Over recent weeks Baily’s have added a number of images of military and regimental packs to the image Gallery. These have sent me scurrying to see if the pack(s) in question have a known hunt button or not.
The subject of military hunt buttons is one fraught with contention. One could say it’s a minefield; and it raises the age old question of whether something is a ‘hunt button‘ or a ‘button used whilst hunting’.
The difference seems to hinge on whether the particular regiment, brigade or corps actually kept it’s own pack of hounds or not. Sometimes this is easy to discover – Baily’s over the years has listed many Armed Forces packs. However, other times, the answer lies in a pack’s history. There are well-known subscription hunts that are the direct descendants of barrack packs.
A perfect example of this being one of the better known packs of otter hounds. This particular pack began as the regimental pack of the King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry (KOSLI) when stationed at Pembroke Dock. Hounds were kennelled nearby in the village of Milton, and the pack was known as the 53rd (or The Milton) Otter Hounds. When the KOSLI left Pembroke Dock , hounds were sold to a committee of local gentlemen, that changed the name to the Pembrokeshire & Carmarthen Otter Hounds.
Sometimes, though, we will never know for sure, and a button is generally accepted as being such-and-such regiment’s hunt button. The biggest debate of all is generally – “If the button on the hunt coat is identical to the blazer button, which is it?” Of course, we have to apply Rule No. 1 of Hunt Button collecting, i.e. “If it ain’t for a hunt coat, or off a hunt coat……… it ain’t a hunt button.”
Over the next couple of ‘Firebrand‘ posts I will look at the subject. In this first one I shall look at the more well known examples and a few of my favourites. In the second part I will look at some early versions from the reigns of William IV and Queen Victoria. I am not a military historian, and much will be received wisdom. Please! If you’re a military bod and can shed light, or put me straight on anything, I would be delighted to hear from you.
Just to set the ball rolling, here are some images of buttons that are all accepted as being military hunts’. These six images are reproduced (with my thanks) from the late Neil McShane’s excellent book. N.B. Images are now ‘super-sizable’ with a simple click. An interesting comment on the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars’ button is that the original hunt button, when they ran hounds, was solid silver, or silver plate for officers, brass for ORs; but when they gave up hounds and it became a simple saddle club, the button became brass and the design now includes a leaping horse.
Below is a list of those units that I believe I have identified so far as having ran hounds and, therefore, have official hunt buttons: NB. There may be apparent duplications as regiments gained Royal patronage / Command.
Royal Artillery; Royal Artillery – Budapest; Connaught Rangers; 3rd Guards Club (later the Scots Guards);
Nulli Secundus Club (The Coldstream Guards); 3rd King’s Own Hussars; 4th Queen’s Own Hussars;
7th Queen’s Own Hussars; 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars; 10th Hussars’ Hunt;
10th Prince of Wales’ Royal Hussars; 11th Prince Albert’s Own Hussars; 13th King’s Hussars
14th King’s Hussars; 14th/20th King’s Hussars; 15th King’s Hussars and 15th King’s Royal Hussars
15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars; 18th Queen Mary’s Own Hussars; 20th Hussars; The Royal Scots Greys;
1st King’s Dragoon Guards; 2nd Dragoons ‘The Queen’s Bays‘; 3rd Prince of Wales’ Dragoons;
4th Dragoons; 4th Royal Irish Dragoons; 5th Dragoon Guards; 5th Royal Inniskilling;
6th Dragoons ‘The Carabiniers‘; 7th Light Dragoons; 7th Princess Royal’s Dragoons;
22nd Dragoons; The Royal Welsh Fusiliers; The Royal Welsh Yeomanry; The Lancers’ Hunt; 5th Lancers; 5th Royal Irish Lancers;
12th Prince of Wales’s Lancers; 16th Lancers; 17th Lancers; 21st (Empress of India’s) Lancers;
17th/21st Lancers; 11th The Devonshire Regiment; 39th Dorset Regiment; Central India Horse;
Royal Horse Guards; Royal Welsh Yeomanry; 53rd Regiment Otter Hounds (aka The Milton Otter Hunt);
Royal Artillery (Salisbury Plain) previously Royal Horse Artillery Harriers;
Warman Hunt B.A.O.R; Royal Engineers Harriers; Royal Engineers Beagles; The Sandhurst Hunt;
The Hampshire Regiment.
Royal Munster Fusiliers; The Rajputana Rifles; King’s Royal Rifle Corps;
Exodus Hunt; The Royal Exodus; The Civil Calpe and Royal Calpe Hunts;
64th Regiment of Foot Beagles; 37th North Hampshire Regiment Beagles; Aldershot Command Hunt Club;
Aldershot Command Foot Beagles; 41st Beagles; Tank Corps Beagles; 20th Hussars Drag Hunt;
Household Brigade Drag Hunt; Staff & Command Colleges Drag Hunt (worldwide);
Royal Engineers Drag Hunt;
SADDLE CLUB BUTTONS:
Household Brigade Saddle Club; Royal Artillery Hunt Club (previously various R.A. Drag hunts. Woolwich, Borden etc); The Light Infantry Club
POSSIBLY REGIMENTAL BUTTONS USED FOR HUNTING: This doesn’t mean they didn’t run a pack, just that I’ve not found documentary evidence for a working pack of hounds…..yet!
King’s Royal Irish Horse; RAOC; RASC; King’s Own Yorkshire Regiment; North Yorks Regiment;
Considering the huge list above, it’s difficult to know on which ones to focus, so here are just a few of my personal favourites. All of which meet Rule No. 1 above.
Conventional wisdom was that Cavalry regiments ran foxhounds – what better way than hunting to train young cornets to control a mount at speed? – Infantry regiments, RAF and the Senior Service ran beagles, and Artillery ran draghounds; and it has been interesting to see some of the images in the Gallery, including The Royal Scots Greys’ beagles, as a case to show they ran both fox and hare hounds, and so this ‘wisdom’ wasn’t always the case. Helen Roiz, a hunt button collector in the US, has recently unearthed the 11th Devonshire Regiment button showing a running fox. Given the debate, it’s always good to find a button featuring a quarry animal.
If you have any comments to offer, corrections to make or additions, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Next time, I will look at earlier examples of military hunt buttons, from the mid-1800s.
Tags: Hunt Button Collecting