In the latter half of the 19th century a number of small and highly specialised departmental staff corps came into being to meet the increasing demands of technology, education, physical fitness, and pay and allowances. The staff corps were responsible for a range of army administrative matters and in accordance with the social strata of the time often had an entirely separate, but associated officer corps.
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 and for a period they were some of the earliest warrant officers to ever be appointed in the regular army. They did not use conventional rank badges, but did wear the round forage cap and bullion shoulder cords in an elaborate knot.
THE CORPS OF ARMOURER SERGEANTS
Formed in 1858, this corps was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all infantry small arms, but not artillery, which was the responsibility of the Corps of Ordnance Artificers, nor initially cavalry, where directly engaged armourers continued to be employed for several more decades. The Corps of Armourers was always associated with the Ordnance Department, having its depot first at Enfield Lock and later at Birmingham, Sparkbrook. Among the first sergeants to be appointed to the headquarters staff of each infantry battalion, the armourers always wore the dress and insignia of the regiment to which they were attached, and this included the round forage cap and red sash. However, for administrative purposes the corps was wholly absorbed by the Ordnance Store Corps (OSC) on 1 April 1895, as the Armourer Section, and photographic evidence suggests that it was at that point that discrete, but short-lived Corps of Armourers' forage cap and helmet badges were adopted, along with the uniform of the OSC. Exactly one year to the day later, on 1 April 1896, the OSC was reorganised as the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) and it was decided that all elements of the AOC would adopt the same dress and a generic insignia. During its very brief existence the special badge of the Corps of Armourers was usually worn with a crimson backing.
THE ARMY PAY CORPS
The NCO and soldier Pay specialists of the Corps of Military Staff Clerks were detached and absorbed into a separate Army Pay Corps (APC) in 1893. Clothing regulations stipulated the round forage cap and letters APC, surmounted by the crown in 1894. The badge worn was in gold bullion and initially, clear photographic evidence shows that the cap's peak was laced with black silk edging, a variation originally intended for staff sergeants in military hatters adverts as early as 1881. Later photos show that the peaks had changed to gold bullion edging after 1896, thus bringing them in line with the type used by the rest of the army. (See Below). The APC was amalgamated with the officers of the Army Pay Department in 1920, when it became the Royal Army Pay Corps.
SCHOOLS OF INSTRUCTION
The two principal “Schools of Instruction” corps were both formed in the immediate aftermath of the Crimean War and intended to indoctrinate the infantry especially, but also other arms, with changes to linear tactics that demanded a much greater individual skill from each and every soldier. They almost entirely consisted of warrant officers, staff sergeants and experienced NCOs commanded by senior commissioned officers, often from the combat arms. From the outset, both corps were dressed specifically in the style of infantry sergeants of staff grade, with scarlet tunics, red infantry sashes and even the scarlet forage cap bands more usually reserved for units with a Royal appellation. This was very probably because training was an adjunct of the Adjutant General's Department.
THE SCHOOL OF MUSKETRY
In 1853 this school was established at Hythe, in Kent. From the beginning, they wore the bullion badge of crossed rifle muskets above their chevrons and on forage caps with peaks. At first the badge was crossed rifle muskets with slings and crown above, but from 1900, the badge became crossed magazine fed rifles, also surmounted by a crown, but without slings until the gradual introduction of the staff pattern cap from 1905 onward. (See Below)
THE ARMY GYMNASTIC STAFF
This corps was formed in 1860 and the first military gymnasium was established in Wellington lines, Aldershot in 1861, at which point they were officially titled the “Army Gymnastic Staff” (AGS) and recognized as a school of instruction. As with the School of Musketry, the AGS wore a bullion badge, but with crossed scimitars and crown above, on both scarlet tunic and forage cap. From around 1900 this changed to swords with a covered hilt, but was otherwise similar, although the day-to-day working dress was that of the gymnasium and round forage caps were only worn for more formal duties and parades. (See Below)
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 by senior cadets on round forage caps.