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The RAF Regiment: why so disliked by so many British soldiers/marines?


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#1 Ripvulcan

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 02:21 AM

Scanning Youtube on a rainy lazy Sunday afternoon one day, as one does, and looking at the various videos about the various Allied Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, I came across several concerning British Forces in general, and the RAF Regiment in particular. On several occasions looking at the various videos about the RAF Regiment in these places, I was struck by the vehement comments of dislike of the RAF Regiment by both (supposedly) former and serving soldiers of the British Army and, if memory serves me correctly, Royal Marines.

These comments referred to RAF Regt members in most unflattering terms, refused to acknowledge the RAF Regt as a 'real' or 'proper' regiment; indeed, saying that the RAF Regt was a 'criminal' regiment originally composed of 'criminals' during WWII who were the given the option of serving in the RAF Regt's ranks or serving a prison sentence; also saying that RAF Regt uniforms made these ground-fighting airmen look like bus conductors, etc. And some of these comments were also directed at any young Briton looking to join the UK's armed forces as an infantry soldier and instructed this prospective recruit to give the RAF Regt a big miss and instead join either an infantry regiment of the British Army or join the Royal Marines. This seemed downright hostile, even quite nasty, and far from mere good-natured teasing banter born of inter-service rivalry.

I realize that RAF Regt members are nicknamed 'rock apes' and this is not in itself a particularly complimentary term of reference, let alone address, but I assumed it was said in a jocular vein and was not to be taken at all seriously. I can now see that this assumption was quite wrong. In the remarks I'd read these former and current soldiers and marines called RAF Regt gunners rock apes and meant every syllable of it.

Can any informed Briton on these forums tell me why this dislike of the RAF Regiment and its members has formed and what the unfortunate members of the RAF's infantry arm have done to deserve this disapproval of their regiment and of themselves by British soldiers and marines, who are supposedly their comrades in arms?

Edited by Ripvulcan, 27 January 2009 - 02:30 AM.


#2 Von Poop

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 02:31 AM

Squaddies mock the RAF, the RAF mocks squaddies. The Rock Apes are Squaddies within the RAF, therefore a splendid target for Squaddies & Bootnecks who regard themselves as 'real' Soldiers (while themselves having somewhat severe differences as to what a 'real' soldier is...).
'Banter' can include some incredibly virulent stuff, but they do all know they're roughly on the same side. Sort of.

I'm sure Urqh can give you a much better explanation though, with diagrams and everything.
(Ask the question on ARRSE, try 'The Naafi Bar' there, no doubt you'll get some fascinating answers, and learn lots about 'banter' :D )

Cheers,
Adam.

Edited by Von Poop, 27 January 2009 - 02:38 AM.

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#3 Ripvulcan

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 02:42 AM

Squaddies mock the RAF, the RAF mocks squaddies, the Rock Apes are Squaddies within the RAF, therefore a splendid target for Squaddies & Bootnecks who regard themselves as 'real' Soldiers (while themselves having somewhat severe differences as to what a 'real' soldier is...).
'Banter' can include some incredibly virulent stuff, but they do all know they're roughly on the same side. Sort of.

I'm sure Urqh can give you a much better explanation though, with diagrams and everything.
(Ask the question on ARRSE, no doubt you'll get some fascinating answers, and learn lots about 'banter' :D )

Cheers,
Adam.


It seems more than that. The RAF Regt is far more of a target for Brit soldiers and marines than the other way round. British soldiers and marines don't verbally go at each other in the same way that both go at the RAF Regt. And if what you say is right, it is only verbal aggression between services, then the Brit Army and RM should be ripping into each other with the same frequency and intensity that both tear into the RAF Regt. But they don't, at least not on youtube or on other open/public military boards. The RAF Regt and its gunners, from what I've seen, are much more a subject of resentment than either the Army or RM are for each other, and thus, are vilified (to the point of absurdity).

Edited by Ripvulcan, 27 January 2009 - 03:15 AM.


#4 Von Poop

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 03:14 AM

As I said, they're part of the the more genteel RAF, less likely to lower themselves to argument with the Hoi-polloi on a grubby site like Youtube:).
The Squaddies are likely to frown upon units they may see as having a nice job patrolling an air-base while they squat in a hole being shot at daily by nutters. The perceptions may be incorrect and even unfair, but they are there.

Soldiers and marines don't verbally go at each other in the same way that both go at the RAF Regt.

YouTube gives the wrong impression here mate; if you ever drank in Pompey or Aldershot you would perhaps realise there's less verbal aggression as it wastes useful time with the pick-axe handle. As for Marines & Paras; having spent more than the odd night out with Boot-necks (something that immediately makes me questionable to other affiliations) I feel their 'rivalry' puts any slander offered to the Rock-Apes somewhat in the shade.

Seriously, have a stroll through Arrse and see if you can work the tribal differences out; it's old and it's complicated, and as likely to involve a small event at isandlwana as a particularly nasty Rugby Match in 1897, or a spat between officers in Mesopotamia as it is more recent events (try a search there for "3 Para Mortar", if you want to follow a specific & up to date theme of 'banter').

I was never 'in' and never wanted to be, so it's still largely a mystery to me (something of a relief perhaps) but the highly traditional assumptions of superiority, mockery, & even bile cut all ways and in all styles from subtle to brutal. It's called Tradition, & they just wouldn't be HM Forces without it.

You have to pity the new amalgamated Regiments, many of them won't even be quite sure on who to hate any more.

Cheers,
Adam.
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#5 urqh

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:42 AM

First of all the RAF Regiment is proud and rightly so of the title Rock Ape, it is and has never been disparaging. It is what they are. I will leave you to your own sources on the why they are called such. Its a title they will defend to the death...As I know from calling one a pebble monkey and sufferent the consequences.

The elits, we talk of them enough on here, the elites of the British armed forces can be judged by many to be Paras, marines, and above them the even more elite SAS and SBS etc.

They indeed do mock the the RAF Regiment in more than just banter, well the paras and Marines anyway...not that they dont mock any other British infantry unit or mech or static etc...the Paras in particular call the rest of crap hats because of the cap we wear or wore, and doesnt really matter if you wear a beret as your first dress, you will still be a crap hat to them. This is banter but more...

To the Army, the paras are the elite regiment in training and basic attitude, not me saying this, its the perception, but one I believe anyway.

To the Navy its the Marines.

The problem is the Air force has a regiment or body of troops for airfield and base security, defence, and attack and hold etc. They are called the RAF Regiment as they are first and formost soldiers in blue. Although they are technically profficient in many defence and aggressive areas and equipment and indeed figure highly in triaining teams with Paras and marines.

But they are not an elite in the same sense as the army hold the paras to be or the Marines to the Navy.

They are not an elite to the RAF serving guy on the flightline either, although the RAF Regiment would have you believe otherwise. They have their job to do as well as anyone else on that station or Harrier Hide.

They are indeed tough, but no tougher in my view than the Royal Anglians or any fully kitted out regiment of the line..they just have a unique and out of infantry area job to perform and perform it well.

The banter between services is normal, the army will treat any RAF serviceman in the same way, regiment or not, I've been in both services and know this to be true, even army untis suffer the same banter. Its got to be same in USA forces I would think.

But the RAF regiment are not treated badly or in anyway differently than any others in UK forces...the paras and marines have a right in my own view to look on any RAF Regiment rock ape as a crap hat if they so wish, because of the traiing and uniqueness of their own roles. The Raf Regiment is not quite at their level..Was never meant to be, never will be. They are RAF soldiers first and foremost.

To serving members of the RAF, the rock apes are nothing more than base defence troops, not an elite to them either. The Rock Ape though will tell anyone willing to listen, that he is indeed a member of an elite unit...I would say unique, but I aint arguing with him either, cos he'll most probably pin me to a wall and I wont get down for a few days until someone notices my cries.

Churchil had his problems in ww2 with regiment...too many...and army pushing for more men...RAF Regiement was taking some of the finest and fittest youth for static duties in uk and base areas overseas. Churchill wanted answers as to why and got his way and transferred many to army to serve as normal infantry.

They are far from that today, but soldiers they are, a unique job to do but can mix it with any other Britrish regiment....paras and marines notwithstanding.

#6 urqh

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:49 AM

To RipVulcan I can only say....the army are a bunch of Pongo's, the RAF can be crabfats and the Navy a bunch of queers..pardon my pc language....The evil banter that exists between the British armed forces is just that...banter...and the occaosonal fist fight on a Saturday night.

There is no love lost on the language side of things, but you can be assured that none of this matters one iota when tasked together to do the business...

See Falklands islands...
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#7 Von Poop

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:51 AM

but I aint arguing with him either, cos he'll most probably pin me to a wall and I wont get down for a few days until someone notices my cries.

Personally I always popped out for a smoke when it got to the overheated verbal or pickaxe handle stage... 'this is nothing to do with me' I would cheerfully think as those brave Redcaps ;) or Provosts with their cheery white batons steamed into the pub.
New Years eve in Pompey it was almost a spectator sport...

Cheers,
Adam.
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#8 urqh

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:55 AM

Squaddies mock the RAF, the RAF mocks squaddies. The Rock Apes are Squaddies within the RAF, therefore a splendid target for Squaddies & Bootnecks who regard themselves as 'real' Soldiers (while themselves having somewhat severe differences as to what a 'real' soldier is...).
'Banter' can include some incredibly virulent stuff, but they do all know they're roughly on the same side. Sort of.

I'm sure Urqh can give you a much better explanation though, with diagrams and everything.
(Ask the question on ARRSE, try 'The Naafi Bar' there, no doubt you'll get some fascinating answers, and learn lots about 'banter' :D )

Cheers,
Adam.


Yer git...they'll kill him...

#9 urqh

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:58 AM

I was never 'in' and never wanted to be, so it's still largely a mystery to me (something of a relief perhaps)


Quite right too....Who with any sense would want to be in...

#10 Von Poop

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 12:08 PM

Hopefully your post #8 will give a brief and gentle introduction to their natural linguistic terminology...

Legal Note:
I should like to state that the record shows for any massive Bootnecks, Paras, Rock-Apes, or even Matelots who happen to read this that at no point did I use the terminology Mr Urqh has earnt the right to apply following service in said said 'HM Forces'.
Nailing to a wall or pickaxe handles are neither required or warranted by tradition, I am pleased to be a civvy **** (insert expletive) and thank you grovellingly for your understanding in this matter, I hope adding this link may help assuage any erroneous and unintentional offense conceivably caused with my rambling and insignificant presence:
Help for Heroes - A charity for the wounded in Britain’s current conflicts


Cheers,
Mr X.

:shifty:

Edited by Von Poop, 27 January 2009 - 12:45 PM.
spelling... these things are important in legal documents.

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#11 urqh

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 12:20 PM

There...a civvy who knows his place....I suggest the rest of you take note....I'll errr...get me coat then...I'll use the back door shall I?

#12 Von Poop

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 12:27 PM

I dunno mate, I'm afraid I'm grassing you up to some man-mountain in a lumberjack shirt if he asks whichever way you leave, me being purely an innocent bystander just standing here smoking this fag and never having seen you before in my life.
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#13 mfg495

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 01:48 PM

As a serving member of the RAF I know a number of members of the RAF Regt. I'm sorry but I cannot go a long with the statment "To serving members of the RAF, the rock apes are nothing more than base defence troops, not an elite to them either." To me and I would say other members of the ground trades within the RAF we see them as elite.
I have been on a number of deployments with the Army and there is always the problem about understanding the way they work! If we work a long side the RAF Regt. at least we are working from the same "Song Book" (rules and Regs).
I have just finished reading a book about Army EOD teams in Iraq and they could not thank 3 Sqn RAF Regt. enought for the work they did for then.

#14 urqh

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:36 PM

Times change, in my service in RAF, before present hostilites, the Regiment were not an elite to me. They may be seen as such to serving tradesmen now. Their role oft practiced being now a hot role surely earns them the right to call themselves something special to other ground staff. But if you are to compare them to any infantry unit of the line today such as the Royal Anglians then their elite status is not so easily explained. And certainly not in the same league as the Parachute regiment or Commando boys.

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#15 ktwinny

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 03:45 PM

Im ex Regt and its quite simple where the animosity comes from. Army HAVE to concede that the MArines are the best regular ground forces, and that hurts. The Paras wont admit it, but they do come second. Throw into that mix a Regiment in the RAF and you can see how they would be completely detested. How can the RAF know anything about fighting on the ground after all? That is the general opinion.
However, only the royal marines have longer training than the Raf Regt and Regt training is now up to 31 weeks, only a few less than the Marines. To get through 31 weeks of training you need a certain type of individual because its harder than the average UK infantry training. The Regt are also encouraged to think for themselves and dont suffer from the blind obedience endemic in the regular army, so you get switched on, highly trained troops....so of course the Army would detest them.
Very fit, and highly trained, thats the RAF REgiment.
Imagine this, it only takes 16 weeks to become a US Marine....ive worked alongside the US Marines and generally they are not particularly bright.
So of course the rest of the forces hate the RAF Regt, and it will never change because they are not seen as front line troops - not their fault - despite having the training and the aptitude.
dont be fooled though, because, after the Marines and up there with the Paras the next best unit in the forces is 2 sqn RAF Regt (the parachute trained sqn that do the full training PLUS the para course on top). Then, its argued that the RAF Regt in general is possibly the best trained unit in the forces....so of course the ARmy detest them....

Incidentally, the last UK unit to parachute into action was 2 Sqn Raf REgt in Sierra Leone, not a well know fact.

#16 Ripvulcan

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 01:48 PM

Very good, ktwinny. Your post is very informative and explains a lot. When I posted this thread nine months ago, I was hoping to get a former RAF Regt member give the RAF Regt's side of the story.

Edited by Ripvulcan, 26 October 2009 - 01:55 PM.


#17 4th wilts

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 02:03 PM

disliked by normal blokes.they used to come in the rosie and diggers and go back home black and blue,poor lads-pr###s.
"G-Garmans here.? I don't care much for Garmans .!"Thanks 4th wilts.:) !

#18 formerjughead

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 02:30 AM

....Imagine this, it only takes 16 weeks to become a US Marine....ive worked alongside the US Marines and generally they are not particularly bright.
........


You obviously were not within arm's reach.

WOW.........you joined the forum to insult the United States Marines. I will be anxiously waiting to see how that turns out for you.

#19 wtid45

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 06:49 PM

Its ok Brad, he is new so we can make allowances..................who am I kidding:rolleyes: Para's second best to the Marines, try saying that to a few Falklands vets I know from 3 Para and wait til Urqh tells his brother when he stops laughing he will tell you who is the fitter more switched on..............and as for the RAF Regiment I have met a few former members in my time and coiled spring does not spring to mind;)
WHEN YOU GO HOME, TELL THEM OF US AND SAY, FOR YOUR TOMORROW,WE GAVE OUR TODAY. Epitaph on the Kohima memorial .

#20 A-58

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 01:51 AM

Ok, spot the rookie one, but that's it. He's your responsiblity now. And that "paras come second" crack wasn't well received either. We'll be watching....

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at the dawn of victory sat down to rest, and resting died"....

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#21 no.one

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 02:28 PM



I very rarely get mixed up with the banter of all you experts in modern warfare and the ranking of elite units. However, having worn more coloured beret than I care to remember, one thing I can say for sure is.

You need to sniff what you are shovelling, and go and serve a day or two with units like 2 Sqn RAF Regt.

Never being a serving member of the RAF Regt, but having been attached to them as an ‘observer’ from a unit better than the bloody Para’s or the Royal Marines (and none of you would argue).

The RAF Regt are a much underestimated unit, who with little noise about it, put most units to shame in their quiet professionalism.

I can also assure you they were not blue uniforms soldiers, they were quiet definitely green, and the operation they were involved in at the time, did not involve guarding airfields.

I believe that role falls to the RAF Police.

I can also assure you, in regards to one of your expert comments, they were leading the assault. But then again perhaps they were just putting on a special show on for me, and when it was all over, and they thought no one was looking, slipped back into their blue RAF uniforms and went back to their post guarding airfield gates.

#22 urqh

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 04:15 PM



I very rarely get mixed up with the banter of all you experts in modern warfare and the ranking of elite units. However, having worn more coloured beret than I care to remember, one thing I can say for sure is.

You need to sniff what you are shovelling, and go and serve a day or two with units like 2 Sqn RAF Regt.

Never being a serving member of the RAF Regt, but having been attached to them as an ‘observer’ from a unit better than the bloody Para’s or the Royal Marines (and none of you would argue).

The RAF Regt are a much underestimated unit, who with little noise about it, put most units to shame in their quiet professionalism.

I can also assure you they were not blue uniforms soldiers, they were quiet definitely green, and the operation they were involved in at the time, did not involve guarding airfields.

I believe that role falls to the RAF Police.

I can also assure you, in regards to one of your expert comments, they were leading the assault. But then again perhaps they were just putting on a special show on for me, and when it was all over, and they thought no one was looking, slipped back into their blue RAF uniforms and went back to their post guarding airfield gates.


Icertainly smell what your shovelling.

#23 urqh

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 04:25 PM

Ilove these one hit wonders. One post all seemingly on same subject and then off with the chuff chart. Try keeping the same name. Or at least make it less obvious and post on another subject as well. Alternately prove your theory...post as von poop says on arse and stand by your theories on there. But ill leave it to the casualty lists over the years to prove whos done what where snd when.. They speak in bundles for the truth of the matter.

#24 wtid45

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 04:00 PM


I very rarely get mixed up with the banter of all you experts in modern warfare and the ranking of elite units. However, having worn more coloured beret than I care to remember, one thing I can say for sure is.

You need to sniff what you are shovelling, and go and serve a day or two with units like 2 Sqn RAF Regt.

Never being a serving member of the RAF Regt, but having been attached to them as an ‘observer’ from a unit better than the bloody Para’s or the Royal Marines (and none of you would argue).

The RAF Regt are a much underestimated unit, who with little noise about it, put most units to shame in their quiet professionalism.

I can also assure you they were not blue uniforms soldiers, they were quiet definitely green, and the operation they were involved in at the time, did not involve guarding airfields.

I believe that role falls to the RAF Police.

I can also assure you, in regards to one of your expert comments, they were leading the assault. But then again perhaps they were just putting on a special show on for me, and when it was all over, and they thought no one was looking, slipped back into their blue RAF uniforms and went back to their post guarding airfield gates.

Hmmmm "unit better than the bloody Para's" dont be shy NO ONE do tell;)
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#25 urqh

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 11:16 AM

Maybe we are being a little disengenuous to the rock ape..not that I think I have been. They are a competent unique force. One that can stand the test with any army pongo regiment. I certainly agree that within their numbers there are some that can square up to paras or marines and they do indeed contain their own elite unit Special forces of which I have no interest..are better for the inclusion of a share of rock apes but so too for the inclusion of royal signals and cooks of the logistic corps at times. Rafreg is though not an overall elite unit in the same comparison of r/m ..paras ..although contains and can provide some who can measure up. They are not as much the tip of the sword as much as the handle...I ll say it again..search the casualty lists..leave ww2 figures out if you like. This and this alone proves who...where...when.. I respected raf reg for their role..but im never going to fall for equal status with the other two..fact is and its base as base can get..naafi...street...barack block .Id rather face a rock than my brothers mates..ive done both. One is scary the other ...its no different from a flight line mech on 12 stellars. i lost on all occasions..but i know and knew who to fear..base but there you go. If arse army rumour service is to flamboyant to put your points to the test. go to E-Goat the Unofficial Royal Air Force Rumour Network Forums the raf equivalent site..rocks are quite intelligent and amiable as youll see..have own threads. same old argument..but with a raf slant..no real argument from them ...so it makes me wander who and why perpetuates this argument..its certainly not them or of or in their interest. Personally ...best thread there is the raf germany memories thread..but for ww2 interest in raf theres threads galore too from the horses mouth not rich authors.

Edited by urqh, 25 November 2009 - 11:23 AM.
typos





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