Tom King

All Police Forces
Police Mess Dress

40 posts in this topic

Has anyone got any pictures of a British Policeman wearing police mess dress.


Thankyou

Tom

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As far as I`m aware we don`t wear Mess Dress, as we don`t have a Mess. The nearest thing I know of is our tunics, which are worn for Crown Court, or special occassions? Along the same lines, it might be of interest to note, that we rarely wear our medals either. Obviously we have the ribbons on our tunics, but the one and only time I`ve ever worn my medals in uniform was on my pass off parade!!! Which I think is rather sad, but I suppose unlike the military very few bobbies have medals, except the old LSGC and maybe a jubilee. The majority of other medals, will be military campaign medals!!

When was the last time, you heard of a bobby getting a bravery medal for instance, and yet the army seems to be handing them out like sweets at the moment!!!!! Oh I`d better get off my soap box, again!!!

Sorry.

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As far as I`m aware we don`t wear Mess Dress, as we don`t have a Mess. The nearest thing I know of is our tunics, which are worn for Crown Court, or special occassions? Along the same lines, it might be of interest to note, that we rarely wear our medals either. Obviously we have the ribbons on our tunics, but the one and only time I`ve ever worn my medals in uniform was on my pass off parade!!! Which I think is rather sad, but I suppose unlike the military very few bobbies have medals, except the old LSGC and maybe a jubilee. The majority of other medals, will be military campaign medals!!

When was the last time, you heard of a bobby getting a bravery medal for instance, and yet the army seems to be handing them out like sweets at the moment!!!!! Oh I`d better get off my soap box, again!!!

Sorry.

As an add-on, we (in Canada) do not have a mess dress either except our commisioned officers (Inspector and above). We do have a dress uniform and wear it on occasions, like funerals (too many as of late :( ) and award ceremonies. As for medals, we do get Good Conduct medals but also a few get bravery awards like the Police medal for bravery, or the much coveted Canadian Medal of Bravery. Not that many recipients, but some, and of sourse UN Mission medals and the Canadian peacekeeping medal. While out on patrol, we don't wear the medals obviously but the bars.

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I am sorry I should have been a bit more specific. I understand that many British Police Forces certainly used to have a Mess Dress available for officers of the rank of Inspector and above.

I remember seeing some Senior Metropolitan Police officers wearing it a few years ago in the eighties. I would be interested to see some photos of it in wear, but I am not sure if it is still worn.

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As an add-on, we (in Canada) do not have a mess dress either except our commisioned officers (Inspector and above).

As for Canadian police mess dress, there must be some exception (or at least was) because around 1991 I attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers (ASLET) in Mobile, AL. There are also members from other countries too, not just the US. At the big banquet on the last night there was a sergeant from some Canadian police agency that was sitting at the table next to mine and he was wearing a blue mess dress uniform.

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Tom.

They use mess dress for dining-in nights etc. at the Scottish Police College.

Staff seconded to the College for the usual 3-year period usually have special mess dress made for them.

Unfortunately, it seldom fits them at the end of the 3 years - waistbands seem to expand with prolonged attachment to that particular establishment.

I don't have a photo, but it's pretty much the same as British army mess dress, but in very dark blue. Miniature medals are worn with it.

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Robin

Cheers for the information. I really would like to see a photo of it in wear.

Tom

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Robin

Cheers for the information. I really would like to see a photo of it in wear.

Tom

I last saw it in use about 4 years ago - a Superintendent from Surrey - the satin facings were purple if I remember rightly - other than that it was much like Naval mess dress

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There are a few City Forces in Canada who have a designated mess dress. I know Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Toronto each have their own. The RCMP have mess dress for commisioned officers, while NCO's wear tunics with cloth belts.

Calgary also has a pattern of mess dress for their pipes & drums (highland mess dress). I haven't seen it anywhere else...

I'll try to post some pictures later.

JM

QUOTE(Tom King @ Jan 30 2006, 21:42 )

Robin

Cheers for the information. I really would like to see a photo of it in wear.

Tom

I last saw it in use about 4 years ago - a Superintendent from Surrey - the satin facings were purple if I remember rightly - other than that it was much like Naval mess dress

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Tom - I've been thinking about this matter of mess dress. I would expect the higher echelon to have them in the Met. (Comm., Dep. Comm, Asst. Comms..) since they would have to attend military, civic and Royal functions - however, I have never heard ref. to lower officers having them. There would be many dinners that would require a dinner jacket and medals to be worn, however, not many invites to functions requiring mess dress.

I have been collecting for many years and have never come across the special insignia that mess dress requires. For example - the British South Africa Police in Rhodesia had full kit - they had special small rank badges and on the collars of the jacket, gilt insignia of the Force. Had they been general issue to the Met. - if only to Ch. Supt's. and above - there would still be many examples in circulation and I have never come across anything.

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Just to add to Mervyn's post I have just checked the 'Clothing and Appointments' chapter of the Metropolitan Police instruction book issued in 1969 and there is no mention of mess dress for either senior or lower ranks.

The section dealing with the wear of 'Orders, Decorations and Medals' also fails to mention the wearing of said items with mess dress.

Pre 1969 possibly?

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I bet that instruction book has had more use in recent years then it ever did when it was a police issue ? Thank goodness you still have it - I remember they always asked for them back. Even Officers of Police were looked down on in military officer circles, as 'middle class' and apart from one or, two exceptions there was no need for mess kit. As someone pointed out there are no messes for most Police Forces and a dinner jacket - even in the early days would be adequate. Someone described a Ch. Supt. with purple collars - may have been a quirk of the Ch. Const. of the day - more probably - he had it made.

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ID: 13   Posted (edited)

The Royal Ulster Constabulary wore mess dress for a period, at Inspector level and above. I do not have the precise dates to hand but I think they were discontinued in the early 1980's. The same tunic was also worn by members of the RUC Bands. Out of interest, the RUC Pipe Band also wore silvered harp and crown collar badges. No makers marks or tags to the tunic, for security reasons.

Tunic views:

Mess1.jpg

Mess2.jpg

Collar badge:

MessCollar.jpg

Epaullete:

MessEp.jpg

Cuff buttons:

MessCuff.jpg

Silvered badge of the RUC Pipe Band:

Collars.jpg

Edited by Peter Mc

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How nice to see the tunic - so at least two Forces had mess dress, but being para-military I would expect RIC and RUC to have them.

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The South African Police (SAP 1913 - 1994) had a mess dress for each sex. Females could only join the SAP from the early 1970's. I have a males mess dress in my collection to a Captain. It is just missing the white shirt.

The South African Police Service (SAPS 1994 to date) I am not sure if it has mess dress as all the military style traditions the SAP had have been done away with, including the SAP colors with its eleven Battle Honours. 9 are for WWI and WWII battles the SAP fought in against the Germans.

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Peter

Lovely example of the RUC mess dress which I have never seen before. Can you tell me are the collar facings in the same RUC green as the tunics or is it black? As we know colours can appear distorted on screen :cheers:

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Garth - you must try to post a picture - would be interesting. I doubt if the mess dress is still used - most of the old traditions have gone. I had a terrible row with the Dep. Mayor back in 1995 - the freedom of the town was conferred on the Salisbury Island Naval Base - mostly an Indian unit. When they were disbanded the colour was hung in the Council Chamber. It disappeared and when I asked for it to hang in the Chapel at Natal Command , I was told it was in a cupboard and would stay there. Things have changed a lot...

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Hi Coldstream - the facings are black, not "RUC Green"/Black like the earlier uniforms but 'proper' black.

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Many thanks for that Peter, it's interesting to see that the collar and cuff material is of ribbed or woven construction as opposed to a velvet type cloth I would normally associate with a mess dress.

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I have seen Metropolitan Police Mess dress insignia at Hand & Lock. I have also been privy to the last Commissioners Mess Dress courtesy of his valet it was dark blue with light blue facings on the lapels and trouser stripe. I have been led to understand that it is available to Inspectors and above but in reality only very Senior officers bother with the expense of it as they are the privileged few who get invited to enough functions to warrant it use. Most just make do with black tie if needed. Shame really but no surprise in this day and age when the police do not even have a No1 dress anymore just a fluorescent jacket that makes them look like the myriad of workers who wear the wretched things.

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary had a mess dress for senior officers, in the 1980's or 90's, they presumably still have.

I cant' remember the details - dark blue &, unsurprisingly, Cambridge blue.

It drew a lot of negative comment from mere plods - we're not military, we're all constables, it's an elitist practise, so why the silly poseurs monkey suit sort of criticism.

It helped entrench the "them & us" attitude.

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Gentlemen

Mess Dress was common in UK police forces into at least the 1990s. The City of London force still use it today for formal functions within the City. Some forces retriced the use to very senior officers some like the Metroploitan went as low as Inspector.

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Know this is an old thread but thought this was interesting to add. It appears to be a Metropolitan police Mess jacket for a sergeant .

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Very interesting - I see that it is for Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps a special unit - or, could it have been for something like

Masonic formal dinners ? Mervyn

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For what it's worth -

Here are 2 pics showing RCMP items.

One pic shows a mess dress with insignia for a superintendent. The crown and pip/star used are smaller than those used on serges. The metal GRC RCMP shoulder title is the same size as used on serges and the collar dogs are also the same as used on serges.

The other pic shows the mess dress metal insignia for all officer ranks. It also shows some items that are not for the mess dress but are in the pic anyway - including the silver embroidered Queen's Crown, pip/star and the pair of crossed sword and baton, all of which would be used by the RCMP Commissioner on the gold cord shoulder boards.

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