Original Imperial German WWI Battlefield Pickup M16 Shot Through Helmet - Marked "Bell" L64

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an amazing example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet Shell, which was "Shot Through" long ago, either by bullets or shrapnel, most likely resulting in grievous harm to the wearer. It was then left on the battlefield for a while, which resulted in deterioration of the liner and rust damage on the inside, giving it that great "dug up" look. It also was at some point dented in and cracked through the crown, apparently long ago, based on the paint around it.

The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet retains a good amount of the original green paint on the exterior, standard for German WWI Helmets. The helmet shell still has has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, with their internal chin strap mounting washers. 

Above the left ear interior of the apron of the shell has a faintly stamped manufacturer's code and size “Bell” L. 64, also called the rattle logo, which indicates manufacture by R. Lindenberg A.G. of Remscheid-Hasten, who produced shells in only size 64 during WWI. Size 64 is a medium size shell, which can accommodate size 56-67 liners. The larger size makes these harder to find and more desirable to a collector. We looked for the rolling mill mark on the inside of the helmet, however oxidation has obscured it. The helmet still retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct "stepped" version for size 64 shells. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size

The top of the helmet has a large dent, which has cracked through the shell and the surrounding area in a very interesting pattern. There are also some smaller holes on the skirt of the helmet, which look like they came from INSIDE the helmet. This would definitely be of interest to anyone with an interest in forensic ballistics. Close inspection of the paint, style and aging of the edges lead us to be very confident that this totally 100% genuine.

With the recent 100-year anniversary of the close of world war one, this helmet, offered in great collectible condition, is a perfect addition to any Great War collection.

History of the M16

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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