The Price of Liners to China – Lend-Lease

 Big Red here with a question for all you M-1 helmet lovers.


Did you know many of the Chinese Nationalist Soldiers that fought alongside American soldiers in Burma wore M-1 helmets with Hawley liners? 

In July 1937 military forces of the Empire of Japan invaded China for, amongst other reasons, the acquisition of natural resources needed to expand their Empire. History records this conflict as the Sino-Japanese war which lasted from 1937 to 1941, not because it ended in 1941 but because the conflict was absorbed into the greater conflict of World War II.

Prior to 1937, Chinese forces had worn both the British Mk I and the American M1917-A1 helmets as well as some Japanese and German look-a-like helmets manufactured in China. In the mid-1930s Germany trained several Chinese Divisions that were equipped with the standard German Stahlhelm of 1935 while other units imported the French Adrian helmet. The use of helmets by Chinese troops seems to have been determined by the regional location of the force and the main influence of their trainer’s country of origin. The only commonality these helmets shared was the addition of the national emblem of the Republic of China in the form of an enameled pin or painted stencil of the white sun on blue sky insignia.

By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Chinese Nationalist Army was close to complete exhaustion and their ability to resist the Japanese invasion was at a minimum. One of the reasons the Nationalist Forces were able to continue the fight against Japan was an influx of equipment and supplies from Allied countries.

In the case of the United States, this aid was made possible by the adoption of the Lend-Lease Act of March 1941 which began with the supply of 100 P-40B fighter planes made famous by the  AVG (American Volunteer Group), better known as the Flying Tigers.

Amongst the equipment supplied by the United States to the Nationalist Forces, under the Lend-Lease program, was the new M-1 helmet.

M-1 helmets would have found their way to the X and Y-Forces who fought in Burma (1943-1945). These forces were trained and equipped by both the British and Americans resulting in a mixture of uniforms, weapons and helmets. Based on the limited documents and photographs that survive, Mk-II helmets, used by these forces, were adorned with Indian-made nets while the M-1 helmets used are often seen with the white sun on blue sky insignia applied on its left. 

Although the contribution of the Chinese forces that fought in the China Burma India Theatre (CBI) is often overlooked, their continued resistance forced Japan to keep over 1,000,000 Japanese soldiers in theatre that otherwise would have been used to reinforce the fight against the Americans in the South Pacific.

 Now you know….


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Big Red Says!




3 commentaires

  • Stephen C Frey

    Wow awesome history.

  • Todd Roussell

    As always very cool information

  • Nick Barba
    great article. when will you put out a book with all this info. in it. I’ll buy one.

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