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Гвардейский драгунский полк в Египте (1908-1914)


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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Andrew,

 

These troops are indeed British, and for reasons explained below we can say that:

 

i) The photograph was taken in Egypt.

ii) The photograph dates to circa 1908-1914.

iii) The photograph depicts ‘Other Ranks’, wearing ‘Foreign Service Dismounted Review Order’, of one of two likely regiments: either the 3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards, or the 7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards.

 

Starting with the broadest indicator of these soldiers belonging to a mounted unit, these men wear ‘swan-neck’ spurs, which were regulation for all troops of the ‘Mounted Services’ (i.e. Household Cavalry, Cavalry-of-the-Line, Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Field Artillery, Army Service Corps, Army Veterinary Corps, and the Mounted Military Police) when on dismounted duty; when on mounted duty, ‘jack’ spurs were the prescribed type. For the Corps of Royal Engineers and the Royal Garrison Artillery, both of which were classified as a ‘Dismounted Service’, those individual soldiers and sub-units which were horsed wore the leg-wear, boots and spurs as worn in the ‘Mounted Services’.

 

Following from this, and narrowing down the identification yet further, we can state that the troops on parade here can immediately be recognized as specifically cavalrymen by the conjunction of two features: firstly, by use of the white buff leather Pattern 1885 Cavalry Sword Belt and slings, which had originally been introduced for ‘Other Ranks’ of all Mounted Services (except the Household Cavalry), but which after 1901 was only worn in ‘Review Order’ by Other Ranks of Line Cavalry regiments, the Royal Horse Artillery, and the Mounted Military Police (although only the Dragoon Guards, Dragoons, and Military Mounted Police wore the Sword Belt outside the tunic); and secondly, by the wearing of white buff leather Gauntlets, which were issued to the Household Cavalry, Dragoon Guards, Dragoons, and Lancers, but not to Hussars. The cavalry of the British Army was, and still is, divided into the ‘Household Cavalry’ and the ‘Cavalry-of-the-Line’. The Household Cavalry (i.e. the Sovereign’s mounted bodyguard) comprised, between 1820 and 1922, three regiments, dressed and equipped as Cuirassiers. All of the other cavalry regiments were designated ‘Cavalry-of-the-Line’. After the Crimean War, all regiments were categorized as being either ‘Heavy’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Light Cavalry’, determined by the typical weight carried by a horse within a regiment. After 1897, the ‘Medium’ category was abandoned: the ‘Heavy Cavalry’ classification now applied to all regiments of Household Cavalry, Dragoon Guards (which, despite their title, were only Line Cavalry), Dragoons, and Lancers, and the term ‘Light Cavalry’ continued to be solely applied to Hussar regiments.

 

The next stage is to determine which type of ‘Heavy Cavalry’ these troops belong to. As we have observed, these troops are wearing the white buff leather Pattern 1885 Cavalry Sword Belt, and white buff leather Gauntlets: these items were, after 1902 (in which year khaki ‘Service Dress’ was introduced for active service and peacetime manoeuvres in the United Kingdom), only worn in ‘Number 1, Full Dress’, otherwise known as ‘Review Order’: this designation was given to that combination of uniform and accoutrements worn by troops for State ceremonies, Royal escort duties, Guards of Honour, Church parades, etc. Moreover, whereas the uniform worn in ‘Review Order’ by troops in the United Kingdom (i.e. on ‘Home Service’) was always their regimental ‘Full Dress’, for those troops stationed abroad (i.e. on ‘Foreign Service’) it was only in Egypt, and then only by cavalry regiments, that ‘Other Ranks’ were authorized to wear ‘Full Dress’ when in ‘Review Order’.

 

With this knowledge, we can immediately discount these men as being Lancers, as the ‘Full Dress’ tunic of Lancer regiments was the double-breasted Lancer pattern tunic, with coloured plastron in the regimental facing colour. We can also discount the Household Cavalry: although similar to those seen in the photograph, the details of their uniform, accoutrements and sword were different; and, more fundamentally, neither the 1st or 2nd Life Guards, nor the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), which together comprised the Household Cavalry, served overseas between 1900 and 1914. As a result, the only conclusion open to us is that the troops in this photograph must be Dragoon Guards or Dragoons, and indeed the photographic evidence is conclusive in support of this: the men wear the single-breasted, eight buttoned cloth tunic first adopted as the ‘Full Dress’ upper garment for ‘Other Ranks’ of all regiments of Dragoon Guards and Dragoons in 1856 (1864 for the 6th Dragoon Guards). This tunic, in the decades after its first introduction, was tightened in the chest, shortened in the skirts, and modified both in detail and colour, until reaching the final form as worn by the men in this photograph.

 

Indeed, it is by examining these details, of not only the tunic but the whole ‘Foreign Service Dismounted Review Order’ as worn by these men, thus the uniform, accoutrements, and sword, that we are able to date this photograph to the period 1908-1914: at the outbreak of the Great War, ‘Full Dress’ uniform was withdrawn from the British Army, home and abroad, and never to be generally issued again.

 

As we discussed earlier, for all troops of the British Army, ‘Review Order’ was split into that worn for ‘Home Service’, and that for ‘Foreign Service’. By the early 1900s, for most ‘Other Ranks’ of the British Army on ‘Foreign Service’, the cloth ‘Full Dress’ tunic was replaced in ‘Review Order’ by either the lightweight white cotton jacket known as the ‘Frock, White Cotton’, or the old, coloured ‘Frock, Serge, Foreign Pattern’: this serge frock was a simplified ‘Undress’ version of the ‘Full Dress’ tunic, but with pockets, and had been worn for active service abroad till replaced by the lightweight khaki cotton field jacket, known as the ‘Frock, Khaki Drill’, in the late 1890s. The white cotton frock was usually worn for ‘Review Order’ in the warmest seasons abroad, and the serge frock used for cooler seasons, although by 1914 it was mainly in India that the white cotton frock was encountered, with most troops elsewhere simply wearing the khaki drill frock when in hot weather ‘Foreign Service Review Order’ (the khaki drill frock was the usual everyday uniform worn overseas, and worn when in ‘Foreign Service Marching Order’, i.e. on field service/manoeuvres, and in ‘Foreign Service Drill Order’, i.e. for training). However, exceptions to these rules existed: as we discussed above, when posted to Egypt, British cavalry regiments were not issued the serge frock, but instead wore their cloth ‘Full Dress’ tunics when in ‘Foreign Service Review Order’ during the cool season. Another deviation applied in the Royal Horse Artillery, where both Officers and ‘Other Ranks’ wore their ‘Full Dress’ shell jackets at all stations abroad when in cool weather ‘Foreign Service Review Order’. Officers and Warrant Officers generally followed the same regulations as for ‘Other Ranks’ regarding the dress to be worn in ‘Foreign Service Review Order’, although regimental practice varied, and ‘Full Dress’ tunics were often by Officers as a smarter alternative to the foreign pattern serge frocks of the rank-and-file. Some regiments also insisted that their bandsmen wear ‘Full Dress’ tunics/jackets when in ‘Foreign Service Review Order’, irrespective of regulations.

 

The most recognisable feature of the ‘Foreign Service Review Order’ was the use of the cork ‘Helmet, Universal, Foreign Service (Wolseley Pattern)’; this helmet was worn with all of the uniform options, whether ‘Full Dress’, serge frock, white cotton frock, or khaki drill frock. This is the helmet being worn by the Dragoon Guards/Dragoons in the photograph. Although this pattern had first been worn by Officers of the British Army in the 1890s, Other Ranks were not issued this type till around 1904, thus giving us a definite date before which the photograph could not have been taken. The Wolseley helmet issued to Other Ranks, of all arms-of-service, was khaki in colour, worn with khaki puggaree, and fitted with leather chin-strap: when worn with khaki uniform it was left unadorned; when worn with white, coloured serge, or coloured ‘Full Dress’ uniforms, it was worn with a white cover, white puggaree, plus regimental badges or hackles as ordered. Officers had the option of purchasing two separate helmets, one khaki and one white. However, each arm-of-service and/or regiment in ‘Foreign Service Review Order’ had idiosyncrasies when it came to other embellishments worn on the white/white covered Wolseley helmet, including metal ornaments such as chin-chains, and spikes or metal ball ornaments surmounting the helmet. Although on the Wolseley helmet the wearing of these ornaments was officially restricted to Officers when not on duty with troops, in effect a number or regiments (usually cavalry, who wore a brass spike) maintained the practice common on the earlier ‘Colonial Pattern’ cork helmet, with both Officers and Other Ranks wearing these ornaments when on parade in white cotton, coloured serge, or coloured ‘Full Dress’ uniform. The ‘Full Dress’ headdress worn in ‘Home Service Review Order’ by Other Ranks of Dragoon Guard regiments was the 1871 pattern Heavy Cavalry helmet, in brass; Other Ranks of Dragoon regiments wore the same pattern helmet, but in white metal, except for the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), who wore a black bearskin cap with white feather plume. For Other ranks, the 1871 helmet bore the regimental number within a twelve-pointed rayed star (white metal for Dragoon Guards, brass for Dragoons), and was surmounted by a spiked plume socket, and a regimentally coloured horsehair plume.

 

So, we have determined that this photograph could not have been taken earlier than 1904, because of the use of the Wolseley helmet (in this photograph, the white covered helmet is being worn according to regulation, i.e. without spike, and possibly with the regimental badge on the front). The men are wearing ‘Full Dress’ tunics, indicating (a) the photograph was taken in Egypt, and (b) that it was taken before August, 1914, when ‘Full Dress’ ceased to be worn. However, the details of the uniform and sword can allow us to narrow down the period even further.

 

As we mentioned earlier, in 1856 a single-breasted, eight buttoned scarlet cloth tunic was introduced for both Dragoon Guards (save for one regiment), and Dragoons. For Other Ranks, the collar, shoulder straps, and cuffs were in regimental facing colour, as was the piping on the tunic’s leading edge: in addition, the shoulder straps were edged in yellow worsted cord, the straps bearing, depending on regiment, either yellow or red abbreviated titles (these were the number of the regiment, above either ‘DG’ for Dragoon Guards, or ‘D’ for Dragoons). From 1857, the collars of Other Ranks’ tunics lost their lace loops, instead being edged in yellow worsted cord; in 1868 the previously straight cuffs became slightly pointed, the centrally placed lace chevron and button on each cuff was removed, and each cuff was now surmounted by an ‘Austrian’ knot in yellow worsted cord; also in 1868, the three lace loops worn on the rear of each of the tunic skirts were replaced with scalloped three-pointed skirt-slashes, each skirt-slash being edged in yellow worsted cord, and displaying three buttons. The worsted cord worn on the collar, shoulder straps, cuffs and skirt-slashes by Other Ranks of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) was white instead of yellow. The only regiment of Dragoon Guards which did not adopt scarlet was the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers), who wore a blue tunic with front loopings between 1855 and 1864, and thereafter a tunic of the same cut as Dragoon Guards/Dragoons, but still in blue: this had white facings, but no collar edging, and yellow shoulder cords (without numerals or initials) instead of shoulder straps; the ‘Austrian’ knots on the cuffs, and the edging on the skirt-slashes, were, however, of the usual yellow worsted cord.

 

The scarlet ‘Full Dress’ tunic, of the 1868 pattern as just described, is essentially that which the men in this photograph wear: however, there are a number of details in the photograph which allow us to date the tunics worn to after 1900, and specifically to after 1907. The collars are of the deeper type, cut square in front, which were adopted after 1895, and worn on them are regimental collar badges: these badges were authorized for Other Ranks in 1898, but only began to be widely worn after 1900. More significant, date wise, is the insignia worn on the shoulder straps, as we see on the tunics in the photograph the glint of brass shoulder-titles. In late 1906, gilding metal (i.e. brass) shoulder-titles were introduced for the universal khaki Service Dress worn by Other Ranks of all arms-of-service of the British Army. In 1907, the decision was made to utilize these shoulder-titles (which indicated in full or abbreviated form the wearer’s regiment or corps) on the shoulder-straps of all ‘Full Dress’ tunics, across all regiments and arms-of-service: however, they were only to be added to those shoulder straps which had, hitherto, borne coloured regimental designations.

 

Narrowing down the date even further is the pattern of sword being carried by these cavalrymen: they have the ‘Sword, Cavalry, Pattern 1908’, as issued to Other Ranks of the Line Cavalry, and Royal Horse Artillery (the wearing of swords having been abolished for Other Ranks of the other Mounted Services in 1901, and the Household Cavalry carrying an older pattern when in ‘Review Order’). The 1908 Pattern (considered by many the finest cavalry sword ever designed for the British Army) is immediately identifiable by its prominently curved sheet-steel bowl guard. For Privates (‘Trooper’, the centuries old and colloquial title for an ordinary cavalryman, was only officially adopted to replace the rank of ‘Private’ in the Cavalry-of-the-Line in 1921, although this change had occurred in the Household Cavalry in 1909), Corporals, and Serjeants of Line Cavalry regiments, the sword-knot for ‘Review Order’ was a flat white buff leather strap with fringed tassel; Staff-Serjeants and Warrant Officers had the same, but unfringed. Prior to its abolition in 1901 (although retained by trumpeters and bandsmen), Other Ranks of the Cavalry-of-the-Line wore, when in ‘Review Order’, the white buff leather 1885 pattern pouch-belt over the left shoulder: this supported the black leather 1893 pattern ammunition pouch, worn on the back, and which for Other Ranks of most regiments of Dragoon Guards and Dragoons bore, in brass, a regimental ‘ornament’, i.e. badge, on the flap (pouch ornaments were not worn by Other Ranks of Lancer or Hussar regiments).

 

Completing the uniform seen in the photograph is the leg-wear, boots and spurs worn, which indicates their specific Order of Dress as being ‘Foreign Service Dismounted Review Order’. In explanation, additional to the British Army’s separation of ‘Review Order’ into that worn for ‘Home Service’ and ‘Foreign Service’, troops of the Mounted Services had an extra sub-division of dress, namely between the uniform worn when mounted, and that worn when dismounted. In all cases, when in either ‘Home Service Mounted Review Order’ or ‘Foreign Service Mounted Review Order’, troops wore regimental pattern ‘Full Dress’ breeches (officially termed ‘pantaloons’), black leather knee-boots, and as we discussed earlier, ‘jack’ spurs. When in ‘Home Service Dismounted Review Order’, and in ‘Foreign Service Dismounted Review Order’ in cool seasons (i.e. when wearing the ‘Full Dress’ tunic/jacket, or serge frock), troops wore regimental pattern ‘Full Dress’ trousers (termed ‘overalls’ in the Mounted Services), with black leather boots (officially termed ‘Wellington’ boots) and ‘swan-neck’ spurs. These boots, although calf-length, were worn with the shafts under the trousers. For all Dragoon regiments and most regiments of Dragoon Guards, pantaloons and overalls were dark blue with a broad yellow cloth stripe down each leg; the exceptions to this rule were the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays), who had broad white stripes, and the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers), who had double white stripes down each leg. When in ‘Foreign Service Dismounted Review Order’ in hot seasons abroad, cavalry regiments wore plain overalls, either in white cotton or khaki drill, depending on whether the white cotton frock or khaki drill frock was being worn.

 

Now we know this photograph was taken in Egypt, between 1908 and 1914, and that the men pictured are Dragoon Guards or Dragoons, we can confirm their likely regiments. Of the three regiments of Dragoons, none served in Egypt between 1908 and the outbreak of the Great War. Of the seven regiments of Dragoon Guards in existence at this time, two were stationed in Egypt during this period: the 3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards, between 1912 and 1914, and 7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards, between 1908 and 1911. If the men are from the 3rd Dragoon Guards, then their facings are yellow velvet, and their collar badges are The Prince of Wales’s plume in white metal (and, on the 1871 helmet, a black over red plume); if they are the 7th Dragoon Guards, then their facings are black velvet, and their white metal collar badges are the Earl of Ligonier’s Crest i.e. a lion issuing from a coronet (and, on the 1871 helmet, a black over white plume). On the close-up of the photograph, the man closest to the camera is a Private or Lance-Corporal: he wears one, perhaps two, ‘Good Conduct’ badges on his lower left sleeve, above his cuff decoration. The ‘Good-Conduct Badge’ was in the form of a worsted lace chevron (yellow for all regiments of Dragoon Guards and Dragoons, except for the 2nd Dragoon Guards [Queen's Bays], who wore white) awarded for 2 years service with no disciplinary entry on a soldier’s ‘Regimental Conduct Sheet’; an additional chevron was granted for 6 years good conduct, a third for 12 years, a fourth for 18 years, a fifth for 23 years, and a sixth for 28 years. The badges were only worn by Privates and Lance-Corporals (until the 1960s, Lance-Corporal was only an appointment held by Privates, not a rank), as promotion to N.C.O. rank required good conduct as a prerequisite, and thus its display was unnecessary.

 

Note the Arab in the back centre of the photograph, wearing a jellabiya, which is the traditional garment of the Nile Valley.

 

Attached are some images of the 3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards.

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post-555-0-46437600-1459029659_thumb.jpg

post-555-0-98187700-1459029696_thumb.jpg

post-555-0-87980700-1459031530_thumb.jpg

Edited by cmf
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