Timothy Brown is the author of the very interesting story “When West-Point’s Football Helmets Went to War“, which was published last week. He used some of my own research, which is how I heard from him. Timothy has uncovered a lot about these helmets that was unknown to me and that I’d like to share with you, so be sure to read his article.
Apparently, the plastic football helmet we all know was a new invention from 1940 and the West Point football team ordered them in 1941. Cadets lent their helmets to the paratroopers for testing, and that’s how it all started. But there’s lots more to discover in the article.
I myself am the proud owner of one of the prop Riddell helmet replicas especially made for the first episode of Band of Brothers, as well as a number of original photos from early parachute training at Fort Benning, some of which were used in this article. It is such a fascinating history and a turning point in modern warfare.
It’s been a long while since I got any new WWII magazines with parachutists or glider troops on the cover. These 3 were sent to me by Darren from the UK and are very nice. The New York Times magazine is actually one you may have seen before, but I never got a decent picture of it. The two other ones are really new to me.
As for the one from the Times, the photo caption seems strange, given the magazine is from September 1944 and no paratroops had jumped on Germany at the time.
Thorsten Becker sent me photos of this minefield marking chest he found. It’s dated 29 September 1944, and it’s in great shape and it still has the packing list on the inside:
200 batteries (compartment B) 42 flashlights TL-122-C (compartment C) 40 flashlights TL-122-C (compartment A) 164 bulbs (one in head and one in base) 2 in each flashlight 34 filters, amber for flashlights, in flashlight 48 filters, green for flashlights, in flashlight
This case was empty, but imagine finding a full one with 82 flashlights…
These photos were sent to me by a collector called Mathieu. This flashlight is probably post-war, but I think it’s an interesting variation to inlcude anyway. AB-BL stands for Armée Belge – Belgisch Leger. Mathieu still has an open question that I can’t help him with: is it possible to date this flashlight to a certain era based on the ‘AB-BL’ marking? When did the Belgian army stop using this marking and changed it to ABL?
Peter Yates was so kind to send me photos from his own collection, including Brass and RAF black fly button compasses, unissued and still attached to the card they were issued on, razor blade compasses by six different manufacturers, and a compass hidden inside a cufflink.
I am looking for photos of these scarves in your collections. The one in these pictures is my own. It has a brown hem and bright yellow silk panel. There are no markings, other than a handwritten ‘4b’. As I did with the gas detection brassards, I thought it would be interesting to get photos from as many collectors as possible in order to learn about different variations. I know of 2 basic versions: both have a yellow silk panel. One has a brown hessian hem, the other has a white hem.
It was issued to paratroopers at a limited scale and intended for aerial forces to recognize friendly ground forces. With paratroopers often far ahead of regular allied forces, or even behind enemy lines, this was a very useful, even life-saving piece of equipment. In period photographs they are most seen worn around the neck as scarves.
The scarves were British made, but markings aren’t always present or legible. So I would like to make an inventory. Bill Rentz’ Gernonimo! U.S. Airborne Uniforms, Insignia & Equipment in World War II shows an identical panel which is marked ‘COURTAULDS LTD. 1942’ in a square with a broad arrow, and another one, also with a brown hem, marked ‘COURTAULDS LIMITED 1943, also with a broad arrow but no square.
Even though these are early dates, I have only found photos of the scarves being worn by US paratroopers for Operation Market Garden in Holland and Operation Varsity in Germany. It would be interesting to be able to determine more accurately which units wore these scarves and when and where, and whether they were issued the scarves with the brown or the white hem.
Replicas of these scarves do exist and can also be interesting to add to the overview. A replica I oncee had was well made, but the fabric wasn’t silk. The material of the panel was too coarse and a kind of modern-day signal yellow.
I am looking forward to receiving your photos, including any markings that may still be legible.
My Griswold bag review dates from 2008 and I had forgotten all about it. When Johan Willaert sent me some photos I thought it would be interesting to update the article. You can now see an interesting side-by-side comparison of the early and later types, as well as an extended type.