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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

We have been turning over the soil down the side of the house preparatory to planting. The stuff that has been sieved out is mainly rubble but also quite a lot of broken cast iron fragments of early guttering brackets. The unexpected thing was this thin, pressed metal image bearing the words "Mit Gott für Koenig und Vaterland FR". It's probably made of brass and has suffered from being in the soil. According to online sources it probably once adorned the pickelhaube of a German soldier. It seems that even though the FR refers to a king of Prussia, badges like this remained in use until WW1. Possibly a souvenir brought home by a British soldier.

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That is pretty incredible Dick. 
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to work for a very short length of time on a WWI battlefield archeological dig. It was a site much fought over in 1914 south of the Ypres Salient, held initially by the British until October 1914 and taken and held by the Germans until 1917.  Then I believe it went backwards and forwards during the March 1918 spring offensive.
As part of that dig we saw the excavation of a mass grave of Bavarians, apparently killed in October 1914 and buried in 1915.  
The 40 or so Germans were buried in a shallow grave, most with their personal equipment still with them, many with the pickelhaub helmets you mention. 
It was a sobering exercise, and equally so imagining how this came to be in your garden! 

That is indeed a pickelhaube badge, although missing a couple of elements, namely ball and sceptre.

Wow! How interesting Dick. Quite a find..

A great find! I wonder how it got there.

This one is described on a militaria website


as an 1860 Prussian model, still in use in the 1870-1 Franco Prussian war, though it seems from other images online that this design was still in use up to WW1. 

The badge we found is not so extravagantly large as the one shown here which may be an officer's helmet.  I am certainly not familiar with German militaria but my slight knowledge of German history would suggest the following:  the creation of the German empire in the 1860s meant that previously independently ruled polities accepted the idea of an emperor who was in fact the king of one of the bigger constituents - Prussia.  While soldiers of the new empire might well have been encouraged to wear similar uniforms, it is completely unthinkable that regiments drawn from other parts of the new empire would wear Prussian insignia on their helmets.  These symbols might have been acceptable in Prussia itself, Pomerania, Brandenburg and Silesia but Bavaria, for example, still had a king of its own and its own royal insignia and the same for several other territories (eg Saxony, Wüttemburg, Baden and Hessen).  Moreover, what might have been thought to be a motto for the new empire "Mit Gott für Kaiser und Reich" would have sounded not only too Austrian but too neglectful of long held local loyalties which may well remain strong to this day.

I don't think the Prussian royal motto started in the 19th century but had been in use for many years before - perhaps not on helmets.  For all I know, there may still be groups in Germany who hanker after those old days.

When I worked in Brussels, my old German Commissioner (who was from Saxony) told me that asking a Bavarian if he was German was much worse than asking a Welshman if he was English!

Dick..........wow indeed. What a find.  If only able, what a story that piece could tell.  I am an old romantic !              I wonder if possibly the original owner had immigrated here and possibly lost it in your garden ?  Might have been property of previous owner of Germanic origin who thought best bury it during course of WW1 ?  Of course it may have been incorporated within soil infill from anywhere.  Probably safe to say, sadly, you will never know.  But if you should ever uncover more detail......or artefacts.......I would love to hear of it.                                                    And wow to you too Justin Guest, what a privilege.  I long for my Grandad's and Great Uncle's remains to be unearthed one day from those battlefields.  I live in hope.



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