The Colonial Pattern helmet was officially introduced for use by the British Army in 1877 1 although it had been worn in India several years prior to that date. The first Dress Regulations for the British Army (for officers only) published after this date was the 1883 edition and describes the helmet as follows –
The helmet was initially white but was often camouflaged on active service by the use of tea, mud, coffee grounds, in fact anything which would lessen its visibility. Later, khaki covers would be used, followed by an all khaki version. Wealthier officers often had both a white and a khaki version.
The interior of the helmet for officers was quite plush, rather less so for the Other Ranks. The leather headband was often topped with silk and the ventilation around the headband was provided either by corrugated buckram or by 8 cork spacers.
Additional ventilation was provided by a collet set into the top of the helmet. Into this was screwed either a cloth covered zinc button or a spike and base.
Whilst the helmet was initially made of cork, shortages of this material, and the parsimoniousness of governments, resulted in many helmets being made of wicker (see here for wicker helmets), covered with cloth and lined with sola pith. In the latter decades of the 19th Century wicker helmets were used by Other Ranks when supplied by the Indian Government. 2
Flashes and/or hackles were used early on, at least as early as the Ashanti War of 1874, to distinguish and identify regiments. The above example illustrates the flash, or a variation of the flash worn by Paget’s Horse (see here) during the 2nd Boer War 1899-1902.
The Colonial pattern helmet began to be replaced for officers in or before 1896 when the Wolseley helmet was taken up unofficially by British officers. This transition to the Wolseley took many years and was probably complete by about 1910/11 however photographic evidence exist that shows its being still in use as late as 1914. Perhaps for special occasions only, but why?