Bombardiers de la Marine

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Uniform Plates

The two following plates have been made by the famous French uniformologist Michel Pétard and originally published in the magazine Uniformes Number 20. Mr. Pétard has kindly authorised us to reproduce these plates in our article but retains full copy right on them.

Typical uniform of a private of the Bombardiers de la Marine in 1755 on the eve of the Seven Years' War – Copyright: Michel Pétard
Details of the uniform of NCOs of the Bombardiers de la Marine in 1755 on the eve of the Seven Years' War – Copyright: Michel Pétard

Origin and History

Two companies were formed in 1682 to serve aboard the newly created bomb-ketches; one company at Brest and another one at Toulon. In 1694, a third company was formed in Rochefort.

The bombardiers de la Marine were elite troops and were not submitted to military exercices. They did not consider themselves as soldiers but rather as experts of naval artillery in general and mortars in particular.

In 1761, the unit was disbanded.

In January 1762, a few companies of the Corps Royal de l'Artillerie were appointed to the service of the French Navy. They were desiganted as the Bombardiers du Corps Royal de l'Artillerie.

In 1774, Choiseul reinstated the unit of Bombardiers de la Marine. These new companies had blue uniforms.

In 1786, the three companies of Bombardiers de la Marine were disbanded for good and replaced by the Canonniers-matelots (sailors-gunners).

Service during the War

We found no specific mention of service of this unit during the Seven Years' War.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1755 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per the Royal Warrant of June 5 1750
Headgear black felt tricorne laced silver, with a small white tombac (an alloy of copper and zinc) button to hold a white cockade worn on special occasions

from 1755, when under arms, the bombardiers wore a black bearskin with a frontal brass plate decorated with a bursting bomb

Neckstock white
Coat scarlet lined blue with an unknown number (probably between 15 to 20) white tombac buttons on the right side; 1 white tombac button on each side in the small of the back along with 2 additional small white tombac buttons to fasten the basques of the coat
Collar blue
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal false pockets, each with 4 white tombac buttons
Cuffs blue, each with 4 white tombac buttons
Turnbacks the basques of the coat could be turned back, in that case they showed the blue lining of the coat
Waistcoat long blue long-sleeved waistcoat with an unknown number (probably between 15 to 20) white tombac buttons on the right side; and small white tombac buttons under each horizontal pocket
Breeches blue
Stockings blue
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt natural leather with a copper buckle
Waist-belt natural leather with a copper buckle worn over the waistcoat
Cartridge Box red leather decorated with a copper flaming grenade containing 19 or 20 cartridges
Bayonet Scabbard black with copper fittings
Scabbard black with copper fittings
Footgear black leather shoes with copper buckles


Armaments consisted of a musket, a bayonet and a sabre.

NCOs

Sergeants had wide silver braids on cuffs and pockets of the coat and waistcoat (see Figure 9 of the rightmost plate). They usually carried partizans.

Corporals had narrow silver braids on cuffs and pockets of the coat (see Figure 8 of the rightmost plate which has been left uncoloured to show the details). They also had cordonnets around buttonholes.

Officers

Officers wore a uniform similar to the one of the bombardiers but wore white stockings.

Officers were usually armed with a sword and a spontoon.

Musicians

The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: Jocelyne Chevanelle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

These companies probably did not carry any colour.

References

This article is mostly a translated and abridged version of the following article: Pétard, Michel: L'homme de 1755 – Le bombardier de marine, in Uniformes, No. 20

Acknowledgement

Michel Pétard for his kind authorisation to use his plates and his original article

Jean-Louis Vial for the information on the temporary disbandment of the unit during thr Seven Years' War