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Japanese Civil Defense Helmet w/ GI Shipping address painted on

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Picked this up from an auction last week. I've always wanted a helmet with a GI's shipping information painted right on it, and this example

went for a fair price I felt.


The helmet is addressed to a "Dr. C. W. Burt" of West Des Moines Iowa, from a Captain F. E. Van Voorhis.


The helmet itself is nothing special. It's a late war Japanese Civil Defense helmet. From what I understand these were not issued to combat troops, and would have been likely picked up in Japan after the war. The helmet itself has clearly been sitting in a barn for years, and there is a great deal of active rust and mud wasp nests inside the shell.


Research has been difficult, but I've managed to find a small amount out about the veteran and the man he sent the helmet to.


The vet appears to have been Ford Eugene Van Voorhis. I cannot find anything on his military history, and the only real clue I found to his name was an article from the "Des Moines Register" from May 1926 announcing his marriage to a Lou McGowan of Portland Oregon. I was also able to find reference to a "Ford and Louisa Van Voorhis Professorship of Economics" award from the University of Washington, which I would assume is in Mr. Van Voorhis honor.


His unit, the 1180th Engineer Construction Group, seems to have been attached to the 6th Army. They were heavily involved in operations in the South Pacific and Philippines, but I can't find much history of the unit itself.

As to the recipient, I have found even less. Dr. C. W. Burt seems to have been a well known man in West Des Moines as I found some articles mentioning his name in political races, and he also was awarded "West Des Moines Citizen of the Year" in 1946.


As of now, I cannot form a connection between the two men, or why this soldier felt compelled to mail this helmet home to Dr. Burt. Clearly Dr. Burt must have had some type of impact on Mr Van Voorhis if he decided to mail this home to him.

I'll continue to research and see if I can come across anything else.













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That is a very nice find! I collect, restore, and sell helmets; and this one is special. I have used a vinegar bath to successfully remove rust from helmets, with an immediate application of paint, polyurethane, or oil because the rust comes back very quickly. In this case, however, I would be afraid that it might damage the text added by the vet. Perhaps others can help with viable ideas for stabilization. Nice score!


HelmetWerks Military Helmet Restoration


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