R.A. White Lanyards

Discussion in 'General' started by Rob Dickers, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Following on from a recent thread about Lanyards, i dug out this RA aspect which I found quite interesting if not disturbing.
    Rob

    A LANYARD COLOURED WHITE


    “The Artillery wear a white lanyard as a penance - they deserted their guns whilst under fire - it’s a sign of cowardice”. How many times has this story been related?. In fact it seems that every recruit passing through Army Recruit Training Centre is told in full detail, of our “shameful” past. The only problem is that no one can remember the battle, nor the date, of this act of “abandonment”; a good number of people however seem to think that it took place somewhere in South Africa during the Second Boer War. It is strange how stories can develop out of sheer ignorance.

    The battle so often referred to in the “lanyard - cowardice” story would appear to be Colenso, which took place in December 1899, where the 14th and 66th Field Batteries RA were in support. The battle of Colenso is a story in itself and is so too long and involved to be recounted here, however in short the Gunners deployed too close to the Boers’ forward trenches and came under heavy murderous fire. Many of the Gunners were killed, others badly wounded, and yet the guns continued to be served, one of them up until the last of the detachment were killed.

    Numerous attempts were made to rescue the guns, including troops of both the Devonshire Regiment and the Scots Fusiliers, but they were stopped by the Boers’ heavy fire. Finally a mixed band of volunteers, which included a number of Gunners, made good.

    On horseback they stormed the gun position, and at great cost of life, they limbered-up what guns they could and made for safety. General Sir Redvers Buller, the British commander in the battle, then gave the order that no more attempts were to be made to recover the remaining guns, however none of these were to fall into Boer hands.

    The Gunners paid a heavy price for what was, in the long run, a successful operation. It is true, they had to be rescued - another catch cry that is often thrown at the Gunners, but so too did D company 6 RAR in their gallant battle at Long Tan, there is nothing to be ashamed of in being saved.
     
  2. -tmm-

    -tmm- Senior Member

    RA lanyards were used to hold the fuse key needed for the ammo used in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s they key wasnt needed and used to hold their issued jack knife. Now it's purely decoration.

    The above story is just that I'm afraid, a story.
     
  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    RA lanyards were used to hold the fuse key needed for the ammo used in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s they key wasnt needed and used to hold their issued jack knife. Now it's purely decoration.

    The above story is just that I'm afraid, a story.


    tmm,

    Like you I have only known it in connection with the fuse.

    I believe even earlier than the key it was actually a wick kept glowing for firing the old style cannons.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  4. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Also found this on The Great War Forum about the same subject.
    Rob.


    ORIGINS OF THE LANYARD & THE CLASSIC SAPPER LEG-PULL

    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.

    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.
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I have heard similiar tale to this regarding the yellow band in the regiments stable belt. It was as previously stated for leaving their colours (The Guns) behind. There was also a mention that it was awarded after Dunkirk as so many were abandoned.

    I have never read too much into these urban myths - Interesting to read though ;)
     
  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    I'm surprised that the Army Recruitment Centre could not recall this action as 6 VC's were eventually awarded in connection with the attempts to get the guns back.

    Following on from a recent thread about Lanyards, i dug out this RA aspect which I found quite interesting if not disturbing.
    Rob

    A LANYARD COLOURED WHITE


    “The Artillery wear a white lanyard as a penance - they deserted their guns whilst under fire - it’s a sign of cowardice”. How many times has this story been related?. In fact it seems that every recruit passing through Army Recruit Training Centre is told in full detail, of our “shameful” past. The only problem is that no one can remember the battle, nor the date, of this act of “abandonment”; a good number of people however seem to think that it took place somewhere in South Africa during the Second Boer War. It is strange how stories can develop out of sheer ignorance.

    The battle so often referred to in the “lanyard - cowardice” story would appear to be Colenso, which took place in December 1899, where the 14th and 66th Field Batteries RA were in support. The battle of Colenso is a story in itself and is so too long and involved to be recounted here, however in short the Gunners deployed too close to the Boers’ forward trenches and came under heavy murderous fire. Many of the Gunners were killed, others badly wounded, and yet the guns continued to be served, one of them up until the last of the detachment were killed.

    Numerous attempts were made to rescue the guns, including troops of both the Devonshire Regiment and the Scots Fusiliers, but they were stopped by the Boers’ heavy fire. Finally a mixed band of volunteers, which included a number of Gunners, made good.

    On horseback they stormed the gun position, and at great cost of life, they limbered-up what guns they could and made for safety. General Sir Redvers Buller, the British commander in the battle, then gave the order that no more attempts were to be made to recover the remaining guns, however none of these were to fall into Boer hands.

    The Gunners paid a heavy price for what was, in the long run, a successful operation. It is true, they had to be rescued - another catch cry that is often thrown at the Gunners, but so too did D company 6 RAR in their gallant battle at Long Tan, there is nothing to be ashamed of in being saved.
     
  7. Combover

    Combover Guest

    I was told this tale of nonesense yesterday by a bloke who claimed he was a Serjeant in the Royal Artillery in th 1970s...
     
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    http://archive.org/stream/cihm_09270#page/n11/mode/2up

    http://archive.org/stream/standingordersf00offigoog#page/n4/mode/2up


    History of the Dress of the Royal Artillery (above)

    http://archive.org/search.php?query=royal%20artillery


    More recent?

    Many a rumour/myth a long list:


    When joining a county regiment who wore swords with the sword knot loose, the story was that the officers had lost their swords in battle and the loose knot was to remind of this! If told that this indicated that the knot had been slipped over the wrist to prevent the sword dropping from the hand in battle or when mounted - not interested in that! The bayonet - the groove is to allow blood to flow and easy release from a body is the unshakable belief. The groove (Fullers) is purely an engineering necessity - the groove allows the side ways forces to follow the groove profile and increase strength (in a lighter weight blade)in shear force especially on long blades. The theory - a round pencil will snap (or crush in compression) in shear easier than a hexagonal where the forces are dissipated along the faces of the hexagon. Rumour is always more interesting.
     

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