This photograph was sent to me by a fellow contributor that is clearly a mixture of young and old (and rather portly) British “officers.” Interesting to note the “pips” on the soldier seated far right and the brass buttons on most. Also note the variations in the tunics of these British soldiers, and the fact that Sam Browne belt’s do not sport holsters nor sword frogs.
What isn’t so clear is when or where this photograph was taken. Obviously we can narrow it down to the latter decades of the 19th century based on the uniforms, equipment and notably the helmets – the “where” is the other mystery. The terrain appears generally flat without much foliage, but is this South Africa, the Sudan, India or elsewhere?
An interesting cousin to the South African polo style sun helmet is the shako used by forces of the British South African Police (BSAP), which was the paramilitary police force of Rhodesia. It was created as a force of mounted infantrymen in 1889 by Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company. It was originally known as the British South African Company’s Police and run directly but the company. Continue reading →
The late 19th century saw the era of “Red Coats” pass as British soldiers on campaign donned khaki – which was soon to become the first true universal camouflage
Today camouflage has gone high-tech, with digicam or “digital camouflage” being the preferred pattern. This utilizes small micro-patterns as the method for effective disruption, as opposed to the large blotches of cover, which could be easier to spot with the naked eye. This is of course leaps and bounds over the earliest camouflage, which consisted of solid patterns. Among the earliest was khaki. While known for the casual pants, khaki has a long history as the first widespread military camouflage.
This is part I of a multiple part series on the origins and development of “the Original Camouflage.” Continue reading →
A Royal Canadian Artillery Universal Pattern Helmet Circa 1905.
Shortly after the adoption of the Home Service Helmet in 1878 by the British War Office, the Canadian Department of Militia and Defence (M&D) followed suit. However, within a few years this pattern, which included blue helmets for Infantry and the various Corps, Green for Light Infantry and a short-lived dark Green for Rifle regiments, M&D did a volte face and ordered the white ‘Foreign Service’ pattern helmet for general use. Continue reading →
Although not officially established as part of a tropical uniform for officers until 1885, the sun helmet was used unofficially as far back as the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). It was described as being a “white helmet with blue pagri.” 1 Continue reading →
Objects of militaria are often a link back in time. However, all too often we hear, “if only this piece could tell its stories.” This of course will never happen, but occasionally we get lucky and are able to do some historical research and find out a bit more about a particular item. No longer do we think of a vague shadowy figure who may have worn the uniform, but we can find out a bit more about the original owner.
This is the case with a British Foreign Service Helmet, and storage tin that was once owned by Sir Charles Venables-Llewelyn of the Glamorgan Imperial Yeomanry. Inside the helmet are the stamped letters “C. V. L.,” whilst the tin is marked to a “Major C. Venables Llewelyn.” Continue reading →