Can you identify the soldier in this hand-coloured photograph? Did he serve in the 17th Lancers regiment?
QI have a photograph marked John Carson thaat I had been told was of a man in the 17th Lancers, probablyy taken at the time of the Boerr War. As he looked about 25, it could only be my great uncle John (b1876 in County Mayo)). I found a record on Findmypast for John Carson, Corporal number 476 of the 1 Imperial Light Horse, who was wounded on 23 Octoberr 1900 at Frederikstad. I thought I’d found “my man”,, but recently I found an 1894 entry for John Carson joiningg the South Lancashire Regiment. He is definitely mine, as his father and siblings fit. So who is the mann in the photo? He clearly can’tt be the man wounded in the Boer War as in 1900 he was in the South Lancs Regiment.
Sue Young, by email
AThere are often problems providing exact identifications and dates for photographs when there’s no regimental badge visible and when the photo is in black and white. Fortunately, this has been n hand coloured, which, assuming g the artist has got it right, is quite helpful. Hand colouring really took off after about 1900, whichh is a useful pointer. One problem for this period is that, though there were dress regulations, they y were frequently twisted, ignored or taken up reluctantly. The soldier wears a blue “undress” (less formal) uniform and is a corporal (the two chevrons on his upper arm). He has a double white stripe running down his trousers. Infantry had red stripes and only three cavalry regiments had the double white stripe – 6th Dragoon Guards, 13th Hussars and the 17th Lancers. He’s wearing a pill box cap with a blue cover, white band and gold braid that is typical of 17th Lancers. The “Facings” (collar and cuffs) are white again, also typical of the 17th Lancers. Looped around his left shoulder and chest is an Aiguillette, which resembles those worn by that regiment. The badge appears to be a white star which, worn on the left sleeve, is for judging distance in rifle firing. Presumably he has marksmanship badges unseen on his left arm. The white star was first recognised in Regulations after the Boer War (1900-1902) but may have been worn before. If he’s a corporal in 17th Lancers he should have the “Death’s Head” badge above his chevrons if it’s post-1898, when the badge was introduced but, as noted, these things sometimes took time to be introduced in practice.
It isn’t possible to identify the man himself, it is however possible to download, for free, the complete Queens South Africa and Kings South Africa Medal Rolls (for the Boer War) for the 17th Lancers from the Digital Microfilm section of The National Archives (TNA) website ( nationalarchives.gov.uk/ records/digital-microfilm.htm). You may find a family member there that you weren’t aware of.
Sue Young’s hand- coloured photo of a soldier in the 17th Lancers