Q. Why do the Guards wear red jackets?


Bright colours provided a means of distinguishing friend from foe without significantly adding risk to the individual soldier as armies formed up facing each other in ranks and columns on the battlefield where they engaged each other with volley fire, from muskets.

Some say the red coats, of the British troops, made it difficult for enemy spotters to count their strength because red, which is the hardest colour to see, merges into one at a distance.

While another popular myth was that blood would not show on the red tunics and demoralise the other troops.

Cost was probably the real reason as the dyeing process required, for red, involved only one stage and red pigment was readily available.

In 1658 the British redcoat made its first appearance at the Battle of the Dunes and the last time British soldiers wore red coats on the battlefield was at the Battle of Gennis in the Sudan in 1885.

Scarlet tunics continued to be issued until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

The Brigade of Guards resumed wearing their scarlet dress uniforms in 1920 but for the remainder of the army red coats were only authorised for wear by regimental bands and officers in mess dress.

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