Wednesday 27 December 2017

The military moustache

The following article was published in the Navy & Army Illustrated on the 10th September 1898.

The moustache, which nowadays is almost as much an attribute of the military officer as the sword, was only begun to be worn in the Army at the beginning of the century. It first came into wear in the cavalry, on the introduction of Hussars as part of our military establishment. Foreign Hussars, from whom the dress and equipment of our Hussars were copied, wore moustaches, and the authorities directed by order that all ranks of our new Hussar regiments should follow their models. Ten years later, on Lancers being instituted in the British Army, similarly in imitation of the Lancer regiments of the Continent, particularly Napoleon’s Polish Lancers whom we met in the Peninsula, moustaches were ordered for our Lancers - the Continentals wearing moustaches - and after that our remaining Light Dragoon regiments, in due course, all adopted the moustache.

In the infantry the custom of wearing the moustache came in much later - not until the beginning of the Russian War. Our troops were at Varna, and after suffering considerably from cholera, were preparing for  the invasion of the Crimea, when on July 31, 1854, Lord Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards, issued the following Army memorandum: “A large part of the Army being employed in Turkey, where it has been found beneficial to keep the upper lip unshaven and allow the moustache to grow, the general commanding-in-chief is pleased to authorise that practice in the Army generally.” The permission was, however, limited by a proviso which required “a clear space of two inches between the corner of the mouth and the whiskers (if any), the chin and under lip, and two inches of the throat to be kept shaven.” Whiskers went after 1870, and nowadays the moustache has come under the Queen’s Regulations for all branches of the Service. So much so indeed that only a year ago the authorities at the Horse Guards learned with indignation that young officers in certain regiments did not sufficiently cultivate the growth of moustaches by omitting to shave the upper lip, in consequence of which general officers commanding have now instructions to suppress such irregularities by any means that they  "may think necessary.”

The photograph on this post is taken from the Sherwood Foresters Regimental Annual for 1909 and shows Lt-Colonel Owen Cadogan Wolley Dod DSO (1863-1942) who, as well as commanding the 1st Battalion, also sported some terrific whiskers.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Regimental chronicles and annuals wanted

I started the year with a single copy of the Rifle Brigade Chronicle on my bookshelves; the Chronicle for 1912.  I end the year with a virtually complete run of RB Chronicles from 1890 to the 1980s, and the KRRC Chronicle from 1901 to 1920, and a small run of the Sherwood Foresters annual from 1909 to 1920. Not a bad year, but it did mean that I had to buy more bookshelves.

Neveretheless, there are gaps, and I urgently seek the following volumes to complete otherwise complete runs:

Rifle Brigade Chronicle
1914, 1915, 1926, 1931, 1940, 1941, 1942

King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle
1915, 1919

In addition, I am looking to buy regimental chronicles for other regiments so if you have any for sale, please drop me a line.