The Metal Helmet Mystery

Mar 25, 2017

RAY: This puzzler suggestion came from Benjamin Schultz.

In the beginning of the first World War, the uniform of the British soldiers included a brown cloth cap. As the war went on, the Army authorities in the war office became alarmed at the high proportion of men suffering head injuries. They decided to replace the cloth headgear with metal helmets. However, the war office was then amazed to discover that there were more soldiers hospitalized with head injuries than ever before.

It can be assumed that the intensity of fighting was the same before and after the change. So, why should the recorded number of head injuries increase when the men were wearing metal helmets rather than cloth caps?

Answer: 

RAY: And the reason is rather simple. Before the helmets, anyone that got hit with a piece of shrapnel and wearing a cloth helmet was a goner. Without the helmets, they had many more fatalities, and with the helmets, they had fewer fatalities, but more injuries. 


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