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This had just arrived and I thought it might be of interest. This pattern of shako - similar to the Union cap of the U.S. civil war period - seems to have been adopted by some of the Scottish Regiments - this example being for the Highland Light Infantry. I am not sure of it's exact date of introduction - perhaps someone can tell us ? - but this still has the label inside and clearly dates it to 1900. This is the Boer War - but again, did they wear this in the field ?

The eternal problem for militaria collectors - one question answered, justs leads to another...

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I wonder what the 4 Years means ? I noticed that the badge is King's Crown - if the helmet was issued in 1900 - or, perhaps afterwards, then it would be a King's Crown. (out of interest, we are short of dummy heads - this 100 year fruit bowl fits perfectly !!)

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Mervyn,

Not meaning to sideline your thread (again!), but years ago I read the autobiography of the actor, David Niven, called "The Moon's a Balloon". He graduated from Sandhurst and when he filled out his paperwork on which regiment he wished to be commissioned in I think he had 3 choices. For choice #3 he put, "Anything but the Highland Light Infantry!" Well, of course, he was commissioned in the HLI. In the photos there was one of him, along with some fellow officers, in full dress, on their way to appear before the king, and Niven labelled the photo "Highland Postmen".

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it had a lot of very humorous moments in it.

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Mervyn

Check this site for details of a very similar shako - Victorian - which sold for L895!

http://www.helmetsandheadgear.co.uk/British.htm

Yours is certainly not a field uniform if dated 1900. The style, btw, comes from French kepis of the Crimean War period - google "Albert kepi" for an early example.

More lovely stuff. You were clearly born under a lucky star!

Peter

Edited by peter monahan

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If I remember correctly only the officers of the HLI continued to wear this form of head-dress post 1881. The remainder of the infantry apart from Highland Regiments and Fusiliers went onto adopt the Home Service pattern helmet, this I believe included the O/R's of the HLI.

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Hi - Graham. You've just made my Sunday ! (makes up for the Vicar taking all my money...) I thought the heavy black braid was a bit too fine for o/r's and your explanations accounts for this. Badge is not really officers' quality, but then the date allows for a change over period. Any ideas on what '4 Years' might mean ?

Mervyn

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This had just arrived and I thought it might be of interest. This pattern of shako - similar to the Union cap of the U.S. civil war period - seems to have been adopted by some of the Scottish Regiments - this example being for the Highland Light Infantry. I am not sure of it's exact date of introduction - perhaps someone can tell us ? - but this still has the label inside and clearly dates it to 1900. This is the Boer War - but again, did they wear this in the field ?

The eternal problem for militaria collectors - one question answered, justs leads to another...

The old 71st Regiment were converted to light infantry in 1809 (71st Highland Light Infantry) and as a consequence lost their highland dress. However, they retained their pipers and a Highland style headdress. This shako, with diced border, was in the style of the contemporary light infantry design. As different shakos were introduced into the army (bell crown, 2d Albert pattern, Quilted pattern, 1869-78 pattern) the HLI adopted them (in the Crimea, the 71st still had the bell crowned type shako and not the Albert pattern). The last pattern shako was the 1869-78 shako with diced band which the HLI (Officers and ORs) continued to wear until 1914. After the Great War, only officers continued to wear it for levees and court receptions. It should be noted that, from 1884 to 1906, the ball tuft was actually black. The green tuft was restored in 1906. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were the only other regiment to wear the shako.

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Thankyou for this additional info. - would you agree with Graham that this is probably an officer's ? The green tuft would be accounted for by the earlier one being changed in 1906 - it must have still been in use.

Mike - this shako is very similar to the pattern worn by postmen in the late Victorian period. I wanted to be sent to Knightsbridge - but ended up in the East End - it never pays to say too much...

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I've looked at some prints of the HLI and still thinks it's an officers due to the fact a cord boss is being worn, along with the cord braiding, whereas the other-ranks would be plain apart from the cap badge & dicing. Only WOI's would wear a pattern similar to officer as befits their rank. It appears their other ranks may have continued to wear this form of headr-dress post 1881, although I'm certain I've seen photographs of both the HLI & Cameronians wearing the Home Service helmet, but I could be wrong.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Double checked regarding the Cameronians and they did wear the Home Service helmet and there's a Home Service helmet plate belonging to the Scottish Rifles for sale on a certain auction site.

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Officers headress would not have had a contract label & a WD stamp, presumably - "4 years" - the expected or actual length of wear of the tem? Tho' these sort of things were kept from 1914 & dug out again in the 1970's - 80's for use again.

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Well - you seem to have cleared up that point - not an officer, but looks more elaborate than a basic o/r's - would senior N.C.O.'s have a different pattern? The '4 years' had been puzzling - thank goodness Leigh knew it.

Graham - off track - but your avatar , is that you in uniform - how about a bigger one ?

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Thankyou for this additional info. - would you agree with Graham that this is probably an officer's ? The green tuft would be accounted for by the earlier one being changed in 1906 - it must have still been in use.

Mike - this shako is very similar to the pattern worn by postmen in the late Victorian period. I wanted to be sent to Knightsbridge - but ended up in the East End - it never pays to say too much...

The shako is an OR model. Field Officers had bands of gold lace 5/8th of an inch deep around the top which varied in number according to rank (3 for Colonels, 2 for Lieutenant Colonels, 1 for Majors). Officers also had cap lines attached which were worn differently by the two regular battalions. The Bugle Major of the 1st Bn, HLI, wore a Staff Sergeants' pattern shako with cap lines and a plume of green cocks' feathers instead of the OR ball tuft.

The above information comes from the excellent book The Highland Light Infantry: The uniforms of the Regiment 1881 to 1914 by James B. McKay and Douglas N. Anderson (privately printed in 1977). If you can obtain a copy from a book dealer or Ebay, do so. It is a gold mine of information!

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Wonder if anyone has a photo of O/Rs wearing their shako, as it would be intersting to see if a cord boss was worn by them above the cap badge. I've never come across a cord boss described as such for the HLI O/R's. The WD lable may be there because it may be or was a "sealed pattern". All accoutrements originated from 'sealed pattern' items approved by the WO and Clothing Dept.

As Coldstream2 has mentioned there appears to have been a pattern for senior ranks, which may differ from that of the O/R's.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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There is an internet site which has photographs of officers and men of the 2nd Bn HLI in Review Order (with shakos) and Walking Out dress (white shell jackets) taken at Aldershot just before the outbreak of war in August 1914. The site is British Light Infantry Regiments and is located at http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/index.htm. When you arrive at the site's home page, click on "Highland LI" and when you bring it up, go to "photo album" and scroll down to the photographs which can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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Have to concede it is an 'other ranks' shako, as the photographs on the Light Infantry site although of poor quality, when blown up show an additional item being worn above the cap badge which will be the boss badge as seen on your item. I was honestly unaware that the HLI wore a boss above the HLI badge on the shako and have never ever seen one for sale - has anyone else?

Apologies to you Merv for building your hopes up and thanks to Coldstream2 for putting us right. At least I've learned something today. Think I'll stick to Fusiliers stuff in future :D

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