The following ‘dit’ from my time as a Royal marine.
Day one as a raw recruit being addressed by the ‘Troop’ Drill Instructor (who would ever forget their’s)? Colour Sergeant Ray Speed R.M. a six-foot tall veteran of Borneo, Sarawak and Aden. His dry sense of humour was legendary, as was his ability to bring down flying birds with a roaring bellow!
The drill shed at the Commando Training Centre with the recruit Troop stood-to in three ranks, (after the obligatory ‘visit’ to the barbers shop). From his immaculately pressed lovat trousers he produced a set of the most fiendishly looking ‘tweezers’ and held them aloft for all to see.
They were not your usual off the shelf ‘lady tweezers’. The ones produced were forged from WWII marlinspikes, capable of withdrawing the tusks from an African elephant, and this man looked as though he was more than capable of doing it.
The DI cast his eye over his newly acquired batch and said “after my inspection I will give permission for those with a recognised ‘Queens Regulation’ moustache to retain it, but only after submission of a request form. Those who attempt to grow one thereafter can only do so after 9 months basic training ends; that is if you are still here! As from 07:00 hrs tomorrow anything that grows on your top lip belongs to me; do we understand” Oh yes, we did understand.
“I want a volunteer; you’ll do” (he said), pointing his pace stick at a poor unfortunate stood next to me; “come here” and out jumped ‘one volunteer’ with an awful blonde scrawny ‘seven a side’ moustache. “That above your lip is pathetic, my sixteen year old daughter has a better growth than that”.
The DI then ‘asked’ for permission to assist him in the removal of one hair, thus reducing his growth to a six/seven a side moustache. After inspection only one brave soul retained his acceptable full-grown moustache, (which in truth was previously a fire hazard), only the earlier skill of the barber’s blade re-shaped it into ‘Queen’s Reg’s standard (Tom Selleck style).
At the end of training my ‘chit’ went in, respectfully requesting permission to grow a moustache, of which Alpha Company’s Warrant Officer advised me would be inspected after 14 days growth… I still have it to this day, regulation style.
Royal Naval ranks are entitled to wear a trimmed full beard. Without a full beard they are entitled to sideburns cut horizontal to the length of the bottom of the ear lobe, they are not entitled to grow a moustache.
Royal Marines are not entitled to wear a full beard (unless special operations dictate otherwise) they are entitled to grow a regulation moustache with side burns that stop half way down the length of the ear, cut horizontally.
In my early years as a young *marine (a *rank before Lance Corporal) such regulations proved to be a bonus, (especially if it ‘kicked off’ in Union Street, Plymouth). Matelots and Bootnecks were instantly recognisable from each other, as were civvies. It was a bonus if a French ship was alongside as the ‘marin’s (sailors) were instantly recognised by their uniforms and ‘tiddly pompon’ caps, which stood out in a crowded bar.
In a drunken brawl the Queen and her Regulations provided instant recognition from friend & foe alike… (Gawd bless her)!
[Have we not all had an indiscretion at some point in our career, it’s one reason why I was chosen for the boxing squad, such was my defence when the Corps was insulted by a huge French Marin, whilst quaffing ale in The Mayflower Public House, which is a long story]. But as I said to my old Colonel when presented to his table “Sir, I used the minimum force necessary to restrain the man who assaulted me” (as advised by the Regimental Sergeant Major prior to being marched in). Result; no further action taken, salute, about turn, quick march…
Here is a little pearl from the past.
~Beards and Moustaches in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines~
Circular No. 36.-LMM.
Admiralty, 24th June, 1869,
Beards and Moustaches in the Royal Navy.
The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have had under their consideration the provisions of the Chapter 44, Article 43, page 336 of the regulations forbidding the wearing of Beards and Moustaches by Officers and Men of the Fleet.
Representations having been made to their Lordships that it would conduce to the health and comfort of men, under many circumstances of service, were they to be permitted to discontinue the use of the Razor on board Her Majesty’s Ships, they have been pleased to issue the following Regulations:
1. Clause 43, Chapter 44, of the Regulations is repealed, and Officers and men on board her Majesty’s Ships, including the Royal Marines when embarked, will in future be permitted to wear Beards and Moustaches.
2. In all cases, when the permission granted in Clause I is taken advantage of, the use of the Razor must be entirely discontinued. Moustaches are not to be worn without the Beard, nor is the Beard to be worn without the Moustaches.
3. The Hair of Beard, Moustaches, and whiskers, is to be kept well cut and trimmed, and not too long for cleanliness. The Captain is to give such directions as seem to him desirable upon these heads, and to establish, so far as may be practicable, uniformity as to length of the Hair, Beards, Moustaches, and Whiskers of his Men; observing that those Men who do not avail themselves of the permission to wear Beard and Moustaches will wear their Hair and Whiskers as heretofore.
4. Officers of Divisions will take special care that the provisions of Clauses 2 and 3 are strictly attended to by such of their Men as may avail themselves of the permission contained in Clause 1, and failure in these respects is to be considered as an offence under Article C in the Table of Summary punishments.
5. Royal Marines on shore will follow the Regulations of the Army with regard to Beard and Moustaches.
6. Their Lordships desire that it may be distinctly understood that permission now given to wear Beards and Moustaches is not necessarily to be considered as permanent, and that if neatness and cleanliness are not observed this order will be revoked.
By Command of their Lordships,
W. G. Romaine.
To all Commanders-in-Chief, &c.
Circular No. 67.-LMM.
Admiralty, 8th December, 1869.
Beards and Moustaches for Royal Marines.
1. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have observed that the provisions of Circular No. 36, of 24th June, 1869, have not been uniformly interpreted as to the Royal Marines embarked on board Her Majesty’s Ships, and they are pleased to direct as follows:
2. Officers and Men of the Royal Marines may wear their Moustaches only, when embarked, should they prefer so to do.
3. Considering the hardships that might be involved, in compelling such Officers and Men of the Royal Marines, as elect to wear both Beards and Moustaches when embarked, to shave their Beards on being discharged to Head Quarters on shore, their Lordships are pleased to direct that the permission to wear Beards on board ship, granted by Circular No. 36, shall be extended to all Officer, and Men of the Royal Marines on shore.
4. In other respects, the provisions of the above Circular apply to Royal Marines on shore, as well as afloat, and the attention of Commanding Officers is especially called to the necessity of enforcing neatness and cleanliness
By command of their Lordships,
To: all Commanders-in-Chief.
Just an observation,