Mountain Cap

We discussed the development of specialist mountain equipment with in the British army during World War II last month when we looked at the British Army Ice Axe. This was, of course, just one part of a wider selection of specialist equipment and clothing developed for use in mountain environments. Another item that was to be developed during the War was that of specialist headwear. Mountains often have high levels of bright light due to the reflection of sunlight off snow and ice and the occasional lack of cloud cover which can lead to a dazzling effect from the sun. Wind was another factor, with high winds making extremities, such as the ears, loose heat very rapidly. The British Army looked to contemporary mountaineering clothing for inspiration and the cap they developed was similar to many mountain caps that had been used on the continent since the late nineteenth century. The cap was made of brown wool, with a deep peak and ear flaps:

The earflaps are secured at the top of the hat with a pair of tie cords:

Unfastened they can be pulled down over the ears and secured under the chin with the same cords:

These earflaps and the back of the cap have been covered in sheepskin:

These are clearly a later addition, however so many of these caps exist with the feature that it is not clear if this was a civilian adaptation to make them appeal to a post war leisure market, or an official update done to the caps by the Army itself in the 1950s. The peak of the cap is lined in matt black cloth to help reduce glare on the eyes by absorbing excess light, the length of the peak, far longer than a modern ball cap, also helps with this:

The interior lining of the cap is secured in with small metal hook and eye fasteners:

This allows the interior to be removed, the flaps folded inside and the interior reattached to make the cap look like this:

This is not very affective with the fleece attachments, however would have been a useful metho of changing the wear of the cap when it was first produced. The cap has a white ink stamp to the interior with size, manufacturer and date, although these are badly worn on this example:

The cap also has a stamped acceptance mark with a letter ‘N’ date code indicating it was made in 1943:

These caps saw little use as the British Army’s mountain warfare sections were always very small and examples found today are usually, like this one, in virtually unissued condition. Collecting mountain warfare items is proving to be an interesting little adjunct to my main WW2 British Army collection and the kit, whilst not common, is generally quite easy to find and not too expensive.

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