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Camp Tophat Belgium 1945


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Johan Willaert

Living in Belgium, I have a particular interest in Top Hat Items...

 

Here's front and back of a Camp Informational Leaflet

 

 

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Johan Willaert

Camp Tophat also qualified (technically) as a Cigarette Camp since it was named after Belgian Tophat cigarettes ""

 

I think the Camp may have come first and Cigarettes were named after it...

 

In 1945 and 1946 the American forces set up a series of camps to bring their troops home after the end of World War II. The camps, most of which were located in France, were named after a brand of American cigarette, a desirable and valuable commodity (Camp Lucky Stripe, Camp Pall Mall, Camp Chesterfield, etc.). Tophat, a virtual city comprised of thousands of black 20-man tents was set up on the outskirts of Antwerp, Belgium in close proximity to its world-class harbor. Unlike the French "cigarette camps" it was named for the unit that built it, which had a tophat as their unit symbol. However, a Belgian cigarette company manufactured Tophat Cigarettes so it became unintentionally a "cigarette camp" after all. ( http://www.the-forum.com/ephemera/TOPHAT.HTM )

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I note on the cover of the magazine with the holding his duffel bag that he is carrying a helmet liner (no pot). Now I suppose maybe they separated them with the pot in the bag, and the liner to use as a sun helmet on deck, but I do find this odd. I wonder if there was, even for a while, a thing about leaving the pots in Europe, possibly as they had so many unissued in the states and any in country could be issued to European Armies starting up. Curious.

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  • 2 weeks later...
vintageproductions

Yup.

When I first saw this I thought it was a odd variant of the USN Top Hatters sqd patch, but it was sewn to a heavily damaged nurse's wool overcoat. Then Dave Johnson & Dave Kaufman sent me photos of a painted sign at Camp Tophat, and I realized quickly it wasn't a sqd patch.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great information! Did not know that camp was named after cigarette brand. Very cool to see that the patch was copy of the logo. It is a rare patch and maybe could also be in shoulder patch section. Mort

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Johan Willaert

Actually for this camp, it seems cigarettes were named after the Camp...

 

As for the patch, it was commonly worn on the right shoulder of the uniform of the Camp's personnel, as shown on a picture of the Brass section of the Camp Top Hat Band....

 

Picture from the book: Camp Top Hat ISBN 90-5868-168-8

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks Bob,

 

Here's a surviving Top Hat IKE jacket, worn by Donald ZOBEL

Picture from same book

 

Hello , Do you sell items from Top Hat ?

Greets

Kenny from Holland !

 

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