Lanyards, a history.....



There has long been a tale-usually told by Sappers-about the Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns. Of course, the story is nothing more than a piece of leg pulling. The tradition of winding up stems from the age-old rivalry between the two sister corps founded under the Board of Ordnance and trained together in Woolwich. However, I am still being asked by ARRSE members whether this story is true, so it is time it was put to rest.

Lanyards associated with dress came into use in the late 19th Century, when field guns, such as the 12 and 15 pounders, used ammunition which had fuzes 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 was kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was a simple piece of strong cord, but it was gradually turned into something a bit more decorative, smartened up with blanco and braided, 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 knife. In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced with jack knives, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the Service Dress attached to a lanyard over the left shoulder.

In the war years that followed, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard for those guns which had a trigger firing mechanism, allowing the gunner to stand clear of the guns 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 probably took place at about the time of the Great War, when a 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 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 soldiers pay book! On the demise of Battle Dress, the lanyard disappeared for a short time, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1973.

It may surprise many readers that this particular piece if leg-pulling is repeated in various forms. The gold stripe in the Gunner stable belt stems from the colours of the uniform at the time the stable belt was introduced. It was not a question, as the jokers would have it, of yellow stripes for cowardice!

Equally ludicrous is the suggestion that the Gunners has seven flames, as opposed to the sappers nine, because we lost two guns at some point in history!

I invite you sappers to produce your evidence. No change to any of the Armys dress regulations can take place without a formal order, and-let us be realistic!  it is ridiculous to suppose that the Army Board in its wisdom would countenance the idea of a badge of shame to be worn by any branch of the Service.

It would guarantee that no one would ever join it! And since no such evidence exists, your storys falls flat on their face. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyards?

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

No Sappers really care about the lanyard story- it is always gooners that bring it up. You know you are a Corps, but why the insistence on calling yourselves a Regiment? Now that needs a reply.
The whole lanyard thing is the bane of mess conversation. People try to make up some permutation of the various different stories/ theories about the gooner/ sapper lanyard whenever there is any kind of rivalry or boredom. The story of the sapper lanyard is simple. IT WAS INTRODUCED TO BRIGHTEN UP THE UNIFORM. The gooner lanyard was introduced as shown above in the post from GQ.
I know it has nothing to do with running away from guns or anyother bullshit like that.
I am going to have to produce a potted history of the lanyard on a peice of A4 to give to anybody who starts boring off about where the fu(king thing came from to shame them into shutting the hell up.
I hate it, it gets in the way and has a habit of getting caught on things.
It is surprising to me that even lt-cols believe the kind of rubbish that gets put around surrounding the sh1tty piece of string.

The A4 lanyard history may have to be accompanied by some kind of "learning stick", maybe an ash pole to ensure that the information is absorbed.

So- any Sapper who posts anything trying to claim that the lanyard has any history apart from that shown above will also become a guinea-pig for re-education.
To start with I would like to point out that I have served with the artillery and have relatives who have served in the Artillery. Also I have heard the 'yellow stripe' and 'white lanyard' stories on occasions from members of the Royal Regiment including some quite senior members.... Major and above.

My point is that, after a little bit of research, the 'evidence' provided to counter the stories seems to be taken verbatim from one of several Royal Artillery websites which seem to have copied it from each other. I can assume these sites are not exactly impartial.

I admit there is no way of knowing which site provided this information first, however as is the way of information placed on websites there is no way of knowing how accurate the information provided is. At the very least the information cannot be used as evidence without being substantiated.

Asking for evidence to prove the contrary without providing any 'evidence' yourselves seems a little weak as is suggesting that dress regulations cannot be changed without a formal order. Dress regulations could be changed on the whim or wallet of a senior officer or the comment of a very senior officer/royal without regard for any effect on recruiting as obtaining new recruits was not always the problem it has been recently. The example of 16/5 Lancers being the only cavalry regiment that the amalgamated regiments weren’t put in numerical order because the 5 Irish Lancers had suffered some disgrace being an evidence of the fact.

As I am no historian I cannot provide any evidence myself, but I also refuse to take the ‘evidence’ provided by GQ as true without substantiation. You can call me old fashioned if you like, but without any real evidence I for one am quite happy to carry on believing the comfortable old stories.

Over to you GQ  ;)
As I am no historian I cannot provide any evidence myself, but I also refuse to take the ‘evidence’ provided by GQ as true without substantiation.
Thats the real difficulty with history though.  PP i see noone else rushing to place a post in this thread with a factual account of the "wind up" version of events.  

Aye it is true that i aquired some info of some of the Gunner sites as personally i could not be bothered to sit down and type it all out myself.  This information is readily available in any Gunner regiment.
Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Kosovo, The Falklands and Afganistan to mention but a few places. The rest are probably totally bored with the planks age old whine and unproven excuses about the lanyard story.

Nothing to gain chuntering on about old news.... you think you're right, we know we're right.

But don't worry too much. If we ever feel like it and the oppertunity pops up it's little head, some sapper will mention it and some plank will bite for the entertainment of the rest of the world.

;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

just as an aside, I read something you posted in the TA board I think, are you by any chance a member of the R Mongs, I just did a course with several of them, bloody nice chaps and chapesses the lot of them.
Not a member of the R. Mons, although I have also been on a few courses with some of them and they have been on the whole, decent, upstanding members of the Royal Corps (R. Mons is the only unit with 'Royal' in it's title twice by the way).

My unit is much further east than Wales.
A resounding 'well done' HdT! You may not be Mr Holmes, but I am sure your detective skills put you well beyond the skill range of any reasonable SIB expectations.
AH the  RE what a nice bunch of chaps as i have said on the RA thread we the RA are the only Military org that at one stage would require a lanyard so as they say immitation is the highest form of flattery so cheers
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Having served as both a gun bunny and a sapper I have heard this story from many, but have never seen it corroborated in any relaible reference book.

However it is an excellent story and therefoe see no reason to disbelieve it!

On the point about 'badges of shame', I would draw attention to the manner officers in the Royal Navy wear their swords. They have to carry them at the trail and are not allowed to hook them onto the belt....something to do with a mutiny. This was passed down to me by my father, a Naval Officer and renowned bullsh**er.
True or not, the story is still being perpetuated. I was told it only this week while attending a RE fam visit.
...age-old rivalry between the two sister corps founded under the Board of Ordnance ....

Regardless of arguing over a silly bit of string.  Does the fact that both Corps/Regiments are B*stard sons of a stacker organisation, not concern you both more?
we are not sister corps-sister would imply girls and the only girls are those running from the guns white lanyard wearing drop shorts ;D
Everyone knows that the lanyard story against The Gunners is true, because it has been around for so long. Why, only a few months ago I met a bloke in a pub up north and he told it to me. Proof, if it were needed!

While we are at it, perhaps we should remember that the RE and the RA share a number of traditions, including the motto "Ubique". But we all know that for one it means "Everywhere" while for the other it means "All over the place"
Just as a point of note but wasn't the corps of engineers only officers when it was formed? The ORs were part of the Royal Sappers and Miners.
Quite right, Snakes - which is why officers and other ranks still wear different cap badges today.

And as far as lanyards go, surely the key point here is that you only need a sapper to mention it once to get hundreds of gunners moaning on for ever about how it isn't true...

Sore point or what?

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