Baltimore Sun War Correspondent’s Camouflage Helmet #26

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Baltimore Sun War Correspondent’s Camouflage Helmet #26

Howard M. Norton, Baltimore Sun War Correspondent’s Camouflage Helmet worn by him throughout the North Africa and Italian campaigns…His helmet is an early front seam US M1 steel helmet with fixed bales, khaki straps and Hawley liner…The helmet shell is heavily camouflaged with a very thick mixture of paint and sand…Of particular note is his “War Correspondent” typed label taped to the interior of the shell…A dramatic US helmet with a significant historical connection…This helmet had descended from Mr. Norton through his family until sold to me.

Mr. Norton was the first US War Correspondent to report Benito Mussolini’s Death, the biggest scoop of the war for the Baltimore Sun newspaper.


Following is an excerpt from Howard Norton’s account of the scene after the execution of Benito Mussolini. His dispatch, published April 30, 1945, was the first eyewitness verification of the Italian dictator’s death.

“With Italian Partisans in Milan, April 29 [By Radio] — The body of Benito Mussolini lies in the mud in the Piazza Loreto here this morning and thousands of Milanese are fighting their way through crushing crowds for an opportunity to spit on it.

The enormous shaved head and loose meaty jowls of the fallen Duce are resting on the breast of his mistress, Clara Petacci, 25-year-old daughter of a Milan doctor, who, with Mussolini and about twelve other high Fascists, was given a hasty trial and shot by Partisans near the town of Dongo yesterday at 4:10 in the afternoon.

Lying in grotesque positions, in a mass of blood and gore around their leader, are other Fascists shot with him. They were all dumped there without ceremony after dark yesterday by Partisans who brought them to Milan in a moving van from the town where they were tried and executed.

This particular spot was chosen by the Partisans to display the bodies for sentimental reasons. It was there that fifteen innocent victims were executed by the Fascists and their bodies left exposed for a full day.” Baltimore Sun

Link to video describing Mr. Norton’s historic account of Mussolini’s execution:

From the book Combat Correspondants The Baltimore Sun in WWII…Howard Norton, the helmet’s wearer, in dispatches to his newspaper described the chaos caused by a Japanese shell hitting the US Navy Sub Chaser he was on off the coast of Guam during the July 21, 1944 invasion of the island…

“Japanese shore batteries did not do much firing today, but one of them did enough to convince this correspondant that his aim was excellent”…”Suddenly, and without warning, a shell burst in the water off the starboard side…there was another violent burst close to the starboard side and several pieces of shrapnel tore through the wooden cabin…”I hardly hit the deck when a third shell burst with a terrific roar smack on the forward guns’ ammunition cases…The three men handling the ammunition were killed instantly. The steward’s mate, beheaded and dismembered, lay beneath the gun. The yeoman and the seaman, both badl;y mangled, were thrown against the rail. A pharmacist, the only man aboard qualified to give expert first aid, was severely wounded in the chest and unable to move. A seaman, struck in the groin, appeared to have little chance of surviving. Men crouching on the other side of me were badly hit and bleeding. The right arm of the man nearest the rail dangled from a thread of flesh. The man on the inside was wounded on the hip and shoulder by shrapnel which passed through the cabin wall.”

This correspondant…on surveying my own personal damage I found the metal visor of my helmet had deflected a bit of shrpanel and that another small piece had passed the jutting forepart of the pith lining. So much blood was spilled over me from my injured shipmates that I had difficulty convincing the skipper I was not injured…”

“…The cabin was riddled with shrapnel: the magazine flooded: the radio knocked out; bits of human flesh mingled with the kapok filling of life preservers…The slippery film made footing uncertain….the uninjured crewmen gathered up the remains of the dead, scrubbed the decks and plugged the shrapnel holes.”

This article brings a serious personal aspect to the historical nature of the helmet shown here. It doesn’t hurt that the reporting was professional and well written. a firsthand account of a very bloody few moments that altered many lives in an instant.

Please note the areas on the helmet rim and liner hole where the shrpanel passed through…on surveying my own personal damage I found the metal visor of my helmet had deflected a bit of shrpanel and that another small piece had passed the jutting forepart of the pith lining.

I also have the web gear set that Mr. Norton wore that day, stained and spattered with other men’s blood. Obviously, these relics meant a lot to him since he kept them until he died. Perhaps he kept them as reminders of his and others mortality and the close call he had that day.

(Baltimore Sun War Correspondent”s Camouflage Helmet )

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