French M15 Colonial/Navy

THE FRENCH ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 (Q 78914) Members of the Vietnamese Royal Family in French service at Le Breuil, May 1917. Left to right: Prince Bun Vien, Count Ung Triel, Count Ung Thien, Count Bun Dong. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

General Information: The French Model 1915 with a flaming bomb and anchor badge was issued to navy and French colonial troops. The helmets used by colonial troops were sometimes painted brown. French colonial troops from Islamic countries were issued helmets with a crescent moon and the letters “RF.” I presume the helmets with the anchor badges were reserved for troops from non-Islamic colonies, but I have not seen any documentation on this. In 1929, France introduced a new statutory badge for the M15 helmet, consisting of just an anchor, was for colonial and naval troops.

Displayed Example: The size markings on French M15s were often embossed on the leather liners. These markings frequently become faint or invisible over time, but this example is nicely stamped “57B1.” The “B” represents the shell size in the A-B-C sizing scheme used by the French in the First World War. The “1” corresponds to the smallest of three liner sizes that were installed in the size B, or medium sized shells. The head sizes for the B shells were 57, 58, and 59. A B1 marked liner would be for a size 57 head. The “57” stamp is therefore somewhat redundant. Likely, not everybody in the French armed forces were privy to the A-B-C, 1-2-3 sizing scheme, so having the numerical size would have been helpful.

Collector Notes: There are helmets with fake badges circulating in collector markets, but they tend to be not very convincing. The fakers are getting better, however, so be careful.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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