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A drum role

Supported with an interview from Lt Tim Ward Rtd

Hats off to the beat of the drum. A ceremonial action, hand up to hat on the second beat. Down to the side of the body and go behind in the next beat. Action and discipline are demanded in keeping with the ethos of the Navy.

Hats are an important part of naval uniforms. Stretching back to 1748 when official uniforms were introduced. They were key to establishing a clear identity for naval personnel. The Battle of Trafalgar saw uniformed officers and sailors in battle on the high seas. Identification supported the coordination. Worn by commissioned officers but not by sailors. Gradually this changed as a uniform became a requirement. A head covering was an integral part of this.

A multitude of headgear was required. Each formal occasion demanded a certain hat or cap. Number 1 Dress for the most formal ceremony with No. 2 Dress and the sequence to No. 5 Dress for some levels. Each job demands certain clothes from protective gear to official dress events. This headwear like Service caps must be worn in a straight position on the head and in relation to the ground.

...demanded a certain hat or cap.

As with all military hats, caps and berets there are certain protocols that set each hat. Berets are most commonly worn on board ships and submarines. The beret badge changes depending on your rank. The introduction of ribbons was most significant as they were embellished with the name of the ship the sailor serve.

There is no room for individual styling.

Dating back to 16th Century the Royal Navy is the oldest part of the United Kingdom’s Armed Service, it is known as the Senior Service. Uniforms show rank and service with caps taking on a significant position in this whole outfit. No uniform is complete without a hat. From ribbons, to badges, crests and (service bands) these all offer meaning steeped in tradition. Medals indicate valour and bravery.

There are rules for hat wearing indoors too. This follows strict hat etiquette from the past. Hats and caps are removed indoors except when a ceremony is taking place within a building. The officer in charge would wear a hat or cap.

Within a ceremony, when the hat has been removed it has to be placed back on the head. When a hat is put on, it is done with one movement. There are 5 seconds to make an adjustment. This is a very quick manoeuvre.

Hats are treated with the same honoured respect as a sword. It must be looked after and cleaned to the highest level. There are no short cuts, elbow grease and much more. Polishing, scrubbing, applying suitable cleaning products, marks must be removed before a role call. There is no room for anything less than perfection.

Marks must be removed before a role call.

A hat has a place of honour in the uniform stand. From the crown to the brim there is detail and some reverence in the achieved within military ranks.

A lone piper may offer a break in the silence, the rhythm is constant. Military personnel give more than we as civilians can imagine.

One step at a time...

Lest we forget.

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