Infantry equipment and date please

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Infantry equipment and date please

Postby ardyer » 27 Aug 2017 16:45

I am posting this as I thought the detail of the equipment might interest people and I have several questions I would be grateful for comments on.
https://www.herefordshirehistory.org.uk ... tyPhoto/0/

Go to link and scroll to beneath photo to get a larger image.


I was pleased to notice the officer on the extreme left has a pouch with bugle badge. He appears to be shod in the same manner as the men with leather gaiters. Wouldn't he have been mounted?
What is the rank of the officer 2nd left (major?)
With the white piping is this Herefordshire Rifles Volunteers?
I can see two different styles of belt, does this help with dating?
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby Frogsmile » 27 Aug 2017 20:41

I think they are indeed Herefordshire Rifle Volunteers, the white pouch belts make that unmistakable as only auxiliary regiments could have the usually contradictory features of scarlet tunic and pouch belts. The officer with gaiters is a 'company' (junior) officer, probably a captain with a double row of eyes on his cuff decoration. The other officer seems to be of field rank (probably a major but I cannot enlarge), and thus wears overalls and usually (out of sight from this view) boxed spurs. The other ranks all have white belts with the rifles snake clasp (again a contradiction unique to volunteers), whereas the officers have the circular clasp with regimental title. I would date the photo to the late 1890s.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby ardyer » 28 Aug 2017 21:13

Frogsmile
Thank you for your guidance. I am getting to understand the anomalies of the Rifle volunteers uniforms.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby rd72 » 29 Aug 2017 01:46

Frogsmile wrote:I would date the photo to the late 1890s.


Great picture! I am wondering if the Sniders carried here are a bit out of place at such a late date though? Thoughts?
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 29 Aug 2017 06:32

rd72 and all. It is quite possible that this volunteer force would be equipped with a two generation old Snyder Enfield. This was a volunteer unit and budget issues may have meant this unit did not get the one generation old Martini Henry's. Please do not rule this possibility out as this sort of anomaly happened all the time in reserve units, British or American.

There is also a another very real possibility that these are drill purpose (DP) guns. At the end of the 19th century, many old worn Sniders were converted to non firing DP guns. The DP's were sent all over the empire, many to Australia.

That having been said, there are probably nine not eight men with rifles. Unless the Sargent next to the officers has got something in his right hand other than a long arm, he is holding a rife. You cannot see the muzzle of the rifle close to his head because he is holding a sergeants short rifle. A look at the length of his bayonet scabbard as opposed to the other men, and the flat thickness of the scabbard, sez yataghan bayonet. This is the sword bayonet that accompanied the short rifle, different from the enlisted mans shorter triangular socket bayonet.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby t100 » 29 Aug 2017 09:29

I agree with Frogsmile that the photo has an 1890s feel, but everything else about it (rifles and equipment) says 1880s, so I think the simplest solution is that it is indeed an mid- to late-1880s photo. These Herefordshire images were all taken by a professional firm, so that may make a difference to the apparent quality.

Another pointer to a slightly earlier date is the wearing of the Sergeant's rank on the left arm. This was common to rifles, light infantry and fusiliers prior to 1880, but it is really not something you see much at all after that date - even among rifle volunteers, who we know went their own way in many things.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby RobD » 29 Aug 2017 11:46

Is it odd that none of the rifles have slings?
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Aug 2017 20:27

RobD wrote:Is it odd that none of the rifles have slings?


Rifle regiments had a tradition of either no slings fitted at all, or slings fitted loose to hang down, so it fits for rifle volunteers.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Aug 2017 20:33

t100 wrote:I agree with Frogsmile that the photo has an 1890s feel, but everything else about it (rifles and equipment) says 1880s, so I think the simplest solution is that it is indeed an mid- to late-1880s photo. These Herefordshire images were all taken by a professional firm, so that may make a difference to the apparent quality.

Another pointer to a slightly earlier date is the wearing of the Sergeant's rank on the left arm. This was common to rifles, light infantry and fusiliers prior to 1880, but it is really not something you see much at all after that date - even among rifle volunteers, who we know went their own way in many things.


You raise some good points and I think it could be as early as the late 1880s. It's difficult to go by rifles and equipment because the County Associations followed different financial procedures and things were often outdated by regular standards as you know. I agree too that for regulars, rank on left arms was confined to those you listed, plus Highlanders prior to 1881, although again Volunteers had entirely their own regulations and I am unsure what those were at the time of the photo given that we do not know with 100% clarity what that was.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby rd72 » 29 Aug 2017 20:48

If the date is to be taken as face value, this is certainly by far, the latest I have seen Sniders in British service... That said, if it were 1897-98 as the caption says, that would explain why the men are carrying their rifles in this position (the post '96 "Shoulder")... Then again, being Rifle Volunteers, they would have carried any weapon previous to that in this position... But would red-coated infantry carry their rifles like Riflemen? The finer points of the Volunteer movement, eh?
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Aug 2017 21:09

RE your last point, Rob, yes the Rifle Volunteers took pride in their idiosyncratic contradictions and red coated rifle volunteers were perhaps the ultimate manifestation of that almost perverse cultural tradition, typical of the regimental system.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby t100 » 30 Aug 2017 06:40

Frogsmile wrote: I agree too that for regulars, rank on left arms was confined to those you listed, plus Highlanders prior to 1881, although again Volunteers had entirely their own regulations and I am unsure what those were at the time of the photo given that we do not know with 100% clarity what that was.


I don't have my copy to hand, but I believe the change to right arm only was included in the 1881 Volunteer Regulations (rank was still on both arms in 1878 regs). Photographic evidence suggests this change was widely implemented, as it is most uncommon to see the home service helmet combined with rank on both arms. One of the few I had seen before was indeed for the Herefordshire RVC, so no doubt they were late in making this change, or maybe never did (we can see another example here - https://www.herefordshirehistory.org.uk/archive/bustin-image-collection/military-portraits/160609-g36-342-9jpg - I think we could agree this is early 1880s at the latest). It's a shame there don't seem to be any images of HRVC NCOs on the site that can be more definitively pinned down to a later date using forage cap patterns etc.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby Frogsmile » 30 Aug 2017 12:24

Yes, certainly I think that, IF this photo is concurrent with the other HRVC image that ardyer posted, then it is no later than the very early 1880s. Unfortunately I cannot see anything within the frame that proves that definitively. An interesting point is that the field officer inspecting what seems to be a 'guard' of some nature is wearing dismounted review order, as he is not wearing the knee high 'butcher' boots stipulated for an infantry field officer in mounted review order.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 30 Aug 2017 15:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby t100 » 30 Aug 2017 13:44

To be honest I do think the subject photo is later that the one I pointed to - I was merely musing about the oddity of this corps continuing to wear their rank in the old fashion. I have collated many hundreds of comparison images from the 1880s and 1890s, and it really is unusual.
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Re: Infantry equipment and date please

Postby ardyer » 30 Aug 2017 21:40

[quote="rd72"]If the date is to be taken as face value,
No please don't take the date in the caption at face value. They are all approximate, hence the square brackets and all my own work. I put that date in after Frogsmile's first comment but am changing it to [1888-1898] having read the rest of the thread.
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