The Mess Bell and Why

#1
Many Regiments and Corps Sgts Messes have a bell by the bar for which the penalty of ringing said bell means the ringer buys a round of drinks for the Mess. It can either have been rung deliberately (promoted, posted, new baby etc) or by accident (tough but u still pay)!

Question is: From where did this tradition come, particularily in Sgts Messes of the RLC?
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#2
Every mess I've ever been in. Oh and Rugby clubs & hockey clubs & soccer clubs.
Don't you get out much?
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#3
You'll find them in most (if not all) British Legion, RAFA and RNA clubs, and Commonwealth equivalents, and every RAF and RN mess/wardroom, so it's not something novel?
Some Matelot will claim it's a Navy thing, which is quite likely.
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#4
The_Aged_Sinner! said:
Many Regiments and Corps Sgts Messes have a bell by the bar for which the penalty of ringing said bell means the ringer buys a round of drinks for the Mess. It can either have been rung deliberately (promoted, posted, new baby etc) or by accident (tough but u still pay)!
...and don't you just love the bells strategically placed at head height at the busy end of the bar. Bonus!!
 
#5
in civvie clubs and some pubs it has been used to indicate last orders and drinking-up time.

even still i avoid the bell like the plague.
 
#6
Last night I asked our 86 years old Major late RE if ringing the bell had been a pre WW II practice.
No was the answer.
I then asked if he had any idea where and when the practice started. No, but it was 'not uncommon' before he left army in mid/late 50's.
Definately did not occur in UK Officers mess at start of war and not on Troopship to Far East or in Indian Army messes 41-45.
He is intreged by the idea and says he will look up some old material he has.
Other older men who where presant added following, it was normal in Hong Kong bars/private clubs in early 60's and common in S.E.Asia during this era.
The general feeling was that it originated in Far East, was of Military origin and probably Navy. Maybe a substitute for Up Spirits when all would receive their tot on Up Spirits being Piped. A bell being used when no Pipe was available.
john
 
#7
A twist to the bell thingy in our mess saw a length of cord tied to the bell clapper and then ran to the bar door handle which happened to open out the way, on a busy night much hilarity ensued every time someone new came in. Somehow I dont recall how these nights ended! Usually a cheap night to boot.
 
#8
jonwilly said:
Last night I asked our 86 years old Major late RE if ringing the bell had been a pre WW II practice.
No was the answer.....[edited to keep the quote short]...
A bell being used when no Pipe was available.
Many German pubs (not the local disco or sqaddie pub, more the Stammkneipen run by Germans for Germans) have a bell. I am far too unqualified to offer a, err, qualified opinion, but maybe the post war presence in Germany was also a factor.


Laddie
 
#9
Bell was introduced into RMP Cpls mess in Gibraltar sometime early 53. Cannot remember exact reason but it is in my mind it was something to do with RM Band from HMS Vanguard who made the mess their home from home whilst waiting Coronation Regatta.
 
#10
After a remembrance day parade, we invited the local constabulary (N Yorks - Harrogate) to the mess for a curry lunch which, in spite of the solemness of the occasion, degenerated into an almighty urine up - let's just put it down to letting off steam!

A games afternoon ensued, you can picture the scene, hoardes of seniors & policemen in best rig, accompanied by their families all togged up after being at church. The competition is drawn and it is decided that the RSMs 9 year old son will play pool against the head policemans (can't remember what rank and will not try to bluff) 10 year old daughter to decide the winner.

In a nail-biting finish the policemans daughter pots the final black and the mess erupts - in the middle of this carnage I sidle up to a very young and very attractive policewoman and gesture for her to ring the bell - which she did. The bar fell silent as she continued ringing - then it dawned on her as the chants of 'get them in - get them in - get them in' breaks out.

Alright, I'm not a complete fatherless, I went half'ers with her.
 
#12
Encountered a curious one in a REME bar, a bell fashioned from an artillery-piece round, (Possibly GW1), all polished up with a very distinct '(((dong)))' sound. "Hit the round, buy a round" was the most overly-used phrase in that mess!!

Cheers Easy!
 
#13
The bell at my last unit had a length of wire attatched with a crocodile clip at the other end. If you happen to turn your back on it, you could easily find yourself clipped on and getting the beers in as soon as you moved.

Particually good when you've had so much you can't see, or stand still!
 
#14
No help to you whatsoever in determining the origin of this but..........

Parachute descents from the balloon cage and through the floor aperture when trainees would strike their helmet on their way through were said to "Ring the Bell" Likewise descents from the Beverly boom aperture when an overburdened para launched himself forward enough so as not to catch the back of his PX1 was just as likely to strike his helmet on the edge of the flooring and "Ring the Bell!"
 
#15
OldRedCap said:
Bell was introduced into RMP Cpls mess in Gibraltar sometime early 53. Cannot remember exact reason but it is in my mind it was something to do with RM Band from HMS Vanguard who made the mess their home from home whilst waiting Coronation Regatta.
Cough to it mate.

A night on the lash and the lads swiped it as a Mess trophy :lol:
 
#17
So what we're saying here is that no one in the whole of the Forces knows or why we have a bell in all of our drinking establishments?

Im sure there is someone out there that should be able to find out, or at least make a reasonably good story up, that is easably believable. Lets forget, there is Americans that are members of this site and we dont want them knowing that the British Forces dont know their the source of their traditions.

Ps. Please dont ask me to find out, im an 'IT' Biff.
 

Fugly

LE
DirtyBAT
#18
I think, like a lot of odd traditions, this one does in fact originate from the Senior Service.

The Bell in my mess is a pain in the arrse as well, located at head height, and at the corner of the bar. Mess members have been frequently stitched up to putting their hands in their pockets by knocking it when trying to get by someone if the bar is fairly full.

Not that I'm complaining though!

No matter what the roots of the tradition, I think its a good one and should continue.
 
B

Bottleosmoke

Guest
#19
The bell in the Engineers bar at the bus station in MG was rigged to a pressure mat and they had devised a way(of course) for the bell to ring.

As any fule will know the RE bar in MG was best in Bosnia at the time and getting in there was near impossible for resident grunts and the like..............

However, whenever I rolled in with my packet of DROPS and we had to overnight, we were always invited up..........................Every fecking time, no matter where I stood that fecking bell went off!

Wedges..................You gotta love em!
 
#20
Now that does bring back some memories, the sqn bar in MG was an excellent bar, The bell was rang at least twice every night(including weekdays) and we(the Engrs)rarely put our hand in our pockets the whole tour. I also remember earning loads of money playing cards with any invited guests(Inf,RLC,REME,Sigs etc) why they bothered I dont know?
 
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