Wednesday 16 November 2011

Crimean Clothes

As a little follow up to Monday's post on The Charge of the Light Brigade, it's quite astonishing how many clothes are associated with that single military encounter. The basic shape of the disastrous charge was this: Lord Raglan sent an order to Lord Cardigan who got the order rather muddled and set off on the most famous and most foolish charge of the Battle of Balaclava.

Now, Lord Raglan had lost an arm in the Battle of Waterloo and therefore had his coats specially tailored so that the sleeve was sewn on in a line from armpit to neck, rather than out to the corner of the shoulder. This style is known to this day as the Raglan Sleeve.

Lord Cardigan liked wearing button-up jumpers. These are known to this day as cardigans.

Balaclava is a cold sort of place in winter (the charge took place at the end of October) and so the British soldiers kept warm with knitted woollen coverings for their whole heads, which became known as Balaclava caps and then just as balaclavas: a style now favoured by skiers and terrorists.

Incidentally, Lord Raglan lost his arm at Waterloo where he was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington, after whom the boots.

The rider is Cardigan, the horse is a jumper.


  1. I've always known balaclavas as 'helmets'. The origin of that word is obviously why terrorists took up the use of the balaclava; from 'helm' which, in its original indo-euro root, meant to hide or cover. Unfortunately the Light Cavalry weren't wearing them during the charge, hence their discovery.

  2. A little known factoid is that the last 'British' survivor of the Crimean War passed on in only...........2004! - No, not an old veteran with the genes of Methuselah but a Tortoise named Timothy, it was the captured masot of HMS Queen which took part in the bombardment of Sevastopol. Attempts to mate him in 1926 proved unsuccessfull as Tim turned out to be a female! I wonder if she was the proud owner of the Worlds' smallest Balaklava?

    R.I.P. 'Timmy' Ca1839-2004

  3. Don't forget the first recorded use of shoe laces, named after General Sir Robert Shoe-lace of the Surrey Shoe-laces. Little known fact is that he was also Surrey and England conker champion at the time and had he survived the il-fated charge, would have gone on to represent his country at that sport.

  4. I think you'll find that the Surrey Conker Team was not officially formed until April 31st 1867. Shoelace would have been the 'Stout Chieftan' of the Leatherhead Conkerers, which later combined with the Ashtead Corinthians to form the county team.