Sir Harry Lumsden, 1897

Lumsden was given the task of raising the Corps of Guides which he did in 1846 whilst still a young subaltern of only eight years service. He had considerable experience of service in the North-West, having fought in Afghanistan with Pollock's avenging army and in the Sutlej campaign, receiving a wound at Sobraon.
He had complete freedom to arm and dress his corps according to his own wishes. He regarded the tight-fitting scarlet uniforms of the British army to be totally unsuitable for the Indian climate and set about dressing his officers and men in loose fitting clothes that blended with the landscape. He bought all the white cotton he could find locally and had it taken to the river where it was soaked and impregnated with mud. Lumsden is credited with being not only the founder of the famous Corps of Guides but with the invention of khaki. He commanded the regiment for 5 years with Major W S R Hodson as his 2nd in command. He took part in 16 campaigns in that time including the siege of Multan. For a while he was on political duty in Kandahar, thus missing the start of the Indian Mutiny. In 1860 he was put in command of the Guides for the second time. At about this time he was wounded when an assassin made an attempt on his life.
The photo, here shows him in his uniform as a Lieutenant-General. He had been retired from actve service for twenty years by this time. It is ironic that one of the last photos of him should be of him wearing exactly the type of uniform he had been instrumental in making obselete.

Sir Harry Lumsden c1860

Soldiers | Regimental details

Armed Forces | Home | Articles | Introduction | Biography | Discussion | Map Room | Timeline | Art and Culture | Science and Technology | Resources | Index | Glossary | Links | Library | Search |

by Stephen Luscombe