Discussion in 'General' started by dbf, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Why does the military insist on saluting?


    The UK's Ministry of Defence has issued a reminder to young officers to salute their superiors. But when did this form of greeting originate and why is it used, asks Justin Parkinson.

    The salute is often thought to date back to Roman times, but there is no evidence that soldiers raised their hand as a formal greeting.

    Another theory is that it originated in medieval Europe, when knights used their hands to raise their visors, revealing their identity to demonstrate they were friendly. This explanation is also regarded with scepticism.

    It later became British Army tradition for privates and non-commissioned officers to remove their hat to greet officers. Junior officers did the same to their seniors. This apparently ended in the 18th Century because of concerns over excessive wear to headgear or hats becoming more cumbersome. A 1745 British order book states: "The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass."

    The British Army developed a salute with the palm facing outwards, also used by the Royal Air Force. The Royal Navy, however, adopted a version with the palm facing downwards, thought to be because many men working on ships had dirty palms and to display them was disrespectful.

    The salute works both as a mark of recognition for the Queen's commission awarded to officers and for seniority of rank, says Simon Lamb, of the British Veterans Recognition Card group. It is important that the senior person returns the salute to acknowledge the respect accorded, he argues.

    The Royal Navy's form of salute is thought to have influenced the US military, whose version also involves the palm facing downwards.

    Etiquette is important. In September last year, US President Barack Obama was criticised for saluting a marine as he left a helicopter while continuing to hold a cup of coffee. "It has been said that a sloppy salute is worse than not saluting at all," says the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, which, like many other non-military organisations, also salutes.

    With the UK military becoming increasingly engaged in operations involving two or more of the armed forces, junior officers are said to have become confused over differing ranks and when to salute. So the UK Ministry of Defence has issued a chart explaining rankings and the insignia worn.

    View attachment Pecking Order, MOD.pdf

    "In one's own service the pecking order will be pretty well understood - after all, it is drummed into you from day one of basic training," it says, adding that "protocol might not be so obvious" when services work together.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Read that this morning.
    I like the cartoons on the MoD pdf file.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I can remember when I was at Banja Luka. It was like Top Brass city and you walked around with your right hand permanently cello-taped to your head.
    dbf likes this.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  7. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I have never served in HM forces but was a bit of a 'drill guru' in a 'military style' youth band and have always appreciated the differences in services salutes. Must have been a bit of a pain for many Senior Officers as well as ORs and junior Officers in Senior rich environments.

    What I don't quite understand is why some parade dismisses seem to include (apart from the right turn) a couple of steps and a salute. My old Bandmaster, an ex-RAF Drill Sgt, just gave us a right turn and a couple of seconds before we could bugger off.
  8. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Depends on the order and the circumstances - it the command is "Return to your duties, Dismiss" then it is the right turn, a couple of marching steps and then keep going to wherever you are meant to be next.

    What you have seen is a "Officer on Parade, Dismiss" command - which has the salute first then march off. This is what I assume the WAAF officers are in the middle of as above.

    What I don't quite understand is why some parade dismisses seem to include (apart from the right turn) a couple of steps and a salute. My old Bandmaster, an ex-RAF Drill Sgt, just gave us a right turn and a couple of seconds before we could bugger off.
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    My last year in Italy was spent in charge of Tech stores of "A" Squadron of the 4th QOH.

    In that role I was often required to spend time in The Squadron Leader's office updating the plan board that showed the strength of the unit and the availability of every vehicle.

    There was a set routine for ORs saluting officers who were present.

    When you first entered the office you were wearing your beret and saluted every officer on sight.

    Once you had a chance, you removed your beret and wedged it under your left epaulette. From then on you saluted no one, including the C.O.

    Just for the record, in my Army, saluting was always longest way up, shortest way down and always palm of the hand facing outwards.

  10. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    "Just for the record, in my Army, saluting was always longest way up, shortest way down and always palm of the hand facing outwards."

    Thanks for using that term, now I don't need to explain it. That is also the teaching within Australian services, but due to the use of the slouch hat by the army has led to a weird looking (in my opinion) result. Basically the outfacing saluting hand ends up about 18 inches in front of the saluter's nose.

    Besides longest way up, shortest way down I was also taught to end up with my hand alongside my right eye with about 1 inch separation.

    Sorry for the small size images but images 1 - 3 are of Army officers versus image 4 of the RAAF salute.

    Attached Files:

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Apparently the RN salute so the officer can not see the palm of their hand because 'during olden days' the sailors would have dirty hands from the tar on ropes.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Also we didn't salute anyone in Iraq, the idea of bracing up was soon abolished to on that tour. You instantly knew who were the mong officers that complained about it.
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

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  14. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I saluted officers senior to me. Officers junior to me would salute me and I would return the salute. It differentiated senioity between officers and thereby defined their position in the order of command.

    When of equal rank it was not necessary, but when I was Captain and Adjutant I was saluted by all officers of captain and below because of my appointment as the Commanding Officer's senior staff officer investing me with seniority over all other captains in the execution of my duties.

    On Officers Mess formal dinner nights, we would proceed into the dining room in our order of seniority, not as we imagined it to be but as listed in the Army List right down to the junior second-lieutenant. It demonstrated how command of the Battalion would evolved in the event of casualties. When my Commanding Officer was seriously wounded during the course of a battle and in the absence of the Second-in-Command on the battlefield, I instinctively knew that for the time being the senior officer on the battlefield was now in command of the Battalion and as I.O. prepared to join him and receive his orders.

    Joe Brown.
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    I've said it before, but I'll say it again........

    We are fortunate in having someone of your rank as an active forum member to put us in the picture when it comes to the niceties such as detailed above.

    Consider yourself saluted ;)

  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    Major General Sir Allan Adair taking the salute; 3rd Bn Irish Guards, my father 'circled'

    JOE Vandeleur with Irish Guards, Hamburg


  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Oh wow, Can only imagine the look on your face when you discovered that pic Di :D
  18. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I love that last picture Di, great shot of the Irish Guards on parade.
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    As the Bible says "Honour your father and mother so that your days may be long"

    Wonderful photo, so thanks for sharing

  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Whenever I attend a ceremony with the Polish Military Attache in attendance, I findThe Salute Looks smart and similar to the Boy Scout Salute.


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