Duke of Wellington’s Regiment White Tropical Tunic

Alongside the khaki drill uniforms worn in tropical climates, regiments also had a purely white order of dress for parade use. These uniforms were obviously too conspicuous for use on campaign and required too much laundering for dirty duties, but did offer a spectacle on the parade ground with gleaming white tunics, sparkling brass buttons and highly polished boots. We have looked at a post war example as used by the Ghurkhas here, tonight however we are looking at a tunic from the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment that, although undated, was probably manufactured between the two wars:

The tunic is made of white cotton drill and has a standing collar, secured with a pair of metal hooks and eyes and a small tab behind:

The breast pockets are pleated patch pockets, each secured with a brass regimental button:

The buttons all have the elephant design of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment:

The skirt pockets are not secured with buttons, but have a distinctive scalloped design to the pocket flaps:

The cuffs are pointed and each have two more small regimental buttons:

Since taking these photographs I have managed to pick up another three of these small buttons in the correct pattern to finish off the cuffs. The tunic would originally have had shoulder boards, however these are missing on this example so we just have a pair of loops and the button hole:

I am not sure if this tunic was for an officer or an enlisted man, however looking at War office clothing regulations of the period, white uniforms were not listed as standard clothing for men going to tropical climates, khaki drill being the prescribed uniform. White uniforms are seen in period photographs, often with units such as regimental bands. I suspect therefore that at this period they were items purchased out of regimental funds rather than being issued by the War Department. This would also explain why there are no labels or WD stamps anywhere on the tunic. This extract from the postcard of troops disembarking from a transport that we looked at a few weeks back shows men wearing the white tunic in tropical conditions, in clear contrast the KD worn by the rest of the men:

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