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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Barracks (Moderators: Delmonico, Pitspitr)  |  Topic: Saluting 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Dan Gerous
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« on: April 21, 2018, 12:31:41 pm »


I have a question for the military re-enactors. In 1803 the order went out, "To avoid excessive wear on the hats. henceforth, the salute shall be given by presenting the open hand to the brow." I'm part of a Lewis and Clark group (in 1804) and we interpret that to be palm facing out (British style). Any idea whether this is correct? If so, when did they switch to the palm down?
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RattlesnakeJack
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2018, 10:42:56 am »

This is an interesting topic ... and definitely can cause some confusion.  

It is also my understanding that the early American salute was similar to the present-day British salute - https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-in-the-traditions-of-the-outward-palm-and-the-palm-down-salute  This is cropped from the above link -


Ironically, although one seldom sees it mentioned in discussions like the one linked to above, until well into the 19th Century the British Salute was actually a "palm down" version, much more like the present-day American salute, although with a somewhat bent wrist and fingers rather than the "dead-straight" American version -


The above illustration also demonstrates something else about British saluting which is not commonly known but remained unchanged until about WWI - namely that the salute was rendered with either the left or right hand, depending on which side was closest to the object of the salute!  (And, if not wearing headdress, the soldier simply came to attention and did not salute.)

Note this description of the above type of salute from the 1859 "Field Exercise & Evolutions of Infantry" ... although the written description does seem to describe a somewhat "neater and tighter" form of salute than is shown above.  I also have access to an 1861 version of the "Field Exercise & Evolutions" in which the description is the same -


I am not certain exactly when the British salute changed to the present form, but it had happened by the time of the 1870 version of the "Field Exercise & Evolutions" -


I suspect that this change was fairly new in 1870, because of the need to specify that the palm should face outward and the inclusion of an illustration of the salute.  I will go on the British "Victorian Wars Forum" and see if i can find out the precise year of change ...

My point about British saluting with either hand (or not saluting at all if uncovered) brings to mind a story I heard about some Victorian-era British reenactors in attendance at an event in the United States who were approacehed by an American "officer" who stood directly to their front.  The man on the right saluted with his left hand, the man on left saluted with his right hand and the man in the middle, who happened to be hatless, simply came to attention.  When the "know-it-all" took it upon himself to dress them down for such sloppiy and inconsistent saluting, they took great delight in informing him in no uncertain terms that they had all acted in strict and correct accordance with British military regulations ...  
Grin
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2018, 11:01:42 am »

Just a quick addition to the above ... here is a photograph of the Ceremonial guard of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Canadian) who are uniformed and equipped as their predecessor 13th Battalion of Volunteer Militia Infantry, circa 1866 (at the time of the Fenian Raid which resulted in the Battle of Ridgeway on the Niagara peninsula, in which the 13th Battalion took part. 

At any rate, note that the officer is rendering the earlier-style British salute as given at the order "Present Arms".  He is saluting with his left hand because in that situation he has drawn his sword and is holding it in his right hand, point down and to the right ...



(I see he has apparently made the same mistake I do once in a while: he is still wearing his wristwatch!  Undecided )
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
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Coffinmaker
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2018, 12:22:19 pm »

Based on the obviously Black Leather band, I would suggest it (the watch) is quite possibly a faithful (faithless) reproduction of and early French apparition of a "watch" which graces his wrist.   Grin
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Trailrider
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018, 04:20:37 pm »

Confusing me even further is some documentary movie images of British NAVAL officers saluting palm down, like Americans, whereas the British Army salutes palm outward!  Huh  Any comments?
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 06:32:08 pm »

IIRC, in the 18th Century there was no "hand salute" as we know it but rather the hat was removed from the head by a junior when rendering honors to a senior and the senior would respond appropriately.  Eventually this was simplified to simply touching the brim of the hat.  This was Naval custom and, I think, Marine Corps.  I'm open to correction on Marine Corps custom.  I don't know for sure about land forces but my recollection is that their custom was similar.

For one explanation of Naval saluting etiquette see Tradition and Tales of the Nayy by Dr. Martin Davis beginning on page 49.  This is also referenced in Courtesies and Customs, http://www.courses.netc.navy.mil/courses/14325/14325_ch9.pdf

Wikipedia has an extended article on customs of many services.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salute

As to palm out or down, one reference says that the Navy salute was palm down as sailors on windjammers were frequently working with tarred ropes meaning their hands were always dirty.  It was considered undignified, and maybe insulting, to show a dirty hand to an  officer so the palm was turned down.  I don't know that this is correct but it makes as much sense as any other explanation I've read.

The Navy has long permitted saluting with the left hand if the right one is occupied or missing.  I was unaware of the British custom of using either hand until I read it here.  You learn something new every day!!!

Different services have different etiquette on when and where to salute.  That would require a whole new thread, however.   Wink

SQQ
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RattlesnakeJack
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 10:07:40 pm »

Yes, the Royal Navy salute is palm down, and the explanation usually given is the "dirty hands" one ... but who knows.  Knowing that the salute was originally palm down for the British Army, however, Occam's Razor would dictate that this was the original manner of saluting in both British branches of service (originating with touching the headdress in lieu of doffing it  ... a gesture one certainly wouldn't do with the palm facing forward) and the Royal Navy simply continued that style of salute whereas the current palm forward style was adopted around 1870 by the military (... for some reason , who knows what, exactly ...)

Royal Air Force, British Army, Royal Navy:



Narrowing down the date of the change to "palm forward" in the British Army even more, I am advised on the other forum that the 1867 version of "Field Exercises and Evolutions" still specified the "palm down" salute.
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2018, 08:45:09 am »

Prior to 1968, the RCAF, CA, RCN had the same salute as the Brits.  When the Liberal government of the day decided to amalgamate the three services into an all singing, all dancing, green uniformed Canadian Forces, the salute went to palm facing down.

The RCMP still use the palm facing forward salute.
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 10:52:47 am »

Do the air force chaps always try to stick their fingers in their ears when they salute?  (aim high!)
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 02:01:26 pm »

One thing about the origin of the salute was to show a stranger being greeted (possibly an enemy of person of unknown intentions) that the person initiating the salute did not have a weapon in the hand (hence the palm facing outward).  At least that is the story we were told in AFROTC in the early 1960's.
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Dan Gerous
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 07:51:44 pm »

Thanks, everyone! This has generated a lot more discussion than I anticipated! Since the hand salute replaced the removing of the hat, I think the palm would be a more natural reflex, especially for ou blacksmith! Incidentally, it was General James Wilkinson who gave the order to salute "by hand". He also ordered all soldiers to cut their hair which many objected to, considering it to be "a French affectation". Colonel Thomas Butler, a hero of the War For Independence,refused and was court-martialed and suspended from command for one year. At the end of the year he again refused to cut his queue and despite pleas from other officers including General Andrew Jackson Butler was again court martialed. But, before the second court martial was convened, he died. At the funeral, his friends bored a hole in the bottom of the casket so his hair would hang out in full view of everyone! (especially Wilkinson!)
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Guns Garrett
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2018, 07:55:07 am »

In many "historical" films and in literature, it is shown or described that British Tars (seamen), if not wearing headgear, would "tug their forelock" when in the presence of an officer, rather than salute.  Many military traditions specify that salutes are NOT rendered when "uncovered" - not wearing a hat.  Is this "tugging" simply a substitute demonstration of deference or subordination in lieu of a salute?  Was it regulation, or simply an unofficial courtesy?
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2018, 11:46:00 am »

Hi

I've heard Trailrider's version of why we do saluting with the right hand showing you're not going to chop the person you're meeting's arm off.  I've also heard that the Brits were supposed to salute open palm because they lost the Revolutionary War to us.  I also heard that the French have always saluted that way....  None of the historians seem to like either version.  Go Figure.  I seem to remember that you don't salute in a war zone unless you don't want to serve under THAT officer anymore.  I didn't note that in the Cavalry Trilogy Documentary series....

Later

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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2018, 01:37:06 pm »

I've also heard that the Brits were supposed to salute open palm because they lost the Revolutionary War to us.

Well ... the historians don't like that one for very good reason!  As detailed in my previous posts, the British military salute was palm down, rather than palm forward, until at least 1867 (... that being the year of the last British "Field Exercises and Evolutions of Infantry" I have located which specifies the "palm down" salute ...) so the Revolutionary War defeat seems highly unlikely as a reason for the switch ... unless the UK didn't realize they'd lost until almost 80 years after the fact ...

(Indeed, that explanation sounds like pure and unadulterated American propaganda to this Colonial Boy!   Grin )
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
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Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2018, 11:32:44 am »

The Monarchy has always been a bit reticent to evolve and adapt so 80 years does not seem unrealistic
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