Tag - Armed Forces

Why do Troops Salute

Salutes are primarily used in the Armed Forces to show respect. There are numerous methods for performing the salute including: hand gestures, rifle shots, hoisting flags and the removal of headgear. The salute is to acknowledge the Queen’s commission. The subordinate salutes first and holds it until their superior has responded. It is thought that the salute originated when knights greeted each other to show friendly intention by lifting their visor to show their faces. Medieval visors were equipped with a spike which allowed the visor to be lifted in a saluting motion. A British order book in 1745 stated that ‘The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.’ This, overtime, evolved into a modern salute. The naval salute is a different gesture, again, as sailors salute with their palm downwards. This is said to [...]

Military Fashion

You can see a strong military influence throughout the whole of the fashion industry. This season’s jackets have a strong 18th century British and French theme – a strong shoulder decorated with epaulettes, brass buttons and rope trims. To bring the jackets into the modern era there are usually a few add-ons such as bows or crystals. Many military uniform staples have become cornerstones of modern-day fashion but were actually borne out of more practical requirements. The trendy trench coat, for instance, dates back to 1853 when it was thought that officers fighting in the Crimean War needed long practical jackets to protect them from the elements. In fact Burberry submitted a design to the War Office in 1901 for an officer’s raincoat. They made it using their own patented cotton fabric featuring large lapels and epaulettes. Khakis were introduced in the 1840s by Harry Lumsden. Until then the British Military wore bright outfits. Lumsden was the commanding officer of the [...]

Remembrance Day 2016

Soldier Wearing Poppy and Afghanistan Medal Britain will fall silent for two minutes to remember the end of the First World War on Friday the 11th of November. This tradition of holding a silence was started by King George V to ensure that the ‘thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.’ This day is called Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or sometimes more informally Poppy Day. From 2014 to 2018 this day has an added significance from the fact that this period marks the centenary of the First World War. From 1919 until 1945, Armistice Day was always on the 11th of November. In 1946 it was moved to Remembrance Sunday. Since the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995 it became usual to have ceremonies on both days. In 2006 Veterans Day was also created to help celebrate the achievements of the veterans. Today this is named Armed Forces Day and held annually. This year [...]

Household Cavalry on Horseback

The Household Cavalry

The Household Cavalry (HCav) is made up of the Life Guards and the Blue and Royals – the most senior regiments of the British Army. These two regiments are the Queen’s official bodyguard and are divided into two with the Armoured Regiment (HCR) being stationed at the Combermere Barracks in Windsor and the Mounted Regiment (HCMR) at Hyde Park Barracks in London. The Household Cavalry is classed as a corps and dates back to the 1660s. With the Life Guards being formed by King Charles II in 1660 and the Blues and Royals both being formed in 1661. The Blues and Royals were amalgamated into one unit in 1969. The two units of the Household Cavalry have very different roles: The first is the Household Cavalry regiment (HCR). This has an active operational role and serves using armoured fighting vehicles meaning the HCR are often at the forefront of the nation’s conflicts. The Household Division have been required to take part in [...]

Working Women During 1940

Women’s Royal Naval Service

Enlisting Poster WRENS The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was the first branch in the Armed Forces and Royal Navy made up solely of women and is officially known as the Wrens. The Wrens was first formed during the First World War in 1917 and standard jobs included cook, clerk, weapons analyst and range assessor. By the end of the First World War the Wrens had 5,500 members, of which 500 were officers. 2,000 of its members were transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Wrens were disbanded in 1919 after the end of the First World War. Director Dame Katharine Furse joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1909. During the First World War she was chosen to be the head of the first VAD to be sent to France. In 1917 Katharine became the Director of the then, newly formed, Women’s Royal Naval Service. Katharine was awarded three service medals and became a Dame. The Wrens were then revived [...]

Is Facial Hair Allowed in the Military?

Ideas about whether facial hair is allowed in the military have differed throughout the years. In the mid-19th Century, facial hair was an unusual sight in the British Army, except for the Infantry Pioneers who were the only ones for whom it was tradition to have a beard. Later facial hair, moustaches and beards became more common in the military and it was even encouraged during the Crimean War, especially during winter months when the soldiers were encouraged to grow full beards. Regulations were later introduced which actually prevented soldiers from shaving above their top lip, ensuring that, those who could grow a moustache, had to have one. It wasn’t until 1916 when the rule was abolished by Lieutenant General Sir Nevil Macready who disliked his own moustache. Since 1916 the British Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Marines have allowed moustaches and connected side whiskers, and only allowed full beards if they were grown for medical reasons or religious [...]

Women-of-the-Auxiliary-Territorial-Service-unload-rifles

Women in the Military

Women serving in the military has always been a controversial topic. As increasing numbers of countries begin to expand the role of women in their militaries, the debate continues. In order to be on the front line, women have been known to cross dress. The Royal Navy were the first to employ women in 1969 allowing a few to be nurses and laundresses on hospital ships. This was a controversial move and by the 19th century both roles had been eliminated. The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service began in 1902 and is still in operation today. During World War II Britain established a uniformed service for women. This combined with the small units of nurses which had been in operation for a while meant that about 600,000 women served in the military. Most were working in units close to London where there was no risk of being captured by the enemy. The first woman was killed in the military in April [...]

What is the Official use of a Lanyard?

  Soldier’s Uniform wearing lanyard. A lanyard is also referred to a fourragère – and is a braided cord with a sharp spike at one end. The fourragère is a very old component of some military uniforms and originates from the French uniforms where it was used to bundle forage for pack animals or cavalry horses. The lanyard first gained symbolic importance during the Dutch Revolt from 1568-1648. It is said that the Duke of Alba’s troops fled the field against the Dutch rebels. The Duke was so angry that he vowed to hang every single man in the unit if they retreated again and consequently forced them to wear a fourragère, or lanyard, around their shoulder to remind them of the fact. After the next battle the Duke of Alba was so impressed by their bravery that he them permitted them to wear the cord as a reminder of their oath to fight The symbol was later revived by Napoleon for the [...]

Waist Belts - Trooping of the Colour

When is a Waist Sash Worn?

Prince Louis Wearing Waist Shoulder Sash A sash is usually a large and colourful ribbon or band of material that is worn around the body. Sashes either drape from one shoulder to the opposing hip, or run around the waist. The shoulder sash is worn in daily attire by the Duty Sergeant while the Waist Sash is worn on ceremonial occasions. Historically, a waist sash was made using a technique called spranging. The process of spragning produces a wide fabric, that like a netting, can widen and contract. Many metres of woollen cord are placed on a special spranging machine and often these machines were two storeys high running through a hole in the floor to the lower level. The machines are worked by hand to create the sprung fabric. It is believed that only two machines are left in the UK, one of which is in a museum in London and the second here at Wyedean. The idea behind using this [...]

RAF College Remembrance Parade 2009

What is the Purpose of a Sword Knot?

The sword knot began existence as a simple cord attached to the hilt of the sword of a mounted soldier. The knot is in fact, a loop usually made out of leather, or other material. Before engagement with the enemy the soldier wraps the loop around his wrist to prevent the loss of his sword, which can happen either in the heat of the battle or if he needs to relax his group in order to steady his mount. In more recent years the sword knot has gradually evolved to become a more ornamental and decorative piece of uniform regalia. The design of it has also changed such that it now features a double strap which is also attached to the sword guard and wrapped around the hilt when not attached to the wrist. There are two main types of sword knots: full dress and active service. The sword knot used for active service features a plain buff leather strap, while the [...]