All Ranks c1853

The actual date of this photo is in question. It is a well published image of the 42nd and usually dated 1854 but the soldiers on the left are wearing crossed belts. This was how the ammunition pouch and bayonet were carried up until 1850 when the method of carrying the bayonet was altered to a waist belt. The ammunition pouch continued to be supported by the left shoulder belt. The regiment had been in Bermuda and then Nova Scotia before returning to Britain in 1852. They embarked for the Crimea in early 1854 so only had a short time in the UK to catch up with the new regulations regarding dress and accoutrements.

The group on the right comprise three officers and a sergeant. The whole picture may be of the light company of the regiment because there appear to be signs of whistles attached to the sword belts. The officer who is looking down at a notebook on the left of the group has a circular metal attachment high on his belt and the sergeant next to him has a whistle and chain just visible. The sergeant differs from the officers in having the white tufted shoulder wings and bastion shaped white tape on his collar. But he has a double-breasted jacket with no white tape on his chest as the rank and file do. He does have a sash on his left shoulder like the officers but it is not silk. He also has a sporan more in line with the other ranks than the officers. We can see from the side view of the two officers on the right that they are not wearing the full plaid. The sword is carried hooked up and not allowed to trail.

All ranks wear shoulder wings. This is not necessarily a sign that they are a flank company. All other ranks in Highland regiments were permitted the privilege of shoulder wings since 1822 and continued to wear them until 1855 when the doublet replaced the tailed jacket. Officers, however, wore wings up until 1830 when epaulettes were restored for battalion company officers. The officers in this photo are wearing wings to indicate their position in a flank company. Behind the officer in charge is a piper who wears a different, dark green jacket with no tape or lace.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe