Why were US troops so reluctant to fasten the chinstraps on their helmets in WWII?

It’s a signature look, other countries seemed the get their troops to buckle up.

What’s the story with that?

If you’ll accept a wiki reference:


Missed the Edit. All of those reasons could be applied to any helmet with a chinstrap.

Why were the Americans unique?


I’m serious - fashion trends have the same way over the military as they have over any other group of twenty-somethings. Troops didn’t buckle their helmets because all the cool kids didn’t buckle their helmets.

I always assumed it was fashion. It’s like having your shirt tail out. Like having your pants down low. Like wearing your cap backwards. It’s what all the keew hipsters do.

Only nerds buckle their helmet straps, jeeez.

it chafed.

The second reason strikes me as really dumb. OK, so the helmet won’t tug your neck when caught in an artillery blast - it’ll just fly off instead. Now you’re helmet-less in a rain of burning metal, genius.

That helmet wa’n’t yewrs to lewse ! Belonged to EVERY Marine !

I am genuinely surprised that this wasn’t the first, second and third answers.

It was probably annoying and chaffed their necks, I know that would be my reason for leaving it open.

The prospect that Otto Skorzeny is behind you seems rather less likely than crap is going to fall randomly from the sky.

Drill Sergeant: "Hey, who are you, John Wayne?? Buckle up that chinstrap and then drop and gimme twenty, prahvate!"

In all the movies the stars wore their helmets unstrapped, so the boys did likewise; plus the aforementioned myths about the dangers of having it strapped were probably spread all over the boot camps (because of course scuttlebutt from some grunt who has been in 3 weeks longer than you is more credible than what veteran trained instructors tell you).

True, chinstraps up to WW2 were not very ergonomic. They were improved as experience accumulated.

Our helmets in the Navy in the 80s were pretty similar to WWII helmets as I recall. They may have been WWII helmets, I’m not sure what the expected life of a helmet was. The chin strap was really uncomfortable. Chafing is the perfect word for it, thanks johnpost. It was also sweaty wearing it for hours during general quarters. I imagine it would be worse in the field.

I doubt the “Star” bit was really as big a reason as some think. It was an uncomfortable thing to have to wear.

Were your chinstraps the kind that fasten under the chin? very uncomfortable.
I served in the 80’s, regular army, and we used WWII surplus steel pots with these chinstraps. Much better.

They’re hot? And make it hard to talk?

I served 1980-1993. USMC. Like BMax our helmets originally were old 2-piece helmets, steel pots over a plastic liner, and chin straps like shown in BMax’s link. Not sure if they were surplus from WWII or Vietnam, but they were old. Later, the one-piece kevlar helmets replaced them, at some point in the 1980s.

I know many who didn’t like snapping the chin straps, myself included. Fashion had little or nothing to do with it. They didn’t chafe, because the fabric was pretty soft and pliable. It was more about comfort, and general laziness. Those were my reasons, anyway, and of those that I knew. I was artillery so we were in the field a lot.

I never served in combat but I can assure you that the strap would’ve been snapped if I did.

God help you if you don’t have it snapped now.

Looking at this Bill Mauldin cartoon it looks like something Patton would have enforced.

Not seeing a picture, don’t know if its a problem on my end.

Patton was the king of what was known then as chicken shit. Enforcing garrison rules in combat. Ties, clean uniforms, MPs giving out tickets for motor vehicle violations. Whenever there is a discussion about toxic leadership on one of the military pages I frequent someone always says something like “Too bad we don’t have leaders like Patton anymore.” I try to explain how he was ten times worse about the stupid shit we complain about now than anyone currently in uniform. It usually falls on deaf ears.

Ours went under the chin, did not have the chinstraps shown in your pic.

Grooomiiiiiing staaaandards ! The chicken shit lives, apparently (the series was based on a reporter’s book).
Of course, in Sergeant-Major Sixta’s case it was deliberate : whenever the Marines’ morale dropped too low or they had actual reasons for concern & doubt in the chain of command, he’d do the rounds being a gigantic asshole to everybody so they’d focus their grumbling on him. Patton possibly had the same philosophy, although he *was *a nutjob so who knows ?