Original WWII USGI Captured 29th Infantry Division D-Day Personalized Souvenir Painted German M40 Luftwaffe Steel Helmet - Q64
Original Item: One of a Kind. This is a fantastic USGI bring back souvenir German M40 Steel Helmet, captured by Members of the 29th Infantry Division "Blue and Gray", and decorated on the front with their distinctive unit insignia. It was common for soldiers to personalize "bring back" helmets with their unit insignia. Paint was readily available, even close to the front, and soldiers often had spare time to make these lovely pieces of military art.
This lovely example took a German Luftwaffe M40 "Single Decal" helmet, and completely overpainted the exterior with Navy blue, while the interior was left the original smooth fliegerblau (flyer's blue" color. The "Eagle" part of the decal was not painted over, though the swas was removed, and another swas was painted on the left side. THere also looks to have been a white swas on a red field n the top of the helmet, but this either was removed or wore away, as the helmet looks to have seen wear since it was painted. The very front of the helmet has 29th DIV painted over the unit insignia, and this is surrounded by NORMANDY, BRITTANY, and D-DAY JUNE, 6, 44. Additionally there is a dedication above this: TO MY PAL Johnnie! From Dave. The rear skirt has the phrase 29 LET'S GO HOME! in blue paint.
The rest of the helmet is covered in the various locations visited by the 29th ID, which include many locations in FRANCE, BELGIUM, HOLLAND, and GERMANY, as shown. The paint is well retained, though as mentioned previously there is wear through on the crown, so the helmet may have been worn by the veteran or another during parades and other events back in the united states. The helmet has a fantastic patina of age, and the paint is definitely WWII period. Additionally, the there is writing on the inside of the helmet on the leather liner, which reads 988 - 3.1 - 36 - 23 - 017 ACQ# 7168. We have not been able to decipher this at all, though it may be a unit number or maybe some type of asset tag from a collector. We do however find it very unlikely that any collector or museum would add a marking directly to the helmet liner itself like this.
Aside from the decoration, this is definitely an original German WWII issued helmet, with all of the correct markings and components. The reverse, interior, neck guard apron is serial number stamped DN22 and the interior, left side, apron has the stamped manufacturer's code and size, Q64 indicating that it was manufactured by F.W. Quist G.m.b.H. in the German city of Esslingen. Size 64 is a nice smaller size that can accommodate liners from 56cm to 57cm or US 7 to 7 1/8. Size 64 shells are harder to find and are therefore more valuable to a collector.
All three original liner retaining pins are intact and in good condition, with the navy blue paint well retained. There is even part of one of the locations on the top of one, which is still aligned correctly. The interior of the helmet still has its original leather liner with all 8 fingers intact as well as the top tie string. The leather has a lovely color and worn look, with the previously mentioned markings on the left side. The outer side of the galvanized steel liner band over the left ear is marked 64 n.A / 57, indicating that this is a size 56 liner for a size 64 shell. The right side displays the full manufacture information, as well as a date, though they are a bit faint:
D. R. P.
This is exactly the date you would expect from a Luftwaffe Single Decal helmet with a smooth paint job on the interior. The chin strap is unfortunately completely missing.
Overall a fantastic USGI bring back item, as well as a wonderful piece of WWII military art! We very rarely find these original "Souvenir" repainted helmets available on the market, as they make fantastic display pieces. Ready to add to your collection!
29th Infantry Division - "Blue and Gray"
At the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Army began buildup and reorganization of its fighting forces. The division was called into active service on 3 February 1941. Elements of the division were then sent to Fort Meade, Maryland for training. The 57th and 58th Infantry Brigades were inactivated as part of an army-wide removal of brigades from divisions. Instead, the core units of the division were its three infantry regiments, along with supporting units. On 12 March 1942, over three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent American entrance into World War II, with this reorganization complete the division was redesignated as the 29th Infantry Division and began preparing for overseas deployment to Europe.
The 29th Infantry Division, under the command of Major General Leonard Gerow, was sent to England on 5 October 1942 on RMS Queen Mary. It was based throughout England and Scotland, where it immediately began training for an invasion of northern Europe across the English Channel. In May 1943 the division moved to the Devon–Cornwall peninsula and started conducting simulated attacks against fortified positions. At this time the division was assigned to V Corps of the U.S. First Army. In July the divisional commander, Major General Gerow, was promoted to command V Corps and Major General Charles Hunter Gerhardt assumed command of the division, remaining in this post for the rest of the war.
D-Day of Operation Neptune, the cross-channel invasion of Normandy, finally came on 6 June 1944. Neptune was the assault phase of the larger Operation Overlord, codename for the Allied campaign to liberate France from the Germans. The 29th Infantry Division sent the 116th Infantry to support the western flank of the veteran 1st Infantry Division's 16th Infantry at Omaha Beach. Omaha was known to be the most difficult of the five landing beaches, due to its rough terrain and bluffs overlooking the beach, which had been well fortified by its German defenders of the 352nd Infantry Division. The 116th Infantry was assigned four sectors of the beach; Easy Green, Dog Red, Dog White, and Dog Green. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division boarded a large number of attack transports for the D-Day invasion, among them landing craft, landing ship, tank, and landing ship, infantry ships and other vessels such as the SS Empire Javelin, USS Charles Carroll, and USS Buncombe County.
As the ships were traveling to the beach, the heavy seas, combined with the chaos of the fighting caused most of the landing force to be thrown off-course and most of the 116th Infantry missed its landing spots. Most of the regiment's tank support, launched from too far off-shore, foundered and sank in the channel. The soldiers of the 116th Infantry were the first to hit the beach at 0630, coming under heavy fire from German fortifications. Company A, from the Virginia National Guard in Bedford was annihilated by overwhelming fire as it landed on the 116th's westernmost section of the beach, along with half of Company A, B, and C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the 5th Rangers Battalion which was landing to the west of the 116th. The catastrophic losses suffered by this small Virginia community led to it being selected for the site of the National D-Day Memorial.
The 1st Infantry Division's forces ran into similar fortifications on the eastern half of the beach, suffering massive casualties coming ashore. By 0830, the landings were called off for lack of space on the beach, as the Americans on Omaha Beach were unable to overcome German fortifications guarding the beach exits. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, commanding the American First Army, considered evacuating the survivors and landing the rest of the divisions elsewhere.
However, by noon, elements of the American forces had been able to organize and advance off the beach, and the landings resumed. By nightfall, the division headquarters landed on the beach with about 60 percent of the division's total strength, and began organizing the push inland. On 7 June, a second wave of 20,000 reinforcements from both the 1st and 29th Divisions was sent ashore. By the end of D-Day, 2,400 men from the two divisions had become casualties on Omaha Beach. Added to casualties at other beaches and air-drops made the total casualties for the Normandy landings 6,500 Americans and 3,000 British and Canadians, lighter numbers than expected.
The entire division had landed in Normandy by 7 June. By 9 June, Omaha Beach was secure and the division occupied Isigny. On 14 July, the division was reassigned to XIX Corps, part of the First Army, itself part of the 12th Army Group.
The German "Stahlhelm" Steel Helmet
The first "modern" steel helmets were introduced by the French army in early 1915 and were shortly followed by the British army later that year. With plans on the drawing board, experimental helmets in the field, ("Gaede" helmet), and some captured French and British helmets the German army began tests for their own steel helmet at the Kummersdorf Proving Grounds in November, and in the field in December 1915. An acceptable pattern was developed and approved and production began at Eisen-und Hüttenwerke, AG Thale/Harz, (Iron and Foundry Works), in the spring of 1916.
These first modern M16 helmets evolved into the M18 helmets by the end of WWI. The M16 and M18 helmets remained in usage through-out the Weimar Reichswehr, (National Defence Force, Circa 1919-1933), era and on into the early years of the Third Reich until the development of the smaller, lighter M35 style helmet in June 1935.
In 1934 tests began on an improved Stahlhelm, whose design was a development of World War I models. The Eisenhüttenwerke company of Thale carried out prototype design and testing, with Dr. Friedrich Schwerd once again taking a hand.
The new helmet was pressed from sheets of molybdenum steel in several stages. The size of the flared visor and skirt was reduced, and the large projecting lugs for the obsolete armor shield were eliminated. The ventilator holes were retained, but were set in smaller hollow rivets mounted to the helmet's shell. The edges of the shell were rolled over, creating a smooth edge along the helmet. Finally, a completely new leather suspension, or liner, was incorporated that greatly improved the helmet's safety, adjustability, and comfort for each wearer. These improvements made the new M1935 helmet lighter, more compact, and more comfortable to wear than the previous designs.
The Army's Supreme Command officially accepted the new helmet on June 25, 1935 and it was intended to replace all other helmets in service.
The M1935 design was slightly modified in 1940 to simplify its construction, the manufacturing process now incorporating more automated stamping methods. The principal change was to stamp the ventilator hole mounts directly onto the shell, rather than utilizing separate fittings. In other respects, the M1940 helmet was identical to the M1935. The Germans still referred to the M1940 as the M1935, while the M1940 designation were given by collectors.
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