British army in India 1880

#1
Hi guys, I'm after some help in trying to find out some information about my Great Grandfather who was in the army and stationed in India around 1880.
Can anyone help identify his uniform:



And here's him and his mates haveing a grand old time:

My Grandpa thinks this was taken in about 1882/3 but he never really knew too much about his army career as he died when he was a teenager. If anyone could help I'd appreciate it.
 
#2
Well, his collar dogs are Fusilier Grenades and the lace around his collar may be the blue/white of a drummer.

I've had a look through my reference books and the only Fusilier Regiment that didn't appear to have a grenade as part of the shoulder title was the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Is that a small bugle he's wearing as a watch-chain ornament?

Any idea where Great Grandad came from?
 
#3
Have you tried alt.soc.genealogy.britain?

You can't post the photographs there but you can post them on a site like flickr and then link to them.

Litotes
 
#5
craftsmanx said:
The Artillery and Engineers wore grenade collar badges so he could have been in one of several regiments, including fusiliers of course.
Nope, sorry, but the RA and RE grenades are each both different in shape entirely. They also bear the motto "Ubique".

As I said in my post above, in the reference books, there's only one Fusilier Regt that has a curved shoulder title which does not bear a grenade device like the collar dog and that's the Inniskillings.

I've worn both Fusilier (RWF) and RA collar dogs in the dim and distant past and been collecting stuff like that since the 1960's! :wink:
 
#6
Yes, i thought they were Fusilier grenades on his collar but i can't work out what it says on his shoulder. It looks like it end with EHN? He lived around the Suffolk are if that is any help.
Would the Fusilier museum be any help? Would they have records going back to 1880?
 
#7
supermark500 said:
Yes, i thought they were Fusilier grenades on his collar but i can't work out what it says on his shoulder. It looks like it end with EHN? He lived around the Suffolk are if that is any help.
Would the Fusilier museum be any help? Would they have records going back to 1880?
The Fusilier Museum may have records going back to 1880, insomuch as they may be able to tell you with Bn of which Regt was stationed in India at the time. Of course, prior to 1881, the Regiments would have been numbered, as the "named" shoulder titles came in after the 1881 Cardwell Reforms. If the photo was pre-1881, you'd likely see a number there, not a name.

The Fusilier Regts at that time were:

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
Royal Fusiliers
Lancashire Fusiliers
Royal Scots Fusiliers
Royal Welch Fusiliers,
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Royal Irish Fusiliers
Royal Munster Fusiliers
Royal Dublin Fusiliers

I've dug through my Westlake book on shoulder titles again and I make an amendment to my first statement, the R Irish Fusiliers also wore a plain curved IRISH.FUS.

The odd thing is that both curved titles were worn long after the 1880/90's...

This now makes me think that the shoulder titles are not brass, but embroidered from white thread, which was the norm for the 1881 Pattern Infantry tunic! In this case, any of the above could probably have been curved! The plot thickens!

I'd try sending the photo to the Fusiliers museum and see what light they can throw on it.
 
#8
From the photo (with magnifying glass), can you read

i) the last few letters of the shoulder name ?

ii) what is written on the keg ?

iii) what is written on the blackboard between the locals ?

iv) the dog's name disc?

The guy seated at the end looks to be playing a flute as per Corps of Drums, but may just be messing about.

The other guy is either playing flute wrong way for a laugh, or 'playing' a cane.
 
#9
I've just asked my mum for more details and he died in 1925 aged 57 so he would have been born in 1868. Looks like his army career was late 1880s/early 1890s then, not 1882/3 as my Grandpa thought.


whiffler said:
From the photo (with magnifying glass), can you read

i) the last few letters of the shoulder name ?

ii) what is written on the keg ?

iii) what is written on the blackboard between the locals ?

iv) the dog's name disc?

The guy seated at the end looks to be playing a flute as per Corps of Drums, but may just be messing about.

The other guy is either playing flute wrong way for a laugh, or 'playing' a cane.
1. Looks like 'EHN' but i will take a look on the original photo and see if it is any clearer.
2. It looks like "MORE PORTE"
3. Nope, can't work it out by blowing it up on the computer. Will have to check on the original photo.
4. Wah? The guy 3rd from left has "SPOT" written on his hat though.

Yep, guy seated is indeed playing a flute. The guy standing does look to be 'playing' a cane but it would be too short as it would only come to his mid thigh. That would make sense as my G/Grandfather has a bugle on his tunic so maybe he was in the Regimental band?
 
#10
Could be "MORE PORTER", Porter being dark beer - Guinness?

Looking at the seated "musician", I wonder if it's a fife? That would tie in with the Bugle on the watch chain, suggesting they're Corps of Drums as opposed to the Band. It does look a little short for a flute.

The cane looks like a swagger stick, not a walking stick. This was a pretty standard piece of "walking out" kit carried by the Toms when off duty.
 
#11
I've just had another look at the original photo and the last 4 letters on his shoulder are P E H N. Unfortunately there is something on the negative covering the first few letters.

Could it have been a shoulder name from the Indian army?
 
#12
supermark500 said:
I've just had another look at the original photo and the last 4 letters on his shoulder are P E H N. Unfortunately there is something on the negative covering the first few letters.

Could it have been a shoulder name from the Indian army?
Not the Indian Army, they only had Brit officers, not soldiers.

P E H N doesn't make much sense either, as it would be an abbreviation of the regimental name. I'll look at the Orbat when I'm home later and see if anything comes across as similar...
 
#13
It has been suggested to me on another forum (victorian wars) that what I see as PEHN could be part of duBLIN. Would it make sense for someone from Suffolk to join the Dublin fusiliers around that time and not his local regiment? Also, does anyone know if the Dublin Fusiliers were in India around 1890?
Here's a bigger picture to hopefully make the shoulder a bit clearer:
 
#14
Looks like a 7-letter word, since the "P" appears to be at the 6 o'clock of the title.

You could try and run it through the photo-restoration software that you get with most scanners these days.
 
#15
I cannot for the life of make it out. But the last letter appears to be most certainly an 'N'. I am also of the opinion that it's a threaded title (in keeping with the tunic) and not a brass example, and many threaded titles were curved due to titular length.

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were in India around this time (1888-1900) and took part in the Tirah campaign of June 1897 - April 1898 before embarking for South Africa the following year.

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers were also in India at the same time (1889-1897) before also embarking for Natal.

Apart from that, not much help I'm afraid.
 

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#16
supermark500 said:
It has been suggested to me on another forum (victorian wars) that what I see as PEHN could be part of duBLIN. Would it make sense for someone from Suffolk to join the Dublin fusiliers around that time and not his local regiment? Also, does anyone know if the Dublin Fusiliers were in India around 1890?
Here's a bigger picture to hopefully make the shoulder a bit clearer:
quote]

British army of the period like most periods was under recruited and as such units moving to operational theatres would take drafts from other units to bring them to full strength often without reference to area or nationality. So its entirely possible for a man from Suffolk to end up in the Dublin Fusiliers
 
#17
Sorry to drag this thread up, but this morning I received a reply from the curator of soldiersofthequeen.com about this query that seems to have stumped everyone so far.

"From looking at the photograph my best guess is that your great grandfather was a member of volunteer (militia) artillery unit at the time the photo was taken. The shoulder titles if they had been clearly visible would have made this identification very much easier. Frankly I have no idea what those three apparent letters may represent. Usually with any volunteer unit they mark the units county or regional affiliation. I can't think of any local in Great Britain that ends with PEHN. The grenade device and the style of his tunic lend me to hazard the artillery connection. Regular artillery units shoulder titles almost always bore the initials for the unit such as: RA (Royal Artillery), RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery), RHA (Royal Horse Artillery).

Is there any chance of getting a higher resolution scan of his shoulder title?

He could not have served in India as a member of a volunteer unit but he may have been a volunteer either before or after service in the regulars. I think this may be the case since there is no doubt in my mind that the group photo was indeed taken while he was on duty in India. The two native servants confirm this. There seems to be something written behind your great grandfather's head in that same photo. He seems to be the one marked with the "x". Does it say anything or can it even be read in the photo?

His miniature trumpet would seem to me to indicate that he may have been a trumpeter or bugler (mounted and foot units used different designations). The military being the military it hardly seem likely that he would have worn even such an unofficial emblem of a trade that he would not have actually practiced while in the service."

So if he was in the RA militia that was the Victorian equivalent of the TA? :? Being in the RA would fit in with this bit of info found on wikipedia "Until 1861 the militia were an entirely infantry force, but in that year a number of county regiments were converted to artillery". Would I be 'right' to assume that he would have been in the RA as a professional soldier with deployment to India and then have joined the militia after coming out of the army?
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#18
I have played about with this pic paying particular attention to trying to get more from the shoulder title.

IMO the "P" looks more like a "T" though I can see why it might be a P.

If I could get the last but one letter to be a R (which I cannot really) I'd guess the shoulder title read "WESTERN".

So there.
 
#20
Just a point to ponder on. I'm aware uf the significance of the UBIQUE on the RA grenades but does anyone know when it was first introduced, is it possible that pre 1881 (Cardwell) plain grenades were worn?
 

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