WWII German M35 DAK Heer Souvenir Helmet & Liner Set (NS66)
This is a one-of-a-kind helmet set. To commemorate their own service and that of paying comrades, artistic soldiers would often create souvenir helmets while they waited to return to the United States. This helmet was captured in 1943 by a U.S. sailor while moored in Bizerte, Tunisia. View the Veteran's Information Section for more details regarding the markings' significance and our research in deducing to whom it likely belonged. This original WWII German M35 helmet has an exceptional combat-used appearance. The wearer's left side exhibits a well-worn original Heer decal, while the right side's orginal National Colors' decal remains visible underneath a field repaint - likely done in March 1940, coinciding with the order from German high command, directing the omission of National Colors decals from all helmets. The inside brim is size stamped NS66, with a lot number of 5604, denoting 1938 production by the Vereinigte Deutsche Nickelwerke, Schwerte factory. As mentioned earlier, the shell is a size 66, however when the helmet underwent its in-the-field refurbishment, it was paired with a liner from a smaller size 64 shell and was stamped accordindly with its new liner size "56/57." The depot also made it a point to not cover the helmet's lot number, most likely for quality control purposes. The interior's leather components exhibit consistent wear and some damage to the chinstrap. The helmet's split pins and washers are all original and show no signs of tampering (post-refurbishment, of course).
The front of this helmet proudly displays "USN", while the reverse exhibits an anchor and the number "400." This could denote either the USS Hissem (DE-400) or the USS McCall (DD-400). The USS McCall, can be eliminated as it served in the Pacific Theatre of Operations and no sailor serving aboard would have likely encountered a German helmet. The USS Hissem, however saw quite a bit of action in the Mediterranean and even moored at Bizerte, Tunisia, which just so happens to be etched into the paint on the top of the helmet. The helmet's right side is named to a "Green." When conducting a search of the USS Hissem's muster rolls, we are presented with two possible matches: Stephen R. Green, serial number 212-45-81 and John Nelson Green Jr., serial number 251-03-18. Stephen R. Green first boarded the USS Hissem on September 8, 1944, while John Nelson Green Junior, first came aboard months earlier on May 14, 1944. Both men were aboard the USS Hissem while it was moored in Bizerte, however just below the etched "Bizerte" is an apparent "6-1-43." Only one of these two men were in Bizerte in June of 1943 and that is Stephen R. Green, who was serving aboard Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Fifteen, while John Nelson Green Junior still had six months before he would enlist. Stephen R. Green likely picked up this helmet from defeated Desert Afrika Korps troops and personalized it with momentos while he was serving aboard the USS Hissem. Stephen R. Green had an extensive naval career, first enlisting on September 29, 1936 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Made available to the new owner, below, are Green's records from Ancestry.com and War Diaries from Fold3.com. Normally, we would have also requested Green's complete file through a FOIA request, however this is unavailable at the time of writing - there is still plenty of research for the new owner to do!