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Highland Division slouch / bush hats early 1915


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#1 piper

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 12:33 PM

I've seen several photos of 1/5 and 1/6 Seaforth wearing Boer War era slouch / bush hats during the latter part of the Highland Divisionís time in Bedford in the early months of 1915. In fact, the photographic evidence shows that 1/6 Seaforth were wearing this headgear when the Battalion marched out of Bedford on their way to France in early May 1915.

Iíve always assumed that these items of headgear were hats in their own right and that they were worn in Bedford simply because there were insufficient quantities of Glengarries to equip all the men. This is, in itself, somewhat tenuous as the majority of Bedford photos of the Battalions concerned show the men wearing Glengarries.

However, it has been suggested to me that the slouch hats were actually khaki canvas covers for the Glengarry, fitted with an all-round brim to provide the wearer with added protection against the sun.

A further suggestion is that the hats were worn to persuade any budding German spies that the wearers were destined for climes warmer than France and Belgium!

I have to say that I am not yet convinced by these suggestions and Iím hoping that someone out there might be able to solve this mystery once and for all.

Itís worth noting that the Largs war memorial bears 3 sculpted figures, one being a soldier wearing a slouch hat.

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#2 Matt Richards

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 12:33 AM

Strange! The brims look even too small for the slouch hat -- almost like a trilby or something.

I have seen a drawing (I supposed taken from a photo) of an Argyle & Sutherland transportation train driver wearing a slouch hat pinned up on the side with an A&S collar dog.

#3 piper

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 04:47 AM

Strange! The brims look even too small for the slouch hat -- almost like a trilby or something.

I have seen a drawing (I supposed taken from a photo) of an Argyle & Sutherland transportation train driver wearing a slouch hat pinned up on the side with an A&S collar dog.


I know what you mean. I was using the term "slouch hat" very loosely for want of a better one!

#4 Lachlan

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 05:27 AM

Hi

The hat they're wearing reminds me of a type of gamekeepr's hat, not the deerstalker with flaps, but the brimmed gamekeeper's hat worn then. My Granddad wore something very similar in photos as a gamekeeper in Argyll in the 1920's and 30's. Anglers still wear something similar, as do some golfers. It's not impossible that a khaki cloth version, or one of similar material to the kilt apron, was adopted by some TF Highland soldiers (possibly pre-war ?) as a comfortable and stowable headgear intended for certain service orders/duties/campaigning instead of the less-practical glengarry.

In the 1930's the British Army experimented with a very similar brimmed hat (which they called a deerstalker's cap) and issued it to part of the infantry for trials. It was comfortable, afforded protection from rain and could be rolled up and stowed - a lot better than the peaked service cap. However, the authorities thought it looked less than soldierly and kept the peaked cap until replaced by the forage cap (side-cap) - about as impractical a headgear as you could ever hope to see ! It basically re-surfaced in cotton twill in the Army at the end of WW2 in the Far East and was worn in Korea and has been modernised as a British Army item ever since.

The Argyll mentioned came from an Osprey Men At Arms book (I think by either Gerry Embleton or Mike Chappell) and showed a transport section member of the 12th Argylls based in the Salonika front. It was a proper slouch hat he wore, as well as trousers instead of kilt. Photos of the 12th's pipe band and members of the battailon which I have seen show them in kilts and wearing khaki Tam O' Shanters. The slouch hat he wore perhaps could have been a seasonal item or just worn by soldiers on certain duties.

#5 T8HANTS

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 08:33 AM

these hats seem to be a Territorial item, and I had a thread running about them here. As they were b eing worn by men of the Isle of Wight Rifles.

Gareth

#6 4thGordons

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 08:29 PM

these hats seem to be a Territorial item, and I had a thread running about them here. As they were b eing worn by men of the Isle of Wight Rifles.
Gareth


HI Richard
Still puzzling on this one eh?
FWIW I am with Gareth on this - I think that is is a TF pattern of hat rather than being a glengarry cover.
Joe Sweeney might be your man on this if he sees the thread.
Chris

PS on the original picture can you make out if the rifles are CCLE or non CL MLEs?

#7 dycer

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 07:15 PM

Pre-WW1 T.F Soldiers,in Scottish Battalions,e.g. the 8th Royal Scots, seem,per period photographs, to have been issued with "Slouch Hats".
I do not deny that the 8th Royal Scots,went to War,in 1914 wearing their Glengarries, to join the 7th Division, per period photographs,but whether they also "packed their Slouch Hats" is now open to question.
George

#8 brownag

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 01:08 PM

I have recently seen a photograph of an officer of the 5th Seaforths wearing this cap before leaving for Bedford so I would suggest it may be a pre-war item.

It is not a slouch hat used by some volunteer and TF units after service in the Boer War. In my opinion it is a khaki canvas cover to be worn over the glengarry but may often have been worn instead of it.

I don't know if this item was peculiar to the Seaforths TF battalions since they seem to be the only units photographed wearing them.

Adam

#9 dycer

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:30 PM

Only word, I can add to you're 21st Century debate, about early 20th Century Military Scottish Military Head-ware is.
"G'ARN" : :D
George

#10 brownag

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:29 PM

Tocemma

Thanks for the updates. I'm very interested in trying to pin down what the Seaforth caps are. Would it be possible for you send me a photograph of your glengarry cover to see what it looks like? Iíve tried PMíing you but I think your inbox is full.

I was basing my thought on it being a cover based on a previous thread started by Jock Bruce many years ago where the shape of it was discussed.

Given the part of the country the 5th and 6th Seaforths came from a ghillie cap would be a common style of cap worn by estate workers and landowners some of whom would also be in the local TF units so I wouldnít be surprised if that is what they are actually wearing.

However in some photographs the shape looks like a ghillie cap but in others it is more trilby shape suggesting a glengarry is actually sitting underneath it.

It's frustrating so little is known about it! Thanks for contributing to the debate.

Kind regards

Adam

#11 brownag

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 11:31 PM

Tocemma

I've found on another thread on the GWF that the War Office issued glengarry cover dates from April 1915 so this item pre-dates that. The more I think about this I think this is a glengarry cover ordered by the 5th and 6th Seaforth Territorial Force Associations. (It's strange no photographs exist for the 4th Seaforth wearing them though). If a territorial Highland regiment ordered kilt covers then why not something to cover the garish red and white diced band on a glengarry (red, white and green on the 6th's glengarrys)

The trilby shape of the Knockando TF men's headgear looks very like a cap cover stretched over a glengarry. That same cover not worn over a glengarry would look like a ghillie cap.

It's probably worth noting that at the time these units went to France the War Office took over supply of uniform and equipment from the TF Associations and it also coincided with the issuing of balmoral and tam o'shanter caps.

If privately issued cap covers were not available in France but khaki tam o'shanters were then for the sake of uniformity I would suggest that the TF cap covers were ditched for standard headgear and that is why this rare cap is not seen in France.

Adam

#12 pbrydon

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 05:46 PM

This picture shows members of the Liverpool Scottish wearing the slouch hat at camp in 1909.

P.B.

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#13 seaforths

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 11:30 PM

If any of you have Derek Bird's book on the 6th Seaforths (Spirit of the Troops is Excellent) There is a photo on the front cover also found inside of a Trench Raid party taken end of September 1916 and, if my memory serves me right, it looks like one of them is wearing a bush hat - pinned at one side. I also seem to recall reading that the 6th Seaforths were issued with Glengarry covers on their departure. The chap in the photo had puzzled me because they are wearing an array of headgear including tin lids, some obviously captured from the trench they raided and I did wonder how he came to have what appeared to be a slouch hat.

Now that I have seen the image above from P.B. it might have aggitated further grey matter and I may be able to locate a similary photo of Scots at about the same era or certainly pre-war. It might be that those who had been with the Regt. for a while had these hats and continued to wear them even though they had a Glengarry. They may have purchased them as part of their uniform pre-war. I also read that some of the younger soldiers or those recently arriving at the front would purchase/acquire older issue kit so they looked, on appearance as seasoned soldiers - a kind of status thing. It was probably mentioned in Richard Van Emden/Norman Collins book or Van Emdens Boy Soldiers book

I can look for the reference to issue of Glengarry covers - but other Battalions might have been issued sooner/later than the 6th Seaforths.

It gives me an excuse to do some back reading and looking at some images I haven't looked at in a while.

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#14 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 01:23 AM

Bush Hats/ Slouch Hats were issued to, and worn by other British army units during WW1, here is a photograph of a British Anti-Aircraft Unit in action. The photograph, is thought to have been taken in Salonika.
LF

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#15 seaforths

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 09:55 PM

I quickly checked the Norman Collins/Richard van Emden 'Last Man Standing' I could see no photos with bush hats but I have also checked the photograph of the trench raid party in Derek Bird's book (see my previous post) and there seems to be at least 3 wearing what appear to be bush hats in the trench photo, although they are not pinned up at the side as I thought last night.

I have also checked 'Campaign Reminiscences' and this could be a total coincidence but the trench raid took place at Armentieres 15th September 1916 after which, those involved posed with their captured booty for the photo and the Battalion according to the book, relieved the 'Australians and New Zealanders' at Armentieres 18th August - there could have been a bit of trading going on? Or, did the ANZACs leave some of their kit behind? There is also a photo of one of the men in 'Campaign Reminiscences' wearing a bush hat that is pinned up at one side, so that must have been where I saw that one - I will post the image tomorrow night. I will also check to see if the book makes reference to the Glengarry covers and issue of Balmoral bonnets.

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#16 FROGSMILE

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 09:25 AM

I've seen several photos of 1/5 and 1/6 Seaforth wearing Boer War era slouch / bush hats during the latter part of the Highland Division's time in Bedford in the early months of 1915. In fact, the photographic evidence shows that 1/6 Seaforth were wearing this headgear when the Battalion marched out of Bedford on their way to France in early May 1915.

I've always assumed that these items of headgear were hats in their own right and that they were worn in Bedford simply because there were insufficient quantities of Glengarries to equip all the men. This is, in itself, somewhat tenuous as the majority of Bedford photos of the Battalions concerned show the men wearing Glengarries.

However, it has been suggested to me that the slouch hats were actually khaki canvas covers for the Glengarry, fitted with an all-round brim to provide the wearer with added protection against the sun.

A further suggestion is that the hats were worn to persuade any budding German spies that the wearers were destined for climes warmer than France and Belgium!

I have to say that I am not yet convinced by these suggestions and I'm hoping that someone out there might be able to solve this mystery once and for all.

It's worth noting that the Largs war memorial bears 3 sculpted figures, one being a soldier wearing a slouch hat.


Do you know the origin of your photo? Is it perhaps from a newspaper? If so then a search in Bedford's local newspaper archives might draw something out. The appearance of the men is so unusal (virtually unprecedented, as the caps look very different to Slouch Hats and are in fact more akin to tweed Ghillie, or cotton Jungle or Boonie hats of more modern times) that I cannot believe that some comment would not have been passed as an adjunct to the photo. Also what does the regimental museum have to say on the matter?

#17 4thGordons

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 04:33 PM

I haven't seen Richard (Piper) on here for a while but I do know he has spent lots of time in the Beds archive and he and I went through the locap paper holdings... have a look at his Blog

In the meantime -- here is a clearer view of the hats in question SO HERE IT IS
The commenter claims these are glengarry covers.

Chris

#18 FROGSMILE

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 04:58 PM

I haven't seen Richard (Piper) on here for a while but I do know he has spent lots of time in the Beds archive and he and I went through the locap paper holdings... have a look at his Blog

In the meantime -- here is a clearer view of the hats in question SO HERE IT IS
The commenter claims these are glengarry covers.

Chris


Personally I am not convinced that they are glengarry covers Chris, although I confess that I have never seen one with which to make a comparison. If the covers were shaped like a Torin pattern Field Service Cap then I suppose it is possible, as the caps, with flaps folded down would have looked a little like a ghillie cap. For me though the jury is still out.

#19 4thGordons

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 05:08 PM

Personally I am not convinced that they are glengarry covers Chris, although I confess that I have never seen one with which to make a comparison. If the covers were shaped like a Torin pattern Field Service Cap then I suppose it is possible, as the caps, with flaps folded down would have looked a little like a ghillie cap. For me though the jury is still out.


FWIW nor am I as I indicated above. I too have never seen a verified "glengarry cover" nor a description of one. I was simply pointing out what the commenter said.
If these are indeed glen. covers then it does not look to me as though they are actually being worn over a glen (unless the fit etc is remarkably good).
Chris

#20 FROGSMILE

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 06:27 PM

FWIW nor am I as I indicated above. I too have never seen a verified "glengarry cover" nor a description of one. I was simply pointing out what the commenter said.
If these are indeed glen. covers then it does not look to me as though they are actually being worn over a glen (unless the fit etc is remarkably good).
Chris


Yes, I agree, I think they are more likely to be some kind of ghillie cap.

#21 seaforths

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 07:50 PM

Re headgear for 6th Seaforths. I found the following quote from 'Campaign Reminiscences p.9' for June 1915 when they were at Pacaut:

"Here also the blue Balmoral, covered with a khaki cover, was issued to us, instead of the unsightly and inconvenient kind of postman's cap to go over the Glengarry, with which we left England".

I also have a photo from the above book: Attached File  IMG_0834 (2).JPG   46.54KB   0 downloads




I believe these are the the ones worn in the photo at Armentieres Sep 1916 having taken over trenches from Australian/New Zealanders

Finding an image of Postie's cap from that time period might give an idea of what the Glengarry cover looked like.

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#22 seaforths

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 07:55 PM

Refering back to P.B.s earlier post with photo of Liverpool Scottish - it looks very like their hats too...were the Australian hats similar?
Marjorie

#23 seaforths

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:46 PM

Attached File  Aus..JPG   12.49KB   0 downloads
As a follow up, here is the Australian version from ww1 and I have to say, they look remarkably similar - has anyone found a postman's hat from that era? There's a challenge!

#24 skipman

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:12 PM

- has anyone found a postman's hat from that era? There's a challenge!


How about this?

http://www.penmon.org/page49.htm

Mike

#25 seaforths

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:48 PM

Cheers Mike!

the magic eye puzzle of bluebells around the screen has caused me permanent eye damage while I scrolled down to see images so am tpinying rhtis wiz imy dmaged rtinas!

Cn ornlee srmize thyv gt a peakkks on tglngrarry cvers?