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Field Service Caps in Trenches


gordon92
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I was browsing through Wauchope's A History Of The Black Watch In The great War 1914-1918 and found the following tidbits about dress of the 2nd Bn after arriving from India in October 1914. Note the part about issue of Field Service Caps to prevent rendering of unit identification. This is the first I have heard of use of FS caps in the trenches albeit briefly as the text explains. Has anyone else run across any notes of other regiments being issued FS caps? If the idea was to preserve regimental anonymity, I would think that the kilts may have been a giveaway.

bwdress10001_zpsf56f7d85.jpg

phpVWuIsnAM_zpsa6328f90.jpg

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The New Zealand and Australian forces that landed on Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 were given a Corps Order to wear the British style Service Dress caps.

Interestingly some New Zealanders (From the 3rd Auckland Company) did land on Gallipoli on the 25th wearing their felt hats, and it is recorded "with disapproval" that "their discipline was slack."

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The New Zealand and Australian forces that landed on Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 were given a Corps Order to wear the British style Service Dress caps.

Interestingly some New Zealanders (From the 3rd Auckland Company) did land on Gallipoli on the 25th wearing their felt hats, and it is recorded "with disapproval" that "their discipline was slack."

Interesting. One can infer then that this was intended to prevent distinction of Anzac troops from British.

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I was browsing through Wauchope's A History Of The Black Watch In The great War 1914-1918 and found the following tidbits about dress of the 2nd Bn after arriving from India in October 1914. Note the part about issue of Field Service Caps to prevent rendering of unit identification. This is the first I have heard of use of FS caps in the trenches albeit briefly as the text explains. Has anyone else run across any notes of other regiments being issued FS caps? If the idea was to preserve regimental anonymity, I would think that the kilts may have been a giveaway.

bwdress10001_zpsf56f7d85.jpg

phpVWuIsnAM_zpsa6328f90.jpg

Thank you for posting this. It is extremely interesting. The plain dark blue FS caps were officially replaced by the Brodrick cap on a phased issue circa 1902, although some form of FS continued to be worn in India.

A FS cap in khaki serge was produced as part of the RFC uniform just before WW1 (exact date I am unsure of) and I know that some caps were available for others, but this is the first time that I have heard of any line infantry unit wearing them, and plentiful photos from 1914-15 do not show the 'FS cap' in wear.

I am wondering if this is in fact a reference to the SD peaked forage cap that has been misnomered, as that is the cap that was worn by all other units and thus likely to render Scots soldiers indistinguishable from their English/Welsh/Irish brethren. The 'cheesecutter' quote would appear to imply this was the case, as it refers to the similarity between the curved blade of the omnipresent cutter used to cut cheese in the general food stores of most villages, and the peak of the cap.

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Frogsmile,

I think your on to something. I usually think of a flat cap with a peak as a cheese-cutter and not a glengarry, Foreign service cap.

If the idea was to make the BW like any other British troops it would have been a Service Dress cap as a true FS cap actually looks like a BW Glengarry from a short distance. Although I'd like to see one with a red hackle worn with it???? and a SD cap worn with a Kilt!!!

Joe Sweeney

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and a SD cap worn with a Kilt!!!

Joe Sweeney

Can't manage a kilt but I do have this.....

post-14525-0-56606000-1403041635_thumb.j

Chris

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Can't manage a kilt but I do have this.....

attachicon.gifWounded.jpg

Chris

That seems to have been quite common for Scots soldiers in hospital blue.

Frogsmile,

I think your on to something. I usually think of a flat cap with a peak as a cheese-cutter and not a glengarry, Foreign service cap.

If the idea was to make the BW like any other British troops it would have been a Service Dress cap as a true FS cap actually looks like a BW Glengarry from a short distance. Although I'd like to see one with a red hackle worn with it???? and a SD cap worn with a Kilt!!!

Joe Sweeney

I am fairly confident that it is the SD forage cap that is being spoken of Joe. AS you say, an FSC would look little different from a glengarry.

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Joe, Frogsmile, and Chris -

Thank you for seeing through the misnomer. I am also now convinced that the author was signifying the Service Dress cap.

It appears to have only been worn reluctantly October 1914 - March 1915 until the Balmoral or Blue Bonnet became available. That is not a wide window for photographs. I may be in Perth during August and will see if photos depicting the SD cap with kilt exist at Balhousie Castle.

Mike

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Joe, Frogsmile, and Chris -

Thank you for seeing through the misnomer. I am also now convinced that the author was signifying the Service Dress cap.

It appears to have only been worn reluctantly October 1914 - March 1915 until the Balmoral or Blue Bonnet became available. That is not a wide window for photographs. I may be in Perth during August and will see if photos depicting the SD cap with kilt exist at Balhousie Castle.

Mike

It would have been quite amusing to see them with red hackles in the side. The RH did not wear cap badges at that time (apart from pipers) as you know.

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It would have been quite amusing to see them with red hackles in the side. The RH did not wear cap badges at that time (apart from pipers) as you know.

It is indeed hard to imagine a SD cap with a red hackle.

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There seems to have been an experimental or trials FS cap issued in late 1914 early 1915. It seems possible that this is the headgear mentioned in the OP. I started a previous thread on this FS cap but it did not generate much of a response. The nearest equivalent I can think of is the WW2 Italian 'Bustina' cap.

The photos below show this cap in use. The first is an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion, the second photo Rifle Brigade Plugstreet Wood. The distinctive peak and snap fastener are of interest. I have seen several photos which show this cap in use in unrelated units. I have not been able to identify exactly what it is. Easy to see how it could have been described as an FS Cap.

post-7141-0-85398300-1403219984_thumb.jp

post-7141-0-00936800-1403220058_thumb.jp

regards

Tocemma

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There seems to have been an experimental or trials FS cap issued in late 1914 early 1915. It seems possible that this is the headgear mentioned in the OP. I started a previous thread on this FS cap but it did not generate much of a response. The nearest equivalent I can think of is the WW2 Italian 'Bustina' cap.

The photos below show this cap in use. The first is an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion, the second photo Rifle Brigade Plugstreet Wood. The distinctive peak and snap fastener are of interest. I have seen several photos which show this cap in use in unrelated units. I have not been able to identify exactly what it is. Easy to see how it could have been described as an FS Cap.

attachicon.gifhat thing.jpg

attachicon.gifcanvas hat thingy.jpg

regards

Tocemma

It's an interesting cap and theory, but if the purpose of issuing the cap to the Black Watch was to render them indistinguishable from English, Welsh and Irish units, then an 'experimental cap' would have been pointless.

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It's an interesting cap and theory, but if the purpose of issuing the cap to the Black Watch was to render them indistinguishable from English, Welsh and Irish units, then an 'experimental cap' would have been pointless.

which assumes that it was just issued to Scottish units..... The use by the Rifle Brigade would suggest it was possibly intended as a universal issue

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which assumes that it was just issued to Scottish units..... The use by the Rifle Brigade would suggest it was possibly intended as a universal issue

No I am not assuming that the experimental caps would have been for Scots units, but merely that, going by the alleged purpose stated in the regimental history, to make the regiment look the same as all the other units in the line at that time, it would have been a pointless exercise unless all the other units had the 'experimental cap', in which case it would not really have been experimental anymore, but general issue.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Gordon,

I believe the SD caps made it to the first trip in the trenches and not a great deal further. I know what Wauchope reports; however, I believe the real reason for the issue of an SD cap was that the Ordnance Stores at Marseilles had no glengarries to issue in lieu of a Foreign Service helmet (bear in mind the Battalion had just arrived from Bareilly, India). Once in the trenches, SD caps were replaced by balaclavas and cap comforters. During the winter, the regular battalions of The Black Watch were issued with a blue Balmoral complete with a khaki cover. Tom McC

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Hi Gordon,

I believe the SD caps made it to the first trip in the trenches and not a great deal further. I know what Wauchope reports; however, I believe the real reason for the issue of an SD cap was that the Ordnance Stores at Marseille had no glengarries to issue in lieu of a Foreign Service helmet (bear in mind the Battalion had just arrived from Bareilly, India). Once in the trenches, SD caps were replaced by balaclavas and cap comforters. During the winter, the regular battalions of The Black Watch were issued with a blue Balmoral complete with a khaki cover. Tom McC

Thanks for the clarification, Tom.

Any thoughts on the veracity of Wauchope's assertion that red hackle was worn with these caps?

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Gordon,

I expect they did. An ex-Black Watch officer, Robert Francis Hurter Wallace CMG, asserts that the hackle was fixed to the cap too:

“When the Battalion arrived at Marseilles from India in 1914, a difficulty arose in replacing their Indian khaki helmets. Glengarries could not be procured and the only headgear available in ordnance stores was the ordinary cap of the Line. Very reluctantly it was decided to accept these, and the red hackles were transferred from the helmets to the caps.” RFHW

Tom McC

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Interesting. One can infer then that this was intended to prevent distinction of Anzac troops from British.

Not really. I understand it was so they would be easily identifiable to naval gunnery observers, and not be mistaken for Turkish troops.

Cheers

Chris

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Gordon,

I expect they did. An ex-Black Watch officer, Robert Francis Hurter Wallace CMG, asserts that the hackle was fixed to the cap too:

“When the Battalion arrived at Marseilles from India in 1914, a difficulty arose in replacing their Indian khaki helmets. Glengarries could not be procured and the only headgear available in ordnance stores was the ordinary cap of the Line. Very reluctantly it was decided to accept these, and the red hackles were transferred from the helmets to the caps.” RFHW

Tom McC

Tom,

I remain perplexed by one point. In India, wouldn't 2nd Bn men have already possessed glengarries for use after sunset in addition to their Wolseley helmets? One would think that they brought their entire kit with them from India.

Mike

Not really. I understand it was so they would be easily identifiable to naval gunnery observers, and not be mistaken for Turkish troops.

Cheers

Chris

Informative. Thank you Crunchy.

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Hi Gordon,

A valid question. For some reason it doesn’t look like they took them. I know they were part of full dress and walking out dress, but it looks like it wasn’t on the kit list to deploy to France. Tom McC

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