The Victorian Mounted Rifles first wore the slouch hat in 1885. It was originally worn with the right side looped up to make marching and performing certain commands easier. It is known to be the trademark of the Australian Army. But do you know what was the purpose of the slouch hat?
The iconic Australian hat has one side bent up to allow the armed forces to maneuver rifles on and off their shoulders without hitting the brim.
The Origin of The Slouch Hat
The sloping brim is referred to as a slouch. The brim is always made of rabbit fur or wool felt and is worn with a puggaree.
According to legend, the Slouch Hat originated with the Victorian Mounted Rifles; a hat of similar design had been worn in South Africa by the Cape Mounted Rifles for many years before 1885. The Victorian Mounted Rifle hat was inspired by native police headgear in Burma, which Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Price recognized for its value.
The Victorian hat was a regular bush felt hat turned up on the right side. Turning up the right side of the hat was done to keep it from getting caught during the drill movement of shoulder arms from order arms.
By 1890, state military commandants had agreed that all Australian forces, except the artillery corps, should wear a looped-up hat of uniform pattern, turned up on the right side in Victoria and Tasmania and on the left side in all other States to allow for different drill movements.
In 1903, the Slouch Hat became the standard-issue headdress, and the brim position was primarily standardized. During World War One, the slouch hat became a famous symbol of the Australian fighting man and was worn throughout World War Two. Its continued use has turned it into a national symbol.
When General Bridges, the first commander of the 1st Australian Imperial Force, was killed at Gallipoli, he was discovered wearing his slouch hat backward. When the slouch hat is worn at Royal Military College – Duntroon, the chinstrap buckle is worn on the right side of the face, and the brim is worn down as a mark of respect and remembrance for Bridges.
This tradition began in 1932 at the Royal Military College. When the slouch hat is worn ceremonially, such as on ANZAC Day, it is worn by Army custom, with the brim up and the chinstrap buckle on the left side.
When not performing ceremonial duties, Army members today wear the slouch hat with the brim to provide additional sun protection. (Source: Australian Army)
Slouch Hats With Emu Plumes
Members of the Armored Corps wear Slouch hats with Emu plumes, a tradition started by the Queensland Mounted Infantry during the Queensland shearers’ strike in 1891. During this time, the Queensland Mounted Infantry was called out as soldiers to assist the Civil Power.
As time allowed, the soldiers would ride their horses alongside the emus, pluck the breast feathers, and place the feathers on their hats. The Gympie Squadron was the first to wear the feathers, and the regiment quickly followed suit. (Source: Australian Army)
Image from Standard.net