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Thread: Shot through Fj helmet (M38)

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Shot through Fj helmet (M38)

    Hello,

    I'll use this thread to illustrate the two threads Hambone started yesterday, first it is an example of a WIA helmet and second it is a good example of how items that are donated to "museums" simply find their way in to private collections.
    First I'll tell the story of the helmet:


    This is one of the shot through helmets that is in my collection, this one was given to the family of the soldier as a kind of evidence that her husband was killed by a head shot and most likely didn't suffer.
    Only it turned out that the soldier wasn't KIA but had survived his head wound.

    The helmet belonged to Fallschirmjäger Feldwebel Helmut Wenzel, he was an old sweat in the Fj Sturm Rgt.
    On May 10 1940 he participated in the airborne attack on the Belgian fort Eben-Emael, he was in charge of the operation until his CO landed later that day.
    During a defensive action against a Belgian counter attack on May 10 his helmet was shot through and he recieved a small head wound.
    After his recovery he was issued with a new helmet, this is the helmet I have in my collection.

    A bit more then a year later Helmut Wenzel went in to action again, on May 20 1941 he jumped near the famous hill 107 in Malames Crete.
    I'll use parts of the interview with him that was published in the book: Fallschirmjäger in Crete by Jean-Yves Nasse to tell the story of this helmet.

    "Our height was 180 and after a few moments we jumped.
    ...
    Just before I reached the ground I was hit in the chest by a bullet. It went in above the right shoulder and came out right near the carotid artery.
    ...
    I landed softly in a vineyard, not thirty metres from the English positions.
    I fired (with his pistol) at two Tommies who fell, the other dropped to the ground .... the enemy was now firing with a machine gun. I lay low in a little depression. My bag and my water bottle stuck out and were riddled with holes. Firing stopped because the Tommies thought I was dead. I crawled away fromthere. Where is my section? I had to get it together! Despairing, I got up and shouted: - 3rd section, here!.
    A machine gun immediately fired at me hitting me in the head. .... It went through the helmet, tore the skin and touched the bone of the skull.
    I felt the impact and forced myself not to lose consciousness. But my comerades had heard my shouts and four of them rallied me: Gefreiters Engel, Glrfeld, Primke and Mospak. Glörfeld did the dressing, and I put muck on it to camouflage the white colour. Bullets were whisteling all around us and one of them pierced my boot ..."
    - The small platoon of Fj's later that day managed to regroup with what was left over from their company, H.Wenzel woundes were taken care for by a British doctor that was taken POW by the Fj's.
    Because one of the chinstraps was shot through, his helmet was blown from his head and here the story continues:
    "One of my men found my helmet with a hole in it. He also saw the blood inside and thought I was dead. He took the helmet so as to be able to give it to my wife as a "last souvenir". Once he got back, he went to see her and she said to him: - I have just recieved this postcard from my husband. He is in Vienna, in hospital.
    Tears ran down the face of the good Linde and he gave the helmet to my wife. That is the spirit of friendship in the paratroopers. Now my wife has my two holed helmets, one from Eben-Emael and the other from Crete."

    Cheers,
    Peter
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  2. #2
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Details of the inside of the helmet.
    One can see how the bullet entered en left the helmet, the little dark stain is a bloodstain.
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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Helmut Wenzel photographed on May 11 1940 when he leaves fort Eben-Emael.
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  4. #4
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Several years ago this helmet came in to my collection, I bought him from a local militaria dealer.
    Initially I didn't know to who the helmet belonged, I just bought it because I like shot through & bloodstained equipment, the only information I got was that the dealer had bought the helmet from someone of a Fj veteran association (in the lot was besides this helmet a whole bunch of documents and photoalbums, all of former Fj Sturm Rgt members).

    A few year later Jean Yves Nasse publishes a book about operation Merkur (the airborne assult on Crete).
    When I'am reading the book and get to the part that mentions Helmut Wenzel's helmet, I inmediately look at my display cabinet: my shot through M38 compleetly looks like it is discribed in the book:
    - newish liner: H.Wenzel only got this helmet a few months before he jumped on the island of Crete.
    - initials carved in the liner HW: Helmut Wenzel.
    - a bullet that has entered and left end at the rear, a bullet that just touched the skull.
    - a shot through chinstrap: a helmet that was blown of the soldiers head.
    - a small bloodstain, thus the helmet was worn: Helmut Wenzel was just slightly wounded by the hit.
    On top of that it came from a lot of Fj Sturm regiment material.
    Everything matches.

    Helmet Wenzel participated a lot with Fj veteran associations and gave many interviews.
    I never did meet him but from what is written about him in reference books about the assult on fort Eben-Emael, I get the feeling that Helmut Wenzel was a bit frustrated that the knight cross was not given to him but to his superior officers , Witzig & Delica, which he had no high regards for (that is to say the least).
    - Because of a tow line accident Witzig landed on fort Eben-Emael after the guns were taken out of action.
    Delica according to several accounts did hide himself during the whole operation in a bunker.
    Also during the Belgian counter attacks Wenzel organized the defensive possitions, it is during this action that he got wounded.
    In fact it has to be said that he infact did lead the assult but the only thing he got was an EKI just like all the other Fj's of Sturm Abteilung Koch.
    It is my opinion that after the war that he did his best to tell the real story of the fort Eben-Emael assult.
    He donated his photoalbums to the Belgian army archives (it is told that the original album is lost ?!?!....), his helmets he gave to someone of a veterans organization.
    His trust was abused and his helmets didn't end up in museum but were just sold to dealer.

    He passed away in 2003.

  5. #5
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Peter, that's a fantastic helmet and history, really one of my favorites of all time, saving for the one that is your avatar, which is my all time researched favorite helmet! To me, the research and putting the history with the artifacts is the most fun, rewarding, and important. I've pic stickied this for reference.

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    Senior Member Badger's Avatar
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    Thank you Peter ...

    Loved the story and associated pics.... a real sense of history ....

    Regards,
    Doug

  7. #7
    Senior Member NathanLM's Avatar
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    Really love the story of this FJ helmet. Peter, can you post a link to the story of your avatar?

  8. #8
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    Great example of war carnage with great story! timothy

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