Monday, 22 July 2013

I'm so happy my Regiment the Royal Artillery are not cowards after all.

Since I was young boy I always wanted to be a soldier and like many kids of our age would run around the woods with my mates holding sticks and shouting “bang” After being in the Army cadets from around the age of 12 I eventually joined the Junior Leaders Regiment Royal Artillery in September 1978. I was obviously proud as punch when I successfully completed my training and passed out in my best dress (including the white lanyard) in August 1979. I cannot ever remember being told about the Regimental history involving the why Gunners wear the white lanyard and found myself a little depressed when I was told by many `experts` that it was because a Royal Artillery unit ran away from its guns in world War two and had the guns rescued by the Royal Engineers. I am happy to now report that this is a myth and never happened, if it did please can you send me documentary evidence? Another slur on my Regiment was the old story that my battery T battery was involved in Queen Victoria’s funeral and dropped the coffin receiving  a hundred year ban from serving in the UK, again total bunkum, you can read the correct history HERE   Once again I’m happy that my battery was not responsible, but why were we not told the correct history as young Gunners? There will always be inter service rivalry and on the whole most of this is usually good natured, but I have found of late that some comments can become nasty and abusive, I have seen this on Falkland War face book pages, I can get why a lefty tree hugger will want to `bait ` ex service men about their military service but it saddens me when the culprits are veterans themselves, although there are a growing number of `Walter Mitties` about especially on face book forums. You can usually find them out due to lack of any photos of them in military uniforms, the ones that try to `dress up` in e-bay bought uniforms stand out even more with their ridiculous berets and more badges and medals than an American General. While I’m at it another ridiculous myth perpetrated by hacks writing books about the Falklands War is the claim that my Battery only shot down `ONE` Argentine aircraft. Totally preposterous as my Rapier shot down THREE aircraft and the battery shot down 14 confirmed kills in total. I have got into pointless debates with Falkland veterans (usually Royal Navy) on Face book about this on numerous occasions. Its such a shame that so called authors have written history about the Falklands incorrectly and I hope my book Watching Men Burn  may help to redress the balance. We know what we did and my recollections are from my actual combat experience backed up by official Regimental history rather than places like `wikipedea.`  Here is the full intel on the white lanyard.

There has long been a tale about the Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns, 

but the story is nothing more than a piece of leg-pulling. However, it is time to put this particular story to rest.

Lanyards came into use in the late 19th century when Field Gunners manned the 12 and 15 Pounder equipment's

ammunition for which had a fuze set with a fuze key. The key was a simple device, and every man had one, attached

to a lanyard worn around the neck. The key itself tended to be kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was

simply a piece of strong cord, but in time it was a typical soldier's reaction to turn it into something a bit more decorative.

It was smartened up with white ink or even blanco, and braided, gradually taking its present form.

Prior to the South African War, Gunners were issued with steel folding hoof picks, carried on the saddle or in the jacket.

In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced by jack-knives, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the

Service Dress attached to the lanyard over the left shoulder.

During the two World Wars, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard for many of the guns, because

they had a firing mechanism which operated like a trigger. The lanyard could be attached to the trigger mechanism and

allowed the Gunner to stand clear of the gun's recoil.

The question of which shoulder bore the lanyard depends on the date. There is no certainty about this, but the change

from the left shoulder to the right probable took place at about the time of the Great War, when the bandolier was

introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change,

when the sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.

Eventually, in 1933, the end of the lanyard was simply tucked into the breast pocket without the jack-knife, though

many will remember that it was often kept in place with the soldier's pay-book! On the demise of Battledress, the

lanyard disappeared for a short time, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1973.

For those still plagued by jokers, the simplest answer to any leg-pulling is to invite the joker to produce evidence:

no change can take place to any of the Army's dress regulations without an appropriate order,

and since no such evidence exists, the joker's story falls flat on its face.

. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyards -

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!!!


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