WWII 101st Airborne Division 326th Airborne Engineers Paratrooper Helmet Liner

101st 326th Engineer Helmet Liner right side

This paratrooper helmet liner belonged to a WW2 member of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division.  It is a standard World War Two Westinghouse airborne paratrooper liner that has had unit and rank insignia painted on it during the war.  The letter E painted on each side was used to identify members of the 326th Airborne Engineers.  The large rectangle painted on the back of the liner was used in the ETO on helmets and liners to indicate the wearer was an officer.  This liner is an original and the paint was period done.

This liner is named inside to an officer and I was able to confirm using 326th Airborne rosters, that he was a member of the unit.

This particular liner was found by a very close friend of mine at a Veteran’s garage sale about thirty years ago.  It remained buried in his basement for many years until I was able to add it to my collection.

US Airborne Riddell Paratrooper Training Helmet

Paratrooper Riddell Training Helmet

This type of airborne helmet was made specifically by the Riddell company for training paratroopers.  The Riddell company had originally invented a similar style of helmet for football.  At the time, it was revolutionary since this was still the era when football players wore leather helmets.  They took this new technology and incorporated into this type of helmet to be used during the jump school training for paratroopers.  Period pictures show this style of helmet being worn by the earliest members of the US airborne forces.

The leather flap on the chinstrap was designed to be unfurled and tucked into the neck of the uniform, in order to protect the chin of the paratrooper from branches during his jump.  The leather around the back edge of the helmet was to protect the neck area from the rough edge.

This particular helmet came from the same paratrooper who also owned the M41 jump suit and Hawley paratrooper helmet liner from previous posts on this blog.

Original WW2 Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner for the M2 D-Bale Helmet

Hawley right side

WWII Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner

This style of WWII airborne Hawley paratrooper helmet liner was the first liner produced to go into the M2 d-bale paratrooper helmet.   They were manufactured using a pressed fiber material that feels very similar to cardboard.  Thus, they were not very sturdy and had a tendency to fall apart during use.  They were manufactured using this material because at the time it was the only material that could be easily molded into the shape of the helmet shell.

Soon after the development of the Hawley liner, a couple of new processes for helmet liners were developed using low and high pressure composite materials.  These new processes were used by companies like St. Clair and Inland for their liners.  It was not very long before production of helmet liners for the M2 paratrooper helmet was switched to these companies.

Since these Hawley paratrooper liners were manufactured for only a brief period of time and are very fragile, they are extremely rare and hard to find today.  Originals of this style of Hawley paratrooper liner are found in only a few private airborne and M1 helmet collections today.

This particular WWII Hawley paratrooper liner originally belonged to the same paratrooper who owned the M41 paratrooper jump suit I posted a few weeks ago.  He was an early member of the US Airborne forces and retained several of these early airborne items after World War Two ended.

 

Aiborne M2 D Bale Paratrooper Helmet from a 506th PIR 101st Airborne Division Veteran

Bale Paratrooper Helmet Side View

M2 D Bale Paratrooper Helmet

This original World War Two M2 D Bale Paratrooper helmet came from a  Company G, 506 PIR, 101st Airborne Division Veteran.   The Veteran received this helmet during WW2, after his previous helmet had been shot off his head by a German soldier.  He wore that helmet, with the bullet hole still in it, for awhile but was later forced to turn it in and replace it with this helmet and liner, because his First Sergeant deemed a helmet with a bullet hole as unsafe.

The M2 helmet is referred to by collectors by many several names today.  In addition to M2 and D Bale, you will hear it also referred to as a C Loop or D Bail. They are a highly desired piece of militaria today.  Since they are in high demand and are fairly hard to find, they are one of the most heavily faked and/or recreated items of US WWII militaria today.

This M2 D Bale helmet exhibits all of the classic features you like to see in an original D Bale.  It has a low heat stamp number, the male snaps that snap into the liner are chromed, and it additionally has the little single indentations on the rim of the helmet, in between the bales, that these original helmets often have.   Also, the size, shape, and construction of the bales, and the feet of the bales, is correct.  The liner is a WWII correct Westinghouse paratrooper liner and was in the helmet when it was purchased from the Veteran.

M1C US Paratrooper Rear Seam Helmet with Westinghouse Airborne Liner

M1C US Airborne Rear Seam Paratrooper Helmet

This M1C paratrooper helmet is a later produced M1C than the one that was previously posted.  This is indicated by the rear seam and the olive drab colored chinstraps.  The liner is a Westinghouse paratrooper liner.

This helmet and liner was found together by a picker about a year ago.  This helmet is not identified, but I was still very happy to add this helmet to my collection. It has become very hard to find these helmets in excellent like this one is.

WWII Airborne Paratrooper M1C Helmet with Westinghouse Liner

WW2 M1C Paratrooper Helmet

This M1C paratrooper helmet is an earlier version of the M1C, as evidenced by the front seam and the khaki colored chinstraps.  The liner is a Westinghouse factory made paratrooper liner.

This helmet is part of a larger grouping that was purchased directly from the Veteran’s family, by one of my friends, after the Veteran passed away.  The family did not know much about his service during WWII, but from the documents, paperwork, insignia, and uniform items in the grouping, it appears that he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and probably joined the Division late in the War.  I am still researching this group, when I learn more about the wartime service of this paratrooper, I will post the rest of the grouping.

Although the 101st Airborne Division often painted their helmets and liners with markings indicating the unit on the sides, period photos indicate that sometimes they did not paint their helmets.  I have another 101st helmet, a D Bale with liner that was purchased directly from a 506 PIR Veteran, that is also not painted with any 101st unit marks.