Original German WWII M17 Norwegian Volunteer Helmet

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an amazing example of a totally original WWI German M17 Helmet that was utilized during WWII for the Norwegian Volunteer force. The helmet has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, both of the extended ventilation side lugs and all three of the flat-headed liner retaining rivets. The notable aspect is the excellent Norwegian Volunteer decal which is retained at 95%+.

The interior of the helmet has the 1917 steel band pattern, three pad leather liner with leather retaining band still intact. All three leather pads are complete and retain their original horsehair stuffing. Pads soft and supple. Original chinstrap is present. Shell is stamped but it is difficult to read. Shell is size 66 (originally intended to accommodate head sizes of 58 to 60cm or US 7 1/4 to US 7 1/2).

During World War II a great number of volunteers from Norway served within the ranks of the German Wehrmacht. Prior to 1940, there were few such volunteers, but after the invasion, their numbers increased dramatically totaling around 50,000 by wars end. Nowhere did Norwegians serve in greater numbers than in the ranks of the Waffen-SS, but equal mention should also be made of those who served in the Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, Heer and in the various auxiliary forces such as Organization Todt and even the Reichsarbeitdients.

The Norwegian Legion (Norwegian: Den Norske Legion, German: Freiwilligen-Legion Norwegen) was a Norwegian collaborationist formation of the Waffen-SS during World War II. It was formed in German-occupied Norway on 29 June 1941, in support of the war aims of NSDAP Germany. The unit was disbanded in 1943.

The unit was formed from volunteers who were assured that it would be a Norwegian unit with Norwegian officers, uniforms and language and that its area of operations would be Finland. Instead, the unit was deployed to Northern Russia in the occupied Soviet Union, in the Army Group North Rear Area. This was done by the Germans to avoid reinforcing any Norwegian territorial claims to the Kola peninsula and the Finnish Petsamo region, which were desired by the Quisling regime. Initially, Quisling hoped to deploy over 30,000 Norwegian legionaries to Finnish Lapland, but this was rejected by both the Germans and the Finns.

Coming under the control of the 2 SS Infantry Brigade, the Legion was stationed at Krasnoye Selo near Pushkin in February 1942. In May 1942, the unit was withdrawn, returning in June 1942. The Legion left the occupied Soviet Union in 1943, having suffered over 180 casualties in a year. During that period, it had been reinforced by the 1 SS and Police Company under the command of the head of the Norwegian Allgemeine-SS, Jonas Lie. The Legion was disbanded in March 1943. The personnel who wanted to continue the SS service were transferred to the SS Division Nordland.

History of the M16/17 Helmet

The Stahlhelm was introduced into regular service during the Verdun campaign in early 1916.

The M1916 design had side-mounted horn-like ventilator lugs which were intended to be support for an additional steel brow plate or Stirnpanzer, which only ever saw limited use by snipers and trench raiding parties, as it was too heavy for general use.

The shell came in different sizes, from 60 to 68, with some size 70s reported. The suspension, or liner, consisted of a headband with three segmented leather pouches, each holding padding materials, and leather or fabric cords could be adjusted to provide a comfortable fit. The one-piece leather chinstrap was attached to the shell by M1891 chinstrap lugs, the same kind used in the Pickelhaube helmet.

The M1916 design provided excellent protection: Reserve Lieutenant Walter Schulze of 8th Company Reserve Infantry Regiment 76 described his combat introduction to the helmet on the Somme, 29 July 1916:

"... suddenly, with a great clanging thud, I was hit on the forehead and knocked flying onto the floor of the trench... a shrapnel bullet had hit my helmet with great violence, without piercing it, but sufficiently hard to dent it. If I had, as had been usual up until a few days previously, been wearing a cap, then the Regiment would have had one more man killed."

But the helmet was not without its flaws. The ventilator horns often let cold air in during the winter, requiring the wearer to block the vents with mud or fabric. The large, flared skirt tended to make it difficult for soldiers to hear, distorting surrounding sounds and creating an echo when the wearer spoke.

Originally painted Feldgrau (field grey), the Stahlhelm was often camouflaged by troops in the field using mud, foliage, cloth covers, and paint. Official issue cloth covers in white and grey appeared in late 1916 and early 1917. Camouflage paint was not formally introduced until July 1918, when German Army Order II, No 91 366, signed by General Erich Ludendorff on 7 July 1918, outlined official standards for helmet camouflage. The order stipulated that helmets should be painted in several colors, separated by a finger-wide black line. The colors should be relevant to the season, such as using green, brown and ocher in summer.

After the effectiveness of the M1916 design was validated during the 1916 campaigns, incremental improvements were subsequently made.

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