The Gordons

Officers, 1st Battalion, India 1896

This interesting group are wearing undress drill uniform, in India, prior to their move to the Tirah in 1897. The uniform worn by officers differed from the men's in drill order in that while the rank and file of highland regiments wore a short white jacket for drill the officers wore a red one with yellow collar (no badges) and cuffs. The Dress Regulations of 1900 specify that this jacket was a drill and mess jacket. For mess it was worn open with the collar rolled down and lapels exposed. The jacket had white piping along the edges and there were 10 gilt buttons down the front with two on each cuff. The shoulder cords were the same as on the full dress doublet. For the Gordon Highlanders the lining of the jacket was crimson silk which would have shown on the folded back lapels.

They all wear glengarries with diced hat-bands of red white and green. This cap was also worn with the dress doublet when the regiment served abroad. In full dress they had the white foreign service helmet. They are kilted, with undress sporrans, hose and white spats. They did not wear plaids in this order of dress but they have the crimson silk sash over the left shoulder; this was different in Scottish regiments, being 15 inches wide in the middle and 7 inches wide at the fringes. The commanding officer and two officers standing behind him are dressed for mounted duties, in tartan breeches and knee boots. They have ordinary infantry pattern swords slung from a waist belt worn under the jacket while the other officers have claymores slung from a broad white leather shoulder belt.

This group is not the full complement of officers for the battalion. In 1890 the strength of the 1st Battalion showed that there were 27 officers. In this photo there are only 13. They would have taken part in the assault on the Heights of Dargai on the 20th Oct 1897 and the actions in the Boer War of 1899-1902. The CO is Lieutenant-Colonel Mathias, sitting in the middle. On either side of him are two officers who won the VC in the Boer War. The officer with the large moustache, looking at the CO is Captain Towse who was blinded on Mount Thaba. The officer sitting the other side of the CO is Captain Younger who was killed near Krugersdorp. Behind him is Major Downman who succeeded Col Mathias to the command of the battalion. He was killed at Magersfontein.

Uniforms | Regimental Details


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by Stephen Luscombe