Hat, Service, M1911 (Campaign Hat)

Although some form of campaign hat had been used since the Civil War, the modern form of the hat, with its "Montana Peak" crown was adopted by the Army on 8 September 1911. Some minor changes were made to the hat design in 1921. After World War I it was used by enlisted men for field service, post and fatigue.

38th Infantry Regiment soldiers in Campaign Hats on Ft. Douglas, Utah firing range with one-pounder cannon, 1936
38th Infantry Regiment soldiers in Campaign Hats on Ft. Douglas, Utah firing range with one-pounder cannon, 1936.

Today in WW II: 11 Nov 1940 55 Polish intellectuals murdered in Dachau concentration camp [near Munich], the first of many mass executions there.  More 
11 Nov 1940 Operation SWORDFISH: Raid on Taranto, Italy, the British Royal Navy's first all-aircraft naval attack, launching obsolete canvas planes from an aircraft carrier [11-12 Nov].
11 Nov 1942 Triggered by Operation Torch in N. Africa, Germans take control of all of Vichy France north of the Riviera.
11 Nov 1942 Allies capture Casablanca, Morocco during Operation Torch.
11 Nov 1942 In the aftermath of Operation Torch, Germany and Vichy France begin negotiations on the fate of the French fleet at Touson.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

M-1911 Campaign Hat

Campaign Hat

In the years following World War I the Army worked to improve the headgear issued to its soldiers. This had the unfortunate effect of multiplying the number of types of hats and caps, creating supply difficulties. In 1936 a study of the problem was initiated by the War Department Uniform Board. Although steeped in tradition and liked for its sharp military appearance, the Campaign Hat was severly criticized by the interested arms and services. Many of the comments were quite irrational and even referred to the earlier campaign hats that had been superceded by the 1911 model. Typical complaints included:

  • The grade of felt used in the hat was difficult to procure in sufficient quantity.
  • It was cheaply made and tended to lose its shape rapidly leading to the need for blocking or repair or replacement.
  • It was not waterproof.
  • It was too hot for tropical use.
  • It gave no protection to the ears and neck in cold weather.
  • It could not be easily packed for shipping due to its shape.

While much of the criticism listed could be discounted, changes in the Army were catching up with the Campaign Hat. It was definitely unsatisfactory for wear in motor vehicles, tanks, and airplanes. During the 1920s and 1930s the overseas cap (name changed to Garrison Cap by the late 1930s) was authorized for use by more and more units and in 1939 the Garrison Cap became standard for the entire Army, authorized for wear by all personnel.

Campaign Hat Use in World War II

After the 1939 universal adoption of the Garrison Cap, the Hat, Service, M1911 (Campaign Hat) was still optionally authorized for wear by mounted units, by troops in Alaska, in overseas departments such as Panama, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and in localities where the cotton uniform was not worn. It was classified as Limited Standard on 16 October 1941. It continued to be used during World War II, but only in limited ways.

Certain individual officers and noncoms wore the Campaign Hat to express their individuality, especially early in the war. For example, this photo shows Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright with General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines on 10 October 1941, a few months before the Japanese attack and subsequent fall of the Philippines:

Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright with General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines on 10 October 1941, Wainwright wearing campaign hat
Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright (wearing campaign hat) with General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines on 10 October 1941.

Description of the Campaign Hat

Pattern 1911 Service Hat, with red hat cord indicating Artillery
Pattern 1911 Service Hat, with red hat cord indicating Artillery.

The Hat, Service, M1911 (Campaign Hat) was made of OD wool felt with a wide brim and "Montana peak" crown. There were ventilation holes in the crown with grommets, a silk hatband, and a silk and brass braid cord closed by a knot and terminated with a tassel. Inside was a leather sweatband and an attached chin strap. The Army model was dark brown OD in color.

The hat cords were worn around the base of the crown indicated the branch for enlisted men and rank for officers. The system was similar to the piping colors for the Garrison Cap, copied from the Campaign Hat. Unit and rank insignia were sometimes worn on the front of the hat when authorized.

Use of the Campaign Hat in the Marine Corps

The USMC Field Hat had a parallel history to the Army version and can be seen in photos of Marines in Nicaragua, Haiti, and China before World War II. As with the Army, official issue of the Campaign Hat was discontinued early in World War II, but it continued in use by Marine Corps marksmanship teams. In Marine terminology, it is a "Campaign Cover" or "Smokey", but definitely not a "hat".

Post-war, the Campaign Cover started to be issued to Marine drill instructors in 1956, as a symbol of their responsibility and authority. The first 700 were produced by J. B. Stetson Company and issued to DIs at Parris Island. Since 1996, female DIs also wear the cover.

Use of the Campaign Hat in the US Air Force

The USAF was the Army Air Corps during World War II, but in 1949, after the USAF became a separate service, the new Air Training Command renamed their DIs as Military Training Instructors (MTIs). On 31 August 1967, MTIs began to use the traditional OD brown hat, same as the Army and Marines, and it rapidly became a symbol for the MTI. In 1974, the USAF changed the hat color to dark blue, more in keeping with USAF uniforms.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: campaign hat. Then click the Search button.