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The SLI and the reversed Red Sash

exspy

LE
I cropped this photo from a larger picture of the the Senior NCO Cadre Course at RMAS in 1977 found on
https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threads/rmas-instructors.30055/.

It shows two substantive Sergeants of the Somerset Light Infantry wearing their red sashes over the left shoulder, rather than the right. It also shows a chain or a lanyard hanging from the top end of the sash. The Sergeant on the left of the photo seems to have two threads while the Sergeant to the right appears to have one. Can any former LI members elaborate on the chains or lanyards? I know about the reversed sash, but am totally mystified about the chains (or lanyard).

Thanks,
Dan.

SLI Sergeants.jpg
 

exspy

LE
Okay, after I posted I realized I should have identified the regiment to whom the Sergeants belonged as the Light Infantry, and the name of the actual regiment wearing reversed red sashes prior to the creation of the LI was the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. It was the SLI who originated the tradition, yes tradition, of wearing the red sash over the left shoulder.

Mea culpa.
Dan.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Okay, after I posted I realized I should have identified the regiment to whom the Sergeants belonged as the Light Infantry, and the name of the actual regiment wearing reversed red sashes prior to the creation of the LI was the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. It was the SLI who originated the tradition, yes tradition, of wearing the red sash over the left shoulder.

Mea culpa.
Dan.

Inkerman Chain with a whistle on the end - a tradition of the Durham Light.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Lions head clap secured the whistle chain
 
Inkerman Chain with a whistle on the end - a tradition of the Durham Light.

Indeed: my AADW course had a couple of LI blokes. As 'working dress' for the duration was 2s, they were obliged to put on their party frocks every day.

The Adj's Inspection was pre-empted by the Course RSM's inspection :rolleyes:

. . . anyhoo, the interrogation of Corps and Regimental traditions goes something like this:

RSM: so, Sgt LI bloke, what lies behind your need to wear your sash contrary wise?

Sgt LI Bloke (lest's call him Bob for, indeed, that was his name): *Bob rattles of chapter and verse as to the reason why, having been pre-briefed by his RSM before attending*.

RSM (seeing the thankful smirk on Bob's sweating grid, pleased that he trotted it out without error): Very good. (a pause, heavily pregnant) - and what pattern of whistle is a-dangling from your Inkerman whistle chain?

Bob: *not a peep, just a look of dread and horror*

RSM: Hmm. The Adj, because he has little to do here, is now something of a British Army history buff. I suggest that you find out by tomorrow.

Interspersed throughout the day are a flurry of calls to and from RHQ LI, each ending in a Nil Return.

Finally, someone suggests having a word with the slightly odd and ancient retired Major who looks after the LI Museum and archives.

Success!

So, if any of you are ever asked that question, you may fix them with a gimlet eye and, slightly condescendingly, confidently reply, '1854 Pattern Officers whistle, actually'.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Indeed: my AADW course had a couple of LI blokes. As 'working dress' for the duration was 2s, they were obliged to put on their party frocks every day.

The Adj's Inspection was pre-empted by the Course RSM's inspection :rolleyes:

. . . anyhoo, the interrogation of Corps and Regimental traditions goes something like this:

RSM: so, Sgt LI bloke, what lies behind your need to wear your sash contrary wise?

Sgt LI Bloke (lest's call him Bob for, indeed, that was his name): *Bob rattles of chapter and verse as to the reason why, having been pre-briefed by his RSM before attending*.

RSM (seeing the thankful smirk on Bob's sweating grid, pleased that he trotted it out without error): Very good. (a pause, heavily pregnant) - and what pattern of whistle is a-dangling from your Inkerman whistle chain?

Bob: *not a peep, just a look of dread and horror*

RSM: Hmm. The Adj, because he has little to do here, is now something of a British Army history buff. I suggest that you find out by tomorrow.

Interspersed throughout the day are a flurry of calls to and from RHQ LI, each ending in a Nil Return.

Finally, someone suggests having a word with the slightly odd and ancient retired Major who looks after the LI Museum and archives.

Success!

So, if any of you are ever asked that question, you may fix them with a gimlet eye and, slightly condescendingly, confidently reply, '1854 Pattern Officers whistle, actually'.

The DS solution, when asked a question you don't know the answer to is,

“If the Officer Cadets ask you a question and you are not sure of the answer, say to them ‘Gentlemen, I’m not sure but I will find out.’ Make sure you do find out and give them the answer, but never try to bluff it out.”

(AcSM John Lord. See "To Revel in God's Sunshine" ch 13.


1601374861913.png


RSM Lord listening to the question and knowing the answer.
 
The DS solution, when asked a question you don't know the answer to is,

“If the Officer Cadets ask you a question and you are not sure of the answer, say to them ‘Gentlemen, I’m not sure but I will find out.’ Make sure you do find out and give them the answer, but never try to bluff it out.”

(AcSM John Lord. See "To Revel in God's Sunshine" ch 13.


View attachment 508197

RSM Lord listening to the question and knowing the answer.

1601375292215.png


Good God! even his lid is level on his head whilst the remainder of the body is erect and square to the front.*



* a little AADW in-joke there, for them that know.
 
I know about the reversed sash
I don't.
Pray share...
The tradition started one Jellalabad Day parade when the Somerset Light Infantry was stationed in pre-WW1 India.
The RSM at the time was the feared 'Desperate Dan' Janner. Years of the tropics and IPA had taken their toll on
Dan and he was usually to be found in a someone tired and emotional haze, when his anger would know no bounds.
Imagine then, the consternation when RSM Janner turned up on the maidan with his sash over the left shoulder- the odd missing collar-dog or shoulder title would not have been unusual but even the Adjutant and CO would have noticed that if compared alongside the correctly dressed senior ranks, the RSM's sash was on the wrong shoulder
If Dan was taken to task over this and publicly humiliated and embarrassed, life in the Serjeants Mess would have been unbearable.
What to do?
Then just before falling-in, one of the serjeants came up with the solution - all of them would swap their sashes so to be worn over the same shoulder as as the RSM. as long as all the sashes were at the same diagonal the officers would never notice
and of course Desperate Dan wouldn't either.
The problem was that there could be no going back- so whenever anyone noticed in the future, it would be passed off as a dress distinction unique to the SLI which of course it was.
 
The tradition started one Jellalabad Day parade when the Somerset Light Infantry was stationed in pre-WW1 India.
The RSM at the time was the feared 'Desperate Dan' Janner. Years of the tropics and IPA had taken their toll on
Dan and he was usually to be found in a someone tired and emotional haze, when his anger would know no bounds.
Imagine then, the consternation when RSM Janner turned up on the maidan with his sash over the left shoulder- the odd missing collar-dog or shoulder title would not have been unusual but even the Adjutant and CO would have noticed that if compared alongside the correctly dressed senior ranks, the RSM's sash was on the wrong shoulder
If Dan was taken to task over this and publicly humiliated and embarrassed, life in the Serjeants Mess would have been unbearable.
What to do?
Then just before falling-in, one of the serjeants came up with the solution - all of them would swap their sashes so to be worn over the same shoulder as as the RSM. as long as all the sashes were at the same diagonal the officers would never notice
and of course Desperate Dan wouldn't either.
The problem was that there could be no going back- so whenever anyone noticed in the future, it would be passed off as a dress distinction unique to the SLI which of course it was.

You little tinker . . . :cool:

RSM Janner indeed!
 

exspy

LE
I think you'll find it has to do with the 13th Regiment of Foot being forcibly converted to cavalry at one point (17th or 18th century) then converted back to infantry. It was after being converted back that they started to wear the red sash over the left shoulder. I've forgotten the exact details but will look for them.

Spot the SCLI in this 1959 photograph.

1959_merger_800.jpg


 

exspy

LE
I went on British Light Infantry Regiments and under the SLI it said that between 1706 or 1707 to 1713 the regiment was on horseback and known as Pearce's Dragoons. It also says that the wearing of the sash knot on the right rather than on the left was awarded to the Sergeants by the Earl of Cumberland after the Battle of Culloden. Cumberland was so impressed with the performance of the regiment that he gave instructions for the senior NCOs to wear their sashes over the left shoulder like their officers. It also says there is some doubt as to the true origin of this unique tradition. (Isn't there always?)

 
I think you'll find it has to do with the 13th Regiment of Foot being forcibly converted to cavalry at one point (17th or 18th century) then converted back to infantry. It was after being converted back that they started to wear the red sash over the left shoulder. I've forgotten the exact details but will look for them.

Spot the SCLI in this 1959 photograph.

View attachment 508385


Is it the one in the kilt?
 
The tradition started one Jellalabad Day parade when the Somerset Light Infantry was stationed in pre-WW1 India.
The RSM at the time was the feared 'Desperate Dan' Janner. Years of the tropics and IPA had taken their toll on
Dan and he was usually to be found in a someone tired and emotional haze, when his anger would know no bounds.
Imagine then, the consternation when RSM Janner turned up on the maidan with his sash over the left shoulder- the odd missing collar-dog or shoulder title would not have been unusual but even the Adjutant and CO would have noticed that if compared alongside the correctly dressed senior ranks, the RSM's sash was on the wrong shoulder
If Dan was taken to task over this and publicly humiliated and embarrassed, life in the Serjeants Mess would have been unbearable.
What to do?
Then just before falling-in, one of the serjeants came up with the solution - all of them would swap their sashes so to be worn over the same shoulder as as the RSM. as long as all the sashes were at the same diagonal the officers would never notice
and of course Desperate Dan wouldn't either.
The problem was that there could be no going back- so whenever anyone noticed in the future, it would be passed off as a dress distinction unique to the SLI which of course it was.
Goodness gracious, it caused all sorts of consternamations around the cantonment, I can tell you.

Turbans off or on, my golly gosh no one wanted to have to inform the Brigadier as to this utter frightfulness.

Then some Sahib pitched up on a little train , never bought any cold beers and F8cked Humphrey Bogarts ex Doris whilst pretending to be a child minder.
 
It also says that the wearing of the sash knot on the right rather than on the left was awarded to the Sergeants by the Earl of Cumberland after the Battle of Culloden. Cumberland was so impressed with the performance of the regiment that he gave instructions for the senior NCOs to wear their sashes over the left shoulder like their officers. It also says there is some doubt as to the true origin of this unique tradition. (Isn't there always?)



My recollection is that the website quoted used to go with the 'All officers killed and sergeants taking over' account until it was pointed out that explanation was impossible because the official casualty returns for the battle show that there were no officers killed or wounded fron the 13th(Poultney's) at Culloden.

So, just the same as recruit instructors everywhere, the internet hates a 'knowledge vacuum' or simply saying, 'I don't know' so the story was adjusted to skirt around the fact that, without officer's deaths or other incapacitation, the account was untrue.
The revised explanation doesn't stand the logic test, why should Cumberland single out the 13th for such an honour, there seems no record of their performance being any better than other regiments, and what would be the significance of changing the side of the sash knot as an honour?
Half a century after Culloden, there is no record of dispensation for the 13th to wear the Infantry Sergeant's sash, the only exception noted was the Highland regiments, as this excerpt from the 1802 Dress Regulations shows.

<< (Para 60.) A. Serjeants Sashes.

The Sashes to be of Crimson Worsted, with a Stripe of the Colour of the Facing of the Regiment, and worn round the Waist. –Those of the Regiments which are faced with Red, to have a Stripe of White.

The Sashes for the Serjeants of the 1st Regiment of Guards are to be of Crimson Worsted with a White Stripe, for the Coldstream Regiment to be Crimson Worsted throughout, and for the 3rd Regiment of the Guards to be in three Stripes of Crimson, White and Blue Worsted. Those for Regiments or Corps of Infantry that are faced with Red or Purple to be Crimson Worsted with a Stripe of White in the Middle.

For other Regiments or Corps to be Crimson also with a Stripe down the Middle of the same coloured Worsted as the Facings of the Regiment. Those for the Rifle Corps to be Stripes of Black, Crimson and Green Worsted.

They are to be worn over the Coat round the Waist, and outside the Shoulder Belt, with the Tie and Ends hanging on the Left Side; excepting the Highland Corps, who are to wear them over the Left Shoulder with the Tie and Ends hanging on the Right Side.)
>>

Yes of course, the wearing of the sash with the knot to the right was a fine tradition for the 13th/SLI/SCLI/LI but uforunately the link with Culloden is as bogus as my 'RSM Janner' account further upthread.
 
I think you'll find it has to do with the 13th Regiment of Foot being forcibly converted to cavalry at one point (17th or 18th century) then converted back to infantry. It was after being converted back that they started to wear the red sash over the left shoulder. I've forgotten the exact details but will look for them.

Spot the SCLI in this 1959 photograph.

View attachment 508385

Is the Scottish gentleman making water? It's quite a strong stream.
 

rifleair

War Hero
I was told that prior to the creation of light infantry and rifle regiments all Bns had light companies to go out front and harass the oncoming enemy, as they fell back and it was time to rejoin the line they always fell in to the left of their Bn.
Don't know the truth of it but it makes a bit of sense
 
Spot the SCLI in this 1959 photograph.

1959_merger_800.jpg


That's a nice photo and probably a historical one, marking what is most probably a unique occasion.
It seems that there was a reception at the Palace for representatives of each of the infantry regiments about to be amalgamated under the 1957 reforms.
The 30 regiments were;
[edited; for the sake of completeness, the new titles of each pair of amalgamations is in bold]

Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
East Surrey Regiment
The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment

The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment

King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
Border Regiment
The King's Own Royal Border Regiment

King's Regiment (Liverpool)
Manchester Regiment
King's Regiment (Liverpool and Manchester)

The Royal Norfolk Regiment
Suffolk Regiment
The 1st East Anglian Regiment (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk)

Royal Lincolnshire Regiment
Northamptonshire Regiment
3rd East Anglian Regiment (16th/44th Foot)

Devonshire Regiment
Dorset Regiment
The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (11th, 39th and 54th)

Somerset Light Infantry
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry

West Yorkshire Regiment
East Yorkshire Regiment
The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
Essex Regiment
3rd East Anglian Regiment (16th/44th Foot)

Royal Scots Fusiliers
Highland Light Infantry
Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment)

East Lancashire Regiment
South Lancashire Regiment
The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Volunteers)

South Staffordshire Regiment
North Staffordshire Regiment
Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales')

Royal Berkshire Regiment
Wiltshire Regiment
The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire)

Seaforth Highlanders
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons)

Pity the photo is indistinct but I guess that's the limitations of colour printing in magazines at that time. Apart from the SLI chap (obviously) the only regimental rep I can identify is the Royal Scots Fusilier (wearing Glengarry), back row left of the kilted soldier who is centre of pic.
I'd hazard a guess that the chap in the centre is Highland Light Infantry but there are two others in Highland bonnets who could be.
 
Last edited:
Regarding the aforementioned Inkerman whistle, there is an interesting photo here of the sergeants of 1st Bn Somerset Light Infantry at Rawalpindi wearing chain and whistle.
I would think that the reason they are not wearing the Infantry sash is that it's a fairly informal photo of them in barrack dress.
The one seated, without SLI accoutrements, is probably the battalion 'schoolie'

Caption:
<<Sergeants of the Prince Albert's (Somersetshire Light Infantry), India, 1897 (c)
Photograph, India, 1897 (c). National Army Museum
The men wear a mixture of the Glengarry forage cap, which was replaced from 1896 by the field service forage cap, worn by the senior non-commissioned officer in the centre of the seated row.
One of eleven photographs mounted on five pages from an album collected by Sergeant Poe, Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry), 1880 (c)-1897.>>

SLI_india.png

SLI_indiaLg.png


According to Colonel Walton writing of the Durham Light Infantry in his book of Simkin's British Army Uniforms:
<<Behind them the two Sergeants [in a DLI group photo from 1885(below)] have a
silver whistle and chain attached to a boss which seems to have
been pinned or "plugged " into the tunic.
From other photographs it is deduced that the 1st Bn had
abandoned this custom by 1899 but it was still maintained by the 2nd Bn in that
year. This was a feature of the pre-Crimea uniform of all Light
Infantry Sergeants
. It was retained in the case of the 68th [Durham Light Infantry] as a reminder of the Battle of Inkerman in which the Regiment suffered heavy officer casualties; it may also have been to recall the fact that the Regiment reputedly threw off its greatcoats and was the only one to fight that day in red jackets,
>>
DLIphoto.JPG


DLIphoto2.jpg
 

exspy

LE
My recollection is that the website quoted used to go with the 'All officers killed and sergeants taking over' account until it was pointed out that explanation was impossible because the official casualty returns for the battle show that there were no officers killed or wounded from the 13th (Poultney's) at Culloden.

Yes of course, the wearing of the sash with the knot to the right was a fine tradition for the 13th/SLI/SCLI/LI but unfortunately the link with Culloden is as bogus as my 'RSM Janner' account further upthread.
According to Colonel Walton writing of the Durham Light Infantry in his book of Simkin's British Army Uniforms.
Behind them the two Sergeants [in a DLI group photo from 1885(below)] have a silver whistle and chain attached to a boss which seems to have been pinned or "plugged " into the tunic.
This was a feature of the pre-Crimea uniform of all Light Infantry Sergeants.

@Stanchion,

Your fine research has shown that the right-knotted sash had nothing to do with Culloden and the Inkerman whistle had nothing to do with Inkerman. I'm beginning to think that your RSM Janner story may have some merit, if it had only happened 200 years earlier.

The wearing of a whistle and chain being a light infantry affectation supports the photograph of the SLI sergeants in India, with no Inkerman connection, wearing it. Note they pinned the clasp to the left in line where their sash would be.

And yet, in the colourized photograph of the SLI sergeant I posted, no whistle and chain is worn at all.

I also note that the DLI photograph, the two sergeants, who are each wearing their sashes, have the clasp pinned to their tunics. In the photograph in the OP, the LI sergeants are wearing the clasp pinned to the sash.

I think what can be learned from all this is: Tradition is transitory, mysterious and unknowable.

Now if only I could figure out why the Loamshires wear one magenta-coloured and one teal-coloured sock on the third Friday of a harvest month?

Dan.
 

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