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Gordon F.S. helmet hackle


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Gentlemen- greetings,

Those among you who know about these things may be able to help with a conundrum that has come up at Victorian Wars.

I know some of you post there as well.

I'm ashamed to say I have no idea how to trans-post any photo let alone one posted by someone. (I'll get there one day). However-

In connection with a query about Highland Regiments wearing flashes on F.S. helmets circa 1880-1900, a question has arisen over a picture of some Gordon Highlander officers who would look to be in India ca 1868-80 and are all wearing small white-over-red hackles in the pagri of white FS helmets with spikes.

Can anyone help cast light on this garnishing?

Thanks,

JF

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I would think that it would possibly reflect what was worn in the feather bonnet. For instance the Royal Highlander Regt(Black Watch) wore the red hackle, again I believe reflecting that worn in the feather bonnet.

Well, no. That's the puzzle. As far as I am aware, between 1829 and 1914 when Full Dress was suspended all Highland regiments apart from the Black Watch wore a white hackle in their feather bonnets. Indications are that between the wars, the Seaforths and Q.O.Camerons also wore white feathers in their Wolsey F.S. helmets.

This would appear to be a local decoration while wearing the Foreign Service helmet in India. I only know of the 1870s photo. Whether it continued with the creation of the Gordon Highlanders (75th & 92nd) and was worn by the 1st and 2nd battalions when they served in Egypt, the Sudan, NFW and South Africa, I have yet to discover.

Thanks,

JF

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Well, no. That's the puzzle. As far as I am aware, between 1829 and 1914 when Full Dress was suspended all Highland regiments apart from the Black Watch wore a white hackle in their feather bonnets. Indications are that between the wars, the Seaforths and Q.O.Camerons also wore white feathers in their Wolsey F.S. helmets.

As far as I'm aware "Full Dress" or review order was never suspended, so I take it you mean on active service, being replaced by KD. Scarlet continued to be worn both at home and abroad in various forms and patterns for levee, parade, walking-out and work.

The only changes between 1881 and 1900 were that facing colours were changed for Scottish, Irish, English & Welsh regiments. The basic colour for "Royal" regiments - blue, non-Royal Regiments - white, Scottish - yellow and Irish - green. Post 1900 many regiments re-adopted their old facing's.

If you can get hold of a copy of Dress Regulations or even better Standing Orders for the Gordon's you may find your answer there. Within the British Army you have to remember they will adopt something, which although not inline with the current dress code, may have been worn years before.

However they may have just chosen the colour from the dicing on the Glengarry, which I believe was "red & white". Other Highland regiments had additional colours within the dicing.

Edited by Graham Stewart
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As far as I'm aware "Full Dress" or review order was never suspended, so I take it you mean on active service, being replaced by KD. Scarlet continued to be worn both at home and abroad in various forms and patterns for levee, parade, walking-out and work...

That is interesting. My understanding was that on the outbreak of war in 1914, all Full Dress clothing was returned to store, with officers and men thenceforth only wearing forms Service Dress for all occasons, and that after the war, Full Dress was only worn by the Guards on Public Duties, by officers at levees and by some bands. It seems Full Dress Regulations continued in place and were updated in 1934, at any rate, but by the Coronation of George VI a special 'austerity' Coronation Uniform had to be devised.This latter was the basis of No 1 Dress after the war.

Is that all an oversimplification? (No irony intended)

However they may have just chosen the colour from the dicing on the Glengarry, which I believe was "red & white". Other Highland regiments had additional colours within the dicing.

Yes, you might well be spot on there. That occurred to me, then I thought "Why didn't they used the dicing itself?" but feathers would more appropriate for a Full Dress occasion like a durbah, especially given the sigificance of the Gordon's distinctive two-colour dicing.

More investigation underway.

Thanks.

PS the photo can be found here, by the way-

http://www.bydand.com/history.htm

-if you scroll down a bit.

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That is interesting. My understanding was that on the outbreak of war in 1914, all Full Dress clothing was returned to store, with officers and men thenceforth only wearing forms Service Dress for all occasons, and that after the war, Full Dress was only worn by the Guards on Public Duties, by officers at levees and by some bands. It seems Full Dress Regulations continued in place and were updated in 1934, at any rate, but by the Coronation of George VI a special 'austerity' Coronation Uniform had to be devised.This latter was the basis of No 1 Dress after the war.

Is that all an oversimplification? (No irony intended)

Sorry I completely misread your previous post and as you correctly say Full Dress was last seen up to the outbreak of WWI. However it was still seen among regiments during special occassions such as Presentation of Colours and Officers Levees and Bands seemed to retain it throughout, although SD was the main form of dress. I believe officers still had to provide Full Dress for just such occassions.

The 1937 pattern Coronation Dress you mention, which was the Blue, wasn't particularly "new", as "Blues" had also been an integeral part of regimental dress for both officers and other ranks even before the Great War, but the 37 Pattern brought "uniformity" to it.

I have a couple of set's of Blues which include the introduction for the Northumberland Fusiliers, which inlcude the use of Gosling Green(the facing colour) piping on the shoulder straps and the later scarlet piping.

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The 1937 pattern Coronation Dress you mention, which was the Blue, wasn't particularly "new", as "Blues" had also been an integeral part of regimental dress for both officers and other ranks even before the Great War, but the 37 Pattern brought "uniformity" to it.

I have a couple of set's of Blues which include the introduction for the Northumberland Fusiliers, which inlcude the use of Gosling Green(the facing colour) piping on the shoulder straps and the later scarlet piping.

I didn't realise. How interesting. I thought Patrol Blues were only for officers. In my opinion, one of the smartest elements of British uniform in the C20th. I don't know why it was superceded. No 2 Dress, well, perhaps more 'national' in some respects, but....

When did Blues come in for ORs- was it to accompany Khaki Service Dress?

Was the '37 headress based on a blue (or green?) SD/forage cap and glengarry for Scots?

JF

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Blue's seem to turn up around 1900, but there's still some debate about their introduction as one of our members has done extensive research into British Army uniforms and prior to 1937 they were not an "issue" item. They were either a regimental purchase or private purchase, but the number of photo's we see where they are worn, would make them an expensive purchase, even at regimental level. I even have a photo of a R.F.A. lad and Northumberland Fusilier posing together in India pre-WWI, and the R.F.A. lad is wearing "blues", with the addition of braiding on the cuff, which shows that there was no uniformity from unit to unit, especially where the pocket patterns were concerned.

Interesting that you should mention the coloured peaked forage cap introduced c.1902 for other ranks, as the overall colour of that was blue and although seen often with scarlet, would have suited wear with blues better.

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Blue's seem to turn up around 1900, but there's still some debate about their introduction as one of our members has done extensive research into British Army uniforms and prior to 1937 they were not an "issue" item.

But clearly, as you say, very popular.

Interesting that you should mention the coloured peaked forage cap introduced c.1902 for other ranks, as the overall colour of that was blue and although seen often with scarlet, would have suited wear with blues better.

But was that not the case in 1937, then?

I have a poster for an Aldershot Tattoo in the early 20's, I think, and the drummer- hard to tell what the regiment is meant to be- is wearing a smart scarlet jacket with chevrons down the sleeves' and a blue peaked forage cap.

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My error again - the 1902 pattern peaked forage cap for other-ranks wasn't coloured, but seemingly black or very dark blue throughout. It doesn't even appear to have coloured piping on the crown. The attached photo shows the one you mean, worn by Colour Sgt Boyd, 6th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers prior to the Great War.

Sorry for my errors, but I'm thousands of miles from my notes and trying to remember it all off the top of my head.

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Yes that's the one.

Not wanting to tax your powers of long-distance recall (or make you homesick) but when you've moment to consider, what was the position with Rifle and LI regiments? Blues and coloured caps? Blues and standard pattern caps? Did Rifles wear green 'Blues'?

I never realised how little I know about this area.

JF

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The H.L.I. apart you'll find that the Light Infantry regiments followed the dress codes of the other line regiments. Of those L.I. regiments only the Durham L.I. and Ox & Buck's L.I., converted to white facings in 1881. The other's being "Royal" regiments had blue facings. After 1900 it would appear that only the D.L.I. went onto adopt dark green facings and I'm certain their caps would have followed the same pattern as the remainder.

As for the Rifles - I couldn't honestly say, but it's likely that they may have adopted a similar pattern to "blues" but in Rifle green.

Hopefully I'll be able to direct you to a site that is outstanding in it's approach to photographs of the British Army at the turn of the century.

Soldiers of the Queen;-

http://www.soldiersofthequeen.com/

Edited by Graham Stewart
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It's funny how these parallel conversations take place JF. Graham is a very old pal of mine. Toby (aka Frogsmile, aka Bob)

Ah Ha!

So where the hell do we continue the discussion about blue -- drill, serge, patrol- jackets?

Jack

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It's funny how these parallel conversations take place JF. Graham is a very old pal of mine. Toby (aka Frogsmile, aka Bob)

Hi mate - know what you mean - different forums, same questions even though the enquirer may be new to the subject. Apart from Barthorps Book and the Osprey Series of books, I don't think anything has been produced in book form in the last twenty years giving us the definative answers we require. I believe Grumpy may be considering doing something with scarlet, as I've supplied him with some photo's from my collection of the NF's in various patterns.

Have you checked out the "Northumberland Fusiliers" topic's yet in this Forum - contains stuff from my collection.

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The soldiers wearing a white over red hackle - Highland Light Infantry rather than Gordon Higthlanders?

The 2nd Bn HLI wore red over white until disbanded circa 1948, whereupon the 1st Bn HLI replaced their green hackle with white over red?

An interesting thought, but I believe the 2nd HLI didn't start wearing a red and white hackle till quite late, 1947 I believe, when the regiment came kilted again. Despite that change, the regiment was nonetheless assigned to the Lowland brigade, a decision probably influenced by its being the regiment of Glasgow since the amalgamation of the 71st and 74th in 1881 (Not that that affected the status of the Argylls who have also recruited strongly from Glasgow) A fascinating beast, the HLI, neither quite fish nor flesh during its entire history.

As it is, the photo in question is definitely of officers in the 92nd. It must have been taken shortly before the 1881 changes, in the last years of a twelve-year posting in India that culminated in the Afghan campaign of 1878-80. I am awaiting a reply from Gordon Highlander sources to see what the Regimental word is.

It may well be that this 92nd hackle of the 1870s and the HLI hackle of the 1940s-50s both have their origin in the red and white dicing on the glengarry and balmoral. No evidence to prove that, though.

Thanks

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Highland regiments other than The Black Watch adopted white plumes in 1829.

Around 1840 the ORs of the 74th were wearing white pom-poms in the shako whilst officers wore white over red.

In 1846 the 74th resumed the title of "Highlanders" & adopted trews, plaid etc & the plaid cap replaced the shako.

Any chance that the officers of the 74th would have carried on the white over red pom-pom as a white over red plume?

Is the use of white over red simply a form of "carry over" from the use of the combination by line companies of infantry regiments?

And having just looked at the photo in question, is it possibly showing a small white plume projecting above a form of cloth patch on the side of the helmet?

Just a thought, although it does'nt look that likely).

Stuart?

Edited by leigh kitchen
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Highland regiments other than The Black Watch adopted white plumes in 1829.

Around 1840 the ORs of the 74th were wearing white pom-poms in the shako whilst officers wore white over red.

In 1846 the 74th resumed the title of "Highlanders" & adopted trews, plaid etc & the plaid cap replaced the shako.

Any chance that the officers of the 74th would have carried on the white over red pom-pom as a white over red plume?

Is the use of white over red simply a form of "carry over" from the use of the combination by line companies of infantry regiments?

There is a fine group portrait of the 74th painted by David Cunliffe in1846 to mark the the restoration of Highland status to the 74th and the retirement of the CO at the time, Lieut Col Eyre-Crabbe. The shako distinctions are all as one would expect both for officers and ORs- white on red for battalion companies, white for grenadiers and green for the Light Coy. Company distinctions in the bonnets of Highland regiments had been done away with in 1829 with the white feather introduced for all as you noted. Clearly this did not apply to the new shakos of the 74th.

Presumably the ORs of the 74th would have been wearing white 'pom poms' in 1840 because, for reasons best known to their Excellencies the Horse Guards, the company cap distinctions were altered for Line Infantry in 1831, with all Battalion and Grenadier companies (and Fusiliers?) wearing an 8" white feather instead. This changed to a white 'ball tuft' (pom-pom) in 1835. Both Light infantry companies and Regiments had been wearing a green ball-tuft since 1829. After the introduction of the 'Albert' shako in 1844, the former system was restored and in 1846 white once again became the distinction for grenadiers and Fusiliers (except of course for the Fifth) and white-over-red denoted battalion companies.

God, did they have nothing better to do?

Anyway, it would seem we have to look elsewhere for an explanation of the HLI post-war hackle. It may, of course, be recorded in standing orders of the time. Given that even the Black Watch still don't really know what the origins of the Red Hackle were- or at least cannot agree- we may remain in the dark about both these queries for some time.

Thanks

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Figures from Cunliffe's painting appear in the Osprey "Victoria's Highlanders", the Sergeant Major & a Private I think. The Sgt Mjr wears the red over white, the Pte the white pom-pom, I don't think that there was any mention of company variations in the text, just to the colours worn by the figures.

The original photo that started off this thread - anybody think that there's a chance that the white over red plumes may be white plumes inserted behind a form of patch? It looks unlikely, but you never know.

Could it be simply an unnofficial reversion to white over red plumes for staff or officers at a safe distance from authority?

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The original photo that started off this thread - anybody think that there's a chance that the white over red plumes may be white plumes inserted behind a form of patch? It looks unlikely, but you never know.

It might be. As you say, it's not easy to tell, but the intriguing question- for me at any rate- would still be "Why"?

Could it be simply an unnofficial reversion to white over red plumes for staff or officers at a safe distance from authority?

I think it is almost certainly an unofficial and local decoration. The question for me would be why, after fifty years or so, would there be any lingering sense of affection for what was after all not a Regimental distinction but an identifying company marker common to every battalion company in the Line Regiments? My only thought as I write is that it might have been for a gala to commemorate one of the 92nd's Penninsula battles with the company feathers of the period being worn as a mark of remembrance, in this case as you say the battalion coys. white-over-red. I doubt it would be for Waterloo because that would be in June and they seem to be in Indian winter Full Dress. Would that be right?

Alexandria? Corunna? Is this a possibility?

JF

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Hi Graham, I've not been able to look at your NF stuff here. Although I joined some time ago the rules have been changed and I can no longer see photos. That is unlike any other forum I belong to and has annoyed me considerably, as I find it petty and divisive. I would have enjoyed adding to the sum total of knowledge in this 'club', but now rarely visit here because of the change.

That seems a shame. What rules are these, then?

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  • 1 month later...

How about these rules:

"When you join GMIC you are automatically given 'Restricted Membership' which allows you to view topics but initially precludes you from viewing attachments. By taking out a subscription or paying a one off small admin fee members can gain immediate access to all attachments and have an upload ability to post images. The alternative is to become an active member of the forum and over time you will be given Full Membership. There are other benefits to beIng a subscribing member see membership categories.""

"Guests also do not have permission to view attachments."

How do they think they will get people interested enough to join with rules like this. I know of no other site that has such restrictive policies. I predict that in these much straitened times with little money around this site will very gradually dwindle and fail.

I also cannot see the photograph, but from a similar question on another forum I would hazard the guess that it is of three officers in highland full dress looking to their right. They are wearing typical highland officer's dress with white universal pattern helmets.

I have seen this photograph entitled 'officers of the South Australian Scottish Regiment 1906', and gives their names. Except that the badge on the helmet does not accord with regulations at the time, everything else about their uniform does suggest the title is correct, including the badges on the belt plates. This unit was affiliated with the Seaforth Highlanders.

Having said that, I have been researching the subject for several years now but can't find out why they are wearing a white over red hackle. Did the Highlanders have different coloured hackles for each company? Perhaps the affiliation was with one of the companies and not with the regiment?

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Toby and DrPhil - I was not aware that there was an image restriction for new members - it has always been 10 posts before you get a reasonable size picture for posting. I think your comments are rather unfair - the Forum welcomes new members and does everything to support them - however, can you really say the same Toby, when you have posted in such a small way since you joined ? Perhaps if you can get up to the 10 number it will be easier ?

I will ask our Chairman about your points - however, I would like to say something in defence of the restrictions. New members often join - take advantage of the free joining to post a question - or, to sell something - and then disappear. Paying a small subscription shows your integrity and immediately gives you priviledges you would have to work up to as a free member. Join-in - you will soon find friends and we will welcome your knowledge input. Mervyn Mitton

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