Making Sense of Uniforms
Of The
Army Medical Service

Making Sense of Uniforms of the British Army Medical Service


marching troops

Ye Division Marching Past 1875 Royal Artillery, Royal Malta Fencible Artillery, Royal Engineers, 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment
(Main Guard Palace Square Valletta)

marching troops

Ye Division Marching Past 1875 Royal Engineers, 28th North Gloucestershire, 71st Highland Light Infantry, 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers
(Main Guard Palace Square Valletta)

marching troops

Ye Division Marching Past 1875 71st Highland Light Infantry, 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers, 74th Highlanders, 42nd Royal Highland (Black Watch)
(Main Guard Palace Square Valletta)

A visitor to Malta in 1875, would have been dazzled by the dashing uniforms worn by the troops, as they marched down Kingsway, Valletta, behind their regimental bands.

To make sense of the myriad uniforms worn by the British Army, one has to delve deeply into the histories of the various Regiments of Horse, Foot, Artillery and the Civil Departments of the Service.

The Army was composed of several elements. There were the Regulars who constituted the main force, supplemented with the Militia, Yeomanry, Rifle Volunteers Corps, and the Reserves and Special Reserves. The Territorial Force was raised in April 1908. In 1922, the Territorial Force gave way to the Territorial Army. This was disbanded in 1967 to create the new Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.

Each self–contained and independent single battalion regiment, had its own medical establishment, with the medical officers clothed in the uniform of their respective regiments.


Regimental Surgeon (1900) in black Hussar uniform.

Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S K Brown Military Collection.

The earliest official Regulations for the Dress of the General, Staff and Regimental Officers of the Army was published by Horse Guards on 25 April 1822. Prior to that date, a series of clothing warrants, general orders and circulars emanating from the Adjutant General's Office and the Commander–in–Chief at the War Office regulated army attire. In 1857, the Army Clothing Department was formed, with responsibility for supplying the clothing formerly provided by the regimental colonels.

The selection of designs and patterns rested entirely with the Adjutant General, who approved and sealed the garment as a regulation pattern. Sealed patterns of buttons, lace, embroidery, collars, badges, and devices were deposited for reference at Horse Guards. Even though commanding officers were strictly forbidden to sanction any deviation from the approved patterns, anomalies still managed to intrude into the soldier's dress.

Officers were allowed to wear out their old uniforms before adopting the latest pattern. Thus, a memorandum on a new uniform, dated Horse Guards 18 August 1854, ordered all regiments in England (i.e. the 18th, 80th, 82nd, 90th, 94th) to be clothed with the new uniform from the year 1855–1856. However, overseas regiments were given an extra year to adopt the new pattern. In addition, the Commander–in–Chief sanctioned allowances for alteration of dress regulations in tropical climates, where, in consideration of the heat, the embroidered coat was only to be worn at public dinners, levees and balls.

Staff Officers 1888

Staff Officers Malta Garrison 1888 with the Governor and Commander–in–Chief General Sir John Simmons (13 June 1884 to 23 Sep 1888).

Seated (L to R): Col C F Leach Senior Commissariat Officer Deputy Commissariat General, Surgeon General Sinclair James PMO, Col William Raymond Lluellyn commanding Royal Artillery, General Sir John Simmons, Col Richard Blundell Hollinshead Blundell 3rd Hussars Deputy Adjutant and Quarter Master General, Col H H Helsham Jones commanding Royal Engineers, Col J C Angell Senior Ordnance Store Officer Deputy Commissary General of Ordnance.

Standing (L to R): Col Frederick Gatt commanding the Royal Malta Fencible Artillery, Chaplain to the Forces First Class ranking as Colonel Rev Fred L Gascoigne (RC), District Paymaster and Chief Paymaster Col G W Rippon, Chaplain to the Forces First Class ranking as Colonel Rev William Pomsford, Aides de Camp Maj C F A Turnbull Duke Cornwall Light Infantry, Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for Instructions Maj J G Ponsonby Berkshire Regt, Brigade Major Royal Artillery Maj J K Trotter, Capt H W D Denne Gordon Hldrs Aides de Camp from 14 Jan 1888, Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General Brevet Lt Col F G Slade Royal Artillery, Aides de Camp Capt A G Chesney South Staffordshire Regt, Brigade Major Major R S H Moody the Buffs.

A quick glance at the Staff Officers of the Malta Garrison 1888–1889, parading in the Lower Courtyard of the Grandmaster's Palace, Valletta, shows the variety of uniforms worn by the officers of the British Army. Close scrutiny picks up nuances in the lace and braid decorations which point to officers appertaining to a certain class or a particular regiment. From among the officers, one can pick out the Surgeon General by the black feathers on the cloth helmet. Without their head wear, it would have been difficult to distinguish Surgeon General Sinclair James, Principal Medical Officer (PMO) September 1883 to November 1888, and Surgeon General Duncan Alexander Campbell Fraser PMO Malta from October 1888 to December 1891, from their brethren.

Malta Staff Officers

Staff Officers Malta Garrison 1888–1889 with the Governor Lieutenant General Sir Henry D'Oyley Torrens (25 Sep 1888 to 28 Sep 1889).

(L to R): Col Greenwood, Col John Charles Angell, Maj Hallett, Surg Gen Duncan A C Fraser, Col Norton, Gen King, Capt Duff, Lt Gen Torrens, Col McKean, Col Gatt, Lt Wohand, Col H Jones, Maj Trotter, Capt Fairclaire, Col Leach, Rev Fred L Gascoigne, Rev William Ponsford, Col Slade.

Brevet Lt Col A C McKean 6th Dragoons was Assistant Military Secretary and Aides de Camp from 16 Nov 1888.

The Non-Commissioned Officers and men who make up the rank and file of the Army are represented in their full dress uniforms in two photographs by John Dutton Hunt, dating 1889.

In the Medical Department of the Army, uniforms worn by doctors showed a degree of variation and diversity, with very little universality. Few could single out a medical officer in full dress from other regimental officers; in undress it was wholly impossible.

J Dutton Hunt

John Dutton Hunt The infantry of the British Army dated 7 Feb 1889, showing various patterns of head dress in use by the army at home.

The Household Cavalry wore metal helmets; the 2nd Dragoons, bearskins; the Hussars, busbies; the Lancers, Lancer caps; the Royal Horse Artillery, busbies, the Foot Guards, bearskin caps, the Highland Regiments, feather bonnet and the Fusiliers, sealskin cap (TNA:1/395/161).

The Medical Department was a Civil Department. In the Army List it appeared below all combat corps. Among the Civil Departments, it ranked after the Commissariat, Paymaster General, Department of Accounts, and just ahead of the Departments of the Chaplain, the Judge Advocate General and the Ordnance. In matters of military discipline, although the surgeon had relative rank, General Orders firmly stated that: officers of the Civil Departments attached to the Army, are in regard to choice of quarters, to be classed with their relative rank, but this indulgence does not give them any claim whatever to Military Command.

J Dutton Hunt

John Dutton Hunt The infantry of the British Army dated 7 Feb 1889, showing variations in military uniforms, reflecting regimental traditions (TNA:1/395/161).

The blue cloth Home Service Cloth Helmet with spike was worn by all Infantry Regiments, the Royal Artillery, the Army Service Corps, the Army Ordnance Corps, the Army Pay Corps and the Medical Staff Corps, with each regiment having a distinctive badge.

The Army Medical Department was a conglomeration of various services. Prior to 1873, it did not really exist as an entity. Even though there were some 300 Staff Surgeons and Staff Assistant Surgeons, the former had no real power over the Regimental Surgeons, while the Staff Assistant Surgeons were merely engaged in filling up the vacancies in the ranks of the regimental doctors. Garrisons and Station Hospitals were served by their Medical Staff, the Infantry of the Line by their Mates, Regimental Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons, the Foot Guards and Household Troops by their Surgeon–Majors and Battalion Surgeons, and, up to 1855, the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers had their separate Ordnance Medical Department.

India MSC

Army Medical Staff India (1900) with black facings, broad red stripe on trousers and details of accoutrements.

Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S K Brown Military Collection.

India had its own medical service, with a branch for each of the three presidencies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras. There were then the Army Medical Reserve of Officers, the African Medical Service, the Militia Medical Staff and the Volunteer Medical Service. In addition, the rank and file of the Army Medical Department mustered in their own Army Hospital Corps, later the Medical Staff Corps, and were separate, in name at least, from their officers who constituted the Army Medical Staff.

It was not until 23 June 1898, when the officers of the Army Medical Staff, the Warrant Officers and Non–Commissioned–Officers and men of the Medical Staff Corps amalgamated into the Royal Army Medical Corps, that a degree of uniformity in dress started to emerge.

With such a kaleidoscopic array of attire, any venture to interpret the dress worn by the officers and men of the Army Medical Department, can prove baffling and complicated, and embarked upon with trepidation.

The Army Medical Organization

The Regimental System

The medical organization of the army was wholly regimental. It remained so until 1 March 1873, when the Departmental System or Unification System came into play. Each regiment had a surgeon and a surgeon's mate. From 30 November 1796, the mate became an assistant surgeon appointed by commission.

Medical officers were specially commissioned for each regiment. Originally, they were appointed by the colonels of newly raised corps, or obtained their commission by purchase. Those appointed to General Hospitals were styled Hospital Assistants. From 29 July 1830, Hospital Assistants became Staff Assistant Surgeons. Newly commissioned officers remained on the General Medical Staff, until an opening arose for them on the Regimental Staff through the death, resignation or promotion of the incumbent assistant surgeon.

J Barker

Assistant Surgeon Joseph Barker Royal Horse Artillery (RAMC/52).

Assistant Surgeon Joseph Barker was commissioned As Surg Ordnance Medical Department on 15 July 1854 ranking as a Lieutenant, and promoted Surgeon Royal Artillery on 9 Mar 1867. He became Surgeon 22nd (Cheshire) Foot on 5 Oct 1872, and Surgeon Major on 9 Mar 1867.

An Assistant Surgeon with over six years' full pay service ranked as captain. His rank is shown by the crown and star on his collar and the braid and lace on his cuffs. Assistant Surgeon Baker served in the Crimea with the Royal Artillery from 15 May 1855 and was at the siege and fall of Sebastopol (Medal with clasp and Turkish Medal). He was in India in 1858, during the mutiny and was present at the capture of Lucknow (Medal with clasp).

Under the Regimental System, doctors displayed a variety of uniforms. In undress, a medical officer was virtually indistinguishable from a combatant officer.

In the Royal Horse Artillery, the medical officer's full dress was quite the same as that worn by his brother officers, except that the busby plume was black and the cross belt was departmental. In undress uniform, it was not possible to pick out the doctors of the Ordnance Medical Department (OMD), as they wore the same sword belts as the other officers.

In the Corps of Royal Engineers, doctors wore the embroidered engineer cross belt, similar to the other engineer officers. In Highland Regiments, all alike wore the feather bonnet, while the plaid hid any departmental belt worn. In the Rifle Battalions, the only distinction was the absence of a pom-pom in the shako.

Army Medical Staff

The Medical Staff On 20 Sep 1884, the Medical Officers and Quartermasters of the Army Medical Department were designated the Medical Staff.

The Unification Warrant of 1873, devised by the Secretary of State for War Edward Cardwell, discarded the regimental medical system. Under the new warrant, Regimental Surgeons became Surgeon–Majors Army Medical Department (AMD) ranking as Majors; Regimental Assistant Surgeons became Surgeons AMD, and the the rank of Assistant Surgeon disappeared. After 20 years' full pay service, a Surgeon–Major ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel, but junior of the latter rank. A Surgeon ranked as a Lieutenant, but after 6 years' full pay service was eligible to the relative rank of Captain.

On 20 September 1884, the Medical Officers and Quartermasters of the Army Medical Department were designated the Medical Staff. The Warrant Officers, Non–Commissioned–Officers and men of the Army Hospital Corps, became known as the Medical Staff Corps.

E S Fitzgerald

The features of this Private Scan, a Lilliputian of a man, Tis really very hard, that Surgeon Majors who can draw, Should draft such mites into our corps, And mount them here on guard (Main Guard Palace Square Valletta).

This drawing at the Main Guard Valletta signed F E S might be possibly referring to Surgeon Major Fitzgerald Edward Scanlan who served in Malta from 5 August 1877 to 5 February 1878 and again from 27 January 1882 to 17 August 1884.

Hitherto, the parade dress of medical officers had been scarlet, while that of the men of the Army Hospital Corps had been blue. The amalgamation of the medical officers with the men of the Army Hospital Corps made it necessary for both to be dressed in clothing of similar pattern and colour. From December 1884, the Medical Staff ceased to wear the scarlet tunic, in which they had performed their duties for a very long time on active service in the field, and in which they had paraded on all full dress occasions in peace time. Henceforth, they appeared in the blue of the Army Hospital Corps, with black facings to their collar and cuffs (Horse Guards, War Office 12 November 1884).

The Army Medical Staff – Evolution of Military Dress

The Regimental Medical Staff

Surgeon 1798

Surgeon of Infantry 1798 E V Howell 1934 (RAMC Archives).

A Surgeon of Infantry 1798 is portrayed in a drawing by E V Howell. The surgeon is shown in a long scarlet, unlaced, white lined skirted, single breasted coat with round upright collar. The coat has no lapels, epaulettes or wings, and is fastened in the centre with a single row of eight gilt buttons, set at equal distance. A button is at the back of the collar. Its non laced buttonhole, as well as those on the cuffs, are worked with coat coloured thread twist. Four gilt buttons decorate each cuff. The upper buttons are unfastened revealing a ruffled white waistcoat and a black silk stock or cravat.

The surgeon wears a plain, black, bicorne or cocked hat, with a cockade, gold loop and regimental button on his left side, but no feather. His white breeches reach below the knees and have three buttons on the outside over the knee bands.

His sword is a straight bladed 1786 pattern with a gold and crimson sword knot and black leather scabbard. Unlike infantry officers, he carries his sword on a black waist belt, instead of a shoulder belt. In his left hand is an officers' cane.

Archibald Arnott

Surgeon Archibald Arnott 20th Foot circa 1848–1855 (The Fusilier Museum Bury).

Arnott wears the Military General Service Medal issued in 1848 to the survivors of the campaigns of 1793 to 1814. The circular silver medal, suspended on a crimson ribbon with blue corners, has a number of claps, 15 clasps being the maximum awarded to any one claimant. The reverse shows Queen Victoria standing on a plinth, crowning the Duke of Wellington with a laurel wreath. The inscription To The British Army runs round the circumference with the date 1793–1814 in the exergue.

The portrait of Surgeon Archibald Arnott displays him in the pale yellow collar and cuffs of the 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot. Arnott, was commissioned surgeon on 23 August 1799. He served with the 20th Foot for his entire service, and was with them at Maida (1806), Walcheren (1809), and the Peninsular War (1808–1814). He retired on 25 December 1826, and died at Kirkconnell on 6 July 1855.

In the painting, Surgeon Arnott is portrayed wearing a scarlet officers' coat with rear skirt. The breast is fronted with ten buttons, and ten coat coloured, thread twist buttonhole loops, set at equal distance in pairs, four inches long at the top, reducing to three inches at the waist. Four buttons with buttonhole loops adorn the cuffs. On his shoulders are a pair of rich gold epaulettes with the regimental button.

In 1804, a General Order instructed Surgeons of Cavalry, Surgeons of Infantry, Assistant Surgeons and Veterinary Surgeons, to wear the uniform of their Regiment:

The coat to be straight, without facings, but with the regimental colour for collar and cuffs, and each one epaulette on the right shoulder. In those battalions where two epaulettes are worn by the whole corps of officers, the medical staff are equally to wear them; and the same rule applies to the cavalry regiments, whose medical staff are to wear the commissioned officer's uniform, but with the black feather, as worn by the medical officers of every rank. (Horse Guards, General Order, dated 11 April 1804).

Officers in the Civil Department of the army were not allowed to wear a sash. A Horse Guards Circular, dated 10 October 1805, made clear, that: no officer of the Barrack or Commissariat Department or belonging to the Medical Staff, either General or Regimental, shall at anytime wear a sash, except the officers of the Barrack Department, having established rank in the army.

A General Order, dated Horse Guards 19 February 1810, ordered: Paymasters, Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons, who compose the Civil Staff of Regiments, not to wear either epaulettes or wings. In addition, they were: to substitute a waist belt, instead of the shoulder belt, as present worn, and are not to wear a sash.

The wearing of epaulettes or wings was, however, restored to surgeons, assistant surgeons and paymasters of regiments by General Order No 245, dated 10 May 1813.

Surgeon 1815

Regimental Surgeon 1815 E V Howell 1930 (RAMC Archives)

Deep blue collars and cuffs were reserved for Royal Regiments. These were: The 1st (Royal Regt), The 2nd (Queen's Royal Regt), The 4th (King's Own Regt), The 7th (Royal Fusiliers), The 8th (King's Regt), The 18th (Royal Irish), The 21st (Royal North British Fusiliers), The 23rd (Royal Welch Fusiliers), The 41st (Invalids), The 42nd (Royal Highlanders), The 60th (Royal Americans).

Regimental Surgeon 1815, as represented by E V Howell, belongs to one of eleven Royal Regiments, as only these had deep blue facings. From 1811, officers wore scarlet jackets instead of long skirted coats. The collar was raised upright around the neck, with a button at each end, and four buttons and lace loops on the cuffs. Howell, shows his surgeon in a single breasted coat with the breast fronted with eight coat coloured, thread twist buttonhole loops, set at equal distance. Blue grey close fitting trousers, or officers' overalls, were universally worn from 1812.

His hat is the 1812–1816 Shako known as the Belgic, which replaced that introduced in 1800. On the front of the shako was a shield shaped plate, surmounted by a crown, with the Royal Cypher, (G. R.), in its centre. To the left of the shako was a cockade made of pleated black silk, with a regimental button and plume, from where ran a cord with tassel. Grenadier Companies (Right Flank Coys) had a white feather plume. It was dark green for Light Infantry Companies (Left Flank Coys), and red and white (white uppermost) for Battalion Companies (Centre of the Line Coys). Flank companies were abolished in 1858.

A General Order, dated Horse Guards 10 May 1817, ordered regimental officers whose duties did not require them to fall in with the ranks, i.e. Paymasters, Quartermasters, Surgeons, Assistant Surgeons, and Veterinary Surgeons, to wear a long, plain single breasted coat, without epaulettes or wings, same as their regiments. In addition, surgeons, assistant surgeons and veterinary surgeons were to wear a plain cocked hat with a black silk button and loop, but without a feather. A sash was not to be worn, and the sword belt was to be under the coat.

P P Lyons

Assistant Surgeon Philip Patterson Lyons Rifle Brigade wearing a patrol jacket and a rifle green cloth forage cap with black silk band and black button and braid on top (RAMC/52/1).

P P Lyons became Assistant Surgeon Rifle Brigade on 14 Sep 1866 and moved to the Medical Staff on 19 July 1870.

Queen's Regulations 1844, stipulated that surgeons and assistant surgeons attached to Foot Artillery and Infantry were to wear the coat as prescribed for the infantry, but with velvet facings, plain flat silver buttons placed at equal distance, silver lace and plain star skirt ornaments. Their epaulettes were of silver as regulated for captains and subalterns, respectively with black silk stripes. The hat was cocked, plain with black lace loop, cockade and black binding but no feather. The trousers, boots and sword were as for the infantry. Their waist belt was also as for the infantry and fastened with a plain snake clasp worn under the coat. In undress, they were authorised to wear a frock coat as for the infantry.

108th Foot

Officers of the 108th (Madras infantry) Regt wearing the 1855 pattern undress forage caps with regimental number (RAMC/523/10/2).

The 108th was in Bombay, until it moved to Colchester in Dec 1876. In 1881, it amalgamated with the 27th Inniskilling Fusiliers to become the 2nd Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

From about 1811, infantry soldiers found the forage cap more comfortable to wear when off duty or in barracks than the cumbersome shako. The 1844 Regulations laid down that the caps of the infantry were to be worn on the men's head and brought well down on the forehead. They were not to be worn to one side. The peak was to be placed horizontally so as to prevent it obstructing the sight. No device or ornament beyond the number of the regiment and the distinction of the grenade or bugle was to be worn on the forage caps of the Non–Commissioned officers and men of the infantry.

W M Skues

Surgeon William MacKenzie Skues 109th (Bombay Infantry) Regt with the regimental number on his forage cap (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeon W M Skues wears a patrol jacket with a star on his collar denoting a relative rank of major. On each breast run four double cords fastened in the centre with olivettes. The cords run away from the centre to form crow's feet before terminating in dropped loops.

Surgeon W M Skues was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 29 July 1853, and became Surgeon 109th Regt on 8 July 1862. In 1861, a Royal Warrant laid down that surgeons promoted on or after 28 Mar 1861 should have the relative rank of major, however, this warrant was cancelled on 1 May 1863.

Before 1854, the officers' forage cap had a small peak, a black silk oak leaf pattern band and gold embroidered badges. The English pattern peak, used prior to 1855, sloped sharply to cover the eyes. The French pattern peak was in use after 1855 and extended horizontally. Infantry regiments had their regimental number together with an authorised badge on the front of their forage cap.

Forage Cap

Surgeon Major Salaman 1860–1876, in an 1855 pattern forage cap (RAMC/273).

A forage cap of the Army Medical Department is worn by Surgeon Major Salaman. The Dress Regulations 1857 defined the undress uniform head dress for officers of the Army Medical Department as: A dark blue cloth forage cap with a black leather peak and chin strap, and the band in black silk in oak leaf pattern. The insignia to the front of the band to be a Royal Cypher surmounted by a Victorian Crown embroidered in gold wire.

The forage cap of Assistant Surgeon James Daniel Crowe is that of the Royal Fusiliers. Above the peak is a diced band as worn by Scottish Regiments, with a grenade badge with elongated flames set above the regimental number. The grenade badge was common to all Fusilier Regiments, with the distinguishing device on the ball being the Royal Arms. The 21st Foot became the Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1881.

J D Crowe

Assistant Surgeon James Daniel Crowe 21st (Royal North British) Fusiliers in a post 1868 tunic with the new arrangement for displaying rank on the cuffs. Suspended around his neck is his Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society (RAMC/52/1).

Dr J D Crowe became Assistant Surgeon 21st (Royal North British) Fusiliers Regiment of Foot on 16 September 1868. He served with the regiment until he moved to the General Medical Staff on 19 July 1870. He had no campaign record but was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society, established in 1774, for the recovery of persons in a state of suspended animation. This medal was worn on the right breast of the tunic, unlike campaign medals which decorated the tunic on the left breast.

Crowe's tunic shows a crimson cord on both shoulders. An assistant surgeon of less than six years' full pay service ranked as a Lieutenant. His rank is represented by lace on the top only of the collar, without a run of eyes, an embroidered silver crown towards the front of his collar, and by single gold lace between plain braiding on the cuff.

The uniform of Staff Assistant Surgeon Augustin Oliver Applin shows him holding his cocked hat with black feathers and braid in front. His single breasted tunic has only one cord on his left shoulder to keep his shoulder belt in place. This runs diagonally from his left shoulder to beneath his right arm pit. His shoulder belt has a plate star of seven points. A crown and star on his collars, and a single band of lace round the cuffs, denote his relative rank of captain.

A O Applin

Staff Assistant Surgeon Augustin Oliver Applin in an 1856 tunic with the former way of displaying rank on the cuffs. A crown and star on his collars, and a single band of lace round the cuffs, denote his relative rank of captain (RAMC/52/1).

Assistant Surgeon Applin served with the 68th Light Infantry during the New Zealand War of 1864–65 in the Waikato campaign (New Zealand Medal) 1863–1865.

Commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 3 October 1857, Dr A O Applin became Assistant Surgeon 68th (Durham Light Infantry) on 6 November 1857, and Assistant Surgeon Royal Artillery on 9 November 1867. He was promoted Surgeon on 19 October 1872, and became a Staff Surgeon on 19 October 1872. He died on 20 June 1874.

A General Order of August 1830, changed the star on the officer's epaulettes from that of the Order of the Garter to that of the Order of the Bath. The embroidered star of the Order of the Bath had three crowns one over two, inside a circlet bearing Tria juncta in uno (three kingdoms united into one), surrounded by a laurel wreath set on a cross formée from which issued rays making a square.

The head dress trimming on the cocked hat of Surgeon Gideon Dolmage is more elaborate. Gentleman G Dolmage was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 10 December 1833 and became Assistant Surgeon 6th Regiment of Dragoon Guards (Carabineers) on 3 August 1841. In 1854, he was Surgeon 7th (The Princess Royal's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards after having completed 19 years full pay service. He was promoted Surgeon Major Military Train on 2 October 1857 and retired with the Honorary rank of Deputy Inspector General on 21 September 1860. He died on 2 April 1868.

G Dolmage

The front of the cocked hat held by Surgeon Gideon Dolmage is covered with a star loop ten inches long with a large dead gold star in the centre with studs.

This star loop was worn by medical and veterinary officers of the Household Cavalry. His two rows of half inch lace round the top of his cuffs denote the relative rank of major (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeons of the Military Train wore a cocked hat with gold double lace loop, bullion tassels and regimental button, with a black cock's tail plume. In lieu of the brown belts they wore a black Morocco sling belt with plate and also a black Morocco shoulder belt with a small case for instruments.

The new Regulations for the Dress of Officers of the Infantry dated Horse Guards 30 June 1848, effective from 1 January 1849, removed the lace and embroidery from the officer's dress-coat. The slashed flap on the sleeve was not to exceed five and a half inches in length and two and a half inches in extreme breadth; the length of the loops on the collar was limited to five inches, and the width of the lace on the cuffs and collar to five eights of an inch, so that the whole breadth of the loops, whether of lace or embroidery, was to be not more than one inch and a quarter wide.

The blue frock was discontinued in the infantry. Instead, a plain shell jacket made with the facings of the regiment, but without lace or other ornament, the wear of which had already been sanctioned in certain climates, was introduced as an undress. It was worn buttoned up, with the forage cap and without the sash, in quarters, on fatigue or orderly duties, at drill and on parade, when Non–Commissioned–Officers and men happened to be dressed in the same manner.

The shell jacket or frock was worn to reduce wear and tear on the tunic. The shell jacket reaching down to the waist, had basket weave cords on both shoulders and ten buttons equally spaced down the front. Field Officers were distinguished by a small embroidered crown or star, or both, according to their rank at each end of the shell jacket.

A black leather sling waist belt, with a snake clasp, of the same pattern for all regiments, was authorised to be worn with the shell jacket, but the white regulation shoulder belt was invariably to be worn with the full dress uniform by all Company Officers.

Charles M Cuffe

Assistant Surgeon Charles MacDonogh Cuffe circa 1870. A crown and star on his collar denotes the relative rank of Captain (RAMC/52/1).

He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon Sep 1863. Became Assistant Surgeon 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars 8 June 1867 and Surgeon Major 28 Apr 1876. In 1870, he was still an Assistant Surgeon, but now ranked as a captain having completed 6 years' full pay service.

After the Crimean War, the Dress Regulations for the Army dated 1 April 1857, replaced the double breasted coat with the 1856 pattern single breasted tunic, with black velvet collar, cuffs and cuff flaps. The tunic had eight gilt buttons down the front, with the crown and letters V. R., and the words Medical Staff within a star raised thereon. The sleeve flaps had three gold loops of half inch lace each set centrally with a small gilt button.

From 1855, rank was displayed by a combination of lace on the collar and cuffs and silver embroidered stars and crowns on the collars. Badges of rank remained on the collars until 1881, when they were returned to the shoulder cords. Epaulettes were abolished in 1855 and in their place officers wore only a twisted crimson cord and button.

The Dress Regulations for the General and Regimental Officers of the Army of 1857 distinguished rank accordingly:

  • An Inspector General of Hospitals with the equivalent rank of a Brigadier, had a crown and star embroidered in silver on his collar, with the collar laced round top and bottom with half inch lace, and two rows of half inch lace round top of his cuffs.
    This rank had been discontinued under the Royal Warrant of 22 May 1804, but restored by Royal Warrant of 29 July 1830. After three years' service an Inspector General ranked as a Major General and had a star at each end of the collar with an inch lace round his collar.
  • A Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals with the equivalent rank of a Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel after five years' service had a crown or crown and star on his collar respectively, with half inch lace on his collar top and bottom and two rows of half inch lace round top of cuff.
    This rank had been discontinued under the Royal Warrant of 22 May 1804, but restored by Royal Warrant of 29 July 1830.
  • A Surgeon Major with the equivalent rank of a Lieutenant Colonel had a crown on his collar, with half inch lace on his collar top and bottom and two rows of half inch lace round top of cuff.
  • A Staff Surgeon/Regimental Surgeon had a silver star equivalent to the rank of Major with half inch lace on top and bottom of collar.
    Medical Officers ranking as Field Officers (i.e. Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major), had two bands of half inch wide gold lace round the top of the cuffs, an edging of the same on the sleeve, and down the edge of the skirt behind.
  • An Assistant Surgeon with the equivalent rank of a Lieutenant had a crown on his collar. The relative rank of an assistant surgeon with over six years' full pay service was that of Captain. His badge of rank was a crown and star on his collar.
    Medical officers not ranking as Field Officers, had a single band of lace round the cuff, none on the skirt and loops only on the sleeve flap.

The lace pattern on the 1856 tunic worn by Surgeon James Henry Lewis is that of a Field Officer. His two lace bands and a star on the collar, and two rows of half inch lace round the top of his cuffs denote the relative rank of major.

J H Lewis

Surgeon James Henry Lewis circa 1864–1867. He wears three medals: the Crimea Medal with three clasps, the Turkish Medal and the Indian Mutiny Medal with clasp (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeon James Henry Lewis was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 24 March 1854 and became regimental surgeon 18th (Royal Irish) on 8 March 1864. He served in the Eastern Campaign of 1854–55 including the battles of Alma, Inkerman, siege and fall of Sebastopol (medal with three clasps and Turkish Medal). He was also in the Indian Campaign from November 1857 including the Battle of Cawnpore on 6 December 1857 and the siege and relief of Lucknow (Medal with clasp). He died in 1867.

The new 1868 pattern tunic, lost its slashed cuffs, and the sleeves were decorated with intricate patterns of braid and gold lace. It had eight gilt regimental buttons in front. The cuffs were pointed, with three–eights of an inch wide gold lace along the top edge, and a tracing of gold Russia braid a quarter of an inch wide, above and below the lace. The lower tracings had a crows-foot and eye, and the upper an Austrian Knot reaching up the sleeve.


Decorative braid on collar and cuffs denoting rank. Similar designs in lace and braid were worn by officers of Infantry, Army Ordnance Department and Army Pay Department (TNA:WO32/6307).

The collar was embellished with five–eights of an inch wide gold lace along the top and front edges. In addition, Field Officers had a row of braided curly eyes running below the collar lace and a double lace around the top of the cuffs, showing a quarter of an inch sliver of black velvet facing between.

Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels had Russia braiding above and below the cuff lace in the form of broad eyes. For majors, only the upper braid formed eyes. For captains, the cuffs bore the double gold lace, but all collar and cuff braiding was plain, without eyes. Lieutenants had single gold lace between plain braiding on the cuffs.

W T Martin

Surgeon Major William Thomas Martin has a star on his collar giving a relative rank of major. As a Field Officer, the collar of his tunic is embellished with a row of curly eyes beneath the lace. His medal is for the Abyssinian 1868 Campaign (RAMC/273).

Surgeon Major William Thomas Martin's collar is decorated with lace, braid with a run of eyes, and a star denoting the relative rank of a major. He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 14 April 1863. He became a Surgeon–Major on 28 April 1876, by which time he had completed less than 20 years' service, and hence ranked as major. Surgeon Major Martin retired on 2 September 1896. He wears the Abyssinia Medal 1868, but was also entitled to the India General Service Medal with a bar for Burma 1885–1887.

E O'Connell

Surgeon Major Edward O'Connell wears the New Zealand Medal 1863–1866. He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on Sep 1858, and promoted Surgeon–Major on 1 Apr 1873. He retired on 3 Dec 1877 (RAMC/273).

Surgeon Major Edward O'Connell's collar is that of a Field Officer, as only they had a train of eyes running below the lace on the upper edge of the collar. A crown in conjunction with the pattern of lace and braid on his collar, denotes the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel. However, the lace and braid on his sleeve is that of a major. Majors had eyes on only the upper braid of the lace on their sleeves, while Lieutenant Colonels had eyes of Russia braiding above and below the pointed lace on the cuffs.

Surgeon Major Edward O'Connell was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 22 September 1858. He became Assistant Surgeon 83rd Foot on 31 May 1859 and was promoted surgeon on 22 September 1858. The Royal Warrant of 1873 elevated him to a Surgeon Major. Surgeon Major Edward O'Connell had only 17 years service, once his service in the Royal Navy from June 1856 was taken into account, and in accordance with the Royal Warrant of 1873, should have ranked as a surgeon major with the relative rank of major.

Other images of Surgeon Majors, such as that of Surgeon Major Thomas Egerton Hale VC display a similar arrangement of a crown on the collar with a major's lace and braiding on the cuffs.

T E Hale

Surgeon Major Thomas Egerton Hale VC with a crown of a Lieutenant Colonel on his collar and braid of a major on the cuff. The photograph was taken some time between 1905 and 1909 (RAMC/801/14/3).

Hale's tunic shows the Crimea Medal with clasp, the Victoria Cross Medal awarded to him on 5 May 1857, and the Turkish Medal. On 30 June 1905, on the Jubilee of the Crimean War, he was made an Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Third Class or Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

Dr Thomas Egerton Hale served in the Crimea with the 7th (Royal Fusiliers) from 25 January 1855. He was on duty in the trenches during the bombardment of Sebastopol in April and June, and the assaults on the Redan on 18 June and 8 September. He served in medical charge of a Field Force under Colonel Blunt during the Indian Mutiny. In 1869, he was serving as a surgeon (ranking as major) with the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Light infantry and retired on 20 June 1876 with the rank of Surgeon Major 94th Regiment of Foot. He died on 25 December 1909.

On 29 January 1856, Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery or devotion to the country in the presence of the enemy. Surgeon Major Thomas Egerton Hale's was the second medical officer to be awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation read:

First, For remaining with an officer who was dangerously wounded, (Captain H M Jones 7th Regiment), in the fifth parallel on the 8th September 1855, when all the men in the immediate neighbourhood retreated, excepting Lieutenant W Hope and Dr Hale; and for endeavouring to rally the men, in conjunction with Lt W Hope 7th Royal Fusiliers.
Second, For having on 8 September 1855, after the regiments had retired into the trenches, cleared the most advanced sap of the wounded and carried into the sap, under a heavy fire several wounded men from the open ground, being assisted by Sergeant Charles Fisher, 7th Royal Fusiliers.
Uniforms 1880

Lithograph c. 1880 showing uniforms of British Army Medical Staff with the jackets, tunic sleeves and collars of different ranking officers. Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

A lithograph of the uniforms of the Medical Staff published in the mid 1880s by William Jones and Company shows the braid and lace on the collar and cuffs of the tunic of a Surgeon Major with less than, and more than 20 years' full time service. The lace and braid in the lithograph conforms with that shown in the tunics of Surgeon Majors T E Hale and E O'Connell, but unfortunately no badges of rank are shown on the collar.


The Glengarry worn by the Gordon Highlanders, part of the 2nd Brigade Chitral Relief Force 1895 (RAMC/523/10/2).

Gordon Hldrs in their khaki jackets and trews wearing a mixture of Colonial Pattern Helmets, Pith Hat with puggarees around the crown and Glengarries. Highland Regts had the same five small buttons of regimental pattern down the front of the jacket, but the two breast pockets on the outside had flaps with two points. The top edge of the flap was in line with the centre of the second button and two button holes and buttons on the flaps were above the points.

The Glengarry had been sanctioned for wear in Highland Regiments by a circular issued in July 1851. A dark blue Glengarry was authorised for officers in 1868. It was adopted as the forage cap for other ranks of infantry in 1874. The dark blue Glengarry, with black ribbons and the regimental badge on the left front, was authorised for wear by infantry officers under a General Order of 1 June 1880.

Safed Sung

Head dress Medical officers and officers of 10th (PWO) Royal Hussars, at Safed Sung May 1879, Peshawar Valley Field Force, Second Afghan War (1878–1880) (RAMC/540).

The officers at Safed Sung are wearing a medley of field head dresses ranging from the Khaki Helmet with spikes and without spikes, to glengarry caps and peak less cloth forage caps.

A new head dress was introduced in 1878. A letter from Horse Guards dated 25 July 1876, proposed to extend the helmet used in the east to home service:

The present regulations which provide a helmet for the troops on stations in India, China, Ceylon, Singapore, the Straits Settlements, and the Cape of Good Hope be extended to other foreign stations, it being considered desirable on sanitary grounds that the helmet should be adopted as affording better head protection in warm weather, and further on military grounds, it is desirable that regiments embarking for foreign service should have the same head dress as it will avoid having to change clothing on being send from one station to another.

The proposed new helmet with spike as worn by Sgt Lee Army Hospital Corps received the Royal Approval on 27 April 1877.


Helmet Home Service pattern Sgt Lee Army Hospital Corps with his blue cloth Home Service pattern helmet with spike (RAMC/737/3).

The helmet plate of the Army Medical Department: Within a laurel wreath, surmounted by a Victorian Crown, a rope circle, within this a cross of red enamel on a background of white enamel. This plate was worn from 1869 to 1881.

The blue cloth Home Service pattern spiked helmet was authorised for use by General Order No 40 of May 1878. The gilt spike was mounted on a cruciform base. The blue cloth helmet was bound all round with black leather, and had a distinctive quarter of an inch wide convex metal bar down the centre of the back.

 A H C

Helmet Home Service pattern Soldiers of the Army Hospital Corps, circa 1880, in Marching Order. A horse drawn ambulance and stretcher bearers form the background of this staged photograph (RAMC/1906).

The cumbersome spike was of little value other than decorative, and a source of danger when troops were entraining or detraining. The spike was replaced by a ball in a leaf on the cup in the Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Field Artillery, Army Service Corps, Medical Staff Corps, and the Army Veterinary Department.

The helmet for the Other Ranks had brass fittings and lacked the convex brass bar down the centre back. It was difficult for a soldier in a recumbent position to fire with his helmet on, with the back sight of his rifle raised, as the fore peak descended over his eyes, while the rear peak encroached upon his neck.

G J S Archer

Blue cloth helmet with ball worn by Lt George Johnston Stoney Archer. Officers' helmet had a pointed front peak bound with 3/16 inch wide gilded metal. The helmet plate is the Royal Arms surmounted with a Victorian Crown (RAMC/738/11).

Lieutenant George Johnston Stoney Archer was commissioned 27 July 1898, promoted captain RAMC 27 July 1901. His rank is shown by a star on his shoulder cords and a single band of lace on his cuff.

The proposal to adopt a white or tropical universal pattern helmet for all branches of the service wearing the blue cloth helmet was fully considered by the Dress and Equipment Committee in 1888. In 1897, officers and men serving abroad in the colonies, all wore the white cloth helmet with khaki cover, (pattern called colonial), supplied by the Army Clothing Department.

In 1881, the Officers' 1855 pattern forage cap with the large flat rectangular peak, was replaced by the straight sided undress forage cap (Horse Guards General Order No 72). For Field Officers, the cap had a steeply drooping gold embroidered English pattern peak laid close to the forehead, the peak just reaching below the eyebrows. Except for surgeons with the equivalent rank of Field Officers, the peak of pre 1880 caps had the oak leaf band. After 1880, the gold lace cap band followed the Army Medical Staff pattern, with two thin black lines in the two inch lace. Forage caps were abolished in 1902.

Forage Cap

Surgeon Charles James Addison wearing the 1880 pattern forage cap. His two stars on his shoulder straps denote a relative rank of captain (RAMC/273).

The new 1881 pattern forage cap is worn by Surgeon Major Charles James Addison. He was commissioned surgeon on 5 February 1881, and promoted surgeon major on 5 February 1893. Surgeon Addison served with the 1st Bearer Company of the Army Hospital Corps in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882 (Medal and Khedive's Star), the North West Frontier of India between 1897 and 1898, and in South Africa from 1899 to 1900. He retired on 28 November 1900.

In 1881 the badges of rank moved from the collar back on to the shoulder cords or shoulder straps. A post 1881 surgeon of the Army Medical Department is shown in the photograph. He has two stars on his shoulder cords denoting the relative rank of captain. His collar lacks the row of braided eyes, and his cuffs bear the double plain gold lace with no braiding. He wears a Morocco leather waist belt faced with gold lace, and a gold lace sash with two crimson stripes.


A Medical Staff officer circa 1884 with a relative rank of captain (two stars) on his shoulder straps and the captain's pattern of gold lace on his sleeves and collar (RAMC/273).

Next to his Egyptian Campaign Medal of 1882, is the Khedive's Star. Several of these were issued, ranging from the 1882 Star for the initial Egypt Campaign, the 1884 Star for the Eastern Sudan, the 1884–86 Star for the Nile and Eastern Sudan, to the undated medal for the 1888 and 1891 campaigns. Soldiers only received a single star for the first campaign in which they served.

In 1883, the badges of rank system was revised with the crown being reserved for Field Officers. The following combination of crown and stars of the Order of the Bath on the shoulder strap or cords, denoted the officer's rank:

  • A Deputy Surgeon General ranking as Colonel wore a Crown over two Stars on his shoulder straps.
  • A Surgeon Major ranking as a Lieutenant Colonel after 20 years' full pay service wore a Crown and one Star on his shoulder straps.
  • A Surgeon Major with less than 20 years' full pay service ranked as Major wore a crown on his shoulder straps.
  • A Surgeon of over 6 years' full pay service ranked as Captain and wore two stars on his shoulder straps.
  • A Surgeon of less than 6 years' full pay service ranked as Lieutenant and wore one Star on his shoulder straps.

By 1883, the Glengarry cap had evolved into the boat shaped Torin Cap. The non–Scottish Glengarry and most Torin Caps were replaced in the 1890s by an Austrian Pattern Cap that could unfold more elaborately into a form of Balaclava, fastening with two buttons.

In 1894, a new pattern field cap called the Forage Indian Pattern Cap was approved in India under Circular dated 15 February 1894. This universal Field Service Cap, was introduced for service in the army, under Army Order III of June 1896, which directed officers to wear the Forage Indian Pattern Cap. However, the 1895 image of Medical Officers of No 2 British Field Hospital on the Chitral Relief Force are shown wearing the Torin Cap.

Chitral Relief Force

Forage Indian Pattern Cap No 2 British Field Hospital Chitral Relief Force 1895 (RAMC/523/10/2).

Surgeon–Lieutenant–Colonel William Donovan served on the Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low (medal with clasp). He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 30 March 1872, serving in Bombay. He was made Surgeon under the Royal Warrant of 1 Mar 1873, and promoted Surgeon Major on 30 Mar 1884 and Surgeon–Lieutenant–Colonel on 30 Mar 1892.

He served in the Afghan War of 1879–1880 with the Kabul Force and afterwards with the Kuram Force. He took part with the Zaimusht Expedition in December 1879 under Brig Gen Tytler in medical charge of the 85th Light Infantry. In the South African War of 1899–1902 he was PMO Cavalry Division.

For the Other Ranks the blue Field Service Cap was introduced from 1 May 1897 to replace the Glengarry, although some regiments continued to wear it until 1900. The Field Service Cap was phased out in 1902 with the introduction of the Brodrick cap. It continued to be used by the Volunteer Battalions of regiments until 1908, and the Territorial Force battalions which succeeded them. The Khaki Field Service Cap was reintroduced as an optional extra head wear in 1933, and continued to be worn at the discretion of commanding officers. In 1943, the khaki field service cap was replaced by the cloth beret.

The Dress Regulations 1900 describe the Field Service Cap as a: folding, blue cloth, about four and a half inches high, and not less than three and three quarters inches across the top, with the crown shaped similar to the glengarry, with folding peak in front, flaps at the sides to let down, lower flaps to fasten under the chin when unfolded, when folded they fasten in the front of the cap with two gorget buttons. Crown buttons and piping of regimental or departmental pattern. The regimental badge was to be placed five and five eights inches from the front and one inch from the top of the cap.

Brodrick cap

Brodrick Cap Lt Col Richard Jennings circa 1907 with the Medical Staff Cottonera Hospital, Malta in their forage cap, and the orderlies in their Brodrick head dress. Staff Sgts had two rows of lace; Sgts had one row of lace on their Brodrick Cap (RAMC/1269/6/4).

The Brodrick Cap, named after the Secretary of State for War, St John Brodrick (1901–03), lasted until 1907, when it was replaced by the peaked Staff Pattern Forage Cap.

The Brodrick Cap was in dark blue cloth and resembled the traditional sailors’ cap, having a round stiffened crown above a head band of smaller diameter, and no peak. The body had a dark blue concave flap stitched to the front. Behind that was a convex patch, which at first was also blue. Both the flap and patch had blue welts. 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. The cap-badge was worn centrally on a curved patch of cloth, in the regimental colour, showing above the dark blue head band.

In the early part of 1884, trials were held on a more free and easy uniform clothing for the use of the troops on active service in the field. The response was so favourable in regards to its superior comfort and advantages, that the British Medical Journal dated 27 December 1884, expressed its belief that the so called Kharkee dress will become permanently adopted as the uniform for field service, and the scarlet clothing will then be worn for home service and occasions on parade.

Patrol jacket

Patrol Jacket worn by a Surgeon Army Medical Staff 1900. Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S K Brown Military Collection.

Patrol Jacket: blue cloth, with stand and fall collar edged with one inch black mohair braid and a false upright collar of black with three quarter gold lace round the top to button on inside collar of jacket. Five loops mohair on each front with two olivettes on each loop, cuffs one inch mohair pointed with figured braiding. Front skirts and slits one inch mohair all round. Top and bottom pockets one inch mohair with figure braiding. Shoulder straps half inch mohair except at base. Black netted button at top. Badges of rank in gold.

According to William Donovan who had served in the Afghan War 1879–1880, the undress uniform worn by the Army Medical Staff during the Zulu and Afghan Wars was the same as that of the infantry. This consisted of a blue patrol jacket with braid of the same colour on the breast and sleeves and a stand up single collar with badges of rank on both sides of collar. There were no shoulder straps. The trousers were the same as for the infantry, with a thin red stripe down the outer seam. Leather leggings were worn on the march or jack boots and breeches by mounted officers.

He stated that Khaki was not worn in India by British troops until the Afghan Wars (1878–1880), when khaki jackets and helmet covers were worn, but it was not then very plentiful. The men improvised by steeping their white clothing and buff belts in cauldrons of strong tea. During the First Boer war of 1881, the troops, except those that arrived from India, had all British clothing and gradually got khaki clothes of sorts.

D Wardrop

Lt Douglas Wardrop with his colonial helmet and two braces to his Sam Browne Belt. He was commissioned Surgeon on 6 Mar 1880, promoted Surgeon Major on 6 Mar 1892 and Lieutenant Colonel on 6 Mar 1900. In 1878, he had served as a Civil Surgeon in the Kaffir War and in the Zulu War 1879.

The Sam Browne Belt was developed in 1860 by Gen Samuel Browne VC to enable him to handle his sword after his arm had been amputated during the Indian Mutiny. It came into general use in the wars of 1870 to 1880 and was worn with two braces until the South African War of 1899 (RAMC/1921).

Surgeon Major John Dallas Edge who left England with the 91st (Princess Louise's Argyllshire) Highlanders for Zululand commented that his dress consisted of a more or less Khaki jacket laced with mohair braid which indicated rank on the sleeves, cord breeches and field boots. Surgeon Douglas Wardrop said that all the medical officers in the Zulu war, that he came across wore a blue jumper and Bedford cord breeches but Surgeon Andrew Lang Browne who was with the 90th (Perthshire Volunteers Light Infantry) Regiment wore a scarlet jumper called a Cardigan. Old Surgeon Major Thomas Tarrant the SMO of General Ceealock's Army in the Zulu War, was always resplendent in a blue patrol jacket and blue boots but they did not work. I never saw Khaki. I cannot remember anyone wearing the broad blue stripe. As a matter of fact on the Veldt any old kit was worn.

No 2 Gen Hospital

Khaki Foreign Service Uniform No 2 General Hospital South Africa opened on 1 Dec 1899 on the parade ground of Wynberg Military Camp (RAMC/557).

The hospital consisted of 99 double fly marquees, each containing six spring beds, and had a capacity of 504 beds. There were 5 RAMC officers, 12 civil surgeons and 8 nursing sisters of the Army Nursing Service, under the command of Col Alexander William Duke L/RAMC.

Prior to 1885, Non–Commissioned–Officers had chevrons on both arms of the tunic, but henceforth were reduced to the right sleeve only. The South African War was fought in Khaki drill with badges of rank worn only on the right sleeve, making it difficult to distinguished rank when Non–Commissioned–Officers were approached from their left side. This led to the reintroduction of badges of rank on both arms in 1902. The Khaki bush hats slouch was adopted in South Africa and cartridges bandoliers replaced the twin pouches.

In 1890, a frock and field service hat for wear on active service were introduced to save wear and tear on the stable jacket and forage cap. The stable jacket and pill box forage cap were discontinued in 1898. Initially in 1900, the head dress was the pill box forage cap, then the peak-less Brodrick, and from 1907 the peaked forage cap, The 1890 frock was still worn in 1900, but by 1914 was only worn in India in place of the full dress tunic.

The Dress Regulations 1894, (White Clothing and Khaki Clothing), authorised General Officers Commanding to issue White Clothing. The Patrol Jacket was plain white drill. The shoulder straps were of the same colour and material as the garment, fastened at the top with a small regulation button, and bearing distinctive letters or numerals indicating the corps or department.

Medical officer India

A medical officer with the rank of a Lt Col in Khaki uniform serving in India with gorgets on his collar and the letter M on his shoulder straps, denoting an officer of the Medical Department (RAMC/1921).

The Jacket of Khaki drill, full in chest with stand up collar of the same material as the jacket, square in front, and from one and a quarter to one and three quarters inch high, fastened with two hooks. The jacket was secured with five small buttons down the front. Two patch pockets, with pointed flaps and small regulation buttons, one on each side of breast outside, and with a box pleat down the centre. The pockets six and a half inches deep and six and a half inches broad at the top. The top edge of the pocket flap in line with the centre of second button. Two pleats, about three inches long, on each of neck in front running slightly diagonally from collar seam in the direction of arm hole, also two pleats underneath the breast pockets, to give shape to the waist and fullness to the breast. Sleeves cut plain with cuffs pointed five inches at the point. Shoulder straps of the same colour and material as the garment, fastened at the top with a small regulation button. Badges of rank on shoulder straps and distinctive letters or numerals.


Khaki Foreign Service Uniform 2nd/1st Northumbrian Field Ambulance RAMC Salonica circa August 1916.

Note the letter T on the shoulder straps denoting a Territorial Force unit and the Efficiency five pointed star on the right cuff of the Sgt seated on the ground second from left (RAMC/1969/1).

The helmet had a khaki cover and khaki covered zinc button and a leather chin strap. Helmet plates, spikes and chains were not worn unless ordered. Puggarees were always worn with helmets on service abroad, but medal ribbons only were worn on khaki uniform.

The 1894, White Clothing and Khaki Clothing Regulations also ordered Khaki Clothing or Foreign Service Uniform to be worn at all stations abroad. It was worn on active service during the South African War of October 1899–May 1902. The jacket had a stand up collar of the Prussian pattern. Leggings with spiral straps were the regulation for mounted officers, and other ranks wore puttees. Officers had khaki helmets, but those issued to other ranks were white with loose khaki covers. Sam Browne belts with two braces were worn by the officers.

J M Buist

John Martin Buist 1901 wearing his Khaki Jacket. His two stars on his shoulder straps give his rank as a captain. Up to 1902, a Lieutenant had one star and a Captain two stars. A 2nd Lt had no rank badges. This changed in 1902 when the 2nd Lt received a star as a badge of rank, and the Lt and Capt each gained an additional star.

John Martin Buist was commissioned Surgeon–Lieutenant on 28 July 1894 and promoted Surgeon–Captain on 28 July 1897. He became a Major on 29 January 1906 while serving in South Africa (RAMC/1921).

In 1896, khaki drill and serge appeared in Home Orders. Patterns of gorget patches were sealed in May 1896. The size of the gorget was two and a half inches long by one and a quarter inches wide. Staff officers had scarlet patches with red silk. Those of the Army Medical Staff were blue with black braid. A new pattern of blue serge frock was introduced in the same year and staff officers wore the scarlet gorget on this garment.

Larger gorget patches were introduced in 1898 for the serge frock, measuring four and a half inches long by one and one and a half inches wide. On the blue frock the Surgeon General wore black velvet gorget patches.

The 1911 dress regulations noted that the colonel of the Army Medical Service now had a black velvet patch like the Surgeon General but with scarlet Russia braid in the centre. When the service dress tunic changed from the closed collar to the open neck collar, the gorget moved on to the lapels and took a new shape. Instead of the square end, it was now sloping, although the other details remained.

Departmental Officers in their khaki field service uniforms wore coloured shoulder straps. The colour for departmental officers was blue cloth straps with badges of rank plus C for Commissariat, O for Ordnance, M for Medical and MA for Military accountants. In 1889, the coloured shoulder straps was discontinued and officers wore a strip or coloured patch on either side of the stand up collar. General Officers had scarlet with a loop of gold Russia braid laid down the centre to a gilt stud. The rear end of the patch was pointed as had been the coloured strap. Staff officers also had scarlet, but with a scarlet silk loop. The medical service had blue with a black Russia tracing loop. Corps buttons replaced the stud.

Army Order 92 of 1916, reorganised the gorget patches for officers. Those with red patches had executive or fighting duties while others with blue gorgets patches were administrative non combatant or departmental officers. In January 1921, staff officers of the RAMC wore dull cherry cloth gorget patches.

Surgeons and Surgeon–Majors in the African Medical Service were stationed in Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast. The Dress Regulation of 1857, stipulated that officers of the Medical Department serving in Africa, were to wear the shell jacket as prescribed for Officers of Infantry. In the 1880s, they wore a scarlet uniform with black velvet facings. Their Apothecaries, ranking as captains, wore a scarlet uniform with grey facings.

Medical Officers – Highland Regiments

A Hooper

Assistant Surgeon Alfred Hooper 42nd Hldrs (31 Aug 1855 to 1 Sep 1865) (RAMC/52/1).

Assistant Surgeon Alfred Hooper served in the Crimea from 8 Nov 1854 (Medal with clasp for Sebastopol and Turkish Medal), and in the Indian Mutiny of 1857–58 (Medal with clasp). He was promoted surgeon on 10 July 1866, with the relative rank of major.

Highland Regiments became an integral part of the army from 1793, with the raising of the 43rd Foot, renumbered 42nd Highlanders in 1749. In 1861, it became the 42nd or The Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch).

The tartan of the senior Highland Regiment was the Government Tartan or 42nd Tartan. This formed the basis for all tartans of Highland Regiments, with the exception of the 79th (Cameron Highlanders). White and red stripes were added for the Mackenzie Tartan and yellow for the Gordon Tartan.

A C Ross

Surgeon Alexander Clark Ross 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) (16 Oct 1863–7 Dec 1870) (RAMC/52/1).

Alexander Clark Ross was promoted surgeon on 16 May 1862 with the relative rank of major. He became surgeon 1st Foot on 3 May 1871.

Surgeon Alexander Clark Ross is shown in the uniform of the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders). He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 1 July 1853. He became Assistant Surgeon 67th Foot on 30 November 1855, Surgeon 92nd Highlanders on 16 May 1862, and Surgeon 1st (The Royal Scots) Regiment on 3 May 1871.

Surgeon Ross is leaning against a chair, on which is a feathered bonnet with a fox tail falling to its right, and a feather on the left of the bonnet. The feather worn by surgeons and assistant surgeons was black in colour. It was scarlet in the 42nd Regiment and white in other Highland Regiments. A Highland broadsword rests against the chair. On his left breast is the Second China Campaign Medal of 1861, gained while an assistant surgeon 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment. A plaid is wrapped diagonally around his chest, and is held on his left shoulder by the regimental brooch. Ross is wearing a tartan trews with a waist belt from which is suspended a decorated Highland dirk on his right hip. He is wearing spurs.

B C Kerr

Surgeon–Major Benjamin Cowan Kerr 74th Highlanders (21 June 1871 to 1877) wearing the doublet over tartan trews. He was promoted Surgeon Major on 1 Mar 1873, having been first commissioned on 17 Nov 1855 (RAMC/273).

Around 1855, the Highlanders adopted the doublet with Inverness skirts, six and a half inches deep, which was worn with the kilt or trews. The skirt flaps had three buttons and loops of gold braid and both skirt and skirt flaps were lined with white. The doublet is clearly shown in the image of Surgeon Major Benjamin Cowan Kerr 74th Highlanders. In 1855, epaulettes and wings were abolished, and replaced with plain gold double cord with a small regimental button. The jacket was scarlet, single breasted, with eight buttons at equal distances. It had pointed cuffs with three eights inch wide gold lace along the top edge.

Dress Regulations for the Army dated 1864, specified that surgeons and assistant surgeons of Highland Regiments were to wear a black shoulder belt and instrument case, as worn by Assistant Surgeon Nugent Wade. His photograph shows him in full dress, in the Mackenzie tartan of the 78th Highlanders. Wade became assistant surgeon on 9 November 1867 and served with the Highlanders, under Surgeon Valentine Munbee McMaster, until exchanging to the Medical Staff on 19 October 1872.

N Wade

Assistant Surgeon Nugent Wade 78th Highlanders (9 Nov 1867–19 Oct 1872) ranking as Lieutenant. He was promoted surgeon on 1874 (RAMC/52/1).

Assistant Surgeon Nugent Wade is carrying a complete armoury with the basket hilted Highland broadsword, a Highland dirk on his right hip, and a stocking knife or Sgian dubh tucked away in the top of his right hose. He wears a large sporran on his little kilt, the feilidh beag, which reaches down to his knees. Instead of the belted plaid, like the one worn by Surgeon Alexander Clark Ross, Wade has the smaller fly plaid on his left shoulder. He wears a hose of diagonal stripes forming a diamond pattern, tied up at the calf by a garter with its ends hanging on the outside of the leg. Short ankle gaiters cover his brogues.

Another recipients of the 29 Victoria Crosses (two with bars), conferred on medical officers of the Army Medical Department, was Assistant Surgeon Valentine Munbee McMaster. The photograph finds him seated, in the Mackenzie tartan trews and scarlet jacket with buff facings. McMaster was commissioned Assistant Surgeon 78th (Highlanders) (Ross–Shire Buffs) Regiment of Foot on 27 March 1855. He served with the Highlanders until 25 September 1860, when he became Assistant Surgeon 6th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Dragoons.

On the left of his cylindrical feather bonnet is a black ribbon cockade, to which is clipped a badge of an elephant, without howdah and trappings, inscribed with the battle honour Assaye on a scroll underneath. His plaid, secured with a brooch on his left shoulder, encloses two campaign medals, one on either side of his Victoria Cross.

V M McMaster

Assistant Surgeon Valentine Munbee McMaster VC 78th Highlanders (RAMC/801/14/5).

He wears the Persia Expedition 1857 Medal and the Indian Mutiny Defence of Lucknow First Relief Force medal, which were distributed to the 78th Hldrs in 1860.

The 78th Regiment formed part of Major General Sir James Outram's Force sent from India to Persia to restrain that country from interfering in Afghanistan. Assistant Surgeon McMaster served in the Persian War, including the night attack and Battle of Kooshab (7 February 1857), and bombardment of Mohammerah (medal and clasp).

In July 1857, he left Allahabad, in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh, with Major General Henry Havelock's column. He was present in all the operations resulting in the recapture of Cawnpore, in the first advance into Oudh, and subsequent engagements up to 12 August. He also took part in the second advance into Oudh, and in all the actions ending in the relief of the Residency in Lucknow, and the subsequent defence, including several sorties. McMaster served with Sir James Outram Force at Alam Bagh until the capture of Lucknow, the Rohilcund Campaign and capture of Bareilly on 5 May 1858 (Medal and two clasps).

Assistant Surgeon Valentine Munbee McMaster was awarded the Victoria Cross on 18 June 1858. His citation reads:

For the intrepidity with which he exposed himself to the fire of the enemy in bringing in and attending to the wounded on the 25 September at Lucknow. (Extract from Field Order of Maj Gen H Havelock 17 October 1857.)

Medical Officers – Ordnance Medical Department

Horse Artillery

Medical Officer Royal Artillery circa 1865 with the pattern on collar and sleeves of an assistant surgeon with the relative rank of captain. Medical officers wore a black plume and cap lines on the busby with a black morocco shoulder belt and case of instruments of army pattern (RAMC/52/1).

The Royal Artillery and The Royal Engineers, the two Ordnance Corps, were administered by the Board of Ordnance under the Master–General of the Ordnance. The Ordnance was not bound by the clothing regulations of the War Office.

On 1 September 1801, a Royal Warrant placed all medical officers previously serving with the Royal Regiment of Artillery and Brigade of Horse Artillery into a separate medical establishment for the Military Department of the Ordnance. The Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855, and on 26 December 1855, the Ordnance Medical Department merged with the Army Medical Department. However, through an order issued in May 1856, medical officers were considered as forming part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

R Lewer

Assistant Surgeon Robert Lewer (ranking as lieutenant) wearing the Baltic Medal (RAMC/52/1).

Robert Lewer served as a medical dresser in the Royal Navy in the Baltic operations during the Crimean War and was present at the bombardment of Sveaborg on 9 Aug 1855. He was an As Surg RA from 1 Aug 1857 to 8 Sep 1871. In 1868 he was still an As Surg but ranked as captain. He was promoted surgeon (ranking as major) 9th (the Queen's Royal) Lancers on 9 Sep 1871.

In January 1859, the Regiment of Royal Artillery was reorganised into a Horse Brigade of ten Troops of Royal Horse Artillery (A Troop to K Troop), and six Field Brigades and eight Garrison Brigades of about eight batteries in each brigade. The Headquarters of Sixth Brigade, for example, was in Malta with its No 5 Bty and No 10 Bty serving in Corfu. With the introduction of the brigade system, medical officers were posted to brigades, and soon became associated as regimental officers with the batteries of their brigades. One Surgeon–Major and two assistant surgeons was the normal complement for each brigade.

In 1860, there were 7 Surgeon Majors, 15 Surgeons and 68 Assistant Surgeons, making a total of 90 medical officers, all wearing the dress of the Royal Artillery. With the abolition of the regimental system on 1 March 1873, all the medical officers belonging to regiments were transferred to the Army Medical Department. Medical Officers were, however, allowed to continue wearing the regimental uniforms for some time, and those who had formerly belonged to the Royal Artillery, were as far as possible, kept doing duty with their old corps. Their names, moreover, remained on the Royal Artillery lists for some years subsequent to the appearance of the 1873 Royal Warrant. Every surgeon was raised to the rank of Surgeon Major by the Royal Warrant of March 1873.

Veterinary Officers continued to be borne on the strength of the Royal Artillery. They wore its uniform up to 1879, when the Army Veterinary Department was established by Royal Warrant, and the Veterinary Surgeons belonging to the various cavalry regiments and to the Royal Artillery, were transferred to the new department.

A J L Hepworth

Assistant Surgeon Alfred Joseph Lumby Hepworth RA circa June 1864 bearing the relative rank of captain (RAMC/1607).

The sleeve ornament in the Royal Horse Artillery was the Austrian Knot of Royal Gold cord traced in and out with small gold braid eight inches deep and figured for captains seven inches deep, and plain for lieutenants.

The uniform of Assistant Surgeon Alfred Joseph Lumby Hepworth demonstrates the badges of rank and lace pattern of an assistant surgeon with over six years' full pay service. His relative rank is that of captain. Unlike infantry medical officers, those in the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers replaced the chevron gold lace on the sleeves of their tunic with an elaborate Austrian Knot.

Captains had silver embroidered crown and star badges of rank on their collar, which was only laced round the top with gold lace within the gold cord. The sleeves displayed an Austrian Knot of round gold cord traced in and out with small gold braid, eight inches deep and figured for captains, and seven inches deep and plain for lieutenants. A surgeon had the relative rank of major, and showed a star on his collar. Assistant Surgeons of under six years' full pay service ranked as lieutenants. Their badges of rank was a crown on the collar.

Assistant Surgeon A J L Hepworth was commissioned a Staff Assistant Surgeon on 26 January 1855. He was an Assistant Surgeon Royal Artillery from 1 July 1857 until 7 December 1867 when he was promoted Staff Surgeon. On 7 February 1868, Staff Surgeon Hepworth became Surgeon 3rd (The King's Own) Regiment of Hussars, vice Surgeon Major Henry Huish, who was placed on half pay. He died in Egypt in March 1873.

R A Chapple

Assistant Surgeon Robert Augustus Chapple in an 1856 tunic with cuff lace pattern of a captain. He wears the Crimea Medal with 3 clasps, the 5th Class Order of Medjidie, and the Turkish Medal (RAMC/52/1).

Robert Augustus Chapple was commissioned in the OMD on 28 Apr 1854. He was promoted Surgeon RA on 20 June 1865. He served in the Crimean War with the Scots Greys at Mackenzie Farm and Balaclava, and with the RA at Inkerman.

A sabretache served as a useful pouch for storing documents at a time when trousers lacked pockets. In 1812, all mounted officers were authorised to wear a sabretache. Queens Regulations of 1883 stated that the sabretache was to be worn on mounted duties only, except by Hussars, mounted officers of Artillery, and Royal Engineer troops, who wore it every time the sword was worn. In the field, the sabretache was worn on the belt or attached to the saddle, by staff and mounted officers of infantry.

The 1864 Dress Regulations for the Royal Artillery described the sabretache as blue Morocco, faced with blue cloth, with broad gold lace around it. It had the Royal Coat of Arms and supporters between sprays of laurel and oak leaf with a cannon below in the centre of the sabretache. The motto Ubique (Everywhere) appeared above the cannon and Quo fas et gloria ducunt, (Where Right and Glory lead), was in a scroll below the cannon.

G R Tate

Assistant Surgeon George Ralph Tate in a frock coat with cuff braid of a lieutenant, pill box type forage cap and an 1822 pattern sword (RAMC/52/1).

George Ralph Tate was commissioned on 10 Mar 1858 and served as an Assistant Surgeon with the RA until retiring on 6 Apr 1869, with the relative rank of captain.

The Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers wore busbies from 1855, the Royal Artillery having a red busby bag, until the introduction of the blue cloth spiked helmet in 1878. Medical officers wore a black plume instead of the white ostrich feather and a black morocco shoulder belt and case for instruments; a veterinary surgeon wore a red plume and white shoulder belt and instrument case.

Assistant Surgeon Herbert Chalmers Miles' tunic resembles that worn by the Hussars, from which it derived. The single breasted jacket was dark blue, edged all round with round gold cord and had round gold cord shoulder straps. It was ornamented on both breasts with pairs of loops of round gold cord, fastened with ball buttons and a crow's foot and curl at the top of the loops. The pairs of loops were joined at each end by a small loop. The number of rows on the chest of the jacket varied with the height of the wearer. Dress regulations stipulated that the jacket was to have on the breast equal blue and lace so that the space between the lace was to be the same breadth as the lace itself.

H C Miles

Pre 1867 image of Assistant Surgeon Herbert Chalmers Miles in a stable jacket RA with the relative rank of captain (RAMC/52/1).

Assistant Surgeon Herbert Chalmers Miles was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 23 December 1854. He served on the medical staff during the Crimean War and received the medal with clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish medal. On 28 December 1855, he became assistant surgeon 83rd Regiment of Foot. He served with the regiment in the Indian Campaign of 1857–58 where he sustained a gunshot wound while in medical charge of a detachment of the 83rd Foot and a Wing of the 12th Native Infantry (Mutiny medal and clasp). Assistant Surgeon Miles also served in Persia during the war of 1856, for which he received the medal with clasp.

Assistant Surgeon H C Miles moved to the Royal Artillery on 31 May 1859 and was promoted Surgeon Royal Artillery on 9 November 1867. He died at Bombay on 16 June 1871.

Medical Officers – Cavalry Regiments

J Coote Ovens

On 9 Oct 1863, Staff Surg John Coote Ovens exchanged with Surg William Johnstone Fyffe 5th Dragoon Guards. He served with the regiment until his retirement in 1877. His tunic has a Dragoons Field Officer's triple Austrian knot 11 inches from the bottom of the cuff and overalls with leather strappings. He served with the 9th (East Norfolk) Regt in the Crimea and wears the medal with clasp and the Turkish Medal (RAMC/52/1).

47,000 Turkish Medals were received in February 1859 from the Turkish Government for distribution to the Army and Navy. The medal was small with a ring attached for facilitating suspension. The obverse had three cannons and three flags; the reverse the name of the sultan.

The Regiments of Cavalry, (i.e. The Life Guards, The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, The Dragoon Guards and Dragoons, Hussars and Lancers), each had their medical officers wearing the uniform of their respective regiments. Assistant Surgeons were first commissioned to the Royal Horse Guards in 1796, but were not appointed to the 1st and 2nd Life Guards until 1804.

Cuff Dragoon

A medical officer of Dragoons with a double Austrian Knot on the sleeve traced round with gold Russia braiding indicating a relative rank of captain (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeons in cavalry regiments, as well as infantry regiments, were required to keep a horse at their own expense. Even Surgeons of Militia Corps were obliged to keep a horse. A young man with no private means was totally incapable of meeting the expenses of a Guards or Cavalry Regiment, where he had to provide for himself not only the elaborated uniform and all the accoutrements, but also meet the cost of band subscriptions, mess guests and port and wine at mess table.

A circular from Horse Guards dated 9 February 1829, stipulated that surgeons of regiments of cavalry were to wear cocked hats, with the exception of the Hussars Regiments, in which they are permitted to wear a plain shako, that is one without gold or silver ornaments. Surgeons and Assistant Surgeon were also to wear a black morocco shoulder belt with a small case for instruments. A circular dating 15 December 1862, ordered medical officers in the Household Cavalry to wear a feather in their cocked hat. This was to be of black cock's tail for the surgeon and assistant surgeon and a red feather for the Veterinary Surgeon.

J Cockburn

Surgeon Major James Cockburn 1st Regiment of Life Guards circa 1863, showing the relative rank of a Lieutenant Colonel (RAMC/52/1).

In the cavalry, in full dress uniform, the cocked hat distinguished the surgeons, and many corps ignored the ugly black cross belt and permitted their doctors to wear the regiment's gold belts. In undress, it was impossible to point out the medical officer as he wore the same dress as his brother officers. In the Hussars, the only distinction was the black cap lines of the busbies and few people in the army even noticed that distinction.

The Life Guard Troops established at the Restoration in 1660 were consolidated into the 1st Life Guards and the 2nd Life Guards in 1788. On 15 April 1836, Gentleman James Cockburn was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon. Shortly after, on 5 August 1836, he became Assistant Surgeon 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot, on the retirement of Assistant Surgeon John Bomford upon half pay. He served with the infantry until 12 September 1843, when he became Assistant Surgeon Royal Horse Guards, on the retirement of Assistant Surgeon George Gulliver.

J Corbett

Assistant Surgeon John Corbett 21st Hussars circa 1868 ranking as a Lieutenant (RAMC/52/1).

On 12 September 1848, James Cockburn was promoted Surgeon 1st Life Guards, following the death of surgeon Alexander Elliott Campbell on 22 August. He became a Surgeon Major 1st Life Guards on 1 October 1858 under the term of the Royal Warrant of 1 October 1858 which directed for a regimental surgeon of over 20 years' service to be styled a surgeon major, ranking as a Lieutenant Colonel. James Cockburn served with the 1st Regiment of Life Guards, until his retirement with the honorary rank of Deputy Inspector General on 14 April 1863. Under the terms of the Royal Warrant of 1 March 1873, Deputy Inspector Generals became Deputy Surgeon Generals ranking as Lieutenant Colonels.

The single breasted tunic of the 1st Life Guards was scarlet with blue velvet collar, and edged round with blue cloth. It had nine regimental buttons in front at equal distance with an embroidered collar. Field officers were distinguished by a row of embroidery round the top of the collar and cuffs. Surgeon Major Cockburn wears an aiguillette of twisted gold cord on his right shoulder together with twisted cord shoulder straps.

E J Fairland

Edwin James Fairland became Assistant Surgeon 21st Hussars on 14 July 1869. He was promoted Surgeon 1 Mar 1873 when he moved to Bengal. He served in the Abyssinia Campaign from Nov 1867 to July 1868 and wears the medal. The crown on his collar denotes the relative rank of a lieutenant (RAMC/273).

Assistant Surgeon John Corbett is wearing the uniform of the 21st Hussars. The photograph can be dated accurately to 1868–1869 as he became Assistant Surgeon 21st Hussars on 1 April 1868, and died while on a passage home from India on 22 October 1869.

The 21st Hussars was formed in 1862 from the disbanded 3rd Bengal European Cavalry. The Dress Regulations of 1864, describes the Hussar single breasted jacket as being of blue cloth, edged all round except the collar, with gold lace. On each side of the front of the jacket were six loops of gold chain lace with caps and drops fastening with six gold worked olivettes, the top loop eight inches long the bottom one four inches.

Mackenzie W O

Surgeon Major William Ord Mackenzie in the former 3rd (The King's Own) Regt of Light Dragoons mess dress (RAMC/52/1).

William Ord Mackenzie was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 4 Jan 1839. He became Assistant Surgeon the First (The King's) Dragoon Guards on 5 Oct 1841 and Surgeon 3rd Light Dragoons on 8 Jan 1847. He was promoted Surgeon Major 3rd Light Dragoons on 4 Jan 1859 and retired with the honorary rank of Deputy Inspector General on 13 Feb 1866.

The sleeve ornament in the Hussar jacket worn by Assistant Surgeon John Corbett is that for a lieutenant. It shows a knot of gold chain lace, edged with braid seven inches deep. The badge of rank for an assistant surgeon ranking as a lieutenant was a silver embroidered crown on the collar.

Corbett wears a sabretache suspended by three slings from his belt. In 1812, all cavalrymen were authorised to wear a sabretache. The sabretache was worn by all Hussars at all times and the sabretache was not to hang below the calf of the leg. The face of the sabretache of the 21st Hussars was scarlet, but this changed to French Grey by Army Order 94 of 1876. It was, surrounded with gold lace of a train pattern with a French grey central stripe. The sabretache was ornamented with an embroidered crown. Below the Royal Cypher V. R., was a roundel enclosing the letters 21 over H, all surrounded with leaves.

med officer

An unidentified medical officer with lace, braid and a star on his collar denoting a relative rank of major (RAMC/52/1).

The tunic worn by Assistant Surgeon Edwin James Fairland clearly shows the raised collar as worn by a lieutenant. The collar was two inches high, rounded at the front, and laced round the top with gold lace, with a plain edging of gold braid within the lace for a lieutenant.

The collar of a surgeon with the relative rank of major is shown in the photograph of an unidentified medical officer. This reveals an embroidered silver star, with the collar laced all round with gold lace and a figured braiding within the lace.

The cuffs of the patrol jacket were pointed with inch mohair lace, traced with Russia braid, and figured braiding at the top and bottom. The mohair lace reaches to 5 inches from bottom of the cuff, and the figure braiding at the top to 8 inches. The patrol jacket, first worn in 1867 when it replaced the frock coat, had many regimental variations of the trimmings of fur or astrakhan and braid.

H Huish

Surgeon Major Henry Huish 3rd (The King's Own Hussars) circa 1867 (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeon Major Henry Huish is wearing the Patrol Jacket of the 3rd Hussars. This was of blue cloth rounded in front and edges with astrachan fur all round. The collar and cuffs were of astrachan fur trimmed with half inch mohair braid at top and bottom of collar. Both sides of the front of the jacket were ornamented with six flat braided lace, set at equal distances, with the drops fastened with olivettes on each loop. The top loops extend to the shoulder seams and the bottom to 4 inches.

Surgeon Major Huish was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon on 31 January 1845. He became Surgeon 5th Dragoons in 1858 and Surgeon the 3rd (The King's Own) Hussars on 4 August 1865. He was promoted Surgeon Major 3rd Hussars on 13 May 1866, and retired on 8 February 1868.

Surgeon Major Huish had served in the Crimea, but was not entitled to the Crimea Medal, which had been distributed to those troops which had arrived in the Crimea prior to the 9 September 1855. Neither was he awarded the Sardinian Medal. In the distribution of honours made by the Sardinian Government, the British officers in the Crimea of the Medical Department were omitted altogether, although two decorations were given to the Commissariat also a Civil Department of the Army.

On 26 November 1856, Henry Huish wrote to Sir John Hall from Chatham in an attempt to be awarded the Sardinian Medal: hearing that a medal is about to be given by the King of Sardinia to British officers who served in the Crimea and as the distribution is not to be restricted to those who already posses the Crimean medal, which I had the misfortune not to gain having arrived soon after the fall of Sebastopol, would you recommend me for that decoration. At the breaking up of the Sardinian Hospitals the remaining sick were left in the hospital in my charge until their final removal.

Hussars wore white leather gloves but other regiments wore white leather gauntlets as shown in the photograph of Surgeon James Mouat.

James Mouat

Surgeon James Mouat VC 6th Dragoons wearing white leather gauntlets which partially cover the elaborate lace on his sleeves (RAMC/52/1).

Surgeon James Mouat was commissioned assistant surgeon 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot on 14 December 1838. He became surgeon 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons on 15 August 1854 and a surgeon major on 9 February 1855. He served with the 6th Dragoons and on the medical staff in the Eastern Campaign of 1854–1855. He was present at the Battle of Balaclava and siege of Sebastopol (Medal with three clasps, Commander of the Order of the Bath, Knight of the French Legion of Honour and the Turkish Medal). Surgeon James Mouat also served in New Zealand during the Maori Wars as Inspector General of Hospitals and was promoted Surgeon General in 1864.

Surgeon James Mouat was the first medical officer to be awarded the Victoria Cross on 2 June 1858 for having on 26 October 1854, voluntarily proceeded to the assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Morris CB 17th Lancers, who was lying dangerously wounded in an exposed situation after the retreat of the Light Cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava, and having dressed that officer's wound in the presence of, and under a heavy fire from the enemy. Thus, by stopping a serious haemorrhage, he assisted in saving that officer's life.

The General Medical Staff

A Melvin

Inspector General of Hospitals Alexander Melvin The crown and star on his collar depict the relative rank of Colonel. In 1815, he was at the capture of Guadaloupe for which he wears the Military General Service Medal 1847–1851 (RAMC/52/1).

Alexander Melvin was commissioned Assistant Surgeon 60th (King's Royal Rifle Corps) on 26 Sep 1811. He became Deputy Inspector General on 21 Feb 1851 and Inspector General on 7 Dec 1858. He retired to half pay on 31 Dec 1858.

The General Medical Staff comprised the administrative staff, and clinical staff who looked after the medical needs of the garrison, including women and children, the local quarantine department and the Station and General Hospitals.

The ranks of the Medical Department as appear in the Army List of August 1839 were: Directors General (DG), Inspectors General (IG), Deputy Inspectors General (DIG), Surgeons (Surg), Apothecaries, Assistant Surgeons (As Surg), and Deputy Purveyors. The rank of Hospital Assistant to the Forces was abolished on 29 July 1830 and replaced by that of Staff Assistant Surgeon.

The various ranks of the medical staff were distinguished by the variations in the braid in their epaulettes, collars and sleeves. The Purveyors and Deputy Purveyors wore the uniform of the Physician and Apothecary respectively, with the exception of silver epaulettes and plated buttons, instead of gilt buttons. The cocked hat with black feather was worn by all ranks of the Medical Staff, General and Regimental.

  • Inspectors – Two epaulettes embroidered with gold on black velvet, with two gold embroidered button holes on the collar, two on each cuff, and two plain on the sleeves.
  • Deputy Inspectors – Two epaulettes, embroidered with gold on black velvet, one embroidered button hole on the collar, one on each cuff, and two plain on the sleeves.
  • Physicians – Two epaulettes, embroidered with gold on black velvet, one button on the collar, one on the black cuff, and two on the sleeves.
  • Staff Surgeons – One epaulette on the right shoulder, embroidered with gold on black velvet, one button on the collar, one on the cuffs, and two on the sleeves.
  • Apothecary – One epaulette on right shoulder, one button on the collar, one on each cuff, and one on the sleeves. An Apothecary to the Forces, with the relative rank of captain, wore the same uniform as an officer of the Medical Department of corresponding rank, except the facings and edgings, which were of grey cloth.
  • Hospital Mates – One epaulette on right shoulder, one button on the collar, and two on the sleeves.

Dispensers of Medicines wore a plain scarlet tunic, black velvet facings, without lace. In undress, they wore a plain blue, single breasted frock coat with staff buttons, plain blue cloth trousers, blue forage cap without ornament, oak leaf band, and infantry sword and black belt.

Apothecaries to the Forces were commissioned in the Army until 29 July 1830, when the rank was abolished. New Apothecaries, ranking as lieutenants, were re-commissioned by Royal Warrant of 23 October 1854. They ranked as captains after 15 years' full pay service. The rank was discontinued under the Royal Warrant of 1 October 1858, with many becoming Lieutenants of Orderlies in the Army Hospital Corps.

In 1822, the traditional scarlet coat was changed to blue, but in 1830 it changed back to scarlet. It returned to blue in 1834, only to be changed yet again back to scarlet in 1846. Junior officers such as staff surgeons, apothecaries and hospital mates wore an epaulette on their right shoulder only.

The Dress Regulations for 1846 stipulated a scarlet coat with gold epaulettes and the relative ranks in the army as follows: Inspector General ranking as Brigadier General, Deputy Inspector General ranking as Lieutenant Colonel, Staff Surgeon 1st Class ranking as Major, Staff Surgeon 2nd Class ranking as Captain, Assistant Staff Surgeon ranking as Lieutenant, Apothecary ranking as Captain, and Deputy Purveyor ranking as Lieutenant.

Taylor G

Deputy Inspector General Of Hospitals George Taylor was commissioned Assistant Surgeon 22nd (The Cheshire) Regiment of Foot on 16 May 1834, and was promoted Deputy Inspector General on 31 Dec 1858. He died on 8 May 1867 on board the steamer Natal, six days after leaving Mauritius. He received the 5th Class of the Medjidie Medal.

Deputy Inspector General George Taylor is in a blue double breasted frock coat, with a stand up collar rounded off in front, and cuffs and lapels all of blue cloth. The coat has two rows of uniform buttons down the front, nine in each row, at equal distances. The distances between the rows is eight inches at the top and four inches at the bottom. Three small uniform buttons embellish his cuffs. A Deputy Inspector General ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel. His rank is shown by an embroidered gold crown at the end of his collar.

His shoulder belt of black Morocco is decorated with the two rows of gold embroidery for an Inspector and Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals. His sword belt is also of black morocco. It is fastened with a clasp and has two rows of gold embroidery. His trousers are of blue cloth with a scarlet stripe one and a three quarters inches wide down the outward seam for a Deputy Inspector General.

Deputy Inspector General George Taylor's right hand holds an 1855 pattern flat peaked forage cap with a staff pattern band. In his left hand is a 1822 pattern sword with a gilt half basket hilt, and the Queen's cypher inserted in the outward bars, and lined with black patent leather. The grip was of black fish skin, bound with a spiral of three gilt wires. The length of the blade was thirty two and a half inches. The scabbard was of brass for those of Field Officer rank and of black leather with gilt mountings for officers under that rank. The sword knot was crimson and gold with an acorn tassel.

For active duty and less formal occasions (undress) officers usually preferred to wear the dark blue double breasted frock coat and blue trousers with a scarlet stripe at the outer seam, forage cap and sword with black belt. The head dress was a dark blue peaked forage cap with a black silk oak leaf band and to the front the letters V.R. surmounted by a Queens (Victorian) Crown, all embroidered in gold.

On 14 October 1840, a Royal Warrant separated Staff Surgeons into First Class and Second Class. The Staff Surgeon of the 2nd Class corresponded in rank to a regimental surgeon. The Staff Surgeon of the First Class had the relative rank of major; those of the Second Class the relative rank of captain. These ranks were abolished by the Royal Warrant of 1 October 1858, and the only titles of surgeons in the army were either Staff Surgeon or Regimental Surgeon.

R H Alston Hunter

Staff Surgeon of the 1st Class Robert Hope Alston Hunter with the Ghuznee Medal 23 July 1839 (RAMC/37).

Staff Surgeon Robert Hope Alston Hunter was commissioned a Hospital Assistant in Jan 1827 and became a Staff Surgeon 2nd Class on 2 July 1841. He was promoted Staff Surgeon 1st Class on 30 July 1847 and retired upon half pay on 10 Feb 1852.

Under the Royal Warrant of 1 October 1858, surgeons who had completed twenty years' full pay service were given the rank of Surgeon–Majors. Staff Surgeons of the First Class became Surgeon–Majors, with the relative rank of Lieutenant Colonel, but junior of that rank. Surgeons had the relative rank of major. A surgeon whether regimental or staff was required to serve for ten years full pay service before he became eligible for promotion.

Staff Surgeon 1st Class Robert Hope Alston Hunter wears a scarlet double breasted coatee with two rows of gilt buttons with the words Medical Staff within a star thereon, ten in each row, at equal distance. The distance between the rows being three inches at the top, and two and a half inches at the bottom. The sleeves had slashed flaps. The coatee had Prussian style collars with two quarter inch wide lace loops, a small gilt button being set at the outer end of each. The plain round cuffs had slashed flaps up the sleeves bearing four gold lace loops each set centrally with a small gilt button. His epaulettes had plain gold straps with silver embroidered Royal Cypher on the pads. His relative rank of major is an embroidered silver star on the straps. His sword is the 1822 pattern sword with a gilded half basket hilt and a brass scabbard.

S Alder

Staff Surgeon Sydney Alder circa 1871, was commissioned Assistant Surgeon on 3 Nov 1854, and promoted surgeon, ranking as Major, on 15 May 1867 (RAMC/52).

Staff Surgeon Sydney Alder served in the Crimea with the 62nd Foot (Medal with clasp and Turkish Medal). He is wearing an edged patrol jacket with medal ribbons. On each side of the breast are 5 loops of cord with drops on the edges, fastening with olivettes. The badge on his forage cap is that of an unattached surgeon on the Medical Staff.

Under the Royal Warrant of 1 March 1873, the Inspectors General of Hospitals and the Deputy Inspectors General became respectively Surgeons General and Deputy Surgeon General. Surgeons became Surgeons Major and Assistant Surgeons became surgeons. The three or four doctors of each battalion were replaced by one medical officer who was attached to the regiment at the outbreak of the campaign and remained with it throughout the war.

J R Leake

Staff Assistant Surgeon Jonas Richard Leake dating from around 1868 to 1872.

The shoulder belt plate had a round gilt clasp with V.R. surmounted by a crown, in silver, upon the centre piece, and Medical Staff with a laurel branch also in silver on the outer circle.

Staff Assistant Surgeon Jonas Richard Leake is in the uniform of the Medical Staff, with his typical cocked hat and black feathers. He was commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon, ranking as Lieutenant, on 1 October 1867 and became Assistant Surgeon 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot on 16 May 1868. He was placed on half pay on 10 January 1872.

His cocked hat on the adjacent round table, was plain with the fan, or back part, nine inches, the front seven inches and a half, and each corner five inches. It had a loop with regulation button, and black silk cockade. The feathers were of black cock's tail, drooping from a feathered stem three inches in length.

His tunic has a twisted crimson cord on the left shoulder to keep the shoulder belt in place. The shoulder belt was of black patent leather, with a small case of surgical instruments. It had a round gilt clasp, with V. R. surmounted by a crown, in silver, upon the centre piece, and Medical Staff with a laurel branch, also in silver, on the outer circle.

W H McNamara

Surgeon General William Henry McNamara CB (1898) CMG (1901) OC Depôt Medical Staff Corps from 24 Aug 1891 to 27 Sep 1895 (RAMC/1328).

The Royal Warrant of 1873, reduced the ranks of the Medical Department to just four: (i) Surgeon General, (ii) Deputy Surgeon General, (iii) Surgeon Major and (iv) Surgeon. A Surgeon General ranked as a Brigadier General, a Deputy Surgeon General ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel, and as Colonel after completing five years service as a Deputy Surgeon General.

After the Royal Warrant of 1873, junior medical officers were no longer called Assistant Surgeons, but received the title of Surgeons. No regimental appointment was to last for more than five years. At the end of their attachment to a regiment, medical officers were moved to the staff, and reattached to another regiment after a further five years. The 1873 Royal Warrant made every Surgeon on promotion a Surgeon Major. This title, had been the exclusive property of the senior medical officer of the Guards, but was henceforth bestowed on every surgeon of over 20 years' service.

Patrol jacket

Surgeon Army Medical Staff 1900. Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S K Brown Military Collection.

A Surgeon Major had the relative rank of major until he attained twenty years full pay service as surgeon and surgeon major when he ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel. A surgeon's relative rank was that of lieutenant, after six years service he ranked as a Captain.

The Royal Warrant of 28 April 1876 altered the relative ranks of Surgeon General and Deputy Surgeon General to that of Major General and Colonel respectively. The Royal Warrant of 7 August 1891, laid down that the Director General, as the head of the Medical Department should hold the rank of a Surgeon Major General. From 24 March 1902, he ranked as a Lieutenant General.

M F Manifold

Deputy Surgeon General Michael Fenton Manifold with star and crown on his collar and braid and lace on his frock coat indicating the relative rank of Colonel (RAMC/273).

Deputy Surgeon General Michael Fenton Manifold is shown wearing a frock coat with the badges of rank on his collar and braid on his cuffs denoting a relative rank of colonel. He was commissioned Assistant Surgeon 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment of Foot on 22 May 1846 and rose to the rank of Deputy Surgeon General on 28 February 1876 and a Surgeon General, ranking as a Major General, on 21 May 1881. He retired in March 1882. He served with the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment in the Indian Mutiny campaigns and wears the Indian Mutiny Medal.

W Munro

Surgeon General William Munro CB (mil) was commissioned Assistant Surgeon 91st Highlanders on 5 Dec 1844. He was promoted Surgeon General ranking as Major General on 28 Apr 1876 (RAMC/273).

W Munro served with the 91st Hldrs in the Kaffir War of 1846–47 (medal), and with the 93rd Hldrs in the Crimea (Crimea medal 3 clasps, Medjidie medal 5th Class and Turkish medal), Indian Mutiny (medal 2 clasps), and was PMO of Euzufzai Field Force in Dec 1863 (made a CB and medal with clasp).

In full dress a Surgeon General wore a tunic of blue cloth with black velvet collar and cuffs. The collar was laced round the top and bottom with inch wide lace. The cuffs were pointed with two bars of inch lace round the top showing a quarter inch black velvet between the bars, and a figured braiding of alternate large and small eyes above and below the lace. The shoulder belt was of black morocco leather, two inches wide, with four stripes of gold embroidery for a Surgeon General.

The Royal Warrant of 27 November 1879 introduced the new rank of Brigade Surgeon with relative rank of Lieutenant Colonel. They were selected for ability from the surgeons major who had served at least eight years abroad as surgeon and surgeon majors. The Royal Warrant also styled medical candidates for commissions Surgeons on Probation ranking as Lieutenants.

Army Medical Staff

Army Medical Staff circa 1895 showing an assortment of head dress and the compound ranks introduced in 1891. The boat shaped Torin Cap lacked the two buttons at the front. Medical Officers, as mounted officers, wore the sabretache (RAMC/2005)

The standing officer in the centre is Surgeon Lieutenant John Grech who was born in Malta on 22 Apr 1871. He was commissioned on 29 July 1895, became a Major on 29 Jan 1907, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 1 Mar 1915. He served in South Africa from Marc 1900 to Nov 1901, where he took part in Operations in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal and was awarded the Queen's Medal with four clasps. He also served in the Great War of 1914–16, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 15 June 1916.

Surgeons on Probation had to provide themselves with the regulation undress uniform of a surgeon but without the sword, mess kit and great coat. In lieu of the ordinary patrol jacket, they wore the blue serge jumper. Surgeons on Probation became Surgeons once they successfully completed the Army Entrance Course at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley.

In January 1887, a Royal Warrant abolished Relative Rank which was the only rank that medical officers ever possessed. This arose through the reorganisation of the Pay, Commissariat and Ordnance Departments. When officers in these departments were no longer recruited from outside civil source, but supplied from the combatant branch, the latter naturally wished to carry with them to their new duties their previous army rank and titles. This, however, would have brought them into collision with the old officers, having only departmental titles and relative rank.

Surgeon Colonel

A Surgeon–Colonel ranking as colonel showing gold lace and Russia braid of his rank. He wears the Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (RAMC/801/22/1/8).

The Shoulder Belt was of black morocco with three rows of gold embroidery for a Director General with two rows for Inspector and Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals and black patent leather for all other ranks, the whole with a small case of surgical instruments according to pattern.

Hence, it was resolved to end the difficulty by the total abolition of relative rank and the granting to all officers of these departments, whether originally civil or otherwise, a purely military rank and titles. The consequence of this decision was that medical officers were left rank-less. The whole question of status pay and conditions of service was referred to the Camperdown Committee. This did not recommend either substantive or honorary rank, but a revival of relative rank in a Royal Medical Corps, with compound consecutive titles commencing with Surgeon–Lieutenant, running up through the existing titles of Surgeon–Captain, Surgeon–Major, Surgeon–Lieutenant Colonel, Surgeon–Colonel, and Surgeon–Major–General. These substantive ranks were granted through the Royal Warrant of 10 August 1891 (Special Army Order 187 of 1891).

A S Lithgow

Surgeon–Major–General Stewart Aaron Lithgow circa 1891–93. His collar has the one inch lace of a staff officer with his relative rank of a Major General, on double gold shoulder cords (RAMC/2091).

Military medals were worn in the order of the dates of the campaigns for which they were conferred, the first decoration or medal obtained being placed farthest from the left shoulder. English decoration took precedence over foreign medals.

Surgeon–Major–General Stewart Aaron Lithgow was commissioned on 3 February 1855. He served with the 75th Regiment during the Indian Campaign of 1857–59, when he was in medical charge from the start of the operation against Delhi until the relief of Lucknow (medal with two claps). He became a Deputy Surgeon General in 1884, and a Surgeon–Major–General on 16 September 1891. He retired in 1893.

Dr Lithgow served with the Nile Expedition of 1884–85, and 1885–86 as Principal Medical Officer. He was mentioned in despatches and made a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and awarded the Egypt Medal with clasp and Khedive Star.

He also served in the Egyptian Frontier Force 1885–86, when he was present at the engagement of the Fort of Giniss (30 December 1855), for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 25 November 1886. He became the first officer to be awarded the DSO, after its inception on 6 September 1886.

The display of campaign medals was regulated by a War Office General Order dated 13 February 1878 to define more clearly the proper mode of wearing decorations and medals. This specified that:

Officers of the Army who are Knights Commanders of the Order of the Bath or of the Order of the Star of India or of the Order of St Michael and St George will when in full dress uniform, wear the riband of the Order, or the ribands of the Orders, to which they belong over the collar of the tunic, on all occasions when the Sovereign or her representative is present, on the parade in celebration of her birthday, and on all State occasions, including Leeves, drawing rooms and balls.
The buckles which are attached to the ribands of the third class of the Orders of the Bath and of St Michael and St George should be seen when suspended from the horizontal bar referred to in Para I of General Order No 51 of 1875. The straight horizontal bar from which decorations and medals are suspended is to be placed between the first and second buttons from the bottom of the collar of the tunic.
The medal for Distinguished Conduct on the left breast and immediately after the war medal commemorative of the war during which the act of gallantry took place for which the Distinguished Conduct medal was granted. The Meritorious Service medal on the left breast after all Orders and medals. The Long service and Good Conduct Medal on the left breast after all Orders and medals. The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal cannot be held together with the Meritorious Service Medal.
The Best Shot Medal on the right breast. The humane society medals awarded by a society for bravery in saving human life are worn on the right breast. In undress the riband only to be worn by soldiers. Officers may be worn in miniature by officers in undress.

The Army Hospital Corps — The Medical Staff Corps

A Medical Staff Corps, (MSC), was raised in June 1855 for service in the Crimea. Hitherto, the clearing of a battle field of wounded soldiers and their nursing in regimental hospitals had been carried out by untrained soldiers and bandsmen.

The uniform issued to the rank and file of the Medical Staff Corps in 1855 was grey with no badges of rank. However, as sufficient grey cloth could not be procured for the dress of the MSC, Horse Guards on 23 July 1855, authorised the first issue of uniform to the MSC to be blue, (artillery cloth), with facings of grey.

The MSC was replaced by the Army Hospital Corps, (AHC), raised by Royal Warrant dated 1 August 1857.

AHC Cairo

Army Hospital Corps Cairo 1882 Queen Victoria ordered a representative group of NCOs and men from each unit engaged in the Battle of Tel El Kebir to be photographed for inclusion in an album.

The ranks of the AHC reflected those in the Regular Army. From L to R: Staff Sergeant with a crown above his three chevrons pointing downwards, Sergeant with three chevrons, Corporal with two chevrons.

The officer on the extreme right with sword and wearing the South Africa Medal 1880 is George Merritt. He enlisted in the Army Hospital Corps as a dispenser in 1874. He served in the Zulu War of 1879, and the Egyptian War of 1882, and was promoted QM and Honorary Lieutenant AMS on 10 July 1889. He was posted to Malta in December 1891, serving there until 1897.

All Other Ranks of the RAMC wore the circular badge of the Geneva cross on the upper arm. The fourth soldier from the left has a Long Service and Good Conduct Chevron on his left sleeve. One chevron was permitted for two years of Good Conduct. General Order No 526 of 10 Oct 1836, authorised soldiers to wear immediately above the cuff on the right sleeve a chevron to mark a period of good conduct. By 1 March 1881, a new General Order placed the chevron on the left arm below the elbow.

The Army Hospital Corps provided trained men for service in Field and General Hospitals only. The Regimental Hospitals remained the responsibility of their regiments. It was developed for hospital duties with the medical officers responsible for the management and control of their hospitals in peace and war. Gradually, a body of 52 Quartermasters, selected from the Non–Commissioned–Officers of the Corps, was developed to take charge of the subsidiary duties of storekeeper and paymaster of the hospitals.

In 1857, the Army Hospital Corps was dressed in dark blue with grey facings. There were two grades of sergeants as Non–Commissioned–Officers (NCO), with no rank of corporal. Private soldiers were divided into three grades according to their occupational skills.

Article Eight of the Royal Warrant of 1 March 1873, ranked the officers of the AHC as Captains of Orderlies and Lieutenants of Orderlies. The Royal Warrant of 22 February 1882 altered their titles to Quartermasters Army Hospital Corps and gave them the honorary rank of Lieutenant.

H Woolley

Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant Henry Woolley with a crown and Geneva Badge on his right lower sleeve. He wears the Egypt Medal and the Khedive's Bronze Star 1882 (RAMC/737/2).

His left hand holds a Gothic pattern sword, as worn by Sergeant Majors, Quartermaster Sergeants and Staff Sergeants. His trousers are of blue cloth with a stripe down the outward seam. Officers were allowed to wear swords but not to draw them.

Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant Henry Woolley was born on 28 January 1864. He served in Malta with 30 Coy RAMC from 1890 to 1892. He was promoted from the ranks where he had served from 1881 to 1895 and became a Quartermaster on 13 December 1899. He was promoted Honorary Captain on 13 December 1909, and retired on 6 March 1920 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He died on 21 December 1953.

QM Woolley served in Egypt in 1882 and on the Suakin Sudan Expedition of 1885 and in the South African War. In addition to the medals shown in the photograph he was also awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with three clasps, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914 Star with clasp, having served with the British Expeditionary Force in France in August 1914.

Officers and Non–Commissioned–Officers of the AHC ranked with the officers and NCOs of other corps of the army, and wore the ordinary distinctions and badges of such rank on their uniforms, with such other distinguishing badges as were special to the corps.

Sgt Major

A seated regimental Sergeant Major with four chevrons and a Victorian Crown above the Geneva Cross badge worn after 1863. The spiked helmet plate badge was worn from 1869 to 1881 (RAMC/737/3).

A Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) was distinguished by a crown above four chevrons on the right arm. Three chevrons indicated a sergeant's rank. An embroidered red Geneva Cross upon a white back ground, in the form of a circular badge, was worn on the right upper sleeve by all NCOs and Other Ranks from the mid 1860s. Brass crown collar badges started to be worn from about 1870. On 1 July 1881, the RSM became a Warrant Officer, but his rank badge was not changed until July 1882 when the chevrons were removed leaving the crown alone.

RSM Rampton

Sergeant Major (RSM) John Rampton RAMC 1905 served in Malta in 1898 (RAMC/2005).

His chevrons are now pointed upwards, unlike those of the seated sergeant major which are pointing downwards.

The collar of a Sergeant Major had broad gold lace at the top and front edge, with gold lace replacing the white lace on the cuffs. Staff Sergeants had a narrow gold lace in the same positions.

pill box

A post 1871 Quartermaster Sergeant wearing the pill box forage cap with a half inch Medical Department lace, held by a leather chin strap and worn at an angle. The four bar chevrons were worn below the elbow with the point upwards. All other chevrons were worn with the point downwards (RAMC/737/2).

From 1868, soldiers ranking as sergeants and above wore gold lace chevron badges as single bars of half inch wide lace mounted directly on the tunic edge to edge. The Sergeant Major, Quartermaster Sergeant and Band Sergeant all wore four chevrons as badges of rank.

A General Order No 55 of 1869, directed Sergeant Majors and Quartermaster Sergeants to place their badges of rank on the cuff, below the elbow, with the points upwards. In July 1882, Army Circular No 152 stated that the Warrant Officers were to wear a crown on the right forearm. During this period the chevrons were worn either pointing upwards or downwards.

AHC Howell

A Sergeant of the Army Hospital Corps 1878 as illustrated by E V Howell 1934.

A Sergeant of the Army Hospital Corps circa 1878, illustrated by E V Howell, is shown in the last Shako which was in use from 1869 to 1878. The star pattern plate of the previous 1855 to 1861 Shako was replaced by one of a different pattern. The Shako has the helmet badge of the Army Medical Departments: Within a laurel wreath surmounted by a Victorian Crown, a rope circle, within this a cross of red enamel on a background of white enamel, remainder in gilt.


SSgt Williams AHC circa 1868 – 1871 clothed in the 1868 pattern tunic. This replaced the 1856 pattern tunic and substituted the cuff flaps with cuff lace and braiding (RAMC/737/1).

A circular from Horse Guards of 16 February 1861, ordered the AHC to be clothed in Artillery Blue cloth, with grey facings, instead of the grey uniform then worn by the men. The single breasted tunic of the AHC was edged with the same lace of staff pattern and the relative badges embroidered in silver on the collar. The buttons were gilt, with the letters V. R., within a star raised thereon. The trousers were blue, with a one and three quarter inches wide lace down the outward seam in the dress uniform and plain blue in undress. The uniform was distasteful to the men who complained that the colour was somewhat suggestive of a penal costume.


Staff of the Station Hospital Edinburgh Castle 1883 with orderlies of the Army Hospital Corps wearing the glengarry (RAMC/2205).

The officers are Surgeon Grant, Brigade Surgeon Lithgow, Surgeon Stewart Aaron and Surgeon Russell. Brigade Surgeon Lithgow displays the Indian Mutiny Medal and wears a frock coat. Surgeon Russel is in a Patrol Jacket.

A circular from Horse Guards dated 15 October 1873, stipulated the tunic of the AHC to be of blue cloth similar in shape to that worn by the infantry. The collar and cuffs were velvet with lace as for the infantry, except that on cuffs the lower braid enclosed a circle, within which was embroidered a red Geneva Cross upon a white back ground.

QM Sgt Thorogood

Post 1881 image of QM Sgt Thorogood AHC wearing four chevrons surmounted by a crown on the right lower sleeve. He bears the East and West Africa Medal 1888–1900, The South Africa Medal, the Egypt Medal and the Khedive's Bronze Star 1882 (RAMC/737/1).

In 1871, the distinctive cuff lace on the tunic was abolished and thereafter the white braid cuff edging was looped into trefoil knots up the sleeves as seen in the uniform of Quartermaster Sergeant Thorogood.

head dress

Head Dress Medical Staff Corps The pill box forage cap was abolished in 1898, following the introduction of the Field Service Hat. Both the Torin Hat and the Folding Field Service hat are represented. A number of soldiers are wearing their Good Conduct Chevrons on their left sleeve. One chevron was permitted for two years of good conduct, two chevrons for six years, three for twelve, four for eighteen five for twenty three and six for twenty eight (RAMC/523/10/2).

The head dress worn by junior sergeants and private soldiers conformed to the then current infantry pattern dark blue cloth round pill box cap, or an 1855 pattern flat peaked forage cap with a black band and the AHC embroidered badge in its centre.


A SSgt Medical Staff Corps. His forage cap badge is an eight-pointed star, the topmost point displaced by a Victorian crown. On this a laurel wreath within which the Garter, and in the centre a cut-out cross with red-cloth backing. Below the wreath a three part scroll inscribed Medical Staff Corps (RAMC/737/2).

A forage cap was of blue cloth with a band of scarlet cloth, badge of laurel wreath with letters AHC in the centre. Until 1868, the undress cap was the Kilmarnock cap which in 1868 gave way to the blue cloth Glengarry. From 1881 Senior NCOs wore straight sided peaked forage caps. The peak had a narrow gold lace edging, and the top of the crown had a black netted central button. The band was of black oak leaf. A shell jacket was authorised in blue cloth with collar and cuffs of grey cloth.

Staff Sgt

A crown above three gold chevrons on each arm, just above the elbow, indicated the rank of a Staff Sergeant. The badge on his forage cap is an 1868–78 pattern (RAMC/737/2).

The 1880 forage cap worn by the AHC bore the oak leaf band with an embroidered Red Cross badge on the front. The badge was a little larger than that worn on the right sleeves of other ranks. Staff Sergeants continued to wear pill box caps with a brass AHC badge on the front. The forage cap had a laurel wreath with the letters AHC surmounted by a crown. Sergeants and above adopted the Medical Staff lace pattern on their pill box forage cap.


Helmet with ball on cup worn by QM and Hon Lt James Hirst AMS (RAMC/737/1).

In the helmet of Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant James Hirst the ball on cup replaced the helmet with spike. The helmet plate dating from 1881 to 1894 shows an eight pointed star, the topmost point displaced by a Victorian crown. On this a laurel wreath and within the wreath, the Garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense. A white metal centre having a cut out cross with red backing.

Sergeant Major Hirst became Quartermaster with the rank of Honorary Lieutenant on 4 February 1891. He wears a white buff belt with a universal pattern belt locket clasp containing the Royal Crest of England, i.e. The Royal Lion of England standing on the Crown with the motto Dieu et mon droit. The seven gilt buttons at the front of his tunic also bear the Royal Crest. He wears the Egypt 1882–1889 and the Khedive's Bronze Star for the Egyptian Campaign of 1882, having served in Sudan in 1885. He also served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902.

QM Sgt Thowless

Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant Edwin Thowless AMS (RAMC/737/1).

In 1896, Staff Sergeants were permitted to wear the round forage cap with the same lace. Officers of the Medical Staff Corps adopted the one and a half inch wide gold lace with two lines of black silk on their forage cap, as worn by Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant Edwin Thowless AMS. Mr Thowless became Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant in 24 December 1890 and was promoted to Honorary Captain on 24 December 1900. He served in Egypt in 1882, the Sudan 1885 and South Africa from 1899 to 1902.

serge frock

Sgt AHC in a Serge Frock with five buttons equally spaced and a patch flat placed diagonally on his left breast (RAMC/737/3).

By 1869, a serge frock was widely used for most duties to reduce wear and tear on the tunic. Early patterns had five buttons on their front. Queens Regulations, Horse Guards War Office of 10 May 1883, authorised the wearing of a a blue patrol jacket by the infantry when on all regimental duties and on garrison boards but not on parade when the men wear helmets or shakos. The tunic was worn on all other occasions, but a second tunic of serge or light cloth was worn on all garrison duties.


A L/Cpl MSC 1885 in Marching Order: Field cap, frock, undress sword knot and belt, brown leather gloves, shooting boots and leggings, great coat or cape rolled, haversack, and water bottle.


A L/Cpl MSC 1894 in Marching Order note the helmet spike has now given way to a ball on cup.

In October 1891, a new pattern of scarlet frock was approved for active service. This had five front buttons and rounded skirts, the high collar shoulder straps and pointed cuffs were in facing colour. There were two breast and two side patch pockets below the waist.

MSc Band

The band of the Medical Staff Corps 1897 with the badge on the drums of the Army Medical Staff. Note variation in tunic from five buttons to nine buttons. Pill box hats are worn by the men while the officers are in their 1881 forage cap. The musician with a shoulder belt, seated next next to the officer is possibly wearing a bugler trade badge above his Geneva Red Cross badge and Sgt's chevrons (RAMC/2005).

Bandmasters had by 1887 the Crowned Lyre within a wreath worn on the forearm and eventually the bandmaster became considered a warrant officer wearing the same badge.

The Army Hospital Corps ceased to exist on 1 August 1884, when the Quartermasters and Medical Officers were designated the Medical Staff and the Warrant Officers Non Commissioned Officers and men once again became the Medical Staff Corps.

Medical Staff Corps

MSC 1897 Royal Parade Aldershot August 1897 commanding by Lt Col William Briggs Allin, 2/ic Maj Henry Grier, Adjt Capt Oliver Richard Archer Julian, OC A Coy Capt Hale DSO, OC B Coy Capt Anthony Dodd, Lt QM David James Gillman (RAMC/801/7/7).

The formation of the Royal Army Medical Corps on 23 June 1898 amalgamated the two branches of the service, and brought the Medical Staff Corps to an end.

The Militia and Volunteer Movement

On 12 May 1859, the War Office sanctioned the formation of The Volunteer Corps, with the first regulations for the Volunteer Rifle Companies, being issued on 19 January 1861. Each Rifle Company had a section of stretcher bearers, which formed the nuclei of the Volunteer Medical Associations.

In 1883, Surgeon Major George Joseph Hamilton Evatt AMS, Mr James Cantlie and Sgt Andrew Maclure of the London Scottish laid the foundation for the Volunteer Medical Associations, which later became the Volunteer Hospital Corps.


Combined parade of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps on Wimbledon common 6 Apr 1885, where it was reviewed by the Duke of Cambridge. Officers are in the Patrol Jacket with Sir James Cantlie as the bearded figure, fifth from left (RAMC/2005).

In 1884, the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps (VMSC) came into existence, when Volunteer Companies of the Medical Staff Corps were formed among the students of several of the London hospitals. Surgeon James Cantlie, had for some time been training medical students from Charring Cross Hospital in medical work in the field. The Charring Cross students were joined by a company from University College Hospital under the command of Captain John Edward Squire, who had been a combatant officer with the 4th Middlesex (West London) Rifles.

On 1 April 1885, was gazetted the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps (VMSC) with a constitution of four companies, an Adjutant (Captain J E Squire MD), a Quartermaster and a Surgeon Commandant. This last title was conferred on James Cantlie who was at the time a supernumerary Assistant Surgeon with the rank of Lieutenant in the London Scottish Volunteers. Lieutenant Colonel J E Squire became Commandant in February 1898.

The VMSC was officially recognised by the Royal Warrant of 13 March 1886. In November 1886, the Volunteer Hospital Corps became the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps. Members of the Corps served under the Volunteer Act of 1863 and were subject to the provisions of that Act.

T F O'Dwyer

Volunteer Medical Staff Corps 1898, L to R: Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John Edward Squire, Surgeon General Thomas Francis O'Dwyer PMO South East District, and Captain and Adjutant Gerald Thomas Rawnsley (RAMC/2093/5).

On 6 June 1888, Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John Edward Squire MD was appointed surgeon of the London Division Volunteer Medical Staff Corps. In February 1898, he took command of the Battalion of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps in London. He had served as Senior Medical Officer of the Red Cross Society at Suakin in the Sudan Campaign of 1885 for the relief of General Gordon, and received the Egypt 1885 Medal with clasp for Suakin, and the Khedive's Bronze Star.

Cadet companies were formed in medical schools where medical students were instructed in first aid and hospital administration. There were five companies of the VMSC in London, with four in Scotland, two in Manchester and one each in Woolwich, Maidstone and Leeds. The five London Companies, had three composed of medical students, and two companies of gentlemen in other civil occupations. The London Companies served in the South African War attached to the regulars of the RAMC, the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deilfontein, and the Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospital and Bearer Companies.

G T Rawnsley

Major Gerald Thomas Rawnsley Adjutant of the London Company VMSC, in the uniform of a Field Officer RAMC. He was commissioned Surgeon on 27 July 1887, and promoted Major 27 July 1899.

Major Gerald Thomas Rawnsley wears the medal of an Esquire of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in England 1898. He died in Malta on 15 Apr 1942 (RAMC/1921).

Voluntary Medical Staff Corps Companies were raised in each county or Regimental District, the number of men enrolled in each county being proportionate to the number of combatant volunteers. Each company of about 60 men had a Surgeon Major in command, two Surgeons and a Quartermaster. Although the companies were independent units, they fell under the supervision of the Principal Medical Officer of the District. In large towns, two or more companies were banded together for administrative purposes such as the London Corps. The Bearer Companies trained in hospital work as well as in stretcher drill. They practiced working behind the fighting line, such as taking the sick and wounded from the regimental bearers to the Dressing Station or Field Hospital.

Camp 1898

The 3rd London Voluntary Infantry Brigade Bearer Coy at camp 1898. Note Proficiency star above chevrons and efficiency stars on Sgt's right sleeve (RAMC/801/22/1/7).

In 1886, each regiment had its own medical officer with its trained stretcher bearers. The regimental surgeon of the Volunteers, just like the surgeon of the Guards, continued to wear the uniform of their regiments and not that of the Army Medical Staff. Each regiment had two surgeons, if over four companies, with regimental stretcher bearers in the proportion of two per company, an ambulance staff sergeant, and a medical officer's orderly.

G T Rawnsley

The 3rd London Vol Infantry Brigade Bearer Coy at camp 1898 showing Adjutant Capt Gerald Thomas Rawnsley (RAMC/801/22/1/7).

The collar badges of the 3rd London shows a circlet inscribed 3rd London Vol Infy Brigade Bearer Co surmounted by an Imperial Crown. In the centre, a cut out cross with a backing of red cloth. The Pattern No 301 (sealed 11 May 1895) Sabretache was covered with black leather and had a gilt metal Royal Cypher V. R. surmounted by a crown on its front. It was suspended from the sword belt with three leather slings.

Regulations dictated that the metal collar badges was to be fixed midway between top and bottom of the collar and two inches from the centre of the badge to the end of the collar. Collar badges were not worn on khaki drill frocks or service dress jackets.

In July 1886, the latest regulations regarding the dress to be worn by medical officers of Volunteer Corps stipulated that Volunteer Surgeons were to wear the uniform of their respective corps with the following exceptions. The cocked hat and plume, sword belt, pouch belt and field pouch, were to be the same as for officers of the Army Medical Department of corresponding rank, silver being substituted for gold, and gold for silver in the lace and ornaments on the belts and pouches. The uniform of the Volunteers Medical Staff Corps was blue with facings of black velvet like the uniform of the Army Medical Staff.

In corps in which the officers wore silver lace, the lace, buttons and the bullions of the tassels of the cocked hat were to be in silver; in other corps the loop and button were to be in bronze, and the bullion tassels in black. The buttons were to be of the regimental pattern, as was also the waist plate, or clasp. The badge on the field pouch was to be the same as the badge on the dress pouch. Those medical officers who had cocked hats, belts and pouches of former patterns, were permitted to wear them until they require to be replaced.


MSCV at their annual practice camp 1913, presenting Lancaster sword bayonet exercise. The MSCV attended camp at Easter and 8 days training with the regulars at Aldershot in August (RAMC/801/22/1/8).

The black leather sabretache with three slings suspended from the belt of Adjutant Gerald Thomas Rawnsley was worn by mounted officers of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps. In accordance with the Revised Regulations for the Volunteer Force (War Office 1881), Volunteer Surgeons having the relative rank of Field Officers were ordered to provide themselves with charges and full horse furniture and to be mounted when required to attend parades. Surgeons were required to be mounted when they were in medical charge of regiments on active service in the field and their uniforms then included riding dress pantaloons, knee boots, with horse furniture similar to those of a surgeon major, but without badges of rank on the saddle cloth.

A Militia Medical Staff Corps was formed on 8 March 1891. In 1902, it became the Royal Army Medical Corps (Militia). Officers in the RAMC (Militia) trained their companies in the technical work of the corps so that in times of emergency their companies would be capable of taking over and manning a military hospital. They trained partly in camp under their company officers and partly in hospital under RAMC officers. The Militia MSC were required to go through a month's course at Aldershot on joining, after which they had to perform 27 consecutive days training annually between May and October. During emergencies, they were liable to be embodied and called out for military duties at home, for the duration of the State of Emergency.

On 1 February 1902, in consideration of the valuable services rendered by the Militia Medical Staff Corps and the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps during the war in South Africa, King Edward VII approved the changes in the designation and titles from Militia Medical Staff Corps to Royal Army Medical Corps (Militia), and from Volunteer Medical Staff Corps to Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers). Army Order No 28 of 1902 abolished the compound ranks previously held by the officers of the VMSC and brought them into line with the officers of the RAMC.


Territorials Medical Orderlies circa 1916 the 2nd/1st South Midland Casualty Clearing Station, later No 61 CCS (RAMC/1341).

Note the letter T on their shoulder straps, and the Territorial Force Imperial Service Badge above the right pocket.

Under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907, the Volunteer Organisations ceased to exist on 31 March 1908. The Regular Army became supplemented by the Reserves and its Special Reserves (the old militia) and the Territorial Force emerged from the amalgamation of the Yeomanry and the Volunteers. The RAMC (V) became the Royal Army Medical Corps Territorial Force. Of the five London Companies, the three composed of medical students transferred to the Officers Training Corps. The two formed of those in civil occupation became the nucleus of the 3rd City of London Field Ambulance RAMC. This regiment was the first to have its own transport section.

Badge 1916

The Territorial Force Imperial Service Badge 1916 2nd/1st South Midland CCS (RAMC/1341).

The Territorial Force Imperial Service badge worn above the right pocket by men of the Territorial Force who had volunteered to serve overseas in case of national emergency. The badge was worn from 1910 to 1915 as with the creation of the Territorial Army, soldiers were no longer given the option to decline from serving outside the United Kingdom.

The RAMC First London Division Territorial Force had three Field Ambulances. A Field Ambulance had an establishment of 229 all ranks including 10 Officers, 16 Staff Sergeants and Sergeants and 9 Corporals. It was organised in three sections. The men wore two suits of uniform similar to that worn by the regulars RAMC, one in drab service dress and the other was blue walking out dress. The men attended 8 to 15 days camp in August. They were eligible for the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal once they had completed twelve years' continuous service with a minimum of twelve attendances at annual training.


Territorials at camp 1909–1918 wearing Khaki dress (RAMC/1081/1/1).

The Territorial Force was disbanded after the Great War. The Territorial Army was formed in 1920. On 3 September 1939, on the outbreak of the Second World War, came the Armed Forces Act. This provided for a single National Army without distinction as between Regulars and Territorials. With the passing of the Armed Forces Act, the letter T ceased to be worn by officers and other ranks for whom it had hitherto been prescribed. Battalion numerals were also omitted from the shoulder title worn by the Other Ranks of Territorial Army Infantry Battalions.

South Midlands

South Midland Field Ambulance Oaklands Military Hospital Chelmsford 20 Aug 1915 (RAMC/1520).

Seated at the front are Signallers displaying on the left sleeve a Signaller's Badge for semaphore, of the crossed signalling flags. One of these flags was blue and the other white with a blue central stripe.

After the Second World War, the Territorial Army was placed in suspended animation pending its disbandment, only to be reformed in 1947. In 1967, the Territorial Army gave way to the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve, with the men clad throughout in battle dress.

Great coat

Greatcoat worn by the Essex Territorials marching to Broadwater camp in 1909 camp. Some have buttoned up the collar across to cover the neck (RAMC/1081/1/1).

The single breasted Great Coat, Mounted, Universal Service Dress (1909) as worn by the Essex Territorials marching to Broadwater camp in 1909, covered the soldier down to his ankles. It was made of heavy weight khaki fabric, and had stand and fall collar, deep turn-back cuffs, and straight flapped pockets to the front sides. A further narrow straight-flapped was situated to the front right, in front of the aforementioned side pocket.

Great Coat

Essex Territorials at Broadwater Camp in 1909 with Great Coats worn across their left shoulder (RAMC/1081/1/1).

The Great Coat had five brass crested General Service pattern buttons to the front and a half-belt was fitted to the rear, fastened by three further identical buttons. Rifle patches were sewn to the shoulder. An assortment of various rank badges in metal as well as cloth were attached, including regimental shoulder titles to the epaulettes, badges of rank, and long service chevrons. Great coats when not worn where rolled up tightly with the lining inwards and worn over the left shoulder and under the right arm.

Most badges in the Victorian period were embroidered. A hall–marked silver arm badge for NCOs, designed to last 12 years, was authorised for wear from 1863 to 1904. The badge was introduced as a cost saving measure, as it lasted longer than embroidered badges. In 1906, cap and collar badges were changed from white metal to gilding metal, and the silver arm badge was withdrawn.

A number of Skill–at–Arms badges, distinctive trade badges, and specialist badges for grades of instructors were worn by Non–Commissioned–Officers and men. These badges were initially worn on the lower arm below all other badges but were moved to the right arm after the First World War.

trade badge

NCOs displaying the British Army Military Skill in Driving Horses, the Proficiency Trade badge, Proficiency Star, and Efficiency Stars (RAMC/2005).

The Military Skill in Driving Horses Proficiency Trade badge, took the form of crossed whips and spur.

The Clothing Regulations 1894 allowed the wearing of proficiency badges on the tunic. Under the Musketry Regulations for the infantry, each battalion was allowed 48 distance judging stars worn on the right forearm above the other badges. One badge per regiment or battalion depicting a crown, crossed rifles and wreath was awarded for good shooting. A marksman wore a badge with crossed rifles.

MSC stars

The Staff Sergeant of the London Volunteer Company shows two five pointed Efficiency Stars on the right cuff with a four pointed Proficiency Star above his Crown, Geneva Badge and three chevrons (RAMC/793/2).

The rules for the wearing of Efficiency Badges were covered under War Office Regulations for the Volunteer Force, dated 18 April 1878. Para 619 to 622 laid down:

  • Para 619: Efficiency Badge – A Badge of Efficiency will be worn by men who were returned as efficient in the last Annual Return of their Corps.
  • Para 620: This badge will consist of a ring, half an inch wide, either of silver lace or of cloth or braid, and will be worn round the sleeve of the right arm above the cuff, passing under any other lace or embroidery which may belong to the uniform.
  • Para 621: Efficiency Star – Men who had been five times returned as efficient in the Annual Returns of their Corps may wear above the ring a star made of silver, silk or worsted. The five times need not be consecutive nor in the same corps.
  • Para 622: Volunteers may wear a similar additional star for every further aggregate of five years in which they may return as efficient.
  • Para 623: Any Volunteer who has become entitled to wear efficiency Stars, and is returned non-efficient in an Annual Return of his Corps, may continue to wear such stars, although he will not be entitled to wear the efficiency ring during the ensuing Volunteer year.

Initially, Volunteer Regulations directed that an efficient soldier was authorised to wear on the right arm immediately above the cuff a distinctive badge consisting of a ring of silver lace three quarters inch wide. The lace being of the same pattern as worn by the corps. The qualifying period for the efficiency ring was twelve months ending on 31 October.


A pipe smoking Sgt London Coy MSCV wearing the Torin Hat shows the diamond or lozenge shape badge on the right sleeve. The SSgt behind him has the proficiency star above the crown and Geneva Cross (RAMC/1530).

In the Volunteer Regulations of 1881, the mark of an efficient volunteer changed from ring lace to a diamond or lozenge shape worn on the right sleeve above the Austrian Knot. When men had been returned efficient five times in the annual returns a five pointed star was worn above the diamond, more stars were added for every further aggregate of five years in which they were returned efficient. If found non efficient, the volunteer retained his stars but removed the diamond. Both stars and diamonds continued to be worn until the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908.

The Regulations for the Territorial Force 1908, reduced the qualifying number a soldier had to be returned efficient in a year from five to four for him to wear the star. The four pointed Proficiency Badge was for Senior Non Commissioned Officers proven Efficient. The Five pointed Efficiency five point Star was worn by regular soldiers for distance judging.


Proficiency and Efficiency Stars and eight pointed stars in RAMC Volunteers (RAMC/801/22/1/10).

A photograph depicting the Sergeants Mess of an RAMC (V) Company shows the tunic with a number of proficiency badges. After 1881, the Regimental Quartermaster, and Quartermaster Sergeant ranking as first Class Staff Sergeants continued to wear the four chevrons and had a special eight pointed star to indicate their duties.

When, in 1915, Quartermaster Sergeants were graded as Warrant Officers Class II the chevrons and star were replaced by the crown on the forearm. The crown within a wreath badge was introduced in 1901 for junior Warrant Officers to wear on service dress and khaki drill. It was worn with the Geneva Cross badge by Quartermaster Sergeants of the Royal Army Medical Corps. By 1938, all Warrant Officers class II who had previously worn only the crown, wore the crown within a wreath.

badges rank

RAMC Sgt in the 1902 pattern Service Dress with Overseas Service chevrons and the crown in a wreath which replaced the chevrons and star. Note the rifle patches across shoulders (RAMC/1269/6).

Horse Guards General Order No 526 of 10 October 1836 authorised soldiers to wear above the cuff on the right sleeve a chevron to mark a period of good conduct. By 1 March 1881, the Good Conduct Chevron had moved to the left arm below the elbow. One chevron was permitted for two years of good conduct, two chevrons for six years, three for twelve, four for eighteen, five for twenty three and six for twenty eight years.

No 12 Hospital

Medical Orderlies No 12 General Hospital Orange River Colony 12 July 1900 Springfontein. Some with RAMC collar badges, others without (RAMC/480/1).

The seated L/Cpl on extreme right displays four Good Conduct Chevrons, equivalent to 18 years good conduct service .

War Service Chevrons awarded for overseas service were introduced in January 1918. Each chevron represented one year of service overseas and was worn on the right forearm, point upwards. The War Service Chevrons were discontinued in September 1922, but reintroduced in February 1944, when once again service chevrons were authorised for each year of overseas service.

Good conduct badge

An RAMC Orderly of the First Class with two stripes on the right cuff and two Good Conduct Chevrons on his left cuff equivalent to six years of good Conduct Service. His medals are possibly the Queen's Sudan Medal 1899 and the Queen's South Africa Medal 1902 (RAMC/1269/6).

The regulations for the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps 1899 stated that the forage cap was to be worn on the right side of the head, two fingers breadth above the right eyebrow, and an inch above the right ear. The strap to rest on the point of the chin. On the march the forage cap was carried in a canvas bag slung over the frog.

Army Order No 249 of August 1916 authorised the wearing of a Wound Stripe. This badge was two inches long and made up of number 8 gold Russia braid. The small upright worsted bar was worn on the lower left arm of the service dress jacket and was issued during the First World War to mark the receiving of a wound. The wound stripe was discontinued by Army Order No 434 of 1922, but was reintroduced in February 1944

wound stripe

Drivers and Orderlies No 3 Field Ambulance 1919 showing Overseas War Service chevrons on their right sleeve and Wound Stripes on their left sleeve (RAMC/801/22/23/25/1).

Drivers and Orderlies of No 3 Field Ambulance formed part of 3rd Bde 1st Division in August 1914. They transferred to the Guards Division in August 1915. The battalion returned to England on 20 February 1919 and were all home by 29 April 1919.

The Universal Home Service Pattern Helmet, as worn by the officers and men of the Medical Staff Corp Volunteers, is portrayed in the photograph of the London Company at their annual camp. It was authorised for use by General Order No 40 of May 1878. The helmet was of cork covered with blue cloth in four seams, two on each side. The front and back peaks were stiffened and covered with cloth with a seam at each side. The front peak was bound with gilt metal for officers, the back peak with patent leather an eight of an inch wide. Around the helmet, above the peaks, was a cloth band three quarters of an inch wide and stitched to the top and bottom. A gilt ball in a leaf cup and gilt cross piece base was screwed in at the top of the helmet. A gilt hook was at back of the base to which a gilt curb chain chin strap was attached when not worn. A convex bar, a quarter of an inch wide, ran down the centre of the back and to the bottom of the back peak. The bar was in one piece fastened to the helmet by two studs.


Group of the London Volunteers MSC in their Blue Cloth Helmet (RAMC/801/22/1/10).

The helmet had brass fittings for the Other Ranks. The helmet plate comprised an eight pointed star, the top most point displayed by a Victorian crown. On this a laurel wreath and within the wreath the Garter. A white metal centre having a cut out cross with red cloth backing. The officers' helmet plate was the Royal Arms.

The emergence of the Officer Training Corps (OTC) as a distinct unit began in 1906, when the Secretary of State for War, Lord Haldane, first appointed a committee to consider the problem of the shortage of officers in the Militia, the Volunteer Force, the Yeomanry, and the Reserve of Officers. The committee recommended that an Officers’ Training Corps be formed. The Corps was to be in two divisions, a Junior Division in public schools and a Senior Division in the universities. Its formation was authorised by Army Order No 160 of July 1908. The objective of the OTC was to develop the leadership skills of officer cadets through undergoing military training, adventure training, and social activities, and raise awareness of the Army.

T McClurkin

Cpl T McClurkin Queen's University Officer Training Corps Belfast 1913 in the 1902 pattern Service Dress (RAMC/801/22/1/8).

Cpl T McClurkin is shown in serge frock with the collar and cap badges of the Queen's University Belfast Officer Training Corps (OTC), also referred to as the University Officers’ Training Corps (UOTC). On his right arm are his badges of rank, two chevrons indicating a corporal, a Geneva Red Cross trade badge, and a four pointed proficiency star.

OTC Queens

Queen's University Belfast OTC cap badge.

The Service Dress introduced for wear by the Army under Army Order No 10 of January 1902, was first supplied to units returning from the South Africa War. Serviceable drab serge clothing, cord pantaloons and puttees continued to be worn as part of the service dress by units returning from abroad, until reported unserviceable by garrison boards, when they were then replaced.

The head dress for the 1902 Service dress consisted of a hat of thick felt with a wide brim. The sides were perforated about three quarters of an inch from the top with two rows of ventilating holes. At home, Forage caps, Field and Glengarry caps were allowed to be worn with the service dress.

The jacket was made of drab mixture serge, pleated slightly at the waist with a false pleat down the centre of the back. It had a turned down roll collar, shoulder rifle patches, two patch breast pockets with pleats, two strong side pockets of drabette with flaps, removable shoulder straps, and five buttons of gilding metal at the front. The regimental title was in cherry letters on a white ground, embroidered on a curved strip. It was worn on the upper arms of the jacket and greatcoat, about 1 inch from the arm seam of the former, and just clear of the shoulder flap on the latter garment. The battalion number of infantry regiments embroidered in the same colours as the titles was worn on a separate patch close under the title. Chevrons and badges of rank were worn on both arms. Colour Sergeants now wore crowns above their chevrons instead of colours. Collar badges were no longer worn.

The trousers was of drab mixture tartan cut narrow as they approach the ankle and stopped short, just reaching the top of the ankle boot. They were worn with leggings and puttees.

At the commencement of the war in South Africa, the Royal Army Medical Corps had sufficient trained men to cover one Army Corps. This undermanning saw a number of philanthropic individuals funding private hospitals which embarked for South Africa under the auspices of the Red Cross. Some of these, such as the Langman Hospital, the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, the Scottish National Red Cross Hospitals, the Hospital for Boer Prisoners at Simonstown and the Lord Iveagh Irish Hospital, had staff entirely composed of civil surgeons. While at the outbreak of hostilities the army medical authorities had been reluctant to use static or mobile civilian hospitals, eventually ten privately funded hospitals were to see service in South Africa.

On 3 January 1900, the Irish Times reported that Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, had undertaken to staff and equip a mobile hospital. The Irish Hospital had the added advantage of having its own ambulance wagons, unlike the army hospitals, which did not have their own transports and had to rely on the Army Service Corps.

No 6 General Hospital

Medical Officers with shamrock collar badges from the Irish Hospital visiting No 6 General Hospital South Africa 1899–1902 commanded by Lt Col Brisbane Warren Sommerville Large March 1900 (RAMC/480/3).

The staff of Lord Iveagh Irish Hospital were: Sir William Thomson Surgeon in Chief and in overall charge of the hospital, Dr George Stoker as second surgeon, Dr James Byrne Coleman hospital physician, and Dr Alfred Friel surgeon radiologist in charge of the hospital x–ray apparatus. The junior medical staff headed by Dr Francis Counihan were: Dr John Pounden, Mr John Mcllwaine, Mr Percy Stewart, Mr Douglas Thomson and Mr J Edwards. There were 15 hospital orderlies, all members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who had been seconded for service with the hospital, five sergeants and ten constables holding certificates from the St John's Ambulance brigade.

In March 1900, No 6 General Hospital, commanded by Col Brisbane Warren Sommerville Large, was visited by Sir William Thomson, Chief Surgeon Irish Hospital Field Force South Africa. The was photograph taken on this occasion,and shows Col Brisbane Warren Sommerville Large, seated in the middle row in the centre with a walrus moustache. The officer to his right with shamrock collar badges is Sir William Thomson. To his left, the officer with the rank of colonel is Colonel John Joseph Falvey FRCSI.

No 6 Gen Hospital

Staff of No 6 General Hospital South Africa 1900 at Naaumpoort with Surg Gen Sir William Deane Wilson PMO in centre (RAMC/480/2).

Lieutenant Colonel Brisbane Warren Sommerville Large was commissioned surgeon on 4 February 1877 and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 4 February 1897. He was granted the local rank of Colonel while Principal Medical Officer of No 6 General Hospital in South Africa. This hospital was an advanced base hospital formed at Naauwpoort Camp. It mobilised on 18 January 1900 with four RAMC officers, 14 civil surgeons, 9 nursing sisters, 2 Warrant Officers and 90 Non Commissioned Officers and men together with 50 NCOs and men of the St John Ambulance Brigade. Other staff were from the Cape Militia and Volunteer Medical Staff Corps and the specially enlisted men RAMC. It closed on September 1901. On the staff were Colonel John Joseph Falvey FRCSI in charge of the Surgical Division and Major John Osburne in charge of the Medical Division with Major Richard Jennings as secretary. In addition there were several junior officers and 13 civil surgeons.


Depôt Staff 1908–1909 Aldershot. Note the rifle patches on both shoulders of the jacket and the ribbons for the South African War. The L/Cpl on the far left has one Good Conduct Chevron on his left sleeve as opposed to the three Chevrons, points upwards, worn by the L/Cpl standing second from right. Three chevrons were equivalent to 12 years of Good Conduct Service.

From 1902, badges of rank were once again worn on both arms. The Sgt on the far right is Charles Edward Lister RAMC who had served in the Militia Medical Staff from Dec 1899 to July 1901. He was in Malta and Egypt between 25 February 1807 and 20 August 1907 (RAMC/1269).

The Volunteer Medical Staff Corps had a Cyclists and Signallers Section. According to the Standing Orders for the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps of 1899, each company had to have four men, including one Non–Commissioned Officer, trained as Signallers of whom two were to be cyclists. The men in these sections had to make themselves efficient as bearers and were to parade with the companies unless other wise ordered. The men were enrolled and posted to companies as ordinary members of the corps and their special work was in addition to their duties. It was desirable for cyclists to be trained as signallers.

South Midlands

Grade band on right cuff of soldiers of 2nd/1st South Midland Field Ambulance January 1916 (RAMC/1341).

First Class Orderlies RAMC had two straight horizontal stripes above the right cuff knot, Second class Orderly one stripe.

A General Order issued by the Director General Sir Thomas Crawford Commanding the Medical Staff Corps on 10 April 1886 clarified the regulations for the grading of private soldiers as 1st Class Orderlies. Privates of good character who showed exceptional aptitude in the performance of the duties of nurses and cooks were recommended and received the higher rate of Departmental Pay for the performance of those duties. A First Class Orderly was not to be employed on other duties than those of nurse or cook. The grade of Private First Class Orderly did not entitle the holder for promotion to the rank of a Non–Commissioned–Officer.

The 1st Class orderlies wore two straight bars of braid; the 2nd Class orderlies, one braid of lace on tunic, frock, service dress jackets. The braid worn by 2nd class orderlies RAMC was placed one inch above the knot of the tracing on the right sleeve of tunic and frock. The second bar worn by first class orderlies, was placed half an inch above the first.

The Royal Army Medical Corps

1898 Warrant

The Royal Warrant dated 23 June 1898 forming the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC/1134).

The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), emerged from the union of the Army Medical Staff with the Medical Staff Corps. On 21 January 1899, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) provided its readers with an illustration of the new corps badge and motto. The badge, which had been authorised by Queen Victoria, consisted of a serpent entwined about a staff, within a wreath of laurel, the whole ensigned with a Victorian Crown; below the wreath a scroll inscribed with the motto In Arduis Fidelis (faithful in adversity). An alternative motto Semper at Ubique Fidelis had also been proposed.


Royal Army Medical Corps brass cap badge. The rod of Aesculapius with a serpent entwined round it, all within a laurel wreath. Above an Imperial (Tudor) crown and below, a scroll bearing Royal Army Medical Corps.

The Tudor Crown, also known as the Imperial Crown or the King's Crown, replaced the Victorian pattern Crown. The main change was from the angular arches of the Victorian Crown at the top to a semi circular top.

Although the BMJ had praised the design, describing it as at once beautiful and appropriate, the badge did not please everybody. On 9 March 1901, Herald writing in the same journal under the heading The RAMC Crest wrote: I advocate the abolition of the present crest, which is unpopular in the RAMC and has hitherto been ignored in the monthly army lists. Retain the motto, but abolish the crest which as a sign may be as old as Chaldea, but is bad in heraldry, and unsuited for such a body as the RAMC.

Likewise, in September 1901, Dr Edward Thompson of Omagh, MP for North Monaghan, called the badge of the Corps hideous and universally condemned and implored for a committee of the senior surgeons of the RAMC to be asked to select a suitable badge and motto.

RAMC badge

Royal Army Medical Corps gilt officer's No 1 Dress Forage cap badge with the St Edward's Crown and motto In Arduis Fidelis.

In 1950, the Corps title was removed from the scroll and replaced by the Corps motto. On the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, the Tudor Crown gave way to a St Edward's Crown approved in June 1952, with an undulating top and depressed centre.

Although the crest and motto of the RAMC had been authorised on the formation of the Corps, by November 1900 no such crest and motto had been officially recognised in the Army List. The omission was accentuated in the new dress regulations for the RAMC, for although the crest was designated, the motto was omitted. Indeed, the badge pattern was not formally approved until May 1902.

Tudor crowns

NCOs C Coy RAMC Aldershot July 1910 with Coy Officer Major Hamilton George Frampton Stallard seated centre. The men are holding their Universal Pattern cloth helmet. Most crowns on the helmet plate are the Tudor Crown of Edward VII reign with a smooth upper curve, but some Victorian Pattern Crowns with accentuated arms are still evident (RAMC/1980).

Major Hamilton George Frampton Stallard was commissioned Surgeon Lieutenant on 28 July 1897, and promoted Major on 28 Jan 1909. He was seconded for service with the Egyptian Army from Jan 1899 to Jan 1906 and was awarded the Order of the Medjidieh 4th Class and the Order of the Osmanieh 4th Class. He served in the Sudan under Sir Herbert Kitchner in 1898 and received both the Sudan Medal 1899 and the Khedive Medal.

Previous to the promulgation of the Royal Warrant of 23 June 1898 constituting the RAMC, the officers Army Medical Staff and the Warrant Officers, Non–Commissioned–Officers and men of the Medical Staff Corps belonged to two separate bodies. The facings of the officers had been black velvet, while the Other Ranks had blue facings. Officers had a broad red strip on their trousers, while the men had the red piping. On 22 March 1899, Director General Jameson James proposed to the War Office the adoption of similar facings to reflect the formation of a new unified Royal Corps.

Director General Jameson's proposals for the alterations in the uniform of the RAMC met with opposition from the War Office. The DG wanted red instead of black facings for the officers, and red instead of blue facings for the men. He desired all ranks to wear red stripes down the trousers instead of as at present red stripes for the officers and red piping for the men, and wanted gold lace by ranks for the sleeves and collars of the officers.

J Jameson

Jameson James (1837–1904) became Director General on 7 May 1896. He was closely associated with the formation of the RAMC in 1898 (RAMC/2091).

The DG wished a Lieutenant RAMC to have the plain three quarter inch wide stripe of lace round the top of the cuff, a Captain two such stripes, a major similar to a captain with the addition of the ordinary eyes of Russia braid, a Lieutenant Colonel either a plain or waved line of braid between the two stripes and a Colonel the scrolls in Russia braid. The Warrant Officers and staff Sergeant were to retain the same pattern as worn by the Medical Staff Corps while for the Other Ranks, he proposed a narrow black braid round the cuff.

The medical officers had gained their broad red strip on their trousers when they formed part of the Medical Staff. The War Office objected to granting them red as they would look too much like the Royal Artillery and the Ordnance Corps. As the doctors had been known for so long by their black facings, the War Office considered it unwise to discontinue this tradition. In its opinion the RAMC needed to be distinguished and easily recognisable, so as to be summoned quickly in the event of a medical emergency.

RAMC officer

Royal Army Clothing Department Pattern No 4114/1894. Lace worsted cap band scarlet and black of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

To overcome the problem of the broad red stripe resembling too closely that worn by the Royal Artillery, the DG proposed the inclusion of two black lines run down it, making it similar to the red stripe round the men's forage cap, and assimilated to the officers' gold lace, which had these black lines.

On 13 April 1899, the DG argued, that having been made a Royal Corps, scarlet was the most appropriate in full dress and mess dress orders of dress, in which it was scarcely necessary to ear mark the medical officer, whose working dress and garb upon the battle field will still continue to be a blue serge jacket or a Khaki coat. Thus dressed, said the DG, and furnished with a red cross brassard, working with his stretchers and ambulances, he was unlikely to be mistaken for anyone else. Given our distinctive belts, our distinctively shaped collar and cuffs, our medical badge, our distinctive gilt sword hilt, and black lines down the red stripe on the trousers, I ask in all fairness, would it be possible to confuse this dress with any other in the service.

On 28 October 1899, The Commander–in–Chief Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley, said that the doctors corps should be content to wear what all the Foot Combatant soldiers wear, namely a simple red piping down the trousers of both officers and rank and file. It was a simple waste of public money to add to the cost of the army by changing the dress of the men of the medical corps from what is now worn by them. We have many pressing needs for money but these stripes are not among them.

On 19 May 1899, in view of the Commander–in–Chief's objection to the granting of scarlet facings, it was suggested that perhaps the crimson busby cloth colour as worn by the 11th Hussars, would make a good facing and be sufficiently distinctive. This colour was in fact dull cherry, but had been described as crimson in the 11th Hussars sealed pattern. The piping around the tunic was also to be crimson or cherry colour.

On 22 November 1899, in order to reduce costs, the DG agreed for the substitution of piping of the new colour instead of a stripe of dull cherry crimson for all ranks, except officers, who were allowed a broad dull cherry coloured stripe with two black welts.

Mess Kit

No 13 Surgeon mess kit; Army Medical Staff (1900). Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection.

The mess jacket (1900 Dress Regs) was of blue cloth, lined with cherry silk lining, with dull cherry cloth roll collar, shoulder straps and gauntlet shaped cuffs with four small buttons in front and none on the cuffs. There was no piping around the edges.

The mess waist coat was of dull cherry cloth, open at the neck with no collar. There were four half inch Corps buttons in front.

The War Office had two objections to the inclusion of gold lace on the mess jacket as submitted by the DG. Gold lace was no longer worn on the mess jackets of officers of the Line, and as the doctors were no longer staff but belonged to a regiment, the War Office saw no reason why they should have gold lace, when their brethren in the line had given it up. Secondly, as scarlet cuffs and collars approximated somewhat closely to those of the Household Cavalry, the officer commanding the Royal Horse Guards (Blues) objected to give anyone else a coat so remarkably like the uniform of the Blues.

Mess Kit

Mess kit Medical Staff Officers. The pattern of the mess jacket was similar to that worn by officers of the Army Ordnance Department except that in the AOD the collar and cuffs were scarlet while in the RAMC they were black (RAMC/2005).

The Adjutant General Sir Henry Evelyn Wood thought that the RAMC Mess jacket should be a jacket with a roll collar and an open waistcoat. The Commander–in–Chief considered that the mess jacket should follow the infantry pattern and have a roll collar with no gold lace. The mess waistcoat should be of the same colour as the facings and open in the front.

By 26 February 1900, the question as to whether a silver collar badge, fixed by a brooch should be worn on the mess jacket by officers of the RAMC had not been settled. The wearing of collar badges by the infantry was optional with the regiment, but DG Jameson was in favour of the wearing of the collar badges on mess jackets badge as for tunic. The resolution of the colour of cummerbund took up to 20 June 1900 to resolve, when a silk pattern cummerbund RAMC was finally sealed.

A plain crimson cloth band was to be worn on the Rank and File forage cap in place of the present lace, crimson replaced the scarlet braid on the frock and the field cap, but the two patterns were worn side by side until stocks were exhausted. On 16 January 1900, a forage cap gold lace with two thin lines of dull cherry in place of black silk was adopted.

On 1 February 1900, the alterations in the uniform of the RAMC were finally sanctioned, and the patterns sealed on 3 February 1900. All new uniforms including those of surgeons on probation joining at the Army Medical School Netley were to be of the prescribed pattern. A period of two years, up to January 1902, was allowed for the wearing of uniform of the old pattern in possession of officers.

Netley officers

Officers on probation at Army Medical School Netley 1900. The Field Cap of the RAMC had a dull Cherry top with gold welts on cap and flaps and at the front and back seams. two corps buttons at the front with the authorised but as yet not approved RAMC badge on the front left side (RAMC/626).

The Patrol Jacket of a Lt Col (1900 Dress Regs) was of blue cloth with stand and fall collar, edged with inch wide black mohair braid. An upright collar of dull cherry red cloth with three quarters inch gold lace round the top, to button on inside collar of jacket. Inch wide mohair braid traced with Russia braid all round. The tracing forming an eye at each angle of the braid. Five loops of inch wide mohair braid at equal distances down the front on each side with two olivettes on each loop, the top lops extending to the shoulder seams and the bottom to four inches. The cuffs were pointed with inch wide mohair braid and black Russia braid forming an Austrian knot above and below the mohair braid.

The forage cap (1900 dress Regs) had gold lace with two thin lines of dull cherry in place of black silk.

The Frock Coat had collar and cuffs of blue cloth. The shoulder straps were of blue cloth edged with half inch black mohair braid except at the base, with a black netted button at the top.

In 1903, the Army Medical School transferred from Netley to Milbank. In 1919, the RAMC Depôt and Training Establishment relocated to Crookham near Aldershot.

In February 1903, it was decided to categorise the Non–Commissioned–Officers and men of the RAMC into four distinct sections: Nursing, Cooking, Clerical, and General Duty. To the General Duty Section was allotted those duties in hospitals only indirectly connected with the care of the sick. Men trained for the Nursing Section were henceforth to be employed in nursing duties only.

Queen Alexandra expressed her wish that: the most proficient and best conducted male nurses should be admitted to her nursing service, and a scheme for carrying out this object including extra renumeration to such selected Non–Commissioned–Officers and men and the granting of a special badge to denote the distinction that has been conferred upon them.

First and Second class orderlies of the nursing section, wore a worsted cherry red braid. Orderlies appointed to the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service received bars of gold braid for wear on their tunics and full dress frocks.

medal QAIMNS

An RAMC Sgt with the badge of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service on right breast and the Queen's South Africa Medal 1899–1902 and the King's South Africa Medal 1901–1902 (RAMC/1269/6).

The badge of the QAIMNS had the Danish Cross in which was inscribed the Queen's cypher A. It was surrounded by a bordering on which were the words Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, the whole being surmounted by the Imperial crown.

By 1907, there were 800 men in the Nursing Section of the Royal Army Medical Corps. The Navy and Army Nursing Association, was formed on 3 June 1907, to bring into prominence the fact that Royal Army Medical Corps soldiers seeking employment in civil life can be guaranteed to be highly trained and are worthy of the fullest confidence. The association enrolled all men who had nursed in naval and military hospitals, and all those who had obtained the rank of First Class Orderly in a military hospital.

D L Irvine

Lt Col Delaware Lewis Irvine in the transitional uniform between Army Medical Staff and the RAMC (RAMC/1921).

Lt Col Delaware Lewis Irvine was commissioned surgeon on 31 July 1880 and promoted to Lt Col on 31 July 1900. He served in the Sudan (1884 to 1885), South Africa (1899 to 1900) and retired on 28 Mar 1908.

He wears the Egypt Medal 1882 with a clap, The Nile 1884–85 awarded to those who served south of Aswan on or before 7 Mar 1885 as part of the expedition to relieve General Gordon, and the clasp Kirbekan 10 Feb 1885. He also wears the Queen's South Africa Medal with five clasps and the Khedive's Bronze Star.

Lt Col Delaware Lewis Irvine's tunic has the collar ornamented with three quarters inch wide lace round the top and front, with gold Russia braid along the bottom and a row of eyes below the lace. His badges of rank are on twisted round gold shoulder cords. His collar badge is that of the RAMC but the buttons on his tunic are those of the Medical Staff.

1902 dress

An RAMC mounted officer in the 1902 pattern service dress showing the rank of Lt Col cuff lace pattern. The forage cap became the universal pattern in 1905.

A Service dress for officers was authorised by Special Army Order 40 dated 17 January 1902. The jacket was of special mixture serge, cut on a lounge coat to the waist, with a waist seam and band two and a quarter inches wide. It was worn very loose at the chest and shoulders but fitted at the waist. The single breasted jacket was fastened with five large gilding metal ungilt die struck buttons down the front, the bottom one on the lower edge of the waist band. It had a turn down Prussian collar, with the collar edge cut to run V shape, showing the top button between. The jacket had two cross patch breast pockets above, six and a half inches wide, and seven and a half inches deep to the top of the flap, two and a quarter inch box pleat in the centre, two expanding pockets below the waist nine and a quarter inches wide at the top, and ten and a half inches wide at the bottom, fastened at the top with a small button flap.

The shoulder straps were of Melton cloth edged with a quarter inch white cloth. In the centre was a loop of cherry braid, extending from the shoulder seam round the upper end of the button hole, the sides of the loop being a quarter inch apart.

Up to 1902, badges of rank were worn on the shoulder cords and shoulder straps. They were of silver embroidery on shoulder cords and gold laced shoulder straps, and gilt on plain cloth shoulder straps. With the introduction of the service dress, rank was represented by the so called Asparagus bed designation on the cuffs.

1902 rank

The so called Asparagus bed cuff distinction of rank 1902. (From May W E, Carman W Y, Tanner J, Badges and Insignia of the British Armed Services published by A C Black 1974). This complicated system was short lived and was discontinued in Nov 1902.

The cuffs were pointed, five and a half inches deep at the point and two and a half inches deep at the back. They showed a short live complicated pattern made of drab braid 3/16 inch wide. The braid cuff ranks were:

  • Second Lieutenant – Cuffs edged all round, with a crow's foot at the point.
  • Lieutenant – As above with double line of braid added midway between the point and the seams of the sleeves, the line 3 inches long starting from the braid round the top of the cuff with a crow's foot at the top.
  • Captain – As for Lieutenant with additional double lines 3 inches long from the crow's foot at the point of the cuff, a crow's foot at the top.
  • Major – as for Captain with additional double lines added midway between the two outer and centre lines six and a half inches long beginning at the braid at the cuffs a crow's foot at the top.
  • A Lieutenant Colonel – As for Major with double lines added to the captain's loop 5 inches long from the top of the crow's foot, an Austrian knot two and a half inches in length at the top.

The cuffs of the service dress were altered to include a three pointed flap, edged with half inch chevron lace. The badges of rank in worsted embroidery were worn on the flaps.

badges rank

RAMC officers at the RAMC Depôt 1904 (RAMC/801/18).

Up to May 1902 the Second Lieutenant had no distinguishing badge. This changed in May 1902, when the 2nd Lt was given a star and the Lieutenant and Captains gained an additional star.

To distinguish rank from behind, rows of chevron lace, with intervening braid were added to the sleeve. A Lieutenant had one row of lace and a star; a Captain had two rows of chevron lace; a Major had three rows of chevron lace with two rows of thin tracing braid in between; a Lieutenant Colonel had four rows of tracing braid to his three rows of chevron braid; a Colonel had four rows of chevron lace and five of tracing braid. In 1920 the rank system on the cuffs was abolished and badges of rank moved back to the shoulder strap.

C E Nichol

Col Charles Edward Nichol CMG (1916) DSO (1902), OC Depôt RAMC from 5 Nov 1906 to 13 Dec 1909 showing his rank on his cuffs (RAMC/1328).

Col Nichol was commissioned on 4 Feb 1882, promoted Lt Col on 4 Feb 1902, and became a Colonel on 9 Mar 1912.

In 1911, the service dress jacket and the blue frock were altered in cut, the collars being made with lapels similar to those of a civilian suit, but after 1918, the Prussian collar was restored to the frock. The Dress Regulations for the Army 1911, specified the Home pattern cloth service helmet with a gilt helmet plate bearing the Royal Arms with a scroll below inscribed Royal Army Medical Corps to be worn in Full Dress. The tunic was blue with dull cherry cloth collar and cuffs. The collar fastened with two hooks and eyes and ornamented with three quarter inch lace round the top, and gold Russia braid along the bottom. The cuffs were gauntlet shape, four inches deep in front and six inches at the back with a three quarter inch lace at the top and on each side of the back seam.

RAMC officer

Standing figure of medical officer in dark gray uniform, russet trim, gold details, helmet, walking toward right by Benham Herbert (1935). Prints, drawings and watercolours from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection.

Crimson or Dull Cherry colour to the facings and tunic piping was approved in January 1900.

The tunic had eight gilt buttons down the front, bearing within a laurel wreath surmounted by a crown, the rod of Aesculapius with a serpent entwined, and around the wreath the words Royal Army Medical Corps. A black morocco leather shoulder belt, two inches wide with three stripes of gold embroidery, each three eights of an inch wide, was worn diagonally across the chest. The belt had a black morocco leather pouch ornamented with the Royal Cypher and crown. The trousers were of blue cloth with stripes of dull cherry cloth, one and three quarters inch wide with two one eight of an inch wide black welts half an inch apart, down the side seams.

F S Irvine

Lt Francis Stephen Irvine was commissioned Lieutenant on 17 Nov 1899. He was promoted Captain on 17 Nov 1902 (RAMC/793/3).

Under the Royal Medical Warrant dated 24 Mar 1902, a Lt was eligible for promotion to the rank of Capt on completion of three and a half years' service, and to the rank of major on completion of 12 yrs service. Promotion to the rank of Lt Col was to be made by selection from those who have completed 20 yrs service.

In 1902, a single quality service dress for all Warrant Officers was introduced. Neither arm nor collar badges were worn officially on the service dress introduced in 1902. However, in order to recognise the rank of the wearer in the Field, chevrons were worn on both sleeves.

Army Order 70 of 1915, grouped Warrant Officers into class I and class II. The senior Warrant Officer in 1882 had worn a new badge of the crown below the elbow of the right arm without chevrons. In 1901, the senior Warrant Officer was now distinguished by a crown within a wreath, except for Bandmasters who wore their special rank badge. In 1915, this changed to small badges of the Royal Arms on the forearm.

No 4 Coy Netley 1921

No 4 Coy Netley 1921 showing NCOs rank structure (RAMC/1269/6).

Seated L to R: Sergeant Major F H Perkins with four overseas service chevrons on his right cuff, Major William Ernest Craven Lunn MC (1917) with rank on his cuffs, Lt Col Frederick Fitzgerald Carroll DSO (1917) showing rank on the shoulder straps, WO I (RSM) Charles Edward Lister the most senior NCO in a regiment was the Regimental Sergeant Major, Capt Charles Douglas Kingsley Seaver.

NCOs of the Nursing Section of the RAMC wore there QAIMNS badge ribbon on the right chest with their campaign medals on the left breast.

Warrant Officers Class II were the Non–Commissioned–Officers who held the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant and Sergeant Major. Quartermaster Sergeants wore the crown within a wreath. Other Warrant Officers Class II wore the crown with the appointment badge. In 1918, a new badge of the Royal Arms in a wreath instead of the crown in a wreath was introduced for the Warrant Officer Class I.



2nd City of London Royal Fusiliers (TF) 1914
(Main Guard Palace Square Valletta)


Eyes on the Mark 1st/2nd (City of London) Bn Royal Fusiliers 1914.
(Main Guard Palace Square Valletta)

infantry soldier

RAMC soldier in Marching Order 1920

A visitor to Malta in 1914, would have been confronted with soldiers in monotonous brown mobilising for war. With the introduction of the khaki service dress for general use in 1902, the colourful and ornate Full Dress had lost its usefulness as a fighting outfit and was relegated to ceremonial parades. Walking Out dress consisted of the full tunic and trousers, round forage cap, belt and swagger cane. The cocked hat remained in use by the General Staff and Colonels holding Staff appointments.

As 1914, approached, khaki became more in use, until by 1915 it had eclipsed all other forms of dress. The last years in which the whole army wore full dress was 1914, as after the war it was confined to the Household Cavalry, the Guards Regimental Bands and officers attending levees. Other troops wore it on special occasions such as at Royal Tournaments and Military Tattoos.

After 1916, khaki service dress was the only official uniform.