The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Tin Hat
The Tin Hat.
It's an unlovely piece of furniture, and makes a fellow look something between a member of the Chinese Labour Corps and a misshapen mushroom. When I was being issued witn mine, I, in my innocence, asked for a No. 6. I was informed amiably by the Q.M. (the amiability of Q.M.s is about as proverbial as the beauty ot Cleopatra) that there was only one size in these goods. I therefore took what was offered me, and was thankful. I tried it on, and immediately felt that the weight of the war was on my head. The said weight spun round like a small boy's teetotum, resting first on one ear and then on the other; it was some time before I caught on the knack of pulling the string inside the lining and so adjusting the size some what. All these petty inconveniences faded into insignificance when I thought of the utility of the article. I imagintd myself sitting secure, smoking a cigarette and smiling a "modest hero" smile, with countless shrapnel pellets bouncing high into the air from my helmet-protected head, the while I metaphorically snapped my fingers at the enemy gunners' futile efforts to reach my valuable brain.
Some time later we moved out on the big stunt, with our hats securely fastened to our saddles. On the way to Tulkeram we had to gallop through some shrapnel fire, and so had our chance to test the efficiency of our cranium protectors. I jammed mine well on to my head and got the idea firmly fixed that it had to stay there. When our squadron's turn came, I put spurs to my horse and off he went like the wind. After going a few yards, I received an awful blow between the eyes, and made sure I was hit; but a hurried investigation showed that it was only my tin hat, which had slipped forward and tried to damage my visage. The unruly brute of a thing was now flying round in all directions, each stride of my horse bringing a clout on the head for me in its train; while every now and then my headpiece would slip down over my eyes, and I'd disentangle to find myself striking off at a tangent from the rest of the squadron.
I was now flying through the dust at top speed, manipulating my reins with one hand, and vainly trying to keep my helmet in place with the other. I clung to it with a vague idea that it was some sort of a charm against shrapnel, and as long as I had it about me, all was well. We were making for the shelter of a rise near by, and I did the last few chains with my beloved helmet held out at right angles to my body—but I was still imbued with the idea that I had to cling to it, and so carried it in bare-headed triumph to our shrapnel-proof haven.
But we all somehow lost our reverence for our tin hats after that wild gallop, and I passed many lying uncared for by the wayside as we went further along the track. And now the uses to which they are put would make the inventor turn in his grave (most inventors are dead). The tin hat is capital for boiling eggs in; the Vet sergeant found one very handy for carrying some fluid with which he was treating the horses' backs, and— crowning indignity!— I saw the Padre having a bath in one the other day. Further words are unnecessary— I drop a tear for my tin hat's fall from grace.