Monday, 4 November 2013

Movember Mondays

(D/DLI 2/18/24 (8))
D/DLI 2/18/24 (8)
This month you may notice something hairy starting to creep over the top lips of many men.  This is for Movember, an initiative where men grow a moustache throughout November to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues.  It began in Australia in 2003 and made its way to the United Kingdom in 2007 where it is partnered with Prostate Cancer UK and The Institute of Cancer Research.  In 2012, the campaign raised just under £27,000,000.

Whilst at our Beamish event in October with the collection of photographs of 18th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry, I was admiring some of the wonderful moustaches on display.  I also remembered that The National Archives [of America] used to do Facial Hair Friday on their blog and I thought it would be a good way to show off some pictures, have a bit of fun, and promote a good cause. 
Groomed moustache with a flick

The photograph at the top is a group of sergeants at Cocken Hall, County Durham, taken in 1914.  
It shows some wonderfully waxed moustaches, as well as some simple, but groomed, bushy ones. 
Natural bristled moustache

However, you can also see that there are some clean top lips.  The King’s Regulations (paragraph 1696) stated that ‘The chin and under-lip will be shaved, but not the upper lip’, 

Moustache waxed to a point
but from our various collections of photographs, we thought this must have been rescinded some time before the First World War.  However, the rules did not change until an Army Order was issued on 6th October 1916.  

With no reason appearing to have been given, speculation includes the inability of many recruits to the new army to grow a moustache, the time taken to maintain one versus just shaving, and the compatibility of facial hair and gas masks.

Full, luxuriant, yet groomed moustache
So how do we account for earlier photographs that show a lack of moustaches?  Hearsay suggests that the rule was not enforced as heavily in the Territorial Forces and new battalions.  Our photographs of the 18th Battalion seem to back this up.  They show that it tends to be the officers, pulled across from the regular army to train new recruits, who tend to have the moustaches.  

No comments:

Post a Comment