EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Good response Fernando!!
My bad on that movie title, "Last of the Bengal Lancers" was actually the book title of my late friend, Brig. Francis Ingall, who wrote that book as his biography about his service in these units in the Khyber Agency in the 30s.
The Gary Cooper movies was indeed "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" which was if I recall another autobiography by a British officer in the same period and regions.
On the underwear, of course I knew what you meant using analogy and was just responding in that same vein. I also realize that the discussion had taken an unfortunate but often unavoidable course in recognizing certain aspects of the use of a weapon. While understandable that we should not dwell on these matters, for those of us who are more historians than collectors, we often must include perspectives that are not always pleasant.
Actually warfare itself is not pleasant, but we are studying weapons, so it is sometimes a necessary evil to put the good with the bad I guess.
You are right though, to try to minimize such details as possible.
The PC served well as a deviation, as I admit the topic was one encountered quite often in our pages, and always seems to get the editorial wheels grinding. Unfortunately, those kinds of topics usually end up with heated and conflicting results, even threads being closed.
The input on the lance pennons and detail toward Portuguese use is great! and the illustrations much appreciated. As you have noted, and as I have found in several sources, the pennon apparently did serve as an identifying element, contrary to what I had said in an earlier post. In certain cases there were separate units who had varied color combinations to specify themselves for reforming on maneuvers.
However, most of these lancer units seem to have used a nationally specific combination, such as black & white, Germany; red & white Poland (later adopted by England in recognition of the Polish ).
The notion of blood soaking cloth falls into the myth and lore category so often rampant in weapons study, and along with 'blood gutters' in sword blades, has in my view been thoroughly debunked.
Wayne, well noted about the skull and crossbones, a topic we have often covered in the many threads on pirates and their lore. As you have shown, this symbol goes back a long way into history, and was indeed used around burial places signifying of course death.
Actually the piratical connotation is believed to derive from the fact that in ships logs and rosters, a sailor when deceased had this symbol drawn next to his name. As many sailors became pirates, they recalled the practice, and considered themselves effectively 'outlaw' or 'dead to the world', thus the symbol for these brethren of the sea. Alternatively, the foreboding symbol of course signified death, or more accurately the 'no quarter' implication often flown by these pirates, previously signified by the 'red flag'.
The color red in signifying 'no quarter' was well known among Spanish forces as well, termed 'deguello' and accompanied by a musical durge (as seen in "The Alamo" movie). Perhaps the red color and addition of the skull and crossbones lent to the pennon choice seen here.
Ibrahiim, excellent image of the charge of the 16th Lancers at Aliwal. If I may momentarily deviate to certain significance of a 'gory' circumstance lending itself to history and thereby, tradition.
After this battle, there were many of these lances so encrusted with dried blood they were actually crimped. It became a custom of this unit to 'crimp' their pennons in honor of that battle. Years later, the custom was adopted by troopers of the RCMP in Canada, however was abandoned when Queen Victoria objected to their use of a hallowed tradition held by the British 16th Lancers.