Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Medals

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Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Medals

Postby Will Mathieson » 17 Jan 2017 04:38

Appears to be an Engineer officer with Crimea, Fenian Raid medal and others. Belt buckle looks to be engineers.
It's the strange hat I do not know. He appears to have a general officers sword, would have crossed sword and baton.
Any info appreciated.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby VictorianEra » 17 Jan 2017 07:00

Will,

The hat appears to me to be a Victorian senior officers bicorn hat for full dress occasions. More experienced posters may be able to support/reject my idea, this is just my personal observation. There appears to be examples of these with and without feathers/plumes, this specific one in your picture without feathers/plume, perhaps a "lower" senior officer, and not a general? I recall seeing a picture somewhere with a Victorian General wearing one of these with plumes. But as I said before, these are just personal observations, I am not an expert. Images with and without plume below. Hope that helps. Best regards,

-Jamie
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Jan 2017 11:52

Will Mathieson wrote:Appears to be an Engineer officer with Crimea, Fenian Raid medal and others. Belt buckle looks to be engineers.
It's the strange hat I do not know. He appears to have a general officers sword, would have crossed sword and baton.
Any info appreciated.


He is a 'company' grade officer of Royal Engineers (I think captain), Will. Before Oct 1856 it was a Corps of officers only with other ranks serving in the Royal Sappers and Miners. All officers of engineers wore a cocked, bicorne hat in full dress review order during that period. Notice the RE grenades on his shoulder straps, as well as collar, and the (company officer grade) Austrian knots on the cuffs of his tunic. He also has an RE pattern 'fire gilt' waist belt clasp. He is correctly dressed for the late 1860s, early 70s. I think that his sword is probably a levee sword, or it might be an old modified infantry, 'engineer' sword from before the date that they were granted their own pattern in 1857, which does not seem impossible given that he is a Crimean veteran. I enclose an image of the hilt of such a sword.

There are some aspects of his dress that puzzle me however. He has plain shoulder straps rather than the gold bullion epaulettes I would normally expect, a plain, brown or black leather belt with sword carriage (2-slings), and there looks as if there might be a badge on his right forearm, although it may be a blemish on the photo itself. Could he perhaps be a sergeant major of Royal Engineers in a First Class tunic. If so then the sword is that for a staff sergeant grade. I do not know what the design of the waist belt clasp of the RE Sergeant Major was (probably the same as for an officer), but it is very likely that the sergeant major wore a bicorne hat, just the same as Master Gunners of the RA did (without feathers) - as both were in a 'staff' function. It requires more research I think.

Footnote: I have just recalled that quartermasters wore plain leather belts rather than the laced type worn by other officers. This would explain his advanced age whilst still being dressed as a junior officer.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Will Mathieson » 17 Jan 2017 16:30

Thanks for the info, very helpful as it's not my area. I found the photo in Brockville, took it out of the frame but nothing written to identify him.

"looks as if there might be a badge on his right forearm, although it may be a blemish on the photo itself" I used a magnifier and it's not a blemish but something on his sleeve.

In his photo he stands 14 inches high, my posted pics are as clear as the photo, too bad because some Victorian photos are very crisp. This one's good but not as crisp as some.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Jan 2017 16:56

Will Mathieson wrote:Thanks for the info, very helpful as it's not my area. I found the photo in Brockville, took it out of the frame but nothing written to identify him.

"looks as if there might be a badge on his right forearm, although it may be a blemish on the photo itself" I used a magnifier and it's not a blemish but something on his sleeve.

In his photo he stands 14 inches high, my posted pics are as clear as the photo, too bad because some Victorian photos are very crisp. This one's good but not as crisp as some.


The more I Iook the more I think he is perhaps a quartermaster. I will check dress regulations and report back.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Mark A. Reid » 17 Jan 2017 19:59

... and now a few medallic observations;

- His third medal is the Canada General Service Medal and this was only issued after Christmas of 1899.

- The fourth medal is the Meritorious Service Medal which was often/usually issued to long-service men who were at the end of their military career or who were already retired.

My conclusion is that this gentleman left the Army many, many years before he had this portrait taken, perhaps on the occasion of the arrival of a " new " medal. I would suggest that it was taken in the early 20th century and this long absence from actual military service might explain any anomalies in dress.

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Jan 2017 20:08

Mark A. Reid wrote:... and now a few medallic observations;

- His third medal is the Canada General Service Medal and this was only issued after Christmas of 1899.

- The fourth medal is the Meritorious Service Medal which was often/usually issued to long-service men who were at the end of their military career or who were already retired.

My conclusion is that this gentleman left the Army many, many years before he had this portrait taken, perhaps on the occasion of the arrival of a " new " medal. I would suggest that it was taken in the early 20th century and this long absence from actual military service might explain any anomalies in dress.

Cheers,

Mark


Brilliant stuff Mark and it confirms him as perhaps being a ranker quartermaster (honorary 2nd lieutenant - hence no rank stars pre-1902). My understanding is that the MSM could only be awarded to someone already in possession of the long service and good conduct medal. I also agree that those rheumy old eyes imply an active service long since past.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Mark A. Reid » 17 Jan 2017 20:42

Another observation to help date the photograph, the Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal ( ALSGC ) was supposed to be returned when a man received the MSM. Whilst this was not rigourously enforced, it was not until November 1902 that the recipient was allowed to wear both awards, albeit with the ALSGC taking precedence over the MSM, unlike our retired Sapper. This order of precedence was not reversed until 1979.

" Rheumy old eyes? " I recall seeing a remarkably similar pair in the shaving mirror this morning.

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Jan 2017 20:51

Mark A. Reid wrote:
" Rheumy old eyes? " I recall seeing a remarkably similar pair in the shaving mirror this morning.

Cheers,

Mark


Hmmmmm....come to think of my own ablutions Mark....perhaps we should form a club!

P.S. The tradition of RE officers wearing a cocked, bicorne hat, comes from the fact that prior to 1856 it was a 'staff corps' (i.e. all officer) and like all staff at that time wore such hats as a mark of their role and status.
I am still not 100% sure that he is not an early RE warrant officer (previously just 'sergeant major'), as that would fit with the shoulder straps and what seems to be a badge on the right forearm and a plain, leather belt. As you say, he might well be retired.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby t100 » 21 Jan 2017 22:05

Hello

I thought Master Gunners were the only army personnel wearing the cocked hat without plume. I'm not sure about the grenade on the shoulder strap, but everything else is consistent with this as far as I can see. RE warrant officer types typically used the same unique RE shoulder knot as officers, based on photos to hand.

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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5

Postby Frogsmile » 22 Jan 2017 13:41

t100 wrote:Hello

I thought Master Gunners were the only army personnel wearing the cocked hat without plume. I'm not sure about the grenade on the shoulder strap, but everything else is consistent with this as far as I can see. RE warrant officer types typically used the same unique RE shoulder knot as officers, based on photos to hand.

T


'Elementary my dear t100', what you say comes like a blinding flash of enlightenment, one of those eureka moments and I am kicking myself, especially as I know so well that RE other ranks did not start wearing grenade insignia until well after the Cardwell reforms, whereas the RA had been wearing it on their collars since 1880. Now all the things puzzling me fall into place. The shoulder straps, plain belt, apparent badge on arm and bicorne sans feathers all fit with a Master Gunner RA, so the seeming scarlet tunic is actually blue. Photos of Master Gunners in full dress are rather rare and I have only ever seen one other, circa 1900. They held great status along similar lines to Conductors of Ordnance, but were unusual in that there were 3-grades. When the rank of warrant officer was introduced in 1881, only the first and second grade held that rank with the third being a staff sergeant. Thank you for solving this erstwhile conundrum whose answer was staring me in the face. There is none so blind as those that won't see!
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Will Mathieson » 22 Jan 2017 17:11

Thank-you all for solving the puzzle. It also explains the 3 bar hilted sword as the RA sword. Does this mean the photo is pre 1881 or can we tell?
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 22 Jan 2017 18:04

Will Mathieson wrote:Thank-you all for solving the puzzle. It also explains the 3 bar hilted sword as the RA sword. Does this mean the photo is pre 1881 or can we tell?


Yes, the 3-bar hilt was a glaring clue too. I am unsure as to whether pre or post 1881, as having consulted Cambell's dress of the Royal Artillery, where it makes clear the decoration on collar and cuffs, there is no mention of the style of shoulder strap, although this suggests the same cloth strap with woven grenade described in the 1864 regulations. Prior to 1881 there seems to have been only the one grade of Master Gunner, whose badge of rank was a plain QV crown over gun, being at that time the only RA other rank grade to not wear chevrons as part of the badge. As the elaborate bullion cord shoulder strap for officers was introduced in 1880, with rank moving from collar to shoulder the same year, a post-1881 date seems possible as a guess, especially as it was in that year that the instruction was issued limiting ORs badges of rank to the right arm only. The fire gilt waist belt clasp with its UBIQUE inscription shown was worn by both, RA and RE.

Master Gunners apparently had shoulder straps edged with scarlet cloth (see enclosed) whereas staff serjeant's had tracing braid, with brass collar grenades adopted in the same year. All-in-all this suggests that the photo is from the transitional period straddling 1881. Interestingly the bicorne hat was retained by Master Gunners until the demise of full dress in 1914, at which point they were "the last ORs" wearing it. This implies that others once did so too, presumably other ranks similarly employed in specialist roles on the army staff.

The enclosed b&w postcard refers to the subject as a Master Gunner but in the photo he is wearing the pre-1881 badge of a Brigade Sergeant Major (equivalent of an infantry RSM), which rank wore chevrons on both arms.
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby crimea1854 » 23 Jan 2017 10:32

Perhaps I could now throw my hat into the ring. When this topic started I did a trawl of the medal roll and found only one engineer with a two clasp Canada Medal, and after further research found that this man had seen no service in the Crimea, so discounted him.

With the change of view that he was now Royal Artillery I did the same exercise. This certainly threw up more candidates, but after a check of the Crimea medal roll I managed to narrow it down to only four possible men. Of these I have now settled on one, which I'm 80-90% certain is our man - George Creeggan.

Clearly this needs further research, but in the Crimea he was a Bombardier and in Canada a Segt. This is confirmed by his pension record (WO 116/143 pdfs 215/216), but perhaps more interestingly it looks as if he remained in Canada after being pensioned on Tuesday 21 Nov 1871. Ancestry has the death of George, in Canada, some time in the early 1900's, which would explain why the photograph was found in Canada.

Martin
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Re: Identify Officer Photo with Crimea, Fenian Raid etc 5 Me

Postby Frogsmile » 23 Jan 2017 11:02

Brilliant detective work Martin, just like the Mounties, you "always get your man"! :)
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