Marlborough’s Redcoats – Frontline Fighter

Who were the men in the line at Malplaquet? Britain’s peacetime army was very small when the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701. During the war it rose to about 70,000, with an average of around 20,000 serving with Marlborough in Flanders at any one time. The Redcoats would routinely fight alongside Continental […]


Warrior: Tamil Tiger

Tom Farrell describes one of the most formidable guerilla armies of modern times. Typically, serving members of the Tamil Tigers wore distinctive combat fatigues banded into a tigerstripe pattern. Variations included a blue uniform for Sea Tiger ratings and a black-on-grey pattern for the Black Tiger suicide division. Female fighters wore similar uniforms, but when on active duty their usual attire consisted of black […]

Rogers' Rangers

Warrior – Rogers' Rangers

Using Ed Dovey’s beautiful illustrations as a visual guide, Robin Smith reports on an early British special-forces unit that operated in the 18th century American wilderness.    In the annals of British military history, there are few greater stories than the desperate expedition mounted by Captain Robert Rogers and his command through miles of unforgiving North […]

British grenadiers square

British Grenadiers – Soldier Profile

Grenadier companies were first formed in the British Army in 1678, and were not finally abolished until 1855. By the time of the Quebec campaign, the 13 companies of a British foot battalion included one of grenadiers and one of light infantry. The grenadiers, as the battalion elite, were traditionally posted on the right (with […]


Ninja (Shinobi) – Secret Assassins

For any military historian, the topic of ninja remains one of the most fascinating mysteries of Japanese samurai warfare. The word ‘ninja’ or its alternative reading ‘shinobi’ crops up again and again in historical accounts in the context of secret intelligence-gathering or assassinations carried out by martial arts experts.


Zulu Warriors – 1879

The organization of the Zulu army was profoundly different to its professional British counterpart, a part-time citizen militia, the means by which a nation of herdsmen came together periodically in national service. At the heart of the system were guilds known as amabutho (sing. ibutho). The amabutho were a means of exercising central control over […]


Iranian Archer – Soldier Profile

Iranian archer of the Persian Wars On the battlefield, the archers were formed up in the centre of the army, many ranks deep, protected by a barricade of shields and spears along their front, such that any enemy formation approaching would face a relentless rain of tens of thousands of high-velocity arrows. At a glance […]


Athenian Hoplite – Soldier Profile

Athenian Hoplite of the Persian Wars In pitched battle, the army formed a single phalanx of 10,000 men, a kilometre wide, eight ranks deep, protected by a wall of overlapping shields with a hedge of spear-blades projecting above. At a Glance Appearance Shield design: either individually chosen or representing clan, neighbourhood, or tribe Clothing and […]


Roman legionary – Soldier Profile

First century AD Roman legionary. At a glance Appearance Uniform and Imperial Clothing and Jewellery Military tunic worn as standard Leather belt, baldric, and apron straps often with personalised metallic decorations Scabbard, often with personalised decoration Hobnailed sandals Weaponry Throwing spear with pyramidal head and long metal shank (pilum) Short, stabbing sword (gladius) Dagger (pugio) […]


Celtic warrior – Soldier Profile

First century AD British Celtic warrior At a glance Appearance Hair sometimes lime-washed and spiked-up Face sometimes painted with blue protective tattoos Clothing and Jewellery Cloak, tunic and trousers, often of tartan cloth Neck-ring (torc) made of gold, silver, electrum or bronze Leather belt, often with decorated buckle and plates Scabbard, often decorated, especially at the […]