The Gordons

1st Battalion, Malta 1885

The 1st Battalion Gordon highlanders were stationed in Malta from 1885 to 1888. The battalion is on parade dressed in white jackets which would appear to be tropical uniform but in fact this form of undress was worn in the UK. The white jacket was waist length and buttoned down the front with eight brass buttons. The badges of rank were of red cloth. All ranks up to the rank of Colour-sergeant wore this item for drill and field training. WOs and officers had red shell jackets. The only regiments that wore this white jacket were highland regiments and the Brigade of Guards. Around 1913 the jackets became obsolete, and only worn at the Royal Tournament or Edinburgh Tattoo.

The figures nearest to the camera are pioneers, with beards and axes/pickaxes etc. They stand in front of the pipers, drummers and bandsmen. The small group of eight men standing next to the pioneers have a sergeant in charge of them but their function is unclear. The sergeant is identified by the red sash over his right shoulder. Behind this group can be seen the sergeant-drummer (drum-major) who wears his red sash officer-style over his left shoulder.

The main body of the battalion stands in 16 ranks of 35 men per rank. The officers are lined up in front of them, dressed in red shell jackets. All are wearing glengarrys. In 1888 when they arrived in Ceylon, the 1st Battalion had a strength of 832. There were 27 officers, two warrant officers, 38 sergeants, 20 drummers and 745 rank and file. The 2nd Battalion, who were in Belfast at that time had a strength of 666.

Uniforms | Regimental Details


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by Stephen Luscombe