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The Uniform and Kit of the 42RHRA


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Regimental Bonnet Coatee Regimental Kilt Hose and Gaiters

Buckle Shoes Crossbelts and Cartridge box Sporan Breadbag

Water bottle Trotters Pack

Regimental Bonnet

Please Click on me to see a full size technical drawingThis is a cylindrical woolen tub, if you will, very highly decorated with patterns, badges, and feathers. It is comfortable to wear as long as it is dry, but a sad and sorry sight if it is wet.

The basic construction is a "diced" or chequerboard pattern on the side of the tub in red, white, and dark green with a solid blue top. The diced band is generally woven from wool and is split at the back to allow it to fit different sized heads. A drawstring allows the wearer to pull the bonnet tight.

The center of the blue wool top is finished with a red pom-pom known as a tourie.

The decorations on the bonnet are;

  • A black ribbon cockade fastened on the left side of the dicing.

  • A silver metal sphinx badge in the centre of the cockade.

  • A red feater plume or "hackle" rising up behind the centre of the cockade.

  • Black ostrich feathers sewn in behind these decorations and trained over the top of the bonnet.

This may seem like a lot of things sewn onto the wool of the diced band, but there is room for it and the result is magnificent.

Illustrations of feather bonnets and modern day feather bonnets worn by pipe bands may give a false impression of the shape required. In the ordinary 42RHRA bonnet there is no wire cage above the blue wool top upon which the feathers are stretched - this is a feature of some modern items.

Likewise there are no "foxtails" of feathers falling down the right side of the bonnet for the enlisted man. Yhese were not worn in the 1815 period by the 42nd. The shape of the feathers is a graceful curve into a loose bunch on top. The total number of feathers used is variable and depends entirely upon the state of the soldiers purse.

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Coatee

Click on me to see full size imageThis is a standard British army pattern of the period that includes a short front, single breast, modest tails at the back, false turnbacks and pockets, and a standing collar. It is differentiated from the other regiments by the buttons, facings, and lace.

The body is made from dull or medium red wool with white wool false turnbacks and dark navy blue collar, cuffs, and epaulettes. A tufted wool roll sits at the corner of the shoulder to help retain pack straps.

The buttons are of a regimental pattern with a "42" and thistle worked into the design cast from white metal, there are nearly 30 for each coatee.

The regimental lace is 1/2 inch white with a 1/16 inch red stripe worked into its outer edge. The lace is set in "bastion" pattern up the front, on the cuffs, and over the false pockets. It also edges the collar and turnback. A decorative triangle is sewn at the waist in the rear.

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Regimental Kilt

Click on me to see full size imageThe pattern for the regimental kilt of the 42RHRA is known as the "Black Watch" tartan. More specifically, it is undifferenced government sett. That means it is a blue, black, and dark green pattern with no additional red, or white lines worked into it.

The kilt is worn high on the trunk so that the upper edge fits snugly under the ribcage. It is essentially in three parts - back, front, and front apron. The pleating characteristic of the kilt - the "military pleating" is on the back pannel. The correct length for the kilt is measured when the wearer is kneeling - it should be 1 1/2 inches above the knee.

The kilt is provided with three buckles to adjust fit on the waist and seat. Try to arrange for 3" adjustment.

The kilt is a very heavy grade of fine wool and should be carefully preserved against creasing and dirt. Do not fold it - roll it lengthwise or hang it vertically for storage.

The kilt is perhaps the single most costly item of clothing for the common soldier. Scottish shops and tailors in all the main capital cities can arrange for the making of the kilt, or you may be able to turn a serviceable one up at an army surplus store. One kilt should last a lifetime, provided you do not change shape.

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The Sporan

The sporan is a flat goatskin wallet suspended from a leather belt that encircles the waist. Worn at the front, it functions as a money purse, car key holder, and groin protector.

The goatskin is white and quite shaggy, with the edges roughly trimmed but still left quite full. It is closed with a brown leather flap at the top that fastens with a brass stud.

As decoration, 6 "bells" or black horsehair tufts are suspended in the front of the sporan.

The Officer's sporan may be more decorative with red leather flap, gold edging, or exotic fur covering. In some cases badger fur is used with the head of the badger forming the flap covering - not really an option here in Australia. I suppose we could always look at a fox - or a koala...(grin).

The Crossbelts and Cartridge box

Click on me to see full size imageThe belts are white leather aproximately 2 1/2 inches wide that hang from each shoulder - tucked under the epaulettes. The left belt supports a black leather cartridge box on the right hip while the right belt holds a black leather and brass bayonet scabard.

Adjustment of the boxbelt is by buckle fasteners under the cartridge box - the bayonet belt is split at the front to allow a belt plate to engage different holes rather like a standard trouser belt. The belts may be painted with pipeclay, flat white paint, or gloss exterior paint. The last alternative is generally the easiest one to maintain in good condition.

Click on me to see full size imageThe leather cartridge box can be fitted with a wooden insert to hold the cartridges vertical - ready to hand. Many of the highlanders on the field of Waterloo discarded this insert to lighten the load and leave more room for extra ammunition. There is also a small flexible pouch sewn to the front of the cartridge box designed to contain extra flints and a flint too.

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Hose and Gaiters

Click on me to see full size imageThe distinctive red and white criss-cross pattern of the Highland hose is worn by all ranks though it comes in two forms.

1. Footless hose or "moggins". This is a woven tube that is worn over standard socks but has no bottom to it. They were traditionally made from worn out regular hose. They do not fold over at the top.

2. Hose with feet - Like a thick pair of walk socks in the red/white pattern. Theese fold over at the top.

It is up to the individual soldier which type of hose he uses - in either case the instructions of the makerregarding washing and preservation should be carefully followed to keep them from shrinking.

Click on me to see full size imageIn most cases the private soldier or NCO also wears a pair of low canvas or woolen gaiters over the hose. These are of a "tube" pattern with 7 buttons fastening the outer faces and stirrups of leather or canvas under the instep of the shoe.

Wool or canvas - the choice of material is immaterial - but the colour must be a dark grey.

The final decorative touch to the legwear is red tape ribbons used to tie round the top of the hose with a big bow.

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Buckle Shoes

Click on me to see full size imageThese are low sided shoes with two flaps that close over a central tongue. The flaps are fastened with curved brass buckles. They are sometimes manufactured with the rough side of the leather out. In other respects - height of the heel and shape of the toe - they are much like modern Oxfords.

There is also the alternative of using similar low sided shoes with laces - 2 or 3 lace holes and a leather lace - as there is evidence to show that some soldiers lost or sold their buckles.

The shoes should have a sturdy pattern of studs "hobnails" hammered into the sole to cope with the mud of the battlefield and the damned hard cobbles of the town of Waterloo.

The Breadbag

Click on me to see full size imageThis is a canvas haversack with a buckle adjustment on the strap and a 2-button flap. It should be clean and white at first but as it will be used to carry whatever food can be found, it may become malodourous in time. It is suspended from the right shoulder and hangs over the bayonet scabbard on the left hip.

 

 

 

The Waterbottle

Click on me to see full size imageThis is a standard cylindrical wooden water bottle looking rather like a small cask. It is painted blue with regimental markings on the outer face and a wooden stopper in the bung hole. It is suspended from a brown leather strap on the right shoulder and hangs over the breadbag.

It is possible by coating the interior of the bottle with paraffin wax to waterproof it sufficiently to carry water on the march.

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The Trotters Pack

Click on me to see full size imageThis is the Trotter pattern that features a wooden internal frame, black canvas covering, and white leather straps. It has 4 flaps that fold over the contents and buckle down tight.

There are also 3 straps on the top that secure a dark grey rough wool blanket and a "D" shaped mess tin to the body of the pack.

The shoulder straps are worn over the epaulettes and then secured at the front of the chest with a horizontal cross strap. The pack can be made to ride high on the back and with the assistance of a mate in the ranks can be balanced fairly well. It pays to be carefull with the position and pressure of the chest strap.


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Copyright 1998
Craig Prince