I thought I would show my latest find, and new project. I got this on eBay UK, reasonably cheaply, which does show that interesting items do turn up there, if you know what you are looking for.
Itís a British officerís Service Dress Jacket, dated 1915, with Royal Artillery buttons and general officerís collar tabs. This has turned out to have belonged to Brigadier-General Charles George St Maur Ingham CMG DSO, a long-serving and distinguished gunner, Old Etonian and Old Contemptible.
Physically, it is a fairly typical WWI jacket, in a heavy ribbed wool fabric with brown lining, long skirts and big lower pockets. Jackets of finer fabric and lighter weight jackets were certainly made, but this is a nice example of the hard-wearing type commonly worn in the field. It doesnít feature the external waistband often seen on jackets of the period.
The label inside the pocket gives the original owner as Major C St Maur Ingham and a date of 14th October 1915. It was made by a very well known and reputable tailor, H Huntsman & Sons (now on Savile Row), who were recently featured in Lez's thread about a senior ATS officer: The Jewel in the Crown
The cuffs are plain, lacking the pointed decoration normally associated with SD jackets. Whether or not this was originally a cuff-rank style jacket, modified to shoulder rank, is hard to tell, particularly as he was only a Major for a very short time after the jacket was made. I suspect it probably was.
I have done some basic research on General Ingham, using Ancestry, the London Gazette online, the Army List and the internet in general. So far I have discovered that he was born in London in 1873, attended Eton College (where he was a noted football goalkeeper), went on to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1895. He served in the Second Boer War, initially with T Bty, Royal Horse Artillery, seeing action at Kimberley, Paardeberg, Dreifontein, Johannesburg, the battle of Diamond Hill and the Battle of Bergendal. He later transferred to a new 1-Pdr Maxim ĎPom-Pomí Gun unit of the Royal Field Artillery. He served throughout the war until its conclusion in 1902.
He also served throughout the Great War, being mentioned in despatches no less than four times. He first saw action in 1914 as a Major in the XL Brigade RFA (3rd Division), and later, as a Lieutenant-Colonel, commanded LXXI Brigade RFA (15th (Scottish) Division). By 1918, he was appointed CRA (Commander Royal Artillery) of 15th Division, and held the rank of temporary Brigadier-General (the jacket being badged for this role). The Army Lists that I have confirm his promotion to Lt-Col in April 1916, and his appointment as temp Brig-Gen in 1918. After the war he commanded V Reserve Brigade, RFA before retiring in 1922. He died in 1936.
The jacket is definitely in need of some gentle restoration. It is missing itís correct rank insignia (crossed baton/sword), and one of the buttons on the General Officerís gorget patches is missing. The shoulder straps have holes for the rank insignia for Lieutenant-Colonel and Brigadier-General.
The complete gorget patch is a lovely example of the type, with worn gold embroidery and a gilt mounted button.
It is also devoid of the medal ribbons that it must have had, which, to get correct period ribbons will take some time, but will be worth the effort. I have confirmed that he was entitled to the CMG, DSO, QSA, KSA, 1914 Star, BWM, Victory, MID leaf and, at the end of his Ďrackí, the French Legion of Honour, which he was gazetted with in 1919. I have to choose, of course, whether to put on all his ribbons, or just those he would have had at a certain time. I am very tempted to restore it to the period while he was CRA 15th Div, i.e. 1918. Finally, to complete it, I will also need to find a Divisional RA armband, which was a red band with a gun on it.
To see what the final result would look like I have temporarily added an original WWI armband for the CRE (Commander Royal Engineers) of 22nd Division (obviously, it has the RE grenade attached as opposed to a gun), a set of ribbons and a Sam Browne belt.
Hope you all enjoy this item as much I do. I will post some of my research results for this piece next.