Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

For all discussions regarding military actions short of war and the Great Game on the North West frontier of India, 1837-1901.

Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Atheling » 28 Jun 2015 08:51

Hi,

This question was posed on another one of the fora that I regularly visit and as I'm building up an Afghan army (wargaming) I have an interest in finding out the relevant info too:

I am happy with most of the infantry units uniform details with two main exceptions. [Edit: I'm still only half way there speaking for myself]

The 2/60 Rifles and the 4th Rifle Brigade. Also the 59th.

So, the equipment should be black I think in both cases, but the uniforms…………

I could cop out and just paint them in khaki, but were the trousers and putees black? Indeed, did they wear putees at all?


A qoute from one answer to the question postulated:

Here's a passage about the Regiment's service in the Second Afghan War, taken from Page 22 of "A brief history of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, 1755 to 1915", compiled and edited by the Regimental History Committee, published in 1917:

"It is worthy of note
that khaki was worn, and that this was the first campaign in
which the Regiment, since it had become Rifles, had fought in
any colour but green."


Also, another question:

Ok, so I was slightly wrong. The sentence appears to be slightly more generic, but this is the comments referring to the 59th....

"Other regiments known to have the old accoutrements were the 1/17th, 63rd and 59th. The latter according to sketches by one of its officers, Lt Irwin, took the field in 1878 without any khaki, wearing scarlet serves, and were still so dressed in Oct 1879. However by Ahmad Khel the following April it was in khaki.

Irwin's sketches are the only eyewitness evidence discovered so far of scarlet actually being worn on operations in this war........"


I feel like a bit of a dumbo asking these questions but any information prior to the application of paint is always a great boon to me as I like to get things right- we owe the soldiery who fought there that, right?

Any information would as usual be greatly received and very much appreciated. Oh, and i do hope that the questions are clear enough?

cheers,
Darrell.
Atheling
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: 09 Jul 2014 16:43

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby jf42 » 28 Jun 2015 18:09

[quote="Atheling" Oh, and i do hope that the questions are clear enough?
.[/quote]

To be honest, no, not terribly clear!

However, as far as Rifle regiments in the 2nd Afghan War are concerned, it seems that the 4th Bn Rifle Brigade had already taken the field wearing khaki in early 1878 when they formed part of a punitive expedition sent to the Jowaki district. The clothing of the British regiments involved (51st, 9th, 4 RB) was described thus in a medical report: "The dusty coloured Khakee over the serge tunic was the daily apparel with a light helmet covered over with the same cotton material." The serge tunic in question would have been scarlet frock

The khaki clothing at this date was improvised from white drill uniforms ordered for hot climates. For example, there is anecdotal evidence that on the Jowaki expedition the 9th Regiment stained their clothing with a solution of camel dung. Dung is mentioned in other anecdotal sources for this period, e.g cow dung allegedly used by the Cheshire Regiment in 1884. Meanwhile, at the start of the Afghan campaign the 17th Regiment were reported using river mud to stain their white drill; the 92nd Highlanders, tea leaves.The 9th Regiment were later photographed wearing drab Norfolk jackets of serge during the winter of 1879-80, which would have been dyed cloth .

The effectiveness of the staining process is indicated by this observation made by Major Royle, 4th R.B. (Peshawar Field Force), "[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."

The stained khaki drill would have consisted of cotton frock and trousers and generally would have been worn with puttees by marching regiments in the field. There are, however, photographs that show gunners and sappers wearing leather gaiters with khaki drill.

The blue woolen trousers would only have been worn in winter with the scarlet serge frocks. These are generally shown either worn loose or with khaki puttees.

Whether at this early stage (This was the first campaign that puttees were worn en masse) the Rifle regiments thought to distinguish their battalions with black puttees, I don't have sources to hand. There is circumstantial evidence in that Robert's Ghurka orderlies in 1880 are shown wearing khaki puttees with their Rifle green uniforms. The 72nd Highlanders, however, wore natty puttees of regimental tartan.

Were you seeking corroboration of that the 59th took the field in scarlet serge ('serves') ? In an engraving of the 59th in a footbal match against 'The Garrison' at Kandahar in 1878 (worked up in 1892 from original drafts), he shows a mix of men in scarlet frocks with Home Service serge trousers worn loose, and officers in what appears to be winter-weight khaki field clothing worn either with puttees, boots or worn loose. It is not possible, however, to tell which soldiers belong to the 59th and which to 'The Garrison.' Judging from Irwin's watercolour of men of the 59th fording a river in the Bolan, the men in Home Service serge are likely to be men of the 59th. There are indications that other regiments took their scarlet serge with them to be worn under their khaki frocks ( as well as under Norfolk jackets, poshteens etc). I hope that helps clear the fog a little.

http://prints.national-army-museum.ac.u ... ass-1879-c
Last edited by jf42 on 30 Jun 2015 00:27, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2300
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Atheling » 28 Jun 2015 20:08

Thanks Jeff, much appreciated.

Sorry about the lack of clarity- I was quite tired when I postulated the question :oops:

Still, I got a pretty comprehensive answer so many thanks.

Regards,
Darrell.
Atheling
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: 09 Jul 2014 16:43

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby johnpreece » 28 Jun 2015 22:12

I hope this is not considered to be hijacking this thread, but a supplementary question occurs to me:

Reference is made to the dyeing of uniforms with tea leaves, mud, camel dung, indeed I have just read Fortescue recounting how he was told curry powder was originally used.

But I am always left wondering why would they do that? I believe that Indian dyeing technology was at least the equal of European until the 1860's and as a result India was a huge exporter of both cloth and dye. In 'Up Among the Pandies: Or, A Year's Service in India'. Sir Vivian Dering Majendie pp122 recounts how in Jan(?) 1858 in Cawnpore, Indian contractors made up and dyed large quantities of khaki clothing for the British. Barely five months after the recapture of the city this hints at the resourcefulness of the dyeing industry and the willingness of the British to outsource this task to Indians. As indeed they did so much else.

On the face of it this seems much more sensible than gathering kitchen or stable waste and boiling it up in the regimental soup kettles. I can see how a unit force marching to an emergency might have to improvise, but I would be grateful if anyone has a wider explanation.

I should say that if this is dealt with elsewhere, I apologise and a link would be completely sufficient answer.

thanks
John
johnpreece
New Member
 
Posts: 41
Joined: 24 Apr 2015 23:30

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Atheling » 28 Jun 2015 23:14

johnpreece wrote:I hope this is not considered to be hijacking this thread, but a supplementary question occurs to me:


Not in the least, fire away- we'll see where the thread takes us as I'm just as interested in any elucidation to your question below:

johnpreece wrote:Reference is made to the dyeing of uniforms with tea leaves, mud, camel dung, indeed I have just read Fortescue recounting how he was told curry powder was originally used.

But I am always left wondering why would they do that? I believe that Indian dyeing technology was at least the equal of European until the 1860's and as a result India was a huge exporter of both cloth and dye. In 'Up Among the Pandies: Or, A Year's Service in India'. Sir Vivian Dering Majendie pp122 recounts how in Jan(?) 1858 in Cawnpore, Indian contractors made up and dyed large quantities of khaki clothing for the British. Barely five months after the recapture of the city this hints at the resourcefulness of the dyeing industry and the willingness of the British to outsource this task to Indians. As indeed they did so much else.

On the face of it this seems much more sensible than gathering kitchen or stable waste and boiling it up in the regimental soup kettles. I can see how a unit force marching to an emergency might have to improvise, but I would be grateful if anyone has a wider explanation.


Regards,
Darrell.
Atheling
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: 09 Jul 2014 16:43

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby jf42 » 29 Jun 2015 09:22

johnpreece wrote:I hope this is not considered to be hijacking this thread, but a supplementary question occurs to me:

Reference is made to the dyeing of uniforms with tea leaves, mud, camel dung, indeed I have just read Fortescue recounting how he was told curry powder was originally used.

But I am always left wondering why would they do that? I believe that Indian dyeing technology was at least the equal of European until the 1860's and as a result India was a huge exporter of both cloth and dye. In 'Up Among the Pandies: Or, A Year's Service in India'. Sir Vivian Dering Majendie pp122 recounts how in Jan(?) 1858 in Cawnpore, Indian contractors made up and dyed large quantities of khaki clothing for the British. Barely five months after the recapture of the city this hints at the resourcefulness of the dyeing industry and the willingness of the British to outsource this task to Indians. As indeed they did so much else.

On the face of it this seems much more sensible than gathering kitchen or stable waste and boiling it up in the regimental soup kettles. I can see how a unit force marching to an emergency might have to improvise, but I would be grateful if anyone has a wider explanation.

I should say that if this is dealt with elsewhere, I apologise and a link would be completely sufficient answer.

thanks
John


John- in answer to your question, there were issues with providing khaki or drab clothing for troops until well into the 1880s when chemical processes for producing colour-fast khaki cotton cloth were patented by F.A. Gatty & Co in Manchester. Contributing to the problem were the inconsistent attitudes on the part of senior soldiers as to the merits of khaki uniforms and regarding the most effective colour to select.

'Khaki' as a term covered a wide range of colours and shades, and indeed still does despite international categorisation in both military and civil spheres. The khaki referred to by Majendie, for example, was a blue-grey colour; not the muddy drab worn by the Corps of Guides and other Punjab frontier units prior to the Indian Mutiny, nor the sandy-tan we associate with the classic campaigns of the late 1890s when khaki uniforms had, to some degree, been standardised.

Until chemically dyed cloth was introduced in the 1880s, army units in India were required to produce their own khaki cloth, as referred to in my earlier post, whether improvised for field operations or issued in a more orderly fashion during the brief period in the 1860s when khaki for field and work clothing became regulation. Staining white clothing with a wash was the chosen method with results that were neither even, consistent, nor long lasting. Some methods appear to have been more successful than others, for instance in the Guides, but the picture is not clear and more research is required. The main problem seems to have been in the brown-yellow part of the spectrum, but we don't know, for instance, how effective the grey-blue clothing mass-produced in Cawnpore, referred to by Majendie, was in the long term. It may be that this colour was chosen because it was more effective but I don't think we have enough evidence to judge. Ease of production or availability of existing stocks may also have been factors.

This thread outlines the subject and lists other threads in the forum that contain more information in detail :

viewtopic.php?f=80&t=10266
Khaki in the Second Afghan War Question
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2300
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Maureene » 29 Jun 2015 10:04

In 1858 in India the dye used to obtain a khaki colour would have been a natural substance, One likely source is cutch, also called catechu, made from wood extract of the khair tree, Acacia catechu

This substance is mentioned by jf42 in his thread called Early Khaki: dye and staining materials
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=9618

The following link says these trees are cut when they are thirty years old.
http://www.wildcolours.co.uk/html/cutch.html

If that is correct there was probably not a ready supply of trees available for large scale dyeing of soldiers uniforms, or what was available may have been too expensive, so cheaper alternatives such as dung were used. The khair tree was also used for medicinal purposes, so that may have been the preferred use for the tree.

Cheers
Maureen
Maureene
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 807
Joined: 02 Aug 2011 07:33

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby johnpreece » 29 Jun 2015 22:42

I am very grateful to you both for such useful replies.

Maureen, I shall follow up on the Cutch and other native dyes insofar as Google permits, thank you for an interesting start. I might add I do not find anything inherently unlikely about using dung as a dye, after all 'stale working men's urine' was gathered in tubs for dyeing in 17C London.

jf42, I am shamefaced at having missed such an obvious topic as 'Early Khaki: dye and staining materials' one might have thought the title could be a hint!

Thank you for repeating the information in such an easily understood precis. I have found it the clearest explanation I have ever seen. I shall now spend a good few hours with pencil and notebook following up the thread and links. At this pointI am most confused about the official attitude to the use of Khaki clothing, but I shall not ask any questions until I have read further in the threads.

regards
John
johnpreece
New Member
 
Posts: 41
Joined: 24 Apr 2015 23:30

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Atheling » 29 Jun 2015 23:20

johnpreece wrote:I am very grateful to you both for such useful replies.


As am I.

johnpreece wrote:jf42, I am shamefaced at having missed such an obvious topic as 'Early Khaki: dye and staining materials' one might have thought the title could be a hint!


You're not alone :oops: :oops: :oops:

Darrell.
Atheling
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: 09 Jul 2014 16:43

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby jf42 » 30 Jun 2015 00:31

Not at all, I hope the material proves interesting.

Regarding the use of human urine, I believe it served as a mordant or fixer of dyes than a colorant itself. I think in previous times it also figured in the production of Harris tweed!
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2300
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby Atheling » 30 Jun 2015 07:43

jf42 wrote:Not at all, I hope the material proves interesting.


Still jf42, all this information is very useful to me and combined with other sources provides me with a good idea of how my painting should depict what after all are representations real soldiers, they at least deserve to have their uniforms painted as close as I can get to the real thing

jf42 wrote:Regarding the use of human urine, I believe it served as a mordant or fixer of dyes than a colorant itself. I think in previous times it also figured in the production of Harris tweed!


Yeah, that has been a tradition since well before the 1st Century; it has probably been in existence for many thousands of years.

Thanks again :)

Darrell.
Atheling
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: 09 Jul 2014 16:43

Re: Rifles Uniforms in Afghanistan, Second Afghan War?

Postby jf42 » 30 Jun 2015 20:24

Atheling wrote: that has been a tradition since well before the 1st Century; it has probably been in existence for many thousands of years.


And not only as a mordant-

C. Valerius Catullus 39

"Egnatius, because he has white teeth,
Grins endlessly everywhere.... "

https://latinintranslation.wordpress.co ... tullus-39/
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2300
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12


Return to The North West Frontier of India 1837-1901

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest