The “Smart” Helmet

A Maxim gun crew during the 2nd Boer War. Note the officer’s helmet far right.

A Maxim gun crew during the 2nd Boer War. Note the officer’s helmet far right.

Over the years of the Colonial Pattern Foreign Service Helmet there were many variations in style; by era, by construction material and by manufacturer. In the latter days of the 19th Century no style was more pronounced, nor more impractical than the so-called “smart” helmet.

A closeup of the "smart" helmet.

A closeup of the “smart” helmet.

The “normal” version of the helmet was already widely criticised because of its lack of sun protection to the temples and because of the difficulty presented by the steep peak and nape in firing rifles in the prone position. The “smart” helmet exacerbated these characteristics to a marked degree but were thought by the officers and regiments who adopted them to be sartorially far more elegant.

An extract from the 1900 Dress Regulations for the officers of the Army.

An extract from the 1900 Dress Regulations for the officers of the Army.

This style of helmet was first remarked upon in the 1900 Dress Regulations for the Army where it warned of “smart” helmets and that the sealed pattern be strictly adhered to.

Smart1

It is interesting to note that the “m” in “smart” is set upside down. Someone apparently had a cheeky sense of humour that was not picked up by the authorities.

The sealed pattern as shown in the 1900 DRs.

The sealed pattern as shown in the 1900 DRs.

Stuart Bates

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