Australian Army slouch hat : Lieutenant General B L Montgomery, Eighth Army

Place Africa: North Africa, Western Desert, Western Desert (Egypt), El Alamein Area, Tel el Eisa
Accession Number RELAWM30701
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Headdress
Physical description Brass, Fur felt, Leather
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2: El Alamein
Maker Coronet Felts Pty Ltd
Place made Australia
Date made 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Australian khaki fur felt slouch hat without puggaree. The brim of the hat is bound in khaki grosgrain ribbon, and has an oxidised Australian 'rising sun' general service badge attached to the turned-up left hand side. There is a leather chinstrap and internal headband, the latter being impressed on the right hand side with the words 'CORONET FELTS PTY LTD 6 7/8 1940'. Twenty badges of formations operating under Montgomery's command in the Eighth Army are pinned around the crown of the hat. These badges include: Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Tank Regiment, King's Royal Rifle Corps, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), Seaforth Highlanders, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment), Essex Regiment, Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment), Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Edmonton Regiment (Canada), Saskatoon Regiment (Canada), New Zealand forces, and South African forces. The unidentified badges are possibly those of Polish units.

History / Summary

Australian fur felt slouch hat presented to Lieutenant General Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of the Eighth Army, by the 9th Australian Division. On 14 August 1942, Montgomery, paying his first visit to the Australians at the Tel el Eisa ridge near Alamein, requested a slouch hat. The hat was subsequently decorated with the badges of many of the units he visited, until it was superseded by a black beret, a gift from the Royal Tank Regiment. Many British personnel had considered the slouch hat to be entirely inappropriate, and must have been pleased to see it replaced. Evidently some Australian troops felt the same way, since Montgomery was reportedly described by members of 2/7 Field Regiment as 'a prize galah' who wore the hat 'jammed down on top of his head'. Others, however, felt that it was a valuable gesture of recognition to the many Dominion troops serving in the Eighth Army.