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WWII Medic Helmet Markings & Regulations


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#1 Old Marine

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 10:29 AM

I found this photo while searching for something else. I thought it showed a nice array of 79th Infantry Division medic helmets. My question is, was there any army or red cross standard as to how to mark the helmets? Judging by the photo I would guess that there wasn't, but I don't know all that much about medic helmets.

Anyway, this is a neat reference photo.

Dennis

Medic_helmets.jpg

Edited by Bugme, 07 November 2010 - 05:56 AM.
Title Changed To Reflect Content


#2 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 11:52 AM

From some writings by Alan Batens that I have in my records:

According to German prisoners, sniper incidents often resulted from difficulty in seeing and identifying Geneva Convention brassards on men moving along hedgerows; American Medics in some Divisions noted that a high proportion of their small-arms casualties were often shot from the unbrassarded right side! So Aidmen and Litter Bearers accordingly began wearing brassards on both arms, and also started painting (non-regulation) Red Crosses on their steel helmets. The XIX Corps Surgeon late in July 1944 officially authorized these and other measures to make Geneva Convention markings on men and vehicles more conspicuous… Certain gestures of chivalry, supposedly dead in total warfare, graced the Normandy battlefield. Soldiers of both sides, American AND German, either as a result of temporary (formal or informal) truce, or more often by tacit mutual (local) consent, ceased fire to allow Aidmen to reach casualties – sometimes both German and American Medics would help evacuate and/or treat casualties together – First US Army returned 16 German nurses captured in Cherbourg to their own forces (under a flag of truce) – a German Commander sent back 83d Inf Div Medics captured by his troops. It so appears that both sides were following as best as they could the Conventions of civilized warfare …

Red Cross Application: in certain units, the unit surgeon defined the kind of marking that was supposed to adorn the medic’s helmet, while in other units, there was no specific standard to adhere to – this explains the widespread variety in helmet markings (so far I’ve discovered over 20 different markings, in period-photographs), whereby color, dimensions, combinations and even the red cross symbol differ a lot… sometimes stencils were used, but mostly markings were merely handpainted… the most widely used symbol was a red cross on a white circular field (identical to the Geneva Convention brassard) . Change N°5 to AR 850-5 dated 15 February 1945 was only introduced on January 23, 1948 to regulate the use of a red Geneva Cross on a white circular background for medical personnel helmets – it was however shortlived, since already cancelled on January 18, 1949 by change N°6 (due to the introduction of helmet covers, which made any markings redundant) .

#3 kenneth Whitcomb

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 12:18 PM

Thanks for the article on helmet markings. I have had the same question about med helmets. Very informative. Were all the arm bands of a uniform nature or did they change as the war progressed?

Edited by kenneth Whitcomb, 21 October 2010 - 12:19 PM.


#4 GliderRiderMedic

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 12:37 PM

Thanks for the article on helmet markings. I have had the same question about med helmets. Very informative. Were all the arm bands of a uniform nature or did they change as the war progressed?


They were a uniform item. I've seen a couple dozen and they were all the same. To be technically correct, they were supposed to have your Geneva Convention ID number stamped on the back to avoid a combatant from grabbing the brassard from a fallen medic to save his own butt.

#5 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 12:55 PM

Post war Army regulation, AR 850-5, authorized January 23, 1948 with diagram is shown below. This was the first time a specific uniform design regulation was given. As crazy as it seems this regulation was rescinded on January 18, 1949

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Edited by Bugme, 21 October 2010 - 12:58 PM.


#6 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 01:22 PM

Without getting too far off track, this is the armband brassard with Geneva Convention ID Number

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#7 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 01:26 PM

...And that number on the Brassard was supposed to match the one on the Geneva Convention Medical Non-Combatant card that medics were required to carry to be afforded non-combatant rights under the Geneva Convention. Below is an early WWII card, yellow arrow pointing to Geneva ID number. If you had a brassard on but, did not have this card, you were considered a combatant by the Germans.

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  • Medic_ID_first_Pattern_Arrow.JPG


#8 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 01:28 PM

Here's a later WWII version of the card, again, yellow arrow pointing to the Geneva ID Number

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#9 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 01:31 PM

I posted all the previous information so that this next picture would make more sense. Sometimes you'll see numbers on the top of a medic helmet that does not correspond to any soldiers serial number. This is because medics would often put the Geneva Convention ID Number on their helmets, as you can see on this 69th Division doctors helmet owned by USMF member: just-a-good-ole-boy.

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Edited by Bugme, 21 October 2010 - 01:33 PM.


#10 Old Marine

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 03:34 AM

Thank you for that information, especially on the armbands and the Geneva Convention numbers. I have seen photos of other medic helmets with the numbers and have always wondered what the number signified. Thanks again for taking the time to answer the questions.

Getting this new information is good and bad, it's good in that I now more than I did before. It's bad in that now that I know about it I have to go on the hunt for an armband and Geneva card with matching numbers. I guess I better start saving now.

In the photo below you can see the 79th patch. Is that red cross painted on his jacket, or is it a piece of the armband that was sewn on? To me it looks painted, but as I said I am learning about this medic stuff.

Thanks again for all the information, this forum is a great place.

Medic_closeup.jpg

#11 sgtdorango

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 03:50 AM

Looks painted on to me!....imagine finding that jacket while opening up an old footlocker!!....mike

#12 bobgee

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 04:15 AM

Thanks for posting the photo and question, Dennis! It generated some great info for all respondents! :thumbsup:
Bobgee

#13 HoovieDude

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 09:17 AM

Amazing, there is a new epay Medics lid that is using the same image. Kinda ironic how it was posted after this subject arose here :D

Sorry, cant add pics right now...

http://cgi.ebay.com/...e=STRK:MEWAX:IT

#14 GliderRiderMedic

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 02:24 PM

As crazy as it seems this regulation was rescinded on January 18, 1949


Well, once we started almost exclusively fighting people who wipe their butts with the Geneva Convention as a matter of standard practice, there was no real point to it anymore.

I posted all the previous information so that this next picture would make more sense. Sometimes you'll see numbers on the top of a medic helmet that does not correspond to any soldiers serial number. This is because medics would often put the Geneva Convention ID Number on their helmets, as you can see on this 69th Division doctors helmet owned by USMF member: just-a-good-ole-boy.


I've never seen that before. Very cool.

Is that red cross painted on his jacket, or is it a piece of the armband that was sewn on? To me it looks painted, but as I said I am learning about this medic stuff.


Yes, it's painted on. I've seen a couple of instances of it. Not "technically" legal but there was a lot of improvisation in medical personnel and they way they chose to mark themselves. I've also seen photos of US medics wearing the German Red Cross tabbard (the front "vest" with the big red cross on it).

#15 Old Marine

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 04:48 PM

Looks painted on to me!....imagine finding that jacket while opening up an old footlocker!!....mike


With out the knowledge gained on this forum had I found a jacket like that with the painted cross on it I might have ditched it as a nice jacket that some kid messed up in the 60s. Thank you all for this forum and the wealth of knowledge.


Amazing, there is a new epay Medics lid that is using the same image. Kinda ironic how it was posted after this subject arose here


I am sure it's just an amazing coincidence :lol:

#16 GITom1944

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 05:42 PM

Great thread. Bugme -Thanks for the info; I had noticed those numbers before but I never realized their significance. You did a great job of educating me. Thank you!

#17 Spandlem

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 08:58 PM

I've got a WWII medic helmet that only has 3 panels, front and sides; none in the back. Ever heard of this?

#18 doyler

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 09:07 PM

I've got a WWII medic helmet that only has 3 panels, front and sides; none in the back. Ever heard of this?

 

Yes

There are several variations.Anything from 1-5 panels

 

Look at the medic in the photo in post #1.He has one in the center of the top of the  helmet.I would say a 5 coss panel



#19 BEAST

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 06:15 AM

Don't forget about the 94th ID medics wearing the tabard.

tabbard.gif

#20 Bugme

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 06:28 AM

How could we ever forget the target tabard Erick? :)  Actually, that is a cool photo, thanks!



#21 gianni59

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 12:21 AM

My helmet M1 has 4 small red crosses (6 cm diameter). The you have already seen and you tell me why?

 

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