One of our customers collects WW1 & 26th infantry "Yankee" Division items. Here is a small montage of his collection, including one of our 'YD' (Yankie Division) stencils.
He has also supplied a picture of the 26th Division Helmet insignia during WW1, so if customers want one made up they can use this as a guide to advise us. Many thanks to Zac - from USA.
The Army Air Forces were created in June 1941 to provide the air arm a greater autonomy in which to expand more efficiently, to provide a structure for the additional command echelons required by a vastly increased force, and to end an increasingly divisive administrative battle within the Army over control of aviation doctrine and organization that had been ongoing since the creation of an aviation section within the Army Signal Corps in 1914.
The AAF succeeded both the Air Corps, which had been the statutory military aviation branch since 1926, and the GHQ Air Force, which had been activated in 1935 to quiet the demands of airmen for an independent Air Force.
Officers in the USAAF wore the Service Cap which was also known by the Americans as the 'Crusher'. The US bomber pilots wore their service caps on missions over Europe and, in order to accommodate the needs of wearing headphones, they removed the inner wire stiffener from the crown which gave their caps a crumpled and crushed appearance (also known as a '50 mission crush'), hence their nickname. Nothing better expresses the individuality of a USAAF re-enactor than the character of his 'crusher'.
The service cap was finished off with the 'Great Seal of America' brass coloured cap badge. The Golden Eagle.
There were over 40 different USAAF WWII Badge manufacturers from several countries including USA, UK, Australia and Germany (yes, Assman in Germany towards the end of the war), so the variation of design was huge.
We now offer three types of USAAF Officers Cap badge - New, lightly Aged and Aged condition. Ideal for your crusher or service cap regardless of its condition.
The 2-509th PIR carried out the first American combat jump during the invasion of North Africa. The transport planes flew all the way from English airfields to the African coast. This first operation was unsuccessful, with 7 of its 39 C-47s widely scattered. Only 10 aircraft actually dropped their troops, while the others unloaded after 28 troop carriers, nearly out of fuel, landed on the Sebkra d'Oran, a dry lake near their target. The 509th marched overland to occupy its objective, and on 15 November 300 paratroopers successfully dropped on the Youks-les-Bains Airfield.
Forty-six Paratroopers from the 509th participated in the liberation of Ventotene, a small Italian island, on 9 September 1943. The German commander was tricked into surrendering to the weaker American force before realizing his mistake. An account of this is given in John Steinbeck's "Once There Was a War."
Later, the 509th PIR saw two more combat jumps in Italy and Southern France. After landing, they were often used as elite mountain infantry in the Italian mountains and French Alps. Corporal Paul B. Huff, a member of the 509th, was the first American paratrooper awarded the Medal of Honor on 29 February 1944 for action at Anzio, Italy.
On 10 December 1943 the battalion was redesignated as the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
During the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944, the 509th fought in Belgium to blunt the German attack. An account of this battle is described in the book "Bloody Clash at Sadzot." The war ended for the 509th at the end of January 1945 near St. Vith, Belgium, with only about 50 remaining unwounded of the original 700 who entered the battle. Effective 1 March 1945 the 509th PIB was disbanded, and the men left were used as replacements for the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.
Ramcke Parachute Brigade:
Ramcke Parachute Brigade was formed in 1942 and sent to join the Afrika Korps in North Africa.
Ramcke's unit fought during the Afrika Korps's assault towards the Suez Canal, fighting alongside the Italian 25 Infantry Division Bologna before British opposition solidified near the town of El Alamein. The British action resulted in the separation of the Brigade from German forces, and, lacking motorized transport, unable to move as fast as the lines. Taking heavy losses (about 450) fighting surrounded on all sides, they captured a British supply convoy carrying food and fuel, about which Ramcke later remarked the most welcome surprise was the tobacco and luxury goods. Using those trucks, about 600 survivors returned to German lines.
The brigade was then engaged in the Second Battle of El Alamein, later retreating into Tunisia. Ramcke was transferred back to Gremany where he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross and command passed to Major Hans Kroh. The remaining brigade was part of the capitulation of German Panzer Army Afrika in May 1943.
Parts of Ramcke's Battalion were given special training and given the job of slipping behind enemy lines to carry out reconnaissance and gather intelligence on enemy forces, which led to the last airdrop to be carried out by the Luftwaffe Fallschirmjager in North Africa.
The men of the 3rd Company, Pioneer Battalion was chosen for the airdrop.
The objectives would be airfields and bridges in the Souk el Arba and Souk el Ahras areas, behind the allied lines. These objectives were being used by the Allies to resupply and reinforce their troops.
Unfortunately for the German Paratroopers, the British troops who patrolled the areas where they dropped, soon started to round up the Engineers. Within a few days they had all been rounded up, many suffering from dehydration and sunburn.
This last ditch effort to disrupt the Allied advance on Tunis had been very unsuccessful.
This replica helmet represents one worn by a member of the Ramcke Parachute Brigade as part of the Afrika Korps.
The 2nd Armored Division was formed at Fort Benning, Georgia on 15 July 1940. It was originally commanded by Major General Charles L. Scott, with Colonel George S. Patton, Jr. in charge of training.
Scott was promoted to command the I Armored Corps in November of that year, which put Patton, now a brigadier general, in command of the division. The division, which in February 1942 passed over to the command of Major General Willis D. Crittenberger, served with the First, Seventh, and Ninth Armies throughout the war.
The 2nd Armored was organized as a "heavy" armored division, having two armored regiments of four medium tank and two light tank battalions of three companies each. Along with the 3rd Armored Division, it retained its organization throughout World War II–the 14 other U.S. armored divisions were reorganized as "light" armored divisions, having three tank battalions, each consisting of three medium tank companies and one light tank company. Both types had an infantry component of three mechanized battalions, although the heavy divisions maintained an "armored infantry regiment" organization.
The Model 1938:
In 1938, the US Ordnance Board initiated design work on a new and improved tank helmet. The Board tested the two existing military varieties, alongside several commercially made models. The Ordnance Board decided that the Cavalry helmet provided the best design foundation, and successfully engaged the Rawlings Manufacturing Company to optimize the design. Rawlings was an obvious choice, since they were one of the main manufacturers of USA football helmets at that time.
A design team at Rawlings headed up this project and in May 1941 they filed a patent for what was simply called a "Tank Helmet." Much later, this style of tank helmet was designated "M-1938" (or Model - 1938), for the year of the initiation of the project.
The division was constituted, originally as the 82nd Division, in the National Army on 5 August 1917, shortly after the American entry into World War I, and was organized on 25 August 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia and later served with distinction on the Western Front in the final months of World War I.
Since its initial members came from all 48 states, the unit acquired the nickname All-American, which is the basis for its famed "AA" shoulder patch.
The division later served in World War II where, in August 1942, it was reconstituted as the first airborne division of the U.S. Army and fought in numerous campaigns during the war, gaining an excellent reputation.
This helmet is represents a WW2 MP Platoon helmet of the famous 82'nd Airborne.
Soldiers from the 77th have served in most every major conflict and contingency operation from WWI, to World War II, and several gave their lives on 11 September 2001. During WW2 they fought in the Western Pacific, Southern Philippines and Ryukyus campaigns. The stencil was worn both with and without the yellow edging during WW2.
This is a variation stencil for the 77th Infantry Division during WW2. The original had yellow paint and the two 'tabs' were paint in, to make a cut off pyramid shape.
Lets face it, you are never going to own one of Rommels caps. His family are still in possestion of most of his items and one cap is owned by a Museum in USA, although there is doubt over its authenticity.
So the next best thing is a high quality imitation cap. This is what we call a 'reproine' - A combination of Reproduction & Genuine parts, to produce Rommel's Peaked Cap.
The Schirmmutzen hat is reproduction but made in Germany by the EREL owned company. We are the Worldwide dealers for aged EREL caps produced in Germany.
It is a super German Generals cap, made of top quality material and in the same method and materials as the originals. In aged condition it is difficult to tell does not date from WW2.
We have made up this cap to look exactly like Erwin Rommel's 'The Desert Fox' and defender of Normandy. It is a Generals cap with gold braid, top quality materials and gold chinstrap, all suitably aged. Leather liner, vulkanfibre peak (with top & bottom showing age cracking) and celluloid head liner are some of the outstanding features.
The eagle and wreath are early war silver (alloy). These are original WW2 Eagle and Wreath and will stand up to any test of originality!
In addition we have added genuine British WWII gas Goggles Mark II as used by Rommel and seen on many WW2 period pictures of him in Africa whilst commanding the Deutsches Afrikakorps - DAK.
The story goes that they were given to him by a British prisoner as a gift to thank him for retrieving his stolen cap. The prisoner was Major General Michael Gambier-Parry, of the 2nd Armoured Division. The goggles are now housed in a museum dedicated to Rommel in Herrlingen, Germany, alongside one of his caps.
United States Lines was an American transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, the SS United States. The lines became well known in the 1920s when two valiant historic rescues were made using their ships', the SS President Roosevelt in 1926, and the SS America in 1929 by Captain George Fried (pictured below).
In World War II, the ships were converted into troopships. The Manhattan became the USS Wakefield, and the Washington became the USS Mount Vernon. The flagship America became the USS West Point.
In 1941, two Nazi spies, Franz Joseph Stigler and Erwin Wilheim Siegler, worked for United States Lines as members of SS America's crew.
While on the SS America, they obtained information about the movement of ships and military defense preparations at the Panama Canal, observed and reported defense preparations in the Canal Zone, and met with other German agents to advise them in their espionage pursuits. They operated as couriers, transmitting information between the United States and German agents aboard. Stigler worked undercover as the chief butcher. Both remained on the SS America until the U.S. Navy converted that ship into the USS West Point.
Stigler and Siegler, along with the 31 other German agents of the Duquesne Spy Ring, were later uncovered by the FBI in the largest espionage conviction in U.S. history. Stigler was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison on espionage charges with two concurrent years for registration violations; Siegler was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on espionage charges and a concurrent 2-year term for violation of the Registration Act.
South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union in December 1860, and was one of the founder members of the Confederacy. The bombardment of the beleaguered U.S. garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861 is normally reckoned as the first military engagement of the war.
South Carolina was a source of troops for the Confederate army, and as the war progressed, also for the Union, as thousands of ex-slaves flocked to join the Union forces.
The state also provided uniforms, textiles, food, and war material, as well as trained soldiers and leaders from The Citadel and other military schools. In contrast to most other Confederate states, South Carolina had a well-developed rail network linking all of its major cities without a break of gauge. Relatively free from Union occupation until the very end of the war, South Carolina hosted a number of prisoner of war camps.
South Carolina also was the only Confederate state not to harbor pockets of anti-secessionist fervor strong enough to send large amounts of white men to fight for the Union, as every other state in the Confederacy did.
J. H. Silverberg was a Confederate Cap maker located in Charleston County, South Carolina. The Confederate Cavalry Captains cap in the picture is a reproduction taking the manufacturer label J. H. Silverberg to reflect this caps potential history.
The 506th regiment was initially formed during World War II at Camp Toccoa, Georgia in 1942 where it earned its nickname, "Currahees", after Currahee Mountain which is located in Toccoa training camp.
Paratroopers during training ran from Camp Toccoa up Currahee Mountain and back, memorialized in the HBO series, Band of Brothers, with the shout "three miles up, three miles down!". The Cherokee word, which translates to "Stand Alone", also became the unit's motto. Members of the unit also wear the spade (♠) symbol on the helmet outer and the Screaming Eagle patch (indicating membership of the 101st Airborne Division) on the left sleeve.
During World War II, the only commanding officer of the regiment was Colonel Robert F. Sink. As such, the 506th was sometimes referred to as the "Five-Oh-Sink". On 10 June 1943, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment officially became part of the 101st Airborne Division, commanded by Major General William Lee, the "father of the U.S. Army Airborne".
The defeat of Germany in 1918 temporarily slowed down the airship business.
Although DELAG established a scheduled daily service between Berlin, Munich, and Friedrichshafen in 1919, the airships built for this service eventually had to be surrendered under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which also prohibited Germany from building large airships.
An exception was made allowing the construction of one airship for the US Navy, which saved the company from extinction. In 1926 the restrictions on airship construction were lifted and with the aid of donations from the public, work was started on the construction of LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin.
This revived the company's fortunes, and during the 1930s the airships Graf Zeppelin and the larger LZ 129 Hindenburg operated regular transatlantic flights from Germany to North America and Brazil.
The Art Deco spire of the Empire State Building was originally designed to serve as a mooring mast for Zeppelins and other airships, although it was found that high winds made this impossible and the plan was abandoned. The Hindenburg disaster in 1937, along with political and economic issues, hastened the demise of the Zeppelins.
The 502'd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), took part in most major Western Europe Campains in WW2. They were part of the 101st Airborne Division and were on a par with their (now), more famous 506th PIR (Band of Brothers). Their list of actions are to many to list here but in summary:
They jumped into Normandy and Lieutenant Colonel Robert George Cole ordered and pressed home a bayonet charge, almost unheard of in WW2.
Battle of the Bulge:
On December 16 1944 the Germans launched a massive coordinated offensive through the heavily wooded area of the Ardennes Forest with the intent for securing the port of Antwerp in order to cut off the allied supply line. The 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions were quickly moved from camps in France to shore up the American front line that was crumbling under the speed and mass of the German attack.
Brigade General McAuliffe, the acting division commander, had all four regiments of the 101st around Bastogne. Soon after arriving in Bastogne, the paratroopers of the 502nd began digging defensive positions along the north and northwest portion of the defensive perimeter surrounding the city. On 20 December 1944, German forces completely encircled the defenders of Bastogne. "It was on this day, 20 December," reads the war diary of the 327th Glider Infantry, "that all roads were cut by the enemy...we were completely surrounded.”
Erich Topp was the third most successful of the German U-Boot commanders of World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.
He sank 35 ships for a total of 197,460 gross register tons (GRT). After the war he served with the Federal German Navy, reaching the rank of Konteradmiral (rear admiral). He later served in NATO reaching the position of Chief of Staff at NATO's Military Committee in USA.
During WW2 all sides changed their helmets and in some cases clothing in order to blend into their surroundings. When it came to helmets this usually entailed using, wire, nets, mud and paint.
The Germans made very good and extensive efforts to ensure their helmets did not stand out in the field of combat. During winter white paint was extensively used by all arms including the Luftwaffe Paratroopers.
The pictures show a reproduction WW2 German Paratrooper Helmet M38. Finished in white camouflage paint and double Luftwaffe decals which are 50% visible and 99% intact. It is aged to look 70+ years old.
The little known steamship company.
One of our more flamboyant customers wanted a cap he could wear while working on his artwork and commissons. He had an affiliation with the sea so we agreed that a 1930's to 1940's 'Lykes Brothers Steamship Company' cap would be ideal.
In 1900 the sons of Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes started a shipping business by using a 109-foot, 75 ton three-masted schooner to ship cattle to Cuba as a replacement for herds which were wiped out in the Spanish–American War. In 1922 the Lykes Bros. Steamship Co. was set up as a separate company, owned by the Lyes Brothers. The 1930s saw Lykes acquiring 52 ships from Dixie and Southern States Lines, giving them a fleet of 67 ships. When the US entered WW2, Lykes carried 60 million tons of cargo and operated 125 cargo ships for the government. Twenty two ships were lost along with 272 lives.
This cap represents an officers cap worn between the 1930's and the 1940's. The 'Lykes' diamond and 'L' is very dark blue but with ageing is really black now. The wreath gold is aged suitably as is the chinstrap, buttons and whole cap.
The top and bottom of peak is old and cracked - they used to use a 'tar' type material on some caps, so this is replicated.
The white top is now a off white, yellow and stained colour - well used look, with a couple of rust marks coming through from the shaping ring.
The picture above is our customer, wearing the Lykes Brothers cap that we replicated. Sean McGraw is very capable and enthusiastic clay sculptor, creating some wonderful sculptures and designs.
Sean advises that his work is first and foremost figurative studies of American history. "It’s what I like to sculpt, my biggest challenge and my greatest payoff. My characterization of persona helps me create a mood or a story that I am trying to relay through my sculpture."
You can see some of his work on his website: www.historicalsculpture.com And you can contact him on email@example.com. You can get more information on his cap on this link.
Our support pages will detail our latest products and interesting customer questions.
If you have a hat or helmet related question please feel free to email us.
Dont miss out on new items or latest developments click on the button to subscribe to our newsletter.
Some Adverts that may interest you: