At the Curragh, the Suffolk soldier still had two distinct uniforms; scarlet and khaki.
The scarlet tunic, or frock was the last to be worn by the Regiment for ceremonial duties. Scarlet had been the principal colour of dress for the British Army for over 150 years, but as the nature of warfare changed, the need for a more concealing style of dress became prevalent.
The Boer War had shown that khaki drill was the way forward on campaign, and by 1902, a serge version of the drill tunic was being rolled out for universal wear across the whole Army.
The scarlet frock had it's collar, cuffs and epaulettes faced in yellow; which was the colour of the Regiment. On the collar was worn a pair of castle collar badges, known as ‘collar dogs’ and on his epaulettes, standard brass ‘SUFFOLK’ shoulder titles were worn. Rank for Warrant Officers and NCOs was worn only on the right arm.
Worn with a pair of dark blue trousers with a thin red stripe, held up with braces, the trousers had scalloped hems so that they hung longer at the back than the front, thus not giving a creased appearance over the top of the boot. His boots were a pair of standard B5 ‘ammunition’ boots of brown reversed leather, which he would have rubbed the surface smooth and applied black polish to. It is a popular misconception that soldiers had smart shiny black boots – in reality, lots of hard work scraping and polishing went into getting a uniform black finish.
The standard headdress worn with the scarlet tunic was in theory, the spiked Home Service helmet. These were also worn with khaki (see below) but for practicality, these were more and more seldom seen except on ‘high days and holidays’ and instead, a black peaked cap was worn instead. This had red piping around the crown and carried the Regimental cap badge. It had replaced the unpopular peak-less ‘Broderick’ cap around 1906.
Normally the equipment worn with the tunic was the old white buff leather belt of the obsolete 1888 pattern Slade-Wallace equipment. Since the scarlet outfit was ceremonial, the 1908 Pattern web equipment was never worn with it. This was designed to be worn with the khaki service dress on campaign.
By August 5th, the scarlet had been returned to stores. It was to be a khaki uniform that The Suffolk Regiment would take to the war.
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.