Rifle Volunteers, 1870s,uniform and medal questions

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Rifle Volunteers, 1870s,uniform and medal questions

Postby ardyer » 04 Sep 2017 21:40

https://www.herefordshirehistory.org.uk ... 6-349-1jpg

Please could you take a look at this photograph of Hereford Rifle Volunteers at camp and let me know your thoughts. Beneath the photo you can click for larger image.

I think this is one of the oldest in the collection being a collodion print. I am interested in the mix of uniforms, are we looking at regulars and volunteers, officers and ORs or different regiments? Are the small medals miniatures that I have read about on this forum? Also man on the left with chevrons on both arms. Is this Good Conduct or rank insignia ?
One thing I do know is that the numeral 7 on one cap on the left refers to the corps based in Kington.
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Re: Rifle Volunteers, 1870s,uniform and medal questions

Postby Frogsmile » 04 Sep 2017 23:59

ardyer wrote:https://www.herefordshirehistory.org.uk/archive/herefordshire-in-the-great-war/first-world-war-images/bustin-image-collection/military-portraits/160610-g36-349-1jpg

Please could you take a look at this photograph of Hereford Rifle Volunteers at camp and let me know your thoughts. Beneath the photo you can click for larger image.

I think this is one of the oldest in the collection being a collodion print. I am interested in the mix of uniforms, are we looking at regulars and volunteers, officers and ORs or different regiments? Are the small medals miniatures that I have read about on this forum? Also man on the left with chevrons on both arms. Is this Good Conduct or rank insignia ?
One thing I do know is that the numeral 7 on one cap on the left refers to the corps based in Kington.


It's an interesting photo of Rifle Volunteers at annual Summer Training Camp, dated I believe around 1874-75, although that is approximate and based on the loose style of uniform, facial hair, and varieties of head wear that collectively point to that period. The frogged and taped variant patrol jackets of loose cut and the flat, square peaked forage caps with traditional bugle-horn badges are all typical of a VRC unit of that time.

The only man of 'other rank' grade in the picture is seemingly a quarter-master sergeant with four inverted chevrons on each cuff and an old style, short shako, rather than a forage, or field cap. Miniature medals at that time were worn with all forms of undress and full sized medals only with full dress, so it is almost certain that the bemedalled officer is a regular, probably the adjutant.

The unit's acting sergeant major would have a crown above four chevrons and the several instructors of musketry had crossed muskets above four chevrons. In VRC units four bar chevrons were the province and privilege of the cadre of permanent staff regulars that underpinned the training and administration of these auxiliary units. The volunteers themselves could have no more than three chevrons with crown above as the highest step open to them.

In the period before 1881 there was no consistency in the wearing of the more senior NCO badges of rank among the various arms, some wore point down chevrons above the elbow and some inverted below, and some wore both depending upon the type of upper garment. The cavalry even had differences based purely upon designation as hussars, over say lancers and dragoons, and artillery were different again. The QMS in the picture would have been responsible for the establishment of the camp and its day-to-day vittling and administration under the auspices of his immediate boss, the quarter-master.

The acting sergeant major was always selected by the commanding officer from among his cadre of veteran musketry instructors. The position did not have quite the same status of the regular equivalent and when this latter was elevated to warrant officer in 1881 his auxiliary unit equivalent stayed just of staff sergeant grade, which remained the situation until 1915. Thus the acting sergeant major's role and status was unique to VRCs, with neither Regulars, nor Militia having the same, slightly inferior status. In part this was because unlike these latter, the VRC were not trained to manoeuvre and were intended instead for the less demanding but vital role of defending ports and static installations only.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 06 Sep 2017 09:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rifle Volunteers, 1870s,uniform and medal questions

Postby ardyer » 05 Sep 2017 16:46

Frogsmile
Thank you for your reply. It is very interesting what you say about the wider context explaining the differences between Rifle Volunteers and other regiments.
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