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?
Imperial Russia had one of the largest empires in the world at the end of the 19th century. While the sun most certainly did set on it – it spanned several time zones and stretched from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific. What it did not have was a true overseas colonial empire.
It is true that the Czar ruled many peoples who spoke different languages and had different customs and cultures. Yet Imperial Russia was different than the rival empires of Great Britain, France, Germany or even Italy. It ruled more land that the latter two but it had no true tropical colonies. While it did send forces to China – and units took part in the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) – most of the troops were from the Russian Imperial Navy not actually the Russian Army.
Thus it would seem that the Russians never had a use for a colonial pattern sun helmet. Interestingly the Russians did however use such helmets in small numbers. While the first thought would be that the helmets were used by marine forces traveling with the navy this isn’t accurate. Continue reading →
In Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, presidential guards on horseback trot past parliament at its official opening by President Robert Mugabe.
While the legacy of Cecil Rhodes has been mostly washed away in the nation of Zimbabwe, formerly the unrecognized state of Rhodesia, one element of the colonial past remains – the use of the Wolseley helmet. This particular pattern of helmet had been used by South African and Rhodesian colonial forces during the First World War. Continue reading →