Crap hat is a derogatory term for the standard (originally khaki, now dark blue) beret worn by regular soldiers in the British Army, in contrast to those worn in the special regiments (typically red or green). The term is also used by special regiment members like paratroopers and commandos to refer to other soldiers. The earliest evidence found so far by OED editors is from a 1972 novel by Marshall Pugh titled Murmur of Mutiny about British paratroopers based in the Middle East.
They found it difficult enough to accept officers of other regiments wearing the conventional caps which they called crap-hats.
1972 Marshall Pugh, Murmur of Mutiny, p. 25
The standard beret itself was in use by the late 1940s, replacing similar models worn since the early 20th century. Can you help us find pre-1972 evidence for the noun crap hat to mean either the standard beret of the British army, or a soldier wearing one?
Posted by OED_Editor on 9 May 2016 14.27