Dennison U.S.A. 1944 Helmet Netting ------ “is it Live or is it Memorex”?

    Big Red here with a "BIG"question from "Chet Donnelly"...

      So, TAKE FIVE!

       Chet asks,

      "Big Red, is the Dennison U.S.A. 1944 net a real thing or not?"


      Good to hear from you Chet!, well within the...

      Aheem.. ahh ok Chet...

      Well, within the scope of collecting the M-1 helmet and it’s accessories, there are items of myth and legend that seem to cycle in endless debate among collectors as to their authenticity. Among these items is the Dennison U.S.A. 1944 helmet net.

      I have said it before and will say it again; the best weapon a collector can possess is education. Today I will put forth a caution; A Gentleman Collector and Historian does not convince themselves that something is authentic simply because they want it to be authentic.

      To best analyze this issue, let’s pass this case on to some far better deductive minds than mine….


      So Holmes, how precisely do Gentleman Collector and Historians deal with undocumented oddities like the

      Dennison net? 





      Skeptical science my good Watson. One proceeds with skeptical science, reserved caution and analytical deduction. 





      For example,
      Is vehicle camouflage type netting authentic for a WWII M-1 helmet?




      1. We know this type of netting was manufactured to conceal vehicles, or artillery and was abundantly available in all theaters of war.
      2. We know the Engineering Corps was willing to provide damaged nets for use as helmet netting.
      3. We know from Army correspondence in documented reports that GIs were cutting up old vehicle and artillery camouflage nets for use as helmet nets.
      4. And, we know from empirical evidence in the form of period photographs as well as surviving relics that this type of netting was used on M-1 helmets.

      So yes,

      this "type" of netting is authentic and was used with the M-1 helmet.







      Yes Holmes, but you’re forgetting the tag old boy.



      Oh my dear Watson, You forget to apply my precept, “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"?


      We have established, I hope, that vehicle camouflage netting existed in large quantity and was readily accessible to the American GI. Therefore this type of netting, as you would say, is real and correct for use with the M-1 helmet.


       We know that empirical evidence such as photographs will not assist us as the “tag” you adamantly mention would be conveniently sandwiched between the liner and metal pot. Also, no collector or historian has unearthed and made public any documented proof, as yet, to suggest that there ever was a contract for the manufacture of a U.S. helmet net other than the “Net, Helmet, with Band” of 1944.




      Now let us examine the evidence on the subject, as it currently stands. 




        • We can all agree that Quartermaster Corps (QMC) official reports and correspondence of the time clearly state that the Army was actively seeking to improve the camouflage characteristics of the M-1 helmet.
        • From these sources, we also know that the two main criteria were to,
        1. Disguise the distinctive outline of the helmet.
        2. To reduce glare from the helmets painted surface, especially when wet.
        • We know that three of the main options considered for use as potential camouflage were,
              1. Fabric
              2. Paint
              3. Netting








                • We know that the most aggressive venture taken by the Army was the contract for Westinghouse to paint liners with a “Jungle pattern”.
                • We know the most common solution was the use of the British Mk. 2 helmet net and that damaged vehicle netting was available in abundance and that soldiers were actively cutting them down and using them on their helmets.


                • We know that the use of fabric or paint was eliminated sometime late in 1943 early 1944 in preference of netting.
                • We know that the Army was aware of the benefits provided by the British Mk. 2 net, which was probably the reason the net option was chosen, but ruled it out because the benefits were greatly reduced when the small square pattern was stretched into an elongated diamond pattern after being forced over the M-1.
                • We know that around May of 1944 the Army Ground Forces tested one of the small square netting options suggested by the Engineer Corps.
                • We know the Engineer Corps did not recommend large opening pattern nets for use with the M-1 helmet.
                • We know that the only documented net manufactured in the US was the “Net, Helmet, with Band” and that it became standard issue in the fall of 1944.





                    So Watson,

                    What the advocates for the Dennison U.S.A. 1944 net, who believe this net is in fact an actual manufactured and issue item, want us to believe is; that the Army ordered the "Dennison" net, which adds less prevention to glare and even less ability to disguise the helmets outline than does the British Mk. 2 net which was in use at the time and readily available in large numbers, at the same time they ordered the "M-1944 net, with band" to replace the British Mk. 2 net.

                    So Chet,

                    Unlike a Sherlock Holmes’s novel we can't be sure of all the impossibilities when dealing with History. Nonetheless, I believe that the last impossible conclusion that remains, fraud, should not be accepted as fact but it should be regarded with the highest consideration as the truth.

                    So, what does this mean?

                    Is the Dennison U.S.A.1944 Net a real thing?

                    It is a cut down piece of "real" vehicle camouflage netting.

                    Did the U.S. Army spend their precious war funds to buy this type of net specifically for use with the M-1 helmet?

                    Based on the evidence we currently have, the answer is No.


                    if your friends want to know how you gained your intel, tell em

                    Big Red Says!

                    FIVE'S OVER  -  MOVE OUT!


                    • Chris Lewis

                      Well done!

                    • Ron Doyle

                      Recall first seeing the “Dennison” nets with paper lable in Hayes Otupaliks mail order catalofs late 70s early 80s. Even as a young collector the label to me on examples I saw appeared to be added to enhance the sale.

                    • Kevin

                      Outstanding piece , keep it up !

                    • Eric Oehlberg

                      Mr. Holmes. Do we have any documentation, i.e. contract specs/data, for the vehicle camouflage netting?

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