German Army M-42 Souvenir with Mediterranean Camouflage
This German Heer (army) M-42 was picked up as a souvenir piece in the Mediterranean Theater by Julius J. Capra, a cargo ship worker for the American-Hawaii Line. Spots and strips of tan paint cover the exterior in a camouflage pattern typical of Mediterranean styles used by the German army in World War II (1939-1945). The left side has an army eagle national emblem. The interior has a model 1931 liner attached to a steel rim that secures to the shell with metal split pins. Julius Capra's name along with all the places he visited during his service on the SS John Harvard are written in white paint along the interior rear skirt and front visor. These places include Brendisi and Bari, Italy, Augusta, Sicily, Oran in North Africa, and Marseille, France, to name a few. The places include arrival and departure dates so the helmet can be used as a calendar of Capra's journey. All of the dates appear to land between June and November 1944.
The S.S. John Harvard was one of 2,751 Liberty EC2-type ships built during World War II. Liberty EC2s were specifically designed to carry cargo and supplies, and all of them were named after prominent figures in American history. This included all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The government allowed those who raised two million in war bonds (as one ship cost just under that much) to suggest names for the ships.1
“A.H. Line” stands for the American-Hawaiian Line. The A.H. Line was a shipping company based in Hawaii that tried to take advantage of wartime profits in the Atlantic by moving most of its business on the other side of the world. They used their own crew and were often accompanied by a naval guard.2
Research has led to the conclusion that Mr. Capra was a member of the crew and not the naval guard, as there are no enlistment records for him. Not much is known about Mr. Capra except what can be found through public records. He was born in Crystal Lake, Wisconsin, on May 5, 1918. By the 1930s he lived in a single parent home with his mother, Lena, and two siblings, Patrick and Nicholas.3 The next information on Mr. Capra is what is written on the inside of this M-42 German helmet. All of the locations were visited post-combat. The S.S. John Harvard traveled around the Mediterranean before leaving for home. All of the dates are within a six-month period between June and November 1944. The next record of Mr. Capra is his name on a crew manifest documented in New York, New York, on December 10th, 1944. He is listed as 26 years old, of Italian descent, and returning from his first (and presumably only) trip on the ship.4
|Germany||World War II|
|Infantry Helmet||1942 — 1945|