PEAKED FORAGE CAPS AND BADGES IN THE BRITISH ARMY 1881-1902
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PART II

FORAGE CAPS WORN BY GENERAL OFFICERS, 
CORPS AND ARMY DEPARTMENTS 1881-1902

When the 1880 round forage cap was introduced the use of gold lace bands was greatly expanded. The army staff continued to use the lace that had been introduced some years before but the military departments who had previous worn the black oak leaf band on their caps now had special patterns. By the 1890s, with many of the departments amalgamating and becoming corps, the distinctions were given to other miscellaneous branches of the army like the Military Police and Army School inspectors. 

GENERAL OFFICERS & HEADQUARTERS STAFF

The cap, with gold lace oak-leaf pattern had been worn in undress by Field-Marshalls and General Officers since the Crimean War. Colonels and other officers on the Headquarters staff on the staff had worn the same lace until 1864 when a special staff lace was introduced. This appeared in the 1874 regulations and was worn on the round forage cap until 1900. The Indian Staff Corps wore what was essentially two bands of lace separated by a 1/8th inch crimson stripe. The cap was apparently not worn after the Indian Army reorganization of 1897.

ROYAL ARTILLERY, ROYAL ENGINEERS AND DEPARTMENTS

ROYAL ARTILLERY
The round forage cap with peak was worn in the Royal Artillery only by officers on the staff at Woolwich. All other officers, warrant officers and staff sergeants wore the round forage cap without peak. The gold lace band on both caps was of the Royal Artillery pattern.

THE ROYAL ENGINEERS
Prior to 1880, the Royal Engineers had worn its regimental gold lace band on the previous cap with a gold bullion grenade badge on the front. After 1880 the badge was omitted. The RE lace pattern was similar to the staff pattern lace except the pattern slanted from right to left from the top. Although the illustrated Dress Regulations of 1900 showed the lace slanting the same way as the staff pattern, photographic evidence overwhelmingly show otherwise. The cap had a gold netted button on the crown but there was no gold figuring. Field officers had the gold edging to the crown as in the infantry. The cap was worn by all officers, Warrant officers and Staff Sergeants of the Corps.

COMMISSARIAT & TRANSPORT CORPS
The Commissariat and Transport Corps was formed from the ill-fated Control Department in 1875. The band on the C&TC cap was 2 in deep for the Principal Commissary and 1 ¾ in deep for the remaining officers (Shown above). There was a 1/8th dark blue stripe in the centre of the band and a 1/16th inch stripe in the centre of the bullion peak. The cap was not worn by Warrant officers and Staff Sergeants who wore the peak-less pillbox cap. 

THE ARMY SERVICE CORPS
The Army Service Corps, created in 1887, was the first department to be converted to full combatant status (although with 4 VCs, they were hardly strangers to combat). The cap shown, worn by the Principal Commissary on the C&TC, was now extended to all officer ranks of the ASC. As with the former corps, WOs and Staff Sergeants did not wear the cap.

THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT & ORDNANCE STORE CORPS.
The Ordnance Department had five components of General stores (such as clothing), Warlike Stores, Armourers and the inspectorates of Guns and ordnance. These components became one entity in 1896 but the Department (Officers) and Corps did not combine to become one corps (the RAOC) until 1918. For the Ordnance Department the branch colour was scarlet and the caps of officers followed the same pattern as the C&TC up to 1896. Until that time, Warrant officers and Staff Sergeants had worn the pillbox cap only. After 1896 they wore the round forage cap with a 1 ½ inch band.

THE ARMY PAY DEPARTMENT
The Army Pay Department was formed in 1875 and their caps followed the example of the C&TC and Ordnance with their branch color as bright yellow. After 1896 the thin coloured stripe in the bullion peak was abolished. The Army Pay Corps consisting of NCO staff clerks was formed in 1898 and their cap will be shown in the next plates. 


ARMY MEDICAL, CHAPLAINS AND VETERINARY DEPARTMENTS

THE ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT
The Army Medical Department was authorized in 1873 and replaced the regimental medical officers (with the exception of the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards) then serving. Except for Surgeons with equivalent rank to General Officers, the peaked pre 1880 caps had the oak leaf band. After 1880, the gold lace cap band followed the staff pattern with two thin black lines in the 2 inch lace. 

THE ARMY HOSPITAL CORPS
Raised in 1857, the Army Hospital Corps provided the stretcher bearers and hospital orderlies under the supervision of the Medical Department. Although consisting of other ranks, it had officers commanding the various bearer companies. The 1880 forage cap bore the oak leaf band with an embroidered Red Cross badge on the front. It was a little larger than that worn on the right sleeves off other ranks. Staff Sergeants continued to wear pill box caps with a brass AHC badge on the front. 

THE MEDICAL STAFF CORPS
In 1884, the Army Hospital Corps was replaced by the Medical Staff Corps. The assimilation of this corps within the Army Medical Department was a gradual process. Officers adopted 1 ½ inch Medical department lace on their forage caps In 1896 Staff Sergeants were permitted to wear the round forage cap with the same lace.

THE ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
The amalgamation of the all the medical branches took place in 1898 and the R.A.M.C. was formed. For a short time, officers and staff sergeants wore the round forage cap with dull cherry stripes in the lace, but it wasn’t long before the staff forage cap was introduced with the dull cherry band.

THE ARMY CHAPLAINS DEPARTMENT
The forage cap was black with black staff pattern band. The bullion on the peak and the button and decoration on the crown were also black. The embroidered badge of the Maltese cross edged gold was worn in front. According to photographs the badge was often placed wherever the wearer wanted. Before 1893 some chaplains wore a badge of the cross within a gold circle.

THE ARMY VETERINARY DEPARTMENT
Formed in 1878 this department, like the Medical Staff, superceded the veterinary officers on regimental staffs (except the Household cavalry). The Veterinary Department was put on an official footing in 1881. All Veterinary officers wore the round forage cap with the departmental lace and maroon stripe in the centre. By 1892 only the Principal and deputy Veterinary Surgeons wore the peaked cap whilst other officers wore the pillbox cap with the same lace (as befits a cavalry organization).



MISCELLANEOUS UNITS

MILITARY PROVOST STAFF AND MILITARY POLICE
Until 1895, the Provost Marshall wore the round forage cap with staff lace whilst officers of the Military Police and Governors of Military prisons wore the cap with black oak leaf lace. In 1896 the base colour of the cap was changed to scarlet with gold staff lace band and worn by all the officers in the disciplinary corps. The band was edged top and bottom with blue piping as was the edge of the crown.

INSPECTORS OF ARMY SCHOOLS
Before 1890, inspectors of army schools had worn the infantry forage cap with oak leaf lace band and the embroidered Royal Crest badge. In 1891, the band on the cap was changed to departmental pattern with light blue stripe in the middle.

UNATTACHED OFFICERS
Officers that were not attached to any corps or department wore the Infantry (non-Royal) cap with embroidered Royal Crest badge.  

ROYAL RESERVE AND GARRISON REGIMENTS
In 1900, largely because of the large commitments of manpower involved in the South African War, several Royal Reserve regiments, recruited from veterans, were raised for home defence. After a year they stood down, but were replaced by five Garrison regiments, with terms of service to include overseas service. The officers and staff sergeants of these regiments, less those raised in Scotland, wore the Infantry forage cap with scarlet band and a brass, Royal Arms badge. From 1902 the caps were phased out.

OFFICERS OF THE ROYAL HOSPITALS OF CHELSEA AND KILMAINHAM
Officers of these institutions wore the round forage cap with special lace band of “Double Vellum” pattern.

OFFICERS OF THE ROYAL ASYLUM AT CHELSEA
The caps for these officers were of the pattern worn by Royal regiments of infantry with the embroidered Royal Crest badge.  
SCHOOLS OF INSTRUCTION AND ARMY STAFF CORPS

The various corps that, during the latter half of the 19th century, came into being to meet the increasing demands of technology, education and physical fitness, were often referred to as “Schools of Instruction”. They almost entirely consisted of warrant officers, staff sergeants and experienced NCOs although commissioned officers, often from other corps or departments, commanded them. Their uniforms and badges are often difficult to establish, especially when it comes to dates, as more often than not, practice preceded the regulation or authorisation.

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THE CORPS OF ARMY SCHOOLMASTERS
Founded as early as 1846, this body of NCOs, later to be ranked as staff sergeants were, after 1870 attached to every battalion, regiment and corps of the army. From the beginning, the badge worn on their forage caps was the gold bullion crown. The most senior possible in a unit was warrant officer.

THE CORPS OF ARMOURER SERGEANTS
Formed in 1858, this corps was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all infantry and cavalry small arms, but not artillery, which was the responsibility of the Corps of Ordnance Artificers. The Corps of Armourers was always associated with the Ordnance Department, having its depot first at Enfield Lock and later at Birmingham, Sparkbrook. It was officially amalgamated with the Army Ordnance Corps in 1896. There is no mention of the round forage cap and badge for this corps in the clothing regulations for 1891, although photographic evidence shows the cap being worn in 1890. It is assumed the badge was worn by personnel at the Depot. The badge was worn both with and without the crimson backing.

THE ARMY PAY CORPS
The NCO and staff pay clerks were detached from the Army Service Corps and absorbed into a pay corps in 1893. Clothing regulations stipulated the round forage cap and letters APC, surmounted by the crown in 1894. The APC was not amalgamated with the officers of the Army Pay Department until 1920, when it became the Royal Army Pay Corps.

THE SCHOOL OF MUSKETRY
In 1853 this school was established at Hythe. From the beginning, they wore the badge of crossed rifle muskets above their chevrons and on forage caps with peaks. At first the badge was crossed muskets with slings and crown above. From about 1894, the badge became crossed magazine fed rifles surmounted by a crown.

THE ARMY GYMNASTIC STAFF
This corps was formed in 1860 and the first military gymnasium was established on Wellington lines at Aldershot in 1862. In 1885, they were officially titled “Military Gymnastic Staff” and recognized as a school of instruction. It is probable that only the Quartermaster and staff at Aldershot wore the round forage cap, as most members of the corps wore gym dress as working uniform. At the same time, the badge of crossed swords with crown above was worn, although it wasn’t officially authorized until 1902. 

THE ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE 
The badge of “RMC” in metal had been worn by instructional staff at Sandhurst since the mid-1880s. A bullion version was adopted in 1896 and worn also by senior cadets.



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In 1900 the illustrated Dress Regulations specified the new Staff Pattern Forage Cap, which in general appearance, remains today the style of cap, both dress and undress worn by officers and men alike, of the British and most other armies of the world. At first these were to be worn by the most senior officers of the staff and departments of the army, replacing the round forage cap with gold lace band. By 1902 they were authorized for all officers and Warrant Officers of the army while the other ranks were to adopt a cap approved by the current Secretary of State for War, Mr. St. John Brodrick. This cap, resembling (depending on the bias of the observer) the seaman’s cap, the German undress cap or the Russian undress cap, was not popular, especially for the staff sergeants of the infantry battalions and corps with which the round forage cap was most associated. The rank and file was probably less concerned as, like soldiers everywhere, they wore what they were issued with a large amount of stoicism.



THE STAFF PATTERN FORAGE CAP
The cap worn by Field Marshalls and Generals had a patent leather peak with gold bullion oak-leaf lace round the whole peak, blue Melton cloth body and scarlet band. The badge of crossed baton and sword within a wreath and surmounted by the Crown all in gold embroidery was worn on the front. For Colonels on the Staff, the peak had the lace round the front edge only and the badge was the Royal Crest. For other staff officers, the peak had half-inch full embroidery on the peak.
THE BRODRICK CAP – THE FOOT GUARDS
In November 1900 the “NP Field Cap” (Later “NP Forage Cap”) was authorized for the Brigade of Guards. Although the Scots Guards were to be the first to receive it, the newly raised Irish Guards (illustrated) were the first to wear it. Briefly, the body of the cap was to be 2 inches wide and the circular crown of blue cloth to be 3 inches greater than the body. The removable cap band (except for the Scots Guards was of regimental colour – emerald green in the Irish Guards. The crown of the cap was also piped in regimental colour. Staff sergeants and sergeants wore a bi-metal badge while the rank and file had plain brass. In 1904 the same staff sergeants and sergeants were allowed gold cord piping around the crown.


THE BRODRICK CAP – THE LINE REGIMENTS
The cap worn by the rest of the army was quite different to that of the Guards. The first pattern (for Dragoon Guards and Dragoons) was sealed in July of 1902 and was dark blue throughout. The body had a dark blue concave flap stitched to the front. Behind that was a dark blue convex patch, which at first was also blue. Both the flap and patch had blue welts. The crown which was 2 ½” greater than the body also had a blue welt around the edge. In 1903, there was a change when more colour was added. In the infantry the patches were allowed to be of facing colour, which for “Royal” regiments was scarlet. In 1904, gold lace piping for staff sergeants and sergeants was allowed around the edges of the flap. Two rows for the staff and one row for sergeants as shown in the plate. A full listing of all the colours and edging in the various corps and branches of the army are not in the purview of this series.

The Brodrick lasted until 1906, when it was swiftly replaced by the peaked “Staff” pattern cap for all ranks in all branches. The Household cavalry had received this cap in late 1903 (without any badge) and some other cavalry regiments had managed to avoid wearing the Brodrick at all.

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Thus concludes the story of the round forage cap, which although an undress item, had a certain elegance and was very popular with those that wore it. Most of the badges that adorned them did not survive and very few of them exist today which makes this presentation a source of much satisfaction. For the Warrant Officers and Staff Sergeants that wore the “Chinese Mandarin Cap”, (as it was jokingly called in the Guards), its replacement with the Brodrick Cap was a blow. As soldiers were allowed to wear uniform items until they were worn out, the wearing of the round forage cap went on far beyond the normal acceptancy. In fact, most Sergeant-Drummers are seen in photos with it firmly on their heads as late as 1905 and some may never have worn the Brodrick. While the cap was worn widely by the British home forces, it was also worn by most of the auxiliary forces of the Empire, especially in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa and India. 


The British Army, with its unbroken existence since 1660, attaches itself to the symbols of its identity like no other army on earth. To this day, amalgamated regiments adorn themselves with insignia of regiments long forgotten by anyone but themselves and yet treasured beyond measure and worn with unabashed pride. The old, round forage caps and their badges, were never really forgotten because elements of every one of those badges can still be found on British soldiers’ caps or uniforms today.


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Bob Bennett and I have thoroughly enjoyed putting this series together and hope that our readers have also appreciated it. The research has been most rewarding as some of the details of these old badges were hard to find. We would not have been able to complete it without the assistance of many friends and associates and we acknowledge them here:

Julian Bowsher, Peter Brydon, Stuart Bates, Ray Westlake, Gary Gibbs, John Young, John Mulcahy, Samantha Harris and Steve Finnis of the Maidstone Museum’s exhibit of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, Norman Wood for the Channel Islands Militia badges and Denis Darmanin for the Royal Malta Militia badges.


Additional Bibliography.
Chichester, Henry & Burges-Short, George. Records and Badges of the British Army, 1900
Farmer, J.S. Regimental Records of the British Army 1660-1901.
Kipling, Arthur & King, Hugh, Headdress Badges of the British Army
Perry, Ottley Lane. Rank and Badges in Her Majesty’s Army and Navy, 1888
War Office, Dress Regulations for the Army 1883, 1891 and 1900