A helmet is a kind of protective head gear worn on the head to protect it from injury. More specifically, a helmet protects the skull from injury during a fall. Ceremonial or traditional helmets without any protective purpose may be worn by some soldiers. But military helmets are manufactured in a different way compared to other kinds of helmets. The primary difference is that in a military situation, there is no scope of movement in a typical helmet.
There was a time when bicycle helmets were worn by both the army and civilians. But with the evolution of technology, the concept of wearing helmets to protect ones head changed into a more practical one. It became necessary to have a helmet that could be used not just for protection but also as a style statement. As such, the French came up with the first of the two most popular styles – the biking helmet.
One of the helmets worn by the French soldiers in the two world wars was called the pith helmet. This helmet had no visor and was instead made of molded plastic. The helmet itself had two black plates with a red stripe running horizontally across them. These plates had black studs attached to them.
This helmet had no visor because only the top of the head was protected, hence the name – ‘pith helmet’. These helmets were lightweight and had deep grooves caked inside them so as to avoid scratches when the wearer moved his head. The ridges caked in were also meant to impede any wind thrusts away from the wearer’s eyes. In fact, the French government ordered that all its soldiers should wear these helmets so as to avoid any casualties caused by a ‘hunching’ effect brought about by the rotating visors of the regular helmets.
As you can see, the etymology of the word Helm has nothing to do with the safety feature of the helmet and everything to do with the look of the helmet. Sooner or later all helmets started to be referred to as shells rather than Helmets. The word became associated with army units and the term became universally accepted as the name of the protective headgear. However, there are some funny etymology facts to consider. For example, it is assumed that the origin of the term ‘helmets’ came from the word helms, which is the name of an ancient Greek city-state.
It is also believed that the first helmets to be worn by the soldiers were not really helmets at all but greaves (which was another name for helmets during ancient times). During the First World War, the German military experimented with creating greaves that were used to deflect bullets. This was actually a valuable military equipment and the Germans were not left impressed! Thus, this early development of wearing a visor or visors to protect the eyes was actually a later invention of the German military, not the original helmet. German soldiers wore visors even in combat! Also the most sophisticated camera system is available in helmet.