This style of camo finish began in North Africa and was utilized by paratroopers of the Ramcke Brigade. Originally formed in the aftermath of the aerial assault on Crete, the Ramcke Brigade (aka Fallschirmjaeger-Brigade Afrika, Luftwaffen-Jäger-Brigade 1) was originally intended for use in Operation Hercules, an Italian-led invasion of Malta that never went off. The unit's commander and namesake, Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, had an odd career, as a veteran enlisted sailor and marine infantryman in World War I, an army staff officer in the Weimar era and finally a paratrooper officer for World War II, and one of the planners of the Crete airdrop. In accordance with post-Crete military doctrine, the paratroopers were used as an elite light infantry formation, deployed alongside the Italian Folgore Division, Ramcke Brigade's would-be teammates for Hercules. While with the Italians the Brigade participated in the Second Battle of El Alamein, in which the Folgore was effectively destroyed (306 alive and uncaptured out of an original strength of 5,000) acting as a rear guard for the retreating Germans and Ramcke's forces caught behind enemy lines and written off as lost. Suffering heavy casualties, Ramcke's paratroopers made their way west on foot with little water, eventually hijacking a British supply column at gunpoint and driving the stolen vehicles home. Of the four thousand members of Ramcke Brigade, 600 made it back across the line of battle. Many of these survivors, including Ramcke himself, rotated back to Europe and spent the war with other units, while the Brigade itself fought on through the end of the African campaign. In a somewhat cruel irony, the failure of the Axis to knock out Malta as a strong point for Allied logistics was a critical factor in the defeat of the Afrika Korps and of the Ramcke Brigade. Three camo patterns have been associated with the Ramcke Brigade, with this particular pattern being deeply associated with one of the battalions at El Alamein, with a heavy layer of yellow paint covering up the original paint job and decals and a liberal coating of Saharan sand to add texture and break up the smooth surface. The interior shows the original smooth deep green paint, with "ET68" stamped on the left side and "452" at the rear, a four-point chin harness, and brown leather webbing with rubber pads, a faded makers mark, "57/68" size numbers and a paint hand-marking that appears to read "Kleiste 1941/E.W." in the center.
Very fine, totally original. The camouflage shows mild scuffing from use and handling, along with some rubbing on the very top and along the bottom edges exposing the original paint and some of the underlying steel. The harness and lining show some wear and tear, with the front of the liner in particular showing significant stains and rubbing. An exceptionally rare Fallschirmjaeger helmet, connected to one of the great historic battle of World War II.
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