Crowning Glory

An Australian Military Icon

The slouch hat is a widely recognised Australian military icon. It’s distinctive design originated with the Victorian Mounted Rifles, whose soldiers wore an ordinary bush felt hat turned up on the right side. This prevented the brim from obstructing movement during drills, when a long firearm was transferred from the ground position to the shoulder position. 

The slouch hat was standard issue in the Australian military from 1903 and became a renowned symbol of the Australian soldier or ‘digger’ during World War One (1914-1918). Its continuous use since that time has made it a national symbol.

Military attire often incorporates symbolism and this Australian slouch hat is no exception. The ‘puggaree’ or pleated hat band has seven pleats, one for each state plus one for the Australian Territories. 

Pinned to this slouch hat is the official badge of the Royal Australian Regiment established in 1949 as the parent regiment for infantry battalions of the Australian Army. This badge, adopted by the Regiment in 1954, is also replete with symbolic elements. Crossed rifles signify the personal weapon of the Infantryman. The crown relates to the regiment bearing the title, ‘Royal’.

The boomerang is closely associated with Australia through its invention and use by Australia’s First Nations people. The kangaroo has been recognised as an official symbol of Australia since 1908 when it was included on the nation’s coat of arms.  Foliage of the wattle tree, Australia’s national floral emblem, is here formed into a shape reminiscent of a laurel wreath, the symbol of victory in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today, Army members still proudly wear this iconic hat, but often with the brim down to provide additional protection from the hot Australian sun.