UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT 1855 - 1900

a Lee Enfield, 1895 Pattern & Lee Enfield 1853 pattern.

By 1842 most flintlock weapons had been replaced by percussion muskets and Infantry equipment was gradually modernised. The long established method of cross-belted equipment was being replaced, in 1854, by a single shoulder belt supporting the cartridge pouch and a waistbelt with locket and clasp, which supported the bayonet in a frog.

Other Ranks were wearing the kilmarnock forage cap for undress until the early 1870s when it was replaced by the glengarry. This was also adopted by the officers. In 1880 an alternative, straight sided, droop peaked, forage cap was introduced for officers and staff sergeants, which replaced the old “cheesecutter” flat peaked pattern. In 1894, a new style blue folding cap, in the Austrian style, was introduced for officers and was later adopted by the men.

In 1855 a new infantry headdress was introduced to replace the straight-sided “Albert” shako. Although similar it had a deeper back and was tapered towards the crown. In 1861 this, so-called “French” shako, which had proved uncomfortable, was replaced by a plainer, smaller cap with a flap peak. It retained the French forward tilted style and was covered in blue cloth, visibly stitched to the cork carcass, which gave it its popular name the “Quilted” shako. The new plate was a crown and star for all ranks. In 1871 the “Quilted” shako was replaced by the last British Infantry shako. It was similar in shape and style but slightly lower and had a smooth cloth surface. The Officer’s pattern had gold lace around the top and bottom edges and gold braiding up the sides and the centre back. NCOs and Other Ranks had a distinctive red and black braid on their caps.

The 1888 Slade Wallace Equipment.

In 1878 the last of the infantry shakos was replaced by the Home Service blue cloth, spiked, helmet. The Foreign Service Helmet was dyed khaki for active service and a dome ventilator was supplied in lieu of the full dress spike.

In 1866, the Enfield, the last of the muzzle loading rifles, was replaced by the Snyder, the first of the British breech loading weapons. Between 1888 and 1892, the Infantry were armed with the 1874 Martini Henry followed by the Mark I or Mark II Lee-Metford. In 1895 the Long Lee Enfield was introduced. Seven years later the Short Magazine Lee Enfield (the SMLE) became the standard infantry rifle.

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