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Remembered Today:

Improperly dressed - while on furlough


Chris_Baker
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I have the service record of a soldier who was charged in December 1911 of being "Improperly dressed in the public street in Naas at 8.20pm, while on furlough".

Now I always thought furlough meant leave, as in home leave. I presume from this charge it also means a short-term pass-out. Could someone confirm? And which Kings regulation would cover the state of a man's dress while on furlough?

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I think from having read a number of pre WW1 memoirs that furlough merely meant leave that was requested and granted and didn't necessarily mean a lengthy time away. "Can I have the afternoon to go to my brother's wedding" would still be a furlough. Many regiments had their own specific rules about walking out dress (size of swagger cane etc) and these varied from unit to unit but seem to have been vigorously enforced.

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When I was in the U.S. Army 25 years ago it was against army policy to mix military and civilian clothing while off duty. In the 1990s in the Persian Gulf region it was against policy for military personnel to wear t-shirts when out in public. That was probably because of the rude messages on some of them. In the 1980s a U.S. Navy sailor aboard a hijacked plane in the Middle East was murdered for wearing a t-shirt showing the Ayatollah Khomeini with a sniper's reticle crosshairs over his face.

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Check out Hiscocks book "The Bells Of Hell Go Ting a Ling a Ling"..some very good accounts of why Men were crimed for being improperly dressed at Home and in the Field...P.S. i got done by the M.Ps at Victoria Station way back in 1976 when i was caught smoking whilst in Uniform.whilst returning from my first tour of Northern Ireland... :o

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Hello Chris

"Improperly dressed" could simply mean "in plain clothes without permission." Such permission was shown on the furlough form and initialled by an officer. See paras 1310 and 1694 of Kings Regs 1912 in particular. Adjacent paras give further information, including the bit about not smoking in uniform.

Ron

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His Majesty's forces were walking recruitment posters when they were out in the streets; I've read accounts of men being attracted to a particular regiment because of the 'walking out dress' The reverse of that was that the authorities took great interest in how they were turned out at all times! As the charge relates to 1911, the full peacetime spit & polish regime was in force.

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It could be something as simple as being out of camp in uniform and not wearing a cap or belt or anything else that caught a provost's eye. I don't know the KR but it was still a jankers offence in the 50s.

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Not related to recruitment but I have anecdotal evidence of at least one unit in Italy in WW2. Next to the door of the unit guardhouse was a full-length mirror which all soldiers passed as they left camp. The notice above the mirror said:

"Do you look like a victorious British soldier NOW?"

:lol:

Ron

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Not related to recruitment but I have anecdotal evidence of at least one unit in Italy in WW2. Next to the door of the unit guardhouse was a full-length mirror which all soldiers passed as they left camp. The notice above the mirror said:

"Do you look like a victorious British soldier NOW?"

I wonder what Gunner Milligan's response would have been.

BTW I can remember my first girl friend's father who had been a private in one of the Guards regiments in the 1930s (he ended WW2 as a major) telling the story of being about to go on duty at BP when a pigeon or a seagull did the dirty on him. This alone would have got him in deeper doo doo but he improvised -borrowing a lipstick from a female admirer he camouflaged the offending mark. However it rained and the combination of lipstick, guano, water and whatever dye was in the tunic produced a pink froth, just in time for the sergeant's inspection. He said he didn't see the outside of the barracks for months.

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Many Men were crimed for removing the wire stiffening from their caps whilst trying to emulate the "on active service" look.In Hiscocks "The Bells of Hell go Ting a Ling a Ling",he covers in some detail the various customizations that men had carried out on their uniforms,not only were these men charged with being Improperly dressed,but were also charged with defacing the Kings Uniform and damaging Govt Property..Phew !

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