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Old 07-01-16, 05:51 PM
Westernhighlander Westernhighlander is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 94
Default Pith Helmet 39 Div Sig Coy 1919 3rd Afghan War

This was started a while back under the section for formation signs and patches, but I recently sorted it out and thought it more appropriate to post in this section under headdress.

The story behind this helmet started out as a bit of a mystery with me trying to ID the pagri flash which is white over blue with the number 39 and letters " D. S. C." embroidered on it. Most likely a Signals flash, however, I had trouble placing the "39" that was embroided on it. Thinking that the 39 must represent the 39th Division, I checked that out -

Research reveals that the 39th Division was never outside Europe during WW1 and was demobilized in 1918, so how is it that there is a 39th Divisional Sig Company flash on a pith helmet if the 39th were never overseas during WW1 and ceased to exist by the end of the war?

The 39th Division saw major action in Europe in WW1 and suffered heavy losses ( over 27,000 killed). Remnants were returned to England where it was reduced to a cadre responsible for training US troops and was finally demobilized after the war (

But the story of the 39th doesnt end there! It turns out that (according to the National Archives) the 39th Division Signal Company was dispatched to India and East Persia attached to the 2nd India Division and served in the short but important 3rd Afghan War (May to Aug 1919) .http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C7364160

The story behind the 3rd Afghan War is also intriguing -After WW1 representatives from Afghanistan expected to be included in the meetings in Versialles where they hoped to gain more recognition/autonomy for Afghanistan - especially since they didnt go along with the German attempts to side with them during the War. They were rebuffed at Versailles, and not long after the 3rd Afghan War started. Though brief, it was a victory for Afghanistan and resulted in Afghanistan's right to determine its own foreign policy (while Afghanistan was independent until then its foreign policy was an extension of the UK). It also reaffirmed the Durand Line of demarcation between Afghanistan and India once and for all. All of which have had far reaching consequences that are felt to this day.

This would explain how a flash for the 39th division ended up on a pith helmet!
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Last edited by Westernhighlander; 07-01-16 at 07:27 PM.
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