Helmet Owner Revealed
For many collectors of militaria the objects that we collect are a link back in time. But far too often we hear, “if only this piece could tell its stories.” This of course will never happen, but occasionally we get lucky and are able to do some historical research and find out a bit more about a particular item. No longer do we think of a vague shadowy figure who may have worn the uniform, but we can find out a bit more about the original owner.
For this reporter a link to the past was firmly established for a helmet purchased last summer, and today I proudly have a photo of the original owner with said helmet. This helmet was a British Foreign Service Helmet, also commonly called a “pith helmet.” These are no doubt familiar to readers as the helmets used by the British Army of the Victorian Era and are commonly seen in movies such as Zulu and Breaker Morant.
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This white sun helmet was purchased with the original storage/transport tin, which was marked to a Major C. Venables-Llewelyn, while inside the helmets is stamped the initials “C.V.L.” Some digging through published army lists showed that Sir Charles was a territorial officer who eventually rose in rank to command the Glamorgan Imperial Yeomanry as Lieutnant Colonel. Following the First World War Sir Charles succeeded his father as Lord Lieutenat of Radnorshire, a county in Wales, from 1929-49. Likewise, his son Sir Charles Michael held this post, which later was combined with another seat.
The search continued and this reporter discovered that Sir John Venables-Llewelyn, grandson of Sir Charles, holds the office of Lieutenancy Office of Powys County Council. A short time later I was able to make contact through the council office with Sir John, who was kind enough to go through the family photo albums, where he found a photo of his ‘granddad’ in uniform with the helmet. Whether it was a moving experience for Sir John I don’t know. For me it was truly a connection to the past.