Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

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Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Mad Guru » 26 Apr 2017 09:44

I'm a historical miniature wargamer with a deep interest in the Second Afghan War in general, and the battle of Maiwand in particular, the latter dating back to the original publication of Colonel Leigh Maxwell's book, "My God - Maiwand!" back in 1979.

For more than 25 years now I've believed that -- though no one knows for sure -- the best guess as to what color the puttees worn by the 66th (Berkshire) Regt. at the battle of Maiwand were (based largely on how they were depicted by the artist Frank Feller in his painting, "The Last Eleven"), was blue-grey for officers and brownish for enlisted men and NCOs.

Lately online I've seen a proliferation of miniature versions of the 66th Regt. where the entire unit -- officers and men -- are wearing blue puttees, but so far I have been unable to get into direct contact with any of the painters or owners of these figures. Of course it's entirely possible this is simply an example of some gamers choosing a slightly more "colorful" version of a uniform to make their figures look a bit more interesting, but since as far as I know this particular detail of the historical record has never been certain, I can't help wondering about it. So I'm here to humbly ask: does anyone know if some new information has emerged regarding the color of puttees worn by the officers and men of the 66th Regt. at the battle of Maiwand, and if so, could you please share it with me and/or point me towards its source?

I think the chances are that if some such detail has recently come to light, someone on this site will definitely know about it!

Thanks very much for your time, and if in fact no such new information has emerged, please indulge me for having asked!

Best,

Ethan
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby jf42 » 26 Apr 2017 14:02

Ethan, here are two pages of Pierre Turner illustrations from a fairly well known article on Maiwand by MIchael Barthorp that appeared in Military Illustrated, February 1989. The Sergeant and Private are both shown wearing dark coloured puttees.

http://s1092.photobucket.com/user/arthu ... 2.jpg.html

http://s1092.photobucket.com/user/arthu ... d.jpg.html

In Volume 3 of his 'British army on campaign' series (1988) MIchael Barthorp and Turner also depict an officer of the 66th with grey blue puttees.

Barthorpe BAoC 3 Cover copy.jpg
Barthorpe BAoC 3 Cover copy.jpg (74.74 KiB) Viewed 405 times


However, in an earlier article on the Second Afghan War, 'One Hundred Years Ago', from Military Modelling annual 1980, Barthorp, in his own excellent illustrations, shows a private of the 66th with puttees in the same shade of khaki as his dyed white summer clothing, albeit of darker tone as one would expect. Sorry, no digital image available at the moment.

Perhaps, in the course of his research for 'British Infantry Uniforms from 1660' (1986) Barthorp revised his earlier opinion.

Michael Barthorp has been a long-standing authority on Briitish army uniforms, especially undress and campaign clothing of the Victorian era. Doubtless his work has formed the basis, at least in part, of the depictions you have been looking at, and has shaped the conventional wisdom. I know Tony Barton, in particular, has made a number of 1/6th figures from the 2nd Aghan War, based on Barthorp's research.

All of which you may know already. However, these illustrations all date from the 1980s, so it is possible that, thirty years or so years later, research has turned up additional evidence. Other forum members may be well be able to add more.

I am not sure whether that has answered your question but I hope it is of some help.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby mike snook » 26 Apr 2017 15:04

Hi Ethan

jf42 has covered the Barthorp ground well, but you will know that Barthorp is not conclusive in respect of the point you raise. I am not aware of any participant account that says definitely that 'we were wearing blue putees at Maiwand'. By the same token there is not one that says we were wearing brown/grey/khaki/any other colour puttees. It is my belief that the blue idea came originally from Harry Payne's (well known Victorian illustrator) painting of the last eleven Berkshires at Maiwand. Additionally R. Caton Woodville's 'Saving the guns at Maiwand', shows blue puttees in E/B Bty RHA. Woodville is rarely to be relied upon for close uniform details. G D Giles who was an artist officer also did a saving the guns painting, which could be relied on for authenticity, but sadly I have never seen it in colour and am unaware of the original's location. The other 'last eleven' painting by...Feller or something like that...trumps Payne by getting the regiment's pouches right but shows khaki puttees. Then again his portrayal of the terrain is well wide of the mark and I am not aware that he was guided by anybody who had been there.

Payne's painting of the 66th, with blue puttees, looks the part, but also incorporates one likely inaccuracy and one definite inaccuracy. The likely one is his failure to show covered helmets. The definite one is that he does not reflect that the 66th had been issued with (black) 'rifles pattern' ammunition pouches, which they wore with otherwise 'white' (when pipeclayed, or natural buff leather when not), valise equipment. Lt Col Ready, who had been at the battle, presented his own helmet and the equipment worn by his batman during the battle to the regiment. I think the items are presently at the regimental museum in Salisbury, which you will be aware of, as that's where 'Bobby' is. Anyway the pouches worn by Ready's man are black.

I always say that it's best to begin at the beginning with issues like this. Were there blue puttees around at all? I believe that there were. I am tolerably sure that they were worn in mounted units with dark blue riding breeches of the home service (or Indian winter) pattern, which would account for the RHA. As you know in the early days of the 2nd AA War some units wore khaki frocks over winter trousers (which were most typically blue). Where did the khaki clothing come from? Well, at this stage they wore India pattern whites dyed for active service. Puttees however are a manufactured item rather than an improvised one and appeared in India some considerable time before they were introduced into the Home Army. Obviously they were around by 1879-80 in India and being made there. Contracts would have been laid at some point before that. So if you are the QMG of the Indian Army you have to decide what colour you will instruct contractors to make your army's puttees. Because you are of the Indian Army you know that only a madman goes campaigning in the summer - campaigning and manoeuvres is something you do in the winter when the dress is red over blue, (albeit as a result of the Mutiny experience the notion of preferring khaki to winter/home service dress is taking firm hold in India, if not in the Home Army). Puttees are a campaigning item. So do you have them made in khaki or perhaps have them made in blue? Or both?

That's how you conceivably get a blue item being worn with khaki - the point being that it would definitely not be mere frippery or an affectation. Somewhere, in the old India Office archives perhaps, a copy of the clothing contract for puttees might still exist. Presently I do not believe we have any evidence available that enables this to be resolved definitively one way or the other, in the specific case of the 66th at Maiwand. I have seen it said that the officers of the 66th wore blue and the NCOs and men 'khaki' or something like it. Frankly I regard this as improbable. It would to my mind be one or the other across all ranks. Forced to gamble a large sum of money one way or the other I would plump for blue, on the grounds that blue trousers existed, whereas khaki ones didn't - they were white items dyed to dirty colours as an expedient. On the day itself it would have been quite impossible to tell what colours the puttees were as they would long since have been caked in fine Afghan dust!

Here are some uniform snippets that will be of interest to you. Maj Oliver, 66th Regt, did not have puttees on at all. He talks about a bullet striking the button of his 'gaiters' (his word). Of course he was a field officer and would have been mounted, which might account for gaiters in his specific case, but does not necessarily rule out gaiters for other officers too.

Dress of the Bombay Grenadiers. I cannot immediately recollect the name of the pointy skull cap worn inside the turban in many units. Anyway the Bombay Grenadiers had them and they were red. The witness refers to identifying men of the grenadiers by their red skullcaps during the retreat. To my mind this necessarily implies that the cloth of the turban was khaki and that it must therefore follow that Jacob's Rifles also had khaki turbans. The idea of Jacob's being dressed in green kurta and red bloomers (their winter uniform), as was recently suggested in another place, has always been ludicrous to me, but this reference to identifying sepoys of the Grenadiers by their skull caps proves that Jacob's were in khaki too.

Best Wishes

Mike
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Apr 2017 18:54

I would just like to add support to what has been said. Blue puttees seem to have been issued to the Royal Artillery for many years and as a form of dress puttees originated in India as Col Mike has said. They go back a long way and were issued well before proper colour fast khaki dyes were developed, and thus worn at first with blue trousers I think. Indigo dye was widely available in India (and I think exported) so it is a colour that could be reliably provided in a consistent shade.
As regards officers and the apparent difference in shade, I believe that upon warning for an Indian posting an officer would have relied upon his outfitter to furnish the necessary puttees and the firm of FOX, in Somerset, provided puttees to outfitters before they became 'standard wear' (i.e. outside India too) for the British Army's field dress. A different, paler shade seems to have been provided and this idiosyncrasy remained even in later years. Also, the bazaar outfitters (Durzis) probably mimicked the officer differential in the shade of puttees that they provided within the cantonments.

The pointy thing around which some pagris were wrapped is called a 'kullah'.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby mike snook » 26 Apr 2017 19:15

'Kullah'...that's the badger. Thanks Frogsmile.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Mad Guru » 26 Apr 2017 19:43

Thanks all.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby jf42 » 26 Apr 2017 20:20

Mike, Pointy scull cap- kulla

Deftly argued. Most photos of infantry wearing blue home service trousers during the Afghan war tend to show them relaxing with the trousers loose. There is a good picture of an officer and piquet of 51st Kings LI wearing short-sleeved poshteens or neemchas, mostly over red frocks, and homeservice trousers with khaki puttees.

51st K.L.I. piquet.jpeg
51st K.L.I. piquet.jpeg (55.97 KiB) Viewed 366 times


A quick survey of the photos taken round Kabul circa 1879-80 shows a proportion of Royal Engineer officers wearing puttees of a darker colour. While I would be fairly confident of identifying some as blue, some could be a darker shade of khaki. Some of the officers are wearing the dark puttees with blue pantaloons; others with khaki trousers.

RE Offrs  Safed Sang 1880.jpg
RE Offrs Safed Sang 1880.jpg (85.41 KiB) Viewed 366 times


R.E. officers Kabul Feb 1880.jpeg
R.E. officers Kabul Feb 1880.jpeg (47.09 KiB) Viewed 366 times


RE officers Kabul 1880 phpG96z7zPM.jpeg
RE officers Kabul 1880 phpG96z7zPM.jpeg (48.01 KiB) Viewed 366 times


I have yet to see photos of any infantry wearing blue puttees. Infantry officers in photographs I have seen- e.g. 9th, 51st, 67th 70th are either wearing khaki puttees, leather boots or the odd pair of gaiters (some look like calf-length infantry issue; others privately purchased).

To digress for moment, if we turn to the 1883-85 campaigns in Egypt and Sudan, where battalions sent from India were noted for their servicable khaki drill uniforms, we might consider the officer in Giles' painting of the 1st York and Lancasters at the battle of Tamai, which shows an officer in blue puttees. It seems to be generally assumed this depiction is authentic. In relation to this detail, Michael Barthorp commented in his 1984 Military Modelling article on the Suakin expedition that black or blue puttees were customarily worn by officers for mounted duties. The Perrys, in their schematic of uniforms worn on the NIle and in Eastern Sudan, echo this in their notes, describing the York and Lancs officer as wearing "blue/black puttees for riding duties."

I am not in a position to comment as to whether this observation can still be relied on today, but both cavalry and mounted infantry of the Camel Corps also shown wearing blue puttees. Whether there was a practical application to the association of dark puttees with mounted duties, I don't know. There may have been a consideration of smartness, with a nod to tradition, if one agrees that at a distance, in outline, dark puttees resemble riding boots. It would of course have been easier for an individual officer in cantonment, say, simply to put on his boots rather than wind puttees, but when dismounted duties were contemplated as part of a more sustained column expedition across rugged terrain, then puttees and marching boots might have been advisable.

Returning to the photos of officers in Afghanistan wearing blue puttees, none unequivocally suggest mounted duties and of those that might be candidates, the fact that their puttees are uniformly tied at the top rather than the bottom might suggest that they were not intending to ride ( I have always assumed that cavalry tied their puttees at the bottom for practical reasons rather than merely as an affectation. I stand to be corrected).
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Apr 2017 21:16

Puttees were indeed tied at the ankle by mounted duty men for practical reasons. If tied at the top it had been found that the constant rubbing by the horses flanks engendered by jogging movement caused them to unravel.

There were so many blue puttees in stock that they continued to be issue wear for mounted infantry along with brown Bedford cord breeches until the demise of that specialisation in the years approaching WW1.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby mike snook » 26 Apr 2017 22:46

Ethan

Having seen your post on the LAF I would be of the view that you've taken Frogsmile's observations on Fox's to a place that they cannot be taken (namely Afghanistan in 1880!). The 66th left for India from the Curragh (Ireland) in 1870. Nobody was using puttees in 1870, so the officers of the 66th could not have patronised Fox's, prior to the Battle of Maiwand. Fox's existed as a textile company in 1870 but cannot have been making puttees, which originated in India and spread from there. Puttee incidentally is an Indian word. They were adopted in India at some point after the 66th arrived there. When eventually Fox's started making puttees (for the Home Army) they made them in several colours, including blue, brown, khaki and black. The allusion made by Frogsmile to Fox's puttees being in a different shade to that of the men post-dates the period in question. Fox's was not a gentleman's outfitter per se, though it did sell in that market. It made puttees in vast quantities during the Great War. The so-called Fox's 'grey officers' puttees' was a live thing when Frogsmile and I were still serving. The word 'grey' was something of a misnomer, as they were actually a very light fawny olive-ish shade of khaki (!) when the issued puttees were somewhere between a very dark olive-green and brown. Now that same difference might also have pertained to the Great War (not my bag) but the point is that it cannot have applied in the period 1870-80 when puttees were made in India and not used by the Home Army. Arguably Fox's might have started making them at some point after the 66th's departure and before the Battle of Maiwand, but you would not have had officers already in India ordering them from England when they were freely available in India.

Hope that adds a bit more clarity. Frogsmile might have more to add.

As ever,

M
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby mike snook » 26 Apr 2017 23:48

jf,

Nice pictures - I was hoping you'd post them! I am inclined to think that we are looking at blue in the case of the RE officers, certainly in the topmost RE photo, although I agree that some of the ones further down might well be dark khaki (or conceivably blue with a lot of dust...but then again as nothing to the quantities of dust a hard marching infantyrman would accumulate in summer field conditions further south). I think its worth making the point for the body of the kirk that RE is not a mounted corps and typically conforms tolerably closely with infantry dress - in our period red over blue of course. Pictures from the war typically come from Kabul and outlying static posts and I'm inclined to think it is that that largely accounts for the infantrymen wearing their trouser bottoms loose in such scenarios. Puttees are after all a pain the proverbial to put on and in their knee length form could cause cramps in the legs. Their purpose is to provide ankle support, to absorb water or dew in bad weather or in long grass or jungle-forest, to prevent standing or running water freely gushing into the boot (not for long) and preventing dust and grit getting into the socks/boots...factors that are not relevant in a static post. I think that may account for such photos.

As ever

M

PS interesting to see the variety of shades of khaki in the second photo down.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby jf42 » 27 Apr 2017 00:00

Frogsmile wrote:Puttees were indeed tied at the ankle by mounted duty men for practical reasons. If tied at the top it had been found that the constant rubbing by the horses flanks engendered by jogging movement caused them to unravel.

There were so many blue puttees in stock that they continued to be issue wear for mounted infantry along with brown Bedford cord breeches until the demise of that specialisation in the years approaching WW1.



That's a relief, except I had wondered if it might be somethig to do with chafing from the extra thickness of more rigid cloth at the knee.

I have added some photographs to illustrate my previous post.

Most of the puttees in evidence in photos from the 2nd Afghan are in fact quite pale. Perhaps the officers stuck to that shade, and in finer cloth, when later on the men changed to the darker khaki of service dress.

Interesingly, Puttoo was the name of a type of 'kid' wool cloth as well as the name for the army leg binding, which appears to have been gradually adopted during the 1870s.

http://tmoi.org.uk/component/virtuemart ... t&Itemid=5

This picture of an officer of the 92nd after a spot of leave dates from around 1870. It looks like as if he might have some form of leg binding on his lower legs.

92nd Mooltan ca 1860-70 .jpg
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Frogsmile » 27 Apr 2017 00:06

I would wish to endorse Col Mike's advice that Ethan should not be too literal/definitive in any statements he makes about the wear of puttees by British imperial and Indian colonial troops. There are some basic facts that are known, but other aspects are purely speculation and best guess. We know that puttees were not decreed for Home service issue until 1902. Before that date they were issued only by the Indian establishment (which had its own Army Clothing Factories at Alipore and Madras), but to both British and Indian Army units. The two colours known to have been used were drab (a shade of very brownish khaki) and blue (navy blue and almost black in appearance until sun faded and dust laden). There is perhaps visual anecdotal evidence in the form of artwork that officers might have had a lighter shade, but we do not know for sure the veracity of that. My comments were meant to reflect that as officer differential was common (head gear, footwear, insignia to mention but few), the artists might have been accurate with their renditions and as later products, made by Fox's and supplied to officers outfitters were a lighter shade, this might reflect earlier established practice in India. We also know that puttees first appeared in common Indian Army wear in the 1870s, having apparently originated as Himalayan leg wrappings used to protect tribesmen's legs from thorns, sharp rocks and scorpions (they were invariably worn by native troops with bare feet enclosed in stout leather sandals known as Chaplis). I imagine that coming from that part of the world, Gurkha troops might have been among the first to wear them. Some Scots regiments even used strips of plaid cloth in the regimental sett to fashion their own unique puttees in Afghanistan circa 1879. I do not know precisely when Fox first began to manufacture and supply puttees, but they did supply them, if required, to officers proceeding to India before they became home service wear, in just the same way as sun helmets and other theatre and climate related items of equipment and clothing. Alternatively officers could purchase items from stores depots in India at rates set by regulation, or they could turn to regimental Durzis, retained by agents, in the local bazaar. Faced with these choices the majority opted for the latter, as unlike the government supply, which was strict by cash, they could be paid for via instalments, which had long been part of the British officer's culture.

P.S. Please forgive bare minimum punctuation, am posting painstakingly by phone.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Frogsmile » 27 Apr 2017 00:10

jf42 wrote:
Frogsmile wrote:Puttees were indeed tied at the ankle by mounted duty men for practical reasons. If tied at the top it had been found that the constant rubbing by the horses flanks engendered by jogging movement caused them to unravel.

There were so many blue puttees in stock that they continued to be issue wear for mounted infantry along with brown Bedford cord breeches until the demise of that specialisation in the years approaching WW1.



That's a relief, except I had wondered if it might be somethig to do with chafing from the extra thickness of more rigid cloth at the knee.

I have added some photographs to illustrate my previous post.

Most of the puttees in evidence in photos from the 2nd Afghan are in fact quite pale. Perhaps the officers stuck to that shade, and in finer cloth, when later on the men changed to the darker khaki of service dress.

Interesingly, Puttoo was the name of a type of 'kid' wool cloth as well as the name for the army leg binding, which appears to have been gradually adopted during the 1870s.

http://tmoi.org.uk/component/virtuemart ... t&Itemid=5

This picture of an officer of the 92nd after a spot of leave dates from around 1870. It looks like as if he might have some form of leg binding on his lower legs.

92nd Mooltan ca 1860-70 .jpg


Yes, I did feel that there was visual evidence of lighter coloured puttees. Thank you for posting. Extremely interesting to read about the Puttoo, fine kid woollen cloth too. It does seem possible that it's connected.
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby mike snook » 27 Apr 2017 00:15

Yes jf I think that's what happened...with the adoption of service dress and issued puttees at home the officers would have continued to have to buy their field kit (including no doubt Fox's puttees). By the time I joined things had changed (a little!) and we only had to buy our non-field uniforms. I can remember that there was a definite snob factor about having Fox's grey puttees as opposed to the issued ones, but really that was amongst field officers who had started in the 60s, while we young bucks of the 80s didn't really care and happily accepted the government freebie from the clothing store rather than part with cash to own our own private puttees! Just as well because they didn't have much longer to run before disappearing forever.

As ever

M
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Re: Question re: 66th (Berkshire) puttees at Maiwand...

Postby Frogsmile » 27 Apr 2017 00:33

mike snook wrote:Yes jf I think that's what happened...with the adoption of service dress and issued puttees at home the officers would have continued to have to buy their field kit (including no doubt Fox's puttees). By the time I joined things had changed (a little!) and we only had to buy our non-field uniforms. I can remember that there was a definite snob factor about having Fox's grey puttees as opposed to the issued ones, but really that was amongst field officers who had started in the 60s, while we young bucks of the 80s didn't really care!

As ever

M


Talking of that snobbery, I recall very well discreetly advising a young RWF subaltern on his first operational tour of NI not to wear his Fox puttees or bullion beret badge as it would make him a target (I liked him), but he just as gently declined saying he did not want the soldiers to think he was scared. Later that day he was casevac, badly injured from the Divis Flats and I never saw him again. It reminded me of Robert Graves and his Welsh Regt patt 'wind up' SD jacket so decried by the RWF CO.
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