When, in 1911, the Department of Militia & Defence (M&D) ordered the transition from the white Universal helmet to the white Wolseley pattern helmet they permitted existing pugarees to continue to be worn. This satisfied the need for regimental identities for most orders of dress. However, the 1904 introduction of drab Service Dress called for either a khaki cover to the helmet or a khaki helmet left the Militia with little opportunity for regimental expression.
Although most khaki helmets are unadorned photographic evidence shows that some regiments adopted a regimental flash for the khaki helmet prior to the First World War. This practice only received official sanction in 1935 following British practice where, in 1934, Dress Regulations permitted the use of flashes or other embellishments on the Wolseley. The adornment could be worn either directly on the helmet or on the khaki cover to the white helmet.
– Puggaree – a cloth wrapping around the base of the helmet’s crown. The pugaree can be plain, consist of a set number of folds, include colour folds or consist of a simple coloured ribbon
– Badge – a regimental badge, placed either on the side or on the front.
– Flash – a rectangular piece of material featuring the regimental tartan, or colours, often in silk but could be made of any material
– Embellishment – typically a plume or hackle.
Khaki helmets, when adorned, will often use one or two of the above although examples exist where three elements are incorporated. The author has yet to find an example where all four elements have been used on a single helmet.
The challenge to collectors is the identification of many flashes. Although headquarters’ approval was required no central files were kept and details can only sometimes be found in individual unit records.
In lieu of the approved Wolseley pattern helmet, officers also purchased a Cawnpore-style helmet. Examples show that this pattern helmet often included a badge place at the front. None has been found with any other form of adornment.
By the mid-1940s the khaki helmet was no longer in wear.
Clive M. Law