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    Pickelhaube worn in flamethrower training

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    I bought a postcard on eBay that nobody wanted because the image was so tiny, but when you enlarge it you find something quite interesting.

    The flamethrower is the Wex M.1917, introduced in May of that year, yet the men--from the Garde-Reserve-Pionier-Regiment--are wearing Pickelhauben with the spike in place. Several of the helmets are uncovered, showing the Garde eagle.

    For flamethrower training pioneers usually wore the Stahlhelm or the M?tze. I wonder if they wore the Pickelhaube for the benefit of the photographer...

    The photo was taken at a camp in Sennelager.

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    Was just going to say... ".... for the photographer..." till I saw you already had that thought.

    Were there enough steal helmets to go around at that time to allow units to use them in training? I have read a few accounts of units leaving the front handing helmets to the new unit arriving.



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    I have dozens of photos of flamethrower troops training with steel helmets and/or soft caps, but this is the only one I have of a flamethrower squad with Pickelhauben. I could see them wearing it with the spike removed, but with the spike in place? It just seems unnecessarily cumbersome.

    On the other hand, I have an actual combat photo taken on February 21, 1916, at Verdun. In the background is a flamethrower squad armed with an early-model Kleif M.1915. The Kleif carrier (the guy in back) is wearing a steel helmet, while the lance operator is wearing a covered Pickelhaube with the spike still attached.

    I guess if it was good enough for combat, it was good enough for training.

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    • 2 weeks later...

    The first unit to receive the new Stahlhelm, at Verdun, was Sturm=Bataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr), and soon thereafter the men of Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment (Flammenwerfer) also received them (when it was still an odd battalion of about 10 companies). While I have heard of infantry troops at Verdun turning their steel helmets over to their replacements when being relieved when the new helmets were still in short supply, I don't know of the two above elite units having to do so, and of course they were not relieved in the conventional sense.

    While officers wore the Pickelhaube thruout the war on ceremonial occasions, such as reviews, I am surprised that EM of Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment even had access to them in mid-1917 and later. I would think "that it was done for the photographer", but even that was odd; in mid-war, 1916, as illustrated in the succession over time of German war bond drive posters, the classic image of the elite German soldier shifted from the soldiers of the old traditional regiments in Pickelhaube to depictions of troopers of the new elite storm units such as Rohr and the G=R=P=R.

    So even the idea of "for the photographer" was rather odd in 1917. It could have been the quirk of an individual company commander of G=R=P=R; these units often were quite independent in some ways.

    Bob Lembke

    Edited by bob lembke
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