25th Royal Fusiliers: Shoulder Titles

The Old and the Bold

The Old and the Bold

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Shoulder Titles

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It is apparent from a number of photographs that the uniform of the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen) bore shoulder titles of some description, certainly before they proceeded overseas if not in theatre but, unlike some battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, the 25th Battalion appears not to have had a specific shoulder title of its own and instead used the more general Royal Fusiliers shoulder titles.  These themselves took a number of different forms and not all appear to have been worn by the battalion but photographic evidence shows at least two styles being worn.


The first of these two styles for which photographic evidence exists is the single piece R/GRENADE/F style title which is clearly visible being worn by members of the battalion before it proceeded overseas in April 1915.

There is a possibility that a third style of shoulder title may have been worn by the battalion but, at the moment, no photographic evidence exists to confirm one way or the other.  When giving a brief description of the battalion’s insignia a former soldier recounted in his recollections that “the letters on the shoulder straps were R. F. L. F with the Fusilier grenade”.  It is apparent that the pre-war Legion of Frontiersmen wore the letters L. F. as part of their uniform “The letters “L. F.” will be worn in bronze metal by all ranks at the lower extremities of the shoulder straps” and, as previously stated, the Royal Fusiliers wore a shoulder title with the letters R. F. below a separate grenade.  It is open to debate as to whether or not these two items were ever amalgamated into a single entity or was it simply a matter of the ex-soldier’s memory mixing up the two unit’s uniform insignia after many years?  At this moment in time I tend to lean towards the latter option.

Image Author’s Collection

Image Courtesy of Chris Balm

The second style of shoulder title being worn by a member of the battalion is the plain Royal Fusiliers Grenade.  This Grenade was often worn above a separate RF title but I haven’t as yet found an image of this style being worn by the 25th Battalion, only of the grenade on its own.

Image Author’s Collection

Image Origin Unknown

There is one final suggestion to be considered and that is that the battalion wore a specific “Frontiersmen” shoulder title.  In Peter Abbott’s book “Armies in East Africa 1914-1918” (Osprey’s Men-at-Arms series) there is an illustration of a soldier of the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers shown wearing, what appears to be, a curved Frontiersmen shoulder title like the one above.  Any suggestion that these curved Frontiersmen titles were worn by the battalion is, I believe, erroneous and they were in fact shoulder titles issued and worn in the post-war period by the Legion of Frontiersmen.

Image Origin Unknown

Bibliography:

Westlake, R., Collecting Metal Shoulder Titles (Leo Cooper, 1996)

Abbott, P., Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 (Osprey, 2002)


Sources:

Article in “The Frontiersman” February 1948

Legion of Frontiersmen Rules, Regulations & Instructions 1909


Acknowledgements:

Chris Balm

Jeff Henley

Geoffrey Pocock