Corporal, 17th Lancers 1879 (Zulu War)


Sergeant, 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers 1879

Originally formed in 1759 as the 17th Light Dragoons, the regiment served all over the world until they ended up in India in 1809. After much distinguished service in that sub-continent, they returned home in 1823 and were converted to a Lancer regiment.
During the Crimea War they formed part of the Light Brigade and took part in the famous charge for which three of their NCO's received the Victoria Cross.
They later took part in the Indian Mutiny and in 1876 they were given the added title of "Duke of Cambridge's Own" when HRH the Duke became Colonel in Chief of the regiment
Following the disaster suffered by Lord Chelmsford's troops at Isandlwana in the Zulu War of 1879, two cavalry regiments were sent out from England - 1st Kings Dragoon Guards (see elsewhere in Uniform Museum), and 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers. On arrival in South Africa, they made their way quite slowly to the Zulu kingdom, in order to acclimatise their horses, and did not arrive at the front until May of that year.
The 17th distinguished themselves at Ulundi by charging the retreating Zulu troops and bringing about a complete rout of the enemy.
The uniform worn in the field was the full dress plastron fronted tunic, although the plastron was turned back (not as shown on our model) to hide the white panel. Note the regimental Deaths Head badge over the sergeant's rank insignia The yellow and red striped girdle, normally worn by all Lancers, was also not worn on campaign, and the white leather waistbelt was exposed. The czapka and bodylines were substituted for a white Foreign Service helmet.
A 9ft male bamboo lance of the 1868 pattern with a red and white pennant was standard issue, but Lancers also carried the Martini-Henry ca rbine and would therefore have carried ammo pouches on the waistbelt.
The 17th were a "crack" Lancer regiment and recruiting standards were extremely high. Eventually, they were amalgamated with the 21st Lancers (see elsewhere in Uniform Museum) to form the 17/21st Lancers, which still exists as a regiment today.


Thin Red Line
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