WII Flying Helmet

My dad, Eddie Garrett, was a Telegraphist Air Gunner in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II. He mainly flew in the old open-canopied Fairey Swordfish bi-planes, affectionately known as ‘stringbags’. This was the same type of plane that famously pursued and sank the German flagship, Bismarck. He sat behind the pilot, facing backwards and was responsible for staying in communication with his base just using morse code, and for defending the plane from attack from above and behind. 

This is dad's leather flying helmet, which he kept after being demobbed and gave to me some time before he passed away. The tubes connected to the ear pieces are not electronic but merely open pipes which plugged into the console in front of him and allowed him to converse with the pilot above the noise of the engine.

In the early 60s it was clear that England was still living in the shadow of WWII. Consequently people such as me, who grew up through that period, have a curious sense of nostalgia for aspects of the war even though they have no actual memory of it. This helmet gives me a direct and enduring physical connection both to my dad and to a period of history from which I am obviously disconnected yet feel strangely familiar with.

Malcolm Garrett
Graphic Designer