Author Topic: British regimental culture  (Read 2973 times)

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Offline Lancer212

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British regimental culture
« on: April 25, 2019, 10:31:42 »
I recently met an officer of the Queen's Royal Hussars (UK) and we had a great chat about their regimental culture.
I was envious to hear about their traditions, mess life, sports culture (they have a team for virtually every sport, from skiing to soccer..), sense of heritage (new members are taught the regimental history visiting battlefields and museums, required readings etc), the relationship with civilians (parade often in towns, visits to/from schools, royalty and politicians, the media etc), and above, all regimental identity. Each UK regiment seems to be extremely proud of who they are (he said 'as a Hussar, I..' at least 20 times) and they express their unique identities through different (and very sharp) uniforms and a healthy rivalry. Even when they wear combats, they will wear a stable belt with the regimental colours and a regimental flag patch on the arm.

I was wondering how does this compare to regimental life and identity in Canada? 
It is sad that only Reserve regiments kept distinctive headdresses DEUs/mess/ceremonial uniforms. Is there any plan to bring them back to the RegF?
Which Cdn Regiments would be more similar to this British regimental culture? I've heard in the PRes side the QoR, Black Watch and in the RegF maybe LdSH?

Cheers!

Offline Remius

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2019, 10:59:16 »
Interesting topic. 

Regimental culture is very much a thing but it is driven by the membership and especially the officers and senior NCOs.

The PRes has plenty of links to British regimental culture.  Many of those units have string links to their British counterparts.  Highland units especially have kept some traditions and orders of dress that eh British have dropped.  Guards units in Canada have many of the same regimental traditions and identifiers.

But so does the Reg force.  The RCR, PPCLI and 22eme, RCDs etc all have ceremonial dress, traditions.  Various units have sports teams, mess life, sense of heritage.  Some units have rivalries historical, and perceived based on all sorts of factors.

Regimental life is a thing in Canada but it will vary from unit to unit and isn't limited to a Pres/Reg force thing.   

   
Optio

Offline Lancer212

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2019, 20:40:09 »
I'd love to hear from CAF members who have been posted to UK regiments and vice-versa to hear their experiences

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 00:12:17 »
I'd love to hear from CAF members who have been posted to UK regiments and vice-versa to hear their experiences

There's a difference between 'regiment' and 'tribe', it's just less obvious in the British Army, which is made up of people from a country who revel in their different accents, traditions and other regional tribal trappings, even in a non-military context.

Regardless, I'd be wary of equating how awesome people feel about their regiments with operational efficiency. Buttons, bows and bunting do not necessarily a reliable unit make, and 'drillers' most definitely do not always make the best 'killers'.

There were some regiments in the British Army that I would not have wanted on my right or left flank if there was a Canadian one available instead. Seriously.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Remius

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 07:48:35 »
There's a difference between 'regiment' and 'tribe', it's just less obvious in the British Army, which is made up of people from a country who revel in their different accents, traditions and other regional tribal trappings, even in a non-military context.

Is that not what we have here to some extent?  We have a third of our force that speak and operate in another language.  And I'm not just talking about all the Newfoundlanders... ;D
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 09:00:19 »
Is that not what we have here to some extent?  We have a third of our force that speak and operate in another language.  And I'm not just talking about all the Newfoundlanders... ;D

Yeah, um, start with that... and then times it by about a hundred to get an idea of what it's like in the UK.....  :nod:
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Lancer212

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 09:59:12 »
Regardless, I'd be wary of equating how awesome people feel about their regiments with operational efficiency. Buttons, bows and bunting do not necessarily a reliable unit make, and 'drillers' most definitely do not always make the best 'killers'.
There were some regiments in the British Army that I would not have wanted on my right or left flank if there was a Canadian one available instead. Seriously.

Agreed. No one said regimental pride translates to operational efficiency. This post is only about the particularities of regimental culture and traditions in the British Forces, nothing else.

Offline quadrapiper

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 18:17:07 »
Yeah, um, start with that... and then times it by about a hundred to get an idea of what it's like in the UK.....  :nod:
And cram that heightened tribal approach, and 66 million people, into an area smaller than Labrador.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 18:19:53 »
And cram that heightened tribal approach, and 66 million people, into an area smaller than Labrador.

And all The Rifles regimental Officers have Labradors, black, each, stupid, one :) 
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 07:06:59 »
And all The Rifles regimental Officers have Labradors, black, each, stupid, one :)

Also a Brit gunner thing. We used to call them Dogs, RA.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 08:21:54 »
And all The Rifles regimental Officers have Labradors, black, each, stupid, one :)

The logical follow on question: Who provides more inspired and capable leadership: the Labradors or the Rifles officers?  And who drools less and is less inbred?
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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2019, 08:51:19 »
Is that not what we have here to some extent?  We have a third of our force that speak and operate in another language.  And I'm not just talking about all the Newfoundlanders... ;D

I think it's unfair to just single out Newfoundlanders when I've met many rural maritimers!
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 09:17:53 »
The logical follow on question: Who provides more inspired and capable leadership: the Labradors or the Rifles officers?  And who drools less and is less inbred?

They each made good company. Let's just leave that one there :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2019, 21:55:23 »
And all The Rifles regimental Officers have Labradors, black, each, stupid, one :)

I spent some time with the "Rifles" and had a very stupid Retriever, Golden.  I was considered a renegade.

I was also considered odd as Thor only came to work with me once a week, vice every day.....
"The higher the rank, the more necessary it is that boldness should be accompanied by a reflective mind....for with increase in rank it becomes always a matter less of self-sacrifice and more a matter of the preservation of others, and the good of the whole."

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 22:14:29 »
I spent some time with the "Rifles" and had a very stupid Retriever, Golden.  I was considered a renegade.

I was also considered odd as Thor only came to work with me once a week, vice every day.....

On the upside, they usually train their dogs well in the UK so having them around isn't the same as in North America where its easy to confuse many people's pets with spoiled children.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline medicineman

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 22:15:33 »
I spent some time with the "Rifles" and had a very stupid Retriever, Golden.  I was considered a renegade.

I was also considered odd as Thor only came to work with me once a week, vice every day.....


I would have thought they consider you odd because of your accent and your down to Earth attitude...

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 22:26:38 »
On the upside, they usually train their dogs well in the UK so having them around isn't the same as in North America where its easy to confuse many people's pets with spoiled children.

That is because they live with their dogs, and send their kids to kennels boarding schools
"The higher the rank, the more necessary it is that boldness should be accompanied by a reflective mind....for with increase in rank it becomes always a matter less of self-sacrifice and more a matter of the preservation of others, and the good of the whole."

Karl von Clausewitz

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2019, 00:13:31 »
That is because they live with their dogs, and send their kids to kennels boarding schools

Which is likely why British Dogs are rarely seen cross dressing....
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline medicineman

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2019, 08:04:03 »
Which is likely why British Dogs are rarely seen cross dressing....

No kilts even?

MM
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Remember the basics of Medicine - "Pink is GOOD, Blue is BAD, Air goes in AND out, Blood Goes Round and Round"

I may sound like a pessimist, but I am a realist.

Offline AlDazz

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2019, 20:19:50 »
Canadian regimental culture is based on the process developed in Britain during the First World War.  The idea was to gather soldiers from a common area and train them in a regiment that would reinforce their geographic identity.  Having common traditions and language dialects would unite a fighting formation with the idea that they would never let one of their own down.  The regimental tradition also brings a sense of pride as regimental histories can go back hundreds of years. 

The Canadian regimental system is a bit of mixed bag.  Regular force regiments can draw on volunteers from across the country.  It is common for soldiers to request to stay as close to home as possible but you can join in BC and ask for the PPCLI and get sent the RCR in NB.  Soldiers from Quebec due to language will probably be posted to Five Brigade units.  Reserve regiments on the other hand are responsible for recruiting their own soldiers and this only done locally. These units represent the old school fashion of maintaining regimental identities.

Is the regimental system vital to maintaining our Army?  At the start of the First World War our units were smashed together in a haphazard fashion by the then Minister of Militia but went on to achieve remarkable battlefield victories without having any history to stiffen their spines.  Soldiers in the end will fight to protect their friends and save themselves with little thought of regiment or country.  This may be so but its the regimental system that binds them together in training preparing them for the battles to come.  They loyalty to each other created during this period is what allows regiments to get the job done.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2019, 23:30:14 »
Having a regiment from one area or division in the case of the US is very tough on the civilian population with regar to casualties.After the lesson of WW1 in the Regular Army saw recruiting from a much wider base. Up to the Korean war only the National Guard still recruited from a geographical area even to this day that remains the case.

Offline Canuck_Jock

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2019, 13:45:28 »
Yes, the Regimental system is a monumental topic and worthy of a small library in and of itself. I originally went to the UK to join the British Army in the 80s because I thought it had all the things that we lost in the Canadian Army, tradition was a big part. But so to was the chance to see more of the world than Pet and Cyprus. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The Regiment can be quite a closed world, and I never really thought I joined the British Army so much as I joined the Gordon Highlanders. The battalion was our world. It was generally recruited in a small geographical area, Aberdeen & NE Scotland, but there were small numbers from elsewhere (myself and Oz Macdonald being the only two non-UK*).  That said, I also served in the RE and I found Corps pride, and pride in our wider traditions very real. It used to be that you served in a battalion throughout your career (usually even in multi-bn regiments: RRF, Anglians, etc) but now trickle posting (as per the Corps) is increasingly common in the new amalgamated large regiments.

A good Regiment will instill both pride and high operational standards. Leadership, as in every aspect of military life, is a key driver for this.  Although a career will be with the Regiment for life, exposure to the wider Army is common as JNCOs/SNCOs/Officers will regularly be posted out to training or other operational units and thereby will be exposed to the 'gold standard' of the Army.

Lastly, in the space of my 4 years in the battalion, the Gordons undertook 2 summers of Public Duties (Balmoral and Edinburgh), numerous 'Keep the Army in the Public Eye' PR tours in the Regimental Area and had full guard mounting and other duties in garrison. Lots of spit and polish; a bit of a pain but I actually liked it - tourists in Edinburgh couldn't get enough of us ;-) I saw the RCRs and LdSH guard mounting in London, I spoke to one guy and they were having a blast.

But in that same period of time, a platoon was detached to South Armagh, we deployed as the Resident Infantry Coy in the Falklands (Coy+), got smashed on Otterburn and the Highlands more times than I care to remember, and then did an op tour in Belfast in 1990.  'Drillers' may not be 'killers', but a soldier that looks like a shower is not necessarily more operationally effective. The acme of a good soldier is the ability to go between operational/ceremonial duties and stay effective, switched on and with their sense of humour intact.

*I joined the Army in 1987. There had been a Canadian in the Gordons a little before me - I found out the hard way because this guy went AWOL and many guys jokingly wondered if I was going to do the same.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2019, 21:35:34 »
Yes, the Regimental system is a monumental topic and worthy of a small library in and of itself. I originally went to the UK to join the British Army in the 80s because I thought it had all the things that we lost in the Canadian Army, tradition was a big part. But so to was the chance to see more of the world than Pet and Cyprus. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The Regiment can be quite a closed world, and I never really thought I joined the British Army so much as I joined the Gordon Highlanders. The battalion was our world. It was generally recruited in a small geographical area, Aberdeen & NE Scotland, but there were small numbers from elsewhere (myself and Oz Macdonald being the only two non-UK*).  That said, I also served in the RE and I found Corps pride, and pride in our wider traditions very real. It used to be that you served in a battalion throughout your career (usually even in multi-bn regiments: RRF, Anglians, etc) but now trickle posting (as per the Corps) is increasingly common in the new amalgamated large regiments.

A good Regiment will instill both pride and high operational standards. Leadership, as in every aspect of military life, is a key driver for this.  Although a career will be with the Regiment for life, exposure to the wider Army is common as JNCOs/SNCOs/Officers will regularly be posted out to training or other operational units and thereby will be exposed to the 'gold standard' of the Army.

Lastly, in the space of my 4 years in the battalion, the Gordons undertook 2 summers of Public Duties (Balmoral and Edinburgh), numerous 'Keep the Army in the Public Eye' PR tours in the Regimental Area and had full guard mounting and other duties in garrison. Lots of spit and polish; a bit of a pain but I actually liked it - tourists in Edinburgh couldn't get enough of us ;-) I saw the RCRs and LdSH guard mounting in London, I spoke to one guy and they were having a blast.

But in that same period of time, a platoon was detached to South Armagh, we deployed as the Resident Infantry Coy in the Falklands (Coy+), got smashed on Otterburn and the Highlands more times than I care to remember, and then did an op tour in Belfast in 1990.  'Drillers' may not be 'killers', but a soldier that looks like a shower is not necessarily more operationally effective. The acme of a good soldier is the ability to go between operational/ceremonial duties and stay effective, switched on and with their sense of humour intact.

*I joined the Army in 1987. There had been a Canadian in the Gordons a little before me - I found out the hard way because this guy went AWOL and many guys jokingly wondered if I was going to do the same.

One of my NCOs in the PARAs had a brother in the Queens Own Highlanders I believe. He told me, with glee, about visiting him at Glencorse when he was a staff NCO there.

'Why did you enjoy it so much?' I asked. He replied, with a glint in his eye: 'Because, Sir, they chain their prisoners to logs!'.

We just made ours carry a small log around everywhere, sans manacles, and he proposed the chaining up process as a continuous improvement measure. It didn't go far, thankfully :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Canuck_Jock

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2019, 08:48:56 »
One of my NCOs in the PARAs had a brother in the Queens Own Highlanders I believe. He told me, with glee, about visiting him at Glencorse when he was a staff NCO there.

'Why did you enjoy it so much?' I asked. He replied, with a glint in his eye: 'Because, Sir, they chain their prisoners to logs!'.

We just made ours carry a small log around everywhere, sans manacles, and he proposed the chaining up process as a continuous improvement measure. It didn't go far, thankfully :)

Now there's a long forgotten memory. Prisoner's running around camp with the log painted in regimental colours, crazy RP staff!

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: British regimental culture
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2019, 09:49:21 »
Now there's a long forgotten memory. Prisoner's running around camp with the log painted in regimental colours, crazy RP staff!

I remember, while serving as a Recruit Platoon Commander at Depot PARA, hearing what I thought was an axe murder in progress, complete with demented, high pitched screaming, thuds, and theatrical groans and loud wailing from apparent victims.

I peeked carefully around the corner to see the RP staff putting the prisoners through the Depot assault course... while carrying their logs. Each wore a pair of highly creased boiler suits and a brilliantly shone metal Airborne helmet, a la 'A Bridge Too Far' but with all the paint polished off.

Dante couldn't have dreamt up anything more terrifying. It tended to keep people on the 'scared straight and narrow' too, which helped...
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon