Here the term ‘Desert Goggles’ is taken as those goggles which seem to have been issued to British Empire Troops specifically for use in desert campaigns in the late 19th to mid 20th Century. These goggles differ from the more ubiquitous; dust; general purpose; transport; tank; dispatch rider; mountain and snow goggles issued from mid-WWI by most nations, in being campaign specific. The three main goggle types discussed here were used in the Sudan (1882-98); the Mesopotamian (1914-18) and the North African (1940-43) campaigns respectively.
Today the sun helmets and other tropical headgear utilized by the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I remains somewhat of a mystery. One factor that is so few pieces have survived and the photographic evidence suggests that a variety of patterns were used.
Our colleague and friend Dr. Chris Flaherty chronicled the various patterns for these, but now a new photo and some insight from the Imperial War Museum may shed a bit more light on the Ottoman “Sun Helmet.” Continue reading
Khaki was used throughout the colonial world by most of the major powers, and in many ways the First World War was the first conflict where the parties fought with virtually the same colored uniforms. While khaki, as we noted in part I of this feature on The Original Camouflage, was introduced in India, other powers including France and Germany – as noted in previous posts – also opted for the dust-colored fabric. Other armies, including the Belgians, Portuguese, Spanish and Turks would don khaki colored uniforms. Continue reading
Many colonial pattern sun helmets featured a spike at the dome, a feature reminiscent of the German “Pickelhaube” (Pointy Hat). This traditional of wearing a spike is one that appears to originate in the 1840s, and while a helmet with a spike on top is traditionally associated with Prussia and later Germany, the truth is that many nations including the United States, Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Chile all were among those that utilized the decorative spike. Continue reading
This author previously noted that the collection of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s private uniforms at Huis Doorn included a mystery helmet that appears to be British; a helmet that he may have never wore in any official capacity. However, the last Kaiser of Germany did in fact wear a bombastic tropical uniform in his visit to Palestine in 1898 (shown above at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem).
While, this doesn’t explain how the apparent British six-panel colonial pattern helmet came to be a part of Willie’s personal items at Doorn, it does show that he was prepared for any occasion, including a visit to the Holy Land in German tropical attire. Continue reading
As we noted previously in regards to the Czech sun helmets, it might seem apposite to consider that a landlocked nation in Central Europe would have need for a sun helmet. But while the Czechs were a unique case, one must remember that the Austria of today is much different from the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th century. Continue reading
Chris Flaherty, lives in London, and has a long-term interest in militaria collecting, curation, preservation and research. He has written extensively on World War I Ottoman Turkish military history for the UK Armourer magazine and Soldier of the Queen (journal).
To discuss the Turkish Kabalak, we must firstly dispel a few myths; some 40 years ago a book on German steel helmets accidentally transposed the Ottoman Turkish contracted M18 helmet, with a visorless version (which made its first appearance after World War I in the hands of the German Freikorps units), both of which had been made by Eisenhüttenwerk Thale.1 Continue reading