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"Collecting info on British NW Frontier Units, 1897 Uprising" Topic


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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Stalkey and Co13 Aug 2020 5:36 p.m. PST

Hello, Unsurprisingly I guess I'm working on a NW Frontier project with a couple of mates. As part of it, I'm collecting info on painting British units [later, Indian also] for the NW Frontier Rising of 1897, that of the "Mad Mullah" and the Malakand Field Force that Churchill made famous.

My notes are below, but please LMK if there are corrections or additions that you have! Also, if you have additional resources, whether books, film, articles, or videos, please post them here.

India: Greater uniformity due to early introduction of khaki.

Exceptions to all-khaki outfits are kilts, hose and spats of Highland and tartan trews of Lowland regiments. Scottish BN khaki frocks had cutaway skirts like their scarlet frocks ["cutaway" means that the front doesn't overlap much, and is rounded off, unlike the right angles and overlapping of the usual coat].

Sewing of cartridge loops above the breast pockets fairly common 10 easily accessible rounds.

Shoulder chains worn by British cavalry, copied from Indian Cavalry silver on white cloth, atop both shoulders.

"Undress" uniform worn in field "dress" is for parade, e.g. the modern "dress mess" formal jackets.


Helmets: white [!?], with khaki covers. May have distinguishing insignia, such as a scarlet fold in the puggaree [cloth helmet cover] of the 2BN Northumberland Fus, or the bronze badge of the 1BN Buffs, or a red color swatch [square] with white letters/numbers. Enlisted helmets could vary in shape between battalions, but officer's purchased helmets were usually the same shape. Chinstrap was brown and worn up or down, brass button.

Drill frock [jacket]: Khaki, brass buttons, khaki cuff with point [up] like a chevron can draw in dark brown pen.

Equipment: By 1897 Rising, 1888 Slade-Wallace equipment in buff for most British BN. The Sam Browne belt of officers, [Oxfordshire Lt. Infantry] was also brown leather, in which case the braces and canteen strap match, but the haversack was still off-white. Northampshires stained their equipment khaki. 1894 pouches could be grey, off-white or white.

Haversack: always off-white.

India pattern canteen: khaki, brown strap, metal stopper with white string.

Mess tin: dulled metal, could have black cover.


Guns: usual medium stained brown with black metal, i.e. bluing.

Sword: newer had steel guard, older a brass one.

Bayonet: black scabbard with brass fittings, steel with brown grip.


Trousers: khaki, but in winter could be dark blue serge with red stripe of home service, or blue dungarees. Also cord breeches [reinforced on inner thighs] and canvas gaiters for mounted infantry.

Puttees: darker khaki, blue for mounted or Royal Artillery, "quite pale" with contrasting tie atop.

Shoes: black or brown.


Rank: Captains two brass stars or "pips", Lieutenants one pip, 2nd Lieutenants none.

Rank Chevrons [points down, upper right sleeve only!] Sergeants have gold chevrons on red [removed from scarlet jackets?] while corporals had white. KOSB and Gordons followed earlier practice of wearing red chevrons on khaki or white.

Good Conduct Chevrons could match, red on khaki, point up on left sleeve above cuff.

Badges such as Signaller would be worn above Good Conduct Chevron.

Rifle BDE at Tochi: dressed as English infantry but with black accoutrements and puttees.


Unit Selection:

1BN, Northamptonshire Regt. heavily engaged.

Durban Gamer14 Aug 2020 3:51 a.m. PST

Read that stirring Malakand account by Churchill many years ago. Thanks for posting those excellent notes which are clearly the result of a lot of research. Encouraging me to get rolling with my 1/300 NWF!

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2020 8:30 p.m. PST

I recently read (well, about a year and a half ago) Pathan Rising: Jihad On The North West Frontier Of India 1897-1898 by Mark Simner. Good overall account, decent number of photos and maps, a nice glossary of native terms. Might be worth a look depending on how extensive your library is.

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