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"British Guards light company shako" Topic

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Lambert Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2019 1:11 p.m. PST

I was at the Leeds Royal Armouries museum today and saw the attached notice describing a painting of the aftermath of Quatre Bras:

So did the light companies of the Guards wear a stovepipe shako? Or are they just wrong?

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

Apologies, this should be the correct link:


Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2019 1:38 p.m. PST

Probably a bit wrong. By Waterloo, the current belief is that all infantry were in Belgic shakos including the light infantry and the Rifles. (The 28th Gloucesters may have still been in the old shako but they were an anomaly.)

Glengarry523 Aug 2019 5:30 p.m. PST

I have never seen any reference to light infantry regiments and rifles at Waterloo wearing Belgic shakos. Light infantry companies of line and guard units certainly wore Belgic shakos as per the rest of their regiment. Light infantry and rifles regiments wore not stovepipes but their own light infantry pattern shakos while the 71st Highland lights wore a "cocked bonnet" imitating the light infantry shako pattern. If there is evidence otherwise I'd be curious to see it.

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 1:47 a.m. PST

Glengarry, I do not seem to have a single source regarding my assertion. I have picked up this impression from various sources from reinactors to articles in magazines.


I will be interested to see what 'Fashioning Regulation, Regulating Fashion: The Uniforms and Dress of the British Army 1800-1815 Volume II' has to say about this when it comes out.

Lord Hill24 Aug 2019 3:05 a.m. PST

Seems like whoever wrote that card at Leeds Armouries has a fundamental misunderstanding of flank company distinctions. Happy to be corrected, but I've never seen a source that mentions Light Coys in stovepipes.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 7:01 a.m. PST

It is very common to mistake flank/light companies in a Line of Guards Regt with members of a true Light Infantry Regt.


We have had much discussion here on the Belgic shako for Rifles and true Light Infantry Regts by Waterloo. It breaks my heart and I simply cannot accept the idea, but there is STRONG evidence cited. Let me find it…..

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 7:10 a.m. PST

Here are a few;

TMP link
TMP link
TMP link
TMP link

and some where I was told we must not call it a shako in British use, it is a cap. Blowed if I can remember why!

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 9:22 a.m. PST

The parlance when the shako was introduced was to call it a CAP as opposed to the older cocked hat which was, unimaginatively, a HAT. 'Shako' was probably eschewed as it sounded too foreign.

Regarding Belgic shakos for all, I have done a bit more digging around the sources and I think, to quote someone else, the best summary is the Scottish term of jurisprudence 'not proven' i.e. we think it may be so, but there is just not enough evidence.

Lord Hill24 Aug 2019 9:40 a.m. PST

I would just add that an order that a certain item of clothing was now to be issued is by no means proof that said item was worn!

Inspection reports make frequent mention of regiments still wearing "last year's uniform" and "the uniform issued last year has been kept in storage" etc.

Delort26 Aug 2019 3:38 a.m. PST

To mark the bi-centenary of Waterloo, the modern Rifles repulsing a portion of the imperial guard. I notice that both the 52nd and Rifles are represented in Belgic shakos/caps. Knowing that they went to some trouble to get the detail right, I wonder what evidence they based this decision on, given the collective view that they both wore stovepipes.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 6:05 a.m. PST

As per the various links, a well documented order to all regts in the British Army that the new Belgic cap was be universally adopted.

Now again, many such an order has never translated into practice. I hate the idea, but suspect there may be a basis for it. Makes me wonder how the 71st managed then. Their headgear was not even a light infantry stovepipe, however much it resembled it

4th Cuirassier26 Aug 2019 12:00 p.m. PST

In British army parlance a "cap" was an item of headgear with a peak. A hat had a rim.

42flanker26 Aug 2019 5:02 p.m. PST

deadhead- the 71st were granted dispensation to retain the bonnet cocked in cap form after they 'lost' their kilted Highland status and became trousered LI. This persisted in various forms until after the Crimean war when regulation shakos with bands of dicing were adopted.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2019 7:22 a.m. PST

Thanks both. At least I now know the 71st looked like they had a stovepipe still. I simply cannot see the Rifles or 52nd in anything but…..

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