Dressing On The Right

This post was originally intended as a follow-up to my post earlier this month on the Welsh Livery Guild. In the post I’d planned I was going to mention that The Welsh Livery Guild is not alone in being an outfit of the costumed Brit Unionist royalist Right. I intended mentioning two other organisations that have made an unwelcome appearance – or reappearance – in Wales, the Orangemen and the Legion of Frontiersmen.

I shouldn’t have to explain about the Orange Order and the part it’s played in Irish – and to a lesser extent, Scottish – history, but maybe a bit more needs to be said about the Frontiersmen. Formed in 1904, in the wake of the Second Boer War, and in imitation of the admired Boer mounted infantry, the Frontiersmen enjoyed a brief popularity, even respectability, before the death-blow fell – Western armies stopped using cavalry except for ceremonial purposes. To which might be added the disappearance, or diminishing acceptance, of the ‘gentleman adventurer’. From then on it was a struggle for the Frontiersmen to justify their existence. With the result that in recent decades, certainly in the UK, this outfit has increasingly attracted sad buggers who enjoy dressing up. (Here is the ARRSEPedia entry.)

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Here’s what purports to be the official website of the Legion of Frontiersmen GB. As you’ll see, there’s a homepage, and, er, that’s about it. Though note that they describe themselves as being made up of ex-military, ex-police, even ex-civil service(!), who collectively form “an organisation of Civil Defence volunteers”. Bear that in mind, for it will help explain the circumstances in which they see themselves operating. There’s even a TwitterTweet presence @FrontiersmenGB which seems to be nothing more than retweets. As I write this, the most recent of them is about a launch of the Mumbles lifeboat! Finally, there is also an Independent Overseas Command.

Normally, this penchant for dressing up and playing soldiers would be harmless enough, laughable even. But then, as I started making a few enquiries into the recent activities of the Frontiersmen in Wales I ran into a name I’d recently seen linked with the Welsh Livery Guild. And I saw others, who should have known better, also lending credibility to these Walter Mitty types. But of greater worry to us should be that Wales is specially favoured, with Countess Mountbatten’s Own Frontiersmen Welch Command. Though, confusingly, there may be another Frontiersmen outfit in Wales, the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers.

You’ll note that the ARRSEPedia entry (above) is made by the ARmy Rumour SErvice or ARRSE. Here’s a link to an interesting thread on ARRSE from which I have plucked the piece on the left, though whoever posted it does not give the source. (Click to enlarge and read carefully.) Here’s a further thread from ARRSE.

WarlowNow if we read the extract on the left, it refers to a big get-together – or “Investiture” – for Frontiersmen and friends at All Saints Church, Penarth on March 5th, 2006. Among the good and great we see the name of “Commander John Curteis the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of South Glamorgan”. This can only be Commander J M D Curteis RD FCA DL who went on to become Master of the Welsh Livery Guild in 2009/10. The Brigadier Alun Thomas-Evans referred to seems to be the same man as this Freemason. Maybe readers will recognise other names from the host in attendance.

Among them Earl Kitchener, the mayors of Penarth and Barry, the local sea cadets, Gorseinon College band, and the ghost of Queen Victoria. (OK, I made up that last one.) What were these people thinking of to lend ceredibility to this bunch of inadequates! Or maybe they view the Frontiersmen differently. Just look at who was involved. The British Legion, the Freemasons, various Jugend groups, the Welsh Livery Guild, Unionist political parties . . . and it all takes place – where else! – in an Anglican church. If you want to find the underpinnings of the British State, and the interconnectedness of the different strands, here they are for you. How many more organisations are there like the Welsh Livery Guild and the Frontiersmen?

For all I know, these clowns in the Frontiersmen may be legally entitled to own and train with weapons. It’s a worrying thought. Especially when we put it into the wider picture. Going back to the Welsh Livery Guild for a moment, I note that Brigadier R E L Jenkins CBE DL, Master in 1998/99, (and another Deputy Lieutenant) is, or very recently was, Director of Movements for the British Army. Which fits with my rather disturbing theory.

Forget ‘civil defence’ and ‘natural disaster’, what I fear we have here is a network of like-minded groups organised to step into the breach if the great unwashed get too stroppy, or if events in Scotland or Wales take an unacceptably un-Unionist tack. These paramilitary and semi-secret groups are linked by an adherence to an extreme variant of the ‘Queen and Country’ outlook. Which means that no matter how many Welsh symbols they choose to use, no matter how much of the Welsh language they employ, these bastards are our enemies. They may be little more than a secret army-in-waiting. At least, that’s how I believe they see themselves.

Dennis Coslett, portrait
Commandant Dennis Coslett FWA

I note that on its website the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers ” . . . offers support to the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales”. Was such an offer ever formally made? If so, what was the official response? Funny when you think about it, isn’t it . . . I can recall back in 1969 Cayo Evans and the Free Wales Army boys getting arrested and banged up for (among other things) wearing unauthorised uniforms. There were other arrests in 1990(?) of the Meibion Glyndwr Colour Party for a similar offence. So why can some in Wales wear contrived or illegal uniforms with impunity?

There can only be one answer. Despite the bollocks about us all being equal before the law, in practice, it all comes down to which side you’re on. If you support the English monarch, the Union, and all that goes with it – including the colonial status of Wales – then you can ponce about in a uniform that would bring tears to the eyes of the most emotional costume designer for a Ruritanian operetta. You can also give yourselves ludicrous ‘ranks’ (even impersonate military officers), award yourselves pretty medals, and nobody’s gonna touch you cos you’re on-side. Making Britain not a lot different to a third world country or a totalitarian state.

Footnote: I should explain, for those perhaps too young to know, that in the old days, when a young man about town (such as I once was) went to measure for a bespoke suit, the tailor, when taking the inside leg measurement, would ask, “Which side does Sir dress?” In other words, ‘Which side do you prefer to have them hang?’ It seemed an appropriate title for this piece considering the pricks I’ve been dealing with.

9 thoughts on “Dressing On The Right

  1. There seem to be an awful lot of “commissioned officers”. If I remember correctly, a Lt Colonel commands at least a battalion – or around 1,000 lesser-ranked soldiers – and a Brigadier commands a regiment. I’m guessing the soldiers are of the green plastic kind.

    As long as they’re not doing any harm – other than attempting to piss on everyone who’s actually served in the military – they may as well keep playing soldier and making up for their lack of chin.

    1. Jac

      That’s one way of looking at it, Owen. And it would be my position too, were it not for others – who should know better – giving these buggers a credibility you, I, and countless others would deny them. Giving us something of a conundrum here.

  2. browsing thru a couple of volumes of pg wodehouse is of course enough to remind us that the british ruling class and its lackeys have always had a penchant for ‘dressing up’….(i blame a public school education myself)….. but the thought of all those ex-colonels and brigadiers armed and laying in wait across wales, ready to restore ‘order’ to welsh towns and cities in the event of some undefined crisis is rather disturbing…..as i have a feeling i know just what kind of ‘order’ they would like to restore ie order of the frank kitson variety….i also fear that the ‘support’ they have apparently offered to our fledgling welsh democracy is akin to the ‘support’ the taliban have offered to girls seeking an education ….

    and on a possibily even more disturbing note the letters page of the telegraph will surely never be the same again – as ‘signed angry ex colonel of taffs well’ just doesnt have the same gravity as ‘signed angry ex colonel of tunbridge wells’……..

    1. Jac

      Brilliant! That sums it up perfectly. A few of the ‘enemies’ might be different but the mind-set is exactly the same. Waiting for “the balloon to go up”.

  3. anonentity

    Wasn’t the proprietor of the Daily Mirror plotting something similar back in 1968?

    Mind you there’ll be a bit of dressing-up in Wales next week, although it’s never been an aspect of the country that appealed to me I must admit.

    BTW I think having a go at papist-rapists has become a bit more mainstream over the last couple of decades

  4. Jac

    Another with private army ambitions was Archibald David Stirling, founder of the SAS. Democrat only as long as his side was on top. http://bit.ly/13jt34x

    They’ve always been around. I suggest you read ‘Who Framed Colin Wallace?’ by the late Paul Foot. Though it started in the Six Counties ‘Clockwork Orange’ developed into a plot to remove Harold Wilson. One of those involved was Wyn Roberts, Minister of State at the Welsh Office.

    1. Jac

      Good for you. I’ve got no problems with cross-dressing. My targets are the enemies of Wales, no matter how they’re dressed.

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