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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Tunic cloth


Tony Cox
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Might it be a battalion patch used in an action to try and keep the battalion together. As men went forward they could be followed. I think Divisional patches were worn on the sleeve.

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The very well known "Black Flash" is a regimental distinction of the Royal Welch Fusiliers which dates from the days when greased queues were worn & it was still part of their uniform in the 1970s.

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This is purely worn by the RWF to this day and as Arabis states dates back to the day when greased queues were worn.

I am certain that Frogsmile will be able to give chapter and verse on the history of this unique? accoutrement.

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Yes it's the RWF flash. Originally worn by officers and HQ staff sergeants only, it was later extended to all ranks. The officer and warrant officer pattern is now generally 9 inches long and that for the other ranks around 6 inches. It is thought to be a representation of the ribbons that secured the greased queue which had its clubbed end then tucked up (pinned) under the rear of the cap. This clubbing and tucking was a 'style' of wear worn by men of grenadier companies (right flank) and later adopted by fusiliers as a mark of their grenadier status and style of dress (for the whole battalion rather than just one flank company of other regiments).

When the hair style changed the RWF were overseas and were rather peremptorily ordered to remove it following an inspection upon their return. Rather than be humiliated the commanding officer (Harrison from memory) rode to see the Adjutant General (I think) at 'Horse Guards' (Army HQ London) who sought formal permission from the King for the regiment to retain its flash as a distinction and this was duly granted.

In WW1 Kitchener tried to have the flash removed as it gave away the regiments identity and thus contravened security measures, but this was refused by King George V who is alleged to have said that the Germans would not see the 'backs' of the Royal Welsh.

The shoulder title on your 'jacket' (it is not a 'tunic', which was a full dress garment) is unusual and of a type worn at a particular time and by a particular battalion. As such it is relatively rare.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks Frogsmile for that detailed explanation, I stand corrected on tunic/jacket.

Thank you

Tony

Glad to help Tony. Incidentally Birmingham famously provided large numbers of men for the 2nd Battalion RWF before WW1 and some during it too.

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Greased queue? I feel like I've landed in another forum! What's that?

I've tried Google. No help.

Dave

The queue is the plait and clubbed end combined. It was greased and powdered. Its origin was as a grenadier's hairstyle. Perhaps you could find something under "grenadiers clubbed hairstyle".

post-599-0-81484700-1439251142_thumb.jpg

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The queue is the plait and clubbed end combined. It was greased and powdered. Its origin was as a grenadier's hairstyle. Perhaps you could find something under "grenadiers clubbed hairstyle".

Never came across the term or the hairstyle before. Thanks for the clarification Frogsmile.

Dave

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Never came across the term or the hairstyle before. Thanks for the clarification Frogsmile.

Dave

Glad to help Dave, it was really just a feature of 18thC hairstyles in society at large, and the military aspect was the tucking up under the cap out of the way.
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Stand to be corrected on both these points, but I was told that the original use was to keep the grease from the 'pony tail' from staining the back of the tunic, rather than to tie the pigtail up. At one time, again no details to hand, I understand that the flash was ordered to be removed, somehow it was not!

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Before I get too excited, is the original poster absolutely certain that the garment is kosher? Although no expert I agree that only"staff" sergants and above wore the flash on SD during our period, and there appears to be no ranking on the garment. Also [and here I need Frogsmile] I am surprised that the flash is attached to the top of the collar, making it difficult or impossible to turn up.

If the garment is kosher, the shoulder title is indeed most interesting, because it is believed to be a 2nd RWF sand-cast title worn in India c. 1910. Westlake called it an unknown.

I own one [see avatar] but I have never seen an illustration of one being worn, let alone on SD.

I shall ask Grovetown to have a look.

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Before I get too excited, is the original poster absolutely certain that the garment is kosher? Although no expert I agree that only"staff" sergants and above wore the flash on SD during our period, and there appears to be no ranking on the garment. Also [and here I need Frogsmile] I am surprised that the flash is attached to the top of the collar, making it difficult or impossible to turn up.

If the garment is kosher, the shoulder title is indeed most interesting, because it is believed to be a 2nd RWF sand-cast title worn in India c. 1910. Westlake called it an unknown.

I own one [see avatar] but I have never seen an illustration of one being worn, let alone on SD.

I shall ask Grovetown to have a look.

The flash was usually stitched to the top of the collar in the way shown. The few WW1 era photos that I have seen showing the rear of soldiers gathered in a group indicate this has always been the case.

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Stand to be corrected on both these points, but I was told that the original use was to keep the grease from the 'pony tail' from staining the back of the tunic, rather than to tie the pigtail up. At one time, again no details to hand, I understand that the flash was ordered to be removed, somehow it was not!

I have seen that explanation too but after looking into it and reading as far back as possible I believe it to be an error. The best explanation that I have read was a transcript of a conversation between RWF officers and USMC officers at the relief of Peking in 1900. This made clear that the flash commemorates, as a token, the ribbons used to secure the queue before it was clubbed and tucked up, and was clearly the 'regimental line' or explanation at the time. The protection from grease seems to be a misinterpretation that has gained credence from repetition over a long period since then.

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Fair enough I think, although the idea of being tied to your tunic seems and oddity!

You misunderstand, that is why I used the term "token". Clearly the officers did not want to wear their hair in an 18thC style or sport a ribbon in it. Ergo the ribbon was attached to the collar as a pragmatic token of remembrance of the old grenadier (and by extension fusilier) hair style.

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The flash in your first post seems to be stitched onto the collar? The last photo above seems to be attached under the collar.

Is there a right and wrong way for it to be attached?

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The flash in your first post seems to be stitched onto the collar? The last photo above seems to be attached under the collar.

Is there a right and wrong way for it to be attached?

In modern times it was stitched on top of the collar. It seems as if previously it was stitched underneath on khaki SD, but it might perhaps have varied in the different types of battalion, especially those that were war-raised. All full dress examples I have seen it was stitched to the back of the upright collar.

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Hi

As requested by Grumpy here are some shots of the jacket.

Tony

Looks like a man from the 2nd Battalions MMG section before WW1. Qualified range taker and machine gun instructor.

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