Boys' Brigade Uniforms: Military Influence

Figure 1.--.

The Boys' Brigade uniforms from the foundation had a military look. This reflected the military appraoch of the organization which stressed drill and discipline.

The Boys' Brigade posted a question, "We heard the other day of a B.B. Officer wearing an imitation of a military uniform, and of another Officer who so far forgot what was due to his military rank in the Volunteers as to wear his Volunteer Officer's uniform in Camp with his Boys. How can Officers expect Boys to keep Company rules if they themselves fail to keep Brigade rules? " The question and answer reglect the military lokk of the Boys Brigade uniform.

Lieutenant-Colonel Smith of the lst Lanark Rifle Volunteers was as sensitive to the regard of his military fellow-officers as was Captain Smith for the good name of The Boys' Brigade. As Brigade Secretary, William Smith kept an eye on everything concerning the B.B. up and down the world, and his daily correspondence tray showed it. He had a sharp eye for any slovenliness or a breach of regulations. Every Battalion Report was read, noted, and remembered. Liverpool's Report was a model of lucidity and order, and they were particularly good at Ambulance work. Ayr Battalion was commended for its splendid annual flower show. Summer Camp is the feature in which Manchester excels all other Battalions. There was a most successful Bible Class in Hull to be noted, and West Kent was progressing excellently. lst Newport sent him a photograph of the Company in all the glory of their Camp sun-hats, which the Secretary enjoyed and printed in the Gazette. But he reminded them that sun-hats are sanctioned only for Camp and are on no account to take the place of the regulation uniform cap for parade purposes.

But what was going on in Nottingham? `Who ever heard of the ranks of Colonel or Major in The Boys' Brigade? Yet these appear on the first page of the Nottingham Battalion Report. Not good enough!' At the same time, remember that it was Nottingham which produced the splendid B.B. hymn, Underneath the Banner of The Boys' Brigade.

Edinburgh had two irregularities to be noted in the way of accoutrements: red edging on NCOs' stripes, and special Band caps. Cardiff had five Vice-Presidents and Carlisle had six, while the Brigade Constitution provided for only one. `Study the Manual,' wrote William Smith, `and obey the Rules!' He went to see for himself, tirelessly, up and down the country. In the year of the semi-jubilee of The Brigade William Smith made extensive visits to Companies in Orkney and Shetland in the far north and a few months later inspected the Jersey Companies in the south. That same session he was also in Bristol, South Wales, Cork, Leeds, Melrose, Newcastle-on-Tyne and London. Everywhere he was received with enthusiasm by the Boys.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 24, 2000
Last updated: June 24, 2000