Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

German Camo M16 Helmet


54 replies to this topic

#26 Dave G

Dave G

    Second Lieutenant

  • Members3
  • 77 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin, Texas

Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:02 PM

Captain Harvey Dunn was an official war artist who painted American troops in the field during the war. Here's his portrait of a machine gunner.


It could well be my monitor but I don't see the camouflage on the helmets in the photograph - mud, dirt and wear perhaps, but I can't make out any sign of applied paint. And as far as the wonderful portrait by Harvey Dunn, he was a war artist, not a war photographer. The former allows him to take certain liberties with his subject. I certainly don't doubt that in-theater camouflage was used, just the lack of photographic evidence indicates that it must not have been widespread. Block pattern camouflage on U.S. WWI helmets, even though painted immediately post war, is still interesting and a valid variation to collect.

Best Regards,

Dave

#27 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 03:30 AM

It could well be my monitor but I don't see the camouflage on the helmets in the photograph - mud, dirt and wear perhaps, but I can't make out any sign of applied paint. And as far as the wonderful portrait by Harvey Dunn, he was a war artist, not a war photographer. The former allows him to take certain liberties with his subject. I certainly don't doubt that in-theater camouflage was used, just the lack of photographic evidence indicates that it must not have been widespread. Block pattern camouflage on U.S. WWI helmets, even though painted immediately post war, is still interesting and a valid variation to collect.

I've posted a photo of a camouflage-painted helmet dated 1918, month unknown. Next to it is an enhanced version of the soldiers from the Armistice photo.

The date-unknown photo shows newly applied paint, while the photo of the doughboy in France on November 11, 1918, shows a helmet that has similarly applied squiggles and daubs that don't show up in the print as clearly as in the other photo, likely because of dirt, fading, different lighting, different paint, etc.

As for Harvey Dunn taking "certain liberties," until someone provides evidence that he did so, I can see no reason to make that assumption.

Attached Files



#28 Lancashire Fusilier

Lancashire Fusilier

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 6,093 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 12 February 2012 - 05:07 AM

Tom W's posted photographs clearly show 1918 American camouflage-painted helmets, and Captain Harvey Dunn had no reason to take liberties, as back then, there was no controversy regarding camouflage-painted helmets, as there is now, almost 100 years later. I am sure Captain Dunn clearly understood his mission as an official War Artist, which was to faithfully record and document what he actually saw.
I think we all agree, that American camouflage-painted helmets did exist, and were used during WW1. However, surviving genuine examples are rare, and some of those currently offered could have been painted, as Dave G has said, stateside immediately post-war, and others, as a result of their rarity, could be faked or doctored helmets.
I am sure we shall see other members posting photographs of camouflage-painted helmets in use during WW1, and before Tom W posted an example of his work, I had never heard of Captain Harvey Dunn, and now, I shall be looking for other examples of his WW1 War Artist work. That is one of the benefits of this Forum, the fun of sharing information with other members, and also receiving excellent information from other members.
LF

#29 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 05:59 AM

Here are links to the full photos of engineers wearing camouflaged helmets:

http://www.flickr.co...tream/lightbox/

http://www.flickr.co...tream/lightbox/

What I notice is that several have overseas chevrons; all appear to be equipped with bayonets; one wears his shirt rather than his tunic, indicating relatively warm weather; several have the collars of their shirts pulled out and over the tunic collars, which doughboys began to do in France.

As I said before, the album these came from said only "1918." Now, if these are veterans who were shipped back to the States after the war, or if they're still in Europe after hostilities are over, why would they be demonstrating a gas-mask drill? Where in Europe would it be relatively warm in November-December? How soon after hostilities ceased were troops shipped home?

I've tried to read the numbers painted on some of the helmets and can only come up with _99E. I assume "E" stands for engineers; all visible collar disks are from the engineers.

The most logical conclusion is that these men are in France during the war, not after. It appears to be early fall of 1918, judging by the foliage and clothing.

#30 sotonmate

sotonmate

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 11,263 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

So it went for over 1100 quid with postage ! I would expect the MG with it for that price.
Thanks for the insights.

#31 Grovetown

Grovetown

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweat
  • 1,521 posts
  • Location:The Royal Standard

Posted 12 February 2012 - 02:30 PM

his mission as an official War Artist, which was to faithfully record and document what he actually saw.


Lucky nobody told Nevinson, Nash et al that, as modern and war art would have been much the lesser for it.

Cheers,

GT.

#32 Lancashire Fusilier

Lancashire Fusilier

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 6,093 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 12 February 2012 - 03:21 PM

Lucky nobody told Nevinson, Nash et al that, as modern and war art would have been much the lesser for it.

Cheers,

GT.


GT.
If you look up " faithfully " in the Universal Dictionary, you will see that " faithfully " is the adverb of " faithful ", for which one of the dictionary meanings given is " worthy of trust or credence, consistently reliable ", and that is the context in which I used the word " faithfully ".
I am sure War Artists were expected to produce work that was worthy of trust or credence, and was consistently reliable.
I see no reason to doubt that when Captain Dunn painted the Machine Gunner, he saw a soldier wearing a camouflage-painted helmet, and recorded it as such.
Whilst I do not know the works of Nevison, Nash and others, I am sure they too would have liked to have thought that their work was worthy of trust or credence, and was consistently reliable.
LF

#33 Grovetown

Grovetown

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweat
  • 1,521 posts
  • Location:The Royal Standard

Posted 12 February 2012 - 03:30 PM

, Attached File  Bursting Shell.jpg   84.08KB   0 downloads

Whilst I do not know the works of Nevison, Nash and others, I am sure they too would have liked to have thought that their work was worthy of trust or credence, and was consistently reliable.
LF


Look 'em up Leo: their work is first rate, as I'm sure you will agree.

Yet it is not documentary - far from it - and they would not be useful sources of any kind for assessing uniform and equipment in the field. Their paintings are faithful in terms of record and impressionism, but not the minutiae. And they were 'Official War Artists'.

I attach Nevinson's Bursting Shell of 1915 as an example.

We have had similar discussions as to British paintings being indicative of, say, the practice of blancoing and it's entirely possible that Dunn captured the accurate detail. Indeed probable.

But his being an 'Official War Artist' is no guarantee whatsoever.

Cheers,

GT.

#34 Lancashire Fusilier

Lancashire Fusilier

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 6,093 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 12 February 2012 - 03:46 PM

GT,
Many thanks for posting Nevinson's artwork, and you are correct, in that, the artwork produced was a diverse as the War Artists themselves. I am sure that when Nevinson painted the " Bursting Shell ", that is exactly how he saw it, and in his minds eye, had been faithfully represented according to his style of painting, which is completely different to Captain Dunn's, and yet both painted what they saw.
I shall look for other examples of WW1 War Art by Nevinson, Nash, and Dunn.
LF

#35 Joe Sweeney

Joe Sweeney

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 2,132 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 04:50 PM

I'm not sure if US troops camoe'd Helmets wartime or not. I don't think a widespread practice if did happen. This arguement has been going on for quite sometime. I tend to keep away from them mainly because I would not be able to tell the difference and I like bog standard factory finish anyway.

I will say nothing presented so far is the Eureka moment in US painted Helmets.

The two album photos are very interesting but could easily have been taken in the US in 1919. The date is ???? what are the context of the other photos in album are all others 100% France and then these two? If so that would support France.

Overseas Chevrons can not have been worn prior to July 1918. and in fact we don't know if they are Overseas Chevrons or Service Chevrons (service State side). Overs seas were Gold and Stateside Silver. I would hate to draw conclusions on these Chevrons based on BW photo but some look decidedly silver vice gold.

A similar assertion was made in this thread on another photo--except it turned out it was taken in El Paso TX after 1918.

http://forums.gunboa...amo-Helmet-Pics

The photos of the Troops celebrating on Armistice day look more like mud from handling.

Joe Sweeney

As for the pictures of painted Helemts they could have been painted anytime--any provenance??

#36 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 07:19 PM

The two album photos are very interesting but could easily have been taken in the US in 1919. The date is ???? what are the context of the other photos in album are all others 100% France and then these two? If so that would support France.

Overseas Chevrons can not have been worn prior to July 1918. and in fact we don't know if they are Overseas Chevrons or Service Chevrons (service State side). Overs seas were Gold and Stateside Silver. I would hate to draw conclusions on these Chevrons based on BW photo but some look decidedly silver vice gold.

As so often happens, the photo album had been cut apart. The photos were held to the page with those black paper corner holders. Since all it said was the year, I didn't keep the page. The only other photo with the lot was of a young engineer wearing what appears to be a shoulder patch that matches the badge painted on the helmets of the men in the two other photos.

No date, but the postcard was put out by K Ltd., which produced photo postcards in Europe, not the U.S., from 1918 to at least 1948.

So, if the single engineer in this photo is part of the unit in the two other photos, this is more circumstantial evidence that the other two photos were taken in Europe as well. Note that I didn't say it's definitive. The shoulder patch has so far stumped all American experts in the field I've contacted, illustrating the dangers of making any ironclad pronouncements on the general topic.

As for comparing Harvey Dunn's work to Nevinson's or Nash's, I find that a very strange argument to make in favor of Dunn taking artistic liberties. Dunn produced representative work; Nevinson and Nash were influenced by expressionism and cubism. What you're arguing is that Dunn faithfully recorded all details except decided to go expressionistic when it came to the colors of the helmet. Why would he do that? Isn't it more plausible that he painted what he observed?

Attached Files



#37 trenchtrotter

trenchtrotter

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,210 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:England
  • Interests:The Western Front (all aspects, all nations). Collecting Great War militaria (uniforms and equipment). Visiting the battlefields (all areas, not just the British areas). Meeting fellow enthusiasts, good beer and French wine! Oh and Daleks!!!

Posted 12 February 2012 - 08:35 PM

Well to summerise the evidence so far...

1. A collection of un provenanced helmets in the Us painted WW1 or post?
2. A photo of Americans celebrating the Armistace with alleged cammo helmets
3. One Engineers photo of cammo helmets.
4. War artist piccie

My views

1. Could be post war and most likely. I remain unconvinced they are theatre.
2. No cammo here, only mud smeared helmets a common form of cammo anyhow!
2. One photo? Could be Stateside or spring 1919? With out a verification date I remain sceptical.
4. For me (accepting comments) this is the most convincing evidence so far on this thread. However one subject!

As stated were they worn....probably BUT BUT rarely and possibly by one unit or two. This would explain rarity.

The lack of photo evidence back my views. I still re state many mant images of german cammos being worn do exist.

TT

#38 4thGordons

4thGordons

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 5,602 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:(longterm) 4th Gordon Highlanders.(more recently) 33rd "Prairie Division" AEF and American Field Service 1917-18

Posted 12 February 2012 - 09:05 PM

Here's a Harvey Dunnused as the basis for stamps.

Probably his best known WWI work is called "over the top" but I cannot find an online version of it apart from a jigsaw!

Here is one of his others
Attached File  Dunn.jpg   72.34KB   0 downloads

Here are a number of the "official artists"and samples of their work.

If the artistic renderings are accepted as evidence individuals may draw their own conclusions as to the frequency with which camouflaged helmets appear in these renderings.

As I indicated at the outset - my feeling is that while some may have been worn prior to the armistice, the vast majority were post armistice creations.

Chris

#39 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

The lack of photo evidence back my views. I still re state many many images of german cammos being worn do exist.

Sure, but the Germans began camouflaging their helmets in 1916. American troops were in combat for about a year. Of course there are going to be far fewer photos of American troops wearing any steel helmets, much less camouflaged ones.

Also, plenty of German photos of camouflaged helmets barely show the pattern. Why is it not possible that camouflage patterns on American helmets would be as hard to discern as those on Germans? You say you don't see the pattern on the Armistice photo, while to me it's as clear as day.

Attached Files



#40 Joe Sweeney

Joe Sweeney

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 2,132 posts

Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:10 PM

I still see no evidence presented here that Camo'd Helmets were done in theatre as a common occurance with US Army (in fact nothing here shows they did it at all during the war, although I think that is subject to debate).

The fact that the photos from the album shows unit insignias screems postwar.

I could not find a 99th Engineers in any Div. on the internet, that does not mean they weren'e Army or Corps assets. What's frustrating is I have a complete set of the US Army Official records boxed up at the moment.

If you can identify the unit patch and when wear started you might have an arguement for the album photos. IIRC there si only one Wartime documented use of Insignia from a Div (81st?). mostly all being 1919 additions. That could place the photos in France or Germany but still not wartime.


Joe Sweeney

#41 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:07 AM

I could not find a 99th Engineers in any Div. on the internet, that does not mean they weren'e Army or Corps assets.

From this angle it looks like "GA99E."

Attached Files

  • Attached File  99.jpg   24.78KB   0 downloads


#42 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:12 AM

But from here it looks like "_ _39E." If they're the 39th Engineers, they were assigned railroad operations and were based at Camp Marcy in Nevers, France. They left Camp Upton, New York, for France on June 7, 1918, and returned to the U.S. July 6 and 8, 1919. Demobilized June 13 and 23, 1919.

Attached Files

  • Attached File  39.jpg   22.1KB   0 downloads


#43 Lancashire Fusilier

Lancashire Fusilier

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 6,093 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:18 AM

I still see no evidence presented here that Camo'd Helmets were done in theatre as a common occurance with US Army (in fact nothing here shows they did it at all during the war, although I think that is subject to debate).

The fact that the photos from the album shows unit insignias screems postwar.

I could not find a 99th Engineers in any Div. on the internet, that does not mean they weren'e Army or Corps assets. What's frustrating is I have a complete set of the US Army Official records boxed up at the moment.

If you can identify the unit patch and when wear started you might have an arguement for the album photos. IIRC there si only one Wartime documented use of Insignia from a Div (81st?). mostly all being 1919 additions. That could place the photos in France or Germany but still not wartime.


Joe Sweeney



Joe,
It is as incorrect to say that there were no American camouflaged helmets used during WW1, as it is to say there were many.
Captain Dunn's painting of the American Machine Gunner wearing the painted camouflaged helmet, indicates that they did exist during WW1, Tom W's photographs show that they did exist, Dave G an American Collector for some 40 years acknowleges that they existed, albeit in very small numbers.
The problem we have, is that due to their rarity, actual photographs with documented dates and locations are also rare. My experience is that photographs are published in various formats, and Tom W's photograph of the Americans celebrating the Armistice could be the proof positive. In the photograph he has, he can clearly see the American camouflaged helmets for himself, and we must respect that. Unfortunately, when he posts the photograph, it does not reproduce as clearly. There is a good chance that particular photograph is somewhere else in another publication, or on some website, and then, what Tom W can see, we shall all see.
It is only a matter of time, before someone posts other documented photographs showing the Americans wearing painted camouflaged helmets during WW1.
LF

#44 Dave G

Dave G

    Second Lieutenant

  • Members3
  • 77 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin, Texas

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:34 AM

But from here it looks like "_39E."


That target-like insignia painted on the front of his helmet certainly makes a strong case for pre-November 11, 1918 camouflage. I know you Brits have a low opinion of your American cousins but give us some credit for understanding the basic concept of camouflage. Your extraordinarily brave troops had been in the trenches for many years learning the hard lessons of war and I'd thought you'd have given a bit of critical advice to us Yanks like not untilizing the tortoise shell camouflage scheme of the enemy troops to avoid confustion. Cheers.

#45 Joe Sweeney

Joe Sweeney

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 2,132 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:12 AM

Joe,
It is as incorrect to say that there were no American camouflaged helmets used during WW1, as it is to say there were many.
Captain Dunn's painting of the American Machine Gunner wearing the painted camouflaged helmet, indicates that they did exist during WW1, Tom W's photographs show that they did exist, Dave G an American Collector for some 40 years acknowleges that they existed, albeit in very small numbers.
The problem we have, is that due to their rarity, actual photographs with documented dates and locations are also rare. My experience is that photographs are published in various formats, and Tom W's photograph of the Americans celebrating the Armistice could be the proof positive. In the photograph he has, he can clearly see the American camouflaged helmets for himself, and we must respect that. Unfortunately, when he posts the photograph, it does not reproduce as clearly. There is a good chance that particular photograph is somewhere else in another publication, or on some website, and then, what Tom W can see, we shall all see.
It is only a matter of time, before someone posts other documented photographs showing the Americans wearing painted camouflaged helmets during WW1.
LF

LF,

I didn't say there were no Cam'd US helmets in the War. I also said that to say it never happened is debatable. This thread is presenting some very subjective evidence.

I still see no evidence presented in this thread that Helmets were camo'd wartime. The use of unit insignia is sign of post 11 Nov usage not prior except in extreme rare cases.

None of Tom W's photos are proff positive of Camo-d helmets to include the armistace photo which is a commonly reproduced picture in publications and I don't see camo'd helmets (so eye of the beholder)

Joe Sweeney

#46 Lancashire Fusilier

Lancashire Fusilier

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 6,093 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:31 AM

That target-like insignia painted on the front of his helmet certainly makes a strong case for pre-November 11, 1918 camouflage. I know you Brits have a low opinion of your American cousins but give us some credit for understanding the basic concept of camouflage. Your extraordinarily brave troops had been in the trenches for many years learning the hard lessons of war and I'd thought you'd have given a bit of critical advice to us Yanks like not untilizing the tortoise shell camouflage scheme of the enemy troops to avoid confustion. Cheers.


Dave,
I am sure the British troops in WW1 ( and WW2 ), were absolutely delighted to see their American cousins coming over the hill!
Please keep your eyes peeled, I am sure there are some nice photographs of WW1 American vets, and hopefully one of a American wearing a camouflage painted helmet, with both the date and location documented.
Regards,
LF

#47 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:48 AM

None of Tom W's photos are proff positive of Camo-d helmets to include the armistace photo which is a commonly reproduced picture in publications and I don't see camo'd helmets (so eye of the beholder)

Machine gunners of the 80th Division, advancing between La Chalade and Le Claon, October 29, 1918.

Now, is there really any question that this is camouflage? Seriously?

Attached Files

  • Attached File  MG.jpg   57.36KB   0 downloads


#48 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:07 AM

Your extraordinarily brave troops had been in the trenches for many years learning the hard lessons of war and I'd thought you'd have given a bit of critical advice to us Yanks like not untilizing the tortoise shell camouflage scheme of the enemy troops to avoid confustion.

The Germans didn't use only the official tortoise-shell pattern. Here are men of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards with the same sort of swirly, daubed camouflage that can be seen on American helmets.

Since this photo was taken during an inspection by the Crown Prince, I'm pretty sure it's not mud on the helmets.

Attached Files



#49 trenchtrotter

trenchtrotter

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,210 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:England
  • Interests:The Western Front (all aspects, all nations). Collecting Great War militaria (uniforms and equipment). Visiting the battlefields (all areas, not just the British areas). Meeting fellow enthusiasts, good beer and French wine! Oh and Daleks!!!

Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:58 PM

I agree the Germans probably started using cammo pre the Ludendorf directive of July 1918 but not common. Most of the photos I refer to when I say there is plenty of photo evidence are post July 1918 and most even date Aug 1918 onwards! By then there were lots of US troops active in France and yet photo evidence is lacking! I dont see any point in the two photos of germans wearing helmets? Are they supposed to be Cammo? I dont feel they are. As for the picture of US troops advancing at La Chalade...cammo? possibly but also possibly mud smeared.

I reiterate my belief the evidence is lacking and I dont feel any were ever tortoise shell and BTW when I said I felt one of the US helmets may be theatre I was refering to a splotched one that may just be similar to the La Chalade image.

TT

#50 Tom W.

Tom W.

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,544 posts

Posted 13 February 2012 - 09:29 PM

I dont see any point in the two photos of germans wearing helmets? Are they supposed to be Cammo? I dont feel they are.

That's precisely the point. Thanks for making it for me. They are camouflaged, and you can barely discern the pattern. One reason we don't see very many clear photos of U.S. camouflaged helmets is because the pattern doesn't show up in photos.

And you really think this elaborate pattern is mud? Why is it so hard to admit that this is almost certainly paint? What's the big deal?

Attached Files

  • Attached File  Helm.jpg   40.18KB   0 downloads