Can you iden­tify the sol­dier in this hand-coloured pho­to­graph? Did he serve in the 17th Lancers reg­i­ment?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q&A - Phil To­maselli

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 ( na­tion­ 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

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