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 →
Formed in April 1926 as a para-military border guard to defend the northern and southern borders of the Transjordan, this unit was also an Imperial Service regiment. It drew its cadre from the Arab Legion, and replaced the disbanded British Gendarmerie, which itself had been founded following World War I to protect Transjordan. The unit was led by British officers, who typically donned sun helmets or visor caps – while the locally raised troops wore the Ottoman-styled kalpak, a type of headdress that was also worn by the Palestine Police Force and Arab Legion. Continue reading →
Side view of the Hitelmacher. Even more appealing when it retains a straight shape. (Collection of Alex Ben-Arieh/Historama.com)
Though the Israeli Army earned glory on the battlefield in 1948, it came into being during a period where militaria started to lose its national uniqueness. Under the influence of Eastern and Western alliances, and more efficient production processes, armies began to adopt homogeneous, if boring, accessories and equipment such as mass-made nylon patches, conventional uniforms and plain, generic helmets.
During the 1947-49 War of Independence, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and its forerunners sported ‘sock hats’ (“Kova Gerev” – in Hebrew) from local manufacture or leftover British Army stocks. However the army also succeeded in receiving a uniquely styled hat in sufficient quantities that its presence also left its mark on the identity of the army: the ‘Hitelmacher’ hat. The Hitelmacher bears a semblance to a kepi in the style of a Finmark hat, but when affixed with the Army’s emblem, it also exhibits a ceremonial elegance.
A Palestine Police sun helmet and kalpak (Collection of the Author)
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 late 19th century saw the era of “Red Coats” pass as British soldiers on campaign donned khaki – which was soon to become the first true universal camouflage
Today camouflage has gone high-tech, with digicam or “digital camouflage” being the preferred pattern. This utilizes small micro-patterns as the method for effective disruption, as opposed to the large blotches of cover, which could be easier to spot with the naked eye. This is of course leaps and bounds over the earliest camouflage, which consisted of solid patterns. Among the earliest was khaki. While known for the casual pants, khaki has a long history as the first widespread military camouflage.
This is part I of a multiple part series on the origins and development of “the Original Camouflage.” Continue reading →
The traditional Arab headdress is often – and quite erroneously – called a “turban.” While it may have a shared origin with the Indo-Pakistani turban, including the fact that both are made of cloth, and were originally worn to provide protection from the sun, these are two distinct types of headdress.
The Arabian head scarf is known as the ghutrah, shemagh, but most commonly is referred to as the keffiyeh. It is commonly worn in arid regions; usually is made of cotton and features a distinctive woven check pattern that is believed to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia. 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 →