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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Defeated by the Heat?


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On the 3 July 1915 the 1st (Brecknockshire) Battalion of the South Wales Borders marched from Aden en route to counter a perceived Turkish threat on the Abdali city of Lahej. Almost immediately the column began to experience difficulties caused by the high temperature, lack of adequate transport and a shortage of water. A stream of men was soon trickling back to the hospital in Aden. Sixteen cases of heatstroke were admitted on 4 July, twenty-four on 5, fifty-six on the 6, and twenty-two on the 7. Wounds caused by enemy action were, by contrast, very small, no more than about fifty. The Brecknocks were a broken force with ninety-four men in hospital and the remainder declared fit for garrison work only.

On 10 July, Colonel H.F. Cleveland, Indian Medical Service, and Assistant Director Medical Services, took the opportunity to examine the Brecknockshire men's headgear. He declared them 'quite unserviceable… [as they] afford practically no protection from the sun', and demanded their replacement with 'Cawnpore Topis'.

This begs the question – What were they wearing as headgear?

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