Posted 2 years ago
The WWI era “Casque Adrian” (named for the designer, August-Louis Adrian) became the standard helmet for the French Army in 1915, and was soon adopted by the Belgians, Italians, Russians, Romanians, and others.
This particular helmet bears the insignia of French colonial troops from North Africa – Zouaves, Tirailleurs, and I think some others. During WWI, large numbers of colonial troops were brought to France to fight, so this helmet could have seen the trenches of France as easily as the sands of Algeria. Unlike other French troops, these helmets were painted brown instead of the standard horizon blue. Additionally, being lower on the supply chain, many of these troops were still wearing the Model 1915 helmet into WWII.
My amateur CSI skills tell me that the original owner wasn’t wearing the helmet when the bullet came crashing through it. My main evidence is that there aren’t any blood stains inside the helmet, and the thin leather liner hasn’t deteriorated as would be expected if left in contact with blood and gore. Further, the bullet’s upward flight from the lower rear is a bit strange, although obviously quite possible. I thought perhaps some GI used it for target practice, just to make the helmet more interesting, so I checked the bullet hole diameter with my micrometer. The bullet hole is .315” diameter– a bit smaller than the German 8mm (.323”) bullet, but larger than the American .30 Caliber (.308”) or British .303 (.312”) bullets. Perhaps it really was a German round, and the metal contracted a bit after the round went through. In any case, the bullet’s flight would have been destabilized as it passed through the helmet on level with the leather head band and “keyholed” the helmet, coming out of the crown semi-sideways.