Steel Helmet : Corporal E A Corey, 55 Battalion AIF


Australian steel helmet, complete with leather chin strap, but without liner. The outside of the helmet has been decorated in red, white, black, orange, brown and green paint. Around the black painted rim are the words: 'ANZAC EGYPT FRANCE BELGIUM SOMME'. On the dome of the helmet, which has an overall orange paint finish, are, at the top, a curved scroll containing the words 'FOR THE HONOUR', above another scroll which reads 'OF BOTH.' Immediately below this scroll are the words 'CORPORAL E.A. COREY. MM'. The space between the scrolls contains the painted colour patch of 55 Battalion, AIF - a vertical oblong, divided brown against green. Below the scrolls is a black shield containing what appears to have been an image of an Australian soldier wearing a slouch hat, only the silhouette now being visible. The shield is flanked by the flags of Great Britain and Australia, which are suspended from poles which cross behind the shield. Another black shield below this contains, in white; 'No.2143. 1914-1918'. Crossed flagpoles behind this suspend the French and Belgian flags, and the gap between the two shields, painted brown, contains the word 'AIF'. On a yellow and brown painted scroll down the left hand side of the dome are the words: 'YPRES FIRST BAR MM', 'BELLECOURT [sic] 3RD BAR', 'DOIGNIES' 'PERONNE'. A similar scroll down the right hand side reads: 'MORLAN WOOD SECOND BAR MM', 'BULLECOURT MM', 'VILLERS BRETONNEUX', and 'FLEURBAIX'. The bottom section of the helmet dome features a large painted Rising Sun badge, above which is a kangaroo flanked by the miniature flags of Canada (?), Italy, the United States, Japan, the Imperial Russian Naval ensign, and New Zealand (?). Below the rising sun are the words '55 BATT' and '5 DIV'. The inside of the helmet has an overall khaki painted finish, and the inside of the brim is stamped 'HS 370'. Only the rivet at the crown and a small fragment of leather remain of the liner.

History / Summary

Steel helmet decorated by 2143 Corporal Ernest Albert Corey.

Ernest Albert Corey was born near Cooma, New South Wales on 20 December 1891. Educated at Thubergal Lake Public School, Corey was a 24 year old labourer when he joined the Men from Snowy River recruitment march and enlisted in the AIF at Nimmitabel on 13 January 1916.

Posted to 55th Battalion as private 2143, Corey embarked on 4 September and joined his battalion near Guillemont, France on 8 February 1917. His first front line action was on 2 April in fighting around Doignies. A few weeks later Corey was involved in the action for which he was awarded the first or four Military Medals that he would receive during the course of the war.

On the first occasion near Queant in May, Corey volunteered to act as a stretcher bearer and spent 17 hours retrieving the wounded and was instrumental in the saving of many men’s lives. The award was given with immediate effect. A second Military Medal was awarded for his courage under fire near Polygon Wood in September 1917. A third Military Medal was awarded for his courage and inspiration under heavy fire near Peronne in September 1918.

The final action for which Corey received his fourth Military Medal occurred while the battalion was taking part in an attack on the Hindenburg Line on 30 September 1918, nine days after he had been promoted to corporal. In the fighting Corey was seriously wounded in the leg and saw no further action.

He returned to Australia in May 1919 and settled in Cooma for a couple of years before moving to Canberra. During the Second World War he served in the 13th Garrison Battalion at Port Kembla. Corey died on 25 August 1972 at Queanbeyan and was buried with full military honours.