The Corner

More Garrison Cap

Masses of e-mail on this from servicemen and ex-servicemen (and a couple of

servicewomen) (and may I please be forgiven for having referred in a

previous post to my buddy as “ex-USMC”… there is, of course, no such thing

as an “ex-Marine”), but I think the following, from a retired military

gentleman, deserves some kind of prize:

“I offer an amusing & relevant anecdote of days gone by.

“My grandfather was an officer of the Imperial & Royal Cavalry of the

Austro-Hungarian Empire [’13th Kaiser- und Koenigliche Husaren-Regiment’]

and related to me his experience in 1912 when the varied headgear of the

ethnically-diverse army [Franz Kafka worked for one of its FIVE SEPARATE

Ministries of War!] was standardized to a very latest fashion: a flat cap.

“He observed Croat Pandurs, Czech Line Infantry, Slovak Uhlans, Austrian

Grenadiers, Slovene Grenzers, and his own Magyar Hussars being issued this

piece of gear and they all did EXACTLY the same thing: they held it

vertically and opened & closed it repeatedly and then loudly named it in

their native tongues, all the while convulsed in rough soldierly mirth.

“As a result, he knew how to name this item the improper way in six

languages! Actually seven, as I taught him the English version in ‘71.”

[Incidentally, “Kaiser- und Koenigliche,” or “KUK” (pronounced “kah-oo-kah”)

was what the later Austro-Hungarian Empire called itself–literally

“Imperial and Royal.” This followed a complicated compromise in 1867 when

the Hapsburg Emperor cut a deal that gave the Hungarians effective

self-rule, provided they continued to acknowledge his title as