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I'm going to cross post this question across the three Fusilier threads. When did regulations start referring to a 'hackle' in Fusilier head dress (Assuming they did)? My guess it would be after the Fusilier distinction was adapted for Foreign Service helmets and then berets. As far as the Fusilier fur cap from 1866 to 1914 is concerned, were the relevant distinctions referred to as feathers or plumes? Or both?

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The 1864 Dress Regulations give a white horsehair plume except for the 5th who had a red over white.

The 1874 Dress Regulations give a feather hackle as do all subsequent DRs.

Hope this helps.

Stuart

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The 1864 Dress Regulations give a white horsehair plume except for the 5th who had a red over white.

The 1874 Dress Regulations give a feather hackle as do all subsequent DRs.

Hope this helps.

Stuart

Very interesting Stuart, as in all my time the 5th always referred to their adornment as a "plume", whether it be of horse hair or feather. In the RNF Topic section I refer to my first introduction to the general descriptive wording "hackle" for the feather item worn by the Black Watch when wearing the SD Balmoral c.1902. From this period it seems to depend on what the material was made of and with what it was worn - but the word "hackle" seems more common to the small feather items, whereas the larger feather items worn by either officers or Rifles are described as "plumes". With the introduction of the beret for Fusiliers the word "hackle" is used from the beginning. of it's introduction.

I can't dispute Stuarts DR reference to the use of the word "hackle" and it's dating, but in general terms among it's wearers and uniform historians "plume" seems to take precedence over "hackle" until the turn of the century.

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Hi Graham,

it is interesting that the DRs all decribe this item under the "heading" Plume e.g. -

(1864) Plume - white horsehair, drooping from stem five inches high, with gilt grenade socket, except the 5th Fusiliers, who are authorized to wear one of red and white, the white uppermost

(1874) Plume, for 5th Fusiliers -- Red and white hackle feather, 4 1/2 inches high, the red above, worn on left side

(1883) Plume - For Northumberland Fusiliers only -- Red and white hackle feather, 4 1/2 inches high, the red above; worn on left side

(1891) Plume - as above for 1883

(1894) Plume - as above for 1891

(1900) Plume - Northumberland Fusiliers -- red and white hackle feather, 4 1/2 inches high, the red above; worn on left side; gilt two flame socket. Royal Irish Fusiliers, green cut feather 6 1/2 inches high.

Now this could be read to mean that either from 1874 onwards until 1900 only the Northumberland Fusiliers wore a hackle or may be the white persisted for all other regiments.

In Barthorp's British Infantry Uniforms p96 there is a photograph of a Royal Welch Fusilier c1872 with no hackle, however in his appendix 2 he has this table of plume colours 1881-1914 :-

  1. Royal Northumberland Fusiliers - Scarlet over white, left (Plume in racoon-skin cap)
  2. Royal Fusiliers - White, right (Plume in racoon-skin cap)
  3. Lancashire Fusiliers - Primrose, left (Plume in racoon-skin cap)
  4. Royal Scots Fusiliers - White, right (Plume in sealskin cap)
  5. Royal Welch Fusiliers - White, left (Plume in racoon-skin cap)

Ask a simple question and others are generated.

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Interesting that the 1900 DRs show a Fusilier cap with no plume. Now this could be just a generic example except that next to it is a Grenadier Guards bearskin with white goathair hackle. On the same page the hackles for the NFs and the RWFs are shown.

Here we go again, Barthorp also has a photograph on p111 of a RWF Corporal-Drummer c1904 with a white hackle to the right! Ok, just checked the 1904 DRs and this is correct.

Stuart

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When the Fusilier cap was reintroduced in 1866, only the 5th wore a distinction, the red-tipped "St Lucia" feather ( 1829 version). Is that correct?

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I phrased that wrongly- and had missed out some intervening posts. That's what comes of posting on the run.

Let me rephrase it: (I had assumed that) When the Fusilier cap was reintroduced in 1866, only the 5th wore a distinction, the red-tipped "St Lucia" feather ( 1829 version). Is that correct?"

Thanks, Stuart for posting on details of the DRs, which saved me from pedantically asking if the word 'hackle' actually appeared.

The question of when the Royal Fusiliers, Royal Scots and Royal Welch Fusiliers re-adopted white plumes for their caps does seem a little vague. Moving forward from the RWF photo of 1872 in Barthorp, there is a well-known photo of the 1st Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers RSM and Drum Major with C/Sgt,. piper and private from 1896 (Wilkinson-Latham, p.99) and there is no plume in evidence in any of the three fur caps on show. This would suggest that until 1900, only the Northumberland Fusiliers and perhaps the Royal Irish Fusiliers, together with, as the accompanying illustration suggests, the RWF, were wearing a feather.

Was 1900 or 1904 the turning point when all fusiliers adopted a feather in their cap? What date were the Lancs Fusiliers awarded their primrose distinction? (choosing my words carefully, here) Were they on active service when they adopted it?

As far as Barthorp is concerned, I think the list of distinctions on p. 148 is meant to be an 'accumulator', indicating how uniforms evolved between 1881 and 1914. The inclusion of distinctions for the Irish and Welsh Guards (1915), Lancs Fusiliers and the blackcock feathers of the R Scots and KOSBs would seem to confirm that.

Edited by jf42

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According to Carman in Uniforms of the British Army, The Infantry Regiments p132 "By 1871 another fur cap was allocated to the fusiliers, this time the black racoon-skin type... Only the 5th Foot had the plume, their own distinctive red-and-white hackle... In 1892 a new pattern fur cap was introduced, this time of bearskin. There was now some pressure to have special plumes for fusiliers and the Royal Irish Fusiliers were allowed to have one of dark green. Then in 1901 the Lancashire Fusiliers were permitted a primrose-yellow hackle... The 1904 DRs quoted plumes for all."

Now why did I just not scan the page? Anyway this, I trust, clears up the matter of when plumes were introduced. It would also seem from all of the recent posts that Plume was the overall term applied to such a headdress feature and hackle is a subset of that being made of feathers. But... and here we go again the DRs specify a feather plume for the Coldstreams, KRRC, Rifle Brigade, Highland Regiments probably others.

A couple of dictionary definitions have the hackle defined as being of feathers so I guess the terms are, for all intents and purposes, interchangeable. But before someone jumps in, not for cavalry ;)

Damn, forgot the dear old 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys).

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Further to my account of the first published appearance of the phrase 'red heckle' in the 1870s, last night I came across a quotation in Wilkinson-Latham from 1830 government regulations for Regiments wearing Highand clothing. [Necessaries]: "Bonnet, complete with drooping feathers, hackle, cockade and oilskin cover."

So, it turns out that in the context of Highland military uniform, the term 'hackle' was current in standard English as early as 1830 (it appears much earlier in Isaac Walton's "Compleat Angler" with reference to feather's for trout flies!).

As far as ambiguities in the term 'plume' is concerned, obviously it is a French, or Anglo-French,word that referred originally to the feathered crests (crista- 'tuft' ie on a lark's head) on medieval helmets. Illustrations suggest these were predominantly ostrich feathers. That situation continued until the mid-18th century when both cut 'hackle-plumes' and worsted tufts of varying shapes- cylindrical, conical or spherical, began to appear. At the same time, horsehair crinieres or manes also began to appear as crests on pseudo-Classical helmets.

Around 1800 hackle-plumes on the new shakos grew to assume a long cylindrical shape that we still see on Guards and Fusilier caps and on Highland feather bonnets. Subsequently, horsehair would also be used for vertical 'brush' distinctions while, where Neo-Classical Helmets were being replaced by the finial peaked helmets pioneered by Russia and Prussia, the horsehair criniere was replaced by falling 'plumes' as adopted by British heavy cavalry in the 1840s.

It would seem that from its original French meaning of feather 'plume' has now come to mean any coloured distinction emulating the ostrich feather, be it a hackle-plume, horsehair 'brush' or 'falling plume'. Similarly, 'crest' having once meant specifically 'a feather,' came to mean any coloured decoration of animal origin on a helmet.

Once, animal fibre would have been the unifying factor but obviously man-made fibres now have their role to play. Where used, wool-fibre tufts, once used as economy 'plumes', have generally evolved into what we would recognise as 'pom-poms, although I'm not aware of that term ever having a military application in a British context (for uniforms, that is). I am only familiar with the term 'ball-tuft,' which became reduntant when the HLI finally gave up their Full Dress shakos

As with many military terms, we are guided as much by usage than logic, philology or science.

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"I've got a few black plastics beret badges - one with a black plastic washer which fits over a plastic nub on the back of the badge, one with a thin silver metal strip glued to the back (to pierce the cloth & fold back, a bit like the WWII plastic economies) & the type with the brass bar formimg lugs."

 

And now I have a fourth variation. one with a "JR GAUNT LONDON" brass slider.

 

 

 

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On Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 16:12, tynesideirish said:

I was lucky enough to win the badge featured below on our favourite & worse auction site. No one bid except me and thus I got it for the very reasonable opening bid. I don't know why no one else bid, I suspect many didn't read the auction properly and believed it to be a regular cap badge. Others would have thought it was a dodgy one as it doesn't match the current Fur Cap/ busby badges.

I luckily remember seeing this very badge in the MHS journal just recently Volume 43 No 169 August 92 page 25/26. stated in the Journal as RRF probably circa 1969. However as the photo of the drummers are clearly wearing all white plumes in the fur cap I think its a Royal Fusilers Drum Platoon wearing the Fusilier Brigade Drummers fur cap badge. If the RF drummers where wearing it then I presume the others in the Brigade did also. I'm not sure if that badge extended into the amalgamation during 1969 but it was gone by 1970. So all in all a rare Fusiliers badge and a great cheap buy.

 

Dimensions: approx 14cm x 10.5cm or 5 3/4" High by 4 1/4 " Wide.

busbybadge.JPG

busbybadgerear.JPG

On Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 16:12, tynesideirish said:

I was lucky enough to win the badge featured below on our favourite & worse auction site. No one bid except me and thus I got it for the very reasonable opening bid. I don't know why no one else bid, I suspect many didn't read the auction properly and believed it to be a regular cap badge. Others would have thought it was a dodgy one as it doesn't match the current Fur Cap/ busby badges.

I luckily remember seeing this very badge in the MHS journal just recently Volume 43 No 169 August 92 page 25/26. stated in the Journal as RRF probably circa 1969. However as the photo of the drummers are clearly wearing all white plumes in the fur cap I think its a Royal Fusilers Drum Platoon wearing the Fusilier Brigade Drummers fur cap badge. If the RF drummers where wearing it then I presume the others in the Brigade did also. I'm not sure if that badge extended into the amalgamation during 1969 but it was gone by 1970. So all in all a rare Fusiliers badge and a great cheap buy.

 

Dimensions: approx 14cm x 10.5cm or 5 3/4" High by 4 1/4 " Wide.

busbybadge.JPG

busbybadgerear.JPG

Desperate to get hold of one of these large fusilier cap badges can anybocy help?

 

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