Hot tin hat

2 min readJul 9, 2018

How the introduction of tin hats in warfare led to more casualities not less.

War is an unashamedly violent affair which leaves many people severely injured.

WW1 was no different.

In an effort to reduce the number of injuries, a gentlemen named John Leopold Brodie invented the tin hat or the ‘doughboy helmet’ as it was colloquially known across the pond.

Up until that point the only head protection offered was a cloth cap (a material hardly known for its ability to withstand flying bullets, shrapnel or indeed the sharp blade of a bayonet).

The idea was that with less injuries being suffered there would be fewer field hospitals needed and the associated requirement for doctors and nursing staff.

It appeared to be a win-win solution. Less soldiers injured and less resources required to look after the injured.

However, the introduction of these new hats had the opposite effect.

It increased the number of injuries that needed to be treated. And so more field hospitals were required as opposed to fewer.

How could this possibly be?

The simple reason was that with cloth hats many more people were killed outright and therefore did not require any medical assistance.

The injuries quota went up dramatically with the introduction of tin hats because more people were surviving when they previously would have died.

This is a brilliant example of the Law of Unintended Consequences where in solving one problem we can unintentionally create another.

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