West India Regt 1900

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West India Regt 1900

Post  wfrad on Fri 12 Sep 2008, 10:45 am

Zouve type uniform of the West India Regt around 1900, this uniform was worn from around 1859 stile taken from the French African troops. The Regt. was disbanded in 1926.
WF
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Re: West India Regt 1900

Post  buistR on Fri 12 Sep 2008, 11:23 am

That's very good wfrad! The uniform shown is a spectacular one, which was worn until 1914 by the whole (2 battalion) regiment and until disbandment by the WIR band. The band of the Barbados Defence Force still wears it. The story goes that Queen Victoria saw the French zouaves on one of her visits to France and insisted that one of her own regiments adopt similar dress. A more likely account is simply that the newly created War Office decided in 1856 that the shako and tight coatee then worn by the West India Regiment were unsuitable for both the Caribbean climate and the soldiers wearing it. The loose fitting zouave dress seen in the Crimean War was rated as both practical and picturesque and accordingly recommended for adoption by both the WIR and the Gold Coast Artillery Corps. The WIR was unique amongst colonial type units in that it ranked as an integral part of the British Army. It saw service in such diverse locations as Sierra Leone, St Helena and New Orleans.

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West India Regt a little hist.

Post  wfrad on Sat 13 Sep 2008, 12:43 am

Queen Victoria did have a habit of getting her own way, so who knows, anything to keep one amused.
The story that I have suggests the idea for the uniform came from the French North African troops during the siege of Sebastopol.
The sergeant major around this time [1900] had a crown above crossed rifles, above four chevrons, point downwards, all in gold lace.
Drill order uniform I believe had a soft round red cap, with white cord and tassel but without a peak, the white jacket was worn without the scarlet Zouave jacket.
The small white puggaree was wound over the red cap in full dress.
British officers of the West India Regiment were dressed as for infantry and had ‘WI’ with the battalion number on the band of the forage cap.
Badges c1900:
Buttons: a wreath of Carolina Laurel, within the wreath the letters WI.
Collar: no badge.
Helmet Plate:
Eight pointed star, crown on covering top point, third point {east point} has on ‘GUADALOUTE’ reading from centre to point, fifth point {south point} has on ‘ASHANTEE’ reading from point to centre, seventh point {west point} has on ‘MARTINIQUE’ reading from point to centre, the centre garter with buckle on bottom inscribed with ‘WEST INDIA REGT. and battalion number in centre.
Around garter left and right are wreaths of Banana & Carolina Laurel joined at the bottom with the scroll ‘DOMINICA’.
Waist Plate:
Round gilt clasp with universal ends. On the clasp centre Crown and Number within outer ‘WEST INDIA REGIMEMNT’.
Officers Caps:
Carolina wreath in gold on a ground of blue cloth, within the wreath the garter with motto on a blue silk ground, within the garter the initials WI.
OR’s cap was a bi-metal version of the above with wreath, garter
Note: most written descriptions of the wreath either say banana wreath or Carolina Laurel yet visually the badge seems to have a combination of the two.
Motto on badge was HONI SOIT QUI MAL PENSE.

The regiment was also known as Buckmaster’s Light Infantry and was the oldest of the Colonial regiment in the British Empire.
The regiment’s origin dates back from the American War or Independence, when black and white loyalists were formed into The South Carolina Regiment [1779] and Malcolm’s [Loyal or Malcolm’s Black] Rangers [1795] which were raised in Martinique.
These two regiments were amalgamated to form the 1st West India Regiment.
1st Battalion, originally The Carolina Black Corps, Malcolm’s Rangers.
2nd Battalion originally The St Vincent’s Black Rangers.
3rd Battalion raised in 1897/8
After it was disbanded in the 20’s, it was reformed in 1958 and later transferred to the control of The Federation of the West Indies as The Jamaica Regiment.
During the First World War the 1st battalion was on garrison duty in Sierra Leone and served in the African theatre, with honours for Cameroon’s 1914-18, East Africa 1914-18 and Palestine 1917-18.
I seem to have rambled on a little, decided not to include the commanding officers pre 1900. I believe that the details are correct.
Regards
WF

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link to more uniforms

Post  wfrad on Sat 13 Sep 2008, 11:51 pm

buistR
Here's a link to a few pictures of the regiment that may interest you. Notice the cuff differs from mine. My illustration was taken from a painting that my have had artistic licence, or the cuff braid may have changed around 1900, I'm just not sure.
http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?keyword=west+india+regiment&submit.x=20&submit.y=4
regards
WF

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Re: West India Regt 1900

Post  Sean on Mon 15 Sep 2008, 8:46 pm

Excellent history wrfad, thanks.
I have tried to cover some of the uniforms of the West India Regiment in my CD on British Uniforms in the West Indies.
These include the five regiments during the mid 1800s, mess dress, undress, full dress, field order up to the 1920s, and a bit on the Regiment formed between 1958 and 1964. After that year it separated into country units as opposed to regional. I think one of the best finds I had was to illustrate the stable belt worn by the unit in the 1960s, a small point but one that eluded me for some time (blue gold blue, by the way).
The West Indies is a treasure trove of interesting units and uniforms that I hope some one can help me with.

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Re: West India Regt 1900

Post  ChrisF202 on Mon 15 Sep 2008, 9:38 pm

Sean wrote:Excellent history wrfad, thanks.
I have tried to cover some of the uniforms of the West India Regiment in my CD on British Uniforms in the West Indies.
These include the five regiments during the mid 1800s, mess dress, undress, full dress, field order up to the 1920s, and a bit on the Regiment formed between 1958 and 1964. After that year it separated into country units as opposed to regional. I think one of the best finds I had was to illustrate the stable belt worn by the unit in the 1960s, a small point but one that eluded me for some time (blue gold blue, by the way).
The West Indies is a treasure trove of interesting units and uniforms that I hope some one can help me with.
Agreed!

One of my all time favorite Osprey books is the MAA title on British Colonial forces in the West Indies during the Napoleonic era.

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Re: West India Regt 1900

Post  buistR on Tue 16 Sep 2008, 8:00 am

Thanks very much for the NYPL links wfrad.

I would refer anyone who is interested in the West India Regiments of the British Army to "The Empty Sleeve" by Brian Dyde ISBN 976-8163-09-7. It has a fair amount of detail on the uniforms but also covers the remarkable history of this force in readable detail. One embarrasing incident, which certainly would not have earned a battle honour, occured in 1893 when an accidental predawn clash between a column of the WIR operating against Sofa tribesmen in eastern Sierra Leone and a force of French colonial troops there for the same purpose left 30 dead. A wider war was fortunately averted.

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Reference books

Post  wfrad on Tue 16 Sep 2008, 9:32 am

Hi & thanks I'll try and look out for those books, may hit lucky.
My info came mainly from two books,
I know I should have thought of NY site also before doing the illustration, but that would have put the single grey cell on overload.
The two books I used were 'Military Uniforms of Britain & The Empire by Major RM Barnes and Records and Badges of the British Army 1900 by HM Chichester & G Burges Short.
The former gives a brieve history and a couple of illustrations while the latter gives the regimental history, illustrations of helmet plate and belt clasp. Also Records and Badges gives a list of officers who commanded the battalions during the reign of Victoria.
Regards
WF

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Re: West India Regt 1900

Post  Sean on Tue 16 Sep 2008, 10:53 pm

There have been a number of books written on the police forces in the West Indies, but not many, and they are hard to find.
The Journal of the Army Historical Research Society has a number of excellent articles. There is also G Tylden's notebook on West Indian forces held at the National Army Museum. Apart from that its really down to original sources like dress regulations and standing orders, but again these are hard to find, and were not always followed to the letter. Oh how I love this hobby.

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1901 cigarette card

Post  Sean on Mon 29 Sep 2008, 2:43 am

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