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Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

Article about: Years ago I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman in my neighborhood. Turns out that he (Orville) was a front line rifleman in the 143rd Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division i

  1. #1
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    Default Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Years ago I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman in my neighborhood. Turns out that he (Orville) was a front line rifleman in the 143rd Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division in WWII. Turns out, he had an old German helmet he had brought back from the war. I asked if he would sell it, and he said as long as his kids (in their 60's) didn't want it, it was mine. Fortunately for me, his kids had zero interest in it! It is always nice to get the background history, so I'll share it with you.

    On Thanksgiving Day in 1944, Orville and his platoon were walking up a dirt road around midnight, when his sergeant told them to take a break. He said they rested along the berm against the road, when all of a sudden, a German machine gun up the road fired tracers. He said it was the most terrifying thing ever as they had just been walking on the road. He recalled how the tracers were literally just feet away from where they were on the road.

    His squad was assigned to check out the machine gun. It was his turn to be point man that night. Later, when he was at the summit of the hill near the gun, he heard one of his friends (about 200 feet below him as he was point) state, "Who the hell is that!" As it turns out, the bright moon illuminated a German soldier who was near Orville. Orville, not knowing if it was an American or German, yelled "Halt! His reply was an MP-40 submachine gun burst from 30 yards away. He said had he of know it were a German, he would have shot first. But, they were warned that there was another unit in the area that night so he wanted to be sure it was not an American soldier. Orville showed me his scar from the bullet that went in near his clavicle and came out his side. The other bullet went through his side near his stomach.

    While fighting near the Siegfried Line on the German border in late March or early April, he recalled how he could see the German soldiers moving in the woods two hundred yards away. Suddenly, he saw a man from his unit get shot between the German and American lines. As he was the only one who saw the man go down, he knew he had to do something before the man bled to death. While his buddies gave covering fire, he ran out to retrieve the man and carry him back and saved his life. For this, Orville was awarded the Bronze Star.

    As the war was winding down, he was outside Munich when he came across a huge pile of disposed helmets, guns and military equipment that the surrendering Germans had left behind. From it, he grabbed a Walther P-38 pistol, a bayonet and this helmet.

    Is it possible to find out what German Army Group was in Munich at the end of the war, or were there too many to narrow down which one this helmet may have come from?
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Very cool story, your a lucky man to have gotten the history, the men and women of the greatest generation are disappering fast.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Very nice M42 with SD and all the bits there should be bar the draw string and the provenance to go with it, very lucky to have acquired it

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    I agree- way too many of these vets are leaving us too fast. Glad I met Orville to have him give me the history so I could write it down.
    dave- not sure what happened to the draw string. you can see the liner had a rough life. Perhaps it was on the front too long, combined with being exposed while in the equipment pile for months and collecting rainwater, etc...

  6. #5

    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Nice helmet and story to go with it.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Very nice helmet indeed ! As said, it's good that you
    know the Vet and the story behind it.............!
    Regards,


    Steve.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    Great mdl 42.

  9. #8
    ian
    ian is offline
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    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    mmmmmmmmmmm so what hapend to ?
    believe the item
    NOT the story
    so what do we believe here
    ??? has any of the big boys had this lid in hand ??
    so ,, is not the story meaning less
    seriously
    what makes this lid beyond question
    remember all you guys say
    ITEM NOT STORY
    what a am i or others suposed to make of this
    no offence evryone
    but
    do you see wher im coming from here

    cheers iane

  10. #9

    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    I see nothing wrong with this helmet, Ian...........

    It's history is a bonus, as the lid came directly from a Veteran, and not some
    unscrupulous dealer ! True, the Vet could have picked it up only twenty
    years ago, and then spun this great yarn about it, but that
    seems unlikely here.


    Cavhom, it may be possible to find what Army Groups went through
    and disposed of helmets and weapons in that area. There were
    probably several, so you could narrow it down to a handful.
    Regards,


    Steve.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Vet bring back German M42 helmet with some background history

    There were hundreds of these discarded stock piles towards the end of hostilities, the allied vets took hordes of equipment, weapons, uniforms , and helmets, this is a vet related experience and not one that glorifys his exploits, hes not stating that it came from a dead soldier or he killed that particular person, instead, he relates that he belonged to a researchable unit and division. For him to have children in their sixties he would be at the right age, i can see no monetary gain involved here, there are stories and then stories, you have to try and sort out the wheat from the chaff, in this instance I can see nothing untoward about these statements and the helmet bears all the hallmarks of a legitimate vet bring back that has seen better days

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