There are many distinctive items of uniform in the British Army, with regiments jealously guarding their historic symbols as a sign of their identity and comradeship. One of the most distinctive of these is the white and red hackle of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers:The hackle is a plume of clipped feathers in a distinctive colour, worn on the headdress of particular regiments and most have a long history and commemorate a battle or campaign from the past. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers inherited its distinctive hackle form one of its antecedents, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. In 1778 the 5th Fusiliers had successfully thwarted a French attempt on St Lucia and took the white plumes form the enemy and wore them in their caps as a special distinction for the next 51 years. Then, with white plumes long having been authorised for grenadier companies, they were given permission to wear a white plume tipped in red to perpetuate their hard won privilege.
The plume is bound at the bottom and has a wire loop:This allows it to be secured to the rear of the cap badge:The plume then sticks up from behind the badge above the beret:This hackle is worn on all possible occasions and was commonly seen during tours of Northern Ireland being worn by members of the regiment:In this reconstruction a fusilier from the regiment can be seen on patrol in Ulster in the 1970s, he wears the distinctive hackle above the staybrite cap badge of his regiment. He wears a 1968 pattern smock and wears a protective vest with rubber shoulder pads to help him aim his weapon securely; a sterling submachine gun. In line with the guidelines at the time for patrols in built up areas he does not wear any webbing equipment and is forced to carry the ammunition for his weapon in the pockets of his uniform: