Home Front Helmets

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Dieppe, May 30, 2004.

  1. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    I’ve summarised a load of the test results on non-metal Helmets in the book. Like you, I’ve yet to find anything OFFICIAL about non-metal lids being used in bomb disposal....and haven’t yet seen a period ad. expounding the virtues of minimise sparking either....’though EVERYONE says they are “non-sparking”.

    Re bomb disposal, one has to ask how useful protecting the TOP of one’s head is when there’s 1,000lbs of explosives at face height......

    The leather ones are a different matter though.....
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    On the other hand if you're sitting in a trench operating the remote fuse puller and the whole thing goes up you might like some head cover from falling material
  3. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    The ARP would have to help in directing the Naval Mine Disposal Officer to an unexploded mine and this could involve waiting around outside during a raid. - An example being when an unexploded mine threatened the Rotherhithe Police Station, The station was evacuated. However, Bermondsey Control had arranged for the Station to be the rendezvous for the Naval mine disposal party, and somebody had to be left close by to direct them to the mine. Two Police constables and Joseph Ambrose waited in the danger area, despite the fact the mine could have exploded at any moment and shrapnel was continuing to fall all around them. So they'd want a helmet on, but perhaps not when they took the Naval Officer to the mine.
    Here's a photo of ARP guys around an unexploded mine. (Getty had got the negative transposed so I've corrected that)
    Notice the protective cushion tied to the mine and helmets all round..
    Another incident where the ARP chap removed his steel helmet to look at a mine is documented on a medal citation.
    Deptford’s A.R.P. Control Room had a report that a mine had been seen to fall in the vicinity of Dundalk Road. Incident Officer, Frederick Mockford, (a 47 year old Speedway Promoter), immediately went to investigate, but beyond confirming the fact that the object had dropped in the centre of a block of small residential property, he was unable to obtain any additional information.
    He handed his helmet, keys and other metal objects to a warden and got into a house through the garden at the rear. After climbing over about a dozen fences, he discovered a parachute hanging from the roof of a house. (Believed to be No.33 Dundalk Road).
    As there were no signs of the mine, he decided to investigate inside and finding the kitchen door open, entered, switched on his light and found the mine standing upright in the centre of the room. He immediately closed the kitchen door, contacted wardens and police, informed control and apparently in a cool, calm manner, gave active assistance in evacuating people from the vicinity. Since most of them were in Anderson Shelters in their gardens, this was no easy job, but was, however, accomplished and the mine was subsequently rendered safe and removed the following day. (National Archives ref HO 250/39/1531)
  4. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    I wonder where those Rescue guys [Getty pic] were based?...I have this Wardens helmet with "B119" on the side in a very similar font ...they might've come from the same area.....presumably London....somewhere..... h cd Warden B119 (2).JPG
  5. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    Unfortunately the caption is vague - "Clearing A House1940: ARP (Air Raid Precautions) wardens cleaning bomb debris from a house. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)"
    Here's are a couple of photos of another incident that might also be of interest.-
    Caption for these - "19th September, 1940, A huge unexploded land mine bomb lies in a back garden of a house in a London suburb, they are being dropped by parachute from enemy planes during German Luftwaffe air raids over the capital. (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)"
    I know there was a UX mine made safe on 19 Sep '40 at 43 Loftus Road, Hammersmith. Wonder if this is where these ones were taken?
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Looking at the top photo the fuse appears to have been removed from the mine. The BD officer had done his work which explains why everyone was happy to examine the thing
  7. Listy

    Listy Active Member

    A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of some helmets, well I was back at our museum, and had a closer look at our examples.

    The only markings they have are what I think is a batch code stamped into them. Most are G numbers, with the lowest being G12, the highest G34. Under the batch code there's a three letter stamp, that looks like "BMR", "BMB" or possibly "RMR" on some of them (Its not entirely clear as the helmet buckle holder is in the way, or too much paint) which I'm guessing would be a manufacture?. One has the code F98.

    However, we do have one, that is a bit awkward, of course has to be different.

    It says:
    XJ II
    HBH 1938

    On the other side of a rim is what I guess to be a proof mark:

    Other than that they are devoid of markings, apart from ones painted on after the event (IE rack numbers). A friend told me that dates of manufacture were usually on the chin strap buckle, at least for service helmets, however there are none on these examples.
  8. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    BMB = Briggs Motor Bodies (maker) - the F number is a steel batch number. HBH is Harrisons Brothers....they made a lot of the early helmets which went to the police. I doubt very much if you'll find a date on a strap buckle - I've never seen one BUT they SOMETIMES appear on strap retaining lugs and always (nearly) on the inner helmet rim. 'dunno what the "P" is.
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  9. Listy

    Listy Active Member

    As I said I suspect its proof mark. Would it be the date of manufacture (IE 1938)? When they still have time to proof test? then as war becomes more imminent, Proofing goes out the window and the markings decrease?
  10. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    Yes, the Harrisons one (blue) is dated 1938...."II/1938"........I've not read anything about proof stamping/marking. I find the occasional odd stamp on rims away from the usual makers marks....but in the vast majority of cases these were applied post-issue to clarify helmet ownership. Who made the P-marked helmet?...have you more pics?...what makers mark is applied?
  11. Listy

    Listy Active Member

    They're all blue... being police and all. :-P

    The HBH 1938 is the one stamped with the P mark.
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Dambusters Inn 20 September 2017.JPG Here's a selection of wartime helmets on display over the wood burner at the Dambusters Inn,Scampton....if they had been lodged in similar positions during the war,I would think they would had collected a little grime.
  13. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    :-P....can I ask what this face means please?
  14. Listy

    Listy Active Member

    Just me being silly and cheeky.
  15. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Don't know where or when this image was taken.
    I read somewhere these telephonist during an air raid would take cover under their switchboards and on hearing the all clear siren, would clamber out back to their seats and carry on working.


    CL1, Guy Hudson and Harry Ree like this.
  16. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    A classic pic....and note the helmet colour variants. Many of those grey ones have probably been passed on since as Navy or RAF helmets simply because of the base colour. And the headset on the 2nd from the left could integrate with the Service respirator so in theory at least a telephone headset, respirator AND helmet could all be worn on the job
    ARPCDHG likes this.

    ARPCDHG Member

    ...and a good reminder that not all Home Front helmets carried initials.
    2 Black Bands likes this.
  18. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    Agreed....but every day more and more do....if you know what I mean!
    ARPCDHG likes this.
  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Does Marcus Cotton's description of the grey helmets with varying numbers of drilled holes as mild steel still hold good in the light of current research ?
  20. 2 Black Bands

    2 Black Bands Active Member

    I haven't the metalurgical skills to be able to answer that one in that I've not had samples of the shells tested - sorry.

    The holes were put in as a Don't-Issue indicator for a number of reasons. But bearing in mind some shells were deformed during the pressing process and therefore failed one test they could've been made from perfectly acceptable metal but just distorted by pressing....so one has to assume that for some at least, the metal was Issue/Army quality although the shell itself was rejected for Military use due to a deformity rather than metal content. I can't recall seeing any period documentation which contained analysis of the metal. I fear I may not have answered your question....as we say early on in the book, it's not about the helmets themselves, it's about the markings applied. Marcus was with me over the weekend.....he constantly reminds me that his Militaria Magazine articles were a long time ago and that he's done much research since then.....I guess we're all waiting for his book

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