The Royal Naval ratings round cap has been in use for over a hundred years, however it has undergone many changes in that period and the caps in use today are very different to those worn at Jutland. These caps were originally worn either with white tops or dark tops depending on the time of year (today only white top examples are used). Tonight we are looking at an example with a white top from the early post-WW2 era:The cap is distinctly oval rather than circular: typical of the changes brought in just before WW2, but not common until the 1950s, to provide a better fitting and smarter cap- and incidentally make it less likely for sailors to wear their cap at any angle but the regulation one!
The cap top is made of white canvas that is then whitened regularly to keep it smart- this was replaced by vinyl in the 1960s which was a lot easier to maintain. Around the sides of the cap are two pairs of white grommets for ventilation:The inside of the cap has a leather sweatband and a fabric lining to the crown:The centre of the cap has a manufacturer’s label giving details of the cap’s size:This cap was made by Army & Navy Cap Company and is a 6 ¾” size. The company was based in Portsmouth from 1923 to 1980, my feeling is this cap was a commercial product, purchased by sailors looking for a superior cap to those issued by the Admiralty. These caps have a fabric strap that can be brought under the chin to prevent the cap being blown off in high winds. Called ‘chin stays’, these straps are often tucked up inside the cap or cut off completely. In this case it is still attached to one side of the cap:The following uniform regulations come from 1890, over sixty years before this cap, the details might be different but the basic design is obviously virtually unchanged:
42 Caps— Caps worn by seamen &c. of the Fleet are to be of the established pattern. They are to be of blue cloth and of the following dimensions, &c.
(a.) The diameter of the crown is to be two inches larger than the band. The quatering to be 1 ½ inches in height, a piping (or welt) being worked between it and the crown.
(b.) The band to be 1 ½ inches in depth, a piping being worked at a ½ inch from the lower edge to keep the cap ribbon in place.
(c.) The lining to be of blue jean, or of some such material, the crown being stiffened by an inter-lining of a single thickness of duck.
(d.) The band to be stiffened by 2 ¼ inches of stiffening canvas of the approved pattern.
(e.) The quarterings to be partially supported by a single thickness of serge, so that the crown will lie nearly flat on the head.
(f.) These dimensions being followed, the name on the cap ribbon should be always visible.
(g.) All caps to have a chin stay of blue worsted braid, one inch in width.
- Cap Covers—Cap covers to be made of duck — the crown &c. being slightly larger than the cap itself to prevent puckering it. The quarterings to be 1-½ inches in height, and the band 1½ inches deep — the cap ribbon being worn over the band of the cap cover