Jump to content

Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles (Dukes) / Cape Town Rifles (Dukes)


Recommended Posts

I'm always after information about dress distinctions of the South African traditional regiments. While living in Natal I gathered a fair bit of information on Natal regiments but I'd like to add to what I have on regiments from my home province of the Cape.

I only have a handful of Dukes badges & would be very interested in getting more information & preferably some photographs of their dress distinctions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Dukes have been around for 156 years, and have changed their uniforms and insignia many times during that period.

When I knew them in the 1970s/80s/early 90s, officers, WOs and senior NCOs wore standard SA Army service dress ('stepouts'); all ranks wore nutria field dress; officers and the RSM wore regimental mess dress; officers,WOs and senior NCOs wore undress blues; and the band wore regimental full dress. I don't think much has changed since then.

All ranks wore the same beret badge, bimetal for officers and WOs, chrome for SNCOs, and brass for lower ranks (until 1986(?), when they too were given chrome). A diamond-shaped cloth patch, divided horizontally into gold over crimson, was sewn onto the beret behind the badge.

Regimental distinctions on service dress were : bronze collar badges for officers and WOs; brass 'DUKES' metal shoulder titles; regimental lanyard (left shoulder); brass springbok buttons; Sam Browne belts for officers and WOs; swords for officers and the RSM; scarlet sash and white waistbelt for SNCOs. In the early 90s, they decided to wear regimental association ties (crimson with gold stripes) instead of the brown uniform tie, and around 1994, they resumed the orange-red shoulder tabs indicating that the regiment had served voluntarily in WWII.

On nutria, officers, WOs and SNCOs wore lanyards, and from 1984 all ranks wore stable belts (upper half gold, lower half crimson, thin rifle-green stripe in between. In the early 1990s, officers, WOs and SNCOs took to wearing the 1950s/60s-era cloth shoulder titles (crimson letters on khaki) on the nutria jersey.

Mess dress : a scarlet 'bum-freezer' and waistcoat piped in yellow, and dark blue trousers with a scarlet stripe down the outer side of each leg. Regimental collar badge (bimetal) and, when available, the old DEOR waistcoat buttons which were globical with a thistle on them.

Undress blues : the usual type with stand-up collar, five buttons, four pockets, same trousers as mess dress. Bimetal collar badges for officers and WOs, brass for SNCOs; metal shoulder titles; DEOR buttons if available, otherwise springbok buttons; scarlet sash and white waistbelt (with UK royal crest buckle) for SNCOs.

Full dress : the British Army infantry pattern of scarlet tunic with buff-coloured facings, same trousers as mess dress and undress, white polo helmet with spike. Beret badge worn on the helmet (though rather small in proportion), and a feather hackle (gold over crimson) behind a cloth flash (crimson with a gold chevron) on the left side. Bimetal collar badges for officers and WOs, brass for everyone else, DEOR or springbok buttons, metal shoulder titles (I think); white waistbelt; scarlet sash for SCNOs, ceremonial sash (in use since 1891!) for the drum major. Women members of the band wore either the trousers or else dark blue skirts.

Would you like to post pics of the insignia which you have? Perhaps we can put them into their historical context.

.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Photo of the Dukes' band at the 2010 Cape Town Military Tattoo :

http://www.capetatto...500D_047636.jpg

Some changes in uniform, I see : different pattern helmet, and the colours of the helmet flash have been reversed.

Lots of excellent photos of uniforms, medals, badges, etc, including some pics of Dukes officers in service dress :

http://www.saairforce.co.za/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2923&start=15

(Warning : very heavily laden with images, chews up a lot od bandwith and CPU)

Edited by Arthur R
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arthur R - Many thanks for the speedy and detailed response. You have confirmed, clarrified & added to some of the information I had. The pictures are excellent!

I'll attempt to add pictures of the few items I have. From the above it would seem to be mostly pre 1986 other ranks badges and titles. My cloth flashes are scarlet on khaki. I have also seen gold on green ones but am not sure whether they are genuine issue or not (I know most infantry units had gold on green flashes on the bunny jacket in the 1960s). I also have a WW2 cap badge and a shoulder title that I think says "2/Dukes". Was there a 2nd Bn at some point?

From the photographs you linked to: It's interesting to note that the officers rank stars now have a protea in the centre. Also of interest is that the red tabs on the shoulders appear to be about 38 mm wide. This is probably to accomodate the curved title adequately. Most wartime red tabs I've come across ahve been 25 mm.

Mervyn - Indeed. Much of the SA Traditional Regiments traditions and distinctions are not well publicised. Especially the last few decades worth of changes to dress distinctions. While some regimental histories published in the 60s & 70s gave some information not much has been written since. A few years ago I wrote to virtually every tradtional regiment in SA asking for information, with the aim of writing articles on their dress distinctions, largely to no avail. I think NMR were the most useful (mainly due to some militaria enthausiasts/collectors serving in it at the time). I'd be happy to start of a few discussions of other regiments as well (if nobody else does) and see what comes out of the woodwork. I'll add some Duke related pictures soon and hopefully others do the same.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arthur R - Many thanks for the speedy and detailed response. You have confirmed, clarrified & added to some of the information I had. The pictures are excellent!

I'll attempt to add pictures of the few items I have. From the above it would seem to be mostly pre 1986 other ranks badges and titles. My cloth flashes are scarlet on khaki. I have also seen gold on green ones but am not sure whether they are genuine issue or not (I know most infantry units had gold on green flashes on the bunny jacket in the 1960s). I also have a WW2 cap badge and a shoulder title that I think says "2/Dukes". Was there a 2nd Bn at some point?

The pictures are indeed excellent. I don't know who took them, but there's certainly lots of eye candy for people keen on militaria.

Re shoulder titles : I believe the cloth titles were introduced in the late 1940s and were worn until the mid-1970s, the crimson on khaki (I think the regiment calls the colours 'cherry red' and 'old gold') being for the officers and WOs (and perhaps SNCOs) and the gold on green for the other ranks. The 2/Dukes title will date from about 1923 to 1932, when the regiments was numbered '2nd Infantry'.

As it happens, there was a 2nd Battalion, for a few months in 1901, before it became a separate unit under the name 'Colonial Light Horse'. At the beginning of WWII, too, the regiment was divided administratively into two battalions, the 1st being the men who volunteered for active service and the 2nd those who didn't or who weren't accepted for health or other reasons, but I don't think this arrangement lasted very long.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...