Saga of German helmet buried by Gorleston brothers takes new twist

"WAR HORSE"..181_DM-D8-0074R..Horses leap over German soldiers firing guns at the advancing British

A scene from the film War Horse shows German soldiers in similar helmets to the one buried in Gorleston - Credit: DreamWorks II Distribution Co

The mystery of a German First World War helmet buried in a Gorleston garden has taken a strange family twist.

Roger Spicer wrote to the Eastern Daily Press last week, recalling how he and his brother had buried a German First World War Picklehaube helmet in their garden in 1939 - after fearing it would be confiscated by invading German troops.

The helmet had been given to the brothers as a present, before the Second World War had broken out.

The young siblings had feared what would happen to them if German troops invaded Gorleston and found the helmet in their possession.

The family then moved away with Mr Spicer believing the helmet may still lie there to this day.

But Mr Spicer's cousin, Nicholas Mackley, of Swaffham, has now contacted the paper to say he was later given the First World War helmet as a Christmas present by Mr Spicer's mother Rona, in 1953.

Students from the region are set for a poignant trip to some of the First World War's battlefields.

The First World War was a bitter conflict - Credit: PA

However the last he saw of it was in 1959 when he left his Norwich home to join the army.

He suspects his mother or brother took it to a second-hand shop to be sold.

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Mr Mackley said: "It must have been same helmet as it had a bullet hole in the same area. I have never really thought about it until I saw the letter in the paper."

And thanks to the letter Mr Mackley, 79, has got back in touch with his cousin, who lives in Tewkesbury.

Mr Spicer's letter had said: "My brother and I had been given a relic from the First World War, a German helmet, known as a “Pickelhaube” – made of polished black leather, it was embellished with an impressive brass emblem, an eagle with outstretched wings on the front and a large brass spike on the crown – but it also had a bullet-hole right through it.

"I remember that we looked, solemnly, at each other with one thing on our minds – what would happen to us if the invading enemy found it in our possession?

"But it was the telltale presence of the bullet-hole though the helmet that worried us the most.

"We decided the safest thing was to bury the helmet in the garden."

Soldiers waiting to go off to fight in the First World War, 'standing easy' on the platform of Norwi

Soldiers waiting to go off to fight in the First World War, 'standing easy' on the platform of Norwich Station. Caption and picture taken from the book: Memories of Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich. - Credit: Archant