French M15 Chasseur

THE FRENCH ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 (Q 80290) A French soldier displaying equipment of a light infantry private (chasseurs a pied) in Vincennes, 7 September 1916. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

General Information: The chasseur’s badge was one of eight statutory badges used on the French Model 1915 helmet by various branches of the French armed forces during the First World War. The chasseur helmets are sometimes referred to by collectors somewhat erroneously as “cavalry” or “sharpshooter” helmets. So, who were the chasseurs? The word “chasseur” means “hunter.” The horn incorporated into the helmet badge is the symbol of the hunt as horns were traditionally used to communicate to other hunters, drivers, or hounds. There were basically two types of chasseur units: chasseurs à pied and chasseurs à cheval. These were, respectively, light infantry and light cavalry troops. The chasseurs were trained as expert marksmen and as rapid action troops. At the start of the First World War, there were 31 battalions of chasseurs à pied. Twelve of these were chasseurs alpins who specialized in mountain warfare. Each infantry division was expected to have one battalion of chasseurs à pied .[1] [2]

Displayed Example: I bought this helmet on eBay many years ago. It is a size C which was the largest of the three helmet sizes produced during the war. The helmet retains its original horizon-blue factory paint throughout. The liner is the first-pattern type made of one piece of leather. The liner has some mouse nibbles; mice seem to be drawn to these helmet liners. The chinstrap is in a fragile state, but it is all there.

Collector Notes: French chasseur’s helmets from the First World War are relatively scarce. Only approximately 8% of French infantry soldiers wore these helmets.[3] They do, however, pop up from time-to-time in collectors’ markets. They can be found, but it may require some patience. You can expect to pay twice what you might pay for a comparable M15 infantry helmet.

[1] “Chasseur.” Wikipedia. Accessed January 5, 2023.

[2] “Chasseur: French soldier.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed January 7, 2023.

[3] Average French WWI battalion size = 1,400, Average French WWI division = 17,500. 1,400/17,500 = 8%.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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