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Frequently Asked Questions and HELP

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Frequently asked questions

How do find a particular military unit ?
Am I a Veteran?
What is The Veterans Agency
How do I identify a badge?
Where can I find details of a relative who served in the military ?
When is it alright to wear my relatives medals ?
How do I find out about Grand-dad's medal entitlement?
My relative was killed. Where is he buried?
Where can I get a full list of the different ranks?
What are the sticks that the senior officers carry?
What is Beating The Retreat?
What is The Treaty of Versailles
Where is Flanders and what are Flanders Fields?
Why is the poppy significant?
Where can I find the words to the poppy poem?
What Is the Oldest Regiment in the British Army?
Why is the British Army not "Royal"?
What Commonwealth units have performed Public Duties in London?
What is a regiment and a battalion
How can I find out more about a particular regiment?
What is a Battle Honour
What is a Theatre Honour


How do I find a particular military unit ?
The quickest way to locate a unit is to do a Google Site Search from the Home Page, put in the name of the unit. Alternatively try: Army Regiments - Past, 1947-1963


Am I a Veteran?

The term Veteran is used to mean all those who have served in the UK Armed Forces including their widow(er)s and dependents. If you have served in the UK Armed Forces, regardless of whether it was in war or during peace time or if you were a volunteer, reservist or national serviceman, you are now considered to be a veteran.


What is The Veterans Agency.

The Veterans Agency is the single point of contact within the Ministry of Defence for providing information and advice on issues of concern to veterans and their families. Its free helpline service is available to deal with enquiries from ex service personnel and their dependants. There is also a website which contains information and links to other useful websites.

Free Helpline: 0800 169 2277

Veterans Agency. www.veteransagency



Where can I find details of a relative who served in the military ?
Go to the top of this page and click on the persons Service Army/Navy/Airforce

When is OK to wear my relatives medals ?
War medals and service decorations of any sort may be worn only by the person upon whom they were conferred, and in no case does the right to wear war or service medals, or their ribbons, pass to any relative when the recipient is dead. Modifications of the above rule are permitted in connection with Remembrance Day, when relatives who desire to avail themselves, on those days only, of the distinction of wearing the decoration and medals of deceased relatives, they may do so, wearing them ON THE RIGHT BREAST.

How do I find out about Grand-dad's medal entitlement?


Which service is Senior, Army Navy or Air Force?
The Royal Navy is the senior service, followed by Army and then Royal Air Force.


My relative was killed during the war. Where is he buried?

Go to the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) site.

Find a Grave

A full List of the different Ranks of the Services

Ranks of the British Armed Forces


Where is Flanders and what are Flanders Fields?
Flanders is a region of Belgium, it was attacked by Germany in WW1 as a means of getting to France which Germany considered to be the "real enemy". Flanders Fields is a term picked up from the poetry of the time to refer to the countryside over which the armies fought.

What are the sticks that the senior officers carry? There are several different ones.

Some Officers carry a leather or cane swagger stick.

The RSM of a Unit carries a ' PACE STICK' which originated in the Artillery as a "Gunner's Stick" and was used to measure the distance between guns. It was soon adapted to measure the length of the pace taken by soldiers to get them all pacing the same. The Pace Stick is actually two sticks, hinged at the top and able to be set to a particular distance, something like the compass set you used at school.

CSMs carry a smaller stick, usually timber tipped with a shell casing at the head and an imitation bullet at the tail. It is merely an indication of rank.

The Swagger Cane: Swagger Sticks were introduced as an item of commissioned rank equipment at the time of King Charles I, but were used for a much more serious purpose than they are today. At the time of Charles I all junior officers were empowered to inflict punishment on the spot for minor offences. Old manuscripts record that such misdemeanors as “sneezing in the ranks, spitting or scratching the head” earned immediate punishment to the tune of 12 strokes across the back with the swagger stick.

What is Beating The Retreat?

Beating the Retreat is not retreating. Retreating in the face of the enemy is a shameful although sometimes necessary thing. Beating the Retreat is an ancient military ceremony indicating the end of hostilities for the day or the period. In the evening the band would march out with the drum beating and the buglers playing the call 'retreat'. The Colours would be there under guard to indicate that the unit was withdrawing as an orderly and controlled body of men who had not given up but were merely ending their day. It is now a Ceremonial Parade performed on special occasions.

What is The Treaty of Versailles

In January 1919, the victorious Allies gathered in Paris to draft a peace treaty at the Paris Peace Conference.
The principal participants in the conference were the leaders of the four great powers: Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France, David Lloyd George of Britain, and V ittorio Orlando of Italy. It soon became apparent that they had significantly differing motives and interests.

Wilson was determined on implementing his Fourteen Points, which had been the basis for the armistice negotiations and the establishment of a League of Nations, that would provide a basis for preservation of peace.
Clemenceau was determined not only that Germany should suffer, but that the peace terms should make it impossible for Germany to wage war ever again.
Lloyd George distrusted Wilson's idealism and was determined that none of the Fourteen Points should be allowed to interfere with Britain, its traditional policies, or its commitments to others.
Orlando, the least important of the so-called Big Four, was determined that Italy receive the huge territorial rewards that had been promised in 1915 to lure Italy into the war on the Allied side.
On January 25 the conference unanimously adopted a resolution to establish the League of Nations. The League was intended to provide a mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes, for the promotion of world disarmament, and the general betterment of humankind.

Then, after a committee was appointed to draft the Covenant of the League, the peace terms were established by the Supreme Council, that consisted of the heads of government and foreign ministers of the five principal Allied powers: the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan.

A number of military and economic provisions were designed not only to punish Germany for its war guilt, but also to insure France and the rest of the world against the possibility of future German aggression.

The German Army was limited to 100,000 men and was not to possess any heavy artillery, the general staff was abolished, and the navy was to be reduced. No air force would be permitted, and the production of military planes was forbidden.
The Treaty obligated the Germans to pay reparations amounting to over £15 billion to the Allies.
The Rhineland, near the French border, was to be under allied control for 15 years, and no German soldiers could be stationed there.
Alsace-Lorraine was to be returned to France, and Poland regained its independence.
Germany was to pay for all civilian damages caused during the war. This burden, combined with payment of reparations to the Allies of great quantities of industrial goods, merchant shipping, and raw materials, was expected to prevent Germany from being able to finance any major military effort even if it were inclined to evade the military limitations.
The Versailles treaty was a controversial agreement. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because it called upon the United States to join the League of Nations, and many Americans wanted to avoid future foreign entanglements. The League was crippled from the outset by the failure of the United States to join. The Germans resented many of the clauses in the treaty, particularly those which implied that Germany alone was responsible for having started the war.

Except for the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, which was agreed to unanimously, all of the important treaty provisions regarding German territory were compromises.

The Second Debate at Versailles
On 29 April, a German delegation arrived at Versailles. On May 7 the members of the delegation were summoned to the Trianon Palace at Versailles to learn the treaty terms. After carefully reading the treaty, the German delegation denounced it on the basis that the Fourteen Points were as binding on the Allies as on Germany.

Although refusing to sign the treaty, the German delegation took it back to Berlin for the consideration of the government. Despite great reservations, after long and bitter debates in Berlin, it became obvious that Germany had no choice but to sign the treaty. After informing the Allies that Germany was accepting the treaty only because of the need to alleviate the hardships on its people caused by the "inhuman" blockade, the Germans signed.

The treaty was signed on 28 June 1919, in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The U.S. did not ratify the agreement. As a result the United States arranged separate t reaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary.

German Fleet Scuttled
The Treaty of Versailles provided that all the interned ships become the permanent property of the Allies; that other warships still in German possession also be surrendered; and that the size of any future German navy be drastically limited. In reprisal against these terms on 21 June 1919, the Germans scuttled their ships interned at Scapa Flow.


Why is the poppy significant?

Long known as the corn poppy because it flourishes as a weed in grain fields, the Flanders poppy as it is now usually called, grew profusely in the trenches and craters of the war zone. Artillery shells and shrapnel stirred up the earth and exposed the seeds to the light they needed to germinate. In the years immediately following World War 1, governments and the whole of society, had not accepted the responsibility for those incapacitated and bereft as a result of war. In Britain, unemployment accentuated the problem.
Earl Haig, the British Commander-in-Chief, undertook the task of organising the British Legion as a means of coping with the problems of hundreds and thousands of men who had served under him in battle.

In 1921, a group of widows of French ex-servicemen called on him at the British Legion Headquarters.

They brought with them from France some poppies they had made, and suggested that they might be sold as a means of raising money to aid the distressed among those who were incapacitated as a result of the war.


Regiments and Battalions

The Regiment is often considered to be the most important unit in the British Army. It carries the spirit of the people who have gone before and would usually contain approximately 650 soldiers depending on its cap badge and role. Sometimes Infantry Regiments have more than one unit of this size and they should be correctly referred to as a Battalion and be numbered in ascending order. An example being the 1st Battalion of The Parachute Regiment which like the 2nd Battalion and the 3rd Battalion contains an identical structure and number of posts.

Where can I find the words to the poppy poem?

It is called "In Flanders Fields"


How do I identify a badge. Click this link BAF Badge gallery

If you still can't find what you are looking for Email Webmaster


What is a Battle Honour.

Battle Honours are an official acknowledgement of the part played in a successful campaign or engagement by the ships, units and squadrons which receive them. They serve as a permanent record of achievement of which past, present and future generations of Service personnel can be proud. The term Battle Honour is used colloquially and covers Battle and Theatre Honours.


What is a Theatre Honour

A Theatre Honour is awarded to a Regiment, which has already qualified for a Battle Honour in the Theatre.