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A Shout From The Attic: Fletcher’s Haircuts

...So that none of us soldiers would ever be out of fashion, the Army kindly employed camp barbers in the camp barbershop, where each soldier was required on pain of death to attend for a scalping every two weeks. The barbers were rejects from sheep shearing stations and it showed. To keep these barbers in the manner to which they had become accustomed, we had a shilling deducted from our pay every two weeks...

But poor Fletcher received little benefit from a visit to the barber, as Ronnie Bray reveals.

Craftsman Fletcher was a Liverpudlian who at some time during his childhood has suffered from Rubella. One of the results was the loss of all the hair of his body. He was balder than a coot, and had not even a single eyelash. Most of the time he kept his beret on to hide his embarrassment, although no one ragged him about it, but Fletcher was a victim of the Army’s rigid thinking when it came to haircuts.

So that none of us soldiers would ever be out of fashion, the Army kindly employed camp barbers in the camp barbershop, where each soldier was required on pain of death to attend for a scalping every two weeks. The barbers were rejects from sheep shearing stations and it showed. To keep these barbers in the manner to which they had become accustomed, we had a shilling deducted from our pay every two weeks. Fletcher was charged for a service he never got because the Army didn’t know how to make an exception, even in his case.

Another area where the Army insisted on its insanity was at the daily kit inspections. Every item of our kit was laid our according to Queens Rules and Regulations and the Manual of Military Discipline, or else some local military person who was a dangerous criminal insomniac who lay awake at nights thinking how best recruits in training could be made to work twenty-five hours a day.

At the foot of the bed the toilet articles roll was to be laid out, the tie ribbons neatly ironed flat and lying to attention. On it, from let to right, were laid, knife, fork, spoon, razor, comb, and lather brush. And, yes, Fletcher was required to have the razor, comb, and lather brush laid out, even though he would never have need of them. Ah, the military mind!

The simple rule for success in the Army was to be immediately and unquestioningly obedient. In some critical situations this would save a soldier’s life, and that was no small thing.

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