WWII German Helmets

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Dave's Desk  

Previous Issues

Issue #1 Black Allgemeine SS out of the Woodworks

Issue #2 General Update & Rambling On

Issue #3 Sometimes I have to keep 'em


Issue #4 History....that's what it's all about!!!!

What is it that fuels our passion for the World War II collectable items?   It's not the fact that a steel helmet is a steel helmet and has a cool shape.   It's the history, and nothing but the history.   One common thread that I find in talking with the various collectors that I know, is that we are all hard core history buffs...nothing more...nothing less.   I have had an interest in WWII history since I was a small boy of around 8 or 9 years old.   WWII items allow us to touch history, smell it, and feel it.   In this edition of my Blog, I wanted to feature a recent find that just oozes history.   The recent find is a stunning Normandy Pattern Camouflage M1940 Heer helmet.   I received a phone call, about two months ago now from a fellow that was selling some items that his father in law brought back from the War.    He told me that the items were brought back from the Normandy by his Father in Law.    He starts describing the colors of the helmet, and I go from skeptical to total excitement during this conversation.   We make a deal on the helmet and during the course of our correspondence, I ask for some pictures or any other information on the Vet.   He mentions, "Well Dave, Dr. Howard was pictured in Life Magazine in Normandy in a July issue".   I am totally blown away by this and quickly find an original issue of the July 3rd Issue of Life on Ebay.   

When this helmet showed up I was completely blown away by this one.   I can tell you, I have had hundreds of helmets come through my hands and this one spoke to me more than any other helmet.  One reason...history...documented history.   The helmet is a Classic Normandy Camouflage helmet with saw dust in the paint.  The paint is a base tan with red and green sprayed in places.   The helmet is nice and worn but a lot of the original camo is still intact.   The Heer decal is nicely pecking out as well.   The inside was very dirty as it had apparently been stored in a foot locker on an Iowa farm since the War.   I took a damp cloth and spent about 20 minutes cleaning the inside.   It must have been stored upside down due to the amount of dust and dirt inside.   The colors of the paint are fantastic and this one just has the right amount of combat wear.   The helmet itself is an ET62 with a lot number of 1273.   It is very likely that this helmet belonged to a member of the German 352nd Division.   They were the Vanguard of the Defense at the Omaha Beach area.   

In further conversation, I learned that Dr. Howard Aleff is alive and well in Iowa.   He was in the very first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day.   Not only was he in the first wave, but according to Dr. Aleff, he was in one of the first LCV's to hit the beach.   He was a member of the 619th Quartermaster Corps and was a dentist by profession.   His assignment was to care for soldiers in both medical and dental needs.   He hit the beach completely unarmed.  Dr. Aleff actually took this helmet from a German POW in the very first few days of fighting in Normandy.   He specifically remembers telling the German soldier, "I'll take that, as it doesn't look like you will be needing this any longer."   If you look at the photos below, Dr. Aleff is the tall fellow on the left in the photograph wearing the two carry bags with a special marked helmet.   This is an iconic photograph and has shown up in a number of books.   Turns out he had other items that he brought back and I was lucky enough to pick these items up.   They were fairly salty items but full of history.   There was a Bayonet, Black Wound Badge, Police insignia, Heer Belt Buckle with Tab, K98 Bayonet, and a Hitler Youth knife.   I am hopeful to meet Dr. Aleff sometime this month.   I am anxious to hear more about his firsthand account of the Normandy invasion.   Enjoy the pictures below!

Update:  September 28, 2009

Good morning guys. I wanted to update the Blog with a brief recap of my visit with Capt. Dr. Howard Aleff.  I flew down to Orlando, FL this past Thursday and spent a couple of hours on Friday morning with Capt. Aleff.  He is 94 years old but quite with it for his advanced age. I recorded the conversation so I wouldn't miss any important facts.

It turns out that the 619th Quartermasters were attached to the 29th Infantry Division and he did indeed land on Omaha Beach in the first wave and his was one of the first boats to hit the beach. I asked him to share some of his thoughts while his LCV was heading to France across the Channel.  He said one thing that really stands out was this thought, "Jesus Christ, did they have to put me in with the assault troops".  He had volunteered and didn't quite expect to be in the initial assault on Normandy.

He remembered when the ramp dropped rushing to get off the boat, then suddenly being in chest deep water. He is 6'2" and was even taller back in those days. I joked with him, "A short guy like me would have drown".  He thought for a moment, and said, "No you wouldn't have"....then he paused again, "we would have helped you"....another pause and was choking back the tears, "we helped each other...that's how we got through it".

He was pinned down in the water for quite some time, moving from beach obstacle to beach obstacle for cover.  He said that the Germans were really dug in on the bluffs and mortar, machine gun, and small arms fire was very heavy.  He remembered bullets whizzing over head and around him constantly.  He said he was surprised that he did not get hit.  He further said, "You just didn't know what hell was going on".   

I asked him if he was administering any first aid during the first couple of hours. He stated, "The main thing was trying to survive yourself....I am not kidding anybody about that....we were concerned about our own health....my main goal at in the first hour was trying to get the hell off that beach as it was a hot spot". He further elaborated, "when we were in the water, bodies were floating everywhere and most that were hit died immediately or drowned".

I asked him if he can recall when he got the German helmet.  He couldn't remember if it was the first day but he knew that it was within the first day or two.  The helmet was taken from a German POW.  He also confirmed for me that he picked up the various items, K98 Bayonet, Hitler Youth Knife, Wound Badge, Belt Buckle early in the fighting in Normandy. I asked him if he mailed the items home or if he carried them with him.  He actually carried the helmet and items with him in a satchel through the rest of the War. Can you imagine that?  Capt. Aleff  totted this helmet with him hundreds of miles, for over a year.

Something interesting is that he was also present at the fighting at St. Lo in which one of my Uncles in the 30th ID was in. As most of you know, the 29th continued on into France and the fighting at St. Lo was fierce. I wasn't able to get much information on his experience later in the War as we spent a great deal of time discussing the Omaha Beach experience.

It was really a great to hear a first hand account from an Omaha Beach survivor. He lived what was depicted in Saving Private Ryan.  I encourage you fellows to get out there and talk with these Vets while we still have them as their days are few and many are already gone.

Until next time, happy hunting!

*****UPDATE***** November 20, 2010

I just received word this morning that Dr. (Capt) Howard Aleff passed away on Thursday, 11/18/2010.   I was saddened to hear of the loss of this great man.   Time is slipping away to meet these Veterans and hear their stories.   Embrace our remaining WWII Vets as we are down to only 10% are still living.  My condolences go out to the Aleff family and I know that Howard is now with his fallen comrades that didn't make it home from Normandy.  

Dave 

         

      

      


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Payment Methods and Shipping   

Cash, Check, Money Order, PayPal, Visa/MasterCard, and Bank Transfer are all accepted.   I also am pleased to accept layaways.   Simply pay 1/2 down, then pay the remaining balance within 30 days.  Once the balance is paid, I will ship your item promptly. 



There will be a 4.0% fee for PayPal purchases. For PayPal, simply provide me with your e-mail address and the item(s) you want and I will forward you a PayPal invoice.   MasterCard/Visa purchases include a 3.5% processing fee for US and international orders.

SHIPPING 

Items will be shipped after the check clears for items paid with personal checks. 

Shipping will be handled on a quote basis.  Generally we use UPS for domestic as the tracking is superior and the service very reliable.  We can  offer FedEx & USPS shipping as well.   

International shipping is also on a quote by quote basis.  I will ship to any country that shipping is available.   Be advised that if you are in a banned country, the risk for customs seizure is yours.  For International shipments I recommend using USPS Express International Mail as it can be tracked.  EMS is more expensive, however less services with the US Postal Service put you at risk for loss as the tracking capabilities are limited.  For the safest and best tracking as well as the fastest transit time, I recommend United Parcel Service, International Door to Door Service.  For shipments with low value declared without proper insurance, WW2GermanHelmets.com cannot accept liability for loss or damage.    

 

Please make checks and money orders payable as follows:

 

WW2GermanHelmets, Inc.

128 Silver Pine Drive  

Hendersonville NC 28739

USA  

Email:  GermanHelmets@morrisbb.net

Phone:  828-335-1944

 


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