Australian Army Slouch Hat

The khaki hat first became part of an Australian military uniform in 1885, when it was chosen for the newly-formed Victorian Mounted Rifles by the commanding officer, Colonel Tom Price. Years later, F.D. Price, his youngest son, a former member of the unit and a veteran of the Boer War, related the origin of the hat to his father’s experience in Burma, where native police wore similar head-dress.

The slouch hat made its first appearance overseas on the heads of troops fighting in the Boer War, and it added much to the mystique of the Australian bushmen. Around the time the first Commonwealth troops arrived in South Africa, the hat began to be more commonly worn with the left side turned up, so that a rifle or one fitted with a bayonet would not interfere with the head gear.

The Defence Act of 1903 combined the colonial defence forces into a single Australian army. The slouch hat became part of the uniform, worn turned up on the left side, and an array of embellishments was introduced. The hat featured a lower and indented crown. The turned-up side was held in position by means of a hook and eye fastener, and badges were backed with a distinctive cloth rosette in the corps or regimental colour. A stripe of the same colour was later added to the new seven-fold puggaree. The chinstrap, reduced in width, was adjusted by means of a sliding buckle.

With the raising of the 1st AIF in 1914 further standardisation occurred. Plain khaki hat bands were adopted, along with the Commonwealth Pattern ("rising sun") Badge, first introduced in 1904. This badge was worn by all soldiers except those serving with siege artillery units; as members of the permanent artillery, they were allowed to retain their own design.

Australian Slouch Hat

Australian Slouch Hat

After the Second World War there were minor changes to the hat and its continued suitability was questioned, but the slouch style was too deeply entrenched to be replaced. Today, similar felt hats are worn by the all Australian services, but only the Australian Army, to which it remains a symbol of distinction and pride, continues to wear the khaki felt hat with its side turned up.

Words of song " A Brown Slouch Hat."


J Albert & Son, Sydney, 1942

There is a symbol, we love and adore it
You see it daily wherever you go.
Long years have passed since our fathers once wore it,
What is the symbol that we should all know, It's a brown slouch hat with the side turned up, and it means the world to me,
Its the symbol of our Nation, the land of Liberty.
And as soldiers they wear it, how proudly they bear it for all the world to see.

Just a brown slouch hat with the side turned up, heading straight for Victory.

Don't you thrill as young Bill passes by
Don't you beam at the gleam in his eye?
Head erect, shoulders square, tunic spic and span
Ev'ry inch a soldier and ev'ry inch a man.

As they swing down the street, aren't they grand?
Three abreast to the beat of the band.
But what do we remember when the boys have passed along,
Marching by so brave and strong.

Just a brown ....


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