Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Small Collection of Military Headdress from Great Britain and the Commonwealth

Military headdress has long been, and remains, a highly popular field for the militaria collector.The following set of photographs shows a representative variety of military headdress from the world’s military forces. Because of a particular personal interest, the first group of helmets and hats are from  Great Britain and the Commonwealth, with a focus on their Airborne and Elite Forces. The initial two photographs are an overview of that part of the collection (Click on any of the images to enlarge).

In the first group (left to right) is seen; a WWII Royal Marine Commando beret, a WWII Cap Comforter as worn by both Royal Marine and Army Commandos, a WWII Royal Artillery officer’s service dress hat, frequently wore with battledress, a classic WWII Australian slouch hat, a Canadian Forces winter fur (synthetic) wedge cap (Cap, Man's Winter, Fur, C.F.) also formerly worn by the RCMP), dated 1976 and a colored field service side cap of an officer in the Royal Artillery, circa 1941.

In the next photograph can be seen: the unique foreign service helmet or solar topee of WWII South African Armed Forces, next the more common WWII foreign service helmet, universal (Wolseley Pattern) worn by British Forces, this is followed by a replica of the full dress turban of a Subedar-Major of the 2nd Punjab Regiment of the British Indian Army, circa 1923-1947. (Correction: Although the cap badge is correctly identified, the turban is from the Regiment of Artillery, post-partion Indian Army.)

First hat in this photograph is the classic Hat, Felt, Gurkha, worn as standard field service dress by all of the Gurkha Regiments, since the beginning of the 20th Century (this specific example is from the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Goorkhas, Sirmoor Rifles, circa 1950), second is a cadet’s dress forage or ‘stable cap’ from the Royal Military College of Canada (Royal Roads), next is an officer’s glengarry of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders WWII, followed by a desert shemagh of the British Special Air Service Regiment, circa 1990 (which they have worn, in this configuration and color, since the founding of the regiment in 1941 to the present) and an officer’s No. 1 dress beret of the Special Air Service Regiment.

In this series first is an Armoured Vehicle Crewman’s GRP helmet (referred to as a‘Dan Dare’) from the Falklands War Period 1982, circa 1980-1991, next a WWII Motorcycle Dispatch Rider’s steel helmet, then an early WWII British Paratroop cloth ‘Sorbo’ Training Helmet, and finally a rimless 3rd Pattern British Paratrooper’s Helmet from the Suez Campaign (Operation Musketeer), dated 1955 (identical to late WWII issue).

In this photograph of British Forces headgear are three of the more recent helmets and the classic WWII ‘Tommy’ helmet. From left to right first is a Helmet, Shell Parachutist, Pattern 1980, Light-weight Ballistic Nylon (Kevlar), W/liner, Web /leather chin cup harness, and Issue DPM Camouflage Cover. Circa 1986, next is a Helmet, Combat, General Service (GS), MK6, Light-weight Ballistic Fibre, W/Liner, Web chin harness & Issue Desert Camouflage Cover, circa 1987 followed by a Helmet, Parachutist, Pattern 1976, Light-weight Fiberglass, W/liner, GS Nylon and PVC Harness, Web chin strap (No cup) & dark drab green nylon net, as used in the Falkland Islands 1982, finally the iconic Helmet, Combat, MK II, W/liner, Chin strap & Camouflage net, WWII (dated 1942).

The final photograph in this series is of a WWII Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm flying helmet, specifically the Helmet, Leather, Flying, Navy, Type C (2nd Pattern), W/Flying goggles Mk VIII and a Type G Oxygen mask. To it's left is a model of the Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bomber Mk I, which was instrumental in initially damaging and slowing the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic in May 1941, and previously conducting the highly successful attack against the Italian Fleet moored in Taranto Harbor in 1940 (Experts will probably notice that the torpedo warhead should not be flat (indicative of a more modern acoustic homing torpedo), but fully rounded and commonly painted bright red).

For those who might be interested in more details about the headgear presented on this page, as well as many others from throughout both history and nationalities, it is recommended that you visit; .

The following video is bittersweet. It is the Bicentenary Parade of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, commemorating the span of the regiment’s existence 1794 – 1994, and the disbanding/amalgamation of the regiment in that year. An occasion particularly poignant and bitter to Scots in the Northeast (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire), but to Gordons and fellow Scots throughout the world as well.  The event marked the beginning of the end for all Highland Regiments of the British Army, with the ultimate conglomeration becoming the current Royal Regiment of Scotland.

This second video is of the Airborne Forces Day Parade 2010 by the 16th Air Assault Brigade. The brigade includes not only the Parachute Regiment, but elements of the Army Air Corps, thus the mixture of maroon and sky blue berets. 


Anonymous said...

Is all your commando insignia in the back WW2 era?

Arnhemjim said...

Apologies for the delay in responding. Almost all of the Commando insignia are from WWII era. That being said, there are 23 badges which are reproductions. As you would expect, they are of some of the rarest of the rare. If found they would probably be in relic condition and/or extremely expensive. Amongst the remaining insignia however, are righteous/genuine examples of the Commando SBS, Free French Commando, Commando Depot, Commando Signals, Commando dagger qualification badge, complete set of Cash & Co.tape tittles, 1st Commando Brigade, R.N. Commando, Variety of Combined Operations badges, and all grades of Swimmer-Canoeist and Mountain Leader qualification badges (these being post-WWII). Sincere thanks for your interest.

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