Forest Lake and Districts RSL Sub-Branch update

by Alan Greig

What does the Australian Army’s Slouch Hat mean to me?

An Australian Army khaki fur felt slouch hat sits in front of an Australian Light Armoured Vehicle at 1 Armd Regt compound, RAAF Base Edinburgh South Australia.

When personnel wear the hat, they honour the ANZAC spirit, including those who sacrificed to protect and better the nation. The slouch hat is a symbol of a nation, of the ANZAC spirit and of mateship in hard times. So I sought out the views of a few that actually wear the slouch hat. Here is what they said:

An infantryman of 5RAR said, “The slouchy is one of the most iconic images from previous conflicts. When I think of the slouchy, the image that comes to me is a soldier wearing a hat that’s so withered but still does the job, just like the soldier wearing it on the beaches of Gallipoli.”

A female Trooper from 1 Armd Regt said, “The slouch hat is a unique and very obvious symbol of the Australian Army, made famous during the world wars. It defines the courage, respect, wisdom, intuition and above all else, the mateship that the members who wore it before me engraved into our history.”

A private driver with 8/12 Regt RAA said, “When she’s not out on field training exercises, she works in barracks where she wears the slouch hat. The iconic headdress reminds her of those that sacrificed so much to make Australia what it is today.”

A Warrant Officer with 1 Armd Regt made the observation that, “The design may have changed over the years but the khaki fur felt hat and golden sun still symbolised tradition and links a soldier to the past. When we wear the slouch hat, it represents what soldiers have achieved before us, allowing us to show pride in the Army’s past and our country’s history. Especially in an armoured unit where we add the emu plume to it, linking us to our mounted infantry forebearers. Seeing the pride that the Australian community has in us as a Defence Force strengthens our resolve and reminds us how vital our role is especially during these uncertain times.”

A gunner in an artillery command system whose great grandfather served in WW1. The reading of letters he had sent home from the front gave him an appreciation and understanding of what it meant to represent the nation and wear the iconic hat. He said, “It has become a symbol of honour, tradition and resilience of the Australian people. The slouch hat has been worn by Australian soldiers through some of the toughest and nightmarish conflicts in our history.”

A private soldier in 7RAR who was born and raised in Afghanistan has developed a keen understanding of the ANZAC spirit since joining the Army. It requires strength, determination and a lot of sacrifices. She said, “I take a lot of pride in wearing the uniform and serving with those men and women and being part of something bigger than myself. I now know what it feels like to have the freedom, education and the privilege to work but I know there are thousands of people who can only dream to have a glimpse of what we have.”

A SGT signals platoon quartermaster sees the slouch hat as, “The link between our veterans and serving members as well as a symbol of what it means to be an Australian soldier. You know when you see the slouch hat you are looking at a soldier who will always lend a helping hand.”

Just makes me think, and thank, the many helping hands that the ADF provided during the recent bushfire disasters.

To read more Forest Lake RSL Sub-branch articles, go here.