29th Bombay Native Infantry Lieutenants Tunic

Published: 26 May 2023

[bold] Objects:[/bold][breakrow][breakrow] This tunic dates between 1856-1860 as worn by a Lieutenant [Cuff lace and crown on collar] [Not Ensign or Sub Lieutenant] of the 29th Bombay Native Infantry. Army Lists state that the 1856 pattern tunic was authorized for use by Indian army officers between January 1856 to 1867 for those ‘who are at the present without dress coatee’.[ Indian Army Uniforms, Infantry, W.Y Carman. P.184.] By popular opinion this item of dress was believed to be a 29th Bengal or 29th Madras Native Infantry officers tunic. However, this belief can be dispelled due to the numbered reasons below:[breakrow][breakrow] 1.The Bengal Native infantry who mutinied at Moradabad wore green facings [and later light blue after 1861] according to pictorial evidence and 1861 Bengal Army Lists.[ https://www.batesandhindmarch.com [A painting of George William, 29th Bengal Native Infantry]][breakrow][breakrow] 2. W.Y Carman asserts that the 29th Madras wore white facings on their dress tunics.[ Indian Army Uniforms, Infantry, W.Y Carman. P.184.] 1861 Bombay Quarterly Army Lists assert that the 29th Bombay Native Infantry wore pale yellow facings on their dress tunics. [ The Quarterly Army List of Her Majesty's British and Indian Forces on the Bombay Establishment. 1861.][breakrow][breakrow] 3. After 1861, the 2nd Belooch battalion [29th Bombay Native Infantry] wore rifle green cloth with red facings.[ Indian Army uniforms, W.Y Carman. P.182.][breakrow][breakrow]The buttons bear the numeral '29' and are without battle honours, conforming with period documentation. On the back of the buttons, the manufacturer's name 'Jennens [amp] Co' can be seen without the Prince of Wales's Plume. This is significant as the Prince of Wales's Plume was stamped on Jennens [amp] Co buttons after 1860. Initially, the tunic's lace was believed to be silver; however, upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the silver lace was originally gilt in color. [Bombay Artillery, Engineers, and Infantry Officers wore gold lace after 1832, except for the 4th Rifles. The Quarterly Army List of Her Majesty's British and Indian Forces on the Bombay Establishment, p.2.] Although there is a possibility that the tunic could have been made after 1860 and the buttons before, this paper suggests that the tunic predates 1860 as the 29th Bombay Native Infantry underwent reformation with different facings and uniforms during the reorganization of 1861. [Although period Army Lists suggest that the 29th Bombay wore scarlet with light yellow facings in 1861, the Army Lists were typically 1/2 years out of date and better reflect the situation in 1859/60.] On the other hand, 1870 Army Lists [No digitized Bombay Army Lists exist between 1862-1869] argue that the 29th Bombay Native Infantry wore red facings, suggesting that officers lost their scarlets in favor of greens.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Regiment:[breakrow][/bold][breakrow]The 29th Bombay Native Infantry was raised in January 1846 and disbanded in 1861. As a ‘light infantry' force, Bombay regiments typically consisted of only a handful of officers at any given time. I.e, one lieutenant colonel, one major, four captains commanding divisions, one lieutenant [adjutant] and one lieutenant [quartermaster] and a few sub-lieutenants/ensigns.[ The native army in India. A paper to be read before the East India Association [1879] P.18.] Although the regiment did not see significant service against the Bengals during the mutiny, it was active in Belgaum from the 27th of March 1854 until its redeployment to Dharwar on the 17th of January 1856.[ The Bombay Almanack and Book of Direction [1858] P. 490.] On the 9th of December 1857, the 29th was redeployed to Aden for a considerable period as to participate in the Anglo Persian War of 1857. Records are unclear but the 1860 Bombay Almanack suggests that the regiment earned the battle honour “PERSIA” for its participation in the campaign. [ The Bombay almanack and book of direction for 1860, being bissextile or leap-year. P. 468.] In 1861 as part of the reorganisation of the Indian army, the 2nd Belooch Battalion became the reformed 29th Bombay Native Infantry regiment.[ Indian Army Uniforms W.Y Carman. P.183.] The new 29th Bombay N.I uniform saw significant service suppressing the Taiping Rebellion [1861], Yokohoma [Japan, 1863] and the guarding of a British legation, Abyssinia [1868], Second Afghan War and others.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Analysis:[/bold][breakrow][bold][breakrow][/bold]As this uniform was worn from 1856 up to 1861, we can quite accurately narrow down the original recipient with the help of 1861 Bombay Army Lists. In addition, no medal loops are visible on the tunic allowing us to eliminate all the Lieutenants who had served on campaign prior to 1861 and been eligible for a medal.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Stage 1:[/bold][breakrow][bold][breakrow][/bold]It is pertinent to note that Bombay Army Lists not only mention serving officers within the regiment but also previously serving officers who had since moved onto other duties/regiments. Stage 1 of the elimination process includes the removal of officers who were no longer Lieutenants in the Bombay Native Infantry between January 1856 – 1861.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Stage 2: [breakrow][/bold][breakrow]Given that this uniform had been worn medalless between January 1856 and 1861, stage 2 attempts to narrow down any officers who were eligible for a medal through the help of Bombay Army Lists.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Stage 3: [breakrow][/bold][breakrow]As this uniform pre-dates 1861, the authors thoughts are as follows:[breakrow][breakrow][bold]William Thomas H Eden [Most Likely][/bold][breakrow][breakrow]William Thomas H Eden first commissioned as Ensign in the 29th N.I in 1855. On the 26th of May 1859, Eden was promoted to full lieutenant before taking a “leave of absence” in 1860 as he was deployed on attachment to the 25th Bombay Native infantry.[ Bombay - General Orders, 1860-65.] By 1872, Eden was a Wing Subaltern in the 18th Bombay Native Infantry after having been promoted to Captain on the 20th of December 1867. Throughout the 1860’s and 70’s Eden served in various capacity between differing regiments and enjoyed promotion to Brevet Major in 1868, Major in 1875, Brevet Lt Colonel in 1877 and finally Lt Colonel on the 20th of December 1881 with the appointment of officiating 2nd in Command of the 21st Bombay Native Infantry, his last appointment before retiring on a full colonel’s pension in March 1882.[ 1882 Harts Army List. P.515.] [A more detailed account of Eden’s career can be seen in the India Office Pension Registers.] The biographical information above corresponds with the idea that the tunic could have belonged to William Thomas Eden. Given the tunics excellent condition, lack of use and Eden’s short tenure as Lt in the 29th N.I, this tunic could have been worn by Eden between the years of 1859-1860.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Stephen John Whitehill [Second Most Likely][/bold][breakrow][breakrow]Stephen John Whitehill first commissioned as ensign in June 1852. [This information is disputed by the Bombay Almanack which suggests he was made Lieutenant in 1852.[ This article takes the view that Bombay Army Lists are a more reliable source over the Bombay Almanack.]] A young officer, little is known about his career with the exception that Whitehill was promoted to full Lieutenant on the 2nd of June 1856, only a few months prior to being granted “Sea Coast” to Europe for three months. [Sea coast being a euphemism for sick leave.] [ 1861 Bombay Army Lists. P.59.] Due to poor health Whitehill remained in Europe until 1859 where he returned to service with the permission of Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for India in Council “without prejudice to rank.”[ Information regarding the Major E.P. Lynch and Lieutenant S.J. Whitehill of the 29th Regiment Native Infantry returned to duty without prejudice to rank by permission of Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for India in Council, on 4th December 1859. Bombay General Orders 1859.] In 1862, Stephen John Whitehill transitioned to the 27th Bombay Native Infantry in the capacity of a company commander and in March that year resigned from the Army [probably due to ill health].[Allen’s Indian Mail. [July 23rd 1864]. P.567][ British India Office Army [amp] Navy Pensions, date unknown.] The biographical information above again corresponds with the tunics date. Given Whitehill’s promotion to Lieutenant in 1856 and the necessity of having to buy another uniform, this tunic could have been worn by Whitehill between 1856 and 1860.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]John Hibbert [Unlikely][/bold][breakrow][breakrow] A biography has not been written on John Hibbert as this article believes that the tunic could not have been owned by him given the timeframe. As Hibbert transferred to the 29th Bombay Native Infantry during the re-organisation, Hibbert would have worn a rifle green dress tunic in contrast to scarlet which was worn in 1860 and before. [breakrow][breakrow][bold]Bibliography:[/bold][breakrow][breakrow]Books: Indian Army Uniforms: Infantry: W.Y Carman.[breakrow][breakrow]The Indian Army: Boris Mollo.[breakrow][breakrow]The native army in India. A paper to be read before the East India Association. Cavenagh, Orfeur [Accessed via Hathi trust] Primary Sources: Bombay - General Orders, 1859-65.[breakrow][breakrow]British India Office Army [amp] Navy Pensions [1864-1884][breakrow][breakrow]Allen's Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign India [July 1st, 1864][breakrow][breakrow]The Quarterly Army List of Her Majesty's British and Indian Forces on the Bombay Establishment [1861][breakrow][breakrow]The Bombay Almanack and Book of Direction [1854-1860][breakrow][breakrow]The Quarterly Army List of Her Majesty's British and Indian Forces on the Bengal Establishment [1861][breakrow][breakrow]New annual army list, militia list, yeomanry cavalry list, and Indian civil service list [1870-1883][breakrow][breakrow][bold]Online:[/bold][breakrow][breakrow]A painting of Captain George Williams 29th Bengal Native Infantry: https://www.batesandhindmarch.com/product/captain-george-williams-29th-bengal-native-infantry/?fbclid=IwAR1p8EMZXj71hxYGHexVlu3TevfUEt4I4KAj2BgaZNvwf_cC2nDWVrND-ho[breakrow][breakrow][breakrow] [breakrow]