Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

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Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby sjwalker51 » 25 Oct 2016 20:30

I'm hoping someone better informed than I might be able to advise what the Royal Marines of HMS Pearl and Shannon etc might have worn when deployed alongside the sailors of the Naval Brigades? I can find various images and models of sailors and their officers but nothing specifically of the Marines, and specific references to them are few and far between. Am I right in thinking the marines would have been equipped with Minie type rifled muskets at this point?

Any information gratefully received.

Simon
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby GrantRCanada » 27 Oct 2016 07:56

Simon:

One thing to be aware of is that at the time of the Mutiny, there were the "Red Marines" (Royal Marines Light Infantry ... changed to Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1862) and the "Blue Marines" (Royal Marine Artillery) ... not amalgamated into the Royal Marines until 1923 ... so ideally one would need to know whether one or both components formed part of of the Naval Brigades. In any event, their uniforms closely resembled those of equivalent units in the British Army.

This image is a composite showing a Royal Marine Artillery uniform of the 1850s on the left, and Royal Marines Light Infantry uniforms on the right - up to 1856 in the middle (with the unpopular and short-lived "double-breasted" coatee also worn by Army infantry) and, on the far right, the single-breasted coatee used from 1856 to 1866 ...
Image
(These are cropped from two of a series of several images on the Royal Navy website depicting 350 years of Royal Marines uniforms.)

Detail cropped from another depiction of Royal Marine Light Infantry uniforms with the 1855-66 uniform on the each side of an officer in a somewhat later uniform -
Image

One other image, purportedly depicting a Royal Marine Light Infantryman in the Mutiny ... note that in this case, he wears a kilmarnock cap rather than a peaked forage cap, albeit also with a havelock cover -
Image
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby rd72 » 27 Oct 2016 08:39

Great pics Grant! Hadn't seen any of them before.. Thanks
Cheers,
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 27 Oct 2016 13:59

One man's tunic is another man's coat! So this is a terminology thing...

The marine on the right of three is wearing a 'shell jacket' not a 'coatee'.

I was slightly bamboozled, Grant, by the phrase 'unpopular and short-lived double breasted coatee'. Prefixed with those adjectives don't you mean double-breasted 'tunic', rather than 'coatee'. The reason I say that is that I've never heard of the db coatee being any more unpopular than any other (single-breasted) coatee, whereas the db tunic was definitely not liked and almost fleeting, it was that shortlived in service...what 1855-6 only, I seem to recall? By contrast the db coatee was around for a good old while.

It's perhaps worth a few random notes on the prevalence or otherwise of the DB coatee in the Army. In the line infantry the db coatee was worn by officers and, from the mid to late 1840s (I have the exact year here somewhere), by sergeants and above, but never by the men in the ranks, whose coatee was single-breasted with bars of white lace. In the Foot Guards and Rifles, however, everybody wore db coatees, without bars of lace (except for bandsmen and drummers doing their own thing as usual). RA likewise db. I seem to recall the Sappers and Miners might also have had db coatees, but wouldn't swear to it. I doubtless will have missed some minor corps. So it's interesting that the RM conformed to the Guards and Rifles in their conventions vis a vis coatees, rather than to the line as one would expect.

I'm not sure about those light blue trousers with red stripe in the second image, (the stripe in particular), although I would be open to persuasion.

1855 was the year the RM became RMLI, significant of course in that it is after the Crimea but before the Mutiny.

In the Mutiny the RM in Captain Peel's brigade were definitely in red. (Cadet Watson's memoirs, pp 51 & 90). So the question then becomes shell jackets or tunics? In the first of Watson's references he refers to the contingent as a whole in their 'red coats'. Hmm...theoretically at least he would/should have said 'red jackets' had they been wearing shells. So this at least hints at 'tunics'. In the second mention Watson uses 'jacket' when referring to an RMLI officer - suggesting (pretty strongly?) that he was wearing a shell jacket. Then it's necessary to say that just because the officers were wearing shell jackets, it doesn't mean that the men necessarily were. What any of them had on their legs is anybody's guess. My own guess would be white trousers rather than dark blue with red welt. The Shannon had departed England bound for tropical service anyway, had already been to Hong Kong (where it picked up 200 marines under Lt Col Lemon), and had then returned to Calcutta. The brigade then proceeded up the Ganges in several contingents, passing the EIC's major ordnance depots on the way. My conclusion would be that they must at least have had the option on white trousers and, if forced to a wager, I would indeed go for white.

I'm curious, Simon, why you would advance P1851 Minies and not P1853 Enfields? I cannot recall any other instance where a newly arrived unit used P1851s - which doesn't make it impossible - but I have read an awful lot of Mutiny stuff and am pretty good at remembering the curious exception to the general rule, wherever such things crop up. I can tell you for sure that even the follow-on division of Peel's brigade, which was made up of 150 or so merchant seamen mustered at Calcutta by Peel's first lieutenant, was equipped with Enfields. It is noteworthy that Peel's log of the journey upriver refers constantly to turning the men out to undertake 'carbine drill'. 'Carbine' was a more ambiguous word, then, than it is to us now, and was sometimes used interchangeably with 'fusil', which of course is a much longer-barrelled weapon than a cavalry carbine. I think this might hint at the use of the two-band (shorter) Enfield by the small arms equipped naval ratings in the leading division of the brigade. Whether the 50 odd Marines with Peel used 2-band or 3-band (full length) Enfields I could not say for sure. Again if forced to wager I would go for 3-band. The headress would certainly have been a covered Kilmarnock with curtain. Whether it had a peak or not is anybody's guess.

There is a well known portrait of Peel, with a soldier directly behind him and sailors to his left rear. The soldier is in a red tunic. His equipment includes a 20-round expense pouch, which was part of the new Enfield equipment. He also has a white covered Kilmarnock with peak and curtain. However - I think I have seen it suggested that this is a member of HM 53rd and not a Marine. As with all paintings they should be treated with suspicion anyway - until one is clear on just how close (if at all) the artist was to the war or the witnesses to the war. Otherwise you end up with the travesty of the 78th Highlandes dress occasioned by the artist Desanges.

So the totality of the hard evidence in respect of Peel's RMLI appears to be 'red', which I suppose at least has brevity to commend it! Circumstantial evidence would say Enfields, white trousers, covered Kilmarnock and curtain. Delighted if there is more data out there, but I certainly haven't found it.

As ever

M

P.S. Not that keen on the expression 'havelock cover'. I'm aware that some ACW re-enactors like to talk about neck curtains as 'havelocks', but the provenance of such a phrase or descriptor in the British service is I think questionable. 'The havelock' (definite article), in as much as the term ever had any definite or bona fide meaning, was a non-regulation peaked and covered forage cap, fitted with a stiff neck guard, that the eponymous general used to wear. It was not either a cover or a curtain.

PPS. All very boring I know, but I think one of the problems that VMH suffers from is a standardized vocabulary. Certainly it took me donkey's years to work out what some of these terms actually meant!
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby sjwalker51 » 27 Oct 2016 17:25

Gents, thanks for very comprehensive replies, much appreciated!

Mike, away from my books right now, but I think the Minie reference came from a primary source quoted in Brooks which speaks of Shannon's marines being armed with them, while the seamen were still armed with smoothbore (Brown Bess?) muskets, which seems rather late to me - will check at the weekend.

On a related note, wearing your Iron Duke hat, any immediate plans for NB figures for the relief of Lucknow etc?

Thanks again

Simon
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby GrantRCanada » 27 Oct 2016 18:06

Mike:

Your points regarding "coatee/shell jacket/tunic" are noted ... someday I may even begin to appreciate the terminology differences myself! :wink:

I don't see the trousers in the second colour image as light blue, but as grey - albeit too light a shade. It has been my understanding from various depictions I have seen - particularly the images from the Royal Navy website, which I presume to be accurate - that RMLI trousers at this time were dark grey, rather than dark blue (... and possibly also Army Infantry trousers, as well? ...) but stand to be corrected. (I actually intended to mention this, and inquire about it, but forgot to do so.)

On the issue of whether the trousers are dark grey or dark blue, here is the left half of one of the panoramic views of Royal Marines uniforms from the Royal Navy website (this one depicting 1854-1900) ... Note that the trousers of the two RMLI men on the left, and the chap third from the right, are depicted as decidedly grey, when compared to the dark blue of the Royal Marine Artillery uniforms shown, as well as the trousers of the RMLInfantryman second from the right ... Thoughts?

Image

To confirm that I have learned something on this forum, I will note that I do know that the chap third from the right is wearing a "frock" while his successor second from the right wears a "tunic" ... :wink:
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby GrantRCanada » 27 Oct 2016 18:37

In the event anyone wants to view the complete series of nine uniform plates from the Royal Navy website, depicting uniforms of the Royal Marines since 1664, I have posted all of them in a separate posting on the Uniforms, Insignia, Equipment & Medals subforum: http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=11518
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 27 Oct 2016 18:53

Grant

:D. Frock/tunic - Good point to raise in the terminology business. It's unfortunate that 'frock' has that other meaning!

I should say the left-side grey trousers are meant to be Oxford mix - which as you will know is a shade of grey hovering very close to black, so the illustration is wide of the mark in its attempt to capture the tone. But in fairness to the illustrator very dark grey, almost black, is very difficult to capture and almost all artists are inclined to lighten it up a bit, perhaps to show that it is in fact grey and not black.

I recently did some work on summer trousers for Cape Warriors, which put me out of my misery becuase I'd always been baffled by the light blues one sees knocking about in artwork. In 1845 the white summer trousers of the infantry were changed to a light blue, which I refer to in the book as, 'best described as lavender-grey blend', although of course it continued to be acceptable to wear white in tropical stations. In 1850 the summer trousers changed again to a more indigo blue. Winter trousers remain consistently Oxford mix, until they change to the navy blue with red welt typical of the high-Victorian period. I think at about the same time the whole idea of a separate set of Home Army summer trousers was done away with, with white continuing in the tropics regardless - for a period at least. So I'm inclined to think that RMLI in that 1860s period would be in navy blue trousers with red welt, (in conformity with the infantry and as suggested by the RMLI figure second from the right). Certainly there were no grey trousers in the rest of the infantry in that time frame, so I doubt the Marines used something altogether different, as that second illustration would suggest.

Simon,

I have the reference to the Merchant Tars of the Naval Bde using Enfields from naval reporting of the day so I'd be certain on that. There must have been a big arrival of Enfields at Calcutta, (as one would expect), because even the centre coys of Havelock's battalions' were re-equipped from P1842 percussion to 3-band Enfield, after he had turned back to recuperate the force in Cawnpore, prior to again starting out for the first relief of Lucknow. The flank coys and Madras Fusiliers complete had Enfields from the outset of the campaign as you will know.

On the Iron Duke front it will be some time before we get to Naval Brigade, but not so far distant as to be unforseeable. I am working in a little surprise amongst the cavalry and horse artillery releases of this winter, but at least now you know it won't be sailors!

As ever

M
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby sjwalker51 » 29 Oct 2016 21:16

I've managed to check the aforementioned reference; it comes from "The Long Arm of Empire" (Brooks), p29 in my copy and cites the journal of an Ordinary Seaman named Hoskins, a member of Peel's Shannon brigade (Journal of HMS Shannon's Brigade in the Indian Mutiny) during the initial advance up the Ganges on the steamer 'Chunar':

"The first company are men out of different tops in the ship. The second company is all the boats crews. The first and second have the short Minie rifle, the third company is all cutlass men as there was no more rifles in the ship."

He goes on to say that, in Sotheby's first division (September 1857) the marines had Minie rifles "for lack of modern Enfields" while the seamen made do with obsolete Brown Bess muskets or cutlasses.

Later in the same chapter is the reference to "the marine sharpshooters in their red tunics got a good peppering" during the battle for Cawnpore.

(As an aside, the same chapter refers to a regiment of Gurkhas armed with matchlock muskets (December 1857) joining the Pearl's NB at Nirwa, on the Gogra River - I'm not sure this ever cropped up in the earlier thread on "who was armed with what?")

Any thoughts?
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 30 Oct 2016 00:03

Hi Simon

I think I've got a Brooks here - let me have a look-see.

Gurkhas armed with matchlocks would be as in irregulars sent down from Nepal to help, not as in regulars in formed EIC regiments.

Will check out Brooks tomorrow.

As ever,

M
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 30 Oct 2016 02:12

Simon,

As I thought the Gurkhas serving alongside the Pearls were the Ramdal and Goruknath Regiments of the Royal Nepalese Army, not HEIC Gurkhas. Later a whole Nepalese army came up ( off the top of my head 9,000 men or thereabouts).

Still looking at matters naval. It's interesting that Hoskins mentions a short weapon - as this coincides with my earlier remarks about Peel repeatedly logging 'carbine drill'.

It is Brooks himself, the author, who states that HMS Pearl's brigade had Minies for the Marines and muskets for the ratings. He does not source the remark. His first edition is dated 1999, so he beats to the draw Lt-Commander Arthur Bleby, The Victorian Naval Brigades (2006), who says the same thing, also without relating the remark to a primary source. Bleby goes on to say that the Pearls were issued with Enfields on 6 Feb 1858 (p. 30). Both Brooks and Bleby look like excellent books to me, though of course that cannot guarantee that every assertion they contain is sound. For example one or the other of them has the 93rd doing something in concert with Brayser's Sikhs, but as you know Brasyer's lot were with Outram and Havelock inside the residency, not outside with Campbell and his highlanders. [I seem to remember the 4th Punjab Infantry cutting about a lot with the 93rd].

The date of departure upriver of the Shannons (18 Aug 57) does allow of the possibility that they were behind the big consignment of Enfields that went up to Cawnpore to re-equip Havelock's centre coys. I suppose it is possible that that consignment temporarily cleaned Calcutta out of Enfields, until the next batch arrived, and that the RN had departed the city in the interval. I still have a definite contemporary RN reference to the Shannons and Enfields to look at again to see how this might be reconciled with any possibility of Minies. I also need to look at whathisname - the small arms bible - to confirm that there was indeed a short Minie - as it does not immediately ring a bell with me. I'm pretty sure for example that the Rifles in the Crimea had full length P1851s and they would surely be a cert to have shorts if there was such a thing. One possibility to keep in mind in the interim is that Hoskins, a member of the Shannon's crew, uses 'Minies', as in a rifle firing a conical [Minie] bullet, when he is actually talking about an Enfield rifle; I have seen this before. Could the rifles aboard the Pearl and the Shannon be different? I suppose they could in such a hectic period of turnover. If Hoskins really did mean P1851 Minies, could the Shannons have been given Enfields at some subsequent point, (postdating the journal entry cited by Brooks), and before they got tucked into the fighting? That too is a possibility I suppose - Cawnpore being the obvious place for such a turnover to happen. I do not believe the Shannons had any smoothbore muskets, as I feel sure that such a thing would be mentioned by Midshipman Watson and other non-naval participant accounts. But let me check the form on short Minies before contemplating the subject further.

The three shipwrecked coys (loss of the troopship Transit) of HM 90th, (including Capt Wolseley whose memoirs I will take a look at tomorrow), also arrived from Singapore aboard one or other of the Pearl or the Shannon. They had Enfields for the fighting at Lucknow (and originally aboard the Transit), but I am unsure whether they picked replacement weapons up in Singapore or Calcutta. Calcutta I should think, so that's probably 300 more being cleaned out. They would be prioritized ahead of the navy, as the Shannons were always going to be roled as a heavy artillery battery.

More later.

As ever

M
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 30 Oct 2016 03:12

The follow-up Simon:

Yeah, thought not; 'tis a red-herring. There was no 'short Minie rifle', (to cite Hoskins directly), as in a shortened version of the P1851 rifled-musket, so in using the phrase he evidently means a P1856 2-band Enfield. Conclusion: the Shannons, marines and sailors alike, had Enfields from the outset. Sailors defintely 2-band. Marines probably 3-band.

As I said earlier the reference to Minies (RM) and muskets (RN) amongst the Pearls is secondary and unsourced by the two authors mentioned so far. I would be very surprised if the Marines did not actually have Enfields - in other words that the same confusion caused by Hoskins is again in play elsewhere i.e. some other allusion to the ammunition nature and not the pattern of rifle. Possibly the seamen really did have P1842 muskets - or possibly they had P1851 'rifled-muskets' - to use the contemporaneous official and somewhat non-sensical designation. Impossible to be sure one way or the other without seeing the original source (and even then it might still be difficult to tell).

I have a third book which addresses RN in the Mutiny in my collection, which I only looked at the other day in the context of the Shannons....it was there that I found the definite, contemporary and official reference to Enfields. I will look at it again in the context of the Pearls to see if anything there throws any further light on that brigade.

As ever

M
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby sjwalker51 » 30 Oct 2016 08:38

Thanks for the follow-up, Mike, think you've tied up all the loose ends on this one. Hope I wasn't the sole reason for you to be up and about so early in the morning. I won't now tempt fate by asking you what colour helmet Peel might have worn! ;-)
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 30 Oct 2016 13:09

Simon, The follow-up to the follow-up (!)

In fact I see this morning that I have two other RN orientated works for a total of four in all - the other two are The Naval Brigades in the Indian Mutiny by Commander W. B. Rowbotham RN (1947) and Major General Verney's The Devil's Wind: The Naval Bde at Lucknow (1956). (One of Verney's forbears was Midshipman Edmund Verney of the Shannons).

It is in Rowbotham that we get mentions of the Pearls' weapons being something other than Enfields. I presume, but do not know for sure, that the two more modern works already cited above derive the mention of Minies from Rowbotham, rather than from original documents.

Usefully all of the official reporting (despatches), but not necessarily the public correspondence of Captains Peel and Sotheby is contained in Rowbotham. However the captains are most typically forwarding to various naval authorities the despatches of their army superiors in command, with a few covering words of their own. I can find one fleeting and passing mention of the marines of the Pearl (there were not very many of them) being armed with Minie rifles. It comes in a dispatch written by a Colonel Rowcroft, I think his name was, under whose command the Pearls were fighting. Whether or not a colonel would say 'Minie' when he really means Enfield, as is the case with yer man Hoskins described above, is anybody's guess. I would say that it is at least possible, as plenty of people said Minie when they meant Enfield at this early stage of the P1853's introduction. There are two alternatives. One is that the Marines aboard the Shannon had Enfields, but those aboard the Pearl did not. The second alternative is that by virtue of going upcountry earlier than the Pearls, the marines amongst the Shannons were able to hand in their Minies at Fort William and draw 2-band Enfields like the sailors they accompanied. The direct primary source mention of Minies amongst the Marines of the Pearl only comes up the once - and we can identify a date (8/2/58) beyond which they cannot possibly have had Minies anyway.

However although Rowbotham only reports the matter in secondary fashion, there is definitely something in the idea of the sailors of the Pearl being armed with non-rifled weapons. I'll interpret Rowbotham here. He says that there were insufficient weapons on board ship for all the Pearls to have a naval longarm, such that application had to be made to the HEIC authorities for more. So the first point is that a proportion of the sailors had whatever was being carried onboard ship, and a proportion had something else supplied by the Bengal Army. There is thus a possibility that the first category always had rifled weapons like the shipboard Marines, although there is equally a possibility that they too had smoothbore muskets like the second group (those who were armed by the HEIC). At some later point Capt Sotheby complains that he has been supplied with weapons of varying lengths and that some of them were unserviceable and can he please have nice new shiny Enfields. The outcome of that request we know (as described above) - Enfields are supplied. There was evidently some sort of formal response, submitted to the chain of command, from the authorities at the Fort William arsenal. Whatever documents Cmdr Rowbotham was working from enabled him to conclude that what had actually happened was this. The Pearls' original shortfall in longarms had been made up by the supply of the percussion muskets generally in service elsewhere in India - (which is to say the Company's version of P1842 percussion). Some of Sotheby's sailors were too short to handle the full length P1842, which is a big old beast of a gun, so, at some point prior to departing Calcutta, a proportion of the proportion (if you see what I mean) were returned to the arsenal and replaced with the 'fusil' (reduced length) version of the Company's P1842. The response made by the arsenal was evidently indignant at Sotheby's remarks about 'several' different lengths of weapon and pointed out that, in fact, there were only two lengths - that the RN had received only what was in use with the army upcountry - including by the troops fighting around Delhi (where [at first] only HM 1st/60th KRRC had Enfields). In fact the arsenal might reasonably have said that they had gone the extra mile for the navy, as shorties in the infantry had to struggle on with full length weapon regardless. (An exception, as we have discussed before, was made in the case of the Company's Gurkha regiments where near enough everybody was 'vertically challenged' (!) and the fusil was on universal issue accordingly).

So we've dealt with the Shannons above. What do we conclude of the Pearls? Q. Marines with P1851 Minies? Difficult to say for sure, given that I can find only that one reference and the use of 'Minie' is so vexatious an issue. Ratings with smoothbore muskets? Possibly all, but definitely at least a proportion with P1842s, across both the full length and fusil length variants. Date of replacement of whatever sailors and marines first carried into action: 8 Feb 1858. Q. 2-Band or 3-band replacements? A. Not the foggiest idea and I'm now beyond all caring!

Captain Peel's helmet was white!

If I don't die of old age before then, I will model the IDM sailors in Sennets with curtains, blankets en banderole and 2-band Enfields. Will leave the blankets off the naval gunners, on the basis that they would doubtless have thrown them aboard their supporting ammunition hackeries. The RMLI will be interchangeable with figures for HM 53rd, i.e. in home service tunics, 3-band Enfield, blankets en banderole and Kilmarnocks with peak and curtain.

As ever

M

PS. Worth mentioning that Col Lemon's 300-odd RMLI (not 200 as I said originally) brought across from Hong Hong remained in garrison at Ft William for 3 months only, before being returned to Hong Kong.
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Re: Royal Marine uniforms during the Mutiny?

Postby mike snook » 30 Oct 2016 14:35

PPS. The three coys HM 90th LI (shipwrecked with HMS Transit) traveled to Calcutta from Singapore with 2 x coys aboard the Pearl and one aboard the Shannon. They were quickly bustled through Calcutta, leaving the naval crews behind, (as the rest of their regiment was already well ahead of them), and were issued with new weapons at Chinsura, (about 40 miles upriver of Calcutta), where was a major HEIC ordnance depot. Wolseley reports that their original weapons had been attacked by salt water during the storm and evacuation of Transit. I presume that these would subsequently have been made good again by the authorities at the arsenal and might well have gone upcountry with somebody else later - but that's a guess.

M
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