Original Imperial German WWI Prussian M1915 Other Ranks Garde Ulanen Tschapka with Repro Parts

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This helmet was acquired as part of a very large collection of headwear we received in 2020. The collector was quite enthusiastic, and wanted to get the helmets into the best display condition as possible, so they attempted to restore many of them with reproduction parts. While often not restored in the most correct way, they definitely do still have a great look.

The Ulanen (Lancers) Tschapka (chapka) with its distinctive square top first appeared in 1808 when Preußen introduced Ulanen (Lancer) Regiments to emulate the Polish lancers as did many nations; especially after the Polish Lancer's performance at Waterloo in 1815. The M1843 Tschapka was a tall helmet with a squared top which was secured with gilt chinscales. The neck of the upper flat portion on the Tschapka (called a "mortar board" by English collectors) was permanently covered with a colored cloth Paraderabatte (parade rabatte). The Paraderabatten colors were specific to each Regiment but were trimmed in white for Mannschaften (Other Ranks) and silver bullion for officers. The Fangschnur (securing cord) were attached to the top of the Tschapka with a toggle for Mannschaften and a hook for officer and private purchase.

Over time, the design was simplified, until in 1915, in line with the other leather helmets worn by the German Empire, the specification for the fittings was changed to Oxide coated steel for all units. 

This is a very nice example of a Prussian M1915 Other Ranks Garde Ulanen Tschapka, which has been fitted with a reproduction top and chin strap. The Prussian Garde wappen (coat of arms) features a large eagle holding a scepter and an orb, with a banner bearing the King's motto, MIT GOTT FÜR KOENIG UND VATERLAND (With God for King and Country, i.e. Prussia). As this is a Garde helmet, there is a large 8 pointed star in the middle, which is the emblem of the Hoher Orden vom Schwarzen Adler (Order of the Black Eagle). The motto SUUM CUIQUE (to each his own) is marked above an eagle, with laurel leaves below.

It is complete with the Prussian (black and white) and German National Colors (red white and black) Kokarden (cockades) around the chin strap lugs. In 1897 the new Reichs-Kokarde in Red-White-Black was introduced for all ranks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kaiser Wilhelm 1st. The Reichs-Kokarde was to be worn on the right side of the helmet, and the state Kokarde was moved to the left, as on this helmet. The Attached chin strap is complete, though it is a reproduction, and has brass fittings, not the correct oxide plated steel.

The interior of the helmet still has the correct leather Tschapka style liner, which has square fingers, and is in very good condition. It is correctly stitched to the leather body, so we believe that it is original. The underside of the liner is marked U. R. 3., for the 3rd Guards Uhlans, garrisoned in Potsdam. Also painted on the inside are FAUCHEX and ANGERS, which are a French City Names, possibly the home French Soldier who brought this helmet back from the front.

Overall a fantastic Prussian Garde Uhlan Tschapka!

After the start of the Napoleonic Wars, uhlan formations were raised by the Duchy of Warsaw. Polish lancers serving with the French Army included the Vistula Legion and the Chevaux-légers lanciers de la Garde Impériale. The lancers of the Polish expeditionary corps, which fought alongside the French in Spain and Germany, spread the popularity of the Polish model of light cavalry. After the Battle of Somosierra, Napoleon said that one Polish cavalryman was worth 10 French soldiers. The chevaux-légers, French light cavalry units from the 16th century till 1815, were remodelled after the Uhlans. Following the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 lancer regiments designated as Uhlans were reintroduced in the Prussian service.

During and after the Napoleonic Wars, cavalry regiments armed with lances were formed in many states throughout Europe, including the armies of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Russia. While cavalry carrying this weapon were usually specifically designated as lancers or uhlans, in some instances the front rank troopers of hussar or dragoon regiments were also armed with lances.

In one notable action during the Waterloo Campaign as the French lancers advanced out of a defile — created by the bridge over the Dyle and village of Genappe — although they were stationary as they formed up, they lowered their lances to receive a charge by the sabre wielding British 7th Hussars  who drove them back through Genappe and onto the bridge.

During the Battle of Albuera, the 1st Vistulan Lancers Regiment in French service virtually annihilated three of four of the British infantry regiments comprising Colborne's 1st Brigade. In 1816 the British army established its own lancer regiments; converting four regiments of light dragoons for the purpose and adopting items of Polish equipment and uniforms, including the square-topped Polish uhlan cap.

The traditions of the Polish uhlans were preserved during the Kingdom of Poland. They fought both in the November Uprising of 1830 and in the January Uprising of 1863.

Uhlans were deployed in the Franco-Prussian War by the Prussian Army in a variety of traditional light cavalry roles. During the siege of Paris, uhlans were tasked with shadowing passenger balloons launched from the city: their capacity for rapid movement made uhlans the only troops able to keep pace with the balloons, either to seize them on landing or at least report trajectory and destination.

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