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Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

Article about: Iím trying to collect a few items that related back to my grandfather, for my sonís collection and looking to all you helmet experts for some help on what helmet I am looking for exactly. My

  1. #1

    Default Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Iím trying to collect a few items that related back to my grandfather, for my sonís collection and looking to all you helmet experts for some help on what helmet I am looking for exactly.

    My grandfather is Indonesian and served in what my mom refers to as the Royal Dutch Army during WWII. I do have, in my possession, a document issued by the Ministry of Union Affairs, composed by The Chief of Section of Military Affairs that refers to my grandfathers service in the Royal Neth.Ind.Army (assuming this means the Royal Netherland Indian Army) that states he was mobilized in Nov 1941 and surrendered to Java, and held in a Japanese POW camp in Burma and after his post war release was then honorably discharged in Dec 1946.

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    This is a photo of my grandfather in uniform. I am told this photo is post war. Iím wanting to obtain an army helmet of the type he would have worn but I am not absolutely certain which helmet this might be. I am thinking a Dutch M34 but I donít have much to support my speculation other than period made.

    Can anyone lend any insight as to what it is exactly I should be looking for in the way of a helmet that would have been worn by my grandfather?

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Hi Russ, he would have used the Dutch M34 pre war. After the war ended they used the US M1 helmet.

    Cheers, Ade.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Hello Russ,

    The KNIL (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army) used the so called "KNIL" helmet on Java till the capitulation of our forces on the island to the Japanese, in march 1942. The M34 was not used by the KNIL altough it was in use by the Marine Corps and the Navy. The KNIL backpack was worn too high up the soldiers back for the M34 to be worn comfortably in a prone position. The KNIL helmet had the rear skirt shortened by two centimeters and the slit in the rim was omitted. The helmet was produced in two sizes. Some (Dutch production) had a bronze lion crest on the front and some (US production) did not sport this lion plate.

    The forces that were able to escape to Australia continued the use of this helmet. But mostly the US production models (by MILSCO; Milwaukee Saddlery Company)

    After august 1945 the KNIL helmet was mostly used by the Royal Netherlands Navy. The KNIL and the Dutch army and the used the British MkII, MkIII and the US M1 helmets. The Royal Marine Corps was completely US equiped.

    Have a look at this site for information on the Dutch helmets used in the then Netherlands East Indies (not India!). HOLAND…S 40
    Even if you do not speak Spanish this site is worth your while.

    Your grandfather probably did have a hard time as a POW of the Japanese on the Birma railway (bridge on the river Kwai).

    He must have an interesting family history. Most people of mixed Indonesian/Dutch descent went to The Netherlands after december 1949. Some indeed went to the USA.

    If you have need of more info, please let me know.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Thanks for the input Ade and Emale, now that I know what I am looking for it will get to be quite a bit easier.

    Question - Is the KNIL helmet the same as the M38 or is that altogether another helmet as well? Also, regarding the lion crest, where those particular helmets issued to anyone in particular, officers maybe or was it just luck of the draw?

    Emile, yes, my grandfather did have it rough in the prison camp, as I am sure everyone did. I was close to my grandfather but was pretty young when he passed so I never had interest in speaking about the war with him. My mom says he never spoke of the war just said it was very bad in the camp and hunger was a real issue. And just a short story to tell, for my own amusement - Because my grandfather delt with hunger so much in camp, when he got out he vowed his children would never go hungry and to do so, he always made sure there was a #50 bag of rice in each of his 3 daughters homes. I remember many times going to visit my grandfather and coming home with the big bag or rice in the trunk of the car. Even though all his daughters all lived substantial lives, he continued this practice until he passed away.

    I also have one really cool artifact from his time in the prison camp, his shaving kit. On the back of the bakelite holder he inscribed his camp #, date etc. I'll dig it up. in the next few days and snap a few photos to share. He also hand carved a wooden rice spoon and made a small matel tag that has the same type of information on it. My mother has promised my son this item, for his collection, but has not passed it down to him yet.

    Thanks again for the info.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Hello Russ,

    The KNIL helmet came in different models. BTW VB is Dutch production, Milsco is US production and Braat is possibly Netherlands Indies production. The last helmet is still a mystery.

    I'll give them to you:

    VB, sizes 1 and 2, with the helmet plate
    VB, Model KNIL/M38, with helmet plate
    Milsco, always without helmet plate, sometimes painted anchor
    Braat (possibly), always without helmet plate, sometimes painted anchor.

    The helmets were handed out on a random basis. Your grandfather was called up in 1941 so it is likely he received a MILSCO helmet, since new Dutch production did not reach the Indies anymore.

    Fortunately for you, these helmets are not as rare as the others! But still rare as hen's teeth in a good condition!

    The M38, with a slit in the rear rim, is actually a civil defense model. These helmets without the slit in the rear rim, were also produced for the KNIL. A more complex liner was fitted and a neckflap was added against sun, insects etc.

    M38 is not an official name for this helmet but is used in the collectors world. The KNIL helmets were accepted in 1936 but never received the logical name M36. We Dutch were very much unpredictable, I am afraid.

    I would love to see photographs of the bakelite holder. I might be able to dig up info for you.

    Last edited by emileverbunt; 02-09-2011 at 09:04 AM. Reason: spelling

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Again Emile, thank you for the wealth of information.

    I will snap a few photos of the shaving kit and post in a bit, need to figure out what forum topic it should be under, I'm still pretty new and feeling my way around this place. My family does not have have much information on my grandfather, in regards to his time in service, just that he served in the army and was in the POW camps in Burma. The document I have, regarding his time in service is a typed letter, in English, on what I can only assume is Ministry letter head, it's in dutch so I can't read it. He rec'ved this document in 1951 from the Ministray of Union Affares, certifying that he was Honorably Discharged from the army. The original discharge document of course is in Dutch so I'm assuming that these letters were provided, by the Ministry for those that wished to leave to other countries, as proof of discharge. I am told my aunt has the my grandfather's original discharge document which I am going to try and get custody of some time in the near future.

    I wish there was more information on my grandfather, so that it can be passed down through the family, but unfortunatly nobody felt it importaint to document at the time.

    Again, thank you for all the information and I'll get the photos of the shaving kit posted soon. Would be very interested if you can make anything of the markings.


    Last edited by MySonsDad; 02-09-2011 at 04:32 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!


    I posted the photos of my grandfathers shaving kit, along with all the info I have on him in the following new forum thread:



  8. #8

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    I have a dutch helmet for sale if you want it... please mail me if you are interested..

  9. #9

    Default Re: Help to identify Dutch Helmet!

    Hello Mapuche Warrior,

    You state you have a Dutch helmet for sale. Is this still the case? Do you have pics? Could you send me a private message?

    Last edited by emileverbunt; 04-06-2011 at 09:54 AM. Reason: spelling

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