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History of Regimental Neck Ties

Before the days of universal khaki, all regiments had a colour scheme of their own, seen at its most typical in the mess-jackets of the officers. Cynics have suggested that many of these colours were probably suggested by the colonel's wife, "Because they looked pretty" .

Nevertheless, it does seem that with some Army units, and especially Rifle Regiments, the colours once used for their full-dress uniforms have been perpetuated in their Regimental ties. Obvious examples include the striped red and green of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (uniform: rifle-green with scarlet facings); the black and green stripes of the Rifle Brigade (full dress green with black facings).

The same could be said for of the grey, black and white stripes of the Artists' Rifles, the green and blue stripes of the Inns of Court Regiment.

In the recent proliferation of regimental ties, this principle seems to have been partly abandoned. When the Royal Air Force came into being in 1918 by the merging of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Service, there were originally many competing striped designs. While many of these have been retained, a large number of later squadrons have been preferred to adopt crested ties.

This was made possible by the adaptation of the jacquard loom to the weaving of ties. The loom had long been used for weaving detailed designs for other purposes, but was first used for manufacturing ties with small isolated emblems in the early 1920's.

Perhaps the most elaborate pictorial tie (if it may be called so) is that produced for the Battle of Britain Association. This pattern consists of alternate rows of miniature maps of the British Isles (woven with exquisite definition) and the gilt Battle of Britain rosette. 

This unique tie, perhaps the most coveted one in the world, being restricted to "The Few" to whom the free world owes its survival, was designed by Mr. T Herbert Jones, A.R.A.S., F.R.S.A, for Messrs Gieves. Other patterns devised by Mr. Jones for Gieves include eight R.A.F ties.All of these have the unusual distinction of having been authorised by Air Ministry Orders.

In the early 1930's, Flying Officer Phillips escaped by parachute when his aircraft crashed and he suggested to Irvin Airshute Inc. the parachute manufacturers, that a club should be formed of those whose lives had been saved in this way. This is known as the caterpillar club and Messrs T.M. Lewin of Jermyn Street produced the tie with a gold caterpillar on a navy blue background. There are now thousands of members and the tie is only sold on production of a membership card.

After the Second World War, Messrs. C H Munday discovered a demand for ties with stripes in the patterns of such campaign medals ribbons as the Atlantic Star and the Victory 1945, a striking example of the unexplored possibilities for ties.


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