Red Jacket

Red military jacket with gold buttons, collar, sleeve cuffs and shoulder epaulettes

The well-known red jacket of the British Army is the source of many myths. One myth is that the colour ‘hides the blood’ from wounds, but this is not true.


Red jackets started after the English Civil War in 1645. For the first time, the whole army dressed in one colour. Red wool was cheap and available, and the monarchy continued the tradition.


Today it seems odd for soldiers to wear bright colours on a battlefield. But before the 1880s, guns were not accurate and made lots of smoke, so wearing red did not make them an instant target.

Watch military historian Tim Saunders video for more information on red jackets during the Napoleonic Wars here: