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Grenadier Guards - A Victorian Fife Case
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Grenadier Guards - A Victorian Fife Case

Circa 1850

Measurements: Length: 45cm (in)



Provenance: Personal collection of Captain D.D. Horn, late Grenadier Guards (1939-2017), first curator of the Guards Museum.

Brass semi cylindrical case with hinged top, the body applied with the regimental title Grenadier Guards, flaming grenade and crowned VR cypher.

By tradition fife cases such as this were used to house the 'Cat o' Nine Tails' kept by the Drum Major, who was responsible for administering the floggings within his battalion. The Drum Major had not only to superintend the flogging of soldiers but had to instruct the drummers in the scourging of infantrymen. In the same way that it was the regimental farrier that beat cavalrymen, drummers were co-opted as being slightly removed from the rank and file, or as one of the fiercest opponents of flogging Sir Charles Napier put it in his ‘Remarks on Military Law and the Punishment of Flogging’ (1837) - ‘proverbially the greatest scamps in the Army’. On the day of the flogging, the corps formed a square around a triangle of halberds to which the man was tied. All ranks were compelled to watch the punishment to the end but fainting was common and insensible spectators had to be carried to the rear. Flogging as an ordinary punishment was not abolished in the British Army until 1881 although the Drum Major flogged enlisted boys as punishment as late as 1903.