Khaki Tropical Uniform

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Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jbook46 » 10 Jul 2015 03:04

I am looking for information on the jackets and uniforms in these images from the Indian Mutiny.

Who wore them, what material was used, are there any existing examples etc.

Image

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Image

Image
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby mike snook » 10 Jul 2015 11:27

If you go the historical notes section of the Iron Duke Miniatures website, here,

http://www.irondukeminiatures.co.uk

you will find all the answers you seek vis a vis units. Look also at the 'Inspiration' page, where these plates are captioned. There are not any images of surviving examples on the website, because I don't own any. Somebody here might. The exact provenance of a white shell jacket dyed to a shade of so-called khaki will generally be difficult to know, save perhaps where it has come down through a family line and, sometimes, a regimental museum. There is extensive discussion elsewhere on this forum of the means by which khaki was developed. Almost all of the items you have illustrated started white and were dyed by a variety of means to produce a variety of shades from grey to yellow-brown. One should set no great store by the precise colours shown in the Atkinson lithographs as they were coloured in London from what were originally pencil sketches.

Regards

Mike
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jbook46 » 10 Jul 2015 12:31

Thanks!

I'm a reenactor and am looking to reproduce these jackets for myself. I found this image of a jacket that doesn't look like anything I've seen from the later 19th century. There are several things about the jacket that seem to suggest it was produced in the right era but the website i found it on has no information about it.

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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby mike snook » 10 Jul 2015 15:43

I should say later and not British. But see what others say.
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jbook46 » 10 Jul 2015 17:24

The collar is different than what is shown in the paintings. This may be a case of just studying the images and drafting a pattern based on the evidence available, which isn't much in this case.
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jf42 » 10 Jul 2015 23:20

That example looks like it might be French, but definitely not British.

As Mike says, there is a good deal of material now on this site regarding the early forms of khaki, together with a fairly comprehensive summary of sources relating to what individual units wore during the mutiny on the Iron Duke site.
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby mike snook » 11 Jul 2015 00:43

Yes I agree entirely jf...something about it says French to me too. My second bet would be Belgian.

Mr jbook46 - your object is unclear to me...if you tell me what you are trying to achieve I should be able to help you...assuming we are talking Mutiny.

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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jbook46 » 11 Jul 2015 01:24

Mr. Snook,
My object is to recreate the standard tropical khaki uniform worn by British troops in India during the Indian Mutiny for living history/reenacting purposes. The information I am (was) looking for is :

-What cloth was used for the jackets and trousers.
-Are there any physical existing examples of these jackets.
-What buttons were put on them.
-Which regiments wore them.

I'm sorry I was not more specific and clear in my original post.

Thanks for any help you could provide.
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jf42 » 11 Jul 2015 11:58

Jbook, the key fact underlying your question is that there was no "standard tropical khaki uniform" worn by British troops in India during the Indian Mutiny. The watchword in 1857 was improvisation. What was standard was the white hot weather uniform that formed the basis of khaki clothing worn by certain of the British and European HEIC regiments, at least in the early months; but not all. The various methods of staining the cotton cloth to render it drab or khaki and the varying results, in tone, consistency and colour-fastness meant that there could be no notion of standard appearance even within individual companies all wearing regulation summer clothing adapted in a single batch.

This is a wide and complicated subject, which is what makes it so interesting. You would be best to choose a regiment in which you are interested and model your impression on that. There was considerable variation in weaponry and equipment, too. Those regiments whose appearance on campaign was recorded in contemporary images, either eyewitness sketches, waterclours, or photographs, might be the most promising.

As mentioned before, the Iron Duke Miniatures website contains a very helpful summary of known evidence, regiment by regiment. If you search the VWF site you will find a wide range of contemporary images from the Mutiny with discussions of their significance and authenticity.
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby mike snook » 11 Jul 2015 12:03

The standard cloth for tropical uniforms was cotton. Home service uniforms (typically red over blue) in heavier woolen cloth were worn in the winter months, but from what you say it is not home service uniform in which you are interested. It is worth noting before passing on that HS dress included a tunic and a red shell jacket. Buttons in both summer and winter uniforms were brass and generally of a regimental pattern: you would not procure these easily. Military buttons is an art form unto itself in which I have no expertise: there are publications which address the matter.

Items worn were:

The cotton shell jacket, a waist length garment, issued in white cotton drill with plain white trousers to match. In the Mutiny these were dyed as described above and as discussed at length on this VWF forum. Enter 'khaki' into the search engine and you will find a wealth of material: in particular look for contributions from jf 42 who is a subject matter expert. The Atkinson lithograph of the Bengal Fusiliers picket (central pointing figure) reveals that the soldiery often folded back the round collar of the shell jacket for greater comfort. Officers often wore privately tailored summer shell jackets in a different cut to the men - (see the Atkinsons above), often with lapels, which they would generally wear with a collar and neck tie.

The question of variants on trousers (and much else besides) is addressed at the IDM website to which I have provided a link. Except for oxford mix (home service) woolen trousers, all other variants were in types of cotton.

The canvas trooping smock or Indian made (in cotton) copies thereof, an item which went on over the head as the name suggests and generally had a small number of buttons at the throat, but not all the way down. Also white-ish. There are illustrations of it on the inspiration page of the IDM website.

Shirtsleeves. White, cotton, Indian made and 'blousy' - not the 'greyback' of a later period.

Flannel shirts. Like a smock in cut, and similarly put on over the head, only a shirt. Typically worn with the long shirttail (square or straight cut at the bottom) outside the trousers.

China Boat coats. Brown Holland smocks or tunics (the jury is out) with red facings: use the search engine with 'China boat coats' or simply go to the IM topic list where you will find it has a topic all of its own.

There was great irregularity of dress. Your last question, vis a vis regiments, suggests that you believe there to be a 'standard' tunic. There wasn't. The only standard issued item was the cotton shell jacket, which was dyed by such unscientific means that you might find half a dozen different shades in the same battalion. Towards the end of the Mutiny single breasted cotton tunics started to come in, but the fighting was pretty much over by then, except for the pursuit of what were effectively guerilla bands hard against (and across) the Nepalese frontier.

Head-dress is a short book unto its own. But your safest start point is the conventional Kilmarnock.

Equipment is covered at the Historical notes section the Iron Duke website and much flows from whether you intend to arm yourself with a P1842 musket or a P1853 Enfield. The latter was supported by a new pouch arrangement, in brief, a 20 round expense pouch worn on the waistbelt, and a main 40 round pouch worn on a shoulder belt. Formerly there had been a 60 round main pouch only. Both types were used in the Mutiny depending on unit.

There are two Osprey titles on Indian Mutiny uniforms which should be available second hand online for about a fiver. New they are only about 15 quid. Whilst I have some reservations about some of the closer detail (arising generally from assumptions which are not necessarily sound), they are a good enough start point to advanced IM studies.

Perhaps in the circumstances the best start point is to decide which regiment you seek to portray and take it from there.

Regards

Mike
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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby mike snook » 11 Jul 2015 12:04

Aha...jf...we were evidently typing in the same piece of time and space.

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Re: Khaki Tropical Uniform

Postby jf42 » 11 Jul 2015 12:11

Suitably complimentary, don't you think?

{EDIT:I have a feeling that should read 'complementary'}
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