Category Archives: Boer War

Helmets are not new under the Sun

ILN Oct 23 1847 Helmet smaller

From the Illustrated London News of October 23, 1847 (Author’s collection)

One of the great mysteries regarding the origin of the classical “colonial pattern” sun helmet is how it obtained its distinctive shape, one that was truly of Anglo-Indian origin, but which was copied throughout the world. Continue reading

An Interesting Photo

British Officer GroupClick on the photo for hi-res.

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?

Continue reading

Shako of the British South Africa Police (BSAP)

Shako

An interesting cousin to the South African polo style sun helmet is the shako used by forces of the British South Africa 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 Africa Company’s Police and run directly but the company. Continue reading

The Original Camouflage: Khaki Part I – The Origins and Use in the British Army

British1

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

Canadian Universal Pattern Helmet

A Royal Canadian Artillery Universal Pattern Helmet Circa 1905.

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