Myth of the Helmet net

Myth:
“Helmet nets and scrim are an ‘airborne thing'”

Wrong

The Army did not officially have a helmet net for the M1 helmet until the model 1944 equipment came out. When it did, the net was OD-7 and about 1/4″ spacing with an elastic band. The nets before then came from whatever was handy.

Although some units likely had helmet nets made or procured, others were simply another product of GI ingenuity. In any case, helmet nets — while superbly useful to airborne troops — was not an “airborne thing.”

May I offer this photo of a rather scared looking medic on the invasion beaches not only sporting a helmet net, but also helmet scrim (colored strips of burlap stuck into the net).

Medic on an Invasion Beachead

Medic on an Invasion Beachead

We know this guy is an infantry medic for a few reasons.

  1. He has a http://www.matrita.com/online/ white brassard on his left arm. Easy.
  2. He is wearing the issued medic yoke — see the wide shoulder pads
  3. We know he’s infantry because this is obviously an invasion beach and he’s wearing standard M41 jacket buttoned all the way up against the cold

Of course, it’s possible that this guy lost his helmet in the hustle to make it out of the LCVP and into cover. In that case it’s possible that he picked up his helmet from some other unfortunate soldier. To counter that possibility, I offer this photo:

Three medics, one wounded

Three medics, one wounded

No helmet scrim, but certainly helmet nets — on all three. This is a favorite photo of mine, so there will be a detailed analysis later.

8 Comments

  • ww2md says:

    The medics do not appear to be in too big of a hurry or worried about in coming fire. They are very exposed. The men in the back ground are just walking around with no combat gear other than a rifle. Given that the “patient” is also a medic, I wonder if this was a “rehearsal” for a beach invasion, or just a “collecting and clearing” spot?

    • admin says:

      Good point. There’s a lot of wounded floating around in the back left, but you’re right, it does seem very organized. I’ll have to see if I can find a caption for this out there. It could very well be a rehearsal in Britain. Still, the helmet net is there, rehearsal or not.

  • Fabian says:

    As stated nets were widely used by infantry and you can see them in almost every D-Day pic. Just check this site and you will find lots. Nice site you have here btw. =)

  • SideArmour says:

    Regarding the 2nd pic: It’s most certainly is training. Look how the medic’s Garand is stuck MUZZLE DOWN in the sand, instead of muzzle up slung on the shoulder. I’ll bet this one got his ass chewed by the top seargent for that! If he didn’t, he should have. Can you say KaBoom?!

    • Taylor Dewey says:

      If it’s training — whichever Infantry guy left his rifle layin’ around for these medics to use is going to be the one getting chewed out. These medics are wearing Geneva crosses which in WWII means they wouldn’t have been issued — or carried — a rifle or sidearm.

  • Tom Glover says:

    The image was taken at the extreme eastern end of Omaha beach in the 1st Division sector. Some assault elements were ‘lucky’ enough to make use of the protection offered by the cliffs here as pictured. I imagine the wounded shown were dragged to this position away from the effects of German fire from the bluffs further west.

  • Juanita Stellato says:

    your photo “three medics, one wounded”. The one wounded was my grandfather Anthony Stellato…he made it!!