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Australian Defence Force personnel:
things while you're
Insurance benefits specifically for
Army April 26, 2012
of the Aussie soldier
FOR more than a hundred
years the Australian soldier
has fought on battlefields
around the world. Through
improvements in technology and
ever-changing conditions, one
item has stood the test of time and
instantly identifies the Australian
soldier -- the iconic Australian
Entrenched deep in history, the
Australian slouch hat, or Hat Khaki
Fur Felt as it is officially known, was
first introduced to Australian soldiers
in 1885 by the commander of the
Victorian Mounted Rifles, Col Tom
Col Price recognised the value of
the hat after seeing the native police
of Burma wearing it, and introduced
it with no bash and a unique puggaree
featuring three plaits.
The hat was originally worn with
the right-hand side brim up, allowing
soldiers to look an inspecting officer
in the eye when given the order "eyes
On December 22, 1890, it was
decided by the military command-
ers of the Australian colonies that all
Australian forces except artillery would
wear the hat.
The South African Boer War in
1899 was the first time Australian sol-
diers all fought wearing the slouch hat
in a war zone.
After Federation, the hat became
standard issue headdress across the
Australian Army in 1903.
RSM Ceremonial WO1 David Lehr
said the hat was a world-renowned
symbol of the Australian soldier.
"It's a significant headdress that
depicts us as Australian soldiers when
in other countries and even in the gen-
eral public of Australia," he said.
"Soldiers should be proud to wear
the slouch hat -- it was worn by our
soldiers that had fought and fallen in
previous wars and conflicts and I'm
sure they wore it with pride then, as we
should right now."
Although these days the slouch hat
is worn in the same manner by all sol-
diers, there are some units which main-
tain a unique variant of the hat.
At RMC-D, members wear the
hat with the chinstrap buckle on the
right as a mark of respect and remem-
brance for Maj-Gen William Bridges,
the first commander of the 1st AIF,
who was found wearing his hat back
to front when he was fatally wounded
Other variations to the hat include
RMC-D staff cadet members who wear
a distinctive olive drab colour pugga-
ree and members of 1RAR who wear
a jungle green puggaree dating back
to the unit's service in Malaya from
Today the slouch hat remains the
Army's main headdress and, along with
the Rising Sun badge, is an instantly
recognisable symbol of the Australian
soldier throughout the world.
It's the one clothing
item that instantly
identifies a digger. Cpl
Nick Wiseman looks
at the history of the
INITIALLY the slouch hat was worn with a round crown,
with it first being worn bashed during World War I.
During this time and up until the end of WWII there
was no standard hat bash, with the bash types limited
only by the soldiers imagination.
After WWII and the formation of the Australian
Regular Army, dress guidelines became formal and hats
were bashed using dedicated hat blocks and wetting the
hat -- this process made the look of the hat more uniform.
Today the slouch hat can be bought from clothing
stores pre-bashed and ready to wear, needing only the
accoutrements added to complete the hat.
A LOT of the information for this story was used with per-
mission from The Australian Army Slouch Hat and Rising
Sun Badge, written by Rick Grebert and published by the
NSW Military Historical Society.
The book explains in detail the history, origins and
manufacturing specifications of the slouch hat through-
out the years as well as its accouchements, such as the
symbol of the Australian Army -- the Rising Sun.
Only available in limited numbers, it can be ordered in
and borrowed through the Defence library system.
Australian favourite: When asked by an Army reporter during his retirement interview to
identify the item he most treasured from his service in the Australian Army, then-CDF Gen
Peter Cosgrove went straight for the slouch hat.
Photo by Maj Cameron Jamieson
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