Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

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Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby Atheling » 19 Mar 2015 12:08

Hi,

OK, this might well come across as another naive Wargames question.... it probably is :oops: .

I was wondering if anyone had any expertise in the general hue of the Khaki used by British, Punjabi, Sikh and Guides in the Second Afghan War?

Would it have varied from battalion to battalion, or indeed company to company? Would supply have come from various sources or would it have been standard issue. Indeed, were there any other 'issues' that may have had an effect that I haven't thought of?

I ask as I'm about to paint rather a lot of them up and beyond interest itself, it would be nice to have a bit of variation in tone and hue to stop me going dotty... erm... dottier :lol: .

Thanks,
Darrell.
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 19 Mar 2015 13:58

Darrel, at the start of the war khaki kit was by and large sourced regimentally- or at equivalent unit level- and indeed by individuals amongst officers as many group photographs show, particularly staff groups and Royal Engineers at Kabul in the winter of 1879-80. Others less so as the well known officer groups of the 51st shows. There are a number of oft quoted sources that refer to white drill uniforms being dyed with river mud. The results for some regiments were surprisingly smart, as in the case of the 10th Hussars, 9th Lancers or the 72nd Highlanders. Photographs from later in the war indicate more uniformity but whether this reflects a more centralised arrangement as some secondary sources have suggested, I think needs more research.

I have been gathering information on this topic on the range of khaki uniforms seen during the Afghan War, both in cut and colour, awaiting time to form into a coherent post. I am on the move with intermittent access to internet at the moment. If you can wait until next week I might be able to organise some of it to help you with your project. No colour photos of course!
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby Atheling » 19 Mar 2015 15:02

jf42 wrote:Darrel, at the start of the war khaki kit was by and large sourced regimentally- or at equivalent unit level- and indeed by amongst individual officers as many group photographs show, particularly staff groups and Royal Engineers at Kabul in the winter of 1879-80. Others less so as the well known officer groups of the 51st shows. There are a number of oft quoted sources that refer to white drill uniforms being dyed with river mud. The results for some regiments were surprisingly smart, as in the case of the 10th Hussars, 9th Lancers or the 72nd Highlanders. Photographs from later in the war indicate more uniformity but whether this reflects a more centralised arrangement as some secondary sources have suggested, I think needs more research.

I have been gathering information on this topic on the range of khaki uniforms seen during the Afghan War, both in cut and colour, awaiting time to form into a coherent post. I am on the move with intermittent access to internet at the moment. If you can wait until next week I might be able to organise some of it to help you with your project. No colour photos of course!


Thanks, that's great to be going on with and very good of you to find the time to answer my question 8) .

I can certainly wait a week or so too :) .

It can be a lengthy business painting these little critters! :D

Darrell.
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 26 Mar 2015 16:22

Atheling wrote:
I was wondering if anyone had any expertise in the general hue of the Khaki used by British, Punjabi, Sikh and Guides in the Second Afghan War?

Would it have varied from battalion to battalion, or indeed company to company? Would supply have come from various sources or would it have been standard issue. Indeed, were there any other 'issues' that may have had an effect that I haven't thought of?


Focussing specifically on your question regarding 'general hue', of course the one fact we can be fairly sure of is that to begin with there was no 'general' hue, since there was no one source of khaki clothing and varied means were employed to colour existing clothing in order to achieve the subdued tones required.

To save time and space I'll refer you to a number of previous threads on VWF :-
Early Khaki: dye and staining materials viewtopic.php?f=19&t=9618
and
Khaki uniforms, India 1861-64 viewtopic.php?f=19&t=9394&hilit=KHAKI&start=75
- particularly the last two pages.

Sergeant, 72nd Highlanders, Afghanistan 1880. viewtopic.php?f=73&t=7528&hilit=KHAKI

These give a general idea of the methods of producing khaki clothing and the tones produced, as far as we can tell, in the period before fast chemical dyes were patented circa 1884

You may also remember the links I posted in this thread of yours last autumn :
Converting These Perry Sudan models for 2nd Afghan War? viewtopic.php?f=73&t=9659&hilit=+khaki

Taking all the above into account, it's worth considering these additional points with specific reference to British troops in 1878-80. The situation with regard to Indian troops appears to have been different but more research is needed (See comments at bottom).

In the most general terms, however, it's safe to say that in 1878, as the British prepared to march into Afghanistan, the khaki clothing of troops was based on the 5-button white drill frock which was dyed 'regimentally'. This measure had been introduced officially in May 1858: "With the concurrence of the Government, the Commander-in-Chief is pleased to direct that white clothing shall be discontinued in the Regiments of the Honourable Company’s Army; that for the future the summer clothing of the European soldiers shall consist of two suits of ‘khakee’."

Twenty years later, the hue of this 'khakee' clothing remained, in general terms, a grey-brown or dusty 'drab' produced by a process that left much to be desired.

On the eve of the Afghan war, in the expeditions against the Jowaki Afridis of the Kohat district over the winter of 1877-78-
"It was bitterly cold, the thermometer continued below freezing point during the night and morning, there was an inch of ice on the ponds, and the soldiers had only had that dust-coloured Khakee dress covering their serge tunics."

For British troops, this was "The daily apparel with a light helmet covered over with the same cotton material, a admirable dress on the whole for mountain warfare, so little distinguishable at a distance, so cheap and tolerably warm and endurable." (Army Medical Report for the Year 1877 Vol.XIX ,1879. p.236)

The British troops involved in the expedition were the 51st, 9th and 4th Rifle Brigade. A veteran of the 9th Regiment who took part in both the Jowaki expedition and the Afghan campaigns told his son many years later, "The standard issue (in India of course) was tropical whites and that before the Jowaki campaign troops were ordered to dye whites and white leather accoutrements in a solution of camel dung.".

In the Afghan campaign that commenced later the same year, in November, the 9th, along with other regiments, were provided with pleated 'Norfolk' jackets of drab serge that could be worn over their red serge frocks for added warmth.


9th Norfolk 1878.jpg
9th Norfolk 1878.jpg (63.75 KiB) Viewed 1655 times


9th Norfolks, Gough' s Bde 1880.png
9th Norfolks, Gough' s Bde 1880.png (317.95 KiB) Viewed 1652 times


When troops were warned for active service in 1878, the usual ad hoc measures for staining white clothing for campaign purposes were were adopted. In the 17th Regt white clothing was "taken down to the river bank and there wetted and rubbed over with mud." . Sir Ian Hamilton who was a subaltern in the 92nd Highlanders recalled we “dyed our whites summer drill coats with a sort of khaki by boiling them up with tea leaves. We wore these in winter over our red serges."

The regimental production of khaki clothing was of necessity superceded by a more centralised supply of clothing as the war progressed. Sir Ian Hamilton recalled, "Towards the close of the campaign in 1880 we were issued with khaki cloth or drill." The soldier of the 9th Regiment also reported that subsequently ‘we were issued with clothing and equipment dyed khaki.’.



An officer's frock from the Afghan War period survives in the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen. It is presumably an example of the centrally issued khaki drill received in the later stages of the war, although made up to an officer pattern, with flapped breast and hip pockets.

92nd Afghan War khaki ca 1878-80.jpg
92nd Afghan War khaki ca 1878-80.jpg (18.64 KiB) Viewed 1714 times


There is no indication that dyeing methods used to produce the issue clothing had become any more effective and the results were as variable as indicated by the khaki clothing worn by the 92nd when they arrived in South Africa in 1881.

92nd South Africa 1881 i.png
92nd South Africa 1881 i.png (341.85 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


Three years after the war it was reported that:
" The new summer clothing of British troops is generally disliked. The unpopularity of the suit is unbounded; it is a very great expense to the men, each suit —they have four —have to be re-dyed once a month, and it is impossible to get two suits the same colour. It seems the process dyeing rots the cloth, while the stanch is intolerable, besides many men have been in the hospital suffering from cutaneous eruptions owing to the dye. The men rarely walk about the cantonments or to the gardens now, because they say "they don't fancy themselves.'' The dye stuff fills up the material and makes it hot and, as they truly say, the dhobies don't wash them properly since it is impossible to detect whether suit has been washed or not." (Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Tuesday, 6th November 1883)

Nor had the dyeing process, which appears once again to have become a regimental responsibility, become more sophisticated.

In 1884, the Cheshire Regiment, who were reportedly 'very particular about the shade 'of their khaki clothing, were being inspected at Delhi by General Dillon, their divisional commander. He called out to the CO," How well your men are turned out, colonel ; what is the dye used ? "
"Cow-dung, sir," replied Colonel Patton in a loud voice."
(‘Under 10 Viceroys’ VI Maj. Gen. N. Woodyatt p.66-67).

Clearly some regiments managed to achieve a degree of smartness. In 1884, The Royal Irish Regiment arrived from India in the Egypt wearing a campaign dress designed by their CO Lt Col McGregor. This consisted of,“a khaki coloured frock and trousers of cotton drill, a helmet covered with the same material, grey woollen putties, a woollen shirt, socks and ammunition boots.”.

History has not recorded by what method the Royal irish coloured their khaki clothing.

I have strayed into the years following the Afghan war to illustrate the problems posed by the ad hoc, regimental dyeing process. Whatever the hue of the clothing worn by British troops marching into Afghanistan, the colour produced would have been very patchy, if not immediately then certainly after a short time on the march.

As Major Royle of 4th Rifle Brigade, (Peshawar Field Force), reported, the mens' dyed drill was so soiled "by the perspiration of the men, the blacking from the belts and the bad dye that we looked a very dirty crowd."

Any opportunity to wash the clothing would have exacerbated the process. The principal problem with the regimental dyeing process was that it was simply "a mechanical wash, not a vegetable or chemical dye... This lasted until the clothes were washed, when the colour nearly disappeared with the exception of some blotchy stains and the garments had to be re-dipped. The result was a patchy, unsightly appearance." (THE TEXTILE COLORIST, XXXVII, 1915, p.187)

River mud. Tea leaves. We can be fairly confident as to the hue these 'washes' produced (see other threads referred to above). As to camel dung- or cow dung for that matter- the situation is less clear. It is possible that Native units, whose non-chemical khaki clothing seems to have been more satisfactory, also used a wash of dung- hence the Cheshire regiment's smart turnout in 1884.

In which case, we might assume that dung produced the grey-brown drab we are familiar with from the 1850s, 60s and 70s, perhaps best recognised in the uniforms of the Queen's Own Corps of Guides.

My apologies if this is a bit sketchy but I haven't had time to condense this into a more conclusive analysis. Anyway I hope it is of some use.

{EDIT- Here are some fairly smart gunners circa 1880 (the resolution has come out too small. I'll address that when I have a moment) : MOVED TO SUBSEQUENT POST}

53rd Shropshires, Peiwar Kotal 1878.jpg
53rd Shropshires, Peiwar Kotal 1878.jpg (44.96 KiB) Viewed 1707 times
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 26 Mar 2015 19:29

Here are a few more pictures of infantry and sapper/ engineers in campaign uniform.


NCOs  8th King's regt 1879.jpg
NCOs 8th King's regt 1879.jpg (57.77 KiB) Viewed 1708 times


67th  Regt Kabul 1879 .jpg
67th Regt Kabul 1879 .jpg (37.5 KiB) Viewed 1652 times


Lt Peacocke RE & new bridge Safed Sang, Gandamak.jpg
Lt Peacocke RE & new bridge Safed Sang, Gandamak.jpg (47.13 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


6th Sappers & Engineers Safed Sang.jpg
6th Sappers & Engineers Safed Sang.jpg (37.37 KiB) Viewed 1707 times
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 26 Mar 2015 19:45

Some gunners in khaki frocks.

"F Battery, 'A' Brigade during the Second Afghan War. The Officer in the middle is Major Smith-Wyndham'-
circa 1879, according to the National Army Museum.
(http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/a ... attery.htm)
http://www.nam.ac.uk/online-collection/ ... 5-04-41-60
'F'Btty, 'A'  Bde R.A.jpg
'F'Btty, 'A' Bde R.A.jpg (46.33 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


Major T. Graham, commanding the No. 6 Battery, 8th Brigade Royal Artillery
(http://www.phototheca-afghanica.ch/inde ... rowser_pi1[showUid]=286&cHash=40cfb75da8)

Major T. Graham, commanding the No.png
Major T. Graham, commanding the No.png (128.6 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


Six men of the 1st Screw-Gun Mountain Battery, 7-Pounder RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading) gun.
http://www.phototheca-afghanica.ch/inde ... rowser_pi1[showUid]=291&cHash=10ecbbbefd
The 1st Screw-Gun Mountain Battery, RA. Kabul May .jpg
The 1st Screw-Gun Mountain Battery, RA. Kabul May .jpg (28.57 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


Royal Artillery Afghan War, circa 1879.
Royal Artillery Afghan War.jpg
Royal Artillery Afghan War.jpg (58.9 KiB) Viewed 1706 times
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 26 Mar 2015 19:49

Finally for now, some officers of the 51st King's Own LI in a variety of drill and privately sourced frocks.

51st i.png
51st i.png (277.75 KiB) Viewed 1707 times

51st iii.png
51st iii.png (234.25 KiB) Viewed 1707 times


4 offrs 51st LI 1878.png
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4 Offrs 51st LI 1878 ii.jpg
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 26 Mar 2015 19:50

Portly Officer 51st LI 1878.jpg
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby rd72 » 27 Mar 2015 03:26

Hi all,

Fantastic pictures, thanks for putting them up... "Expedient" definitely comes to mind when you look at them...

Although in Afghanistan at the end and only in a garrison role, this picture of the 78th in Kandahar does show the motley assortment of khaki... with a few frocks and the like thrown in for good measure...

Image

And some close-ups...

Image

Image

Image

Image

A decent study of a Battalion on active service and in the twilight of it's existence.

Here is the link to the site that will allow for good zoom-in...
http://www.wdl.org/en/item/11517/view/1/1/
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 27 Mar 2015 08:24

Brilliant find, Rob. I was hoping a digital version of this photo would turn up on the 78th thread of a year or so ago-
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=7898&hilit=+78th

The zoom function is excellent. It's like having a series of photographs in one. The mix of clothing on display, even when in garrison, is remarkable.
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby heliwest » 29 Mar 2015 18:40

jf42's picture of the 26 March (the first one said to be 9th Norfolk) is in fact part of a larger one of the officers of the 67th Foot taken at Kabul in 1879.
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 29 Mar 2015 20:52

My mistake, Heliwest. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll correct that now. In my excitement, when captioning reduced images for the post, I confused the picture of the 67th with a second picture of the 9th that I had yet to scan, viz:

9th Norfolk 1878.jpg
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby rd72 » 29 Mar 2015 21:44

jf42 wrote:Brilliant find, Rob. I was hoping a digital version of this photo would turn up on the 78th thread of a year or so ago-
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=7898&hilit=+78th

The zoom function is excellent. It's like having a series of photogrpahs in one. The mix of clothing on display, even when in garrison, is remarkable.



I should think that it may also have some relevance to the recent "trews" thread, no? (re: the sigs section of the Gordons).. viewtopic.php?f=27&t=10275

Pictures of the 78th seem to be quite hard to come by. Especially from this era, so dominated (in images that is) by other Highland units..

It would seem to lend some clarification to this image..
Image

It would seem that the use of the frock in the winter/colder weather was somewhat complimentary to the khaki frocks reserved for the hotter weather/fatigues.
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby jf42 » 30 Mar 2015 00:27

That picture of the 92nd is interesting, since the general impression from sources and photos is that khaki drill and the drab serge Norfolk-style jackets were worn over the red frock, when troops 'doubled up' in cold weather- although I find it hard to see how a dyed drill frock would fit over a frock or what extra warmth it might impart. Any port in a storm...
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Re: Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question

Postby Albert J » 03 Apr 2015 15:09

jf42,

Really great stuff. I don't know how I missed the previous threads you posted the links to, but truly insightful.
When can we expect the book? :)

James
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