What's up with that cap. . . a thread dedicated to unusual.

For any and all posts on physical items that don't fit other specific forums in the Artifacts & Objects category.
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Pat Holscher
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Wed May 07, 2008 12:13 pm

military headgear.

I thought I'd post some photo examples, as time permits, of odd military caps.

Some of these probably have real reasons for being around, and their purpose has just been obscured by history. Others. . . well. . .
Pat

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Wed May 07, 2008 12:15 pm

The British soldier on the far left in this photo is wearing a pill box cap. This photo is from the Crimean War, but the cap would stick around for at least another 60 years. It still has a few odd uses in some military school settings.

It saw a lot of use, even the NWMP used it. But why? It doesn't appear to do anything.

Image
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Wed May 07, 2008 12:19 pm

I'm out of my element here, Pat, but isn't it less cumbersome than some of the headgear that preceded it?
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Wed May 07, 2008 6:15 pm

"Pill Box Cap:
A round cap with a chin stap and gold lace of a regimental pattern. Worn by officers with mess and undress uniforms. It is also worn by other ranks mainly in cavalry regiments with other than full dress uniforms."
Glossary, British and Indian Army at:
http://www.members.dca.net/fbl/glossary.html
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Wed May 07, 2008 7:51 pm

You know, it makes a bit so sense for artillerymen, especially Coast Artillerymen and Fortress Artillerymen who work in close quarters, who have to get down close to the sights, to wear such a thing, but I can’t imagine any use in the Cavalry, other than for developing eye strain from squinting in bright sunlight.

It is strapped on like it could fly off!
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Wed May 07, 2008 8:20 pm

Couvi wrote:You know, it makes a bit so sense for artillerymen, especially Coast Artillerymen and Fortress Artillerymen who work in close quarters, who have to get down close to the sights, to wear such a thing, but I can’t imagine any use in the Cavalry, other than for developing eye strain from squinting in bright sunlight.

It is strapped on like it could fly off!
Added to that, the fashion often seemed to be to wear it darned near on the side of the head, which looks uncomfortable.

The photo above is interesting on caps. The mounted trooper does have a very traditional military cap for the period. It's very tall, but I believe that style did have an origin having to do with visibility and deception in the black powder era. The soldier (if that's what he is) on the right has totally dispensed with military headgear, and is wearing a brimmed felt hat. He's obviously been in the field for awhile.
Pat

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Wed May 07, 2008 9:01 pm

Ridiculous hats seem to be an especially military form of nuttiness. How 'bout those berets?
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Wed May 07, 2008 9:14 pm

The NWMP pillbox cap is depicted here:

http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/history/nwmp_uniform_e.htm

We associate the Mounties with the Stetson, of course. I think they picked up their style of Stetson from Canadian troops in the Boer War, who adopted practical Montana Peak broad brimmed hats. Before that, however, I think that the Mounties were already wearing broad brimmed hats in the field (one of our long absent members would definitely know). The official hat, however, at one time was the pillbox hat.
Pat

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Kelton Oliver
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Mon May 26, 2008 3:19 pm

As I've said before...Virtually all military headgear is mostly symbolic, although much of it is "descended" from something which had a practical purpose, even the beret which is so popular to hate these days. The overseas cap/garrison cap/flight cap serves no purpose other than to be a headgear, and I suspect the pillbox hat was the same.
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Mon May 26, 2008 7:23 pm

Kelton Oliver wrote:As I've said before...Virtually all military headgear is mostly symbolic, although much of it is "descended" from something which had a practical purpose, even the beret which is so popular to hate these days. The overseas cap/garrison cap/flight cap serves no purpose other than to be a headgear, and I suspect the pillbox hat was the same.
The origin of the pillbox hat really strikes me as a mystery. There likely was some practical purpose in the cap, but I can't readily imagine what it was.

The overseas cap descends from a European military cap that had ear flaps. You could pull the flaps down and keep your ears warm. At least as late as WWII, some European variants still served that purpose. The American version, on the other hand, never seems to have done anything, and it is a really odd cap.
Pat

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Mon May 26, 2008 10:21 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:
Kelton Oliver wrote:As I've said before...Virtually all military headgear is mostly symbolic, although much of it is "descended" from something which had a practical purpose, even the beret which is so popular to hate these days. The overseas cap/garrison cap/flight cap serves no purpose other than to be a headgear, and I suspect the pillbox hat was the same.
The origin of the pillbox hat really strikes me as a mystery. There likely was some practical purpose in the cap, but I can't readily imagine what it was.

The overseas cap descends from a European military cap that had ear flaps. You could pull the flaps down and keep your ears warm. At least as late as WWII, some European variants still served that purpose. The American version, on the other hand, never seems to have done anything, and it is a really odd cap.
What the overseas cap does is to provide the function of giving the soldier a headgear. At least in the U.S. military, a soldier without a headgear is unthinkable, so he must have one even if it serves no other functional purpose. I like the overseas/garrison cap and wear one most of the time when I'm in uniform. It is light, easy to stuff in a pocket, and washable. It allows me to be "in uniform" when outdoors and otherwise is entirely useless. The same could be said of the beret. In a "working uniform" I can wear a baseball-type cap, which at least has the advantage of keeping the sun out of my eyes, but you can't really stuff it in your pocket when you go indoors.
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Mon May 26, 2008 10:35 pm

Kelton Oliver wrote:In a "working uniform" I can wear a baseball-type cap, which at least has the advantage of keeping the sun out of my eyes, but you can't really stuff it in your pocket when you go indoors.
In the semi-dress uniform? Or is that one with utilities?

I'm hoping you'll say utilities. I know ball caps have long received utility use, but I'd have a hard time imaging that with another uniform.
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Tue May 27, 2008 5:13 am

Not being Kelton (nor playing him on TV :wink: ) I'd subtitute "working uniform" for "utilities." Although, at the end of the day, those may be synonomous concepts.

Kelton is right on the function of the "garrison cap," "overseas cap," "piss cutter," and some other less flattering names. It can be removed and stuck under the edge of the belt. It goes nicely into a flight suit pocket. It's a handy device.

I've seen some drawing of historic Naval uniforms. In one the "tropical white unform" of the WWII era included a white garrison cap. In those days that uniform was a "service" vice a "dress" uniform (which put it one step above "working" and suitable for wear on the quarter deck by those not engaged in "dirty shirt" work). I'm just old enough to remember the draconian restrictions on wearing dungarees or flight gear in the early and mid-'60s. And I'm old enough to have served on ships where Service Dress Blue or White was required of the Officer of the Deck and other bridge watch standers. :)

Of course that was a dying practice by the time I started as a Middie.

My brother-in-law sat on the Naval Uniform Board in D.C. for serveral years while he was at the Pentagon. He was one of the male Aviator reps. Each gender and corps, officer and enliested, was represented. Changers were reviewed by this group (quarterly, if memory serves) and either approved, disaproved, or referred for further study. Changes could come from above (CNOs were notorious for their personal uniform prejudices) or from the Fleet. He has some VERY interesting stories about the interplay of the various interest goups. He has likened it to the deliberations of the U.S. Senate (but without cloture until the OinC got tired of hearing people talk :lol: ).

My guess is that other services have a similary structure. They also have similar "boss" problems. I remember an uproar in the Air Force a couple of years back when the Chief of Staff proposed an officer's uniform that looked like a Marine Corps Service Dress Blue "choker" in Air Force blue. :shock:

In peace time folks have time to fool with this stuff. In wartime I suspect there's a bit less "hoorah" over the whole affair. But, then, maybe not. During WWII ADM King, the CNO, proposes a "service dress gray" set of uniforms. He tried to impose these, but was met with resistance that stopped just short of mutiny. In the end the only people who ever wore the uniform were those assigned to his staff.
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Tue May 27, 2008 7:35 am

wkambic wrote:Not being Kelton (nor playing him on TV :wink: ) I'd subtitute "working uniform" for "utilities." Although, at the end of the day, those may be synonomous concepts.

Kelton is right on the function of the "garrison cap," "overseas cap," "piss cutter," and some other less flattering names. It can be removed and stuck under the edge of the belt. It goes nicely into a flight suit pocket. It's a handy device.

I've seen some drawing of historic Naval uniforms. In one the "tropical white unform" of the WWII era included a white garrison cap. In those days that uniform was a "service" vice a "dress" uniform (which put it one step above "working" and suitable for wear on the quarter deck by those not engaged in "dirty shirt" work). I'm just old enough to remember the draconian restrictions on wearing dungarees or flight gear in the early and mid-'60s. And I'm old enough to have served on ships where Service Dress Blue or White was required of the Officer of the Deck and other bridge watch standers. :)

Of course that was a dying practice by the time I started as a Middie.

My brother-in-law sat on the Naval Uniform Board in D.C. for serveral years while he was at the Pentagon. He was one of the male Aviator reps. Each gender and corps, officer and enliested, was represented. Changers were reviewed by this group (quarterly, if memory serves) and either approved, disaproved, or referred for further study. Changes could come from above (CNOs were notorious for their personal uniform prejudices) or from the Fleet. He has some VERY interesting stories about the interplay of the various interest goups. He has likened it to the deliberations of the U.S. Senate (but without cloture until the OinC got tired of hearing people talk :lol: ).

My guess is that other services have a similary structure. They also have similar "boss" problems. I remember an uproar in the Air Force a couple of years back when the Chief of Staff proposed an officer's uniform that looked like a Marine Corps Service Dress Blue "choker" in Air Force blue. :shock:

In peace time folks have time to fool with this stuff. In wartime I suspect there's a bit less "hoorah" over the whole affair. But, then, maybe not. During WWII ADM King, the CNO, proposes a "service dress gray" set of uniforms. He tried to impose these, but was met with resistance that stopped just short of mutiny. In the end the only people who ever wore the uniform were those assigned to his staff.

I'd agree about the origin of the garrison cap in US service. It's easy to carry, which is it's only real virtue. Otherwise, it fits in prefectly to this category.

I think garrison caps can be tied to the introduction of helmets to a degree. The US didn't field a combat helmet until WWI. When the British type helmet was introduced, it meant the campaign hat had to be stored somewhere. For all its virtues, the campaign hat is a big hat, and if you're not going to wear it on campaign, it becomes a problem. The garrison cap, however, is small enough and so flat, it can be carried as easy as worn.

It is a strange cap in US use however, as it always lacked the protective features of it's European (French?) predecessors. Having said that, I do think that when affixed with the large airborne patch, like used to be done in the US Army for paratroopers, it was sharp looking. I'm not so keen on it otherwise, however. Also, the best looking one, for the Army, seems to be the one of WWII vintage. When the Army went to the polyblend fabric, it had a tendency to want to stay flat, even on a person's head.

Is the garrison cap now out of Army service?

Why, out of curiosity, the name "garrison" in the name? It wasn't ever restricted to garrisons. "Overseas" made much more sense in the original name, but I'm not sure what name was official at any one time.
Pat

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Tue May 27, 2008 10:16 am

Pat Holscher wrote:
Kelton Oliver wrote:In a "working uniform" I can wear a baseball-type cap, which at least has the advantage of keeping the sun out of my eyes, but you can't really stuff it in your pocket when you go indoors.
In the semi-dress uniform? Or is that one with utilities?

I'm hoping you'll say utilities. I know ball caps have long received utility use, but I'd have a hard time imaging that with another uniform.
That would be utilities -- working khaki, working blue, coveralls, and BDUs. Yes, it would look strange with a service uniform.
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Tue May 27, 2008 10:28 am

wkambic wrote:My guess is that other services have a similary structure. They also have similar "boss" problems.
Oooooooooh. Now you got me up on my soapbox! :x The late and unlamented Assistant Secretary for Health decreed unilaterally (and against the advice of the board that he convened for the purpose) that all Public Health Service uniforms would conform strictly to Navy regulations and practices without any of the modifications that had been allowed before. Now, I don't have anything against the U.S. Navy; if I need someone killed, blown up, or otherwise destroyed, they are on my list of people to call; but the PHS is a separate service with a different mission and we cherish our distinctiveness. I guess that's what you get when you put a $#@%!^& civilian in charge of a uniformed service.
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Tue May 27, 2008 12:47 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:
I'd agree about the origin of the garrison cap in US service. It's easy to carry, which is it's only real virtue. Otherwise, it fits in prefectly to this category.

I think garrison caps can be tied to the introduction of helmets to a degree. The US didn't field a combat helmet until WWI. When the British type helmet was introduced, it meant the campaign hat had to be stored somewhere. For all its virtues, the campaign hat is a big hat, and if you're not going to wear it on campaign, it becomes a problem. The garrison cap, however, is small enough and so flat, it can be carried as easy as worn.

It is a strange cap in US use however, as it always lacked the protective features of it's European (French?) predecessors. Having said that, I do think that when affixed with the large airborne patch, like used to be done in the US Army for paratroopers, it was sharp looking. I'm not so keen on it otherwise, however. Also, the best looking one, for the Army, seems to be the one of WWII vintage. When the Army went to the polyblend fabric, it had a tendency to want to stay flat, even on a person's head.

Is the garrison cap now out of Army service?

Why, out of curiosity, the name "garrison" in the name? It wasn't ever restricted to garrisons. "Overseas" made much more sense in the original name, but I'm not sure what name was official at any one time.
Pat;

The first OS caps were actually pretty sharp looking once the troops started sewing the top shut, otherwise you looked like a Soviet bloc conscript. The French caps from WWI I find to be relatively hideous looking.

As for the garrison cap's current use, all initial entry troops wear it until they complete their initial training (For the Army) at which point they graduate the the even less useful beret. The Army has also decided that junior enlisted (E-4 and below) will wear the beret with the new dress blue service uniform and will also lose the gold strip on the leg of the trousers. E-5s and above will get to wear the service hat and have a gold stripe.

Kind of silly if you ask me.

--Brian
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Wed May 28, 2008 11:41 am

http://daguerreian.org/zoomify.php?imgnum=1500

This appears to be a form of "garrison cap" and may be the forerunner of the pill-box?
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Wed May 28, 2008 12:45 pm

Trooper wrote:http://daguerreian.org/zoomify.php?imgnum=1500

This appears to be a form of "garrison cap" and may be the forerunner of the pill-box?


Wow. What the heck is that?
Pat

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