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Fantastic Relics: 509th PIB "Gingerbread" Helmets


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My job obligations led me to live in Toulon (Southern France) for five years (2001 to 2005), it is thus quite naturally that I began to study and to discover the underestimated and unknown US paratroopers epic in Southern France for the Dragoon operation (08/15/1944).

My method was the same as in Normandy (my parents live in Normandy, I have for 20 years a beautiful collection of 82nd and 101st Airborne stuff), field searches and meetings with the farmers who were present on the battle zones in 1944.

I was first of all interested in the drop zone around Le Muy before focusing on the 509th PIB paratroopers missdroped on St Tropez.


I began at first by researching on St Tropez before getting in touch with the associations of the city and more particularly with the association of the tropézien patrimony, who works with the city hall.

In 2002, the perspective of the 60th anniversary of the landing in Provence motivated me in my research and allowed me to obtain a support from the association of the Tropézien Patrimony for the writing of a 40-page book on the history of the liberation of the city by men from the famous 509th PIB “Gingerbread” and from the 463rd PFAB dropped by mistake in the sector.

My researches were official and recognized by the city of St Tropez. It was the first time that a such precise work on the history of the paratroopers in Saint Tropez was made.


This book was published in 2004 as a fascicule for an exhibition in Saint Tropez.

For this book, i managed to collect a lot of information on 509 PIB and on the 463 PFAB.


For the exhibition, I was lucky to collect military stuffs on the St Tropez missdroped DZ (helmets, harness, equipment, parachutes). Most of the objects were presented during the exhibition, as well as photographs, testimonies and documents.


It is during these researches that I was lucky to find these three 509th PIB helmets (november 2003).

There are two M1 helmets and one fantastic M2.

Now you can see the following pictures (few of them are on the famous site M1-helmet).



the helmets box!!!!



The three helmets, on the left an M1 and on the right an M1 and an M2!!!



Two 509th PIB helmets from the B company!!!!




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Pictures from the first M1 with a good camouflage!!!!















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They cleaned up SO AMAZINGLY NICE!!! Seems youve had to let go a few bits of medical tape on the back isnt it? PS: Can we see the liner also after cleanup?


PLEASE show us more of your finds thumbsup.gif



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Stunning finds!

It's funny that there are 2 standard fixed bales with standard chinstraps and only one M2 D-bail with para chinstraps. One infantry liner and one jump liner. I thought the 509th PIB was a Parachute infantry battalion :lol:

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Hi Ben! still great to see your amazing helmets. it was one of your luckiest day if I Remember when you called me when you just found them in the old box...


Please Ben, tell us a little more about your M-2!! Just for the Great story...



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Hi Ben


I have seen them before and really enjoy seeing them again.


Ben you find some fantastic things. Thank you for taking me around last year. How is fatherhood?????


I should have moved to Normandy in the next few weeks.


Drop me a line, but mark the email Normandy, so I will pick it up.








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An unbelievable story- shows that researching and doing your homework really pays off. Any clues as to how you did such a great job of cleaning the helmets without damaging the finish or breaking the delicate leather parts?




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