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The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers - (***MODERATORS' CHOICE)

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I'll finish off with three more which will take us from 1881 to 1914, the pattern of dress being more well known to our readers. This is one of my favourites by Brian Fosten - a Quartermaster Sgt and Officer dressed for mounted duties.

The Fosten brothers were outstanding uniform researchers/illustrators and their series in the Military Modeller during the 1980's was superb. This ended up in a full blown volume "The Thin Red Line", which is a "must have" book for all of those interested in British Military uniforms.

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A Simkins print c.1890 - A Pioneer, O/R & Officer. The white facing introduced in 1881, would be worn until the turn of the 1900's, when gosling green facings would be re-adopted, but with the "jam-pot" cuff. However it was the new regular 3rd & 4th Battalions raised for the South African war which would introduce this, as both the 1st & 2nd Bn's were serving in South Africa.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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The final one - c.1905. The Drum Major & Bandsman. The pointed cuff, with gosling green facings on the Bandsman indicating the new pattern of scarlet jacket introduced c.1905, which was worn until 1913. The shoulder strap was scarlet piped white with white worsted embroided titles - "Bomb/N.F.".

Curiously Simkin, despite his faults, was the only one to correctly show the large red & white plum, which swept over the crown of the Drum Majors bearskin.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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I'm glad you captioned those. I'm still learning about late Victorian tunics and all. Thank you for that encyclopedic trot around the 19th century as seen from the lines of the Fifth.

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I'm going to cross post this 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, was the relevant distinctions referred to as feathers or plumes? Or both?

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I'm going to cross post this 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, was the relevant distinctions referred to as feathers or plumes? Or both?

Not an easy one to answer really, as in my time collecting and researching the first time I came across the word "hackle" was for the feather plume worn by the other ranks of the Black Watch, wearing it with the khaki Balmoral cap from around 1902. It would appear that from this period those items made of horse hair were more often described as "plumes", for instance the red & white plume worn by the other ranks of the NF in their fur caps was made of horse hair, but never described as a hackle.

This seems to continue throughout the period where you have head-dress which is adorned by one or the other i.e. FSH or full dress and yet large feather items as worn in the astrakhan caps of the KRRC and RB etc, are still referred to as "feather plumes". With introduction of the beret for Fusiliers it appears that the word "hackle" surfaced immediatley and has stuck ever since, as did any feather item worn with Balmorals by Scottish Regiments.

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Thanks for that admirably concise summary. It confirms my suspicions but I couldn't be sure without access to the relevant documents.

As far as the Black Watch is concerned, the word 'hackle' emerges from the mists in the 1870s, when Lieut. Col. John Wheatley, a retired officer who had risen through the ranks, completed a 'Memoranda' of his service and 'A Record of Service' of the Royal Highland Regiment. These were used as the basis for an updated history of the 42nd by W. Melven in a new edition of Browne's ‘A History of The Scottish Highlands highland clans and highland regiments…’ (1875, Ed. J. Keltie)

Wheatley frequently refers to the 'heckle' in his own memoirs but more significantly quotes an old soldier who recalls the award of the 'red heckle' as the result of the Regiment's 'gallant conduct' during a skirmish at Geldermelsen in 'Flanders'- now Holland.

This was the first public appearance of that explanation for the origin of the 'Red Hackle,' which was then accepted as canonical until the 1950's since which time it has been questioned. The soldier- Andrew Dowie, who can be identified in the regimental rolls for 1795- recorded his memoir in 1845. Whether the Regimental Museum has Dowie's original testimony set downin Edinburgh on 30thMarch 1845 as well as Wheatley's version in the Record of Service is not clear at the moment. Another soldier, Ronald Cameron, recorded a fuller but arguably more credible version of the same story on 16th February 1845. He only uses the term 'red feather', however.

Wheatley also quotes General Sir Hugh Rose, C-in-C India, referring to "How the 42d gained the ' Red Heckle' in Flanders'" when he presented the regiment with new colours at Bareilly in 1861. We cannot be sure how faithful a rendering of the general's address this might be. Wheatley was not present.

Certainly all other references over that period are either to a 'red plume' or a 'red feather'. So while we might look for corroborating evidence for use of the term 'red heckle' in the 1840s or 1860s, all we can be sure of at the moment is of its use as an apparently familiar term in 1874-75. This was just the time that the 42nd sported a small tuft of feathers in the sun helmets worn with their special service uniform in Ashanti; the reduced-size 'plume' that has now become so familiar- and which appears to have given the word 'hackle' to the rest of the army, not least those fine Fusiliers.

Edited by jf42

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Now thats interesting as I was unaware of the words history, and had only ever came across it when seeing references to the Black Watch "hackles" worn with their Balmorals and FSH's at the turn of the last century. I think the oldest RNF "hackle" I have is a very sun faded one, possibly post WWII.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Now for some characters from the Northumberlands showing change of dress over the years. Firstly Lieut K.Tynte, supposedly taken c.1865. However his collar rank, a crown would be that of a Major and so must have been taken some years later. The cap is interesting as the first were of sealskin, shortly replaced by those of racoon. Later the officers of Fusiliers regiments would adopt those of Bearskin. The plume here is of feather and always had been for NF officers, whereas the O/R's wore the more durable horse hair plume.

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Captain and Quartermaster Drake taken 1885, with signature. Here we see the new pattern 1881 officers uniform, with the new white facings adopted for "none-Royal" regiments. The officers bearskin again showing the red over white feather plume.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Lieut & Quartermaster Fastnett taken c.1900. again wearing the officers 1881 pattern uniform with white facings and clearly showing the red and white feather plume. The officers bearskin caps unlike the other ranks were "sized", that is to say they were of different height depending on the height of the officer wearing it.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Captain & Adjutant Dasley. Supposedly taken 1870, but again doubtful as the uniform is the 1881 officers pattern with the re-adopted "gosling green" facings, which didn't come back into wear until the early 1900's. This makes me wonder if this photo was taken long after his retirement.

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Another interesting pint by Canton-Woodville c.1910, showing members of the 4th Bn, N.F.(T.F.). However I'm always unsure when looking at this one, due to the fact that Alnwick Castle appears in the background, which was the H.Q. of the 7th Bn, N.F.(T.F.). The 4th Bn at this time had their H.Q. in Hexham and were still wearing "Rifle" grey and only began to change over to scarlet in 1910, which is when this print was sketched. There are also others bits and pices of uniform detail which show that Woodville omitted some of the accuarcy of other military artists.

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The Northumberland Fusiliers are one of the few Regiments which have been granted the carrying of a third Colour. This third Colour known as the Drummers Colour isn't adorned with Battle Honours as are the Kings/Queens and Regimental Colours, but it was carried on parade by the Drummers. The attache illustration was presented to the Drummers c.1954.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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In Post 163 of this thread I referred to Lieutenant-Colonel B R Brewin MC, who in 1917 briefly served as OC of the 24th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish), before being relieved of command due to his "intemperance".

At the time I offered a three page summary biography of Brewin to anyone who requested it by means of a pm. There were a couple of responses to this offer and I am now repeating it, because there have been some alterations and additions made to it.

Regards

Brett

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Been away from here for a while, and just had to add this one for viewing. A member of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers taken during annual camp Scarborough Race Course, Yorkshire, 1903. A cabinet photo of exceptional quality, where the embroided scarlet on rifle grey "1/V/Bomb/NF" can clearly been seen. Blackened 'rifle' pattern buttons, scarlet collar & cuffs with blackend cap badge on the rifle grey, slouch hat. To top it all this lad has also included what appears to be 'lucky heather' to the upturned side, which obviously would be removed on return to camp.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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In posts 163 and 341 of this thread, I have referred to Colonel B R Brewin MC, who briefly served as the CO of the 24th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish), during World War I. I have Brewin's medals and, in such instances, I try to collect badges of the units in which the man served. The relevant NF badges for Brewin are shown below. He also served in the Royal Artillery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Natal Police, Cape Police, Cape Mounted Police, West Riding Regiment, Royal Scots, Gloucestershire Regiment, Lancashire Fusiliers and Yorkshire Hussars. My collection of badges from these units is far from complete.

I collected the Northumberland Fusiliers' badges in South Africa, while my younger son found the Tyneside Irish badge in an antique shop in England. Added to the display board is a photograph from John Sheen's 'Tyneside Irish' book (page 153), which shows a Fusilier Corporal wearing the Tyneside Irish badge on his collars. I realise that there should be two NY shoulder titles and that the badges may not be the type worn by officers.

I would appreciate receiving comments on errors or misconceptions with this display.

Brett

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OK - What you have displayed is an other ranks cap and collar badges and an officers shoulder title. Officers of the Tyneside Irish wore standard pattern NF officers bronzed cap and collar badges.

The Tyneside Irish other ranks wore the standard O/R's pattern cap badge and special shoulder titles, which consisted of numeral - i.e. '24'; '25'; '26'; '27'/ HARP/NF.

TI badges are often found with sliders, reputed to be cap badges - they didn't wear a distinctive cap badge, and all genuine TI badges have lugs on the reverse side. In John's photo the Cpl has adopted the harp shoulder badges as collar badges, later a special harp badge was introduced for wear by senior NCO's, as a collar badge.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Graham

Many thanks for clarifying the situation with the NF badges. As it turns out, the only correct badge, the officer's shoulder title, was acquired recently quite by chance. Unfortunately for me, the Tyneside Irish badge is one with a slider. I wont tell my son that his exciting discovery somewhere in rural Oxfordshire was not the genuine article!

I will keep hunting for badges to add to Brewin's array. At least I now know what I need for the Northumberland Fusilers display.

Regards

Brett

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Well back again with some more interesting R.N.F. items and the first of these is this unusual shooting badge to the 7th Bn, R.N.F.(T.A.) Shooting Team, which was worn possibly as a blazer badge sometime during the 1950's/60's and is the first of it's type that I've ever come across.

It's these particular types of badges that we know little about, as generally they were produced locally and by the unit involved and "not at public expense". How many members were actually in the Shooting Team and how many badges were actually produced is unkown to me at this present time.

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Latest edition to my R.N.F. uniforms is this lovely officers pattern No1. Dress "blues" jacket belonging to Captain later Major A. Berryman. A wartime veteran and member of the Territorial Army, tracing Capt Berryman hasn't proved too easy and so I have little in the way of information to tell.

The jacket itself seems to have been made around 1952 by "George Downie & Sons" - Military & Mufti Tailors, 62 & 64 Grey Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and is a lovely example of this pattern of jacket for officers.

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The collar is complete with the bullion and silver collar badges of the R.N.F., but worn horizonitally, with St.George and the Dragon aligned to be worn as a pair.

Arranged around the interior of the collar is a series of five small metal studs, one of which can just be seen, the purpose of which is unknown, but which must have been very uncomfortable for the wearer, as this studding arrangement is not found on the collars of O/R's No.1 Dress 'blues'.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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The shoulder straps are detachable and held in place with a gilt 'screw' button and the Majors rank Crown is gilt, with purple velvet material to the interior of the Crown.

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A close up of the scalloped breast pocket and WWII campaign medal ribbons, including North Africa and Italy Stars and also included is the Territorial Decaration with 'rosette' indicating 'active service' as a T.A. member and an unknown blue/light blue ribbon.

The pocket itself is studded(and out of view) at each corner to keep it in place and the button itself is in gilt, but now tarnished.

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