Home Front Mk II Helmet

Throughout the Second World War there were conflicting demands for resources, with different agencies needing the same equipment at the same time. This could be seen in anti-gas measures that were needed by both the military and civilian powers and in steel helmets. On the battlefield the helmets protected soldiers form shrapnel, on the home front it was from the risk of bombing and falling masonry. The two roles did allow, for helmets at least, two different grades of materials to be used and home front helmets could be made from inferior grades of steel as they were more likely to be protecting against slow moving falling masonry than high velocity shrapnel. The helmet designs were identical, but the use of inferior steel and reject helmets from the main production line meant that a way of telling the poorer grade helmets from the ballistically superior front line helemts was needed. Today we are looking at a plain black Mk II helmet used on the home front:

The method of distinguishing the different grades of helmets was to drill small holes next to the chin strap bales- the more holes the lower the grade of steel. This example has two holes:

Each mild steel helmet had a different designation:

Helmet designationNumber of holes in rim
Mk. II 2A1
Mk. II 2B2
Mk. II 2C3
Mk. II 2D4

A standard liner was fitted to each helmet, although in this case the cord used to adjust the crown size has been replaced with a length of string:

The chin strap is a standard sprung pattern, but the original owner has sewn a small label with his name on to the strap to help identify his helmet amongst the other identical black helmets:

These helmets are often found with markings, or at least the ghost of markings under the paintwork. This helmet has no evidence of ever having had any insignia painted onto it so whoever ‘Forster’ was, they were clearly not that senior within the Civil Defence structure.

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