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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The black and Tans


museumtom

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Can any member please tell me what insignia did the Black and Tans have? What was their collar/cap badge? Did their officers wear Black and Tan uniforms of just plain British Officers ones? Did their officers wear a black sam brown and black holster?

Regards.

Tom.

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My understanding is that the mixture of army and RIC uniform that gave this body their name was actually a relatively short lived affair and that most men were reasonably quickly issued with the standard RIC uniform and badges of the period. The Auxiliary Division of the RIC, with whom the Black and Tans are constantly confused did wear the uniforms of their former units for a longer period and as 'commissioned ranks' seem to have enjoyed rather laxer dress regulations especially when in the field. These men too however were eventually equiped with RIC uniform and badges which they topped off with a 'balmoral' cap upon which the RIC badge was worn with a red rosette backing. There is an excellent photograph of a party of Auxiliaries being inspected at Beggar's Bush barracks in James Gleeson's book 'Bloody Sunday'. In it they are wearing the standard RIC uniform with balmorals and black '03 pattern 5 pouch leather bandoliers.

I hope this helps.

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Dear Tom

The Black and Tans were recruits to the regular RIC. In the early states they seemed to wear army service dress and RIC caps plus an RIC waist belt with open holster etc. This had a snake buckle. The RIC 5 pouch black bandolier was also worn. Occasionally you see 1908 webbing.

The Auxiliary Divison was more varied. Officially they seem to have been issued with ORs service dress. Some seem to have worn their old army /RFC/RAF SD in the early stages. Then some seem to have adopted officers service dress with no rank badges very large balmoral (Khaki) with Harp and Crown and the Harp and Crown on the tunic lapels. Presumably these were the RIC Cap and collars Later still they went in to 'Patrol Blues' with high collar, smaller dark coloured balmoral and sometimes they wore their brasses polished. Bennett describes these as 'blues' but I wonder if they were very dark green or even black In the early days brown Sam Brownes or RIC Snake buckles belts and 5 pouch bandoliers. Sam Brownes were often converted with low 'Western Rig quick draw' revolver cases half way down the right leg. In photographs you sometimes see the red ? lozenge behind the badge ie like a square on its point. This is not always seen and I wonder if there were company variations. Seems more common in Dublin based companies.

Officially the RIC did not wear Sam Browne belts but the Royal Ulster Constabulary especially the A Specials seem to have worn them. see Sinclair. The RIC wore trousers but you sometimes see RUC A Specials wearing puttees under army ORs Service dress dyed green. I seem to remember reading somewhere that it was eventually found that the practice had started to make use of surplus uniforms but then new stocks had been purchased in khaki for a number of years and then dyed by the police later.

Hope this helps,

Greg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a book "The Black and Tans (The British Special Police in Ireland) by Richard Bennett ISBN 1-5866-3607-3

Below are a few quotes from it in relation to uniform:

"They wore a strange mixture of dark green tunics, khaki trousers, black belts and odd headgear, including civilian felt hats."

"The advertised wage of ten shillings a day and all found was a princely sum in the troubled and hungry 'twenties. There was no shortage of applicants, but there were not enough of the dark green RIC uniforms with which to clothe them. They were equipped with khaki service dress supplemented with constabularly uniform, and appeared in a strange medley of khaki and dark green, some in khaki tunic and green trousers, others in khaki alone, some with civilian hats, but most with the green caps and black leather belts of the RIC."

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Many thanks for all the information guys and gals.

Much appreciated.

Regards.

Tom.

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