« Battle damaged ». Exactly 76 years after the incident, these three helmets alone bear witness to the horror of combat, far from the sanitized vision often broadcast by the cinema. They were recently found, three weeks ago, in the town of Sourdeval-les-Bois, between Coutances, Gavray and Villedieu-les-Poêles. Discovered under a barrel, still covered in dust, these three helmets are riddled with impact from the fighting. We can recognize a camouflaged German helmet from a Heer unit, an SS helmet with some remains of camouflage as well as a heavily damaged American light helmet.

Given the location, one can easily think of the delaying battles waged by the Germans, survivors of the 353rd Infantry Division and grenadiers of the kampfgruppe of the 17th SS “Götz von Berlichingen” division. Facing them, the GI’s of the 18th and 26th infantry regiments of the “Big Red One” advance on July 30 and 31, 1944 towards Villedieu-les-Poêles. We are in the midst of exploiting the results of “Operation Cobra”. Overwhelmed, the Germans are trying by all means to prevent the total collapse of the front in the face of constant pressure from American troops. It is in this context that these three helmets are abandoned. They are witnesses to the battle today. Visible at the Normandy Victory Museum

The set of helmets, just after the discovery
The three helmets just after the discovery
Heavily Impacted Heer's Helmet
Washing with soapy water reveals the remnants of the two-tone camouflage and SS badge.
Refurbishment of the German helmet
Heavily impacted Heer’s helmet with remnants of camouflage in two tones, green and sand