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Bosleys News

Rarest British Para Helmet Clandestinely Drops into Bosleys

Consigned as part of a box of military helmets, which had lain forgotten in a shed for 30 years, the vendor could not believe his luck when the true identity of one of of the dusty helmets was made known to him. Identified by Bosleys, the helmet proved to be one of the most elusive patterns for collectors to find, the pioneering P Type British Airborne Forces jump helmet dating from 1941.
In those dark days of the winter of 1940, the War Department was desperately trying to catch up on the success enjoyed by Hilter’s Fallschirmjäger airborne troops during the Blitzkrieg of 1940. The rapid development of forming the new Parachute Regiment and their new specialist equipment led to the company of Briggs Motor Bodies Ltd of Dagenham. to create a new steel helmet, captured German examples lead the way and in early 1941 saw the P type helmet enter service. The helmet quickly became known as the “Duckbill” pattern due to the wide rubber edge banding which terminated with a “bill” to the rear. The helmet was used on the Bruneval raid and although the helmet was quickly succeeded by the more common HSAT pattern in 1942, these original helmets were kept by some, possibly as a lucky charm and with the removal of the hated rear bill continued to see combat in North Africa and Operation Market Garden the Battle for Arnhem.
This particular example retains the wide rubber edge to the shell. The lining is clearly stamped with the maker and date 1941 and is the early nine tongue variant which in many cases was quickly replaced with the new HSAT pattern in 1942.
To give readers an indication of the scarcity of this helmet, the number produced was less than 1,000 and it is believed by Bosleys this is the first example to be sold on the open market in the last 30 years.

I seems appropriate the the helmet will be going under the hammer on the 20th September at our Stafford auction, as this will coincide with the 89th anniversary of the greatest British airborne operation of all time the Battle for Arnhem.