It’s June 6, 1944 – D-Day – and Canadian soldiers are under deadly fire as they disembark onto Juno Beach. The men are among the first wave of troops who’ve been tasked with seizing this stretch of French coastline from the Nazis. German opposition is stiff. But one thing that perhaps reassures the men is the fact that they’re wearing Mark III steel helmets – the latest in British-made protective headgear. And while each helmet won’t necessarily stop a direct hit, these vital pieces of personal armor can certainly deflect the lethal shrapnel that’s flying around.
British Medical Research Council scientists had advanced the Mark III helmet in 1941 – although it wasn’t until D-Day that it was ever used. Prior to that, in fact, the standard British-issue helmet had been the Brodie. With its distinctive rim, the Brodie had actually been in use by the British, Americans and others since WWI.