Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

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Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby VictorianEra » 14 Mar 2017 17:04

Hello forum members. I realize it was just recently I shared my khaki drill frock to the 2nd Manchester regiment with the forum. Today, however I have another exciting and rare find to add to my small but growing collection, a Boer Khaki Serge to the 13th Middlesex Queen's Westminster Rifle Volunteers. Along with the serge, I was very fortunate to get it's original and matching (slightly different colour) trousers. As I understand it, Khaki Serges turn up less than KD frocks. This serge is in good condition with a little sun fading. It should be noted that these appear quite grey in the pictures, but as you'll see with another picture (originally from the saleroom but I bought it from the person who got it from there) that it is sort of a khaki colour with a hint of grey, very odd. Certainly is a weird shade of khaki, and I've seen many weird and different colours of khaki, there really is "50 shades of khaki" (I take no credit for that name it's been around for years now), then maybe this serge is... "50 shades khakier" :lol: Anyway, what I found interesting on this serge is the red embroidered shoulder titles, as a oppose to metal shoulder titles that most regiments had, but then again this was a volunteer unit. The serge is named simply to "Cane" but unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything on him, I heard most volunteer files didn't survive. The serge has Victorian buttons and this is Boer War period. I've been lucky and on a roll lately but doubt I will find another KD and or serge for a long long time.

My questions for the forum is did the 13th Middlesex serve in the Boer War? I've been trying to do some research but didn't find much. But I think this is a really nice find, pictures below. Pictures from the seller as always before it arrives. Thank you all for reading, I really appreciate every forum members input on my uniforms, where would I be without this forum! Regards,

-Jamie
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby VictorianEra » 14 Mar 2017 17:08

Additional pictures.
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby VictorianEra » 14 Mar 2017 17:16

And finally the trousers, please excuse all the pictures.
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby jf42 » 14 Mar 2017 19:20

Given the range of colours in the images you have posted its hard to gauge how your item conforms to the expected range of colours worn by Volunteer units in the second half of the C19th.

A warm drab-grey was a common colour in the uniforms of RIfle Volunteers Corps and Volunteer battalions and was advocated by some to replace scarlet as the Regular Army's fighting uniform on Home Service, before the familiar khaki serge was authorised in 1902.

The attached image shows a Maxim gun detachment of 13th Middlesex in grey frocks- with red facings on collar and cuffs. Their differently coloured netherwear may be Bedford cord breeches rather than reflecting the subtly different colour of trousers you show.

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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby AlexReece » 14 Mar 2017 19:32

Hi Jamie

I think I saw this jacket on Tommys Militaria Uk dealer ?

The red stitched unit markings on the shoulder epaulettes was not so uncommon Jamie as brass shoulder titles came along.

Here is the 1st Shropshire Vol's KD frock with red shoulder stitching also evident.

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Regards Alex
'And Who Do You Think Is Coming To Wipe Out Your Little Command....The Grenadier Guards'
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby Frogsmile » 14 Mar 2017 22:40

Known as the Queen's Westminsters, they provided contingents for the City Imperial Volunteers in the latter part of the war: http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-hi ... volunteers

For lineage see here: http://web.archive.org/web/200711232027 ... L16qwr.htm

At the time of the Boer War they were a volunteer battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (as an outcome of the Cardwell/Childers Reforms). As such they would initially have provided some contingents for the so-called 'service-companies' that were raised to boost and support the regular battalions.

Still in business, this is the company that made his uniform, which was NOT publicly funded, as a regular army regiment's was, but paid for using funds from the County Associations that was topped up by membership subscription: http://www.samuelbrothers.co.uk/samuelszencart/
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby VictorianEra » 14 Mar 2017 23:19

Thank you everyone for your assistance. I find that volunteer units can at some times be more complex to understand, but I do like the red stitching on the shoulders to show to the other soldier that the man was a volunteer. Did regular army regiments stick to metal shoulder titles, or are there any cases of regular Army regiments having red (or another colour) embroidered onto their shoulders. So it is possibly that this man "Cane" could've saw action in the Boer War either a separate 13th Middlesex company, or a 13th Middlesex company attached to the KRRC? Thanks again,

-Jamie
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby Frogsmile » 14 Mar 2017 23:29

VictorianEra wrote:Thank you everyone for your assistance. I find that volunteer units can at some times be more complex to understand, but I do like the red stitching on the shoulders to show to the other soldier that the man was a volunteer. Did regular army regiments stick to metal shoulder titles, or are there any cases of regular Army regiments having red (or another colour) embroidered onto their shoulders. So it is possibly that this man "Cane" could've saw action in the Boer War either a separate 13th Middlesex company, or a 13th Middlesex company attached to the KRRC? Thanks again,

-Jamie


Some of the 13th Middx were attached to the 2nd KRR (scroll down once open): https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16761/lot/34/

The 2nd KRR initially deployed wearing dark, rifle green with scarlet woven titles, but soon changed to khaki.

Later in the war some additional 13th Middx contingents volunteered to serve with the City Imperial Volunteers, who were far better paid and thus attracted adventurers.

Few if any 'entire' VBs deployed to South Africa, supplying contingents instead. Conversely, the militia provided both contingents and entire battalions.

The Boer war was messy and you will need to read up on 2nd KRR and the CIV to understand what the 13th Middx contingents would have done.

I doubt very much that your uniform saw action and suspect that it was worn at home after the campaign was over.
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby VictorianEra » 15 Mar 2017 06:01

Frogsmile,

Thank you for your assistance. I will be sure to read up more on the 13th Middlesex. Although it is unlikely this particular serge saw action, it still is rare and a nice looking example. Would've the 13th Middlesex attached to the KRR have worn the KRR uniforms?
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Re: Boer War Khaki Serge 13th Middlesex

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Mar 2017 10:28

VictorianEra wrote:Frogsmile,

Thank you for your assistance. I will be sure to read up more on the 13th Middlesex. Although it is unlikely this particular serge saw action, it still is rare and a nice looking example. Would've the 13th Middlesex attached to the KRR have worn the KRR uniforms?


I cannot give you a definitive answer as to what the 13th Middx wore in their contingents with the 2nd KRRC. You would need to do some research yourself via some of the links I have posted and archived histories of the KRRC, which I think are available online. In general the authorities requested minimum contingents of I think 1 subaltern officer, 1 sergeant and 48 rank and file to make up a 50-man platoon. Two platoons then made up a single 'service-company'. Most companies seem to have been made up from platoons from two, separate volunteer battalions. You will get far more detail from the excellent Boer War websites run by Forum Members, 'Garen' and 'Meurig' (aka SWB). Although most units trooped out in uniforms provided from home, once in the theatre of operations battalion quarter-masters would have taken responsibility for their equipment. There would have been a requirement for operational uniformity, although some small insignia differential might have been permitted. In colder weather it was common to see a mixture of KD and SD and harsh conditions soon led to soldiers looking very workaday with little appearance of any pomp. Much larger numbers died from disease than from Boer action.
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