This wonderful late war example of an every day fighting man's helmet came to me directly from the vet's son a man named Mike Skidmore from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The first photos shows the US vet himself Charles E. Skidmore a glider pilot who later published books about his experiences during the war. There is a letter from Mike about his dad and the background to how he acquired the helmet during the war in a section down below.
The helmet has 90% of it's original feld grau textured paint remaining on the outside and was made by the Sachsische Emaillier u. Stanzwerke, Lauter, Germany who started out in the war as SE but in 1942 changed their helmet stampings to HKP in an effort to through off allied bombers. From my years of helmet handling I have found the HKP used the thickest and more coarsely textured paint and this helmet is no exception with nice rough paint on the outside and smooth enamel on the inside. The rear lot number is 3655 which according to Brian Ice's lot data book places the date of factory production to August 1943 a full year after they stopped applying the Heer eagle.
The liner is well used during the war and as a little bit on the dry side meaning the the German soldaten who wore it really did wear it on a daily basis and probably sweat a lot of man hours slightly salting the inside the leather. Fragments of the original chinstrap are still present and one of the leather tongues on the liner is marked with the number 59.
A beautiful no frills, all original and completely untouched example and in a nice large size 66 with incredible direct vet provenance!!
Please call, text or email me if interested.
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GERMAN HELMET FACTORY PRODUCTION CODES
(Every original German helmet produced from 1935 to 45 had two factory stampings punched into the side and rear or both in the rear. The alpha numeric number refers to the factory location and the inside metric circumference in centimeters. The rear lot number refers to the production run and was used as a quality control measure. The font styles used at each factory were slightly different but highly consistent throughout the war and so fakes or reproductions will either not have these numbers at all or they will use the wrong font style or letter spacing and so are easily identified as post war made.)
(FS or EF)-Emaillierwerke AG, Fulda, Germany
(ET or ckl)-Eisenhuttenwerke, Thale, Germany
(Q)-Quist, Esslingen, Germany
(NS)-Vereinigte Deutsche Nikelwerke, Schwerte, Germany
(SE or hkp)-Sachsische Emaillier u. Stanzwerke, Lauter, Germany
MESSAGE FROM HIS SON - Mike Skidmore
"This Helmet was taken from a German soldier who was a translator for my father, a U.S. Army Air Corps Glider Pilot on the trip back to England on a American LST with German Prisoners. Here is my fathers account of the Normandy D-Day plus 1 mission/battle and trip back to England
Compiled from the memoir of Flight Officer Charles E. Skidmore, Jr., Glider pilot with the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group
I knew right from his pilot’s briefing for the Invasion of Normandy that a glider pilot’s life could be a short one. The group briefing was somber right up until the final moment, when I recalled the following: "Sir," asked a glider pilot, "What do we do after we land our gliders?" There was a brief period of silence, after which the briefing officer, a non-flying person, admitted, "I don't know. I guess we never really thought of that." I was thinking that the glider pilots were actually considered to be expendable, the best answer to the question came from the glider pilot sitting next to me: "Run like hell."
One of the briefers, a 91st Troop Carrier Squadron's captain named Merriman, showed pilots that certain officers were going to make sure that they had the support they needed to make their destination. I recalled the captain explaining: “Glider pilots will release when the pilot of the C-47 leading the formation starts a gradual turn to the left to return to the coast. If any C-47 pilots cuts his glider off during an invasion without sufficient reason, and there shouldn't be any, he'd better keep on going because if he comes back here, ”I'll be waiting for him" and a courts-martial will be convened immediately. I had never heard of any tow pilot needlessly cutting his glider off during the several invasions that took place on the European continent.
Breakfast was at 4:00 in the morning featuring honest to goodness fried eggs and a huge piece of chocolate cake. I suspected that the cook believed that he was cooking a last meal for us, and that the food glider pilots liked most was fried eggs and cake. Where he got the fresh eggs, I'll never know. We hadn't had any in the previous 4 months we'd been in England, the condemned ate the hearty meal.
The flight from England to France was mostly silent, but just as we neared the Landing Zone area with the supplies and 13 troops, we passed through the thunder of anti-aircraft, rushing wind, turbulence and the roar of C-47 radials over the Normandy coastline. When the other pilot and I cut ourselves free from the tow planes for the landing, we caught a burst of machine gun fire from the ground which missed my head by less than a foot, and then stitched the right wing from end to end almost tearing it off. The first bullet - I was flying copilot - just missed my head as we turned our plane to the left, and that’s why it didn't get us. If we'd gone another second farther (or a half second) it would have gotten us both right in the face and we'd have probably all gone down.
The Germans had flooded our proposed landing area, so we landed in 3 feet of water. I went out the side of the pilot section by tearing off the canvas and tumbling in the water after first removing my flak vest. One pilot didn't have the presence of mind to take off his jacket and fell into a hole where the water was over his head. Luckily for him, the other glider pilot rescued him after a series of frantic dives.
Upon landing, we discovered the source of the ground fire that nearly got me. It turned out to be a bunker containing about a dozen conscripted Polish soldiers with one German in charge. After the glider infantrymen from several gliders, including ours, directed a hail of rifle fire at the bunker, the resistance ceased. There was silence in the bunker, and then a single shot. Then there were shouts and laughter, and the Poles emerged with their hands held high and surrendered. They weren't about to fight the Americans so they simply shot the German sergeant.
On the edge of the field where we landed, I saw a burning C-47. “I could still make out the number on the tail and I knew it had been flown by a good buddy of mine. “All aboard were killed, I heard later”.
By nightfall, I had joined up with a group that was looking for a place to bed down for the night. They came upon some GIs digging holes in a small field. Figuring out that misery loves company, several of us starting digging at the edge of the field, then we heard someone shouting at us:
"Hey, you guys can't dig in here."
"Because we're starting a temporary American cemetery here."
“That did it. We went elsewhere”.
Following our general instructions to get back to the coast and board a ship to England, I spent some time along the way assisting a crew manning a 105 howitzer and later helped a communications outfit.
Once at the beach, glider pilots were assigned to load German prisoners on to LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry). From there, the prisoners were transferred to LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) to be moved to prison camps in England.
I hitched a ride in an LST to make the return trip across the English Channel. The ship was crammed with 1,200 German prisoners on the main tank deck and only “4 GI cans” to serve as toilets. And just because he made it off the beach, didn’t mean he was out of danger. Among the 1200 were several
Officers who were pretty well subdued, except for one Nazi storm trooper. This lieutenant insisted that
Every German prisoner passing by him give the Nazi salute. One glider pilot finally tried of this and told
A German Corporal to tell the lieutenant without the preliminary Nazi salute that if he, the Nazi, saluted one more time, he , the glider pilot, intended to emphasize his point with a bayonet on the end of his rifle. That was the end of the saluting.
“The LST was anchored next to an American oil tanker, which later attracted the attention of a German E-torpedo boat. “The E-boat fired one torpedo into the tanker, which exploded and sank almost immediately. One sailor, along with a dog who was on top of the mast as lookout, were the sole survivors. The LST crew fished them out of the water. The E-boat's luck ended with the sinking, because at practically the same second as the American ship’s sinking, a British ground attack aircraft swooped down with rockets and machine gun fire and destroyed the German attacker. At the end, it was like watching a newsreel as we observed the whole drama, from the deck of our LST.”
A couple more incidents on the boat: The German commander of the E-Boat was taken from the water suffering from a wound in his leg. I helped carry him to the operating table below deck where an American medic got ready to work on the wound. When the medic indicated that he wanted to cut apart the officer’s prized seal-skin pants, that latter raised all kinds of hell. It seemed he prized the pants above his well-being. “If he wants them that bad, let him keep them,” the sympathetic medic said. So 3 of us pulled the pants off of the wounded leg. It must been dreadfully painful, but the Kraut never uttered a sound, and that reminded me of another German who caught his ring on a nail while descending on a ship’s ladder. The ring tore into his flesh so badly the same medic had to take a surgical saw and remove the ring. He did it without painkiller, which for some reason the German refused. Again, the pain must have been terrible, but again no sound. The Glider Pilots and the German Prisoners made it back to England OK on my ship, and were glad to be there, and I imagine the Germans were glad to be there, too.
I got fairly well acquainted with the German corporal that was my interpreter, helping me for 2 days. I discovered he was the son of a German father and British mother. At the outbreak of war in 1939 when he was still a youngster, the family was visiting and got stuck in Germany. He was eventually drafted into the German army. I believed his story enough to give him a note of appreciation to take along with him to his eventual prison camp in England. I hope he was able to regain his English citizenship, because that’s what he wanted.
As I stepped off the ship I gave thanks that I had survived my first combat mission against the enemy. I guess I was just lucky to get off so easy, a lot of other guys weren’t so lucky.
As I record this on April 4, 1988, this is what I remember as a Glider Pilot on the invasion of France in June 1944. I landed a mile and half from Sainte Mele Eglise, the scene for the movie ”The Longest Day” where in actor Red Buttons witnessed a Day-long battle while swinging in his parachute from a church roof.
Charles E. Skidmore Jr. – US Army Air Corps, Flight Officer Glider Pilot, 91st TCS, 439th TCG .
I have included a photo of Flight Officer - Glider Pilot Charles E. Skidmore Jr. in the photo section."
From Mike Skidmore
I forgot to tell you I have listed some books on amazon books about my dad. https://www.amazon.com/GUTS-GLIDER-PILOTS-WORLD-WAR/dp/B08FP9XGXK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=charles%20e%20skidmore%20jr&qid=1597953531&s=books&sr=1-2&fbclid=IwAR1BD-pXBGBmDhClpBrWAKbGdaJ2FU1Aj7kONq7nsu-MoRAR-X4f1XpufiM