Cap comforter

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Cap, Comforter
4 Commando before the Hardelot raid.jpg
British commandos wearing cap comforters in 1942
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service19th Century–Present
Used byUnited Kingdom
Australia
Netherlands
WarsFirst World War
Second World War
Afghanistan War

A cap comforter is a form of woollen military headgear originating in the British Army.

It is a cylinder of knitted wool, similar to a short scarf, that is typically fitted over the head and fashioned into a hat. It can be worn comfortably underneath a Brodie helmet, and is often sewn shut at one or both ends. The cap comforter bears no insignia, and can be easily stowed without being creased.

History[edit]

Cap comforters were introduced in the late 19th century as informal working headdress for British soldiers performing manual labour at camp, and as a comfortable undress cap on active service.

First World War[edit]

Trench raiders wearing cap comforters in various ways in 1916

Cap comforters were worn during the First World War as a warm alternative to the service dress cap, as the fabric could be pulled low over the ears in the cold winter trenches. Their casual and non-rigid silhouette made them an ideal item for night time trench raids.

Second World War[edit]

In the Second World War, soldiers from many British Army regiments wore cap comforters, particularly during training or when engaged in manual tasks.[1]

Commandos[edit]

The Commando Memorial depicts three soldiers wearing the cap comforter

The British commandos were an international force recruited from across various Allied units, many with distinctive hats. As a solution to this lack of uniformity, commando units adopted their own practical headgear. No. 1 Commando chose the green beret in imitation of the Royal Armoured Corps, whereas No. 2 and No. 9 adopted the Scottish tam o' shanter. Other units, including No. 4 Commando (and US Army Rangers attached during the Dieppe Raid), adopted the cap comforter as their headdress, because it had no prior affiliation with a nation or regiment.[2]

In autumn 1942, the War Office approved the green beret as the official commando headgear, though the cap comforter continued to be worn, already synonymous with the apparel of the commandos.[3][4]

Post-war[edit]

The British Army has stopped issuing cap comforters, replacing them instead with warmers - similar items based on Wehrmacht toques.[5] Warmers are not sewn at the ends, and so can be worn like balaclavas. However, cap comforters are still used by units with links to the original commandos; British Royal Marines and the Dutch Korps Commandotroepen wear the headgear until they pass a commando course, after which they are qualified to wear the prestigious green beret.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cap comforter, 1942 (c)". National Army Museum.
  2. ^ "Americas First European Raiders". Foxhole Fashion. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  3. ^ Konstam, Angus (17 Nov 2016). British Commando 1940–45. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 23.
  4. ^ "Cap Comforter: British Army". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Cap Comforter". Hat Guide. p. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  6. ^ Leo van Westerhoven (27 January 2003). "Earning the Green Beret". Dutch Defence Press. Retrieved 10 August 2019.