Officer’s Helmet and Cuirass, Royal Horse Guards
Officer’s Helmet and Cuirass, Royal Horse Guards
With curved blade double-edged towards the point, etched with scrolling foliage, crowned Royal Arms, ‘GRV’ cypher [for George V], on one face and further designs including ‘XVIII Royal Hussars’ on the other, gilt-brass hilt cast with foliage and palmette in low relief, the outer face with the Regimental device and inscription ‘Pro Patria Conamur’ [
For King, for Law, for Country we strive ] in white metal, ivory grip retained by a pair of rivets with flower head caps (cracked), in its silver-plated scabbard with gilt-brass locket, middle-band and chape all cast with scrolls and flowers in low relief, two rings for suspension, and with its bullion sword knot.
The blade inscribed CHARLES PLUMPTON, BARNSLEY BATTALION, THE YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT, 1914, with a wire bound faux sharkskin grip, and leather mounted scabbard.
With an intricate silver hilt and an etched blade with blank scrolls for a presentation inscription. Only one scroll is etched with “Presented to”, so presumably this sword was never decorated with the recipient’s name or the occasion of the presentation.
How Heavy are “Fighting” Swords?
So I decided to weigh a sample of my antique swords to see just how heavy they are – I have to say, I was surprised by the 1796 Light Cavalry Sword!
Some British swords of the Napoleonic period and of the type used at the Battle of Waterloo. From left to right: Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry style sword with pipe back blade, possibly for an infantry officer, c.1814-1821; Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword; Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword for an officer of a flank company, light infantry officer, or rifle officer; Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword.
Oldest Survivors of Waterloo: Chelsea Pensioners, 1880
A photo taken at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1880 shows five of the last surviving Chelsea Pensioners to play a role at the Battle of Waterloo.
The 135 year-old photo, unearthed at the Royal Hospital and now on display at Windsor Castle, is annotated with the names of the veterans and details of their involvement in the campaign. These details have enabled archivists at the Royal Hospital to discover more about the lives of these last surviving soldiers, in the 200th anniversary year of the battle.
Included in the photo (and at 95 the eldest at the time of the photo) is Private John McKay, who took part in the historic battle aged 20 as part of the 42nd Regiment of Foot, which he had joined at just 15. Private McKay would continue to serve with the 42nd where he was promoted to corporal in 1829 and medically discharged in 1837. Having served for over 26 years in the British Army, he moved to Royal Hospital Chelsea as a Chelsea Pensioner in 1877.
Other Chelsea Pensioners in the photo are Robert Norton of the 54th Regt (aged 90), Naish Hannay of the 7th Hussars (88), Benjamin Bumstead of the 73rd Regt (82) and Samson Webb of the 3rd Foot Guards (82).
The Royal Hospital contains several artefacts from the Battle of 1815, including two howitzers and two cannons captured during the campaign, pictured [above]. It also has several pieces of Battle of Waterloo art, including a painting of the battle by 19th century artist George Jones.
–Royal Hospital Chelsea, home to the Chelsea Pensioners (the name of the care home for retired British Army soldiers)
1796 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword!
Here’s a little overview of my 1796 Light Cavarly Officer’s Sword. This thing is a beasty little sabre and I absolutely adore it. I figured it best to compare it to a couple of other swords to give you the best idea of the scale of this particular example.
British Pattern 1892 Infantry Officer’s Sword
This beautiful British Officers Sword, pattern 1845 [really a Pattern 1892], is wearing the cypher of Queen Victoria upon the face of its guard. It is mounted with a straight blade that measures 32 ¼ inches in length and is well marked and etched on either side. The blade does show to have experienced cleanings revealing some old pitting scars. The blade wears a serial number on the spine just next to the guard. The brass guard still wears some of the original gold wash and the hilt is fish skin covered which remains very nice with its twisted wire wrap. The metal scabbard has some flaking but does remain intact with no dings. Overall measuring 40 inches in length.
The cypher of Queen Victoria mentioned in the description above is VRI–Victoria Regina et Imperatrix (Victoria Queen and Empress). This cypher is more commonly associated with British officers serving in the Indian Staff Corps than officers of the British Army. This pattern is quite rare because it was only in service from 1892-1895, and many officers re-hilted these swords in 1895 to conform to the new regulations. Again, I need one of these!
Photos from OldSwords.com (Item 28357).
An interesting combination of a regulation officer’s sword and a pistol. This example was made or retailed by Johnston of Newcastle Street, London.