Steel helmet (Stahlhelm)
In 1939 the infantryman would have been wearing the M35 version of the steel helmet. This had a ‘rolled edge’, the difference between the M35 and very similar M40 helmet was that the M40 had stamped vent holes instead of the reinforced washer rings on the vents of the M35. After the M40 production was simplified and resulted in the M42 helmet that has a non-rolled edge. The helmet strap is buckled on the left hand side so it will not interfere with the aiming of the rifle. The helmet has ‘double decals’, the Wehrmacht eagle on the left hand side with the national colours on the right. In 1940 the national decal was abolished and later on in the war the eagle was discontinued. However decals, particularly the eagle, were often seen on helmets until the end of the war.
There was no way of attaching foliage or camouflage to the helmet so it is quite common to see the breadbag strap worn around the helmet in early war photos. Pieces of rubber from tyre inner tubes were also used. Later in the war helmets were painted with camouflage and 'chicken wire' or cloth covers were used.
It is also common in early photos to see helmets with the leather carrying strap affixed. This had a clip (like the one on the waterbottle strap) at the rear so that it could be secured to equipment. This strap could also serve as a means of attaching foliage.
M40 Steel helmet M40 Steel helmet with breadbag strap attached