Belgian M15

THE BELGIAN ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT FRONT 1914-1918 (Q 70765) General Herman Baltia of the Belgian Army. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205316111

General Information: Starting in November of 1915 the French supplied the Belgians with brown painted Model 1915 helmets.[1] These had lion head badges attached to the front. Unlike the French armed forces, which used helmets with different badges to represent distinct service branches, the Belgians had only one badge. According to one source, the Belgians received 210,000 M15s by the end of 1916.[2] It is not clear whether this figure represents the total number supplied by the French, but certainly Belgian M15 are far scarcer in today’s collector markets compared to those used by the French army.

The Belgian Gendarmerie used M15 helmets as well. These are usually painted black. There was an inter-war period version of the M15 used by the Belgians. These generally have drab green paint and a slightly different version of the lion badge.

Displayed Example: I purchased the helmet pictured here from Regimentals in the UK. At that time, it was an upgrade for my collection. I brought the Belgian M15 helmet it replaced to the Show of Shows militaria show in Louisville, Kentucky where I sold it to Malcolm Fisher, the owner of Regimentals. I told him that our exchanges had a nice symmetry to them.

The helmet currently in my collection has a shell size stamp “C” which was the largest size. The “2” stamp is a refinement of the helmet size. The sub-sizes 1, 2, and 3 were achieved by varying the thickness and configuration of the aluminum spacers between the liner and the helmet shell. They represent head sizes 60cm, 61cm, and 62cm respectively. A size C2, therefore, corresponds to a head size 61. Just above the size stamps on the interior of the helmet dome there is a black ink stamp showing an anchor with two letter “Cs” flanking both sides of the anchor. This is the logo for the firm Compagnie Colonial, which was one of the main manufactures of the M15. The helmet has the first-type, early-issue, one-piece liner.

The chinstraps on the French M15s were fragile and surviving examples often have repairs done by collectors over the years. On this helmet the rivet holding one end of the chinstrap came loose and the chinstrap has been secured by gluing the end pieces together.

Collector Notes: Belgian M15s in their original First World War configurations are relatively scarce items. I have not seen too many fakes of the type, but look out for repainted, less-valuable Gendarmerie helmets. The interwar versions of the M15s are also scarce and interesting things, but if you are aiming for a wartime version of the type be aware of the difference between WWI and post-war versions. The quickest differentiator is the color; Wartime versions are brown, while post-war ones are usually a drab green.


[1] Dagnas. 1984. pp 24

[2] Hasselgrove. 2006. pp 72


Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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