BACKGROUND: In late 1940, with the impending German entrance into the North African campaign, tropical uniforms, headgear and equipment were quickly developed and issued in time for DAK, Deutsches Afrika Korps, (German Africa Corps), personnelís arrival in Tripoli in February 1941. One of the new headgear items introduced was the tropical pith helmet which was based on the design of the earlier Kriegsmarine pith helmet. On its introduction the pith helmet was constructed of a formed cork base with a cotton twill covering until a second pattern pith helmet was introduced with a formed cork base with a felt covering. The second pattern pith helmet followed the same basic design as the first pattern but was modified to ease production time and material costs. Wear of the pith helmets was extended to personnel serving in southern areas of continental Europe but the helmets proved ineffective and unpopular and manufacture was discontinued sometime in 1942. On introduction the tropical pith helmets were outfitted with a national eagle and national tri-color identification shields.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Rare WW2 German Afrika Korps captured Dutch Pith Helmet of the type seen in the reference book Afrika Korps by Robert Kurtz (Schiffer Publishing) on pages 196 and 197. The reference book notes that many of these pith helmets were captured during the German invasion of Holland in 1940. An identical South African Army model probably imported from the Netherlands was also captured and used in North Africa by the Afrika Korps, which was always short of supplies of everything. The helmet body is made of compressed and shaped cork covered by khaki cotton fabric. A wide Pugaree of khaki muslin fabric surrounds the lower dome of the helmet with Afrika Korps pith helmet shields applied in North Afrika, as seen in the reference book. There are four grommeted vent holes on each side to allow air to circulate above the wearerís head. A leather sweatband is affixed to posts inside the liner, and the original brown leather chinstrap is attached to brass mounting bales inside and worn over the front brim of the helmet as seen in the book and period photos. This example is heavily worn, with staining and fabric damage consistent with its age and usage, but the cork body is not damaged or misshapen. Overall a fine example of a rare Afrika Korps worn pith helmet. Approximately size 54.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $1,428.00

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