Customs of the Regiment

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The Loyal Toast

The Loyal Toast and other toasts made at the dining table are drunk seated. This is because of the Regiment’s naval heritage – if one stood up, then one’s head would hit the roof of the deck above! The Loyal Toast is also drunk individually in rotation. This custom comes from The Royal Sussex Regiment. The origin of the custom of drinking the Loyal Toast individually was believed to date from the earliest days of the 35th Regiment, although its roots went deeper into the religious and political upheavals of the late Seventeenth Century. The Earl of Donegal, first Colonel of the 35th , seems to have required all his Officers to drink the Toast individually so as to be certain of their loyalty, an understandable action given the uncertain loyalty of English Regiments in 1688- 1690 . It was probably kept on throughout the Eighteenth Century because of continued fears of Jacobitism, for it is a clear demonstration of individual loyalty to the Protestant Monarchy.

Kohima Day – The Kohima Corporal

A Kohima Corporal is appointed in each battalion on the 9th April each year to commemorate the actions of Lance Corporal John Harman, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, at the Battle of Kohima in 1944 when he was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. The Kohima Corporal has place of honour at the Regimental Dinner on that evening

The Salt Ceremony

The senior officer dining and each officer on first dining with the 2nd Battalion takes salt from a special silver salt cellar, the ‘Huntingdonshire Salt’. This is a tradition inherited from The East Surrey Regiment. In medieval times, salt (a valuable seasoning) was placed in the middle of a dining table and the lord and his family were seated "above the salt" and other guests or servants below. Newly joined officers are invited to "take salt with the Regiment". External guests are invited to "take salt with the Commanding Officer", thus signifying that they were "above the salt".

The lid of the Cellar has a fragment of the Regimental Colour of The 31st Foot, carried at the Battle of Sobraon. By observing the Fragment, the new officer is reminded of the responsibilities that accompany the welcome. This tradition may be carried out by other battalions, when a suitable alternative salt cellar is used. The names of all those that have ‘taken salt’ with the Regiment are recorded in special ‘Salt Books’ within each Battalion.

Albuhera Day – The Silent Toast

The Silent Toast is to the ‘Immortal Memory’ of all members of our forebear regiments, who fell at Albuhera and have subsequently died in all subsequent operations. This is drunk by all officers and senior NCOs serving together in each Battalion on the 16th May each year. The tradition was originally inherited from The Middlesex Regiment. After the battle, the surviving officers and sergeants gathered at an inn by the battlefield and swore to meet annually to commemorate the slaughter of their comrades on that dreadful day. The toast is drunk individually in silence from a silver ‘loving-cup’. The original cup was reputedly made out of the silver accoutrements of the 57th Foot officers who had fought at Albuhera. It is adorned with the medal of Colour Sergeant Holloway, who won it at the battle whilst serving as an eleven-year-old Drummer Boy. He was the longest living survivor of the battle.

The Minden Rose

A Rose is worn in the headdress of all ranks on the 1st of August every year. This commemorates the 37th foot, who picked up roses around Minden on the day of the battle.

Sobraon Day – Sobraon Sergeant

A Sobraon Sergeant is appointed in all battalions on the 10th February each year to commemorate the actions of Sergeant Bernard McCabe at the Battle of Sobraon in 1846. The Sobraon Sergeant has the honour of carrying the Regimental Colour to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess, where the Colours are displayed for the Day. This is the only occasion when one of the Colours is not carried by an officer (ensign).

The Grace

The only Grace worthy of mention was that occasionally heard in the 1st Battalion The Queen's Regiment, when no Chaplain was present: "No Padre - Thank God!"