10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles Pillbox Cap

This pillbox cap, also referred to as a kilmarnock, is a modern manufacture of the traditional headdress worn by members of the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles. It is covered in felt and is surrounded by a knit mohair band. The top has a braided knot as well as a flower-style pattern of knit mohair sewn in the top. The silver symbol of the Gurkhas is pinned to the front. The sides of the interior are lined with cloth, while the top is felt. Adhered to the top is a white piece of paper that reads, “51 CF 8405-99-974-4397 Compton Webb (Headdress) Ltd. Customer No. DD063791” and is stamped with a “W5” seal. The chinstrap is a smooth black leather.

Historical Context

The Gurkhas hail from Nepal.  They were first actively recruited as mercenaries for the East India Trading Company (who they had been fighting against) because of their bravery and skill. Throughout the years, the Gurkhas and the British had a mutually beneficial relationship. Gurkhas were employed and paid by the British government. To this day Gurkhas serve as full officers in the British and Indian armies. The 10th Rifle Regiment, an infantry group, was formed in 1887 to “guard the borders of Upper Burma.” It was then called the “Kubo Valley Police Battalion,” and was made up of Indian volunteers and many Gurkhas. Three years later, it became the 1st Regiment of Burma Infantry, but the next year was renamed the 10th Regiment of the 1st Battalion. Fourteen years after it was first formed, the 10th Regiment became the 10th Gurkha Rifles in 1901.1 The Gurkhas, including the 10th Rifle Regiment, have been served in several major conflicts since 1900. During World War I, the 10th Rifle Regiment received recognition for serving in: Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli 1915, Suez Canal, Egypt 1915, Sharqat, and Mesopotamia 1916-1918.2 The Gurkhas suffered very heavy losses in the Gallipoli campaign, with officer casualties at 75%. After the 10th Gurkha Rifles remained in the Middle East. During World War II the Second Battalion served in India, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Italy. While they sustained 3000 casualties, with 1000 dead, all four Gurkha battalions were in action and awarded more than any other Indian regiment. In 1947 the British High Command allowed the Gurkhas to become full-fledged members of the military. To this day, the Gurkhas (including Princess Mary’s Own 10th Gurkha Rifle Regiment) are an active force within the British and Indian military and they work collaboratively with the United States Armed Forces, most notably with the American Navy.4

United Kingdom Post-Cold War
Pillbox Cap
Compton and Webb (Headdress) Ltd.
BRC-08-0408