British abandoned their traditional red coats and adopted Khaki uniform for their soldiers because of the dusty hills of Pakhtunkhwa. In 1848 a British officer Sir Harry Lumsden received an order to raise a special regiment to deal with Pashtun tribesmen of the frontier, as part of the Punjab Frontier Force Brigade. Harry Lumsden realized that his soldiers in the red coloured uniforms will be very conspicuous in the dusty hills of frontier and will be easy target for the Pashtun snipers. Harry decided to abandon the red coats. Instead, he put his men into cloth dyed in the same colour as the landscape. Lumsden bought all the white cotton he could find locally, and had it taken to the river where it was soaked and impregnated with mud. The soldiers called the cloth “khaki,” from the Urdu word khak, or dust.
The idea was highly successful. During the Indian war of Independence (1857), it spread to other British troops fighting engagements in sandy country. It was used during the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), and by 1880 had been adopted by all British regiments in India, who now retained scarlet only for their full, ceremonial dress.
|Brigadier General Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden CB, in the uniform of The Queen’s Own Corps of Guides, 1866 (c). Source