Original U.S. WWII Paratrooper D-Day Normandy Invasion Clip On Luminous Disc Helmet Marker
Original Item: Only One Available. In advance of the Normandy Invasion on June 6th, 1944, luminous discs where issued to American paratroopers so they could be identified easily by friendly troops. Typically fixed to the back of the M1 helmet by fastening to the helmet net, tied onto webbing or stitched onto the inside of the M42 jump jacket collar at the back so the wearer could pull his collar up to reveal the luminous disc. Designed to be used when moving at night so the soldier could keep an eye on the man in front.
Composed of radium it has long since “burned out” the Zinc Sulfide, however as the half-life of Radium is 1600 years, these disks remain essentially as active as when they were made in the 1943. They glow brightly under UV light. Incredibly, when viewed in total darkness, these disks still emit a very faint eerie bluish green glow - even without exposure to UV.
Overall condition is good and shows age and use. Reverse side is marked POISON INSIDE and is complete with mounting clip.
Note on safe handling of these disks: There is a tiny amount of Radium 226 in each disk. While these disks are literally built like a tank for war, they should not be tampered with or opened as this would create a hazardous situation in which the Ra-226 could be ingested, absorbed through minor skin abrasions or inhaled. When handling, gloves should be worn. Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Luminous or fluorescent disks were issued on a limited scale to paratroops for the Normandy jump. These small disks were attached to the front or back of the helmet so that the men could see each other in darkness.
It is often identified as a pathfinder item, but that is just talk to drive up the price in auctions. They are known to have been used by pathfinders and other paratroopers alike, so they weren’t specifically issued to pathfinders.
Types of disks
- Tie-on type: This is the most common type, although it still fetches high prices at auctions. As with the other types, the radium center is covered by a dome-shaped glass cover which clicks into the backside, secured by two hollow rivets. The backside and rivets were made of blued sheet steel or zinc coated or blackened brass. The ties would go through the hollow rivets.
- Clip-on type: This type is very rare, so more expensive. These only existed in blued steel and are mostly seen with some surface rust. In mint condition, these will cost you hundreds of dollars. The back is also marked with ‘POISON INSIDE’ and next to the clip, it can also be tied on by the hollow rivets.
- Pin-on type: This type is the rarest, but you could find one in Michel De Trez’s “The Point Of No Return”. Instead of the clip, it has a kind of safety pin at the back. It is marked R.L.I. 1942. Under the pin is Pat. # 2336969. It is 1 1/2” in diameter. RLI stands for Radium Industries Limited.
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