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  1. #1
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    Victorian Piper's Kit on Campaign: Boer War Zulu War, etc.

    I have had a question concerning what kit Regimental Pipers wore during the Boer War. I have collected sources on this topic, as I am a Piper, and have put together living history impressions of Regimental Pipers in several eras. The first order of business is to define the "load bearing" equipment issued to troops in the two conflicts discussed below, (1) the Zulu War, 1879 et. seq. and (2) the Boer War, 1899-1902. In the nomenclature of the era, it was called "White Equipment". Then, we can look at what Pipers wore.

    For the Zulu War, troops were issued the 1870 pattern White Equipment, called "Valise Equipment", as the piece that performed the function of a backpack was actually...a Valise.
    Here is an illustration of such a set from Pierre Turner's "Soldiers' Accoutrements of the British Army 1750-1900" :



    Later in the 19th Century, beginning in the 1890's, the 1870 Pattern Valise Equipment was superseded by something called "Slade Wallace Equipment" after the men who developed it and convinced the British Army to adopt it. That equipment is also illustrated in Turner's work:

    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

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  3. #2
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    Pipers DID wear the White Equipment issued in each conflict discussed here, but they also sometime wore a black version, which better matched the traditional black Piper's waist belt. Here is are photos of Black Watch Pipers of the era, and in the close ups you can see that the shoulder straps of their "White Equipment" are, in fact, black.



    And the close up:






    And the second close Up:



    Seaforth Highlander Piper with Black Equipment:

    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

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  5. #3
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    Some of you have been fans of the Osprey series of illustrated books about military subjects, a noted scholar of the British Army in African campaigns, Ian Knight, co-authored one in which an illustration shows a Piper's version of the kit we are discussing:



    And the close up:

    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

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  7. #4
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    Pipers 1st Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Boer War 1899-1902

    Here are some photos of the 1st Bn Argylls Pipers in the Boer War:



    Here is a watercolour by famous military artist W. Skeotch Cummings of the 1st Bn Argylls Pipes and Drums later in war, on the march across the Veldt. The photos that follow are from the Argyll Regimental Photo Album, and were very likely Cummings' source for his watercolour.





    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

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  9. #5
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    Boer War

    My dadís uncle died in the Boer war. I think he may have been in the Gordonís, however I canít tell as the only picture of him he is wearing a slouch hat and a kilt apron. Looks like the troops in one of the pictures.

  10. #6
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    Those are some great references, thanks!

    So interesting that they would blacken the ordinary leather equipment and adapt it to the wide piper's dirk belts.

    I suppose the equipment was probably issued buff, and it was up to the soldiers to pipeclay it white, or in the case of the pipers polish it black.

    The only image of piper-in-khaki I had studied was this group of photos taken in the Boer War period of members of the Black Watch, widely used for post cards at the time.



    In it you can see the piper wearing his ordinary Full Dress dirk, dirk belt, and crossbelt, which doesn't seem practical for campaign.

    (For comparison the Black Watch piper's ordinary uniform, with dark green doublet)



    BTW here's your photo of the Argylls pipers reduced to fit the size of the page here a bit better



    Wow look how open they're playing "C"! The PM was one of THOSE guys like "I want to see those fingers come all the way off!"

    And no "open C" in that band!

    Oh, and speaking of the Argylls this shows a piper wearing the ordinary field equipment rather than the elaborate wide black leather piper's belts

    Last edited by OC Richard; 21st May 20 at 05:58 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  12. #7
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    About Osprey books, the text and photos are great, but some of the illustrators were horrible, and obviously had no knowledge of what they were illustrating.

    The Osprey illustration you post there is very nice, by somebody familiar with the equipment and uniforms.

    I did a thread a while back reviewing the illustrations of Highlanders in various Osprey publications.

    I start with the good, then detail numerous inaccuracies in the bad ones.

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...-errors-79267/

    One error I was able to trace back to its probable source, an old post card showing a Black Watch piper, a black & white photo that had been incorrectly hand-coloured.

    I can't find that post card now, and it's disappeared from that old thread, but here's a different incorrectly hand-coloured post card of a Black Watch piper.

    This one is fairly good except as is so often the case the painter was unfamiliar with how regimental diced hose are made.



    Sadly these hose were copied by one of the Osprey illustrators.

    (The top is from a Crimean Hero photograph)

    Last edited by OC Richard; 21st May 20 at 06:12 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    BTW here's your photo of the Argylls pipers reduced to fit the size of the page here a bit better



    Wow look how open they're playing "C"! The PM was one of THOSE guys like "I want to see those fingers come all the way off!"

    And no "open C" in that band!
    And a lefty with his right playing high hand!
    "Touch not the cat bot a glove."

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  16. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macman View Post
    And a lefty with his right playing high hand!
    Yes fully reversed. We have a guy like that in our pipe band.

    The band with the most ciotach pipers has got to be Strathclyde Police (Police Service Scotland) that's been seen with four of them in the ranks.

    Here's three, looks like, in the front rank



    Years ago I was at a piping school lead by Evan MacRae, long the Pipe Major of the Cameron Highlanders. He said look at photos of the band back when he was PM, you'll always see ciotach pipers. He said it was because there was an island in the Camerons' recruiting region where all the pipers played that way (I can't remember which island).
    Last edited by OC Richard; 24th May 20 at 04:55 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  18. #10
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    I just came across one of those old incorrectly-coloured post cards, which unfortunately was used by an Osprey artist as the basis for one of their illustrations.

    Note the doublet has been painted red (it should be green) and the plaid appears to be a different tartan than the kilt.

    There's the typical confusion about how to paint diced hose.

    The strangest thing is that halfway up the kilt itself changes tartan!



    In the Osprey book The Black Watch illustrator Michael Youens' illustrations are horrendous. The one thing he gets right are the hose-tops, but everything else is a mess.

    Here's his illustration of a Black Watch Pipe Major which includes some misinformation obviously copied from the post-card above.

    However Youens has added several new errors:

    1) putting only two tassels on the sporran
    2) having the musician's shells be of the facing-colour rather than the colour of the main body of the doublet
    3) making the spats far too tall
    4) not putting the ribbons/rosettes on the kilt

    Last edited by OC Richard; Yesterday at 06:08 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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