Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

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Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby theironduke1 » 30 Dec 2016 18:14

The minutiae of details about how was rank was indicated on British army uniforms continues to confound researchers like myself.
This question is about hussars. Most current descriptive accounts suggest that Warrant Officers and Sergeants of hussars had gold lace braiding on their uniforms instead of yellow worn by other ranks. Yet I have seen enough photographic evidence that, certainly before the 1890s, sergeants in fact did NOT have gold lace braiding, only warrant officers, (A recent post clearly shows that). Is there any clothing regulation I can access that provide me with the correct information?

Also, The 13th Hussars had white backing to their badges & chevrons and the 11th at some point had crimson backing. Modern and some contemporary) illustrators most often show all other hussars with scarlet backings when that was not so. D.H. Haggar says that only the 3rd, 4th, 8th, 10th and 15th had scarlet backings and later the 18th. Is there anywhere I can find out whether this is so? Appreciate any help.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby grumpy » 30 Dec 2016 23:03

My knowledge of cavalry rank distinctions is limited to rank BADGES, so the following is speculation.

The only warrant officer in a cavalry regiment was, I believe, the sergeant-major ....... until 1915 when the most senior staff sergeants were elevated to WO II. Possibly the bandmaster, schoolmaster and a few artificer senior soldiers might have held warrants.

There was a complicated rank and appointment structure between sabre sergeants and the warrant officer[s]. Loosely we might call them staff-sergeants and quartermaster-sergeants, and those in regimental appointments [as opposed to sabre squadron/troop appointments] might well have had gold braid.

I have not researched this, but used the analogy of the infantry clothing.

I have lost my clothing regs. for pre 1914 [or somebody has borrowed them!], and do not have a Priced Vocab of Clothing and necessaries early enough to help further.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby zerostate » 31 Dec 2016 07:16

I think what Grumpy has not mentioned (he knows, and I'm sure you know, but I will mention it anyway), there were several serjeant majors in a cavalry regiment, of which ONLY the RSM and bandmaster were WOs (and possibly a schoolmaster at home). There would then also be five other serjeant majors - all squadron Sgt Majors plus the Sgt Major rough rider, which I believe were essentially the same rank as a colour sergeant (I also believe the SQMSs were the same BUT not knowing cavalry ranks that well, I will wait on better clarification from those who know better).

Chris

EDIT I just reread Grumyp's post and he said what I said anyway, but better. Boy, is my face red :)

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 31 Dec 2016 13:08

I sympathise with your quest, theironduke1, as it is true that the details of cavalry uniforms and badges of rank are extraordinarily complex and arcane. By far the best reference that I can suggest is one that I believe you will find indispensable for your research.

It is a Military Historical Society (MHS) Special Publication of 1997 and printed by the Hay Nisbet Press in Glasgow, Scotland. The title is: Cavalry Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers Arm Badges. The ISBN 0 9510603 3 3

Although the subject is arm badges, the book covers in some detail badges of rank over the years (but not in all cases the backing colour), as well as structural changes that drove the introduction of new ranks and appointments, along with references to the Clothing Regulations (CR) issued by the Army Clothing Department (ACD - later RACD), Priced Vocabularies of Clothing and Necessaries (PVCN - issued annually), and various Army Orders and Army Circulars (AO and AC), linking all to the whereabouts in the Public Records Office (PRO). It is profusely illustrated both, in colour and black and white, with photos of uniforms in use, via group and individual portraits with clear views of detail.

As to the more general queries that you have made, it is important to understand that other ranks of the British Army, of all arms and services, were restricted to three types of full-dress upper garment issued at public expense and these were worn strictly according to rank and appointment. They were:

1. First Class. This garment was the only class bearing gold lace and for cavalry worn by 'staff sergeants' (specialists employed at regimental HQ level) only until 1881, when the creation of a warrant officer, by lifting out and separating the unit sergeant major (and later band master). As well as collars and cuffs being gold laced (but less so than officers) and cloth being of a finer quality, badges of rank were also in gold lace. For cavalry these were for several decades a rather unusual, curved and distinctly padded shape on shell jackets (later frocks) and might have been produced regimentally by unit tailors. This type seems to have included a backing of facing colour or scarlet, or blue, but as it was done regimentally there is little record beyond any unit annals, and not all have retained the details. At a later stage, chevrons became simplified and produced in general service lace on either scarlet, or blue worsted felt backing and available, on demand, from the ACD. According to photographic evidence this change seems to have taken place gradually, between the late 1870s and the 1890s.

2. Sergeants Class. This garment was issued to ranks from sergeant to troop sergeant major (equivalent to the infantry colour sergeant). The lace on this tunic varied according to rank and appointment between worsted and gold.

3. Rank and File. This garment was issued to corporals and below. The lace on this tunic was worsted.

With the creation of warrant officer the practice was resurrected of dressing him in a style more close to an officer that involved gold lace, but as this was not publicly funded the garments were specially issued under 'regimental arrangements'. Because this was in the gift of the commanding officer it varied in small degrees from regiment to regiment, but generally it meant the garment was made bespoke and the bill paid by the regiment. This might seem strange, but it was a time when entire bands were funded in a similar manner and officers were invoiced monthly, along with their mess bill, to furnish a fund. Each CO also had an annual allowance from the war office for incidentals and this too could be used in ways that he saw fit.

There were three classes of 'staff sergeant', first (aka Class A), second (aka Class B) and third (aka Class C). All first class staff sergeants (and warrant officers) wore the First Class Tunic. Some second class staff sergeants wore the First Class Tunic too, but most wore the sergeant class tunic, with extra gold lace to reflect their status. Third class staff sergeants wore the sergeants quality tunic, but with gold laced forage cap bands.

It is a matter then of looking at each type of cavalry (i.e. dragoon guards, dragoons, light dragoons/hussars and lancers) in turn and determining the differences in make up of the three classes of tunic. Having studied this over some years now, I can say that other than hussars the distinctions of first class staff sergeants are, as well as superior cloth, largely confined to gold lace on collar, cuffs and shoulder straps/cords and, for dragoon guards, gold aiguillettes.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby grumpy » 31 Dec 2016 15:58

The placing of rank badges and "trade" badges on facing colour was expressly forbidden in 1872 according to the Royal Army Clothing Department ledger......."on tunic cloth not facing". [From my note and photocopies].

This was in line with the infantry, 1868.

One assumes that, as the Foot Guards were exempt, so also were the Household cavalry.

I stress that this was the official line, so use of facing colour after that date by line cavalry would be regimentally funded and provided.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby theironduke1 » 31 Dec 2016 16:46

Thanks to you all Grumpy, Zerostate and Frogsmile. A most enlightening response. Frogsmile .. I do have the Cavalry arm badge book and you are right, it is a great resource beyond the arm badges. I also think that as Grumpy states regimental funding and COs decisions had as much influence as regulations. Because it is the British Army, one can take nothing for granted and that photographic evidence needs to be weighed against regulations (or vice-versa) when researching.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you and all the members of the forum a very Happy New Year.

Bruce
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 31 Dec 2016 17:24

theironduke1 wrote:Thanks to you all Grumpy, Zerostate and Frogsmile. A most enlightening response. Frogsmile .. I do have the Cavalry arm badge book and you are right, it is a great resource beyond the arm badges. I also think that as Grumpy states regimental funding and COs decisions had as much influence as regulations. Because it is the British Army, one can take nothing for granted and that photographic evidence needs to be weighed against regulations (or vice-versa) when researching.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you and all the members of the forum a very Happy New Year.

Bruce


I am sorry that I was timed out before I could finish....but here is what I wanted to finish that post with:

Those then are the generics. Turning to the Hussars specifically, if you do not already have it, there is an excellent booklet readily available online by AH Bowling: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Sear ... sars&isbn= (this booklet is superb value for money and repays investment thrice over).

In his seminal works, Uniforms of the British Army (2 Vols - from Simkin Prints), W Y Carman makes no mention of NCOs wearing gold cord/lace, referring only to ORs with yellow cord and officers with gold, but this is flawed, as it makes no use of plentiful photographic evidence to the contrary.

Much better is the soft back book by Lt Col P S Walton, Simkins Soldiers, the British Army in 1890, that as well as Simkin prints, draws on some excellent, albeit small B&W photos. https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Book ... S%2BWalton

Among the photos are two that make quite clear the wearing of gold lace/cord by staff sergeants of Hussars. One image shows the 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars and the other the 19th (Alexandra' Princess of Wales's Own) Hussars. The image of the 4th shows the RSM, a "TSM" (who I believe is a staff sergeant (Fencing and Gymnastics Instr)) and a trooper, all in mounted review order. The image of the 19th has four figures, a TSM and two R&F in stable jackets, and a trooper in review order (i.e. frogged dolman).

Because the film used is orthochromatic, the yellow cords of the rank and file show as dark and barely distinguishable from the base colour of the garment itself. Conversely, the staff sergeants gold lace shows bright and gives compelling proof that there was that clear difference in decoration to hussar uniform, both on dolman (frogging) and stable jacket (collar lace). The evidence is incontrovertible.

The following then are what I believe to be the patterns of hussar full dress upper garments (Dolman):

1. First Class. Superior cloth with plain round gold cord, and (probably) toggle (olivet) fasteners for the warrant officer post 1881. Pillbox caps were fine cloth and had a band of matching gold lace.

2. Sergeant Class. Superior quality cloth (same as first class) with plain round golden yellow worsted cord lace and frogging. Pillbox caps were fine cloth and had a band of gold lace (less 13th Hussars - white).

3. Rank and File. Basic quality cloth (but probably better than the infantry equivalent) and plain golden yellow worsted cord (same pattern as used by RA and RE for cuff knots). This class of garment was also worn by lance sergeants when that appointment was introduced, as the substantive rank remained that of R&F (see single, dismounted image of 11th Hussar). Pillbox caps were of a more coarse material with a band of yellow wool (less 13th Hussars).

The reason that so little of this survives is that ORs uniforms were by regulation "reduced to rags" once no longer serviceable and, as round gold cord was expensive, it was frequently re-used if in good condition. Regimental tailors (and his horde of 'boy' (apprentice) tailors) were responsible for this 'interior economy' and cord could be readily removed from an old dolman and 'reversed' short lengths re-used for, e.g. cuff knots. There are strict instructions for the maintenance (cleaning) of gold lace in both CRs and DRs of that time.

As regards badge backings, note the image of a 13th Hussars trumpeter with his wife, where all badges are backed in white and yellow frogging appears dark.

The mounted QMS shows RQMS Knowlden as depicted in the Navy & Army Illustrated 31st May 1898, stating that he had served 23 years in the regiment. His arm badges are of interest. Whereas the sergeants and second class staff sergeants wore the sterling silver arm badge, first class staff sergeants, like Knowlden, wore an embroidered version. His rank chevrons were only worn on the right sleeve, in this case underneath the gold cord Austrian knot. The eight pointed embroidered star is part of his rank as Quartermaster Sgt. All these badges are edged in crimson cloth, as are those worn by Lance Sergeant Brearley, shown below him.

In the image of a 14th Hussar (Winmole) you can see clearly the deeply curved and padded rank stripes that I referred to above. Notice the gold lace that trims his stable jacket to mark his status as a staff sergeant.

I hope that this helps.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 31 Dec 2016 19:09

Further images of 13th Hussars. Note the white rank badge backing and gold cord and lace on first class dolman tunic. Again, it is clear how yellow cord appears dark on orthochromatic film.

The Regimental Sergeant-Major on the left of the coloured image is in full dress dismounted order. He wears gold cord braiding on his tunic and round the edge of his collar. His caplines are also gold. At that time, the RSM's badge of rank was a crown worn just over the Austrian knot on his right sleeve, the white worsted backing is clear. In dismounted full dress the boots are worn under the tight fitting overalls. The steel swan-neck spurs are fixed to the boot by inserting a plug into a hole in the back of the heel. The Farrier-Sergeant wears an undress frock and pillbox cap. He has white flashes on his collar with gilding metal collar dogs. The chain-mail shoulder pieces are only just visible.

In the group image note how the white backed gold rank badges are pinned on via hooks and eyes to facilitate the more regular laundering that is necessary in hot climates.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 31 Dec 2016 19:42

This image of the 7th Hussars sergeants' mess in 1866 is interesting in that it shows that even before the 1881 creation of warrant officer rank for the sergeant major of the regiment, he had dress distinctions that distinguished him from the other first class staff sergeants of the regiment.

Those in the front row are Troop Sergeant-Majors except for the Sergeant on the right and the Regimental Sergeant-Major, seated, second from the left. His folded arms show that he has four inverted chevrons with crown on each arm while the TSMs have four chevrons and crown on the right arm only. The RSM and TSMs all have gold trouser stripes and braid tracing the collar and cuffs as opposed to the yellow worn by the other NCOs. The RSM has gold braid also down the front of his jacket and along the bottom edge. His cuff is ornamented with an Austrian knot instead of a simple loop. He has no shoulder cord like the others, which was probably a feature of the first class stable jacket. The Trumpet-Major stands behind the RSM's left shoulder.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 31 Dec 2016 19:58

Here are two highly illustrative photos of 14th (King's Own) Hussars, circa 1905-06.

The first shows the detail from a group photo of NCOs of the 14th at Shorncliffe prior to embarkation for India in 1906. There are two officers sitting on the right of the picture. A Lieutenant is wearing the new (1902 pattern) double-breasted frock coat and gold lace waist-belt. The other, more senior officer has the old style frock coat with mohair lace across the front. His forage cap has a gold edged peak showing that he is of field rank, or above. The NCOs wear pill-box caps with a braided design on the top. The staff sergeants have gold cap-bands while the other NCOs have yellow bands. The four men sitting centrally near to the officers are first class staff sergeants and thus have the round gold cord on their tunics, which stands out very clearly with the orthochromatic film. Another, more junior (second class) staff sergeant is to the left and has no gold cord. A variety of arm badges can be seen. Three of the first class staff sergeants are, from left to right; the senior musketry instructor, the Farrier Major and the senior instructor of fencing and gymnastics.

And finally, Regimental Sergeant Major A Smith photographed at Shorncliffe c1905. His uniform is the usual blue dolman tunic, but has the distinction of gold cord. He also has gold olivet buttons instead of the round brass buttons, as worn by the lower ranks. His cap-lines are also gold. He has no collar badges, but has badges on his right sleeve which are the rank badge of an embroidered King's crown, and an embroidered regimental hawk badge.

N.B. Information in this post and previous courtesy of the British Empire website, but modified slightly by me.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 01 Jan 2017 14:15

To conclude, I would emphasise that it was only the first class staff sergeants and those authorised to be dressed as first class staff sergeants that wore gold appointments to their upper garments, both full dress (dolmans) and undress (stable jackets), although in the latter case I mean 'extra' gold lace as all SNCOs stable jackets were gold laced on the collar.

In the four decades between 1860 and 1900 the number of sergeants on the regimental staff (ergo 'staff' sergeants) increased significantly as the demands of new technology and operational effectiveness created new posts. Originally the first class of staff sergeants was confined to the sergeant major (regimental), quarter master sergeant (regimental) and, when elevated, the bandmaster. To these were added the second class staff sergeants: instructors of musketry, fencing and gymnasia, the armourer and the farrier major (later re-titled farrier QMS), who were all dressed as first class (the former two to bring them in line with their equivalents at the two schools, Hythe and Aldershot).

The remaining staff sergeants (cook, tailor, shoemaker, et al) wore the sergeant class dolman tunic, but had some gold appointments on other items of apparel. During the 40-years some staff sergeants were elevated in class and others had their status lowered, most infamously the trumpet major, who was downgraded from staff sergeant of the second class (but dressed as first class) to plain sergeant. The precise number of men dressed as staff sergeants thus depended upon the period concerned, but their numbers were never very large, which further explains the rarity of surviving items of their uniform (see 'reduction to rags' above).

As a final image I enclose the link to a photo of a first class staff sergeants dolman tunic c1861. http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/a ... rs1861.htm
As well as the gold lace, notice the olivettes.

The four chevrons on the right sleeve have the regimental embroidered arm badge above and an embroidered Victorian crown above that. These were the rank badges of the Regimental and Troop Sergeant Majors of the 14th Hussars. A Horse Guards circular memo of 22 May 1850 ordered this for Hussar RSMs and TSMs. After 1851 the four chevrons started to be worn on the right forearm point upwards. Perhaps the 14th took longer to make the change. This is definitely a hussar tunic as it has the six rows of gold cord across the front, and the regiment converted to hussars in 1861.

This photo was published in Bosleys Military Auction catalogue and described thus: '14th Hussars Victorian Sergeant Major's tunic. A scarce tunic, the right sleeve bearing large bullion crown, large bullion and padded silk oval arm badge and four large chevrons. The tunic is of dark blue melton cloth with gimp cord knot decoration to each cuff and the skirt; to each breast six gold bullion gimp cord drop loops with gimp purl bottoms, loops and olivets also with concealed hook and eye fastening; quilted lining. Item has been offered purely for the badges on the sleeve. Condition of the rest of the tunic appalling with extremely heavy moth damage. Badges remain in good condition. (100-150 pounds)


Footnote for theironduke1: Whilst looking through the Cavalry Arm Badges Book I had a truly light bulb moment that I hope you might be able to put to use. Towards the rear are several close up photos of first class staff sergeants in the appointment of fencing and gymnasium instructors, photographed in full dress at the army's HQ gymnasium in Aldershot, that make clear the extra gold decoration. These are from 'course photographs' and, as per the practice pre-WW1, these were posed in full dress.

It is a deeply imbued element of British Army culture to have such photos taken even now, and the practice is of long standing going back to the earliest days of commercial photography. At a time when few soldiers owned cameras these photos marked career milestones and were treasured by professional soldiers of the time. They still appear in military auctions from time-to-time. There are three schools of that period where photos of groups of cavalry are absolute gold mines of information as regards the minutiae of regimental dress. These were the school of musketry, Hythe. The school of fencing, bayonet fighting and gymnasia, Aldershot, and the cavalry school, Netheravon.

Proof photos from these courses still survive and, as they show large groups of staff sergeants from all regiments, they would save you the trouble of individual regimental museums. Sadly there is no direct successor to the cavalry school at Netheravon, unless the armoured school at Bovington has retained photographic records. However, the other two schools do have historical respositories that I know retain some photos of this kind (I have seen them). They were taken using a glass plate developing process and have crisp resolution, ripe with detail. Here are the addresses of the two museums:

1. HQ Gymnasium: Army School of PT
Fox Lines, Queen's Avenue
Aldershot
GU11 2LB
Tel: 01252 857542
Web: http://www.army.mod.uk/raptc/30473.aspx

2. School of Musketry: HQ SASC, HQ Infantry
Land Warfare Centre
Warminster
BA12 0DJ

N.B. Unfortunately the latter is no longer open to the public following defence cuts, but you can write to the HQ. The individual regimental museums might well also retain copies of (some) 'course photos' and you are advised to seek these out as very rewarding with the detail that you seek.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby theironduke1 » 03 Jan 2017 19:15

Thank you Frogsmile, that is amazingly detailed and useful information. I have had to print it off to absorb it.

Happy New Year to you
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Jan 2017 19:46

theironduke1 wrote:Thank you Frogsmile, that is amazingly detailed and useful information. I have had to print it off to absorb it.

Happy New Year to you


Happy New Year to you too sir. I am glad to help.

There is one last aspect that I omitted to mention, but that is critical to understanding the dress of staff sergeants, and that is so-called 'rank ranging'. Between the 1880s and 1890s it became increasingly apparent that there was a need to create a proper career progression for staff sergeants, as under the old system they might spend 20+ years in the exact same rank purely on the basis of their specialist knowledge. You can perhaps imagine how atrophied and jaded some of them became, with little real motive beyond keeping their jobs to consistently provide an efficient service and a metaphoric spring in their step.

To resolve this a system was devised whereby staff sergeants could progress from third class to the second class and, in some posts, the first class also. Good examples are the staff sergeant farrier, armourer sergeant and schoolmaster. On first qualification all three would achieve the rank of sergeant (third class staff) and then with time and experience progress to staff sergeant (second class staff) and then quartermaster sergeant (or equivalent) as first class staff. In the case of the schoolmaster the first class stage was as a warrant officer - one of three that could exist, alongside the RSM and Bandmaster, in an infantry and cavalry unit. For the schoolmaster it might mean that he was at the third class (after qualification) with, e.g. An infantry unit, then at the second class with an artillery unit and finally, towards the end of his pensionable engagement, at the first class with say a cavalry regiment.

The relevance of all this in terms of dress, is that a staff sergeant would not wear a first class tunic (dolman, attilla, etc) until reaching either, the first class in status, or a second class post that for various reasons attracted a first class upper garment (e.g. the trumpet major). Thus in a unit photograph you will see a mixture of dress to reflect this. However, it is important to note that the unifying device in all this was the 'staff cap' (or its equivalent in other arms/regts that did not wear it), which was worn by all staff sergeants. Some specialist corps consisted (almost) entirely of staff sergeants, e.g. the school of musketry.

I will shortly start a thread showing just 'first class tunics' (and other regimental equivalents such as the doublet) that other forum members are welcome to add to. The first class upper garment ceased to exist in 1914, but was resurrected for the Foot and Horse Guards in 1922 and in regimental bands thereafter, although in the latter it was not properly controlled from army dress committee level with a result that there was some loss of coherence over the years. The system has now been properly recreated (and regulated via ADC) following the formation of a centralised corps of army musicians.
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Re: Hussar W/O & NCO Rank details

Postby Bondy » 17 Jan 2017 15:43

Great photos.
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