A casquette dAfrique was a type of lightweight military headgear generally used by the French metropolitan and colonial armies from the early 1830s to the 1860s. France too adopted this thinking when it embarked on a programme of expansion into Algeria in 1830. Soon, they were wearing their simpler, secondary uniforms with Napoleonic-style soft cap known as bonnet de police. This was a form of forage or large side cap comprising a long, tapered cloth bag with tassel at the point, the turn-up was called a turban, whilst the tapered bag was called a flamme. For infantry, the flamme was garance colour, whilst the turban was dark blue, narrow lines of dark blue piping ran up four sides of the flamme to the point. A cloth badge, such as a grenade, was often worn on the front of the turban. As the bonnet de police had no visor, it could not shield wearers eyes from the sun and alternative, visored, one variety resembled a modern peaked cap with wide crown and horizontal visor, with dark blue band and crimson top and undersides. Early models had stiff lining, but other models had cane skeleton framing for weight-reduction, obviously influenced by the old bonnet de police, this cap became known as the casquette dAfrique and became universal wear amongst Frances European troops. Apart from being lighter, this gave the cap a rakish. In December 1844, a new black shako was introduced for the French Army and this started a series of new shako models over the years, often associated with the glory years of the last Empire of Napoleon III. 1852 saw the demise of the casquette dAfrique, when a smaller, softer version was introduced, the kepi was basically a casquette dAfrique, reduced in overall size of body etc. with stiffening removed. A famous Crimean photograph taken by Roger Fenton exists, showing a group of Chasseurs dAfrique wearing their casquettes dAfrique
Casquette d'Afrique worn by a French foreign legionnaire
Another example of the casquette d'Afrique worn by a chasseur.
Cylindrical shako worn by French soldiers during the conquest of Algeria
The kepi is a smaller version of the casquette d'Afrique