I must state at the outset that this article was inspired by Tim Reese (Tim’s website) who questioned my description of the blue helmets worn by the Royal Navy as being standard Foreign Service Helmets with blue cloth covers (see Sun Helmets in the Royal Navy). On closer inspection that is obviously not the case. They are blue cloth helmets in their own right. Tim and I are in disagreement as to the “flared” helmets worn by two of the officers: Tim positing that they are the product of rough wear and storage; I say that they are too symmetrical and in good condition for that to be true. It remains a moot point. Continue reading
During the Indian Mutiny both Full Dress and Undress headgear was worn. Cavalry, as shown above, initially adopted a turban wound around the base of the metal helmets but how effective this was is debatable. Infantry soon adopted the Havelock cover, named after its creator Major General Henry Havelock, which covered both the cap/shako and included a neck curtain. Cavalry soon adopted a full quilted cover. Continue reading
During the Battle of Alexandria in 1801 the 28th Foot (North Gloucestershire) Regiment was attacked from behind by the French. The commanding officer Lt. Col. Paget then gave the famous order “Rear rank, 28th. Right about face.” With consummate discipline the rear rank turned to face the attacking French and at short range fired one devastating volley which caused heavy casualties and forced the enemy’s withdrawal.
For this action the regiment was allowed the distinction of wearing badges on both the front and rear of the head-dress. Only the two regular battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment, formed by the amalgamation of the 28th and 61st Regiments which occurred as a result of the Cardwell/Childers reforms of the British Army in 1881 were allowed this distinction. Militia and Volunteer battalions were not allowed this distinction. Continue reading
The Royal Corps of Signals was formed in 1920 however prior to that date the Royal Engineers provided a communications system during the Crimean War and the Abyssinian War of 1867 brought further active experience for the telegraphists and signalers of the Royal Engineers. 1
Note the white/blue armband worn by the signalers in the above photograph.
Last year I wrote a companion article to this one, A Berkshire Lad, but have in the last week been contacted by the family of Pte. Frederick G. Rance. I sensed the import and could not but return the helmet to the family to complement the other memorabilia which they have preserved. Continue reading
Since being introduced into the British Army in the late 1870s several problems with the Colonial pattern helmet prompted a search for a replacement. Those problems were; the rear of the helmet forcing the front peak down thereby making firing a rifle in the prone position difficult, and the lack of sun protection to the temples. There are many period photographs showing the helmets being worn back to front to provide better sun protection to the eyes although, therefore, exposing the neck. Continue reading