OR's white cloth covered helmet : New South Wales 1st Infantry Regiment

Unit New South Wales Military Forces
Accession Number REL/18862.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Headdress
Physical description Brass, Cotton drill, Leather, Nickel-plated brass
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1885
Conflict Australian Colonial Forces, 1854-1900
Sudan, 1885

Helmet, probably made from cork, and covered with six panels of heavily coated white cotton drill fabric. The outside of helmet has a narrow hatband of the same fabric. A large nickel plated badge backed with red wool bearing a lion against a southern cross within a wreath and Queen Victoria crown is attached to the front of the helmet with brass lugs and triangular pieces of leather. On the wearer's right side, towards the back, is a white metal rose and hook which fastens to the inside of the helmet with a brass split pin. At the top is a nickel spike finial. Inside, the brim of the helmet is lined with a green coated plain weave fabric. The head section is lined with a brown cotton twill. A leather sweatband is stitched to a frame of stiff green coated fabric which appears to have areas of repair in a similar fabric. Just above the sweatband is a cane ring joined with a brass fitting. At the top of the inside crown is the brass fitting to secure the spike in place. A leather chinstrap with nickel-plated brass chains is attached to brass clips that fit into the inside sweatband.

History / Summary

In 1885, the colonial government of NSW approached the British government with an offer to assist in the recapture of the Sudan from the Dervish Army of Muhammed Ahmed. In the early 1880s the Sudan had been under the control of a British-backed Egyptian regime. The British government accepted with the proviso that the NSW contingent be under British command. The contingent consisted of an infantry battalion and an artillery battery and left for the Sudan in March 1885. This was the first time that soldiers in the pay of a self-governing Australian colony had fought in an imperial war. They were issued with scarlet tunics, like the one here, dark blue trousers and white pith helmets with pugarees. This uniform is an example of the type worn to the Sudan, although once there they were there the men were re-kitted with khaki drill uniforms more suited to the climate.