Did you watch the HMS Ocean documentary ‘Warship’ on Channel 4? The show captures Britain’s biggest warship as it sails to the Gulf to lead the US Naval Combined Task Force 50. HMS Ocean is now 20 years old and weighs up to 28,000 tons. The fleet flagship of the Royal Navy was launched into sea in October 1995 and has a capacity of 40 vehicles and 830 Marines. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force. The ship can carry up to six Apache AH1 helicopters operated by the Army Air Corps as well as helicopters for the RAF. HMS Ocean is also capable of limited anti-submarine warfare activities, supporting afloat training and acting as a base facility for other embarked forces including counter-terrorism units. HMS Ocean is described as a ‘floating village’ with a hospital, bank, gym, pubs and shops on board to accommodate its staff. The documentary follows the ship as it embarks on its seven month deployment. This mission makes HMS Ocean the first UK ship to lead a US task force in the Middle East. 130 enthusiastic newbies are among the crew recorded and the programme shows their first seafaring adventure. HMS Ocean is due to be decommissioned next year after twenty years of service and currently there is no replacement. We stock the HMS Ocean Ship Crest and Cap Tally. View them here. We also stock Royal Navy qualification badges. View them here.
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 be because naval ratings usually had dirty hands. The British Army and Royal Air Force salute has been given with the right-hand palm facing forwards since 1917 and was given with the hand furthest from the person being saluted. View the videos below to see how a salute is done in the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army.
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 Bengal Irregular Cavalry. He stated that “a tight scarlet tunic with a high stock was not the most suitable garment in which to wage war in the plains of the Punjab in the hot weather.” He decided to give all his men coarse cotton smocks dyed with mazari which was a local dull brown plant. The leather items were dyed with mulberry juice and the two colours together became known as khaki, from the Persian word ‘khak’ which means earth or dust. Bomber Jackets were introduced during the First World War when most airplanes had open cockpits. The US Army established the Aviation Clothing Board in September 1917 and developed a heavy duty leather flight jacket which had high collars with snug cuffs. In 1931 standard issue A2 Bomber Jackets made from seal skin leather and a cotton lining were issued. It soon became impractical to supply seal skin so the jackets were instead made from horsehide. These days bomber jackets are further embellished with add-ons such as military badges and patches. View our range of military badges here. Military tunics are a huge staple this season and can be purchased from a variety of high street stores such as Zara, TopShop, ASOS, Mango and many more. Most of these jackets feature brass buttons and a structured collar. Many are often decorated with epaulettes or gold braid to create intricate detailing. The Drummer’s tunic, worn in the Bands of the Infantry Regiment is an iconic item famously decorated with Fleur De Lis lace which can be purchased here. Military trends are becoming an increasing part of everyday fashion, and are even combined with basics such as jeans and t-shirts. Many would argue that the flamboyant design aesthetic of Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th century is widely regarded as a cultural turning point.
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 reasons. Facial Hair in the British Army When on parade, the only Army rank allowed to wear a beard is that of Pioneer Sergeant, who also carries a battle axe instead of a bayonet. The tradition was for one Pioneer to march in front of the regiment clearing the path for the soldiers behind. They can also be seen wearing an apron, which, in years gone by, would protect his uniform whilst he was performing his duties. The Pioneer Sergeant also acted as a blacksmith for the unit so was therefore allowed a beard to protect his face from the heat. Even though they are not compulsory for Infantry Pioneers, most do choose to grow a beard. It is also permitted in the Scottish Infantry regiments and sometimes expected, especially by the Drum Major, Pipe Major and Commanding Officer’s piper. In more recent years, the British Army has seen a full range of facial hair. This is often in an effort to blend in, especially when in Afghanistan where facial hair is seen as a sign of authority. When the soldiers are on tour water is harder to come by so often they understandably prioritise the water for drinking, rather than for shaving. There is also a more practical reason for facial hair being banned, if the soldiers ever need to use gas masks facial hair breaks the seal around the mouth meaning the masks do not work properly. Facial Hair in the Royal Navy The Royal Navy has always allowed full beards but never a moustache alone. If after a period without shaving, it becomes clear that the soldier cannot grow both a moustache and beard then his commanding officer may order him to shave it off. Facial Hair in the Royal Air Force The RAF are not allowed to wear beards at all unless for religious reasons and are only allowed moustaches if they are not grown longer than the edge of the mouth. A Royal Navy serviceman, once approved, should keep his beard for six months. [...]
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 1942. It wasn’t until 1949 that women were officially recognised as a permanent part of the British armed forces. During that year the Women’s Royal Army Corps was created and the ranks were normalised in line with the ranks of men serving in the British Army. In 1989 women became eligible to pilot Royal Air Force combat aircrafts and the following year were allowed to serve on Royal Navy warships. It is only in recent years that women have been given a more prominent role in the armed forces. Female personnel currently make up 9% of the British armed forces. A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military has been lifted by Prime Minister David Cameron, allowing them to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps. In order for them to enter into the infantry they would still need to pass the fitness test, as do all males. The Army’s research shows that less than 5% of the 7,000 women serving in the British Army would pass the current tests to join the infantry. The lift of this ban, puts the UK in line with many of its allies, including the US. Are you a woman who has served in the British Military? What do you think about the ban being lifted?
The Hussars The uniform of the Napoleonic Hussars included the pelisse: a short fur-edged jacket which was often worn slung over one shoulder in the style of a cape, and was fastened with a cord. This garment was extensively adorned with braiding (often gold or silver for officers) and rows of multiple buttons. The tunic was worn underneath, which was also decorated in braid. The Hussar's accoutrements included a Hungarian-style saddle, covered by a decorated saddlecloth, with long pointed corners surmounted by a sheepskin. On active service the Hussar normally wore reinforced breeches which had leather on the inside of the leg to prevent them from wearing. On the outside of their breeches was a row of buttons, and sometimes a stripe in a different colour. A busby was worn as headwear. The colours of the dolman, pelisse and breeches varied greatly by regiment, even within the same army. Hussars were the only corps in the British Army allowed to wear moustaches. The Hussar's look has mostly become legendary because of what the hussars did while wearing it. They had made it a point in their honour code to be the most scandalous, daredevils of all military corps. They wore ponytails and moustaches. They looted and pillaged. You may have seen many of these uniforms in the recent television production of War and Peace. Many braids and laces used on this uniform can be seen on our website here. The United States Marine Corps Dress Blues The Marine Corps have a dress blue uniform, in addition to their green service uniform which is part of a long line of historical Marine Corps uniforms - dating back to the American Revolution. The most formal of a Marine's uniforms outside of the elaborate evening dress uniforms of officers and senior enlisted, it is often referred to as "Dress Blues" and can be worn in many forms. It is the only uniform of the United States military to use all of the colours of the nation's flag and incorporates button designs which are the oldest military insignia still in use in the United States Armed Forces. A sword may be worn when the individual is in command of troops in formation. When wearing the sword and Dress Blue coat, officers wear the Sam Browne belt. For enlisted, the sword is worn with a white waist belt and brass buckle when wearing the Dress Blue coat. It is the single most imitated uniform by other militaries and has remained unchanged for decades. Royal Air Force The RAF's service dress is worn on formal and ceremonial occasions. It remains essentially unchanged from the service dress uniform adopted in the early 1920s. It consists of a blue-grey jacket and trousers (or skirt for a female). In 1947, the temperate officers' service dress jacket was altered. The lower side pockets were removed and the single slit was replaced by two hacking jacket style slits. The lower button was moved up to a position behind the belt and [...]
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 full dress versions are usually more elaborate creations made from gold and silver cord with decorative tassels for that final added flourish. In recent years there has been a demand for good quality sword knots from museums and collectors, while there are only a few original sword knots for sale. View our range of sword knots on our webstore.
HMS Prince of WalesHMS Prince of Wales is the second ship to be constructed under the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier classification after HMS Queen Elizabeth. The plans for her to begin active service in 2020 are said to be on track, with the ship currently 80% structurally complete. She is the eighth ship to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales, and the cost of the two ships is to be £6.2billion. The HMS Prince of Wales, unlike most aircraft carriers, will not be fitted with catapults and arrestor wires, but will instead carry up to 40 multi-role fighters and Merlin helicopters. The ship’s design focuses on flexibility with her aiming to accommodate 250 Royal Marines servicemen. Her length ship is to be 280 metres and her speed 25 knots. The full Queen Elizabeth Class, including HMS Prince of Wales, is to be used by all three areas of the UK Armed Forces and will be deployed around the world. The ships are versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from providing humanitarian aid and relief to supporting war efforts. Over 80,000 tonnes of steel are to be used to build the two ships and they use electric propulsion systems which enable the prime movers to operate more efficiently meaning they burn less fuel and save on running costs. HMS Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth DockyardThe two ships are the future flagships of our Nation and are to be a Surface Fleet which will form the core of the Royal Navy. Professional, well trained officers and sailors will run these warships and will protect our Nation’s interests. Their vast flight decks can accommodate any of the helicopters in Britain, but in 2020, the world’s most advanced fighter bomber, the F35 Lightning II will join the ship. Wyedean holds the contract for the Royal Navy Ship Badges, also known as Ship Crests and Ship Plaques. The Ship Badges are often presented as military gifts or memorabilia. Our newest plaques to be added to the webstore are HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. View the crests here. We also stock the cap tallies for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
This year, Armed Forces Day, formerly Veterans’ Day, will be celebrated across the UK on Saturday 25th of June. It is a chance for everyone to show their support for the men and women who have been, or still are, a part of the Armed Forces. Organisations across the country have already started to show their support by flying the flag in support of the British Armed Forces. The event first started in 2006 and in the years proceeding has grown into a national day of celebration. In 2009 its name was changed to Armed Forces Day and it’s now accepted as always falling on the last Saturday in June. The aim of the day is to ensure that members of the Armed Forces, past and present, are never forgotten and that their contributions are remembered. There are many activities happening up and down the country to celebrate the event and every year the event takes place in a different city. Previous locations include Birmingham, Blackpool, Kent, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The National Event, is this year being held at Cleethorpes in north East Lincolnshire but there will be other local events taking place. During the day parades and silences, to more local events such as stalls and live music, are being held to raise awareness and give a morale boost to the troops and families. The hashtag #SaluteOurForces is a simple way for anyone wishing to pay their tributes to the British Armed Forces on social media.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carrier, with HMS Prince of Wales following closely behind in 2017. A new type of supercarrier, they are to be the future flagships of the nation. The ship is to be the largest warship built for the Royal Navy and can carry up to forty aircraft. She is due to be commissioned in May of 2017 with the former captain of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious, Commodore Jerry Kyd, to be her first Commanding Officer. Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing air and disaster relief. She is the second vessel to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and is to be based in Portsmouth. Design- The estimated budget for the two new ships was £6,200 million with the construction starting in 2009. HMS Queen Elizabeth is being built in six different UK ship yards and will be 280 metres long. Future Work- The crew will move aboard during December 2016 ready for her sea trials in March. In 2020 an ‘operational military capability’ will be declared, meaning The HMS Queen Elizabeth is ready to be deployed. Aircraft – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are expected to be able to carry a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters. The deck of the ship can be marked out for up to ten medium helicopters landing at once, which would allow up to 250 troops to lift off at once. HMS Prince of Wales- The Prince of Wales is the second of the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers. Also measuring 280 metres in length and weighing 70,600 tons, the vessel will be ready for duties around the globe by the year 2023. HMS Queen Elizabeth is part of the Surface Fleet which forms the core of the Royal Navy; powerfully handled warships, helping to protect our Nation. The two ships will be used by all three sectors of the Armed Forces providing eight acres of sovereign territory around the world. Wyedean holds the contract for Royal Navy Ship Badge, also known as Ship Crests or Ship Plaques. The Ship Badges are often presented as military gifts or memorabilia. Our newest plaques to be added to the webstore are HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. View the crests here. We also stock the captallies for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.