I must state at the outset that this article was inspired by Tim Reese (Tim’s website) who questioned my description of the blue helmets worn by the Royal Navy as being standard Foreign Service Helmets with blue cloth covers (see Sun Helmets in the Royal Navy). On closer inspection that is obviously not the case. They are blue cloth helmets in their own right. Tim and I are in disagreement as to the “flared” helmets worn by two of the officers: Tim positing that they are the product of rough wear and storage; I say that they are too symmetrical and in good condition for that to be true. It remains a moot point. Continue reading
Following the First World War the British found themselves with new territory carved out of the Ottoman Empire, which included Mandatory Palestine. To help administer this new “mandate” the British formed the Palestine Police Force. It was established on the First of July, 1920 by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel’s civil administration which took over responsibly in Mandatory Palestine from General Allenby’s Occupied Enemy Territory Administration . Continue reading
The story of the Wolseley helmet is well documented, but occasionally even we come across something a little different. In this case it is a helmet that has the basic shape of a Wolseley and at first glance could possibly be dismissed as a “child’s helmet.”
The story gets interesting however. This helmet, which is a bit of a cross between a Wolseley and a polo style helmet, was apparently made in India. Moreover, while we have noted that the English helmet makers principally worked in cork with the Wolseley – with straw and felt also serving when there were shortages of cork – this Wolseley style helmet is made of sola pith!
The helmet is attributed to Major James Skitt Matthews, born in 1878 in Wales, and died in 1970 at the age of 92 in Vancouver. James Skitt Matthews was a well known figure around the Vancouver area, and was appointed Vancouver’s first archivist in 1933. He was also a much respected historian of the city and amassed a huge collection of photos relating to Vancouver. In his early life he joined a local militia unit in 1903 and at the outbreak of war in 1914 was transferred to the Regular Army and fought with The Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles throughout 1916 to 1918 during World War One. His tough no nonsense style made him something of a hero to his men in the trenches. Continue reading
During the Battle of Alexandria in 1801 the 28th Foot (North Gloucestershire) Regiment was attacked from behind by the French. The commanding officer Lt. Col. Paget then gave the famous order “Rear rank, 28th. Right about face.” With consummate discipline the rear rank turned to face the attacking French and at short range fired one devastating volley which caused heavy casualties and forced the enemy’s withdrawal.
For this action the regiment was allowed the distinction of wearing badges on both the front and rear of the head-dress. Only the two regular battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment, formed by the amalgamation of the 28th and 61st Regiments which occurred as a result of the Cardwell/Childers reforms of the British Army in 1881 were allowed this distinction. Militia and Volunteer battalions were not allowed this distinction. Continue reading
Although not officially established as part of a tropical uniform for officers until 1885, the sun helmet was used unofficially as far back as the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). It was described as being a “white helmet with blue pagri.” 1 Continue reading
Helmets made of wicker were in use in India from, at least, the 1850s and lasted into the early 20th century with units despatched to the Second Anglo-Boer War from India. These helmets and their cork Colonial equivalents were replaced by the Wolseley pattern in the first years of the 20th century and this was completed by 1910. Continue reading