The Army Moustache

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The Army Moustache

Postby rclpillinger » 24 Nov 2013 22:18

I am copying an article that my Grandfather wrote in October 1913 for the XRH Gazette, and will soon publish it on his website http://www.majorpillinger.com concerning the regulation moustache.

In the article he, somewhat forcefully, poo-poos the idea that there is any truth in the rumour in London that the War Office is to abolish parargraph 1695 of the King's Regulations regarding shaving the upper lip.

I have it in my mind that this paragraph was never rescinded but merely waned and was disregarded during the Great War. Does anyone know if this is the case or was the pararaph withdrawn?

Richard
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby jf42 » 25 Nov 2013 12:19

I can't post chapter and verse but in seeking to inform myself I found the following.

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php ... moustache/

http://wwidiary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/ ... oblem.html

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 5B838DF1D3

Certainly one only has to look at photographs from after 1860 to see that through much of the period up to 1916 there were officers and soldiers who, when in barracks or cantonment, went clean shaven. What discussions there may have been with the Adjutant or Sergeant Major, one can only guess.

Curiously enough, I was about to post a question regarding the order of July 1854 that allowed troops to leave the upper lip unshaven. In 'British Infantry Uniforms since 1660', Michael Barthorp attributes this change as "following the example of the Crimean regiments", a curiously imprecise statement since the British expeditionary troops were at that stage on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria where they had landed in May after a two months sojourn at Gallipoli. I was wondering whether there was a more specific, perhaps more accurate explanation for the change; whether for instance the order was indeed the result of a relaxation of regulations among the expeditionary troops or whether the decision, like the new uniforms issued in 1855, had been in the pipeline for longer and it was coincidence that the order was issued during the absence of an expeditionary force from British shores.

The fashion of wearing a full beard in the late 1850s was clearly a result of conditions in the lines before Sebastopol and in India during the Mutiny but moustachios, which had first become fashionable among cavalrymen in the Napoleonic period, were an element of male grooming long before 1854.
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby Josh&Historyland » 25 Nov 2013 13:13

The Crimean beard as we might call it came about, partly at least, at Varna before the army sailed to the Crimea. During the summer of 1853 before the invasion two things contributed to the no shave policy that became almost general throughout the war.
Varna had a very poor supply of water. Therefore what was there could not be used for much else than eating and drinking, certainly heating it to shave was a impractical luxury. Also there was a large proportion of ad razors in the camp, which were either issued blunt, or lost their edge too quickly. Facial abrasions became common due to the bad razors (and possible dry shaving!!!) salt water would only make matters worse as would cold. And it apparently caused concearn for regimental surgeon's.
Neverthless The beards started with the officers, the young subaltern's that were usually the cause of such regulation rebellions, they had already been taken to task for their interesting dress sense (odd coming from Raglan, who tried to ape the Duke on so many ways, not always successfully of course). As the subaltern's began to grow these regrettable moustaches and whiskers, the men started too, General Sir George Brown commanding the Light Division was one of the most outspoken critics of facial hair but the complaints of senior officers were met by the hollering of medical officers, and soon the Times began to take up the fight, until at last it was referred to the Duke of Newcastle Minister for War. Captain Wilson wrote that he:

"Like a sensible man - broke up the agitation by issuing an order to the effect, that the officers and soldier's might henceforth consult their own tastes with regards to the preservation or extirpation of whiskers and mustachios. Thus did the beard triumph! Thus it was that the army, from being a band of shavelings, gradually assumed the grisly presence of a host of Esaus'"

That's just plain entertaining writing. Though plain may not best describe the prose in which a man refers to the bearded son of Isaac.

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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby grumpy » 25 Nov 2013 17:31

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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby rclpillinger » 06 Dec 2013 16:03

Sorry that I have not been able to reply before, but we have now moved to Norfolk from Kent but I am still having to go back south to work all week.

Anyway, all the interesting replies seem to answer my questions. It seems the Regulation was recinded in 1916, with the order signed on 6th October (my birthday, although not in 1916, obviously!) but this was really perpetrated by something of a groundswell of reluctance to shaving the top lip amongst the ranks.

In the circumstances of being in the trenches, it is perhaps not surprising that this should happen, but I wonder, did the Regulation 1695 apply every Regiment or was it just the Cavelry?

Richard
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby Army aviation » 20 Jan 2014 22:22

Maybe slightly off track, but I read somewhere that the tradition/need to wear beards or splendid whiskers whilst on campaign died out during the Zulu war, as the Zulus at Isandlwana had not seen such splendid facial hair , so the hacked off the jaw of the dead soldiers and took them as trophies. The soldiers who discovered their comrades saw this and decided to shave beards ( but not moustaches!) except the pioneer sgt of course! Anybody else heard this?
"......to hold our ground........"
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby jf42 » 01 Apr 2017 14:05

More facial hair

The First Battalion [12th East Suffolk] went to Melbourne, Australia in 1854 and helped to suppress a miners' revolt at the Eureka Stockade. It moved to Tasmania, but during the next few years it was spread over Australia, with companies at Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

In 1860, two companies were sent to New Zealand to help contain the rebelling native Maoris. Further companies followed and over the next six years the Battalion took part in many actions against the Maoris in the dense and entangled bush of New Zealand. It was to earn the Battle Honour New Zealand for its services there. In 1867 it returned to England and then Ireland...

General Sir lan Hamilton joined the First Battalion in Ireland and recalled how, as a result of their long campaigning in New Zealand, from the Colonel downwards there was a cult of wearing long hair and sweeping mustachios with only a small space on the chin subject to shaving.

The History of The Suffolk Regiment Written by Eric Lummis

http://www.suffolkregiment.org/Suffolk_History.html
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby Maureene » 01 Apr 2017 14:59

There was post on the Great War Forum which advised an Army Order was issued 6 October 1916 which meant that moustaches were no longer compulsory in the Army
http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forum ... bye-tache/

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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby jf42 » 01 Apr 2017 17:41

Always good to see chapter and verse. Thanks, Maureen
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby rclpillinger » 01 Apr 2017 20:56

I have very recently amended a note at the end of my Grandfather's article to give the correct facts on this point, having been given the "chapter and verse" by a member of another web-group.

[url]http://majorpillinger.com/the-army-moustache-2/[/url]
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Re: The Army Moustache

Postby jf42 » 25 Jun 2017 11:14

Further to our previous discussions, and references in particular to the adjustment of regulations in 1854, those who have followed this discussion might be interested to see the following:

" Horse Guards Circular Memorandum 21st July 1854

A large part of the Army being employed in Turkey, where it had ben found beneficial to keep the upper lip unshaven and allow the moustache to grow, the General Commanding-in-Chief is pleased to authorize that practice in the army in general, subject to the following regulations, which are to be striclty obeyed in Home and Colonial service.

A clear space of two inches must be left between the corner of the mouth and the whisker- when whiskers are grown. The chin, the under lip and at least to inches of the upper part of the throat must be clean shaven, so that no hair can be seen above the stock in that place.

The wearing of the moustache is to be optional with all ranks.

The troops serving in the East will be allowed further latitude, in repct of shaving their beards and whiskers, as the General officer Commanding that Army may deem it expedient to sanction during the continuance of that serivce

By command Geo. Cathcart A.G. "


JSAHR, Vol XVIII, Autumn 1939, No.71
Photography in the Crimea (VI), Capt H. Oakes Jones
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