39th Foot

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 39th Foot

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on August 29 1702 as the "Richard Coote's Regiment of Foot". Until 1751, it was also known by the names of ten other colonels.

On July 1 1751, the regiment officially became the "39th Regiment of Foot".

In 1754, the regiment and a detachment of Royal Artillery were sent to India to protect the settlements of the East India Company. Before leaving Great Britain, the regiment was brought to full strength with drafts from other regiments.

During the Seven Years's War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from at least 1754 to at least 1759: colonel John Aldercron

Service during the War

In 1756, two companies of the regiment, recently raised in the Midlands, sailed from England to India. One of these companies was under the command of sir Eyre Coote. In August, 250 soldiers of the regiment, already stationed in India, were assigned to Robert Clive, along with 1,500 Sepoys, for his expedition against Calcutta which had been taken in June by the nawab Siraj Ud Daulah. On October 15, the expedition sailed from Madras. Upon arrival, in November, the 2 newly raised companies were also assigned to Clive's force. On December 30, these two companies occupied Fort William near Calcutta.

On January 12 1757, 350 men of the regiment along with Sepoys stormed Hooghly. They returned to Calcutta a week later. On February 4, companies of the regiment also took part in the combat of Calcutta against the army of the nawab Siraj Ud Daulah. By April, the part of the regiment encamped at Chinsurah counted 3 captains, 4 lieutenants, 5 ensigns, 8 sergeants, 10 corporals, 7 drummers and 213 privates for a total of 250 men. The same month, part of the regiment under lieutenant-colonel Forde was sent against Nellore on the river Pennar to collect revenues from the nawab Mohammed Ali. The enterprise was unsuccessful. In June, about 250 men of the regiment took part in Clive's campaign in Bengal. On June 23, they were at the battle of Plassey which subjected Bengal to the British crown.

In 1758, the detachment of the regiment operating in India was ordered to return to Great Britain. However, nearly all the detachment volunteered for the Bengal European Regiment.

As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 1 battalion for a total of 900 men.

To do: other campaigns from 1760 to 1763



Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
39th Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a dark green front edged white embroidered with white floral twigs and with the white King's cipher surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap edged white with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" in white and with a dark blue bottom strip with yellow stripes; red back; a dark green headband edged white probably wearing the number 39 in the middle part behind; a dark green within white pompom
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined grass green and laced white (white braid with a thick green grass waved line) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only)
Lapels grass green laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above)
Cuffs grass green slashed cuffs laced white (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each the cuff
Turnbacks grass green
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes

Troopers were armed with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a sword.

N.B.: It is very likely that the companies who served in India adopted lighter clothing when their regulation uniforms had worn out.


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For all colours, cords and tassels were crimson and gold.

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose wreath around the regiment number "XXXIX" in gold Roman numerals.

Regimental Colour: grass green field, Union in the upper left canton, centre decorated with a rose wreath around the regiment number "XXXIX" in gold Roman numerals.

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL


Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

Harrington, P.; Plassey 1757 - Clive of India's Finest Hour, Osprey, 1994

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.