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Issue: CC113
13th March 2024

Doodling dissent

Helmet art - Vietnam onwards

All artwork redrawn by CC

Dissent and writing materials defined the look of soldiers in the Vietnam War. The M1 “steel-pot” helmet (in use from 1941) had a camouflage fabric cover added as general issue and, ball point and marker pens had become widely available during the 1950s, with the Skilcraft ballpoint pen being government issued from 1969.

The helmet covers were the canvas for active duty calendars, medical instructions, commemorations, war cries and declarations of frustration. A selection of those scribblings are shown here, alongside more recent helmet ‘art’ from Iraq, Israel and Ukraine.