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John DeRiggi's Experimental Tank Helmet


Johan Willaert
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Johan Willaert

John DeRiggi was the Asst Gunner in the 3AD M26 Pershing Tank that knocked out a German Panther Tank in front of the Cologne cathedral in late 1944.

 

Pictures of John show him wearing a rather unusual Tanker's Helmet.... Also note the Tank driver's second pattern ETO Wool Jacket

 

deriggi.montage.jpg

Picture from this website relating the battle at Cologne:

http://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/memoirs.pages/deriggi.htm

 

You can see footage from that battle at with the helmet visible at 2'45" at

 

Many years ago Larry M and I discussed these helmets wondering what exactly they were. It was rather obvious they were based on French pre-WW2 helmets but not a lot was known about these...

 

Recently Larry contacted me again with some more info and sent me the following:

 

ETO Contract Tank Helmet:

The First U.S. Army Armored Section contracted with a French firm in mid - 1944 to produce tank helmets for U.S. tankers in the First Army area of operations. This was both to take pressure off supply lines, re-start French businesses, and answer requests from U.S. tank units demanding a tank helmet with some ballistic properties. By September 1944 only 278 of these helmets had been delivered due to material shortages and lack of electricity in the factory. The helmet was based on the French M.33 Casques du motorcyclistes mod. 1940. The main modification was that the helmet lining was adapted to receive the standard U.S. R-14 radio receivers by adding an inner rubber circular ear cushion and an outer leather cup which was attached or detached by means of small screws. The helmet bowl was made of stamped or pressed aluminum, had a leather pad on the front brow. Examples are known to exist with and without a rear neck protector of aluminum.

 

Examples are known in photographs of 'D' Co. (light tank Company) of 34th Armored Bn, 5th Armored Div., and 'F' Troop (light tank company) of 4th Mech. Cavalry Group. According to John DeRiggi's brother, John got his helmet by trading with another tanker.

 

Here's a picture of such a helmet on display:

 

FrenchMade1945USExperimentalTankHel.jpg

 

And another picture of said helmet in use, from an old 1974 magazine...

 

Frenchradiotankerwornbyus.jpg

 

 

Does anyone have more info on these helmets? How many are still out there and where???

 

Thanks,

 

Johan

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Very nice Johan! With less than 300 of these made and the factoring in of time and chance, it does make these some of the most rare helmets out there!

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Johan,

 

Very interesting post. Now to keep an eye out. ;)

 

I've looked at those photos of Early's crew many times and never noticed that helmet.

 

Thanks!

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General Apathy

Oh damn Johan that has opened a new can of worms for the collector ???? :think: ;)

 

Well spotted, good to bring forward for further investigation.

 

Cheers Lewis

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Johan,

 

Very interesting post. Now to keep an eye out. ;)

 

I've looked at those photos of Early's crew many times and never noticed that helmet.

 

Thanks!

me too!!!.. :w00t: ..will definitely be watching out for one of those badboys!!......mike

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Very nice Johan! With less than 300 of these made and the factoring in of time and chance, it does make these some of the most rare helmets out there!

 

 

 

Just think of how rare the cavalry helmets are now, I cant imagine how rare this helmet must be. :fear:

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  • 3 years later...
Paul Reijnders

Reading this topic in 2010 and keeping this helmet and info in mind I was very surpriced finding this helmet

at the recent SOS show :rolleyes: Pictures say enough

 

Regards, Paul Reijnders

post-4905-0-62569300-1362727554.jpg

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ThompsonSavage

There were a few lines and pictures about these helmets in an issue of the magazine 40-45 Toen en Nu (Then and Now). Probably the one featuring the Battle of Cologne...

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  • 4 months later...
ThompsonSavage

E company, 2nd Batt, 33rd Armored Reg, Persing No. 40 commanded by Sergeant Mashlonik (second from the left).

 

February 27, 1945, Elsdorf, Germany.

 

Two crewmen are wearing the 'French' tanker helmet.

 

From an article in '40-45 Toen en Nu: nummer 153' detailing the first deployment of the new Pershing tank in the ETO.

 

post-45626-0-66642800-1374920828.jpg

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Wish I still had the pics, but I had the chance to meet him in the late 90's while attending the 32nd's reunion in Springfield, MO with my ex grandad in law. Knocked back a beer with him and the others after the dinner while I listened to their stories. Was incredible.

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  • 2 years later...

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