Rating’s Cap

The Royal Navy ratings cap went through a number of changes from 1932 to 1946, including a change to a higher crown and a move from round to oval caps. In 1936 the Admiralty had looked into the issue of men purchasing their own caps, rather than those issued by the Admiralty. Although the outcome of that report came overwhelmingly in favour of the issue cap rather than the trade pattern, men continued to purchase their caps from private sellers in large numbers. Today we are looking at a pattern or rating’s cap that is unmarked, but most likely produced by a private contractor for sale to sailors rather than being an official admiralty item. Sailors in World War II dropped the white covered ratings cap for the duration and wore the blue topped cap exclusively:

The 1936 Admiralty report had recommended a move from round to oval caps, but this change was not officially approved until September 1945. This example is oval in shape however, the shape fitting better to a man’s head and preventing the cap from moving around on the head:

A criticism of trade pattern caps was that they used brown paper inside the cap rather than the waterproof lining offered by the official pattern. This led to the caps distorting when wet. This cap is definitely misshaped, although if this was due to water damage when in service or years of storage is hard to tell:

The cap has a pair of metal ventilation grommets on both sides of the crown:

Whilst the exterior of these grommets are quite presentable, the interior reveals them to be poorly set and of inferior quality:

Many trade pattern caps had red and blue linings with a gold battleship motif. This cap lacks any of these refinements, however the trace of a blue liner can be seen where the crown and band lining meet:

The official production versions of the cap had a dark blue liner, with a drawstring to adjust it, which this example lacks. Everything about this cap suggests it was a budget model, made as cheaply as possible with no refinements. The oval shape suggests a date of between September 1946 and 1956 when the blue topped caps were abolished in favour of exclusively using the white topped versions, however as with most commercial pattern items tying down a date any further would be impossible.

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