Foot Guards Undress Tunic

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Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Mar 2015 17:11

It had puzzled me for some time that Foot Guards alone did not wear an undress frock like the rest of the infantry. Their short white drill jackets are quite well known, but less so are the scarlet "undress tunics" issued to the drill and musketry instructors for day-to-day wear when not on parade. I had seen these mentioned in the 1894 Clothing Regulations, but had always wondered what they looked like. I believe that I have now found several images of them in wear:

1. Firstly Page 30 of Col Waltons SIMKINS SOLDIERS - The British Army in 1890 - shows a Drill Sgt Grenadier Guards wearing one.

2. Secondly Page 69 of Phillip Warners ARMY LIFE IN THE 90s shows two Coldstream Guards Drill Sgts wearing them.

3. Finally Page 62 of A H Bowlings THE FOOT GUARD REGIMENTS shows a Drill Sgt of Irish Guards marching a parade route with his men in white drill jackets.

N.B. In all cases these undress tunics were worn when company ranks are in white drill jackets.

Description: Interestingly these scarlet undress tunics have what appears to be a mock jam pot cuff created by a single ring of lace or piping. There are no shoulder straps and instead a twisted cord is worn. Most puzzling of all is that there is no badge of rank. At the rear is the standard white piped slashed flaps and buttons, but without gold lace.

I do not have an image that I can post of this rare form of tunic and would be grateful if any forum member has one. I imagine that they were discontinued at the same time as the white drill jacket. I think they were probably replaced by the Guards pattern Blue Patrols worn by all ranks.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby grumpy » 10 Mar 2015 18:20

Frogsmile, Major Dawnay, with whose book on WO & NCO Rank badges you are familiar, says

" ......When full dress was re-introduced in 1920 ........ the undress tunic was abolished".
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Mar 2015 18:37

grumpy wrote:Frogsmile, Major Dawnay, with whose book on WO & NCO Rank badges you are familiar, says

" ......When full dress was re-introduced in 1920 ........ the undress tunic was abolished".


Thank you Grumpy, that is interesting to know. I still hope to learn a little more about it, especially how the rank was configured, if at all.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby tabony » 11 Mar 2015 00:24

Also " Vanished Armies" plate 13, figure 126. He's described as an Irish Guards sergeant but as he has a sword I thought perhaps he was the "Drill Bloke" . Although he also has three bands of brass on his peak which is correct for a sergeant, No lace at all on collar or cuffs (very important to rank I.D. ) and there's a 1st Life Guard covering his right arm!
The Foot Guards Regiments 1880-1914 by A.H. Bowling, published by Almark in 1972 has an illustration of I.G corps of drums passing Marble Arch. They wear peakless caps and white drill but the D.M. has the old peaked cap and a frock exactly as above so I wonder if they're both drum majors?

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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Mar 2015 12:34

tabony wrote:Also " Vanished Armies" plate 13, figure 126. He's described as an Irish Guards sergeant but as he has a sword I thought perhaps he was the "Drill Bloke" . Although he also has three bands of brass on his peak which is correct for a sergeant, No lace at all on collar or cuffs (very important to rank I.D. ) and there's a 1st Life Guard covering his right arm!
The Foot Guards Regiments 1880-1914 by A.H. Bowling, published by Almark in 1972 has an illustration of I.G corps of drums passing Marble Arch. They wear peakless caps and white drill but the D.M. has the old peaked cap and a frock exactly as above so I wonder if they're both drum majors?

Martin


Thanks Martin, I haven't checked out my 'Vanished Armies' yet (which you put me on to - thank you). The AH Bowling image in the Almark book is I think the one that I am referring to on page 62 in my initial post?

I am wondering if there was no rank worn on the garment and the head dress was relied upon to identify status. After all it seems that only a select few wore this undress tunic. It was smartly tailored (unlike a frock) and observed regimental button grouping, and must be exceedingly rare given the few ranks that seem to have worn it. I wonder if the Guards Museum have one. I am also curious as to what colour the twisted cord shoulder strap might be.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby grumpy » 11 Mar 2015 17:02

1914 clothing regs Table II: "Tunic, undress, warrant-officers, staff sergeants, and colour-sergeant instructor in musketry"

Table IX: "Foot Guards white jackets ... worsted lace and embroidery for all ranks"

Table IX again: "No chevrons or badges are worn on undress tunics".

I fear we can stop looking!
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Mar 2015 18:40

grumpy wrote:1914 clothing regs Table II: "Tunic, undress, warrant-officers, staff sergeants, and colour-sergeant instructor in musketry"

Table IX: "Foot Guards white jackets ... worsted lace and embroidery for all ranks"

Table IX again: "No chevrons or badges are worn on undress tunics".

I fear we can stop looking!


Thanks for the details Grumpy, I would still like to find a colour photo of this ultra rare beast. Imagine how much an undress tunic would be worth at auction from scarcity alone!
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Mar 2015 18:47

tabony wrote:Also " Vanished Armies" plate 13, figure 126. He's described as an Irish Guards sergeant but as he has a sword I thought perhaps he was the "Drill Bloke" . Although he also has three bands of brass on his peak which is correct for a sergeant, No lace at all on collar or cuffs (very important to rank I.D. ) and there's a 1st Life Guard covering his right arm!
The Foot Guards Regiments 1880-1914 by A.H. Bowling, published by Almark in 1972 has an illustration of I.G corps of drums passing Marble Arch. They wear peakless caps and white drill but the D.M. has the old peaked cap and a frock exactly as above so I wonder if they're both drum majors?

Martin


Great spot Martin, plate 13, fig 126 is the one and the only colour image seen so far. Although erroneously described as a frock, it is the undress tunic and tells us that just like the white drill jacket the shoulder cord is on one side only to secure the sash, but this time the cord is red. Grumpy tells us no badge of rank so the head dress was indeed relied upon.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby tabony » 12 Mar 2015 01:31

Chances are all the junior ranks would know who these people were anyway, and if not just seeing the undress tunic would be enough to make them watch their "Ps and Qs" :D
A rear view would be nice, if there was no lace did it still have the false pocket, something like the 1902 line tunic, or were the rear skirts plain?
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 12 Mar 2015 13:13

tabony wrote:Chances are all the junior ranks would know who these people were anyway, and if not just seeing the undress tunic would be enough to make them watch their "Ps and Qs" :D
A rear view would be nice, if there was no lace did it still have the false pocket, something like the 1902 line tunic, or were the rear skirts plain?
Martin


The only rear view is on page 30 of Col Walton's book Martin. It shows regimental button grouping and mock flaps created from white piping, no gold lace. The Irish Guards wore the garment from formation until WW1, but it seems unlikely that the Welsh Guards ever did.

I am hoping that there might be an example in the Guards Museum and that some kind soul will take a photo and post it here.

As we do know that the white drill jacket was retained for a time after WW1, I do wonder what the instructors wore in lieu of the undress tunic. Presumably a second best full dress tunic, but it must have been much less comfortable.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby grumpy » 12 Mar 2015 21:26

Second best tunic. There is certainly reference to these [all ranks] buried in my Standing Orders ...... I think I recall being surprised ["those were the days!"] by mention of a third best. The luxury of it.
These days, Home Service Tunics are virtually badge-less [except rank and aa very few others] "because they mark the sleeves and make it impossible to pass it on". Thus, no crossed rifles, flags, axes [except the pioneer sergeant], or Good Conduct since around 1985.
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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby tabony » 12 Mar 2015 21:38

Thanks Frogsmile, I couldn't make it out because it's side on, but now I see what you mean.
Grumpy, I don't believe the tunics are as individually tailored as they used to be either!

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Re: Foot Guards Undress Tunic

Postby Frogsmile » 06 Sep 2017 10:45

It is with some small thrill that I have discovered a photo of a very rare survivor of the Foot Guards 'undress', or 'second' tunic that was worn only by battalion warrant officers and 'staff' sergeants. Although made of fine cloth they were much simpler, with no rank, a single twisted shoulder cord to secure the sash in place, and a single horizontal line of white piping at the top of a facing colour jam pot cuff. Buttons were regimentally spaced. As well as a single view of this tunic, I enclose two artistic renditions of it in use. It continued as an issue item until WW1, but was not resurrected when full dress was returned after the war and seems to have been replaced by general usage of the Foot Guards pattern blue patrol jacket. I hope that it might be of interest to forum members. It is only very rarely ever mentioned in tomes on uniform.
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