The Slouch Hat Question

Yesterday I was reading a book about Irish history – I’m reading quite a lot these days – and was intrigued by the headgear worn by members of the Citizens Army during the 1916 Easter Rising:

This type of broad-brimmed hat seems to have been quite thing among volunteers of the time:

Described as a ‘Boer Hat as worn by the American Army’ (?) this is usually called a ‘Slouch Hat’ and is also associated with the Australian Army and other Commonwealth forces.

I can understand the utility of the broad brim in hotter climes though not perhaps in Ireland…

The main question that struck me, though, is why it is so often worn with the brim folded up on one side?

See if you can guess. I reveal the answer below.

The answer is very simple. The brim is turned up on the left hand side during rifle drill, so that when the order is given to ‘shoulder arms’ and the soldier’s rifle is raised from ‘order arms’ it will not hit and possibly dislodge the hat.

In the days when soldiers were equipped with long rifles, arms would always be shouldered on the left to make it easier and quicker to transfer to a shooting position with the right hand operating the trigger. Hence the brim is folded up on the left hand side.

Simples!

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