The General Service or GS cap replaced the Field Service cap in July 1944 and was worn by most members of the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF). It is not the best looking of headwear and was fairly unpopular with the kiwi troops who had to wear it. It seems the cap was not well liked by any serviceman who had to wear it as the British nickname for the GS cap is “Cap, Ridiculous”.
My first example, like many of the kiwi’s GS caps, was manufactured in Scotland and is dated 1944. This particular cap was issued to 185866 Edward Tweede PARKER. He was born 18 June 1921 in Wellington. He enlisted in the NZ army 16 September 1940 and the highest rank he held was Temporary Sergeant. He first served in the Pacific where he served with Base Signals Section and 3rd Division Signals. When he was posted to Italy he served with 2 Divisional Signals, Head Quarters (HQ) 4th Armoured Brigade and HQ 2 Divisional Artillery. He was discharged 11 February 1946. The medals his service is eligible for are; Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and NZ War Service Medal, the medals remain unclaimed. Unfortunately there are too many G Taylor’s to identify who the second owner of this GS cap was.
A & J Gelfer was a hat and tie manufacturing company started by brothers Jack and Abram GELFER. The GELFER family originally came from Utsyany (modern day Utena, Lithuania) and settled in Scotland in the late 19th early 20th century. The company was located at Bridgetown, Glasgow and was still in existence till at least 1990 (though one website does say 2000).
My other named GS cap was also manufactured in Glasgow, Scotland. This particular example was issued to 398826, 202977 Guy Pieremont HALLWRIGHT. You can find out more about his military service here (Blue Beret with Brigadier/Colonel rank).
Not all GS caps worn by members of the 2nd NZEF had the onwards cap badge. Some just wore the black backing diamond by itself. Below is a photo taken in Italy of an 7th Anti-Tank Regiment officer and his driver in a Willys jeep, both wearing GS caps one with the “Onwards” badge (the officer) and one without (the jeep driver).
I do have one example of these un-badged GS caps in my collection. The liner is the same olive green cotton as the other two examples above but unfortunately the makers mark is difficult to make out, though I suspect this is another Scottish manufactured example.
My last example of the GS cap, unlike all the examples above, was manufactured in New Zealand.The materials used are the same as on the World War Two examples shown above but I am not sure if this kiwi manufactured cap was ever used during the war. I have seen a few of these NZ GS caps for sale and they all seem to be in a similar un-issued state. Perhaps the war ended before they could make it into service. In general the GS cap seems to have had a relatively short life span, not making it into NZ service beyond 1949. Perhaps all these NZ manufactured caps stayed in storage never seeing any use until eventually finding their way to the collector market.
The NZ marking on the lining of this GS Cap. This type of stamping (NZ /|\ D) is found on wartime dated items.As well as the lining colour being different, and not as well padded as the others, another difference is the ventilation eyelets. Unlike the three examples above the eyelets on the NZ manufactured caps have been stitched.
Sources of information:
GS Caps – The book ” New Zealand Army Uniforms and Clothing” by B & M O’SULLIVAN.
Gelfer family – uoginternationalstory.wordpress.com/tag/a-j-gelfer/