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British Uniforms of the 1st China War

By John French

1st China War British SergeantBritish Infantry & Royal Marines: For general notes on headgear, tunics, and equipment see our page on Uniforms of the 1st Afghan War.  Trousers could be blue-grey nankeen without red stripe or white for hot weather wear.  Sergeants were allowed to wear undress cap as in BRV100.  Facing colours for British Infantry regiments involved: 18th - blue; 26th - pale yellow; 49th - green; 55th - dark green; 98th - white.  Royal Marines were dressed in a similar style to infantry, facings blue.


Royal Artillery: Uniforms similar to Madras artillery given below, except collar red edged with yellow lace top and bottom, and white overalls.

Royal Artillery 1st China War

Royal Navy: Sailors blue or white shirt with black neckerchief, white trousers, sennet hat.  Officers often blue frock coat and undress caps with black peak.  

Royal Navy

Madras Foot Artillery: Cap black with wide red band.  Tunic dark blue with plain red cuffs & collar, yellow shoulder straps.  Trousers dark blue with wide red stripe.  Leather equipment white with brass fittings, shoes and  scabbard black.

British Artillery

Bengal Native Infantry: One battalion of Bengal N.I. comprising 10 companies, was made up from volunteers of similar number of regiments.  It is assumed that they would keep their own regimental facings.  Other details would be as in Sikh War section.

Bengal Native Infantry

Madras Native Infantry: For general notes see those under Bengal N.I. in Sikh War section.  The main difference was the distinctive Madras head-dress of bamboo basketwork that was covered in a stiffened fabric that was lacquered in black or dark blue.  Sometimes a white cover was worn over the top.  For those who wish to adapt the head-dress you could use BRV129-133 as the rest of the uniform is correct.  The facing colours for the regiments involved were : 2nd - green; 6th, 14th, 36th, 37th - buff; 41st - yellow.  All lace was gold.  Madras Sappers & miners had dark blue shoulder scales with yellow cord edging.

British Infantry

Chinese Army: Chinese dress details will be similar to those for Imperial troops in Taiping section.  There are no references to the use of mounted Chinese troops in the various battles.  Even the Tartar cavalry fought dismounted owing to a shortage of horses.  Much of the terrain over which battles were fought was not really suitable for cavalry. 

Note that many of the Chinese figures also make ideal pirates for the China Seas.


Click here for our range of 28mm miniatures suitable for the 1st China War sculpted by Michael and Alan Perry

Click here for our article on the 1st China War (1st Opium War) 1839-42 and the Battle of Chapu by John French