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Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

Article about: Conclusion following Translation I am very happy! The information provided by you forum experts is consistent with the translationís I have obtained via Elance and some positive identificati

  1. #1

    Default Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Hello experts!

    I have a Japanese helmet collected by my grandfather as a souvenir, somewhere in the South or western pacific in ww2. He was in Papua New Guinea, Morotai in the Celebes, and Borneo.

    The helmet is smashed by machine gune fire (my opinion). There is Japanese text inside the cloth lining as seen below and I would like to identify the helmet as being either army or navy (eg special naval landing forces). The cloth anchor or star is missing but the symbol at the front of the cloth cover is elliptical and would fit an anchor better than a star.

    Can anyone get any clues from the japanese text?

    I have also found japanese markings scratched into the leather inside the helmet but it is very hard to photograph. I'd love to get some clear guidance on this relic.

    Many thanks for the use of your forum.

    Best regards

    Paul from Newcastle Australia
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Interesting pieces of history. Does the helmet cover have damage in the same area as the helmet? I did not know if they happened to be brought home by your grandfather as two separate souvenirs or if the cover was always on the helmet. As to the kanji on the cloth cover, it is difficult to make out, but there seems to be a unit ID as well as the individual's name. It looks like there might be the kanji for "Kure" which was one of the IJN naval bases on Honshu, Japan, but just a guess. Is there any other kanji inside the cover? As to the helmet, there should be some kind of insignia at the front of the helmet connecting it to the IJA or IJN. If not and there is just the hole (for the insignia prongs), there might be a 'ghost' of the former insignia around the prong hole, either a star for the IJA or an anchor insignia for the IJN. Thanks for sharing.

    Tom

  3. #3

    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Hi Tom

    Thanks a lot for your reply. The helmet and cloth cover are a matched set, the bullet holes line up when they are joined in the correct orientation. There doesn't seem to be any more kanji inside the cover.

    I can't be sure if you can see but there are some residual cotton threads on that elliptical shaped olive green cloth patch in the second photo. It's obviously the front of the cover and if I was drawn I would guess that the threads would be positioned correctly to hold a cloth anchor, rather than a star. I had had the same idea about looking for a ghost image of an anchor at the front of the steel of the helmet, but Unfortunately there is none, only the slot for the prongs to go through. There's no ghost clue inside the cloth cover at that point either.

    The kanji on the leather harness is harder to make out, and there may be more than I photographed.

    There is also the issue of what could well be dried blood splatter on the long cloth straps and that lines up with where the bullet came through the helmet, and a few other places. My grandfather would have only been 24 years old max when he came across it and I guess at that time, taking a helmet from a dead enemy combatant would have been a pretty cool souvenir. If somebody died wearing it it certainly fuels my interest in finding out what the writing says, particularly if it may identify them by name.

    From the same source I have a Japanese prayer belt, something you'd wear around your waist. It has generic kanji printed on it, and lots of tiny cloth knots, probably for use in the way rosary beads are.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    I would agree that the helmet cover insignia would most likely be an anchor due to the position of the remnant threads. As to the helmet, the leather of the liner sure looks like that used in an IJN issued helmet. A couple of other clues that might help with IDing the helmet: You might want to check on the rear interior of the helmet for any white painted kanji markings for size: 大 or 小. These white painted size markings were only utilized by the IJA. The IJN helmets, while sometimes having unit ID kanji or named kanji, would not use singular size kanji like above. Also, you might want to check the interior of the helmet around the dome area above the liner pads. Sometimes the coloring is still a grey color as in shipboard grey that wasn't touched when the helmet was painted for land use. There might also be numbers painted in the dome area that point to IJN use, like for example, 15 over a 25 or just a single line of numbers like 2075, etc. Lastly, sometimes the rear of the leather liner band will have a tiny anchor symbol stamped into it, connecting it to one of the IJN naval bases. Each base had a unique symbol, one had an anchor with two wavy lines running across the middle of it. The others I could not tell you. These stamps are really small and I do not know if every IJN helmet recieved one, but it could help greatly in connecting your helmet to an IJN base as well as to the cover. BTW, if you have time and could post pics of your Senninbari belt I would appreciate it. I have a special interest in these. Thanks.

    Tom
    Last edited by tomp; 02-23-2012 at 12:27 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    On the bottom row of this list are the anchor symbols Tomp mentioned,it does look like an IJN helmet.
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    JEDEM DAS SEINE

  6. #6

    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Hi Tomp and Zwerge

    Thank you very much for the information- I think we're getting somewhere now. I am currently trying to upload photos. Like last time I am getting very strange error messages and the whole photo upload process seems mysterious. If the photos come through they have notes with them. I will write a few more words later on.

    Best regards, Paul
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Excellent Japanese Naval helmet. Almost certainly, the wearer did not survive the hit. The Senninbari or "Thousand Stitch Belt" is also quite impressive. Judging from the blood on it, it doesn't appear to have protected him. An excellent and grisly but quite valuable set! The Senninbari are relentlessly copied and faked-as are the Kamakazi bands-to see a genuine one like this one,is always great!
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Thanks for posting pics. of the belt and more pics. of the helmet/cover. Really great pieces of history! The belt looks to have, along with the printed material, a slogan and some other personal kanji on it. I think the slogan is something along the lines of "Serving with justice and bravery". The smaller kanji looks to be a woman's name, most likely the person who had the belt created for the soldier/sailor--prob. a wife or mother. There is a lot of symbolism within these belts depending on what has been added by those who wish for the protection and safe return of the departing soldier. Some belts have little paper charms (omamori) sewn into pockets. These charms were from various shrines and temples. Coins were also sewn into the belts to protect the wearer- I believe 5 and 10 sen coins (there is a whole story about their presence in belts as well). From the photos I cannot tell if anything might be sewn into your belt. If you hold it up to a strong light source, the omamori and coins, if present, can be easily seen. Thanks again for sharing.

    Tom

  9. #9

    Smile Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    Hi Tom, Wagriff and Zwerge

    I am glad you enjoy the photos. I am enjoying learning about these artefacts from you all.

    I wish I knew how these objects came in to my grandfathers possession - and he is unfortunately not with us to ask anymore. He was in the Australian Air Force, but his photo album (which I also have) has photos of a dismembered Japanese bodies, including a severed head on a spike held by a Papuan native, and also what I believe are photos that would have been the personal possessions of a japanese person. They are photos of a japanese family (wife and child) beside what may be a family shrine or altar in their home, military officers with swords, military ceremony's etc. It could be that they were removed from a dead soldiers pocket by my grandfather, or he swapped them with someone or bought them as part of the souvenir trade during the war.

    I can not convince myself that a small mark at the rear of the helmet liner is an anchor. The paint is green all over.

    Looking at the belt again, I am quite confident the stains on the belt are indeed blood. There are no hidden papers or coins but there are two small tears that have left holes in it on the front. Somebody in the past probably felt the coins in there and cut them out.

    I forgot to mention I also have a coin collection from the same source and I think there's a japanese coin in there, among lots of wartime coins from the islands north of Australia. I'll photograph it.

    I would like your opinions on the markings on the helmet that I most recently photographed.

    1. What do the markings stamped into the back edge of the helmet mean? There is a <S> shaped stamp, and some single Kanji like Tom talked about earlier, next to the <S> . Is it the helmet size (like head size)?

    2. Do the stamped markings or the 1875 painted inside the dome provide any more conclusive evidence that this is a naval helmet?

    3. Does the 1875 give me any clues as to the origin of the helmet or details of the soldier/sailors background?

    4. Do you have any idea what the woman's name is on the belt? I just noticed the small kanji actually starts (or ends) on the other side. I'll add another couple of photos - there is another kanji mark that is much shorter.

    Thanks again (i'll put the pics in a separate post)

    Paul

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Japanese helmet, machine gun damage, japanese text inside cloth cover, translation?

    The S diamond is the manuf. marking for Kobe Seiko. The 'dai' stamp is the large size designation for the helmet. I believe the Seiko comp. manuf. helmet shells for both the IJA and IJN. As to the painted numbers, that info. is sadly lost to time. Some people have stated that they may be rack/issue numbers, unknown unit designations, etc. To date, I have not seen any reference materials that breakdown any kind of IJN unit code numbers related to IJN equipment, helmets, etc. There are IJN mailing codes available out there, but that is all I know with certainty. The anchor stamp is really small, not more than a few mm across. It may not be there--I am not familiar with how streamlined the stamping process was across the IJN bases. It is interesting to hear about your Grandfather's role in the war. I know that there are pics. out there showing enterprising soldiers spreading out captured IJA/IJN material on the ground and selling the items to sailors, pilots, etc. Maybe the items came into his possession via this route?

    Tom

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