History buff and war memorabilia collector Jordan Chiasson, purchased a military helmet from an army surplus store in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada last August and it turned out to have quite a history. It wasn’t until recently that Chaisson noticed a name and an army ID written inside the $30 helmet.
He told CTV Atlantic, “At the beginning, I just wanted to find, see who it belonged to. Like I want to say where did this go? But as soon as I found that he was alive, this got more personal. I was like, ‘I’m going to have to give this to him. It’s not mine to keep.’”
The 21-year-old collector went on a search to find the mystery soldier and contacted the Royal Canadian Legion Command as well as the Canadian War Museum. It didn’t take Chiasson long before he was directed to Private George Johnston who served in the Canada’s North Shore Regiment’s B Company during World War II. Soon he was able to secure Pte. Johnston’s phone number.
Earlier this week Annie Johnston, George’s wife, received a call at home to confirm George’s background. The caller then informed her that someone had George’s helmet and wanted to return it.
“He’s quite pleased to have it,” said Annie. “He just kept looking at it. I don't think he could hardly believe that he did have it until Jordan showed him the name. But he told Jordan his rank number right off. He always remembered that."
“To experience that with them, and the joy that was on his face and hers as well, which was really remarkable,” Jordan said.
Pte. George Johnston served from 1940 to 1946 and said that helmet was given to him after an older helmet was bent while he stormed Juno Beach in Normandy on D-Day. After, Johnston said the helmet saved his life while he fought in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The last time he had the helmet was in 1945 in Berlin, when the war was over.
Chiasson was able to get a very personal experience with the history that fascinates him. He told the CBC, "It feels great actually. I've been smiling ever since. It’s, my girlfriend said she'd never seen my eyes light up so much. And it was nice to see an older fella as well with his eyes just bright, and actually looking at the thing that he held like, 70 years ago."
Johnston was overwhelmed, “Feelings I can’t explain, what it feels like to have that hat back. I never dreamt I’d ever see it.” Annie added, “I’m quite happy that he’s got it. And I think his children will be too.”