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Uniforms Of Great Britain

UNIFORMS OF GREAT BRITAIN The full dress uniforms of the British service in 1910 had not undergone any radical change since the army reorganization of 1881. Many regiments had, however, resumed their original facings instead of the white common to all non-royal English regiments in the last twenty years of the 19th century. But the Scottish regiments maintained their yellow or yellow-buff facings, and the single Irish regiment which is not " royal " (the Connaught Rangers) its green. Rifle regiments had astrakhan busbies, resembling in shape enlarged " glengarry " caps, with plume and lines. Details in all corps have been changed, rendering the uniforms more handsome. In September 1910 it was announced that the cloth helmet would be replaced by a shako.

Cavalry. Household cavalry and dragoons wear single-breasted tunics with gold buttons, cuffs pointed with Austrian knot collars and shoulder-straps of the facings colour and white piping on the front and the skirt-flaps. The household cavalry wear steel cuirasses in review order, and in undress tight-fitting jackets and blue red-striped overalls. All wear steel or brass helmets, with drooping horsehair plumes, except the Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons), who have a grenadier bearskin with feather plume. All wear blue pantaloons and jack boots, except the household cavalry, who in full dress wear white leather breeches and high jack boots reaching above the knee. The stripes on the pantaloons are yellow, (white in 2nd and 6th DragoonGuards), white belts 1 and slings. See Plate II., line I, figs. 4 and 9.

Lancers (Plate II., line I, No. 2) wear double-breasted tunics with gold buttons, and the front or "plastron," the peculiar mark of the lancer, varies in colour with the facings of the regiment. Lancers wear lancer caps (the Polish czapka) with drooping plumes. Pantaloons are blue, with yellow stripes (white in 17th), boots as in the dragoons. Round the waist is a girdle of yellow and red, and the cap is secured to the collar of the tunic by yellow lines.

1 The 1st Life Guards have a red line, the 2nd a blue line, in the pouch belt.


kith Hussars, 12th Lancers. 10th Hussars. Officer. Officer. Officer.

2nd Life Guards, Field Marshal Officer.

MaioiOeneral. Royal Hors Artillery, Officer.

Royal Field 6th InnisArtillery, killing Dragoons Officer. Officer.

\iray Servi Corps. Officer.

Kind's Own Scottish Borderers.

Scots Guards, Undress, Fusiliers, Officer.

Royal Engineers, Officer.

Grenadier Guards, Officer.

Welsh Rifle Brigade, King's Own Argyll and Regiment, Officer. (Royal Lancaster), Sutherland Officer. Service Dress. Hichlanderg.


15th Dragoons. Officer.

Austrian 18th Infantry.

Hungarian 82nd Infantry.


The undress cap is in all the above blue, with bands of various colours, amongst which the most noticeable is the white zigzag on a black background of the Scots Greys.

Hussars (Plate I., line I, figs. I and 3) wear a blue jacket, shorter than the ordinary tunic, braided with yellow or gold in front, along the back seams and on the collars and cuffs. They have no shoulder-straps, facings or waist-belt. The 3rd Hussars wear, however, scarlet and the 13th white, collars. The distinctive head-dress is the cylindrical busby with an upright feather plume, lines, and a busby-bag on the right side. The pantaloons are blue, except for the I Ith Hussars, who wear crimson. Double stripes on the trousers, yellow (white, I3th). The undress cap is a red peaked cap. Officers' Hessian boots have gold edging and boss.

Infantry. The uniforms of the four Foot Guard regiments are distinguished by the cuffs, which have slashed flaps and buttons, by the blue shoulder-straps and by the embroidery patches on the collar, cuff-flaps and skirts, which are analogous to the GardeLitzen of continental armies. The only uniform which could be mistaken for it is the Royal Marine Light Infantry's (Plate IV. line 3, No. ll), which has also slashed flaps, but it has fewer and smaller embroidery patches and plain collars. All the Guard regiments wear scarlet tunics with blue collars, shoulder-straps and cuffs, bearskin caps, blue trousers with red piping (officers, red stripe). The regimental distinctions (Plate II., line 2, Nos. 3 and 6) are: Grenadiers Buttons equally spaced, white plume, red cap-band. Coldstream Buttons spaced in twos, red plume, white cap-band. Scots Buttons in threes, no plume, diced red and white cap-band. Irish Buttons in fours, green plume, green capband. All wear in undress the white jacket, which is the old sleeved waistcoat, and peaked cap.

The uniforms of the line infantry may be classed as Line, Light, Fusilier, Rifle, Lowland and Highland Scottish. The tunic in the first three is red, with pointed cuffs and collars of the facings colour (blue in Royal regiments, white in English and Welsh, yellow in Scottish, green in Irish, except where the older colours have been revived), red shoulder-straps, gold buttons and white piping, blue trousers with red piping. On the shoulder-strap in the case of the rank and file is the regimental title, on the collar the regimental badge. The line infantry have a dark blue helmet (Plate II., line 2, No. 7), with brass spike and ornaments; the light infantry a dark green helmet of the same pattern; 1 the fusiliers (Plate II., line 2, ng. 4) bear or racoon skin cap with hackle plume; In undress all ranks have a blue (green for light infantry) peaked cap, with a black (royal regiments, scarlet, non-royal Irish, green) band. The rifle regiments (Plate II., line 2, No. 8) wear very dark green tunics and trousers without coloured cuffs or collars. In the King's Royal Rifles the scarlet piping and collar form a conspicuous distinction. The head-dress of the rifle regiments is an astrakhan cap with plume (red and black, K.R.R.; dark green and black, K.I.R.; black, Rifle Brigade), in undress a dark green peaked cap.

The Lowland and Highland Scottish regiments wear a scarlet (Scottish Rifles, green) " doublet " with gauntlet cuffs (Plate II., line 2, Nos. 2 and 10.) In undress Highland regiments wear the white jacket. Highland regiments wear tartan kilt and plaid and sporran (varying with the regiments), diced hose-tops and white spats, Lowland regiments (also Scottish Rifles, Highland Light Infantry, and all mounted officers) tartan trews. The head-dress of Highland regiments is a " feather bonnet "-^-a loose fur cap of peculiar shape with hackle. The Highland Light Infantry wear a small shako with a red and white diced band and ball. Lowland regiments (except the Royal Scots Fusiliers) wear the Kilmarnock bonnet (Plate II., line 2, No. 2). The Scottish Rifles have a shako with black drooping plume. The undress cap of all Scottish infantry is the " glengarry.' The full dress of officers is similar to that of the men, but it is more ornamented (see below for badges of rank). In all English and Irish regiments clothed in scarlet a crimson waist-sash is worn by officers. Guards officers on ceremonial occasions wear a gold and crimson sash. On the collar and cuffs there are broad edgings of lace terminating in the case of the cuffs in a small Austrian knot. The rifle Jacket is of hussar pattern with black embroidery and a black pouch belt (Plate II., line 2, fig. 8.) The Highland officer has a special pattern of sword; in full dress the basket-hiked claymore ( socalled) or a plainer sword decorated with ribbon, on service a plain cross-hiked sword. He has also a richly decorated dirk, a broad white baldric, and a very full sash over the left shoulder. Lowland officers have also the shoulder belt and claymore, etc.

Royal Artillery. The Royal Horse Artillery (Plate II., line I, fig. 7) wears an old-fashioned hussar uniform, consisting of busby with red bag and white plume, a blue jacket with 18 rows of gold braid and scarlet collar. Trousers blue with red stripe. The Royal Field and Royal Garrison Artillery (Plate II., line I, No. 8) wear a blue tunic with red collar and gold lace (Austrian knot on the sleeve), blue trousers with red stripe, helmet with brass plate and ball ornament, waist-belt and pouch-belt (white for men, gold for officers). The badge is either a grenade or a device of a field gun on its carriage.

1 To be replaced by a shako.


Corresponding Corps and their facings in 1815. (S silver lace.)

Line Infantry, English and Welsh.

eueen's (R. West Surrey) .

Blue 2nd, blue (S).

uffs (East Kent) King's Own (R.Lancaster) Royal Warwickshire .

Buff yellow Blue 3rd, buff (S). 4th, blue. 6th, yellow (S).

King's Liverpool .

8th, blue.

Norfolk Yellow 9th, yellow (S).

Lincolnshire ....

White loth, yellow (S).

Devonshire .

Lincoln green i I ith green.

Suffolk Yellow I2th, yellow.

Prince of Wales's Own (WestYorks) . . . East Yorkshire. Bedfordshire ....

Buff yellow White I4th, buff (S). 15th, yellow (S). i6th, yellow (S).

Leicestershire ....

I7th, white (S).

Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regt.) . Cheshire Grass green Buff yellow 19th, grass green. 22nd buff vellow South Wales Borderers Gloucestershire.

Grass green White 24th, grass green (S). 28th, yellow (S).

6ist, yellow (S).

Worcestershire ....

29th, yellow (S).

East Lancashire 1zz 6th, gosling green. 3Oth, pale yellow (S).

59th, white (S).

East Surrey ....

3ist, buffs (S).

70th, black.

West Riding (Duke of Wellington's)

Scarlet 33rd,red (S) ; 76th, red (S).

Border White 34th, yellow (S).

55th, green.

Royal Sussex ....

Blue 35th, orange (S).

Hampshire Yellow I07th, (?). 37th, yellow (S).

67th, yellow (S).

South Staffordshire White 38th, yellow (S).

8oth, yellow.

Dorsetshire Grass green 39th, grass green.

54th, green (S).

Prince of Wales's Volun- teers (S. Lancashire)

White 4Oth, buff yellow.

82nd, yellow (S).

Welsh 1zz ist red (S).

69th, green.

Essex 1zz 4th, yellow (S).

Sherwood Foresters (Notts 1zz 6th, purple (S).

and Derby) .... Loyal North Lancashire .

45th, dark green (S). 47th, white (S).

8ist, buff (S).

Northamptonshire .

48th, buff.

58th, black.

Princess Charlotteof Wales's Royal Berkshire Blue 49th, green.

Queen's Own R. West Kent 1zz 6th,gosling grn. (S). 50th, black (S).

97th, blue (S).

Duke of Cambridge's Own Middlesex . . . .

Lemon yellow 57th, yellow.

77th, yellow (S).

Wiltshire (Duke of Edin- burgh's Own) . .

Buff yellow 62nd, buff (S).

99th, pale yellow.

Manchester White 63rd, dark green (S).

96th, buff (S).

Prince of Wales's North Staffordshire ....

64th, black.

98th,, buff.

York and Lancashire .

6sth, white; 84th, yellow (S).

Line Infantry, Irish.

Royal Irish Regt. .

Blue i8th, blue.

Connaught Rangers .

Green 88th, yellow (S). .

94th, green.

Leinster Regt. (R. Cana- Blue (tooth and logth dian)

late H.East India Light Infantry.

Co.'s troops).

Prince Albert's Somerset- shire Blue I3th, yellow (S).

Duke of Cornwall's White 32nd, white; 42nd, pale yellow (S).

Oxfordshire and Bucks 1zz 3rd, white (S).

52nd, buff (S).


Corresponding Corps and their facings in 1815. (S- silver lace.)

Light Infantry continued. Yorkshire (King's Own) . .

Blue 5ist, grass green (losth H.E.India Co. s troops).

Shropshire (the King's) .

53rd, red; 8sth, yellow (S).

Dark green 68th, bottle green (S) (io6th H.E.

India Co.'s troops).

Buff yellow 7ist, buff (S); 1zz 4th, white.


Northumberland Royal (City of London) .

Gosling green Blue Sth.gosling green (S). 7th, blue.

Lancashire White 20th, yellow (S).

Royal Scots Blue 2 1st, blue.

Royal Welsh 1zz 3rd, blue.

Royal Irish 27th, buff (io8th lateH.East India Co.'s troops).

Royal Inniskilling 87th, green; 8gth black.

Royal Munster ....

(loistand lO4th lateH. East India Co.'s troops).

Royal Dublin .... (iO2nd and lO3rd, lateH.East India Co.'s troops).


Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

Dark green (Formerly 26th and 1zz Oth line).

King's Royal 1zz oth Rifles, red.

Royal Irish Dark green (Formerly 83rd and 1zz 6th line).

Rifle Brigade . ... . .

Black 95th Rifles, black.

Line Infantry, Lowland Scottish.

Royal Scots Lothian Blue 1st, blue.

King's Own Scottish Bor- 1zz 5th, blue.


.Black Watch (Royal Hrs.)

42nd, blue; 73rd, dark green.

Seaforth Buff yellow 72nd, yellow (S).

Yellow 75th, yellow; 1zz 2nd yellow (S).

Queen's Own Cameron Hrs. .

Blue 79th, dark green.

Princess Louise's (Argyll and gist, yellow (S).

Sutherland Hrs.) .

Yellow 93rd, yellow (S).

Royal Engineers (Plate II., line 2, No.s). Scarlet tunic with garter, blue cuffs and collar, yellow shoulder-cords and piping, blue trousers with red stripe, helmet with royal arms on plate, and spike. Waistbelt white for men, gold-laced Russia leather for officers, who wear also a pouch-belt of Russia leather with a wavy gold lion in the centre.

Army Service Corps (Plate II., line 2, No. i). Blue tunic with white facings and white piping. Helmet with ball and plate, trousers blue with double white stripe. Officers, gold belts. Royal Army Medical Corps, blue uniform with magenta facings; Army Veterinary Corps, blue with maroon facings; Army Pay Corps, blue with yellow facings; Army Ordnance Corps, blue with rea facings. The West India Regiment (negroes) wear a red sleeveless jacket over a white smock, baggy dark blue trousers, and a round cap with white puggaree.

The distinguishing mark of the staff officer in full dress is the aiguillette and the cocked hat with upright or drooping plume; in undress and service dress the red gorget patches on the collar. The full-dress uniforms of a field marshal and a general officer are shown in Plate II., line I, Nos. 5 and 6.

Badges of Rank. All officers have twisted gold shoulder-cords (except Foot Guards, who wear a blue cloth shoulder-strap with lace edges) ; on these cords badges of rank are worn as follows: 2nd lieutenant, lieutenant and captain, i, 2 and 3 stars; major, crown; lieutenant-colonel, crown and star; colonel, crown and 2 stars; brigadiergeneral, crossed swords; generals, sword and baton crossed, and ( majorgeneral)star; (lieutenant-general), crown; (general), crown and star ; field marshal, crossed batons in a laurel wreath with crown above. In service dress (khaki), however, the badges are worn in worsted on a slashed flap of the sleeve, coupled with rings of braid (i for a 2nd lieutenant or lieutenant, 2 for a captain, etc.). Non-commissioned officers wear chevrons (point downwards) on the upper right arm; lance-corporal or acting bombardier,! ; corporal,2 ; sergeant,3 ; coloursergeant, 3 chevrons and crossed colours ; staff -sergeant, 4 chevrons. On the lower part of the lef tarmchevrons(point up) are worn as "good conduct " badges. A sergeant-major is dressed as an officer, except that he has a crown on the lower part of the right sleeve). There are also badges of proficiency such as crossed rifles for marksmen, a spur for rough-riders, a fleur-de-lys for scouts, etc.

Regimental Badges. The grenade in various forms is worn by the Royal Artillery, the Grenadier Guards and the Fusilier regiments. The figure of Britannia was awarded to the (gth) Norfolk regiment for gallantry at Almanza, 1707. The White Horse of Hanover was given to some regiments for service against the Jacobites. The Lion of England was awarded by William III. to the King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment for services against the troops of James II. The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment wear a Paschal Lamb, the badge of Catherine of Braganza, queen of Charles II. The Dragon of Wales figures among the badges of all the Welsh regiments. Several regiments wear a castle and key in memory of services at Gibraltar, others have a tiger for services in India and still more a sphinx for Egyptian campaigns. The most general of all badges though not the most generally worn is the " stripped " rose. Nearly all corps possess several badges, which are combined in various ways.

The special interest of these badges is that they are peculiar to the British army. Although a badge of the branch (infantry, cavalry, etc.) is common, no other army wears distinctive regimental devices.

A few details of general practice may be added. All cavalry wear a pouch-belt over the left shoulder. The crimson infantry sash is worn by officers round the waist and by sergeants across the body and over the right shoulder. All officers and sergeants who do not wear the sash, to whatever branch they belong, have a pouchbelt, the pattern of course varying. Ankle boots (and sometimes leggings with them) are worn by dismounted men. Swords, except in the case of Scottish infantry, are worn suspended by slings from a belt (the belt in infantry, rifles and hussars being worn under the tunic or sash). On foreign service the uniform is varied according to circumstances, the most usual change being from the full dress head-dress to the white helmet.

The full dress of the territorial army varies greatly, sometimes conforming exactly to the uniform of the corresponding regular units, sometimes keeping to its original " Rifle " character in grey or green of various shades. The latter conform to the rules of the dress of " Rifles " (e.g wear pouch-belts instead of sashes), and the former, though in many cases the silver lace and ornaments of the old volunteer force are retained, to those for the regulars, the distinguishing mark in all cases being the letter " T " on the shoulder or collar. The yeomanry cavalry is variously attired, some old regiments possessing rich old-fashioned hussar uniforms, others of recent formation wearing " service " colours only. Some regiments are dressed as dragoons, but the great majority are hussars. The infantry and artillery of the Honourable Artillery Company of London are dressed somewhat after the fashion of the Grenadier Guards and the Royal Horse Artillery.

Undress Uniforms. In " walking-out " order most troops wear the tunic, Household Cavalry and Dragoons with waist-belts and sword-slings, lancers with girdle (R.F.A. and Army Service Corps also wear girdles in walking-out order), infantry and all other branches except hussars with waist-belt. Sergeants of infantry wear the sash and side-arms, the latter privilege being accorded also to corporals of the guards regiments. White gloves are worn by sergeants. Since the general introduction of khaki service dress, undress uniforms of red, blue, etc., have mostly disappeared, but the blue serge " jumper " is still retained. Officers of infantry (except in hussars and Rifles) have undress frock coats of various patterns. With these the " Sam Browne " equipment brown leather waist-belt, frog and the sash and slings are worn, but with the jumper and service frock, braces. Field officers have an edging of braid on the peak of the undress caps, staff and general officers an oak-leaf design.

Service Dress. This, since the conclusion of the Boer War, is universally khaki serge, of shooting-coat pattern, with a spinal pleat and four large pockets; all buttons and badges are in bronze. It has a double collar. A peaked cap, breeches or trousers, and puttees of the same colour are worn with it. The universal pattern greatcoat and macintosh are also khaki coloured. The guards and staff officers, however, wear a light grey overcoat.

Mess Dress, for officers, after undergoing various modifications, now almost universally consists of a jacket with roll collar, waistcoat, and overalls and patent leather Wellington boots, the colours following in the mam those of the full dress.

It remains to mention a few of the many regimental distinctions, trifling in themselves yet of the greatest importance as fostering regimental pride and as recalling specially gallant services in the old wars. The officers of the 7th Hussars and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry wear linen collars with their undress uniforms. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers have a bow of black velvet (called a " flash," this being an obsolete slang word for " wig ") sewn to the back of the collar a survival of the old-fashioned method of tying the hair in a club queue. The officers of certain regiments, in memory of severe losses, wear a black line in their gold lace. To commemorate Culloden the sergeants of the Somersetshire Light Infantry wear their sashes over the left shoulder as officers used to do. Until after the South African War the only fusilier regiment that wore plumed busbies was the Northumberland Fusiliers; now, however, all fusiliers wear a hackle (in the order of regiments shown in the table: red and white; white; primrose; white; white; grey; green; white and green; blue and green). The (28th) Gloucestershire regiment wears two badges on the helmet, to commemorate its having fought facing both ways, ranks back to back, at Alexandria in 1801.

Indian Native Army. The uniforms of the Indian army vary infinitely in details, owing to the different methods of tying the turban, etc., practised by different castes and tribes, and to the strictly regimental system of clothing and equipping the soldier. But the infantry, except the Gurkha Rifles, have tunics of similar pattern, viz. long skirted, without collars, and (if scarlet) with round cuffs, flaps and broad edgings on the front of the tunic of the facings colour. The trousers are dark blue and wide, and spats are worn with them (Plate III., line 3, No. 4). Gurkhas (Plate III., line 3, No. 5) are dressed as Rifles, except that their head-dress is a round cap. The pattern of cavalry uniform, which is generally followed whatever the colours and regimental distinctions, is shown on Plate III., line 3, No. 3.

In the main the dress of the native cavalry is dark blue. Five of the regiments wear red, the three Madras corps French grey, the Hyderabad and one other green, and only three drab. One regiment, the ist, wears a yellow uniform, being perhaps the only one so clothed in the world.

Native artillery units wear blue with red facings, native engineer units, red with blue facings. The Queen's Own Corps of Guides wears drab with red facings.

The greater part of the infantry wears, in full dress, scarlet, the various facings following no discoverable system, although certain groups of regiments have a regular colour scheme.

A large number of regiments are clothed in drab, and there are Gurkha and other rifles in green; the remarkable Baluchi uniforms (green and drab with baggy red trousers) are unique in the British Empire.

The regiments of the Australian Commonwealth, with certain exceptions, wear khaki or drab with white facings and emu plume in the cavalry and green facings in the infantry. The same principle is carried out in other services, the intelligence corps having pale blue, the signal corps royal purple, the medical chocolate and the veterinary maroon facings. The artillery, engineers and army service corps are dressed as the corresponding branches of the home army. All the Canadian forces are uniformed very similarly to the British army. The 6th Dragoon Guards and the 13th Hussars are the models for the cavalry, and line, rifle, highland and fusilier uniforms are all represented, the dark rifle uniform predominating. In South Africa, as in Australia, khaki has become almost universal.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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