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CluelessTommy

Help with a British Mark III helmet

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Hello all,

I'm relatively new to collecting but have recently purchased a few British helmets, one of them being this MK III shell. Information on British helmets seems to be a bit thin on the ground, I have seen many mentions of a book being made by Marcus Cotton but I cant find it anywhere so assume its not finished yet. So being no expert my self I was wondering whether any here had any thoughts or comments on this particular example and indeed the MK III in general. From what I know they were painted both green and brown when issued however the green ones are rarer and due to a long service life many were repainted, does anyone have any thoughts on the paint on this?

I have also read that the rear seam being flat shows that it was made by Briggs Motor Bodies, Is this true as due to the paint I cannot see any makers marks?

And finally what ways does anyone recommend or use for displaying helmets?

Any response will be greatly appreciated,

best regards,

Jack 

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As far as I know, they were developed prior to D-Day and issued then. In use for many years after the postwar period.

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Hi Jack,

welcome to the forum, Leon is our expert on British helmets I'm sure he will be along soon. Paint looks original to me :thumbsup:

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I got a WW1 1st pattern British helmet from "Quartermasters", Islington in the early 1980s, and paid quite a price for it in those days. It was in really superb condition, with a red War Office stamp from 1916 inside. Almost all of the original green paint was present. The early pattern helmets were green. I recently got a WW1 British bayonet in reasonable condition. The steel scabbard tips were blued to start off with, most of the original first green paintwork is present and has been coated with a later layer of khaki paint, possibly from WW2 re-use or later WW1? I think this was common practice for painting metalwork.

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Welcome to the forum Jack, the Mk 3 helmet was first developed in 1941 for the British Army and first worn in combat by British and Canadian troops

on D-Day 1944. Although designed in 1941 the helmet was not manufactured until late 1943, it was produced by three companies  which were as follows

Briggs Motor Bodies Ltd ( BMB ) of Dagenham.

Fisher & Ludlow Ltd ( F&L ) of Castle Bromwich.

Rubery  Owen Co Ltd ( RO & CO ) of Leeds

They were painted in a textured kharki green colour but later painted in a textured dark brown colour, the helmets were used alongside the Brodie helmets

until late 1944, the Mk3 was itself  replaced after the war by the Mk4 some time in 1945. The Belgians produced the Mk3 helmet post-war but do not have

any manufacturer stamp or date marks on their shells.

The Mk3 and Mk4 are almost identical but the rivets on the Mk4 are lower down the side of the helmet and the liner is a attached with the detachable lift

and dot release principle.

Here are images of the Mk3 and Mk4 helmets below the x shaped rubber is missing from the Mk3 liner image.

 

MK3 Helmet (2).jpg

MK3 Helmet.jpg

MK4 Helmat 1950s.jpg

MK4 Press Stud Dot & Lift Release.jpg

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Thanks for the response so far, It’s been really appreciated.

I know Kenny has already said the paint looks original however, If I may ask, Leon what’s your opinion? Not saying I don’t trust anyone, but I just want another opinion  before putting the matter to bed.

Thanks again,

Jack

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Yes the paint looks fine Jack, as for displaying helmets I have mine on wooden stands in a display cabinet the stands I made myself from the ends

of a pine headboard.

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Thanks for the reply. Making the stands out of a headboard is rather resourceful and clever. I’m fairly certain there is an old broom handle in the shed and I’m sure I can find a spare plank around, so I may give making my own a go over the weekend, probably won’t turn out presentable but you never know.

thanks again for all the help,

Jack

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Here's one of the stands  I made Jack for the base I used a coaster.

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If you place the helmets at varying heights, overlapping and underlapping, you will save a lot of space. I find normally only 5 helmets fit on a standard shelf.

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Thanks for picture and advice as always,

Before ruining my lovely broom and plank I decided to make a proof and concept to make sure everything would actually work. So using a random stick that I whitled long ago and some cardboard I created my very own first helmet stand. Not very pleasing on the eyes but functional none the less, the hole in the top is for the liner spike as one of my MK IVs is without a liner. I aim to make the proper ones on Monday.

As to varied heights, personally I think I prefer them all at the same height and as I only have a small collection I don't have to worry about space as of yet. However in the future it is a problem I hope to have.

EDIT: Excuse the jagged cut but I did do it with a penknife 

Thanks  again,

Jack

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Edited by CluelessTommy
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I like the police helmet Jack what can you tell me about it, is it dated?.

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Glad you like it, 

It is marked RO CO and then either PQ or PO its hard to tell but I think its PQ. Followed by a small o and then 53

So I believe the translates to Rubery Owen & CO and 1953. I think PQ/O relates to a batch code.

However as correct me if I'm wrong.

As for the paint it appears it was originally painted a smooth brown before being painted a dark blue for use by the police. This blue seems to be darker than my other example and others I've seen on forums. At some stage it was then over painted an olive green however the reason for this is unknown to me, I think it was unlikely it returned to the army so could of been done whilst in private hands, but this will probably remain a mystery. At some point this green was removed from the outside but remains inside the shell. I find the pattern left on the shell by the removal of the paint rather attractive and that was what drew me to this in the first place.

Regards,

Jack

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Thanks Jack, yes you are correct about maker and date interesting helmet.

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I've read that these helmets were issued to the police as part of the civil defence structure in preparation for the Nuclear Threat during the 50s and 60s.

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Interesting, could you say where you read that as I have been looking for info on these but may of just been looking in the wrong places. I've also been searching for a photo of one of these in use but that has also been fruitless as of yet. I've attached a photo of my other police MK IV to show the colour difference, the second lighter blue seems to be the common type so I am leaning towards the idea that the darker blue could be because of the over paining and the striping of the paint. 

It is stamped RO CO AL 1953 and seems to have the same brown paint underneath the blue

regards,

Jack

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All of the Mk.II Police helmets that I had and saw in the late 60s were first issue Police, had never been anything else. Most of them were never needed and sold then at the end of the 60s en masse, for 2 shillings a piece, they were all mint, minus a few storage marks.
Try to avoid scratches to the paintwork of your helmets, even inside. Paintwork is always the most vulnerable and probably the most decisive and valuable part of a helmet (at least with German helmets), and loses enough substance anyway through time.

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Avoiding scratches is a big concern of mine, these helmets currently spend the majority of their time in bubble wrap and neatly placed beside each other in the draws under my wardrobe until I can make the stands and put up the shelving required to display them properly. Personally the existing scratches don’t really bother me just show the character and history these things have (however I don’t intend to add to them) and also make them easier to purchase which is always a plus.

regards,

Jack

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That's the right way. However, if the helmets are wrapped airtight, check occasionaly, as condensation under the wrap can cause corrosion.
As you say, existing scratches are part of the history, you don't want any new ones.

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Try this site Jack has the history of police helmets from WW2 to the 1950s, ( avonsomersetpolice.blogspot.com/2015/09/ww2-british-police-helmet-html )

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Thanks for the link it was very interesting, however unless I missed it somewhere I don't think it mentioned where they sourced the helmets from, did they come from the factories and just went to be repainted or from the army back to the factories and then out again. I'm interested in this because both my examples have a layer of brown paint underneath so I can assume were bound for the army but it would be cool to know how far they got, my guess is not far and was it the same story for the N.H.S.R helmets? I'm going to search the internet (properly this time) when I get back from getting another broom handle. I hope one day to get both a blue and white police MK II to sit next to there descendants on the shelf (once its built), but for now at least they are beyond my price range.

I doubt my packing skills are good enough to be air tight but thanks for the heads up i'll check on them from time to time. Hopefully they'll all be out on display by Christmas so I shouldn't have to worry about it too much.

regards,

Jack

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They don't need to be "airtight", that is not advisable, just to protect against dust, etc. Airtight is never good, the materials need to "breath"

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It's unclear jack, my guess is some helmets that sat in army stores were returned back to the factories for repainting, while other new made helmets were

painted blue from the start, It's unclear how many police helmets were needed.

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They are not sealed airtight but none the less I'll check on them regularly just to make sure, as anything going wrong when I haven't had them long would be disaster.

A bit of both seems the most reasonable answer, due to their lack of use there isn't a lot about them (but thanks to you more than I originally thought), but I guess overall that's a good thing given the circumstances of their creation. 

Thanks as always,

Jack

 

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Made the stands, they seem to work which is always a plus, just need to put some glue between the pole and base to make it extra secure and then paint them all.

Ended up using a plank from an old bed and a 18mm x 2400mm dowel (turns out my broom handle still had a broom on the end and the shop didn't have any) so all in all it works out as 12 stands for five pounds which is pretty good.

Regards,

Jack

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