worn by the 14th Hussars

This brass badge has the battle honour PENINSULA at the base so must date after 6 April 1815 when the honour was given to the 14th Light Dragoons. A badge similar to this without the battle honour was worn by other ranks on the right side of the Tarleton helment. But by 1815 the shako had replaced the helmet and it is thought this badge was worn on the front. The regiment was titled Duchess of York’s Own in 1798 and the badge of the eagle, or hawk, was used between that date and 1830 when they became the King’s Light Dragoons.
The colours of the 1829 metal badge can be seen in this photo taken at the regimental museum in Preston. The black ‘Hawk’ with gilt embellishments on a silver circle in the middle of the gilt cross that has silver hobnails in each arm of the cross. The badge is linked to the gilt boss at the top of the shako by a silver chain loop.
For most of the 1820s the 14th Light Dragoons had an embroidered shako badge but in 1829 there were changes to the uniform and that included a metal badge, introducing the shape of the Maltese cross which has remained the symbol of Light Dragoons to this day. The Prussian Eagle was the centre piece of the design but replaced 2 years later by the Royal Crest when the regiment was titled the King’s Light Dragoons. The battle honours for the Peninsula War were mostly granted in February 1820 but DOURO came later on 22 July 1837.
Radical changes to the uniform of the light dragoons took place in 1830 when King William IV came to the throne. He wanted his soldiers dressed in red so the blue-coated light dragoons duly changed from blue and silver to scarlet and gold. The lace around the top of this shako is now gold. The badge for the 14th LD had to change too, as the title of the regiment was now the King’s Light Dragoons. The Prussian Eagle was replaced by the Royal Crest, the name given to the badge of the lion standing on the crown. The strap around the crest has the regimental title and the six battle honours for the Peninsula War placed on the arms of the cross. The Hanoverian crown was part of the badge, placed on the top arm.
After the change of title in 1830 the 14th lost the Prussian Eagle, or Hawk, from their cap badges. The sergeant painted by Dubois Drahonet in 1832 shows a very early example of NCO’s arm badge. It is an embroidered black eagle on a gilt oval. Unfortunately the artist chose to paint the badge at an awkward angle and we cannot see it properly. There is an embroidered crown over the badge. The sergeant’s cap badge is indistinct in this enlarged scan of a reproduction but the crowned Maltese cross is clear.
This badge is attached to a 14th Light Dragoon shako and there is little doubt that it is genuine. But it does not conform to the generally accepted pattern of badge. The other ranks’ badge had a rim wide enough to contain the battle honours but this has only a thin rim and no battle honours. Other examples of officers’ badges follow the pattern of the other ranks.
The badge worn by the rank and file of the 14th Light Dragoons was of the pattern followed by other Light Dragoon Regiments, being in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Sergeants and warrant officers had better quality badges than the lower ranks. This one is brass or gilt according to the rank of the wearer. The usual battle honours for the Peninsular War and the second Sikh War are around the rim but there is an addition that does not appear on many of the other known examples. The battle honour PERSIA is just above the central garter strap. This was granted to the regiment in 1858.
The embroidered devices on the front and rear of the officers’ shabraques had these ornate designs. The Victorian cypher dates them firmly after 1837 but the lower three battle honours for PUNJAUB, CHILLIANWALLAH and GOOJERAT establish the date as 1853 to 1856. These honours were granted on 14 December 1852. However, the uniform changes of 1856 made them obsolete.
NCO Arm Badge 1860

This photo (above) was taken from ‘Cavalry WO and NCO Arm Badges’ by Linaker and Dine. They credit the collector Hugh King, the owner of the badge, and suggest that the sergeants of the 14th Light Dragoons wore an embroidered arm badge from 1831 to 1861 (see Sergeant’s Arm Badge 1832). The regiment converted to hussars in 1861 and discontinued the embroidered eagle badge. However, they adopted a white metal arm badge of this pattern in 1867. (ARM BADGES)

We know that the crown over the badge was still worn in 1858 as the sergeants were ordered to remove it by the newly formed Clothing Department; no authority for it was held at the Horse Guards. This order must have been ignored because another order to remove the crown followed in Feb 1860. The eagle part of the badge was sealed in Nov 1860 although it had been worn unofficially for nearly 30 years. It was stated that all NCOs were to wear it, not just sergeants.

The badge here is gold with a black eagle holding gold sceptre and orb, with gold crown and trefoils on the wings in place of the usual crosses. It is 44mm high by 36 mm wide.

Victorian 14th Light Dragoons Cross Belt Brass Metal
14thHussars Capbadge
Cap Badge of the 14th Hussars

The regimental badge (above) was changed during World War One because of the association of the Prussian Eagle of Princess Frederike with the German nation. The King’s Dragoon Guards faced the same problem with their badge, the double-headed eagle of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor. So in 1915 the ‘Hawk’ was replaced with the Royal Crest (below) which in fact was the principal badge of the 14th Hussars. The regiment had been reluctant to have this as their badge because two other regular British cavalry regiments already used it as their cap badge: the Royal Dragoons and the 15th (the King’s) Hussars.

Crests were derived from the ornament or device worn on the helmet by medieval knights. These subsequently formed the top of the coats of arms of the aristocracy, and the royal coat of arms has a helmet facing forwards with the crowned lion standing on the current monarch’s crown. In heraldic terms: ‘Upon the royal helm, the crown proper, theron a lion statant guardant or, crowned proper.’ Statant means that the lion is standing with all four paws on the ground, and guardant means facing us.

This badge was worn on caps and collars up until the amalgamation with the 20th Hussars in 1922. Some squadrons may have continued wearing it until 1926 when the Prussian eagle was unofficially restored.

14thHussars Cap badge
Cap Badge of the 14th Hussars during the Great War 1914 – 1918
14thHussars Collar Dogs
Collar badges of the 14th Hussars
Drum Horse of the 14th (King’s) Hussars

Image sources: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/ – with thanks