Field Officer, 39th Foot, 1854 (Dorsetshire Regiment)


The Dorsetshire Regiment became the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment in 1959 and was then merged into The Rifles in 2007

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Since 2007: amalgamated into The Rifles. The 39th was raised in 1702 and served originally as marines. It was the first regiment of the British Army to arrive in India, in 1754, whence comes one of its mottoes, ‘Primus in Indis’. It was thus the only King’s regiment to fight at Plassey, an honour which it carried on its colours. In 1881 it combined with the 54th to become the Dorsetshire Regiment, then The Dorsets it is now part of The Rifles. Based on a photograph by Roger Fenton, this officer of the 39th is in the Crimea in his ‘trench kit’. Although battles were fought in full-dress uniform, duties such as patrols or duties in the trenches were carried out in the dress which seemed most suitable to the officers taking part. This officer is wearing his undress hat, undress jacket, a water bottle, a haversack, his field-glasses carried in a pouch slung behind him on his white buff cross-belt, and, of course, his sword. In cold weather they often wore sheepskin coats known as ‘bunnies’, and the knitted caps still called ‘Balaclava helmets’. In the photograph on which this plate is based several officers of the regiment are shown, similarly dressed, but with several differences apparent between their jackets. On active service they took the opportunity to wear out old uniforms which had been superseded.

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Dimensions 24 × 37.5 cm