Australian steel helmet : Lieutenant G L Dolan, 53 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number REL32937
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Helmet
Physical description Cotton, Felt, Leather, Leatherette, Steel
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

British Army issue Mark I steel helmet painted matte khaki throughout, with sand added to the exterior finish to provide a non-reflective surface. The width of the brim, which is fitted with a steel rim, is 32 mm at the front and back and 43 mm at the sides. The original liner has an oval composite felt pad in the crown placed over a rubber ring. The addition of the ring, a later modification to this pattern helmet, dates this helmet to May 1917 or later, when this change was first introduced.

A copper rivet and nickel-plated washer at the apex of the helmet once held the brown leather chinstrap in place but the strap, although present, has broken away. The strap has a nickel-plated sliding buckle for adjustment. It has been shortened by knotting it a number of times through one of the wire loops on the side. Attached to the chin strap assembly by a split pins is the headband consisting of an outer leather band. The twelve tubular rubber cushions into which it was once set are missing. The leather is further padded on the inside with a band of canvas and lint covered cotton wool that has a band of net with a drawstring cord sewn to the upper edge for further fit adjustment. The padded band is protected on the inside with a band of black leatherette fabric. The green and black colour patch of 53 Battalion is painted on the side of the helmet.

History / Summary

Worn by Lieutenant G L Dolan DCM, 53 Battalion AIF. Born at Surrey Hills, Sydney in June 1894, George Leslie 'Les' Dolan was working as a shop assistant and serving in the militia with the 24th Infantry Regiment, when he enlisted in the AIF on 8 July 1915. 4905 Private Dolan embarked aboard HMAT A15 Star of England with 1 Battalion, 15th Reinforcements on 8 March 1916. After arriving in Egypt, he was transferred to the 53rd Battalion.

After a period of further training, Dolan embarked for France, arriving at the end of June 1916. He moved north with the 53rd Battalion, and entered the line near Fleurbaix in time to participate in the disastrous Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916. He was promoted to lance corporal a week later. Dolan was then promoted to temporary corporal in September, corporal in October, temporary sergeant in May 1917 and sergeant in July.

On 25 September 1917, the 53rd Battalion took part in the attack at Glencorse Wood, east of Ypres in Belgium. Dolan was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions during the fighting. He was selected for officer training and attended No. 5 Officer's Cadet Training Battalion at Cambridge, England.

Dolan rejoined his unit in June 1918 and a month later was Mentioned in Despatches for his actions during the attack on Morlancourt on 29 July 1918. Dolan was promoted to lieutenant on 1 September. After the war, Dolan married Ethel Dillon O'Brien Porter from Cambridge on 12 May 1919. On 8 August 1919 he embarked aboard HT Katoomba for his return to Australia. Dolan was discharged from the AIF on 17 November 1919. During the inter-war years, Dolan served with the 53rd Battalion (West Sydney Regiment ), Citizens Military Force (CMF).