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Help with uniform details


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I am at a dead end looking for info on my great great grandfather.

I think he was too old for 14-18 but you guys have been really helpful in the past and I'm getting desterate!

Thomas (James?) Radford lived in Stoke on Trent but may have been born in Manchaster.


Born 1865/6 (died 1928) - believed to have been in the South Staffs

The photo was taken in Gibraltar (according to the mount). From what I can gather the South Staffs were in Gibraltar 1881-4 and in the 1890's. In the family he was always referred to as Sargeant Major Radford (though this may have not been based on fact!!).

He was listed as 'Reservist 1st Bttn South Staffs' on his sons birth certificate in Jan 1901 but he does not appear on the April 1901 census.

Could he have been with the 1st South Staffs in the Boer War at that time?.

Re the photo: Is he in 'dress uniform'?, Is the stripe a good service-type insignia? Does the small stick in his hand have any significance?

Any help with this would be gratefully received as my parents paid a military researcher to look him up and he found absolutely nothing!

I'll put this in the Staffs forum as well - If the mods feel that it's not appropriate please remove it.

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He is wearing the 1881 pattern scarlet tunic with "jam pot" cuffs. The collar and cuffs are in white for none "Royal" regiments and Royal regiments had their collars and cuffs in dark blue. His shoulder title is in white worsted cotton and probaly reads "S.STAFFORDSHIRE"(if I could read it properly) on a plain scarlet shoulder strap. The 'stick' is actually known as a walking out cane and was part of your dress when leaving barracks. At the top was a whitemetal tip which had on it a badge of a regimental design.

The inverted chevron on his lower left arm is a "good conduct badge" and usually awarded for two years good conduct which was a clean sheet in your records, but because of the way it is awarded you cannot automatically presume the man has been in the Army for two years.

He would have left the Army to become a Reservist(as on the birth certificate) and under the terms of service it would have been seven years Colour service and five years on the Reserve(unless discharged by other means). Now because it says "Reservist 1st Bn, South Staffs" on the certificate it is quite likely that he been recalled to serve. The 1st Bn, S.Staffs had infact moved to South Africa in 1899 and remained in the Orange River Colony and Transvaal until 1904 when they moved to Ireland.

So its quite possible that he moved to join his battalion in South Africa in 1901, if he is not to be found at home on the 1901 census. However he may have also been at the Regimental Depot at Lichfield waiting to move to S.A.. If he did serve in S.A. it would have been for the duration of the campaign, before being sent home around 1903.

If he did serve in South Africa he would certainly have been eligible for a least one if not two medals and should be on the S.A. Medal Rolls for the S.Staffs.

Certainly not a definate answer to your question, but hopefully some have been answered.



Could you please delete the other duplicate post you've created as people will only get confused.

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Thanks very much for your reply.

As the South staffs were in Gibraltar 1881-4 and in the 1890's is it possible from the umiform to tell which tour it may have been taken on? i.e was the 1881 pattern tunic still in use in the 1890's or had it been replaced?

As I previously said, Thomas Radford was missing from the 1901 census but he was also missing from the 1891 census - beinig Gibraltar may have been the answer.

Does the uniform give any clues as to rank? I believe that the Sargeant Magor rank of family fokelore may not be the case!

I hve tried to delete the other post but cant find how to do it. Any kind mods of other help will be greatfully received

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The 1881 pattern scarlet uniform remained in use until around 1902, when it was replaced with a uniform with a pointed cuff. In this photo no rank is apparent, so he is obviously a "private". However you don't know when the photo was taken.

Your dates of service for the S.Staffs are slghtly out of sync as they should be;-

Egypt - 1884 to 1886. Includes Nile Expedition 1884/85; Present at Kirbekan.

Gibraltar - 1886.

Egypt - 1891.

England - 1893.

Ireland - 1898.

Gibraltar - 1899; From here to South Africa.


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