P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

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DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The beige beret and the winged dagger badge (with its motto Who Dares Wins) originated with Stirling and his men in 1942. The dagger symbolises the weapon used by commandos when operating by stealth, although it is officially described as a representation of Excalibur striking downwards.

The secretive nature of the regiment's work requires special clothing and kit, most famously black combats and balaclavas. Badges of rank are not worn on operational duties. The stable belt is blue.

No. 1 dress 'blues' are distinguished by a Pompadour (light blue) stripe on trousers and overalls. The CO and Officer of the Day traditionally wear a black leather pouch belt mounted with a silver whistle chain and the Mars and Minerva badge of the Artists Rifles.

MUSIC

The Marche du Regiment Parachutist Beige (quick) and Li Hie Marlene (slow), are both reminiscent of the Second World War, when the regiment first made its mark on the world. The quick march refers to the year 1944 when the SAS Brigade embraced Belgian and Free French parachute squadrons.

TRADITIONS

Most countries keep a special force for covert operations but the SAS is world famous for its intensive training and efficiency. From the doctrine of small units tying down entire armies to damage and demoralise the enemy, often on its own territory, came the basic four-man patrol, composed of a leader, scout, signaller and medic. Stirling devised small operational patrols in the desert on the premise that they would be less noticeable than a large assault force. The regiment was the first to perfect the technique of abseiling from helicopters as a rapid-drop manoeuvre.

Officers and troopers work together to the highest standards, imbued with self- discipline, often disguised as natives of the region in which they operate. Individual identities and achievements are never publicly aired or celebrated.

THE SPECIAL RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) was formed in 2005 as part of the special forces group for covert surveillance work in support of international expeditionary operations in the fight against terrorism.

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

A beige beret was adopted on formation, as worn in the SAS. The cap badge is an ancient Corinthian helmet on a special forces' upright dagger with a scroll labelled 'Reconnaissance'. The helmet, with its dark eve-holes, symbolises the unseen watcher. MUSIC

The official march of the Reconnaissance Corps formed in the Second World War was Away to the Mountain's Brow.

TRADITIONS

The Reconnaissance Corps born in 1941 was employed to scout ahead of army divisions to determine enemy strength and movements, a hazardous task that required men with good survival skills.

THE ARMY AIR CORPS

The Army Air Corps (AAC) was formed in 1957 out of the Royal Artillery's Observation Post squadrons and the light liaison flights of the Glider Pilot Regiment, both created in 1942. The corps employs six regiments, five independent squadrons and various flights stationed around the globe to give helicopter support to land forces and an air assault capacity in battle. Corps headquarters and the School of Army Aviation are located at Middle Wallop in Hampshire. DRESS DISTINCTIONS

A Cambridge blue beret is worn by all ranks, the badge pinned to a square patch of dark blue. The corps badge, a restyling of the eagle badge of the Glider Pilot Regiment, shows an eagle landing, contained within a crowned wreath.

The eagle alighting without the crown and wreath is worn on collars, buttons and on sergeants' sleeves above the chevrons.

No. 1 dress 'blues' are identified by the beret, Cambridge blue piping on the shoulder straps, and a broad scarlet stripe on the trousers like that worn by the Royal Artillery, which helped form the AAC, and the Royal Engineers, who pioneered army flying. Bandsmen wear a full dress blue tunic which is fashioned with a double- breasted plastron in the style of jackets of the Royal Flying Corps from 1912 to 1918.

AAC soldiers grounding arms in front of a Lynx

AAC soldiers grounding arms in front of a Lynx. (MoD)

MUSIC

The corps quick march is Recce Flight, the slow march, Thievish Magpie, a martial reworking of Rossini's opera score of 1817.

TRADITIONS

In the 1950s and 60s, pilots of the AAC were supported by ground crew supplied by the Royal Armoured Corps and the Royal Artillery. It wasn't until 1973 that the corps recruited its own air troopers, who, after promotion to corporal, may apply for pilot training; two-thirds of army pilots are noncommissioned officers.

The 2nd Regiment AAC is responsible for ground-crew training, which involves base protection, ground-to-aircraft communications, arming and fuelling.

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