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Thread: Pickelhaube - Battle of the Somme (July 1916)

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Pickelhaube - Battle of the Somme (July 1916)

    Today I'll show one of the best non document related items that I recently was able to add to my collection, OK it isn't WW2 but nevertheless I took the liberty to post it here.


    It is a model 1895 enlisted men's Pickelhaube with "Neusilber" fittings for the Pionier battalions, the helmet is made by Julius Jansen in Strasburg in 1914.
    M1895 Pionier Pickelhaube in good condition are relatively rare to find but this one is bit extra special, because this example is unit marked and named to a soldier that was KIA in the battle of the Somme; the battle for the Somme in 1916 is one of the three big trench warfare battles fought in WW1, the others being the battle for Verdun 1916 and the battle for Passchendaele (Ypres) 1917.

    The Sixth Prussian Pionier Battalion recruited its men in Silesia, when the war broke out the second company was together with the third assigned to the 12th Infantry Division also a unit from Silesia.
    In 1916 the 12ID defended a frontline sector just north of the Somme river, between Montauban in the north and Hem on the Somme river in the south, with Hardecourt in the middle; this was the southern edge where the British summer offensive would take place.
    Although the battle of the Somme is known as a British offensive, also a French Army Corps was to take part in it; the French XX Corps divisions attacked together with a British division on the most southern flank of the offensive.

    Pionier August Gröne survived the week long heavy artillery bombardment and when the allies went over the top on July 1 1916, his company together with companies of IR62 were ordered to defend Bernafay Wood, just behind Montauban.
    The offensive became a slaughter almost immediately, the heavy artillery bombardment hadn't destroyed the German defenses and barbed wire obstacles, the British army suffered the biggest loss of life in one single day on that July 1.
    Despite the heavy losses the offensive battle continued and it was in the French sector that the attack was the most successful, the French units even had to halt their advance because the British units were completely stuck and a dangerous open flank started to develop for the French regiments.
    It is in this second phase of the battle that August Gröne would be KIA, he died on July 26 1916 and is now buried in the big German WW1 war graves cemetery of Neuville-Saint Vaast.
    The battle would rage on until November 1916.
    I bought the helmet from a French militaria dealer, so I presume that a French soldier took the Pickelhaube of August Gröne home as a war souvenir, Pickelhaubes were the #1 war souvenir for all allied soldiers in WW1, so for many years this Pickelhaube was the war souvenir of a Poilu and now I am glad that it has a premium place in my collection.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member mauser99's Avatar
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    great item Peter.. I just picked up a French 37mm shell with" Souvenir de Somme 9- 1916" engraved on it.

    Maybe I will post it.. This is the small Hotchkiss cannon it was fired from.
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  3. #3
    "Ach du lieber!" Bigdibbs88's Avatar
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    Another item w great history!

  4. #4
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    Peter,
    Thanks for posting. My grand father was in a Prussian unit. Still trying to find out which one.
    Mike

  5. #5
    Senior Member jack944's Avatar
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    Default Great post

    The story makes the item come alive...I wonder if there is a picture of him somewhere..

  6. #6
    Senior Member jhv 41's Avatar
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    That was a terrible battle.....

    http://www.denkmalprojekt.org/2010/v...Mineur_wk1.htm
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    Senior Member George R.'s Avatar
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    Peter,

    really nice pickelhaube with great history. GR
    Sons of Confederate Veterans Bowens Mounted Rifles Camp 1759

  8. #8
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Peter, that is a fantastic pickelhaube with background! Thanks for posting it. Pic stickied.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ebeeby's Avatar
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    A fine exampled missing only the leather keepers for the wappen.

    But the provenance is what makes it so much more than a souvenir. Thanks for sharing!

  10. #10
    Seńor Member biatch gummipuppe's Avatar
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    That is so neat.

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