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Remembered Today:

Bye, bye 'tache


Steven Broomfield

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Steven Broomfield

From today's Times, possibly settling a topic much-discussed on this Forum. The item was originally published on this day in 1916.

 

An Army Order issued last night directs that in paragraph 1,606 of the King’s Regulations the words “but not the upper lip” shall be deleted. The paragraph originally read: “The hair of the head will be kept short. The chin and under lip will be shaved, but not the upper lip. Whiskers, if worn, will be of moderate length.”

That the moustache should now no longer be compulsory in the Army may come as a surprise to the older, and as a relief to some of the younger, members of the Service. Though not, as history shows, an ancient institution, it had become sufficiently time-honoured, and was a mark of the British soldier, whether it was the newly joined ploughboy’s youthful wisp of straw-coloured hair or the cognita canities of the veteran with a long record of service under tropic suns. But in civilian circles fashion has been going against it steadily for the last 20 years or more, and its compulsory growth by clean-shaven civilians on joining the Army must have often gone against the grain. More than one pattern has been evolved of late and the now permissible clean sweep of the razor over the upper lip every morning will probably occupy less time than some of the niggling operations which the latest developments render necessary.

It must always be a moot point whether the moustache adorns the person or not, but the evidence of civilized humanity is on the whole against it. It was a barbarism in the ancient world — witness the statue of the dying gladiator; it was not until after the Crimea that the modern world came to tolerate it in polite society. But the soldier in many countries and in many ages has worn it, either as a symbol of his manhood or a terror to his enemies. Neither of these reasons for wearing it is as cogent as they were. The hispid and the horrific count for little in practical warfare, we are not believers in the doctrine of Schrecklichkeit, and the moustache does not make the man.

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That's very interesting! I must investigate and see if the Times ever discusses the non-moustache status of the Royal Navy.

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Caprolagus hispidus?

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Steven Broomfield

Jugged, I assume.

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19 hours ago, seaJane said:

That's very interesting! I must investigate and see if the Times ever discusses the non-moustache status of the Royal Navy.

I think that in the RN, then and now, you must either shave completely or not at all, so a moustache without a beard (or vice versa) was not an option.

 

Ron

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58 minutes ago, Ron Clifton said:

I think that in the RN, then and now, you must either shave completely or not at all, so a moustache without a beard (or vice versa) was not an option.

 

Ron

 

Correct. However, when we went "Darn Sarf", those who boasted a "full set" had to shave so as to make a good seal when, and if, a respirator was worn.

I did take part in Movember a couple of years  ago and eventually sported a rather dashing CSM Bourne type Victorian number. I couldn't wait to remove it though, the itching drove me potty!!

 

Trev

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As large numbers of both Officers and men ignored, failed to comply or were unable to comply (lack of natural growth on the stipulated part) with KR's para 1.106 it was another case of changing the rules after the practise was not being complied with. The mark of the pre-war Regular consigned to history.

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5 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

I think that in the RN, then and now, you must either shave completely or not at all, so a moustache without a beard (or vice versa) was not an option.

 

Ron

You're quite right - but all the origin stories that I've heard have been so apocryphal that it would be good to find any other source.

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