This British Military Cap Was So Ugly It Drove One Man to Suicide


All through the course of navy historical past, troopers have accustomed themselves, at occasions with grim humor, to sporting impractical and generally unattractive equipment and articles of clothes. However is it doable for a uniform merchandise to be so ugly that it’s completely insufferable?

That’s what occurred within the case of the Brodrick cap, a doomed piece of headgear often known as the Common Forage Cap, whose hideousness turned the stuff of legend after it was first launched to unsuspecting British troopers in 1902.

Lengthy-suffering troopers of the British Military endure the Brodrick cap in 1905. (Society for Military Historic Analysis)

The peakless fabric cap was supposed to introduce uniformity in forage caps, which troopers wore as alternate options to stiff shakos and helmets. It derived its title from William St. John Brodrick, the primary earl of Midleton, who served as secretary of state for warfare — and who later swore he had nothing to do with the despised cap’s creation. Rumors maintain that the Brodrick cap’s design was really fielded by King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales.

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The Universally despised Common Forage Cap

Whoever got here up with the thought might pretty take credit score for curling the British soldier’s proverbial stiff higher lip. The odd-looking, flat-topped hat riled males of all ranks and social backgrounds. Ceaselessly in comparison with a pancake, it was known as a “monstrosity” and even mocked with a cartoon within the satire journal Punch.

One soldier who had sustained a facial damage throughout the Boer Conflict is alleged to have dedicated suicide as a result of he was in despair over how the cap introduced further consideration to his scars.  

“We completely detested this new cap, which the vast majority of males stated made them seem like a number of bloody German sailors,” in response to Frank Richards of the Second Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in his autobiographical ebook “Previous Soldier Sahib.”

The Royal Marines, pictured above throughout World Conflict I, have been the final to ditch their Brodricks – hanging onto them till 1922 as a result of they apparently resembled sailor hats. (Imperial Conflict Museums)

The cap was so reviled by troopers that they “resorted to all types of pretexts to keep away from sporting it,” in response to a postmortem for the cap revealed upon its withdrawal in 1907. Nonetheless, pictures exist of grim-looking navy males sporting Brodrick caps — leaving one to wonder if being photographed within the cap triggered them to frown greater than standard.  

Due to British troopers’ irrepressible sense of vogue — or a minimum of dignity — the Brodrick had a brief lifespan, spreading all through the military for just a few years after 1902 earlier than dying on the vine in 1905. It was formally rendered out of date in 1907. Solely the Royal Marines went towards the tide, persevering within the Brodrick till 1922 due to its arguably nautical look.

An epitaph for the Brodrick revealed by The Inexperienced Howards Museum within the U.Okay. immortalizes how the resistance of British troopers prevailed towards the cap that was “inflicted” upon them: “The difficulty of this cover represents an fascinating occasion of how authorities could make an unpopular determination, and of how the quiet opposition of these on whom it’s inflicted can promote change.”

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