Sunday, January 17, 2010

GI Dragoon: a Curious Anachronism

Simon's recent illustration on Iron Mitten features a French Dragoon painting some toy soldiers. The helmet reminded me of a photo in my grandfather's WWII photo album. In the summer or fall of 1945 my grandfather and some men from his company took a tour of the Waterloo battlefield. They visited the farm at La Haye Sainte, which housed a museum. The Belgian curator was only too willing to let the young GIs try on some of the museum pieces. My grandpa took the pictures. The helmet above appears to be a French dragoon's. Anyone know exactly what kind? Bellow are some GIs sporting German Pickelhauben from early WWI or the late 19th century.

I'm busy writing a book about my grandfather's unit, which is why you haven't seen too many painted miniatures posted here in a while. His company participated in the Normandy invasion, worked on Utah Beach, and moved supplies through Antwerp during the German's V-weapon bombardment. I'm chronicling my research/writing on a blog:

That's my grandpa on the far left.


Secundus said...

Hello Andrew i'm glad you liked my picture. I'm no expert but i'd say he's holding either a Dragoons or a Cuirassiers helmet, with the fur band removed. Judging that their were about 12 cuirassier regiments at Waterloo and only 3 Dragoon Regiments, I would edge my bets on it being from a Cuirassier.

Andrew said...

Excellent, thank you. I used to have some Napoleonic Ospreys, but I gave them to my dad in an attempt to force myself to stick to fewer time periods.

Eric said...

Agree with Secundus in general. The basic helmets for dragoons and cuirassiers were extremely similar, and couldn't easily be told apart. The 3rd and 4th cavalry corps of the Armee du Nord certainly had many more cuirassiers on the field (all 12 regiments) than there were dragoons present, with Exelmans and the Second cav corps being at Wavre. However, don't forget that there isn't necessarily any direct correlation between what ended up in that museum and what actually came from the battlefield itself.