General Service Cap

A uniquely WW2 form of headgear is tonight’s object. The ‘Cap, General Service’ was a short lived replacement for the Field Service Cap introduced in 1943. Despite its apparent similarity to a beret, the GS cap is made of several pieces of khaki fabric rather than one piece of cloth as in the beret and is more akin to the traditional Scottish Balmoral cap:

772B4C07-6F10-4338-ADD9-360F2C1914CBThe cap was issued initially to those troops going abroad, but was later rolled out to all units. Two metal grommets form air holes at the rear of the cap:3873E197-9E0E-4390-A71D-9092A997A609Whilst to the front is fitted a plastic economy cap badge for the East Yorkshire Regiment:CA1025BD-548A-4BEC-99A6-858AA499AF48Various brass and plastic badges were worn depending on the unit, with many adding coloured felt backings such as the Royal Artillery who used a vertically divided diamond of red and blue felt behind their flaming grenade badge. The interior is quilted with the manufacturer’s mark for J Collett of London Ltd, the date 1945 and the size of 7 ¼”. There is also the WD /|\ mark:F2A059D9-DF5E-4D55-B89E-BB346A228837These caps were never popular being large and difficult to shape into any shape that looked at all military. They were soon nicknamed the ‘Cap Ridiculous’ and with no tears were quickly dropped after the end of the war to be replaced with a proper beret. They were supposed to be worn one inch above the eyes, but photos often show the GS cap pushed back on the head into all sorts of different positions. The picture below shows the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry wearing their GS Caps in March 1945 in Elst:The_British_Army_in_North-west_Europe_1944-45_B15008The caps were also issued to various allied armies, accounting for even more varieties in the way they were worn, and some women’s units- nurses were issued these along with male battledress before travelling to Europe in the wake of D-day. These caps were generally ignored by collectors until recent years, but are now starting to command quite high prices and have been reproduced for the re-enactment market.

3 thoughts on “General Service Cap

  1. Pingback: Post War Blue Beret | Tales from the Supply Depot

  2. David Cole

    I was looking at your site because I have an identical GS cap – same maker, same year, same regiment, when I noted that the photo of the KOYLI above is reversed, the rifle bolts, water bottles, and cap badges are on the wrong side.

    1. hatchfive Post author

      Thanks, I hadn’t noticed that. I think it must have been reversed a very long time ago as every version of the photo out there has the same orientation.


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