India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

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India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

Postby jf42 » 10 Sep 2017 17:31

Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to why some regiments were granted an Elephant emblem and others a Tiger, in recognition of their service in India at some point during the period 1780 and 1838- mostly after 1806, I think (awards not service).

There appears to be no correlation between specific time period, campaign or geographical zone and which animal was chosen.
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Re: India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Sep 2017 17:50

I agree that it's an intriguing and rather indistinct subject, JF. The only thing that I have noticed is that the Elephant was usually awarded linked to individual actions or campaigns, such as ASSAYE, MYSORE and SERINGAPATAM, whereas the 'Royal' Tiger seems to have been mostly awarded along with either, the more generic honour of INDIA/HINDOOSTAN (one and the same), or so many actions exclusively in India that the same emblem/device was considered the most appropriate. It does seem inconsistent and vague though, I agree. My guess is that in part this is because several of the regiments to which this applies were originally mercenaries of the Honourable East India Company. It seems significant that in many cases with individual Indian honours the War Office records were unable to trace precise dates when the various honours were awarded other than to say that it was before 1855. It is not made clear why this is so. Of course there are ALWAYS exceptions, e.g. the 76th Regt, who were awarded the honour HINDOOSTAN, with elephant and howdah device, which at the time (1807) seems to have been viewed as an alternative to the tiger.
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Re: India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

Postby jf42 » 10 Sep 2017 20:59

Thanks, Frogsmile, yes- that distinction is interesting.

On re-examination, of the four Elephant regiments in HM regiments of foot (74th, 76th, 78th & 94th ), the 74th and 78th Elephants badges are superscribed with the honour 'Assaye' while the 76th were awarded their Elephant badge "for service as the only British infantry in Lord Lake's campaign of 1803-05" which included the particularly fierce action at Leswaree.

The 94th Scotch Brigade received their Elephant for the assault on Seringapatam (1799) which was awarded in 1818, just before they disbanded (The resurrected 94th re-formed in 1823 were subsequently granted the honours of the former regiment in 1875 shortly before they became the 2nd Bn, Connaught Rangers).

So notably bloody actions would seem to be a common denominator there.

Meanwhile the 'Tiger' regiments, (14th, 17th, 65th, 67th, 75th - plus the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers, former HEIC) all served around 20 years or more in India (only the 78th of the 'Elephant' regiments matches that). The 17th scraped a measly 19 years while the 14th endured 24 years. So long service over several campaigns may be the common link

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers (102nd & 103rd) sported both a Tiger and Elephant on their grenade badge. The Royal Tiger was for both the 102nd (former Madras Fusiliers) for Nundy Droog (1791- awarded only to HEIC regiments in 1841) and for the 103rd (former Bombay Fusiliers) for Buxar (1764- awarded ditto between 1829-1844). This was in addition to an Elephant twice over superscribed "Carnatic, Mysore", (1780-84- awarded 1844 as a combined badge) and caparisoned "Seringapatam" (1799- awarded 1818-23) which they shared with the 94th -see above.

I am not sure why the Royal Munster Fusiliers (101st & 104th- Former 1st and 2nd Bengal Fusiliers) sported a Tiger on their grenade badge.

All the above is based on regiments.org with usual caveats. Thanks for the prompt.
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Re: India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Sep 2017 09:35

Yes, I think that you have outlined the broad differences between notable actions and long service very well. The Tiger for the 101st seems to be in the latter category, which is unsurprising really as it relates specifically to the 101st, raised in 1756 as the HEIC Bengal European Regiment, and on continuous service in India until departing for England in 1868 (in 1881 it had 10 battle honours commencing with PLASSEY and ending with PEGU). The fact that HEIC records appear to have been lost by the war office (Maj HG Parkyn's book refers), seems to have contributed to the lack of clarity. It seems especially fitting that a regiment, the RMF, whose both regular battalion's were raised in and for Bengal, should have a tiger synonymous with that place as the principal and central motif on its insignia.
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Re: India- 'Elephant' or 'Tiger'

Postby jf42 » 11 Sep 2017 20:29

I cross-posted my question to the Napoleonic Wars Forum and received this interesting reply relating to the specific associations of the Elephant and Tiger, respectively, with Mysore and Bengal.

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=3714&p=22290#p22290

As far as the Royal Munster Fusiliers and their antecedents are concerned, the reason for two regiments formerly named 1st and 2nd Bengal Fusiliers to have a Tiger symbol on their cap badge should have been obvious, really. I was momentarily confused by the Munsters being the only 1881 regiment that showed no record of the Tiger emblem specifically being awarded as a badge earlier in the century.
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