Original Imperial German WWI M16 Stahlhelm Helmet with Attached Bring Back Mailing Label - B.F.64.

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet shell, mailed home by a USGI after the war. We have seen these sent back in a variety of boxes, but in this case it looks like the mailing label was attached to the helmet itself!  We cannot make out all of the information, but it appears it was mailed to:

Mr. Michael Coughlin
80 BayView Ave
Rhode Island

It is possible that this label was removed form the box, and then attached to the helmet, however we do not think so. Examination of the paint where the label is missing shows that it is far cleaner, so this label has been on the helmet for a very long time. USGI bringback items from WWI are very collectible, and this is definitely a nice one!

The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet shell retains about 75% of its original hand painted camouflage paint, with the expected wear and deterioration from age. The helmet shell still has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, which holed the interior pickelhaube style chin strap lugs in place. 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 shell is stamped B.F. 64 over the left ear, indicating that F.C. Bellinger of Fulda manufactured it. This company made shells in sizes 62 and 64 during WWI for the war effort. Size 64 is a nice medium 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. The top of she shell has a rolling mill mark reading R 7 3 5, for steel produced at Stahlwerk Röchling in Volkingen.

The interior of the helmet still has an original all leather early pattern M16 helmet liner, with the three panels still attached. The correct split pins are present, including the correct rear pin with the thicker head. The leather has aged and shrunk over the years, so it is separated from the shell in most areas. The original pockets behind the panels are present, with one still retaining the padding. The chin strap is unfortunately completely missing, probably having been removed or fallen off during shipping.

This this great USGI Bring Back helmet will make a fantastic addition to any Great War collection. Ready to display!

History of the M16 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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