General Information: There were eight statutory badges authorized for use by different branches of the French armed forces in the First World War. The badge with a breast plate and helmet was for engineers (“genie”). (See French Model 1915)
Displayed Example: I purchased this helmet this helmet in 2007 from Le Beret Vert in France. It is a rare example of an early-production Model 1915 with its original shinney blue enamel paint. Typically, these early helmets were repainted with the darker matt blue-gray paint. The color on this helmet is what collectors refer to as “horizon blue.” The manufacturer is Japy. Japy helmets can be readily identified by the lack of rivets connecting the visor and cape sections and by the bead at the bottom of the shell which is not uniformly round as it on M15s produced by other companies. The helmet size, 57, is stamped in ink in the dome and embossed on the liner. The liner is the first type which was made from a single piece of leather. The chinstrap is detached at one end, which is something commonly seen with these old helmets.
Collector Notes: French M15s with Engineer badges are more difficult to find than standard infantry or artillery helmets, but they are not rare. French M15s with true horizon blue paint are somewhat scarce, particularly if you are trying to find one in very good condition.
* Private collection