Down to earth Mess?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by roundup, Mar 8, 2007.

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  1. Hi I've passed the briefing but not been on any fam visits yet. I'm getting on a bit now and have looked again at the army after working elsewhere for a few years. I always intended joining but was put off at uni by a few hurray henrys. I know this doesn't make them bad people or indeed officers but obviously 'fitting in' has to play a big part in regimental choice. Despite my age, I'm interested in the infantry and artillery but am keeping an open mind and have got a RLC visit coming up. So my question is, which regiments (inf and arty) in your experience tend to have the most down to earth officers / messes. I know there probably isn't a straightforward answer, but any feedback may help with organising future fam visits. Cheers.
  2. I was in an RLC Mess the other weekend and saw an RAMC Officer with 12 years experience turfed out for not wearing a blazer and tie. In my opinion he was very smartly dressed in moleskins, black shoes, double cuffed shirt and fitted jumper. Of course the overweight clique that 'owned' the mess looked ridiculous in their cheap blue blazers and outrageously colourful striped ties that belonged on a clown.

    No special occasion, I think they just felt like ruining someone else's evening.

    I'm sure they're not all like that though.

    Edited to add, infact I know they're not. Have spent many good drunken evening in some wonderful RLC messes, although they were in Germany if memory serves.
  3. Roundup - I've pm'd you.
  4. I think you will find most are much more down to earth than you would think - there's not that many stereotypical hooray henry's in the Army, just lots of committed, young, professional people with varied backgrounds wherever you go (a few idiots too, they are few and far between but no unit is exempt from them).

    Interestingly when I was doing the fam visit rounds, the Regiments that I thought would be a bit formal were often the really informal ones and the units I thought would be less formal were a bit stiff so don't believe everything you hear.

    On a broader topic (not just the mess) I have generally found that units with a reputation for being 'less' feel the need to prove something and over compensate by being 'more'. I found some non-teeth arm units alarmingly gung-ho and 'green' compared to infantry units.

    Anyway, get arond the houses and form your own opinions, the visits are great and you dont get much chance to do them once you start at the academy.
  5. Roundup,

    Don't know where you are located but a visit to Gunner YOs at Larkhill would dispell a few myths. Although this is a little more anarchic than most Gunner Regimental Messes it will give a good flavour of your potential peers. In my experience most unit messes are now much more relaxed on a day to day basis. Jacket and tie and suits only worn when really required (dinner etc). we certainly allow the devils cloth/painting trousers for happy hours etc.


  6. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    The only mess where I've ever been made to feel uncomfortable was the Aldershot garrison mess where I got stashed while I was doing a pre-para course in the mid-80s. At the time, it was occupied by a lot of nurses, who were great fun, and some dim-witted ROs who seemed to spend their entire time harumphing at me for walking through the reception area a bit sweaty and carrying a bergan. The last straw was when some fat old trout told me that 'we don't wear jeans at dinner' when I turned up in jacket, tie and a pair of proper cord trousers on a Sunday evening. I commuted from London instead.
  7. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    I was there in November. I doubt it has been decorated since your visit. The place resembles a Cold War era East European hotel, with Sodexho providing staff and food to match. Standards have changed, however, with breakfast being attended by individuals in sports shorts and singlets. I could not bring myself to have dinner more than once; the medics were friendly enough, but the nurses seem to have gone into hibernation (or are on a bus en-route to a NAAFI disco somewhere).
  8. Larkhill is indeed a fantastic place to visit - I was very well hosted there as a PO though it is a bit different from an RA Regiment. I can really recommend a visit to some of the Armoured Regiments too, they used to run an armour fam visit down on the south coast and I''m sure they still do it.

    The worst experience I have had was visiting a friend at Chicksands. I've never met so many chippy, self important, angry remfs in one place in such a short period of time. There were a number of odd exchanges and I just couldn't believe how chippy and down right rude people seemed to be, and I'm not talking just about the mess, even the guys on the gate and around camp seemed to be balancing chips. What made it worse was I was a guest and no one knew I was Army, what if I had have been a civi? What a fine impression of Her Majesties Armed Forces I'd have left with. I was almost moved to write a letter to whoever ran the place.

    To be fair, there were a lot of different cap badges floating around the camp and the mess was very tri-service but the one thing they had in common is they were all non-teeth arm and mostly overweight.

    The lesson I took away from that was to stay away from REMF units, they are angry people who have an inferiority complex.
  9. Thanks for the feedback so far, and thanks for the pm sandbanks. Anyone with opinions on infantry officers and their regiments?
  10. If I was visiting an infantry battalion mess mid-week in the evening, I would expect to wear a suit in the public rooms. Some messes may be more relaxed in their dress, but what people wear in the evening has nothing to do with how friendly and relaxed a place it is to live or visit. Dress in an infantry mess is normally the decision of the CO/PMC rather than the lives-in. The general reason for the wearing of suits / jackets mid-week given by the COs of my regiment was that if you're dining, sat in front of the Colours, at a table filled with regimental silver being waited on by soldiers on duty (inf bns have a largely military mess staff) then, you're not doing that in jeans and a polo shirt. Fair one and wearing a suit isn't a hardship, unless you are a fashion victim, it saves wondering what to wear and you can always change to go out.

    The most important thing is to find a battalion where you are comfortable with the people and not worry too much about the mess rules.
  11. Roundup,

    Try the RE fam visit - well worth it even if youre not inclined to join.

    As a living in member at an Engineer regiment a few years ago there was talk of insisting (mainly by the pads) that instead of a shirt and smart trousers for dinner it should be suit/ jacket and tie. The LIMs replied that we would do this but that the mess was our home, so we would do it on condition that the pads also wore suit/ jacket and tie (as did their families) when they sat down to dinner in their homes. The idea was then dropped...
  12. I spent a number of years living in with the Royal Marines in both a Mess and a Wardroom (when drafted aboard). Fine messes and very calm - positively doyens of the types of "infantry" mess one would expect.

    Milsum - I've been to the Mess that you refer to and the double-standards there are astonishing.
  13. Dressing for dinner doesn't really signify anything. If the people are friendly, it doesn't matter of they're wearing suits, dinner jackets or evening dress or Hawaiian shirts.

    What's important is whether the Mess is a good place to live and whether you think you will fit in and enjoy it and indeed whether they think you will.