Light Horse slouch hat


Slouch hats were first worn by the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1885. It was originally worn with the right side of the brim looped up to make it easier for marching troops to perform the “eyes right” command in parades, but as more states adopted the slouch hat, it became more common to wear the left side turned up.

The slouch hat was widely worn by Australian soldiers during the Boer War and it was universally adopted for the Australian army after Federation. It was usually worn with a khaki hat band, known as a puggaree, and a Rising Sun badge on the left-hand side.

Some light horsemen adorned their slouch hats with emu plumes. This practice was first adopted by the Queensland Mounted Infantry during the Great Shearers’ Strike of the 1890s. They chased emus on horseback to break the monotony of long patrols, and decorated their hats with the birds’ feathers.

When fellow Commonwealth soldiers asked about the feathers during the First World War, light horsemen replied that they were “kangaroo feathers”.

More than one-quarter of the 1,300 Indigenous Australians who served in the AIF during the First World War did so with mounted units, including the light horse. What skills might they have needed for this role?

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