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28th March 2004Royal Artillery - Uniform
By Carl Daeche
Dear all,
Can someone please help with the collar colour for the other ranks RA present in the Zulu War. I have obtained conflicting representations. One source states that the collars of the blue frock tunic were red piped in yellow. The second states that they were plain blue. Thanks for your help.

Oh and to all the Diehards sorry for the delay but I am hoping to have a couple of ammo boxes completed by the end of easter.
28th March 2004John Young

What are the two sources you are quoting? That might help me establish, what you're asking.

I refer 'The Dress of the Royal Artillery', by Major D.A. Campbell, Royal Artillery Institute, 1971.

Major Campbell states on page 46 that an 'Other Ranks Frock' was introduced in 1878, by General Order No. 26 of April, 1878. It was issued to the other-ranks of the Royal Field Artillery & the Royal Garrison Artillery. The frock is described as '...similiar in shape to the tunic, but less ornamented. It was dark blue, single-breasted, with a scarlet collar rounded in front and trimmed along the seam with yellow braid.'

However, that is how the frock should have looked, a study of frocks shown in campaign photographs, are less than conclusive. The images of 10th Battery, 7th Brigade, Royal Artillery - Major Owen's Gatling Gun Battery & Major Tremlett's 11th Battery, 7th Brigade, R.A. are the ones that cause the problems. These photographs show o/r's wearing jerseys, and even the full dress tunic. However, the majority appear to be wearing the 1878 frock, but devoid of any yellow braid, either on the cuffs or below the collar. Sadly the definition is not good enough to deduce whether the collars are still scarlet.

I then made a study of the R.A. photographs in my own collection, and found the same anomalies. However with those it was possible to establish the collars were of a different colour to the jacket's colour. There was a 'Fatigue Dress Jacket' issued up until 1878, which did not have the yellow braid. It is those I believe that which has led to the misinterpretation that the collars were of the same colour as the jacket. I think it is that 'Fatigue Dress Jacket' the men are wearing in the photographs.

I hope that helps.

John Y.
28th March 2004Carl Daeche
John thanks. I was referring to two books from Ian Knight. An Osprey book - 'British in Zulu War' and the large format Zulu 'Isandhlwana and Rorkes Drift'. I think its fair to say that there was such a variation in most of the uniforms present in Africa that a combination of most research is the safest way to play it. I too have researched the photos and agree that just about anything goes.....

Thank you for your detailed response.