Prior to 2003, virtually everyone interested in the history
of the U.S. 3rd Armored Division knew basically the same story,
which perpetuated the helmet's unfortunate fame. It was a simplified
version repeated over the decades by newspaper, magazine, and
book accounts, and by the Division's own Public Affairs Office.
That version described Div. Commander Maurice Rose's death on
March 30, 1945, as solely the result of his being shot twice
through his helmet by a German tank crewman using a hand-held
gun. That tragic event occurred moments after Rose had been captured
during the U.S. advance on Paderborn, Germany.
But in 2003, dramatic new information came to light with the
publication of the biography, "Major General Maurice Rose
- World War II's Greatest Forgotten Commander," co-authored
by Steven L. Ossad and Don R. Marsh. Their research for the book
had uncovered the startling fact that the bullets that struck
Rose's helmet did NOT cause his death. Ossad and Marsh had located
Army documents that had literally been unseen and ignored in
a file cabinet in Washington, DC, for over fifty years. Those
documents included an Inspector General's investigation of Rose's
death, as well as the autopsy report (with body diagram) and
memo's from the Army War Crimes Branch. Conclusions drawn from
those documents are described in great detail in the biography
and include the following concerning the shooting:
- Gen. Rose was struck by a total of 14 bullets at numerous
points over his body from four separate bursts from a 9mm Schmeisser
automatic "machine pistol," which had a 32-round clip.
- Four rounds from the third burst, which struck him on the
left side of the head (with no helmet on), were the fatal wounds.
He would have died instantly.
- The force of an impact on his right cheek from the first
burst had knocked the general's helmet back off his head and
into the air.
- And, to quote from the biography, "Two more rounds from
the first burst struck the airborne helmet, passing through the
rear, and exiting the front of the helmet near the two general's
stars ..." [A ragged split on the helmet's front rim remains
unexplained, but was possibly caused by a third errant round.]
- The helmet was later found in a ditch about ten feet from
- The bullet holes in the helmet clearly did not occur while
the helmet was on his head.
The Rose helmet was on temporary display at the Museum of
Jewish Heritage in New York City (WWII exhibit area) during 2003-2006,
on loan from the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox, KY, its permanent
home. Immediately after World War II, the helmet had been given
to the Rose family in Denver, Colorado, and subsequently donated
to the Rose Memorial Hospital in Denver, where it was on display
for a number of years, but eventually ended up in basement storage.
At some point (and we hope to research this further), the helmet
was reportedly rescued by a 3AD WWII veteran, who turned it over
to the Patton Museum with the Hospital's approval.