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Crown issued grey shirt.

Joined: 23 Jan 2007
Posts: 15
Location: North West England
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I'm contemplating making a 1/6th scale model of an infantry soldier in shirt sleeve order, possibly of the Buffs during the seige of Eshowe. Basically, I'm unsure of what the issue shirts actually looked like. I've heard views that they were almost identical to the greybacks used during WW1, of a bib fronted design (with separate fabric panels either side of the front opening) . I've also heard that they were not of the bib type, but were a still of a pullover type design with buttons and the opening half way down the front, with the collar and the fabric behind the buttons being of a different colour. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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John Young

Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 990
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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I've been looking long & hard at images of soldiers in Anglo-Zulu War in shirt-sleeves, since you posed this question, there appears to be no sealed pattern of shirt for other-ranks judging by the evidence of the images I've been looking at.

Here's one image from one of my collection:

Judging by the width of the stripe on the trousers of the fellow on the left, these are either Sappers or Gunners, knowing what was happening in the area at the time the photograph was taken I'd go for the former.

Starting with the seated figure he is wearing a striped shirt, the 2nd & 3rd from the left have what appear to be light cotton shirts, the next two appear to be wearing something akin to the greyback. The figure on the right is wearing a jersey.

W. W. Lloyd in one of his On Active Service prints, has a soldier wearing a red shirt, or undershirt, which looks something like the top to a union-suit of underwear.

I looked at a number of A.S.C. groups that I have and there are variations of shirts; pull-ons mingle fully-buttoned fronts.

Sorry but I think I may have merely mudded the waters!

John Y.
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Kiwi Sapper

Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 125
Location: Middle Earth & Home of Narnia; (Auckland, New Zealand)
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Greetings to John,
The issue of "what is worn under the jacket" is one that I am the moment having to face. Your reply, has not "muddied the waters" for me, rather, it has confirmed what I have suspect to be true during for all PBI. i.e. He wore what he had and didn't wear what had been damaged lost stolen etc, as it was generally undercover and would not be apparant when being inspected. My only question is are all the shirts collarless? You have the advantage of me by holding the picture.

It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
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Martin Everett

Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 785
Location: Brecon
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Dear Kiwi,

You have probably never worn a full-dress tunic - if you wear a shirt with a collar under the tunic you find the the jacket does not 'do up' at the collar and fit smoothly - the shirt collar causes a bulge under the tunic. Army shirts were without collars as where most men's shirts of that period.

Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Paul Bryant-Quinn

Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 548
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Apologies for straying somewhat off-topic, but writing from Lüneburg (?Luneberg) on August 17, 1933 Charles Roberts (aka Ellis Evans) says:

We have been in a very bad way as regards clothes up until a short while ago. Many of us didn't have a shirt to change into; but we have [now] each received two woollen shirts and a Guernsey. This was a gift from the fund [or 'collection'] of the ladies from England.

If what Evans says is true (and I see no real reason to doubt him), then presumably the Army was happy for the men to wear whatever shirts came to hand. It's not clear from the letter, however, whether the 'ladies from England' had organised their whip-round in the UK and sent the shirts out to the soldiers in Southern Africa, or whether they were Natalians. Any suggestions?

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Crown issued grey shirt.
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