Alex Massie

Moustaches of the Hindu Kush

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Christmas in Helmand Province, Afghanistan can't be the bonniest gig on the planet. Hence this contest amongst the Royal Marines of 40 Commando: who can grow the spiffiest moustache. Best, however, is Major Alex Murray's reminder that this takes us back to the days of the great Harry Flashman:

"Generations of our forefathers have been marching around these hills with the most splendid array of facial hair," he says. "We found throughout history, the upper lip has been stiffened with a good moustache.

"Some aspects of warfare are timeless, and in this case the requirement for impressive facial hair is as important today as it was for our forefathers working on the North West Frontier.

"Generations of British marines have operated in places like Afghanistan over the last two centuries. Often working in austere conditions, a good tash has proved essential in maintaining the stiff upper lip, and north Helmand in the current clime is no exception."

Pictures of some hirsute lobsters* here.

Happy Christmas lads, anyway.

*Old nickname for the Marines, derived from the red tunics they wore on board Royal Navy ships.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalafghanistan