Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

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Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby VictorianEra » 17 Jun 2017 06:51

Hello everyone,

I wanted to share a fairly recent acquisition of mine, a rare Boer War period diced bonnet to the Lovat Scouts. This bonnet is hand-knitted and in overall pretty good condition, however the lower band below the dicing is crumbing and some fabric and material is coming off. The bonnet is attributed to George King, a Lovat Scout who fought in the Boer War. I have not been able to find any documentation on George King, but this bonnet originally came from the family estate, and I have a letter from a descendant stating he fought in the Boer War. I think this is a really nice period bonnet and as they were formed during the Boer War, this bonnet is a very early piece of unit history, if it is indeed Boer War period. I believe there are period photographs of soldiers of the Scouts wearing both these bonnets and slouch hats.

The Lovat Scouts were formed in 1900 by Simon Joseph Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat for service in the Boer War. The Lovat Scouts were drawn mainly from ghillies and stalkers from the north of Scotland, and were expert marksmen. In the Boer War they were mounted yeomanry, and I believe they could match the marksmanship of the Boers. In 1916, during WWI, they would formally become the first sniper unit of the British unit, then known as "Sharpshooters."

I do not know too much on the Scouts so please excuse if I have made any errors in the historical facts, etc.

If anyone believes otherwise and thinks this bonnet is not period, or has any comments, corrections or questions I would appreciate any insight or confirmation.

I hope you have all enjoyed this post and thank you for reading.

Best regards,

-Jamie
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby VictorianEra » 17 Jun 2017 06:52

Additional picture...
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby jf42 » 17 Jun 2017 10:49

Jamie -greetings,

It would be very interesting to see photos of the Lovat Scouts wearing a Balmoral bonnet in South Africa. Since it would have been, at that time, a non-regulation bonnet worn by a war-time unit raised for the duration, there may not be many documents relating to it.

For military use, the traditional flat bonnet had been superceded in the late C18th by other, more structured, forms of headgear. There is evidence, though, it continued to be worn informally, e.g. for fatigue parties, musical practice, or shooting competions when civilian dress was worn. It was also favoured by some early Scottish Volunteer battalions.

By 1900, Scottish Volunteer units had in the main adopted versions of regulation headgear, notably the Glengarry bonnet. It is nonetheless quite plausible that the Scouts raised by Lord Lovat, given their origin and intended role, adopted a traditional flat bonnet for their undress gear, although, once on active service in South Africa the slouch hat would have been favoured for wear in the field. Clearly, the bonnet you show, of the style we now associate with the Lovat Scouts, was not suitable for scouting in any terrain.

The flat bonnet was finally re-introduced for general use by Scottish troops in the early months of the Great War, during the winter of 1914-15, when the Glengarry had proved impractical for wear in the trenches. Initially, coloured Balmoral bonnets were acquired regimentally. Subsequently, the khaki 'Bonnet, Tam O Shanter' was issued generally.

On balance, it seems more likely that the bonnet you show dates from after the Boer War, when the Lovat scouts were embodied formally. Below is an image, apparently from the period between 1902-1913 (courtesy of ebay again)that show men wearing the bonnet with the checkered black and white dicing.

It might, of course, date from later than that, too.

Lovat Scouts Annual Camp 1902-13.jpeg
Lovat Scouts Annual Camp 1902-13.jpeg (32.47 KiB) Viewed 516 times


Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out these not-very-clear photographs from 'Naval and Military Illustrated' (taken from ebay) show Lovat Scouts training as mounted infantry in March 1900. Some are evidently wearing headgear other than the slouch hat although it is not immediately identifiable as the bonnet in question, Some appear to be of a khaki colour. It would be interesting to see what you or other members think these might be. I shall reserve my opinion.

Lovat Scouts training for the veldt.jpg
Lovat Scouts training for the veldt.jpg (71.59 KiB) Viewed 516 times


Lovat Scouts March 1900.jpg
Lovat Scouts March 1900.jpg (57.41 KiB) Viewed 516 times


As you probably know, the Lovat Scouts were affiliated to the Seaforth Highlanders, later the Queen's Own Highlanders. The Highlanders Museum at Fort George may well be able to cast more light on your item.
http://www.thehighlandersmuseum.com/qr7-lovat/

You can check for George King here:

http://www.britishmedals.us/kevin/impyeomanryl.html
The Men of the Imperial Yeomanry, Lovats Scouts
and Scottish Horse in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902



http://www.ebay.ie/itm/1900-BOER-WAR-ER ... Sw4A5Yww4L

http://www.ebay.ie/itm/Soldier-Group-Si ... SwNSxU9eg8
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby gordon92 » 17 Jun 2017 21:56

jf42......Reluctantly, I feel compelled to mention that The Lovat Scouts were affiliated with The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. That association began in Sept 1916 in Cairo when the 1st and 2nd regiments of Lovat Scouts along with a company from the 3rd Scottish Horse were amalgamated into the 10th (Lovat Scouts) Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

Jaimie......Congratulations on your acquisition. No doubt this item cost you an "arm and a leg." Nonetheless, the dealer from which you acquired the bonnet is highly reputable, and you can have high assurance that it is authentic.
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby VictorianEra » 18 Jun 2017 04:13

gordon92 wrote:jf42......Reluctantly, I feel compelled to mention that The Lovat Scouts were affiliated with The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. That association began in Sept 1916 in Cairo when the 1st and 2nd regiments of Lovat Scouts along with a company from the 3rd Scottish Horse were amalgamated into the 10th (Lovat Scouts) Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

Jaimie......Congratulations on your acquisition. No doubt this item cost you an "arm and a leg." Nonetheless, the dealer from which you acquired the bonnet is highly reputable, and you can have high assurance that it is authentic.


Gordon, thank you for your comment. The dealer I bought it from is a very good dealer, I've bought from him before and I plan to again. His prices can be a little high sometimes, but many of the items such as this bonnet are untouched and straight from the family estates, and as you said authentic, there's no doubt. The bonnet is a real looker, and I am glad to have gotten it. According to the said dealer, he has seen a Lovat Scout wearing one of these bonnets with a khaki drill tunic, mounted on a horse, so perhaps the Scouts did wear these bonnets in the Boer War...

jf42 wrote:Jamie -greetings,

It would be very interesting to see photos of the Lovat Scouts wearing a Balmoral bonnet in South Africa. Since it would have been, at that time, a non-regulation bonnet worn by a war-time unit raised for the duration, there may not be many documents relating to it.

For military use, the traditional flat bonnet had been superceded in the late C18th by other, more structured, forms of headgear. There is evidence, though, it continued to be worn informally, e.g. for fatigue parties, musical practice, or shooting competions when civilian dress was worn. It was also favoured by some early Scottish Volunteer battalions.

By 1900, Scottish Volunteer units had in the main adopted versions of regulation headgear, notably the Glengarry bonnet. It is nonetheless quite plausible that the Scouts raised by Lord Lovat, given their origin and intended role, adopted a traditional flat bonnet for their undress gear, although, once on active service in South Africa the slouch hat would have been favoured for wear in the field. Clearly, the bonnet you show, of the style we now associate with the Lovat Scouts, was not suitable for scouting in any terrain.

The flat bonnet was finally re-introduced for general use by Scottish troops in the early months of the Great War, during the winter of 1914-15, when the Glengarry had proved impractical for wear in the trenches. Initially, coloured Balmoral bonnets were acquired regimentally. Subsequently, the khaki 'Bonnet, Tam O Shanter' was issued generally.

On balance, it seems more likely that the bonnet you show dates from after the Boer War, when the Lovat scouts were embodied formally. Below is an image, apparently from the period between 1902-1913 (courtesy of ebay again)that show men wearing the bonnet with the checkered black and white dicing.

It might, of course, date from later than that, too.

Lovat Scouts Annual Camp 1902-13.jpeg


Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out these not-very-clear photographs from 'Naval and Military Illustrated' (taken from ebay) show Lovat Scouts training as mounted infantry in March 1900. Some are evidently wearing headgear other than the slouch hat although it is not immediately identifiable as the bonnet in question, Some appear to be of a khaki colour. It would be interesting to see what you or other members think these might be. I shall reserve my opinion.

Lovat Scouts training for the veldt.jpg


Lovat Scouts March 1900.jpg


As you probably know, the Lovat Scouts were affiliated to the Seaforth Highlanders, later the Queen's Own Highlanders. The Highlanders Museum at Fort George may well be able to cast more light on your item.
http://www.thehighlandersmuseum.com/qr7-lovat/

You can check for George King here:

http://www.britishmedals.us/kevin/impyeomanryl.html
The Men of the Imperial Yeomanry, Lovats Scouts
and Scottish Horse in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902



http://www.ebay.ie/itm/1900-BOER-WAR-ER ... Sw4A5Yww4L

http://www.ebay.ie/itm/Soldier-Group-Si ... SwNSxU9eg8


Jf42, thanks for the comment. Perhaps this bonnet may still be Boer War, or at least Pre-WW1 period. I do not think the soldier fought in WW1, as apparently sometime after the Boer War (whether right after or years, I do not know) he went back to South Africa and made his fortune, later giving much of it back to his home town. It leaves me to believe, but with no definitive answer, that this bonnet may possibly be pre-WW1 period.

Thank you for the link to the names of the Imperial Yeomanry soldiers...

King, George 22847, Private Imperial Yeomanry
King, George 30472, Private 60th Coy., 17th Bn. I.Y.
King, George Albert 16466, Private 69th Coy., 14th Bn. I.Y.
King, George F. 32245, L/Corporal 87th Coy., 22nd Bn. I.Y.
King, George Harry 25070, Sgt. 69th Coy., 7th Bn. I.Y.
King, George Henry 42588, Trooper* Imperial Yeomanry
King, George William 27044, Corporal 41st Coy., 4th Bn. I.Y.

These are all the soldiers with the name "George King," I do not know the soldier's middle name. Does anyone know what company or Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry the Lovat Scouts were, and if so, would it match any of these names?

Thank you both Gordon and jf42 for your help and comments, I do appreciate your insight, and also look forward to anyone else who may have further insight or comments.
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby jf42 » 18 Jun 2017 12:42

gordon92 wrote:jf42......Reluctantly, I feel compelled to mention that The Lovat Scouts were affiliated with The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. That association began in Sept 1916 in Cairo when the 1st and 2nd regiments of Lovat Scouts along with a company from the 3rd Scottish Horse were amalgamated into the 10th (Lovat Scouts) Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

Jaimie......Congratulations on your acquisition. No doubt this item cost you an "arm and a leg." Nonetheless, the dealer from which you acquired the bonnet is highly reputable, and you can have high assurance that it is authentic.


Ha! Thank you Gordon. Sleep deprivation and codeine working their usual magic. My brain fogged as I scrolled through some rather poor photos taken at the Highlander' Museum (See below) to see if there was anything relating to the Lovat Scouts' Balmoral and remembered that I need to contact them about some memorabilia from my grandfather's service with 1st Seaforths- QED.

As I was typing, I even had the attached page of Grierson 'Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force' in front of me. The association between the Lovat Scouts and QOCH appears to have been from its earliest days- although it seems there was a temporary attachment tothe Black Watch. It would seem that of the 245 members of the QO Cameron Highlanders 1st Volunteer Battalion, 3 officer and 75 men served in a Volunteer Service Company sent out to reinforce the Regulars; Lord Lovat, E.G. Tytler and 80 men served in the Lovat Scouts, and "the remainder joined the Imperial Yeomanry or other corps."

On the face of it, therefore, none of the George Kings listed in the nominal roll served with the Lovat Scouts, which appears in the rolls as a unit distinct from the Imperial Yeomanry, although to confuse the issue I see that in discussions on Anglo Boer War.com (see below) there is reference in the South Africa medal rolls to '2nd Lovat's Scouts, Imperial Yeomanry' and '178th (Lovat's Scouts) Company.' This may be subsequent to the initial attachment to the Black Watch. There are forum members with specific interest in the Boer War and the Imperial Yeomanry in particular, who are much better placed to unravel that matter than I.

Grierson's simple breakdown does not, of course, account for movement between units. Whether that occurred or not would require more detailed research. My guess is that the nominal roll records the unit in which the individual last served, or served longest.

Lovat Scouts , 1 Vol Bn Cameron Hldrs  (Grierson).jpg
Lovat Scouts , 1 Vol Bn Cameron Hldrs (Grierson).jpg (118.2 KiB) Viewed 467 times


https://archive.org/stream/recordsofsco ... arch/lovat

P4080359.jpg
P4080359.jpg (59.03 KiB) Viewed 467 times


P4080369.jpg
P4080369.jpg (40.59 KiB) Viewed 467 times


Above are photos of the rather well worn frock and bush hat worn by Lieut E.G. Fraser Tytler -
-"one of two brothers who joined the first contingent of the Lovat Scouts in 1900. Their family came from Aldurie, at the top of Loch Ness. Both served in South Africa and in the Great War. W. T Fraser-Tytler was awarded the D.S.O." (Highlander's Museum, Fort George)

As the excerpt from Grierson shows, E.G was mentioned dispatches in September 1901.

I have no reason to doubt the estate provenance of the bonnet. Its history of service might require a little more filling out. As my own experience has taught me, family tradition can have a seductive relationship with fact. It will be interesting to see if photos of the Lovat Scouts wearing these bonnets in South Africa come to light.


As a postscript, I include this link to Anglo-Boer War.com and a forum thread with discussion of the Lovat Scouts, and photos and sketches from 'Black & White' magazine*. In March 1900, Bush hats do seem to be the favoured headgear preparatory to departure for South Africa. There is also a reference to the disaster that befell the 2nd contingent at Guadeberg on Sept 19-20 1901. Clearly the one man killed mentioned by Grierson, Pvt McLaren, was as the single member of the Cameron Highlanders Volunteers who died in action with the Scouts. The "Special Highland Scouting Corps" attached initially to the Black Watch is also mentioned.
https://angloboerwar.com/forum/5-medals ... -etc#25846
https://angloboerwar.com/forum/5-medals ... m?start=12

{*Courtesy of ebay again, here is a a 'zoomable' image of the same page. The internet can be a wonderful resource!
http://www.ebay.ie/itm/Militaria-Boer-W ... SwOgdYvyrp}

I trust the following account of the Lovat Scouts' formation and deployment is accurate:

"On 12121899, Lord Lovat requested and was granted permission from the WO to raise "one and possibly two companies ...primarily for scouting purposes"; these to be attached to the Black Watch. Two Coys., 236 men in total were recruited - one mounted, one on foot. Up to 80 were chosen specifically for stalking prowess and all recruits were suitably tested for basic skills. After seven weeks of intensive training, the First Contingent of Lovat's departed from Beauly Station and arrived in Cape Town on 17041900."

The following item from the magazine Black & White (Feb 1900), at the time the Scouts were training, is an entertaining example of the 'expert' croakers who love to prophesy disaster (Hardly surprising perhaps, in this instance, given how badly the war had started for the Imperial troops) .

Lovat Scouts ('Black & White' Feb 1900).jpg
Lovat Scouts ('Black & White' Feb 1900).jpg (57.68 KiB) Viewed 467 times
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby AlexReece » 18 Jun 2017 17:22

Jf42

Great images of the Boer War frock & slouch hat, the frock looks like it has lighter Khaki cuffs & front edging or is that flare from the glass ?

Regards Alex
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby jf42 » 18 Jun 2017 22:59

Alex, I am glad you found Lieutenant Fraser Tytler's frock interesting. I believe what you're seeing are the running repairs made to the frock during the wearer's final months of service in the field; the leading edge of the front opening and the cuffs evidently being particularly prone to fraying.

Here is a close up of the frock on its own (There is a wee bit of flare along the bottom right front).

P4080366.jpg
P4080366.jpg (61.06 KiB) Viewed 440 times


As you can see, both the breast pockets have also been renewed and a patch has been inserted where friction from the rifle butt had worn through the cloth at the shoulder. That weakness would, I think, be reinforced in the khaki serge Service Dress Jacket.

JF
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby VictorianEra » 19 Jun 2017 05:30

JF42,

What a very interesting frock to the Lovat Scouts. Is this in a museum, a photo dragged from the internet, or a frock in your collection?

It looks very unique and certainly an extremely rare piece to have survived, and from what I can see very fine condition.

I appreciate your help with George King and this bonnet, I will try to look around and see what I can find, and hopefully someone may come along and be able to shine some light on this mystery.

And unfortunately sometimes the families get names and dates and conflicts wrong and such, but it is still possible that the records have been mixed up, or destroyed, or who knows what.

Do you think the Highlanders museum still may be a good place to perhaps contact about this bonnet?

Thanks again everyone. Best regards,

-Jamie
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby jf42 » 19 Jun 2017 13:26

Jamie, perhaps I should have made it clearer; yes, the frock and bush hat are part of the collection at the Highlanders Museum at Fort George, Inverness. I suppose that they are in good condition, given their age, although 'fine' is not the word that first springs to mind. It is interesting that Lieut. Fraser Tytler thought to bring his ragged field gear back home with him, perhaps to give his friends and family a laugh at the fine figure of a soldier he must have cut, out on the veldt.

Regimental museums cannot be regarded as infallible authorities (as the omission of E.G. FraserTytler's MID in a small way illustrates - unless Grierson got that wrong!). However, in my experience the Highlanders Museum have proved very helpful and I am sure they would be interested to learn of what appears to be an early Lovat Scouts bonnet in good condition, and with a reliable family provenance- even if its history has yet to be fully mapped out.
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby VictorianEra » 20 Jun 2017 05:25

Jf42,

Perhaps "fine" wasn't the right word choice, I meant to merely highlight my surprise, as it is such a rare piece to have survived (especially being to the Lovat Scouts), and this was probably a combat worn example, as seen by the repairs and such made by the Lieutenant. And it is in pretty good condition, not a pile of rags with moth holes or lost to history as the large majority of these frocks were either destroyed during or after the conflict. Thank goodness he did bring it back, as now we are enjoying to look at it, as will hopefully many generations to come.

Again, thank you for all the help, and for posting the pictures of Lieutenant Fraser Tytler's frock as well. I may try my luck at contacting the museum and we'll see what, if anything, I may find out.

Best regards,

-Jamie
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby jf42 » 20 Jun 2017 10:36

Jamie- I agree it is remarkable these items of uniform survived and a rare event. My comment was meant to be light hearted rather than critical. I was reminded of those optimistic descriptions on Amazon for 2nd-hand books.

I look forward to hearing how your contact with the Highlanders Museum bears fruit.
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Re: Boer War Lovat Scouts Bonnet

Postby AlexReece » 27 Jun 2017 21:03

jf42 wrote:Alex, I am glad you found Lieutenant Fraser Tytler's frock interesting. I believe what you're seeing are the running repairs made to the frock during the wearer's final months of service in the field; the leading edge of the front opening and the cuffs evidently being particularly prone to fraying.

Here is a close up of the frock on its own (There is a wee bit of flare along the bottom right front).

P4080366.jpg


As you can see, both the breast pockets have also been renewed and a patch has been inserted where friction from the rifle butt had worn through the cloth at the shoulder. That weakness would, I think, be reinforced in the khaki serge Service Dress Jacket.

JF


Oh yes indeed JF I now can see, thank you for that.

Regards Alex
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