United Kingdom

Carte-de-Visite, studio H.W.Bird & Co. in London

Staff Sergeant Drill Instructor, early 1880s, unknown regiment

This photograph displays an intensely watching NCO with some very interesting features.
It is the work of Henry William Bird & Co., who operated their London studio between 1878 and 1885.
The first to attract our interest are the medals he is sporting :
- Second Afghan War Campaign Medal, no clasp ;
- Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, meaning he completed 18 years good service.

Four Hussar Regiments were involved in the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880) :
- 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars
- 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Hussars
- 13th Hussars (not his regiment though, as they sported very distinctive "buff" facings)
- 15th (The King's) Hussars

It is to be noted that the Afghan War Medal was first displayed in August 1881, which helps to better frame the date when the photograph was taken.

A second interesting element is the lace that adorns his pill-box hat ; this lace pattern was associated with the older Hussar Regiments (those that were Hussars before 1861), and is known to have been sported by the 7th, 8th, 10th and 13th Hussars.

The 15th Hussars, mentionned above, were known to have a special lace pattern knwon as the "Austrian Wave", as can be seen here.

Last, we'll take a closer look at the embroidered Arm Badges worn by our man.

They indicate his rank and trade a "Staff Sergeant Drill Instructor". The Crown is part of the rank badge.

Hussar NCOs would also wear Regimental Arm Badges ; let's review the regiments we have come across so far :
- 7th Hussars : no Arm Badge before 1910
- 8th Hussars : Embroidered Irish Harp (since 1825)
- 10th Hussars : Prince of Wales's Feathers (since the early 1860s)
- 13th Hussars : no arm badge
- 15th Hussars : Lion over Crown (documented from 1888 on, but likely worn earlier).


So from what I know, no obvious regimental connexion comes through ; he seems to be sporting uniform elements consistent with the 7th Hussars, but they were not in Afghanistan.
Though the possibility is not to be discounted that he changed regiments.