Men at arms

Dragoons’ helmet

The structure of the KuK cavalry as seen at the beginning of the Great War was established after 1867. The three troop sorts (dragoons, uhlans and hussars) received their latest organization and conceptualization of their tasks within the modernizing Austro-Hungarian armed forces. Yet, these roles had to be reconsidered very soon after the outbreak of the war: the traditional roles of cavalry disappeared entirely. Hence, also the differences among the three types of troops vanished, except the layout of their parade uniforms that kept the traditions.  Most outstanding difference was seen on the headgears of the three.

The 1905 pattern dragoon helmet is the topic of the post. The officers’ helmets were quite special, as the attached pictures and the small badge show. The image of a lion fighting a snake was visible on the gilded crest. The chinstrap of the light metal helmet painted black was also richly decorated and gilded. Its fastener also depicted a lion’s head on two sides. The crew helmets were essentially undecorated, but the palm-sized brass double-headed eagle insignia was also affixed to these helmets on the forehead.

The wearing photo is also interesting. It shows the world-renowned Austrian expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka as a dragoon performing his one-year volunteer service. Kokoschka was born in Lower Austria, so it was not by chance that he joined the dragoons. He served in the 15th Regiment during the Great War. He was wounded in 1915. After recovery, he was decommissioned. In the picture, he is wearing a crew helmet of simple design corresponding to his rank.

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