The White Lanyard

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by GunnersQuadrant, Mar 8, 2004.

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  1. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator


    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 In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced with jack knives, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the Service Dress attached to a lanyard over the left shoulder.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!!!


    Slight bit of cut and paste from a post i made in Mar 2002 but i await the response of the masses again.
  2. I think you'll find that Lanyards originated very much earlier than this and was not even anything to do with the artillery. The Lanyard was originally worn by cavalry attached to the sword so that if dropped while on their horse their only weapon wouldn't fall out of reach.

    If you can't even get that right how are we supposed to believe the rest?
  3. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    Dont think it was called a lanyard though PP, do you?
  4. Basically , as a Ex sapper we were proud to wear the lanyard , however due to the idots in london who gave us combat 95 , Corp history as gone out the window , thanks :(
  5. Well in 1884 the cord attached to an officer's pistol was called a lanyard and that came directly from the cord attached to the sword, so I don't see why it should have changed it's name too much. As far as I can see the word 'lanyard' comes from the naval term for an attachment to a line or rigging and that dates long before Napolionic times.

    The Websters Dictionary of 1913 discribes the version of the lanyard used by the artillery as:-

    How about attaching that around your arm and stuffing it in your top pocket :wink:
  6. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    PP i am sure we had this arguement the last time i posted this thread.
  7. And you are still trying to tell everyone that the lanyard is an artillery invention.

    What I was trying to point out is that if some of your post is inaccurate, why should we consider the rest of your post is accurate. Either verify or stop posting multiple re-posts of inaccurate information posing as fact. :roll:
  8. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    How can you justify your own previous statement, you have no historical basis of fact for your arguement which has yet to be laid convincingly upon the table. Bah. :wink:
  9. A bit of leg pulling? You'll be accusing us of friendly rivalry next. I am quite happy to believe the yellow stripe, white lanyard and 2 bombs missing stories - even if they are apocryphal.

    Either way you are still a bunch of drop short tossers. :twisted:
  10. Try

    And some 1840 cavalry pistols with ....oh look, lanyard loops, at

    And even an acount of a US gun being prepared to fire with the use of a lanyard in 1862 here

    All of which counter some of the 'facts' put forward in your post
  11. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    True enough i did get it from an artillery website originally, but it came from the white lanyards post off the gunners board from a couple of years ago. I like to base my post concerning things like this on fact, is that a crime, no as i would like to give some sort of forethought before i post. Ref your post about the exact date of the lanyard you give an account of an american gun being fired by a lanyard, your point being what? The artillery used the lanyard? Also who cares if you have worked with the artillery you must have made an ARRSE brew biatch for the Staff.................. Oh if that was aimed at me personally you must have been one of the many people i have either walked over or dismissed as being a muppet. I await your retort with baited breath. :roll:
  12. GunnersQuadrant

    GunnersQuadrant LE Moderator

    Now here is a bit of banter from someone who can talk (just). An engineer (spits). :twisted:
  13. What have I got to be bitter about? Oh yes.... nothing :) I must say, that was a very impressive first post. I can tell we'll have to keep an eye on you or we may be blinded by your eloquence and razor sharp wit. :wink:

    Copying a post from somewhere is basing your post on fact is it? Well I'm glad you're aware that anyone can publish anything, anywhere on the net for example all the wild websites stating that UFOs are real etc.

    Your (copied) post that you spent time in forethought before posting states that:-

    The links I posted related to lanyards being used on friction fuses some sixty years before your post says that lanyards became a form of dress.

    Another link, shows a 1913 dictionary definition of an artillery lanyard being twelve feet long with a handle at one end and a hook on the other.

    Another link, shows that cavalry pistols were worn on the end of a lanyard about the same time, backing up a previous post.

    Apart from that if you look at historical pictures of uniforms of the napolionic era there are lanyards all over the shop!

    All I'm saying is, could you verify the 'facts' of your repeated post before posting it over two threads at the same time. I've not said anything to suggest the white lanyard has any other meaning appart from contrasting the colour of the uniform, nothing about the yellow on the stable belt and no suggestion that there are different numbers of flame on the RA/RE bombs. I'm sure others may though.

    My mention of working with the RA was just to let you know that I'm not blind to you Bty histories, but it didn't take you long to stoop to insults, even though you know nothing about me. This isn't the NAFFI bar, it's a history thread that is supposed to based on some fact.