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Malta military badges, treasures of Malta

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  • 1. 70 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 Helmetplates,badgesandbuttonsatthe ArmedForcesofMaltaOfficersMess DenisA.Darmanin AframeinthecollectionattheOfficersMessoftheArmed ForcesofMaltacontainsafineselectionofshakoandhelmet plates,badgesandotheruniformdistinctionswornbytheRoyal MaltaFencibleRegiment,theRoyalMaltaFencibleArtilleryand theRoyalMaltaArtillery.Theseinsignia,allbeautifulexamples ofmilitarycraftsmanshipwhichhavelongsincedisappeared, eithertotimeorintocollections,portraytheheraldiclineageof thesefamousregimentsandatributetothemenwhoworethem. SincethearrivalofBritishtroopsinMaltain1798,Maltese menwereenlistedinwhatweretermedastheMalteseCorpsof theBritishArmy.1 Theforerunnersofallregimentsandcorps weretheMalteseLightInfantryortheCacciatoriMaltesi(1800- 02),followedbytheMalteseProvincialBattalions,theMaltese CoastArtilleryandtheMalteseVeterans(1802-15),theRoyal RegimentofMalta(1805-11),andtheMaltesePioneers-Maltese MilitaryArtificers,SappersandMiners(1806-17). Fig.1 The framed collection, Armed Forces of Malta Officers Mess Holdings (Photo: Justin Gatt, AFM Press Office)

2. 71 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 ProbablythenextMalteseregimenttoberaisedto functionentirelyasaRegimentoftheLineaftertheRoyal RegimentofMaltawastheRoyalMaltaFencibleRegiment (RMFR).ThisRegimentwasraisedin1815underthe commandofLtColCountFrancisRivarola.Duringits reasonablylonglife,theRegimentwasmainlyemployedinthe defenceofthehomeland,hencethewordFencible.During theabsenceofcertainBritishunitsfromtheisland,especially duringtheCrimeanWar,theRMFRperformedgarrisonduties andmannedthegunsonMaltasfortificationsandcoastal defences,inwhichitexcelled. Fig. 2 Albert Shako, Grenadier Company (Photo: The Military Gentleman) Fig.3 Legend to the framed collection 3. 72 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 TheRMFRworethecrimsonuniform,orredcoat,ofthe BritishinfantryandwashonouredwithbluefacingsasaRoyal Regiment.Throughoutitslife,theRMFRworetheprogressive uniformstylesandcutsaswornbymostotherBritishand Colonialinfantryregiments,untiltheintroductionofthetunic in1855,whenalluniformsbecamestandardized.Manyofthese uniformswereillustratedbyEdwardCaruanaDingli2 from originalmaterialinthepersonalcollectionofColonelFrederick GattCMG.Theuniformsoftheearlierunitswerebasedonthe drawingsexecutedbyMajorJamesWier,RoyalMarines,whoasa CaptaincommandedtheMalteseLightInfantry. Headdressalsovariedaccordingtothetimeframeofthe uniform.3 FirstwornbytheRMFRwasprobablytheRegency Shako(1816-1829),followedbytheBell-toppedShako(1829- 1844),thenbywhatwasnotsoaffectionatelyknownasthe AlbertShako(1844-1855),saidtohavebeendesignedinpartby thePrinceConsort,andendingtheirservicewearingthe1855 PatternorFrenchPatternShako(1855-1861).4 Theframedcollection Anengravedsilverplateatthetopoftheframe(No.1)records thatthecollectionwaspresentedtotheMessbyColonelGeorge VictorMicallefOBE,5 laterBrigadier,whocommandedthe RoyalMaltaArtilleryfrom1966to1969.No.2isaveryrare exampleofashakoplateaswornbyOfficersontheirbell-topped shakofrom1829to1844.Itconsistsofagildedeight-pointed starwithitstoppointbeingreplacedbyacrown.Atcentrearea mountedovalstraporbeltwithfiligreetype,voidedRegimental titleROYALMALTAFENCIBLEREGT. andanenamel shieldwiththereversedcoloursoftheMalteseflag.Adrawing inthePatternBookof1820-1840ofthefamousbadgeand accoutrementmanufacturersJennens&Co.ofOxfordStreet, London,sinceinaprivatecollection,showsasimilarshakoplate forOtherRanksstruckentirelyinbrass.Ofaslightlylaterperiod andofanidenticalpattern,No.3istheUniversalPatternshako plateaswornontheAlbertShakobymostBritishregiments.6 Itisthesamepatterngildedstarandcrownwithamounted designatcentreconsistingofanovalbeltwithROYALMALTA Fig.4 Foreign Service helmet (Authors collection) Fig.5 1855 Pattern Shako, Line Company (Photo: Michael Murrie-Jones) Fig.6 Royal Malta Fencible Regiment, Officer Light Infantry Company c. 1830, by R.J. Marrion (Authors collection) 4. 73 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 FENCIBLESandavoidedMaltesecross,allsetinthickhalf laurelandhalfpalmwreath. Thenextshakoplate,No.4,consistsofaboundcircular wreathofhalfoakandhalflaureltoppedbyacrown.7 Within thewreathisabeltwiththeRegimentsname,ROYAL MALTAFENCIBLES,andastringedbugleorhuntinghorn atcentre.ThisplateissynonymouswiththeLight(Infantry) Company.Itisinterestingtonotethatinasetofpencil rubbingsofdiesheldinthearchivesoftheNationalArmy MuseuminLondon,oneshowstheOfficersshakoplateofa similarpatternasNo.3,butwithabugleorhuntinghorn. Althoughnotknowingoftheexistenceofsuchaplateinany collection,andsinceNo.4istheplateaswornbyasoldierof theLightInfantryCompanyoftheRMFR,itistherefore likelythattheCompanysOfficersworeashakoplatewith LightInfantrydistinctions.Anotheroftheserubbingsisof anOfficersshakoplateoftheGrenadierCompany,againof whichnoactualplatehasbeenencounteredbytheauthor. Anothershakoplate,No.5,wasdepictedbyEdward CaruanaDingliinhisillustrationofPrivate(LightCompany) RoyalMaltaFencibleRegiment1844-55,8 whoiswearing theAlbertshako.However,thispatternplatehadbeen Fig.7 AuthorsimpressionsoftwoofthedierubbingsoftheRMFRshakoplates;leftOfficerGrenadierCompany,andright OfficerLightInfantryCompany Fig.8 Artillery Officers shoulder belt and fittings introducedmuchearlierandwaswornbyBritishinfantry regimentsontheirBell-toppedshako. Asecondplate(No.5)isidenticalexceptthatatcentreis theshieldwiththeMaltesecolours;itislikelythatthiswasworn bymostsoldiersoftheLineCompanies. InterestingtonoteisthatthetitleoftheRegimentappears oncertainappointmentsasROYALMALTAFENCIBLES whileonothersasROYALMALTAFENCIBLE REGIMENT.Althoughtodatenoofficialrecordsgivinga validreasonhavebeenidentified,itcouldbethatRegiment wasdroppedfromthetitleduringthetransitionperiodofwhen itwasconvertedintoanartillerycorps. Asitwasveryactiveingarrisonandcoastalgunnery duties,theRoyalMaltaFencibleRegimentwasconvertedinto theRoyalMaltaFencibleArtilleryonthe25th January1851; itcomprised of headquarters and six batteries. On the 28th July of that year, a blue artillery uniform with scarlet facings similar to that worn by the Royal Regiment of Artillery was worn by all ranks for the first time.9 The busby was worn with the full dress, with Officers having a gilt grenade plume-holder with a gilt belt inscribed ROYAL MALTA FENCIBLE ARTILLERY and a Maltese Cross in silver at centre (No. 6). It is believed that for the first six years the RMFA had retained most of the uniform as worn by the Royal Artillery, possibly including insignia, but thus far no official confirmation of this fact has been established. AnotheritempertainingtotheRMFRisawaistbeltclasp, No.8,whichbearstheRegimentstitleonthefemalepart,and adevicewiththeMalteseCrosssetwithinalaurelwreathand toppedbyaQueenVictoriaCrown(QVC)onthemale.This patternclaspwasforthewhitebuffbeltwornonthetunic introducedin1855. InMay1878,theregulationHomePatternHelmetor HomeServiceHelmet,madeofcorkcoveredinblueclothwas introducedfortheBritishArmy.AForeignServiceorwhite 5. 74 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 corkhelmetwasintroducedforhotclimatestations,for whichtheRMFAworeaRegimentalpatternhelmetplatefor thefirsttime.Thenewhelmetplateconsistedofabeltwith ROYALMALTAFENCIBLEARTILLERYandaMaltese Crossinwhitemetalsetwithinawreathoflaurelandpalmat centre,withafieldgunattheirbase,andthewholetoppedby aQVC(No.7).Officersworetheirsingiltandsilver,while thoseoftheOtherRankswereofbrassandwhitemetal. TheballfinialandfittingswereintroducedforArtillery RegimentsandselectiveCorpsbyGeneralOrder90of1881. Nos.9and10aretwopatternsofwaistbeltplateswornby theRMFR.Thefirst,No.9,isasmoothrectangularburnished brassplatehavingamountedbeltandsilvercrossdeviceason thebadges,andwaspossiblyanearlypatternwornbyOfficers orSeniorNon-CommissionedOfficers.Thesecondpatternfor Officers,No.10,isgilded,rimmedandhasafinelybeadedfield, whilethebeltisgildedandtheCrossismadeofsilver. Alternatively,wheninfulldress,Officersworeasword beltoffiregiltartillerylaceofRegimentalpatternknown aswavesandscallopedgedonredMoroccoleatheraround thewaistwithasnakeclaspfastener(No.34).Sincethe Regimentwasgranteditsownappointments,theclaspworn bytheRMFAandsuccessivelybytheRoyalMaltaArtillery (renamedonthe23rd March1889),hadtheMalteseCrosson theovalbucklesandMALTAonthesnake.Whenattending statefunctions,StaffOfficersswitchedtotheOfficersgeneral patterngildedwaistbeltclaspwiththelionandcrown mountedinsilver(No.30).Onmostuniforms,OtherRanks woreaplainsnakeclaspwhichwasfastenedtoametalloopat eachendofthebelt(notshown). WeatherOfficersworethefulldressgoldlaceorthe whitebuffpouchbelt,theendfastenersconsistingofagilt, floriatedbucklewithamatchingsliderandaflaminggrenade endornament(Nos.31,32and33).WhenOfficersworelesser formsofdress,thepouchontheirbackswasdecoratedwitha large,gildedfield-gundeviceontheflap(No.19).Asimilargun, die-struckinbrasswaswornbyOtherRanks. Brassseven-flamedgrenadesNos.22and27wereworn byOtherRanksonthecollarsofbothfrockandtunic,andbrass MalteseCrossesontheirshoulderstraps(No.20),alsowornby Sergeantsontheirshoulderstraps,bywheninundress.From 1874,Officersdisplayedtheirrankdistinctionsbythedifferent patternsofgoldbullionknotsontheircuffs.Theuseofthe MalteseCross,No.21,isuncertain,butcouldhavebeenan unofficialornamentwornontheOfficersMessDresslapels. ThebuttonwornbytheRMFAwasthestandardRoyal ArtillerybuttondepictingthreefieldgunstoppedbyaQVC introducedin1855(No.23),whichin1873wasreplacedbya buttonbearingthesingleguntoppedbyaQVC.10 OtherRanks Fig.9 RoyalMaltaFencibleArtillery,OfficerGroup,c.1880s (PhotocourtesyofthelateBrigadierA.Samut-Tagliaferro) Fig.10 ArtilleryOfficersleatherpouch 6. 75 TreasuresofMalta 55,Christmas2012 buttonswereofbrass,whileOfficersbuttonsweregilded(No. 28)andmountedforMessDress(No.23).11 WhentheRoyalMaltaFencibleArtillerybecame theRoyalMaltaArtillery,anewbrassandwhitemetal helmetplateforwearingontheForeignServiceHelmetwas introduced(No.11).ItwasidenticaltothatwornbytheRoyal MaltaFencibleArtillery,butwithoutthewordFenciblein thetitle.TheOfficersplatewasgilded,and