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2nd February 2005Bayonets of the 24th
By Mike Snook
In one of the recent topics about close quarter fighting, we got into discussion of bayonet types and how it was difficult to know whether the 1st/24th had receieved Patt 1876 Socket Bayonets at 22 inches long, or still had Pattern 1853/72 at 17 inches long. We concluded that it might have been possible that the two battalions of the 24th may have had different types of bayonet, one being longer at the Cape than the other - 1875 compared to 1878.

Adrian Whiting are you there?

I am satisfied now that I know the right answer. Yesterday I was visited by a collector of my acquaintance who brought with him both types of bayonet. Next we dug out Lt Lloyd's painitng from life of 2 soldiers of 1st/24th deployed in battered campaign gear. This I date as sometime after December 1877 but before the (UK) summer of 1878.

First, is it possible that a mark of bayonet dated 1876 could have been in Africa by Dec 77. Well yes it is. 61,436 were produced by Enfield in a bracket defined as 1876-77. So by the tail end of that period, the great majority of that number were out in the field army. It is a big number against the size of the regular infantry at that time. They would have got the new bayonet as a matter of priority - so the law of averages dictates the balance of probability in favour of the new bayonet.

Back to the Lloyd sketch. As I was looking at it last night it suddenly dawned on me that Lloyd had not just done the sketch from life, whilst deployed in the field, but that he had clearly got two real soldiers to pose for him for an extended period of time. The men are in the sort of poses one would associate with a Victorian photograph. So here we are - what is effectively a photo in watercolour!!

This is important in assessing the worth of the Lloyd picture as a source from which to judge patterns of bayonet.

OK. We fitted the two bayonets to my MH and compared and contrasted with the Lloyd sketch. We stood and sat and held the weapons in exactly the same poses. The answer becomes glaringly obvious right away. I remarked to Adrian when we discussed this originally on the forum that I thought the bayonet scabbards in the sketch looked very long. Well it is becuase they are defintely pattern 1876. There is no mistaking it.

The tip of the bayonet in the standing figure in the sketch is several inches clear of the top of his head. With a 17 inch bayonet (overall length of rifle and bayonet 5 ft 2 '') the soldier would have to be only 5ft 3 in tall for the bayonet to stand several inches above his head. But look at what Lloyd has drawn. He is a long legged slim man. He is in fact about 5ft 10 in tall, possibly 5 ft 11. He most definteli is not 5 ft 3. I am 6 ft 1in tall and I look ever so slightly downwards at the point of a pattern 1853/72 but up at the tip of a patt 1876. Look next at how far down the man's leg the scabbard extebds - to the knee. No way a 53/72 does that. It is even more obvious in the case the sitting figure.

Finally the 53/72 has an outwards (or downwards if you will) cant when fixed. The 1876 is dead straight - just like the fixed bayonet in Lloyd's sketch.

Q.E.D. The 1st Battalion 24th Regt of Foot recieved a re-issue of 1876 pattern bayonets in advance of the Zulu War. They fought with 22 inches of cold steel. And that, let me tell you, having had a play with it last night, is a lot of cold steel!!

Probably some people have done the same experiment in the re-enacting world, but if they have, they didn't contribute to the last discussion - so this for those of us who didn't know the answer. Now we do.
2nd February 2005Mike Snook
Correction overall length of MH and 17 in bayonet is 5 ft 7 not 5 ft 2 - (just a typo it affects nothing else above

2nd February 2005Paul Cubbin
Just a small aside, no real relevance - at 5' 10" that soldier would have stood out in the ranks as a big lad. In them those days, of course, people tended to be shorter - just look at the average height for guardsmen. Your good self at 6' 1" would have been a monster (Patrick Harper proportions) whereas I at a moderate (but perfectly formed) 5' 9" would have been fairly big, but not remarkably so..
2nd February 2005Mike Snook

Can't agree. Bit of an urban legend, I'm afraid. Romans significantly smaller than us. Victorians not so.

They wouldn't have given a whole load of shorties a 22 in bayonet to cap a 4ft 2 in rifle!! It becomes extremely unwieldy for shorter guys.


2nd February 2005Peter Ewart

Enjoyed the explanation of the bayonet research above. Weapon technicalities not my speciality but I thoroughly enjoy a bit of deduction of that sort.

I tend to agree with Paul that a 5'10" chap would be above average, if not well above average, and would stand out as tallish, during the late 19th century British Army ORs.

I suspect research has been done on heights in the ranks for various periods, but if I get the chance in the next day or so I'll try to produce an average height for those army service records I have from WO97 in my possession. Probably too small a sample to be convincing, but it includes a dozen or so from the Crimea to WW1. I recall a fair few 5'3" and 5' 4" chaps and not many (if any) at 5'10". Some others on this forum will undoubtedly have larger samples.

I accept that we haven't always been getting bigger - that is a myth, otherwise the Saxons would have been midgets. But was not the 2nd half of the 19th century a period of slowing, halting or even reduction in height rates in the population? The diet of the agricultrural labourer at this time was most certainly worse than that of his counterpart a century earlier (speaking generally) and the conditions of the urban poor hardly need comment. From such stock the Victorian army recruited its infantry. Chest measurements on my WO97s are tiny. (Of course, the Victorians could have been skinny but tall!)

Officers are excluded for this. I have read - but can't quote chapter & verse today - that the average height of 1914-18 officers was several inches higher than ORs.

Quite what the reason is for the current exponential height increase in today's youth of both sexes I don't know, but I'd love to see it projected on a graph of, say, the last 150 years! I've heard it's not officially remarkable but find that very to believe.

2nd February 2005Mike Snook
Peter and Paul,

Roger to your observations. I look forward to seeing your analysis Peter - it should be interesting. But the post is about which bayonet was in service not the average height of a wheezing extra in Oliver. (Only joking). Please look at Lloyd's drawing - it is quite clear that he has not drawn a man of 5ft 3'' which is what he would HAVE to be, for a 17 inch bayonet (or a 5 ft 7inch combination of rifle and bayonet) to stand several inches above his head. That is the point.

Remember that Frank Bourne was 5' 6 and was considered to be a small bloke. There is no way that the average size of Victorian recuits was anything around that - the empire was won at the point of the bayonet, by (where deemed necessary) killing people up close and personal - this requires a certain amount of physical robustness, brawn and stature. I can believe in an average of 5 8 or 5 9 (which is where I think you are steering your estimate Peter, unless I read you wrong)but not anything as low (no pun intended!) as 5 6. Anyway the point about my man (or Lloyd's man) is that he defintiely is not 5 ft 3.

Look also at the photographs of the real men. (They are no different to my soldiers). Remember that Victorian soldiers were well fed, though most historians invariably manage to make it sound like a ration of gruel and worms! They undertook physical training pretty much every day. Not I grant you that this makes you taller! Of course it is perfectly possible, to join the army at 18 and be a couple of inches taller by 21, when it's commonly held none of us gets any taller. Waist and chest sizes bear no correlation between enlistment and three or four years later.

I agree that officers have always been taller and better looking. They still are!

2nd February 2005Paul Cubbin
Officers who have not come through the ranks or gone through Rowallan Company at Sandhurst (well, Brecon) are all inbred, underworked and overpriviledged (this is a fact attested to by the ten greatest thinkers of our time, including Gail Porter), but enough of that.
I know its a good sixty years before the time we are looking at, but its the only thing I have to hand. The 1813 Annual Inspection Report of the 2nd Dragoon Guards - who were deliberately recruited for their large size, remember - shows that (roughly) 10% were under 5'6" / 17% were 5'6" to 5'7" / 22% were 5'7" to 5'8" / 21% were 5'8" to 5'9" / 14% were 5'9" to 5'10" / 14% were 5'10" to 6' / and only 2% were over 6' ! This shows that even in a regiment of big lads, the average height was about 5'8" or less. I am willing to guess that today, the average height of a Dragoon Guards soldier is over 6'. My father is 5'6" and served for forty years and rarely met anyone shorter than himself. There are no height restrictions these days - I wonder if there were back then? If so, you can surmise that recruits would by definition have to be, on average, taller than their civilian counterparts. I'll see if I can get anything more concrete, but this one is nearly 100% - Victorians were little! The average height today is 5'10" - just 20 years ago it was 5'9". Were are getting taller (I'm bloody not, just wider).
2nd February 2005John Young

Are talking about Lloyd's original material or the print which appeared in 'On Active Service'?

If it were a painting from life as you state, then why are the two soldiers wearing post-1881 serges? Jam-pot cuffs these boys were ahead of their time!

John Y.
2nd February 2005Mike McCabe
It is simplistic to argue that earlier populations were generically smaller, especialy when quoting 'cavalry' figures. In the greater part of the 19th century 'fat' people were a relative rarity, and setting height as a selection criterion meant that most individuals of a particular height were statistically likely to fall within an associated weight range. This would be an important issue in the selection of mounted dutymen, simply because of the requirement to procure horses to carry that individualsweight, and also to recruit a man likely to have at least enough body mass to develop the required musculature to handle his horse and a range of weapons.

In some cases, a man also had to be selected who was not too tall (so that he would remain at therequired weight, and also remain agile and nimble). For example, in the Royal Engineers of the 1870s, Sappers were required to be "5ft 6in and upwards in height" whereas Royal Engineer Drivers (of horsed transport) were only allowed to be "5ft 4in to 5ft 6in in height".

There a several large collections of uniforms that also demonstrate the great range of heights and bodyweights in European military populations in the 19th century, and 18th. Perhaps the most persuasive examples are in the Chateau Museum in Salon de Provence, where a very surprising cross section of heights is evident in a collection of several hundred uniforms, with heavy horsemen often being at a high average. However, this largely represents the less industrialised French population of the Napoleonic period and 1870s, and the differing French Army view of how 'heavy horse' should be selected, trained and mounted.
In the British practice, differing requirements were placed upon Dragoons, Dragoon Guards, and Household Cavalry at various stages in their evolution.

It's also instructive to look at old photographs of Victorian Army units, especially some of the Fenton work from the Crimea - which show both a mixed range of heights, and body mass in British Infantry and artillery. So, more careful generalisations, please!

2nd February 2005Paul Cubbin
Aha! A mad and frantic search later and we have it.
In the mid to late 19th century the average height of a British soldier was 5'8" - by the Zulu War (possibly as a result of the recruitment drives and Cardwell reforms) it had dropped to a staggering 5'4". Remember also, anyone recruited from Wales would be likely to an inch or so shorter than their English counterparts as the Welsh are on average smaller in height. The average height of a soldier in 1998 was 5'11" (this from my Dad in Army Medical Services!). From a study on the average height of soldiers (which I have neither the time or patience to carry out) I am willing to theorise that there would be a sharp drop during periods of mass recruitment, conscription and national service due to the fact that men (and women) who would not normally consider themselves candidates for such a vigorous and physical lifestyle are suddenly in uniform. Not that wee fellas aren't vicious too, but I think you get the drift.
Mike - I wasn't questioning the authenticity of your piccies or your conclusions, just making a comment on the difference in heights between then and now.
Isn't it strange how many new twists and turns there are in subject that is over 125 years old! You'd have thought that everything had been put to bed by now, no wonder so many authors write several books about the same subject!
2nd February 2005Paul Cubbin
MikeMc - you were posting just as I was! The Dragoon Guards were recruited for their overall size - height and muscularity. It was important to be able to dominate your cavalry opponent physically and the techniques of cavalry swordplay of the period demonstrates the need for a long reach and heavy hand. Unless the man is an orangutan I would say a long reach equals a tall man most of the time. I think we're on safe ground if we say that they were of a greater average height than an infantryman. But really, I only put it in for interest, I'm not presenting to the Royal Society or anything. As for the newer figures above, if you want something more carefully generalised - DO IT YOURSELF - I'm going to have my tea. No, I'm not an expert (you may be able to tell !), just an enthusiast who made an innocent comment. Accurate statistics? Who cares....
2nd February 2005Glenn Wade
Good God John, well spotted! The countless times I have looked at that sketch I had never noticed the cuffs.
2nd February 2005Keith Smith

The question of the heights of soldiers sent me rushing to my copy of Skelly's "Victorian Army at Home". On p. 307, Skelly gives the percentages of men's heights for the years 1874, 1876, 1878 and 1880 for those under 5' 7" and those over 5' 7". His figures for those years are: 60.4%, 59.5%, 57.1%, and 60.2%. Clearly, the average height of the men during that decade was taller than 5' 7".

His table on p. 283 shows that less than 2.5% of men were under 5' 3" during the same period.

Skelly observes, however, that there was a general reduction in overall average heights of servicemen from 1861 to 1898, which he attributes to lower physical standards imposed by the army and a decline in recruitment in rural areas.

2nd February 2005Keith Smith

Sorry, I did not make it clear above that the percentages I quoted were for those men who were 5. 7" or taller.
2nd February 2005Peter Ewart

Further to the above, I've undertaken a little exercise as promised earlier, but I hasten to add that anything claimed by Mike on the bayonet question is by no means being gainsaid - not by me anway. I enjoyed that explanation & will dig out the sketches myself later to follow his argument more closely. Any confirmation or qualification of those points will have to come from one of our uniforms or weapons experts.

As this therefore has no bearing on the bayonet question, but is a result only of that topic shooting off at a tangent for a while, I did consider continuing it under a new thread, but the subsequent posts have followed it up anyway so I'll continue here.

Well, I managed to dig out exactly a dozen. There may be more somewhere but I've untidied enough drawers and files by rummaging & have been ordered to stop! I readily concede that twelve is a tiny sample & therefore cannot claim to be remotely scientific. It's been a fascinating exercise, however, and at least it is a totally random sample and they haven't been extracted artifically to prove a point.

All examples are from copies of army service records in WO97. I'll set them out in chronological order of enlistment, followed by age; regiment; my own knowledge of their economic/social background; chest measurement(s) and, finally, height. Rather than work out how to express vulgar fractions on my keyboard, I'll give fractions of an inch in decimal. (For those born too recently in this accursed metric age - tough!) One or two of these recruits were related to each other, which possibly reduces the random nature slightly, but not by much.

1836. 20. Rfle/Bde. Rural/labouring. No chest given. 5ft 8.5"

1849. 18. Rfl/Bde. Rural/very poor. No chest given. 5ft 6.5"

1877. 18. 2/24. Urban/labouring (+ ex-militia). 34". 5ft 5.5"

1886. 18. Essex Regt. Irish/educated. 33". 5ft 3.25"

1891. 18. 20th Hrs. Rural/skilled manual. 33"/35". 5ft 6.25"

1895. 19. Buffs. Mkt town/labouring. 33"/34.5" 5ft 6.75"

1897. 18. Coldstream Gds. Rural/labouring. 35"/37" 5ft 8.5"

1898. 19. Ditto. Rural/skilled manual. 34.5"/36.5" 5ft 7.75"

1905. 19. 15th Hrs. Mkt town/poor (+ ex-militia). 34"/36" 5ft 7.5"

1914. 18. AIF. 1st Generation Aussie/rural (parents Kent/rural). 32"/34" 5ft 4"

1914. 18. Buffs. Mkt town/poor. 31.5"/34.5" 5ft 4.75"

1914. 19. RAMC. Urban/trade. 31"/33" 5ft 5.5"

Not sure whether the two Riflemen or two Hussars distort the sample at all, but presumably two Guardsmen would distort it upwards? Again, obviously not a large or reliable sample, but of the twelve, FIVE were UNDER 5 ft 6 and only TWO were above 5 ft 8 (the pre-Victorian recruit and one of the two Guardsmen). Not a single one was as tall as 5 ft 9 and the shortest, at 5 ft 3.25", doesn't appear at all "out of kilter" with the others.


1. The 1836 Rifleman was the same height on discharge (but was already 20 on attestation anyway).

2. The 1877 recruit to the 2/24 was RD defender 1497 Pte Wall. On discharge to a lunatic asylum over four years later he hadn't grown at all. (Lee - I've now found the notes I transcribed from his personal medical case file in the asylum. Do you want a copy? Ditto Martin, RRW?)

3. After "6 months service & gymnastic course" the 1905 Buff had grown 1.5 inches, 1 stone 2 lbs & 1.5 inches in the chest!

4. By 1914 (on re-enlistment with the Ryl Sussex) the 1895 Buff (now 38!) had grown half an inch in both height & chest. (My maternal grandfather. Given his well chronicled intake of Sussex ale I suspect he'd gained a little bit round the middle too).

Not that any of this actually proves anything, but perhaps gives a flavour? I'm sure Edward Spiers ("The Late Victorian Army 1868-1914") has plenty to say on all this but I've been too busy digging out attestations to look!

3rd February 2005Michael Boyle
Just for consideration ;

"Primitive or non-existent cooking facilities, lack of cheap fuel, poverty, ignorance, and adulterated foods combined to produce a nation, not of John Bulls but, by today's standards, of pygmies, who were undernourished, anaemic, feeble and literally rickety" Quoted from:

The site contains many contemporary discourses on Victorian working-class conditions as well as modern thoughts.


3rd February 2005Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
We know the exact length of a Martini Henry Rifle. Why not use that for scale then speculate on the height of an unknown soldier?
3rd February 2005Paul Cubbin
Barry - that is one of those brilliant observations that leaves people thinking, "Now why didn't I think of that!"

Mike - sorry to divert your post - didn't mean to, just making an innocent comment! Good news about your picture, its nice when something that niggles you is finally cleared up.
3rd February 2005Mike Snook

Not quite as straightforward or scientific as you suggest I'm afraid, due to the angle the rifle is resting at, (which would require a technical drawing not an art sketch to guarantee its accuracy), the headress of the man concerned, the gradient on which he may or may not be standing etc. There is margin of error of anything between 5ft 6 and 5ft 9 I would say.

My best best calculation is that we are looking at a 6 foot rifle and bayonet combination, which protudes 4'' above the head of a man who is 5 ft 8 in tall, and whose eyes are at 5 ft 4 above the ground.

The only thing that matters however is, could he possibly be 5 ft 3 or smaller? (In order for 4 inches of a 5ft 7 bayonet rifle combination to be 4 inches above his head). The protuding above the head height is key - because Lloyd drew what he was looking at. I have allowed for a protuberance of 4 inches above head height, because it is drawn as about the same distance between the man's eye level and the top of his head - typically 4 but sometimes 5 inches in men of mid range heights.

But the man's rifle is held at a low angle so that it might be a bigger distance than 4 inches above his head, but defintely not a smaller one.

If a man of 5ft 3 had legs as long as this punter (in comparison to the length of his torso), then he would be a freak of nature.

John Y

It is my view that there is no question about the authenticity of the Lloyd sketches - they are a rare and absolutely bona fide insight into the era. When last I saw David Rattray he had been travelling Zululand with the sketches matching them precisely to the ground. He showed me modern photographs he himself had taken of the very rocks, and I mean individual boulders, that Lloyd had drawn in some of his backgrounds or his landscapes. David was able to fix Lloyd's position on the ground precisely.

But Lloyd is not perfect - he has not drawn in any studs on the bayonet scabbards which both types of scabbard actually had. (One had two studs and one had three, so the most critically important detail is missing - dammit!)

The soldiers are not wearing 1881 tunics. Nor are they wearing the 5 button undress frock, or 7 button 'best' tunic worn in most of the 1879 photos.

Look at Ian Knight's photos of Sgt Cooper, one dated c 1873 and the other in the second half of 1878 (so dated because Cooper is wearing his post Transkei campaign beard), and therefore taken in a studio in one of King, Durban or Pietermaritzburg.

In the 1878 phot he is wearing a tunic with the crow's foot decoration and facing colour at the front of the cuff - the tunic we are all familiar with. It is my view that the 1st Bn were issued with these new tunics when they came in to King after the frontier war and before they moved to Natal. In 1873 Cooper is wearing another pattern of tunic, (with which I am not familiar but will now look up) which has a quite different, single loop, pattern of piping which appears to go all the way around the arm.

In 1878 Godwen-Austen senior (2nd Bn of course) was wearing an OR's frock with no decoration at the cuffs when he was accidentally wounded in the Ciskei. Apart from telling us that officers did not wear their expensive tailor made tunics in the field, it also tells us that piping was removed for field service, or there was a pattern of ORs tunic which didn't have any to begin with. (G-A's tunic is at Brecon).

The pattern of tunic that the 1/24 soldiers are wearing in the sketch is, in my opinion, the same one as in the 1873 phot of Cooper. It has pointed green collar tabs, white piping on the shoulder straps and a 24 numeral, exactly as Lloyd has drawn it. I can't tell on the Cooper photo whether the area inside the single loop piping is red or green. Lloyd's men have removed the piping, and have left a round cuff visible. When Lloyd's sketches were coloured in by him (or I suppose possibly by somebody else) for publication, which I accept came later, they washed the area constrained by the line Lloyd drew originally, (which could simply denote a visible mark where the single loop piping had been removed), in green. This may or not be right -somebody who knows the pattern of tunic Cooper is wearing will be able to help us out here - was the area inside the piping red (in which case a mistake was made in colouring the sketch) or was it green in which case the sketch is exactly right?

Interestingly Lady Butler who took a great deal of care with her portrayal as we know, shows no cuff decorations on the tunics at RD.

Anyway, I'm happy that I'm looking at P1876 bayonets and that's what I will run with in my books.

Now we move from bayonets, via average heights, to field sketching and so on to tunic patterns!!

I look forward to the next set of posts!



3rd February 2005John Young

In a previous thread I have asked about Lloyd's sketches, whether that is lost in the ether of the crash I'm not sure.

I don't doubt Lloyd's topographical interpretations, but I do doubt either his or the person who added the colour to his images of the men.

Plate 19 'The Colours': white facings, pointed cuffs; white expense pouches. Three studs on the bayonet scabbard though.

Pointed cuffs feature in a number of the plates - the 1868 pattern o/r's tunic had pointed cuffs. The facing colour was also worn on the collar and the shoulder straps. Numerals were worn on the shoulder straps. The frock at that period was blue, there is a well-known image of the Corps of Drums of the 2nd/24th in India circa 1871/2 wearing the blue frock round forage cap.

Then came the 1872 pattern frock which is what 1313 Thomas Cooper is wearing in his beardless photograph. Single loop of white braid around the cuff detail. Cuff and collar all around in the facing colour.

The 1874 patterns of tunic & frock are familiar, I'm sure to many here, with their trefoil knots & collar patches.

I have seen Alfred Godwin-Austen's frock, (Not a 'tunic' Mike!), yes it is an other-ranks frock of the 1874 but devoid of piping, and cuff colour. The cuff and collar patches were just sewn on, and could be easily removed. Look at the inventory of the 'Clyde' it was carrying cuff and collar facings. The easy removal facilitated changes of units, when drafts had to make up losses. Look at the number of men from the 32nd Light Infantry who supplemented other units in haste in 1879.

However, another photograph that of Lt. C.W. Cavaye, taken circa late 1878, taken by the Kisch Bros. in Natal, together with Lt. F.P. Porteous & W. Degacher, tells a slightly different tale, to what you're saying above.

Cavaye is wearing an adapted o/r's frock, piped around the base of the collar and the shoulder straps, what isn't obvious is the cuff detail. I can discern a line, at the point below where his sash is coming down, by it is not too obvious.

Sadly, I have no photographs of No.3 Column in the field, however, I have photographs of o/r's in the coastal column and Wood's column. All of those appear to be wearing the white braiding on cuff, shoulder straps and collar.

I have in a group photograph an image of 2nd. Lt. A.B. Phipps, 2nd/24th in the field, whther he is wearing the 'Indian-pattern' scarlet patrol or an adapted o/r's frock is hard to discern, however it is obviously braided and piped.

By the way that's still a 'jam-pot' cuff in that print and Glenn's agreeing with me on that. I agree they're not wearing post-1881 tunics. You have actually misquoted me. That's why I used the correct term and stated 'post-1881 serges' which you have rendered as '1881 tunics'.

Look again at Lady Butler's 'Rorke's Drift' at Gonville Bromhead's left arm, and Robert Jones' right arm - no facing colour, but I spy white braiding on those two figures at least. Bromhead's appears to be a trefoil and Jones' a single loop.

John Y.
(Ps - I haven't forgotten your requests, trouble with my computer at present.)
4th February 2005Michael Boyle

Itwould seem unlikely that your lad was 5'3" as the minimum height requirement wasn't lowered to 5'3" until shortly before 1900 and in 1878 the average height of the British soldier (including grenadiers,dragoons,lancers and guards) was 5'7". This from Edgerton's "Like Lions They Fought" referencing Skelley(1977) (The Victorian Army At Home).There is also reference to recruits from industrial and Welsh mining areas being shorter still.

I'm not sure how Edgerton's work holds up here as he is a Phd. Professor of Anthropology for the University of California,Los Angeles of all places! However though I've just begun his work I do find the anthropological angle rather refreshing.(Although his vivid descriptions of Zulu 'doctoring' and British flogging preclude my reading it over breakfast!)


4th February 2005Adrian Whiting
Hello Mike,

I think the earlier thread, when we discussed the sketches, was lost in the server crash, but I have pasted part of my replies then below -

"The sketch (you are referring to in this thread) is less conclusive because the fixed bayonet needs to be seen in line with the underside or the top of the barrel, rather than in line with the side, to see if the inside edge of the bayonet appears to arc away.

I have looked at another of Lloyd’s sketches in “Redcoats and Zulus” (first illustration). This is drawn from such an angle, and I would suggest that the inside edge of the bayonet does indeed look to veer away from the barrel line, suggesting the 1853/72 pattern – but this is a very fine judgement !

On the other hand, the photograph of the 91st in column is worth scrutiny. The Pioneers are in front (despite many captions that seem to suggest the Pipes are to the fore…) and the centre man appears to have a socket bayonet. Unless he is very short indeed, then I would suggest it must be an 1876 pattern, since it extends below his knee line.

In addition, in a photograph of the 1/24th Colour party in 1880 (p126 of “Zulu” by Ian Knight – the Windrow & Greene publication) the fixed bayonets are clearly P1876s, given their length relative to the MHRs they are affixed to. I appreciate that this is post the war !

I note that in 1893 the Natal Administration carried a large stock of P1853/72 bayonets – could these have been those formerly carried by the 24th and handed to the local Government upon re-issue with the 1876 pattern locally ?"

I have to hand an original copy of the Annual General Return for the Army 1884, covering 1865-1884. The age, height and chest measurement data is all for 1st January 1885, and I expect I can scan it in and send on separately if you would like it, but it shows that data broken down by arm of service. As a headline, I can tell you that of 115,350 Infantry of the Line, only 13,072 were under 5'5". I think your rationale around the height on the men that Lloyd sketched is more than reasonable, on the balance of probability.

I guess what is less clear is being conclusive about the angle of projection Lloyd drew from. The lower/higer he stood relative to the subjects, the more/less the tip of the bayonet appeared to be above the man's head.

In the previous thread we did indeed conclude that it was feasible for both 24th Battalions to have the 1876 pattern bayonet. I noted your comment about who would have been the priority for new equipment issue. I agree with your reasoning, and hope it applies today, but I am less convinced that the Duke of Cambridge saw it that way. The issue records for rifles seem to indicate that soldiers on Home Service were equipped before those on Foreign service - which I accept may be to do with the transportation times involved, but it may reflect that defence of the UK was a higher priority.

You are quite right with the production figures. The 1876 manufacturing year ran from April 1876 to March 1877. Given the numbers made it is perfectly feasible for a Battalion at the cape to have received 1876 patterns by December 1876.

I guess the definitive answer will be known if the issue records can ever be found !


4th February 2005Mike Snook

Hello again. I thought I'd cracked it and reamin pretty convinced that a new issue of bayonets must have taken place given their manufacture in such large numbers within a viable time frame. But now I'm not so sure that Lloyd will serve as proof. John Young raises doubt over the provenance of the published sketch. I am going to check this through further against the original watercolours.

I'll let you know how I get on.


6th February 2005Martin Everett
Dear Mike/John,
The best contemporary illustration by Lloyd I have found - re bayonets is his illustration of the Return of the Queen's Colour to Helpmekaar published in the ILN dated 29 March 1879.
6th February 2005Alan Critchley
You can see the illustration in the 'Shop'

7th February 2005MIke Snook

E-mail away. I will see it next weekend all being well.

Thanks. I'll check it out.