Dressing the Kiddies
Toy Soldier Collector International|February - March 2021
Keith Nairn-Munro presents the second part of his study of the uniforms and history of the Scots Guards up to the Great War.
Keith Nairn-Munro

After the battle of Waterloo, the Scots Guards were to enter a military hiatus, not being awoken from their martial slumbers until the Crimean War. During this period of peacetime soldiering, in step with many other regiments, the attire of the guards evolved into an ever more dandified style, forgoing the practicalities needed for real soldiering. The uniforms became richly adorned with lace and brocade, mirroring the fussy nature of the continental armies. When George IV ascended to the throne in 1820 the Guards adopted the French style bell-shaped shakos and blue full dress trousers. His was to be a short reign and in 1831 his successor William IV renamed the regiment, to reflect their Celtic legacy, the Scots Fusilier Guards. During this period the regiment, having divested themselves of their role as maintainers of the law to the new police force, found they were reassigned to the post of the capital’s firemen. As a result of their efforts, both the Palace of Westminster and the Foreign Office were saved from burning down.

In 1854 the Guards were at last called upon to exhibit their soldiering prowess. Ill-prepared in both logistics and leadership, the Guards, with other regiments, would suffer terribly during the militaristic farce of the Crimea War. The regiment’s first action was at the River Alma on 20 September where they would win four VCs. As the allies approached the Alma they realized the Russians were entrenched in heavily defended redoubts. These were situated at the crest of the opposite riverbank which rose steeply from the watercourse. The order was given to attack and, with the Scots Fusilier Guards in the centre of the Brigade of Guards formation, they advanced.

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