Last year we looked at an example of a wartime private purchase Officer’s Service Dress Cap here, tonight by contrast we have an officially issued post war example:
This cap was made by J Collett Ltd as indicated by the label inside:This name is repeated on the stamping in the sweatband and we can see a date of 1953 and an /|\ mark indicating that this is a government issued example, the size is a generous 7 1/8”:The Second World War and the birth of National Service had helped introduce increasingly diverse backgrounds for Officer candidates and a growing proportion did not have the spare cash to pay for expensive tailor made uniforms. Whilst all officer’s received an allowance to buy their uniforms with it was often insufficient to pay for every item. By introducing issue items of officer’s dress that could be purchased at a set price all officers could afford to get their basic uniform items.
The cap follows the same pattern as issued before the war in the 1934 dress regulations:
Cap, Service Dress– (a) Stiff pattern of the same shape as the forage cap but of drab material to match the service dress; brown leather chin-strap; two bronze buttons. (b) soft pattern, of the same shape as the stiff pattern, but with a flexible peak, and not wired around the top of the cap.
It is in this last respect that the cap differs, as rather than having two different caps, this example has a removable wire stiffener that allows the crown to be reshaped to a softer appearance:Other minor points to note are the two metal grommets under the crown for ventilation:Visually the cap has not changed much from those used during the war and the quality remains high, but the change in method of issue indicates a massive upheaval of the British Officer Class, with the move from it being a position only suitable for gentlemen to a more democratic and open process based on talent not birth.