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With the introduction of the blue cloth or Home Service Helmet in May, 1878 for the RFA and the RGA the spike was authorised. This was changed in August 1881, to the ball-in-cup pattern.


Does anyone know the official reason for this change?


W.Y. Carman says -


But this is only assumption or supposition.




A photo of an Artillery Volunteer c1878 with spike to helmet.

Edited by Stuart Bates
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Since the British Home Service Helmet is said to be adopted from the Prussian Pickelhaube, perhaps an answer can be found in the development of the Kugelhelm.  The Pickelhaube with spike was adopted for all troops in 1842, with the artillery going to the ball...or Kugelhelm...in 1844...allegedly for symbolic reasons rather than any supposed safety factor.  While I have no reference other than kaisersbunker for this info, it makes sense when one considers the Bavarian adaptation.


Bavaria adopted the Pickelhaube for all mounted troops...with spike...in 1886...and didn't change the spike until 1915/1916.  So, either the Bavarians didn't care about the safety of their horses/mounted troops; or they simply didn't see the symbolism.


Also, don't forget, Kürassier and Jäger zu Pferde also had spikes...  So, they also weren't concerned about the supposed safety element...at least for horses.


I suspect, the change for the British Home Service Helmet was similar.  Purely symbolic with no supposed safety reasons.

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I have always held that the design of the Home Service Helmet was derived from the felt/cork/wicker Foreign Service Helmet first used in India.


However, here is an extract from Hansard 1878 kindly supplied by Chris from another forum  -


"LORD TRURO regretted that the noble Viscount had not gone further into the subject. There were, he understood, serious objections to the new helmet. One corps to which it had been furnished complained that a man who wore it could not raise his rifle to his shoulder without knocking off his helmet. Then, if spikes were worn on the artillerymen's helmets, the men would blind one another with these spikes when stooping to work the guns. But this objection would be easily met by substituting a ball for the spike."


Whether this debate led to the actual change for Artillery I don't know but it is, at least, a good indicator.



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Would it be cynical to suggest that BOTH reasons may have been involved.  "There may be a problem with safety with the new spikes sir.  Men and horses may be in danger."  "Lovely!, that means we can advance a sensible practical reason for wanting a regimental distinction and not just sound like whiners, like the Guards, who have to be different, 'just because'."


I mean, I know horses aren't very bright, but surely they are clever enough not to impale their eyeballs on sticks, bamboo shoots or metal spikes?  Ditto gunners, I hope.  :whistle:

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