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Australian Army Slouch Hat Named to 5/7509 Captain Ben O’Dowd 3 RAR

Australian Army Slouch Hat Named to 5/7509 Captain Ben O’Dowd 3 RAR

$300.00
Product code: 90

Availability: SOLD

Quick Overview:

This is an Australian Army Slouch Hat although its official designation was Hat khaki fur felt (KFF). It was originally issued to 5/7509 Captain Ben O’Dowd who commanded A Company of 3 RAR at the Battle of Kapyong in Korea in 1951.  The hat is a marked on the inside of the leather headband in indelible marker with its owners name and service number.  On the other side its stamped with the manufacturers trademark and size ‘DUNKERLEY LTD“AKUBRA” 6 7/8 1952 MADE IN AUSTRALIA . This hat was purchased from a sale at Jindalee, in the western suburbs of Brisbane QLD in 2009.

Details

This is an Australian Army Slouch Hat although its official designation was Hat khaki fur felt (KFF). It was originally issued to 5/7509 Captain Ben O’Dowd who commanded A Company of 3 RAR at the Battle of Kapyong in Korea in 1951.  The hat is a marked on the inside of the leather headband in indelible marker with its owners name and service number.  On the other side its stamped with the manufacturers trademark and size ‘DUNKERLEY LTD“AKUBRA” 6 7/8 1952 MADE IN AUSTRALIA . This hat was purchased from a sale at Jindalee, in the western suburbs of Brisbane QLD in 2009. 

The hat is in very good original condition and is made of Khaki coloured rabbit fur and fitted with a tan 8 fold puggaree. The hat turn up is secured by a press stud and bears an oxidised Rising Sun badge with the words AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES written in the scroll. There is a pair of metal ventilation eyelets on either side of the crown. The hats brim is bound in khaki grosgrain ribbon. A similar example made by the same manufacturer is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial and can be viewed at: www.awm.gov.au/collection/REL36096/ .

No other object has been so widely associated with Australian identities as the "slouch" or "digger" hat. It was first introduced into Australian military service in the second half of the 19th century as it was suited to the local climate and the rigours of military use. This hat belonged to 5/7509 Captain Bernard Shelley O'Dowd who commanded A Company of 3 RAR when it fought at the Battle of Kapyong in 1951.  A photograph of Captain O’Dowd in Korea in 1951 is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial and can be viewed at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P01813.606/ .

The slouch hat’s mark in history is rooted in Australia’s introduction to modern warfare at Gallipoli and the reputation established by the AIF on the Western Front. From that time the simple felt hat, with its side turned up, was an emblem of the courage of the Australian digger, and it became a national symbol. Although commonly believed to be uniquely Australian, similar styles of hat were adopted by many other countries, including the United States, New Zealand, India and even Germany.

The khaki hat first became part of an Australian military uniform in 1885, when it was chosen for the newly-formed Victorian Mounted Rifles by the commanding officer, Colonel Tom Price. Years later, F.D. Price, his youngest son, a former member of the unit and a veteran of the Boer War, related the origin of the hat to his father’s experience in Burma, where native police wore similar head-dress.

The hat featured a high-domed crown and narrow brim. The right side of the brim was turned up and held in position by a cord attached to a hook which protruded from a gilt lion’s head boss, fastened high on the side of the crown. It has been suggested that the right side was looped up to cater for the rifle drill of the day and to make it easier for marching troops to perform the "eyes right" command in parades. The hat included a two-piece buckled chinstrap and a prominent three-plait of puggaree. Intended for insulation, the puggaree was a traditional Indian head-wrap, adapted by the British for head-dress worn in hot, sunny regions.

The slouch hat made its first appearance overseas on the heads of troops fighting in the Boer War, and it added much to the mystique of the Australian bushmen. Around the time the first Commonwealth troops arrived in South Africa, the hat began to be more commonly worn with the left side turned up. The Defence Act of 1903 combined the colonial defence forces into a single Australian army. The slouch hat became part of the uniform, worn turned up on the left side, and an array of embellishments was introduced. The hat featured a lower and indented crown. The turned-up side was held in position by means of a hook and eye fastener, and badges were backed with a distinctive cloth rosette in the corps or regimental colour. A stripe of the same colour was later added to the new seven-fold puggaree. The chinstrap, reduced in width, was adjusted by means of a sliding buckle.

After the Second World War there were minor changes to the hat and its continued suitability was questioned, but the slouch style was too deeply entrenched to be replaced. Today, similar felt hats are worn by the all Australian services, but only the Australian Army, to which it remains a symbol of distinction and pride, continues to wear the khaki felt hat with its side turned up.  Attached to this listing for reference are a couple of pictures of the slouch hat being worn by diggers in 3 RAR during the Korean War.

Additional Information

Weight (kg) 1.0000
Country of Origin Australian
Pattern Slouch Hat
Maker DUNKERLEY LTD
Year of Manufacture (circa) 1952