The use of the German WW1 helmet by the
Finnish Army, 1916-1945

-- by Jukka Juutilainen --

Historical Background

At the outbreak of the First World War, Finland was a part of the Imperial Russian Empire. In the winter of 1914/15, several Finnish students made contact with Imperial Germany, asking for a military training in order to fight against the Imperial Russian Army. In January 1915, the Germans allowed that 200 persons could be given military trained for 4 to 6 weeks during a "scout course".

In February 1915, 186 Finns started this Pathfinder-course in Holstein near Lockstedt. The leader of the course was major Maximillian Bayer. In August 1915, it was proposed by Germany that the length of the course was extended and the number of men to be trained to be increased to 2 000. The Ausbildungstruppe Lockstedt was raised.

From October 1915 to the spring of 1916, additional Finnish soldiers were trained in Lockstedt. The Königlicher Preussischer Jägerbattailon Nr 27 , was raised and the Finnish soldiers were engaged in the war effort as from May 9th, 1916. The battalion strength increased to 1 499 men. About 20% were students, 20% workers and the remaining 60% was composed out of farmers, businessmen and other trades.

On May, 31st, 1916 the battalion was sent to the Eastern front. During the summer of 1916 it was engaged near the Misse-river and in the autumn near Riga. In December 1916, the battalion was sent to Libau to rest and to be retrained. In January 1917, the battalion fought near the Aa-river. In March 1917, they went back to Libau to get new courses and they were trained to go back to Finland.

The German Empire started to ship war material for Finnish rebellions ( the white army ) in the autumn of 1917. At the same time, soldiers of the Königlicher Preussischer Jägerbattailon Nr 27 went back to Finland. The independance of Finland was declared on December 6th, 1917 followed by the outbreak of the Independence War..

On February, 25th 1918, most of the soldiers of the Königlicher Preussischer Jägerbattailon Nr 27 came back to Finland via Wasa.

During the Independence War, the men originating from the Königlicher Preussischer Jägerbattailon Nr 27 formed the backbone of the Finnish White Army. They were leaders of troops and instructors.

In the 1920's and 30's and later in the Second World War, these soldiers occupied important positions and senior ranks in the regular army. Soldiers, trained in Lockstedt, could use the title Jäger in front of their rank (for example: Jägermajor).

Following the example of the men who were trained in Germany during the First World War, many young Finish people went to Germany to receive military training during 1941-43. Almost 2 000 Finish soldiers were trained and fought at the Eastern front, enlisted in the Waffen SS (Wiking-division ). This battalion was sent back to Finland in the spring of 1943 and were sent to different positions in the Finnish army. For example one of my father's platoon leader was an ex-oberstrumfuhrer in Northern Karelia.

As the world change, the things change too... the soldiers trained during WW1 were almost national heroes, but Waffen-SS trained men were blamed.

The use of the German WW1 helmet by the Finnish Army

German model M16, M17, M18 and Austro-Hungarian M18 helmets were used in Finland from 1917 to 1945.

Helmets used during WW1

During WW1, the Finnish troops from Jägerbattalion 27 had the normal green colored helmets.

My collection contains 3 Si66 helmets with original green colors.

The first one originated from a member of Jägerbattalion (a Jägermajor who died in 1923) as I bought it from a relative. The shell was damaged in a fire. (Si66/BI 219). It has a field-grey colour and a leather liner with three pads.

The second one has a field-grey (green) finsih, Si66/BI 378. The owner of this helmets was also a relative of an old colonel.

Finally, the third one has a camo color schema painted over the original green color, and was used in WW2. This helmet belonged to a lieutenant colonel of my fathers regiment. I bought the helmet from the colonel's daughter. It has the original green color inside and camo colors outside over the original green color (BI 232).

It also has a little Finnish modification: the chinstrap has riffle m/91 hooks!

Helmets used post-WW1

At the end of WW1, troops of the Königlicher Preussischer Jägerbattailon Nr 27, came back too Finland with the German Baltic Sea Navy and were involved in the Independence War from 1918.

It is observed that many helmets found in Finland today, have a clay-gray color schema. One theory says that these helmets were used by the German Baltic Sea Navy, engaged in battles in Finland during the spring of 1918.

I was able to observe 5 of these helmets. The air vents have usually the dimension of a size 66,68 helmet. I don't think they were used together with the Stirnpanzer or Frontal Helmet Plate. One helmet seen had the typical air vents of a size 64 helmet with the little ring near the shell.

Two of the shells were over painted; one as apple-green (052F)and the other as dark green outside. Potentially, these were used in the Second World War.

The Finnish army used German and Austrian WW1 helmets up to the second World War. Many of these helmets have an olive-green color schema, which was most probably applied during the 1920's or 1930's.

Photograph of a WW2 used m/17 with metal liner. WW1 helmets were thus used during the Second World War (BF64).

The Finish Army bought initially 35.000 helmets from Germany in 1922. In the late 1920s they had about 80 000 German m/16, m/17, m/18 and Austro-Hungarian helmets.

Some of the olive green helmets may have been painted in Germany during the 1920's or later in Finland. Somehow all the W66-helmets, which I have seen (6 ) are all painted same way; hand painted olive green R 2012 N, R 2018 N, R 2028 N, R 20..., R 201.... and E450.

Some of the helmets have retained their original field-gray color as TJ68. And a couple of the shells ET64, BF64 has that dark olive brown color.

Examples of Austrian-Hungarian helmets used in the Finish Army

.
Austrian-Hungarian helmet used by Heavy Anti-Aircraft troops ( 88 mm ) in the Helsinki area during 1944.

It is painted dark green, very much similar as the original Hungarian m/38 helmets.

Austro-Hungarian helmet with British made flying glasses. Used by an old sergeant, while he was a motorcycle-driver in WW2 (with original grass-green color ).

Continuation War M16 Austria-Hungarian helmet, overpainted with dark green with a rounded bomb and two guns over swastika sign.

Helmets used post-WW2

The Finish Army did not use the WW1 helmets after WW2. Some of the helmets were stored in depots for potential later use. I think almost all were over painted with dark army green . Some have newer Finnish made liners. Some sources say that 5 000 ( or 20 000 ) of these helmets were sold USA in 1980's to be used in Hollywood movies. A friend of mine is working in the Finnish Infantry and he told that a little amount of these WW1 helmets are still used as gift present in military places. Usually they are over painted and have Finnish liners.

I have bought all of my helmets from private persons, vets and their relatives, so I'm quite sure they have been used in WW1 and WW2 with original colors and some 20's over painted and WW2 over painted colors. I have some post-WW2 painted-versions, but I do not include them in my collections.

Related Articles

click hereThe Steel Helmet
click hereThe German Stirnpanzer (30/3/99)

Picture Gallery

In order to view a larger picture, please click on each thumbnail.


From Jägermajor
M16
right
id
left
id
liner
id
detail
M18
W66/R2012N
Olive
green
(post
WW1)
id
liner
black ink
stamps AK66
M16,
Austria
M16
(Si66/BI219)

- Clay-grey
ÅL64/SC41F
id,spiked
helmet
liner
- - M16, inside M16 Austria
Hungarian
M16
(Si66/BI219)
id
chin strap

M16,
Austrian
W/64 L13
id
right
id
inside
id
liner
id
detail
id
Shell
BF64 BF64, chin
strap
BI232 inside

M16, Si66, M17, BF64 M18, TJ68 M18, TJ68
liner
M18, W66 M16, Si66 id id
liner
id
liner

id, name
'Riessling'
id, pad
'Riessling'
Austrian
Olive-green
WW2
id id
liner
id
liner
id
liner
id
detail


Reference

I would like to thank Jukka Juutilainen from Finland for his contribution. This pages shows some examples of his impressive helmet collection. Jukka is collecting German WW1, WW2 helmets for over 2 years.

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A site devoted to Great War Militaria (WW1) and collectibles. We have many topics covering the following studies : World War 1 Steel Helmets, Spiked helmets, various headgear including peaked caps or képi 's , (schirmmütze), uniforms, gas mask, infantry troops and equipment , badges, Uniform and Equipment of many nations, including Germany, France, Belgium and the UK. We also have some links to reenactment groups.