Friday, January 1, 2016

PROBABLY OF NO INTEREST TO ANYONE BUT MYSELF


Up here in the sub-tropical north the rain is pissing down, the farmers have smiles from ear to ear and the happy campers aren't.   I digress.    The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a world class event and last night TV1 scheduled a replay of the 2015 tattoo designed around the 75th anniversary of the 'Battle of Britain'.

One of the many bands to feature was the South Carolina Citadel Regimental Band.   Tradition fascinates me and so perhaps someone could explain how it came about that the 'chinstrap' securing their headgear is not secured under the chin, as you might expect, but rather, under the nose.   Would have thought that for a bandsman playing a wind instrument that could present breathing problems.

One suspects the explanation is as simple as what happened when 1 RNZIR returned from Borneo to garrison duties at Terendak.   In Borneo we formed an alliance with the Durham Light Infantry.   In recognition of that alliance it was decided to adopt their stable belt.   Initially they were restricted to only four persons; The CO (Poananga), the Adjutant (Chippendale), the RSM (Morgan) and the Orderly Officer.    A battalion parade had been scheduled and as it happened it was my job as the Orderly Officer to escort the CO down the steps from Battalion HQ to the parade ground.   With the parade formed up I knocked on the CO's door and said words to the effect 'you're on Sir'.   When 'Po' stood up I noticed he had his stable belt done up at the front instead of on the left hand side as was normal.   I 'gently' pointed this out to him.   His response ... 'In MY Battalion this is the way we do it'.   I quickly re-positioned my stable belt.   Following him down the steps to thje parade ground I made urgent gestures to the Adjutant and the RSM pointing to my stable belt.   They quickly re-positioned theirs.    And so, for the remainder of the tour, we did our stable belts up in the middle and it was not until the John Brooke battalion arrived in November 1967 that the 'tradition' was reversed.

halifax2.jpg

19 comments:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Reminds me of a very senior NZ Anglican who organised a conference of the World Council of Churches (mob of commies) somewhere or other some many years ago.

The primate of one of those eastern orthodox outfits from Wherikstan was scheduled to open proceedings by carrying in the ornate ceremonial bible. He didn't show up so someone else was deputed so to do. Half an hour later, the errant primate turned up with his retinue and marched in. Our enterprising Kiwi, sensing a cause celebre, quickly handed him an ornate tome and signaled the moderator of the conference to halt proceedings. The late primate ceremoniously walked to the top table and handed over the ceremonial bible. All faces were saved. Peace and unity reigned.

But


The ceremonial tome was actually the visitor's book. The bible was already in there and to this day the primate of Wherikstan thinks he carried the bible.

Ray said...

Love it, on the Lee Enfield rifle forums there are discussions on how the sling should be mounted but in truth it was how the CO or more likely the RSM wanted on what was the 'right' way

alwyn said...

The Citadel band may merely be following the traditions of West Point, the Army Military Academy.
Their headgear for the full dress uniform has the strap running across their chin, just below the lower lip. That would be even harder to play a wind instrument. The band may simply push it up above the upper lip to make playing possible.
Who did it first is of course open to debate.
It isn't a very good photo but you may be able to see the effect here
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=photo+west+point+cadet+in+dress+uniform&tbm=isch&imgil=V9Bqqh4ZC9EpsM%253A%253Bv4ijAInQI5y3xM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fen.wikipedia.org%25252Fwiki%25252FUniforms_of_the_United_States_Army&source=iu&pf=m&fir=V9Bqqh4ZC9EpsM%253A%252Cv4ijAInQI5y3xM%252C_&biw=1680&bih=933&usg=__pQNniwN_0fqNFRbr4T0xHwFQ3lE%3D&ved=0ahUKEwj9r4easIfKAhXIFqYKHXq8B6IQyjcIJg&ei=5sqFVv2kF8itmAX6-J6QCg#imgrc=XpBBO7itVu3w6M%3A&usg=__pQNniwN_0fqNFRbr4T0xHwFQ3lE%3D

alwyn said...

Sorry. I seem to have messed the link up.
If you want to look just try googling "photo west point cadet dress uniform" and pick something with photos.

Noel said...

Reminds me of a visit by a senior officer to a field comcen where I was shift NCO.
He appeared to accept my explanation that the mess of torn tape on the floor was always cleared at shift change whilst the primary task was to forward traffic to his HQ in a timely manner. He then removed his handkerchief to blow his nose and in
doing so caused some coins to come out of his pocket and roll into the gaps between the duckboard timbers.
As the officer left his accompanying junior officer told me to lift the duckboards.
I said that would happen at shift change and mentioned that any coin found was always put into "the fund".
Was interesting to sight him remove his pen and attempt to secure the coins.

Anonymous said...

I suspect it is the same reason why steel helmets were NEVER secured under the chin by front line soldiers. In Napoleonic battles when you engaged the enemy with the bayonet the first thing you did was get rid of the kilo of leather on your head, quickly, and a small cannon ball striking your Shako could break your neck if the chin strap was under your chin. It is a British tradition from the guards regiments to wear the strap on your face and as most US academies take their traditions from either the French or British armies it's easy to see where it came from.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

MiLord ... not sure about your assertion that steel helmets were never secured under the chin.

If you had ever tried to run with a steel helmet on you would quickly realize why.

The current Mk7 helmet has a very substantial chinstrap that covers most of the chin and SOP is for it always to be done up.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that just shows how long it has been since NZ soldiers fought a war against an enemy that used used artillery and mortars as matter of coarse.

I believe the the last time our troops came under sustained mortar or shellfire was WW2. Almost every photo taken of soldiers in combat show the strap around the back of the neck or dangling because a close explosion would and did break necks or at best cause severe damage to the trachea.

The Americans learned the hard way that tight chinstraps in amphibious operations cause deaths. Even the simple act of jumping a few feet into water broke necks.

All the accumulated wisdom gained in combat can be found within the covers of a few books, yet the lessons of life have to be learned time and time again by each generation and fees for that schooling are heavy.

Lord Egbut Nobacon

The Veteran said...

MiLord ... re Arty/Mortar fire. Try Korea (Kapyong) or Vietnam (Balmoral) or everyday operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (all involving NZ troops). Sorry, wearing of the helmet nowadays is de rigueur.

I agree that in jungle ops they arn't necessary (or even practical) although I can say with some assurance that if you are ever in a position where you had to call Arty fire down to on top of you (danger close) in order to be able to break contact when you were pinned down against a superior force a helmet would have been very welcome.

Anonymous said...

Shifting the goalposts again I see. It's not about helmets, it;s about chin straps. I also said "sustained and a matter of course."


Balmoral was a one off and our battery (161) was 1000 metres away from Balmoral and moved into Coral AFTER the mortaring of the previous days.. NZ troops were not mortared in Afghanistan or Iraq. The odd round or RPG perhaps but not mortared in the conventional sense. And even if they were bombed all contemporary photographs show our smiling gunners (161) with blood buckets sans chinstraps. I will look at Kapyong later.

Wearing of helmets maybe de rigueur, chin straps are not or at least shouldn't be. You asked the question, it's not my fault if you don't like the answer.

Lord Egbut

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Legbut, you are a tiger for punishment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Adolf, I've been naughty, beat me.

The veteran sent me down a path that was very interesting (it's raining) Forty seven New Zealanders died in Korea almost all of them from accident, disease while a few died serving as Arty observers with the British or Canadian Infantry. Two died while serving in the Australian army. One died while serving with 5 Dragoons Tank Regt. (Centurions).

Accidents on the gun line through premature detonation were designated as KIA. The number of those killed by enemy shellfire while in the gun area was five in three years. There was only one incidence of serious shelling on the 31 Sept 1953 Two KIA one wounded. Kapyong was shell free.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

MiLord ... thank you for your contributions and particularly your 'expert' opinion that helmets should never be secured. All I know is (1) that on the one occasion I was ever subjected to shell fire (albeit our own) I would have been very grateful for a helmet and (2) nowadays the wearing of the helmet properly secured is de rigueur. Google up the Mark 7 helmet and learn.

Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and as in all of the wars that have been fought since Korea the west has not had to contend with a conventional enemy with all the HE kit. To strap or not to strap that is the question.

This is best answered by Audie Murphy (most decorated American G.I in World War II) Murphy was told to undo the strap to stop the blast of explosions not only tearing off his helmet but his head along with it. "Well how do I keep it on then?" asks Murphy. "You don't" was the cheerful reply.
He then goes on to lose his helmet, win the war and get shot in the arse - which, while painful, certainly took his mind off loosing his hat.

But I'm sure that the Mk7 must have some safety devise to prevent this happening.

Lord Egbut Nobacon

Noel said...

Murphys helmet was the old M1 model. Designed to stop junk falling on you head. The 7 is designed for ballistcs to 9mm, blunt force truma as well as things falling on your head.
In addition its designed to attach sights, comms gear and more. And unlike the M1 it has a decent chinstrap that's easy to do up and designed to keep the helmet stable during the rigours of military activity.

Anonymous said...

For Christ's sake, I don't give a tart's fart whether it will stop a bus or sing the national anthem in Swahili. The question was why did soldiers of yore wear their chin straps on their face or not at all when in combat.

If you can't work it out then you are as dim as Patton who insisted that officers wore ties and that helmet straps be attached. That lasted until the egotistical twat's jeep disappeared round the bend. Now ask yourself, why do the police wear clip on ties?

Lord Egbut

Noel said...

By Vietnam it was practice for the chin strap of the M1 to be permantly cipped out of the way whist relying on the helmet liner webbing to stabilise the helment.
You're right experience is the best teacher.
You never see a photo of a Brit patrol in Afghanistan with their chinstraps undone.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Legbut.

In which active theatre did you serve? You seem to know so much more than everyone else.

Shelldrake said...

Adolf;

Hear, Hear. I only wish I knew as much on a single subject as M'Lord seems to know on everything.

I guess that is the gift bestowed on the upper class