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Intriguing Forces Question


Guys, US enquirer here. I posted on another forum that I thought maybe appropriate and although I got some useful responses, someone suggested also asking here but told me I'd get a load of grief. I'm researching discipline in the armed forces across the world and I was trying to find out whether certain things would warrant a disciplinary charge, minor of otherwise.

The other forum came up with issues such as fainting on duty, throwing up or soiling yourself on parade and dropping your weapon. Someone also posted a great Parliamentary question from the 1950's asking why a guardsman was punished after fainting. My question was whether any such events would still merit someone being charged or is that a thing of the past - if it ever did exist?

We're much more relaxed about such issues in the US Navy etc and folk leaving parades through illness or need is not uncommon but I'd be fascinated about the formality of the British forces.

I'm expecting to be told to f-off, or that's what I was told to expect but if this does merit being moved to another section, feel free. Cheers


Fainting or falling ill on parade is not a disciplinary issue. And hasn’t been for at least the last 20 years I’ve served.


I’ve seen ‘Minor Administrative Action’ taken against servicemen who’s uniform wasn’t up to standard on parade (normal punishment is a show parade or kit muster), and also for entire squads (classes) who’s drill wasn’t up to scratch - their punishment was extra drill training.


War Hero
Super Moderator
@Tim_Lodge .
F_off, that's that out of the way :)

In the RN it has never been a disciplinary offence (I joined in 1973, left in 2007) and have never known anyone be charged for fainting etc, as Wilf said, you may get something minor if it's due to being hungover etc.

Not sure about the USN, but in the RN we don't spend a lot of time on a parade ground doing formation walking.


Book Reviewer
So, whilst fainting in itself isn't an offence, if you've brought it upon yourself i.e. been out the night before, wound one on and are hungover beyond belief you're open to minor sanctions for that, much in the same way that sunburn can be.


Thanks, helpful replies.

I did try to post a link to the parliamentary question about a UK guardsman getting disciplined for fainting but it got deleted so I guess I'm not permitted to do that.

One other question though, if I may? How easy or difficult is it to get permission to leave a parade/ceremony if you feel unwell or have a need? And would you get any form of reprimand for asking or stepping down?

I've seen it happen several times over here and there have never, to my knowledge, been any reprimands but I'm guessing things will be different in the more formal British set up?


War Hero
Super Moderator
It you feel you're about to faint, feel unwell etc, the standard practice I've always seen in the RN is for the person to go down on one knee, the parade staff and/or medics will then come over to check them out.


War Hero
did try to post a link to the parliamentary question about a UK guardsman getting disciplined for fainting but it got deleted so I guess I'm not permitted to do that.

Go ahead and post it. It was the auto spam/bollocks/troll hammer that did for your earlier attempt. You and the mods could see it but it was never ‘posted’.


War Hero
I was a Part II Instructor at HMS Raleigh 1987/88 - as WreckerL says - if you felt unwell you went down on one knee and the GIs around the parade would come over - make you remove your cap, catch your breath then resume, move your toes/rock back on your heels etc.

If you keeled over everybody left you (cannot break parade) and stretcher bearers came on and carried you off to a couple of medics in the drill shed

No comebacks unless you were hungover/dehydrated as you had been warned about this beforehand, so usually low level 'punishment' like an extra duty or clean the heads etc. - nothing formal

Also on Achilles as WIGs formal visit by Governor of Bermuda ? - not sure but we used to have a naval base there - RM in the Guard 'followed through' after night on the P*ss - Marine Colour Sergeant went absolutely ballistic and he got 1 weeks 'beasting'

but to summarise - no formal comeback - but that is the Navy - Army (Guards etc) might be different


Won't allow me to post the link but here's the copied extract from Hansard

Fainting on Parade (Hansard, 27 June 1950)
§ 34. Major H. Johnson
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Guardsman Peter Youdale was put on a charge for fainting during the Trooping the Colour rehearsal on 29th May, 1950, and received punishment of five days' extra drill; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that fainting on parade ceases to be treated as a punishable offence.​
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. and gallant Member has been misinformed. While each case of fainting is investigated, no charge is preferred unless the man has fainted as a result of some action or negligence on his part which has rendered him unfit for parade. This guardsman was not guilty of such an act and was not put on a charge.​
§ Major Johnson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this guardsman had to suffer five extra drills? If that was not a punishment, what was it?​
§ Mr. Strachey
No, Sir. My information is that after this occurrence this guardsman took part in the drills of his unit, which he had not been doing because of other duties beforehand, but these were in no sense a punishment.​


Thanks for the replies and stories, they'll help. Keep them coming, please.

I've got one of my own in return that you may have heard or might find amusing. Back in 2004 it was Ronald Regan's funeral and he was buried in California with full military honours. All of the US service strands were present in large numbers and the pall bearers were selected as one from each branch of the military.

The rest of the personnel marched with, lined up alongside and escorted the cask containing his body and all of the different groups were determined to show themselves to be the best and most presentable and a huge amount of work went into the organisation of the day. During the formalities of the event all the troops were standing in their formations when suddenly a puddle started forming all around the feet of one of the US Naval guys in the front line. He was quickly approached and escorted away but some urgent reshuffling took place to fill his position and several guys were moved around in order to leave the gap at the back where it would be less noticeable.

But when the funeral formalities were over and the formations broke, the liners were meant to step forward to present themselves on alternative sides of the coffin. However, the front row replacement guy either forgot or got confused or didn't know and he followed the guy in front. As a result, the numbers on either side ended up out of sync.

Apparently, if you watch the footage, you can see the Navy section scrunched up together one one side and spaced out on the other as they escort the coffin carrier.

By all accounts, there was hell, and I mean SERIOUS hell to pay afterwards as the the US Navy finished bottom of the pile in terms of presentation.


War Hero
Super Moderator
It you watch the Queen Mothers funeral footage, as the Naval Guard March out of the barracks, one matelot at the back can be seen skipping along trying to get in to step........My eldest son :)

I was still serving and didn't take the piss out of him.......much;)


War Hero
It you watch the Queen Mothers funeral footage, as the Naval Guard March out of the barracks, one matelot at the back can be seen skipping along trying to get in to step........My eldest son :)

I was still serving and didn't take the piss out of him.......much;)
obviously the ability to put one foot in front of the other runs in the family:p


War Hero
Leadership at Royal Arthur, one of our lot came back on-board, on time for normal navy, but as we were already falling in for divisions, he was a tadge late for getting to his uniform and on parade in time. He went on parade in his civies, the inspecting officer did not bat an eye lid and picked him up for dirty shoes. After parade he was called in to see boss instructor, we thought in deep shit? He was asked why he showed up on parade in his civies, his reply was out of rig of the day was a lesser offence than being adrift on parade, no further action taken.


War Hero
Again at Royal Arthur, having a laugh and taking the pee, off to PT, class leader immaculate, the rest of us a scran bag, odd socks some with socks rolled down, some with socks pulled same for sleeves.
Clubs inspects use, class leader BZ the rest of us had a bit of extra PT to do.

I was picked up for being a scran bag on parade, course instructor said at least my No1’s was a lot better than my No2’s, some comment about sodding insolent submariners was heard? Told to try harder. Not my fault my misses put both of my SR uniforms in the washer? Well you used to wash your square rig that way, she says, thought she was helping me prepare for leadership?
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