Sold (dn) Outstanding Heer Chicken Wire Camo M42SKU: MhpkJDwire
This helmet has seen a lot of action but retains a superb character. The helmet originated with a small grouping obtained by a close friend of mine on Long Island a decade ago (picture below taken at time of purchase). The finish and decal reflect hard use, and the wire basket has basically become one with the helmet. All of the characteristics conform with original examples from the period. The most extraordinary thing about this helmet is who may have used it. The words in the skirt of the helmet are Croatian for “Devil’s Division.” Starting out as the Croatian Legion, the survivors of the fight against the Soviets were re-purposed into a smaller unit and continued fighting for the Germans in the Balkans, against Tito’s communists. While there are many references that can be researched, here is one example. The following excerpt is from this link How Croatian military units fought against the USSR in WWII – Russia Beyond (rbth.com)
“After heavy winter battles, the legion practically ceased to exist. Those who survived were captured by the Soviets. About 1,000 members of the Croatian Legion were evacuated from Stalingrad by air. They joined the new 369th Croatian Infantry (‘Devil’) Division, which was fighting against Tito’s partisans in the Balkans. They never returned to the Eastern Front.”
In all likelihood this helmet was used in this context, given the inscription. Moreover, units from the Balkans fighting were able to make it into Austria at war’s end and surrender to the Western Allies. This is a plausible scenario for how the helmet wound up in the US GI’s hands. It is an historical item that has sat unnoticed for many decades. A definite piece for further research! COA accompanies.