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Uniforms and Colours of the British Army
The 1st & 2nd Life Guards 1816
By Dino Lemonofides

Military Modelling July 1973.



Uniform Guide
    There is little or no substantial evidence to distinguish between the uniforms of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards at this time, the following therefore, applies to both Regiments.
    The Trumpeter’s dress is very interesting contrast from the better known regimental uniform of this period and is based on one of a series of contemporary drawings of the Life Guards by the Russian Alexander Sauerweid.
    A most unusual feature is the bicorne hat, worn with a chin strap and richly decorated with vandyke edged gold lace, scarlet feathers, black ‘fan’ cockade and white plume. The collar on the single breasted coatee is covered with gold lace and shows the facing colour as a blue zig-zag line.
This line is also embroidered into the gold lace on the pouch belt which is edged blue. A white sword belt with brass clasp is worn on top of a yellow crimson striped girdle.
    The silver trumpet was carried with gold and crimson cords and tassels. On ceremonial or state occasions a crimson silk trumpet banner embroidered in full colour and fringed in gold was added.
    By tradition,Trumpeters rode grey horses. Furniture, consisted of at blue shabraque edged with gold lace with a scarlet ‘centre’ and gold GR cyphers surmounted by a crown displayed in the fore and hind quarters. A black sheep-skin with a blue pleated lining covered the saddle.
    The Cornet carrying the Standard is also based on a Sauerweid drawing.
    The helmet is the pattern introduced in 1814 with its distinctive black over red woollen crest. Plumes were the same for all ranks, white over red feathers, worn on the left side.
    The service coatee, also of 1814 pattern, is single breasted with a single row of brass buttons down the front. Two loops of gold lace decorate the blue collar patches and the epaulettes are twisted gold cord. A waist girdle of gold lace and crimson stripes is worn under a white sword belt.
    The undress sabretache was plain black leather with a brass Garter Star badge similar to that used by other ranks. A full-dress sabretache edged with gold lace and embroidered in gold, silver and red on a blue velvet ground was also worn. This had just been altered to include scrolls labelled PENINSULA and WATERLOO. The gold laced Standard belt had two crimson stripes and a gilt swivel clasp and buckle.
    Horse furniture was similar to the Trumpeter’s mount but the sheepskin had a red lining.
    The Trooper, shown dismounted, is in the service dress as worn during the Waterloo campaign.
    The helmet was the same as worn by the officers, but not so richly made with brass rather than gilt fittings. The coatee had blue collar patches, shoulder straps, cuffs and turnbacks with gold lace edging on the shoulder straps and loops on collar and cuffs. Grey overalls with a broad scarlet stripe down the outer seam replaced the white breeches and jacked boots.
    The heavy-cavalry sword had a straight 34½ inch blade, 1½ inches wide with a hatchet tip, pierced disc hilt, black grip and heavy steel scabbard. Slings and sword knot were white leather.
    Corporal’s rank (equivalent of Sergeant in other regiments) was shown as three gold lace chevrons on a blue ground worn on the right arm with a crown above.
    The medal for Waterloo was the first to be awarded by the Crown to all troops irrespective of rank. Recipients included men who fought at Quatre Bras and in the cavalry rearguard action on the 17th June and also to next-of-kin of men killed in action. The medal is silver and connected by a steel ring to a crimson ribbon with quarter inch wide dark blue edges.
The Regimental Standards
    The unusual feature regarding the Standards of the Life Guards at this time was that both Standard and Guidon were in use. Normally, Standards were carried by the Household Cavalry and regiments of Dragoon Guards whilst Dragoons and Light Cavalry bore the Guidon.
    In 1815-16, two new Standards and two Guidons were made for each of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards. No precise details exist, apart from a drawing by Sauerweid, although it is possible to reconstruct these from other examples. A basic design was established in 1800 and 1803 similar to that shown opposite and is, incidentally, still in use.
    The 1816 Standards are the first however to display battle honours. Originally, these were made with PENINSULA across the base, but before completion WATERLOO was added. Both 1st and 2nd Regiments had one ‘Royal Arms’ or Sovereign’s Standard and one Standard and two Guidons of the Union Badge design. All were embroidered on crimson silk damask. Standards were 2 ft. 5 in. flying by 2 ft. 3 in. on the lance not including the deep gold fringe of about 2½ in. The Guidons were 3 ft. 5 in. long by 2 ft. 3 in. on the lance again excluding the fringe. Both Standards and Guidons were carried on lances 9 ft. long overall which included a spearhead finial of 4 in.





See also 19th Century Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers