Help support TMP

"British Army: Red coats or Khaki?" Topic

18 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to The Sword and The Flame Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Discussion Message Board

Back to the Victorian Colonial Board Message Board

1,256 hits since 10 Oct 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Liliburlero Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

Recently in Dad's files, I came across an old Savage and Soldier article by Doug Johnson on the introduction of the Khaki uniform into the Sudan Campaigns of 1884-85.

"The British troops that defeated Arabi's army in Egypt still wore red. Khaki drill had already been introduced to British troops serving in India, Aden, and Malta, and was soon Introduced to the army of occupation in Egypt. Thus it was that the first Suakin expedition under General Graham in 1884 was outfitted in khaki. Those staff officers who insisted on wearing red coats soon found themselves favored targets for Mahdist snipers."

I started thinking of a modification to TSATF regarding red-coated officers of otherwise khaki-coated troops, i.e. an additional hit number when being fired at or a "reward" for the native who kills him. The article made me want to watch "Khartoum" again. Christy and I missed a lot of it when originally released in the late 1960's; we were too busy hiding our faces before each attack……

olicana10 Oct 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Just finished Khartoum by Michael Asher which covers the whole of the Sudan period.

I've always been stuck as to which colonial period to do (I feel you have to do one colonial period) because most seem very one sided but that book has decided me. I'll do the first war and up to the decision to retake the Sudan – I'm not interested in doing Kitchener's invasion. I'm pretty sure I read that one battalion kept to wearing red. One 'platoon' wore red jumpers when they sailed (too late) to get Gordon out – the camel carrying the red coats they should have worn was lost, so they improvised.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 2:50 p.m. PST

At the Southern Front raffle on Saturday there were
two TSATF British units in a gray-brown khaki uniform.
1885 IIRC…

FearAndLoathing10 Oct 2017 2:51 p.m. PST

Battle of Ginnis, last major British action in the Mahdist War and the last time Brits wore the red coat in the Sudan (or possibly anywhere), makes a nifty little scenario. Also includes British and Egyptian Camel Corps, mounted infantry and cavalry, Royal artillery, gardner guns and the steamer Lotus, which provided fire support. You'll want to beef up the Dervish a bit to make a game out of it.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 3:19 p.m. PST

I've always preferred the Khaki look, "Gunga Din" and all that.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

Love the red coat and white helmet, but i have to admit that the khaki look is very cool – almost all of my colonial Brits are in khaki

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

Khaki for the campaigns in the Sudan.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

I went with khaki just because it is quicker to paint, especially with a black base coat.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member10 Oct 2017 6:19 p.m. PST

The British also wore their scarlet coats at Kirbekan, Feb. 1885 (as well as the battle of Ginnis, Dec. 1885) -- the infantry carried their scarlet frocks in their kit and donned them for battle when ordered during this period, even when they wore grey or khaki-dyed tunics as campaign dress.

Scarlet was worn on other foreign service through the early 20th century but not as normal battle dress.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 6:40 p.m. PST

I have both. Red coats for the Zulu wars and Khaki for the Sudan and Northwest Frontier.


Green Tiger11 Oct 2017 1:28 a.m. PST

Well apart from Zululand/Egypt where there are only minor differences the kit is different for each campaign so pick one and do that…

ITALWARS Inactive Member11 Oct 2017 2:12 a.m. PST

one scarlet clad British unit and two in kaki plus one highlanders one in kaki…
kaki British are more versatile (Sudan, NWF ecc…) plus 2nd Boer War in which British infantry should outnumber Boers so a pair of units and the single Highlanders one are useful..on the other hand the Red uniformed unit is normally fielded with other auxiliary types units like NNC, mounnted volunteers , salilors in blue or Egyptians in white

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2017 8:45 a.m. PST

Well apart from Zululand/Egypt where there are only minor differences the kit is different for each campaign so pick one and do that…

And only that? Are you saying that one can't use khaki clad Brits out of theatre?

Murvihill11 Oct 2017 10:03 a.m. PST

I'm working through a master plan to make three British armies for the Victorian era: One in red coats with shakos to cover ~1840 to 1860, one in red with pith helmets to cover 1860 to 1885 and one in khaki with pith helmets to cover 1885 to 1900. The weapons and kit won't be correct for every war, but at 1/72 they'll do for everyone but button counters.

For the OP, I wouldn't change the rules. Each figure represents ten men, not one and I wouldn't really call anyone in the Mahdi's army a 'sniper'. Part of the European army's strength is their command structure provided resilience so the loss of one guy in a red coat may not have had that much effect.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

Perry Miniatures has a good uniform guide for the Sudan. Scroll to the bottom for color plates. They had grey uniforms too.


Lion in the Stars11 Oct 2017 4:16 p.m. PST

@Olicana: The Pathan Revolt of 1897-98 is a pretty good spot. Lots of troops, and a positively insane number of disgruntled Pathans (though I think I repeat myself there).

Three whole divisions of Brit&Indian troops marching through the area of what is now the Pakistan FATA.

Green Tiger19 Oct 2017 3:44 a.m. PST

And only that? Are you saying that one can't use khaki clad Brits out of theatre?
- Yes
You wouldn't use ambush camouflaged panzers in 1940 games for example so why would you apply anachronisms to your colonial games?

Lion in the Stars19 Oct 2017 8:15 p.m. PST

Well, troops stationed in India went khaki long before troops stationed in the UK did.

So if you built them as the troops of the Raj it'd work. Lots of units assigned to Indian service got pulled into the Sudan or Boer War, to say nothing of all the action on the Northwest Frontier.

No Raj troops were deployed in the Zulu War, as far as I can tell.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.