The Origin of Saluting

There are a number of origins of the military greeting of saluting. In the age of chivalry the knights were all mounted and wore steel armour, which covered the body completely. When two friendly knights met it was the custom for each to raise the visor and expose his face to the view of the other. This was always done with the right hand, the left being used to hold the reins. It was a significant gesture of friendship and confidence, since it exposed the features and also removed the right hand from the vicinity of a weapon (sword). Also in ancient times the freemen of Europe were allowed to carry arms: when two freemen met, each would raise his right hand to show that he held no weapons in it and that the meeting was friendly.

From this beginning, although there was some resistance, saluting, as we now know it developed. Saluting in a form can also be traced back to the Stone Age when the open hand held high indicated friendliness; while the holding of the head erect is a reminder that officers and airmen are free men not required to avert their eyes from an overlord.

Regardless of its origin, the salute is a symbol of greeting, of mutual respect, trust and confidence initiated by the junior in rank, with no loss of dignity on either side. It is also a sign of loyalty and respect to the Service of which a member forms part and the general tone and spirit of the Service is indicated by the manner in which servicemen/servicewomen offer the salute and officers return it.

Saluting, however, should be undertaken intelligently and only when headdress is worn. Salutes, for example, should not be attempted in places where the presence of crowds or where the distance from the officer makes it impracticable to salute. Saluting may be executed in slow time, Quick time or at the halt. A member marching in Double time is to change to Quick time to salute. All members are to salute with the right hand unless physically unable to do so, in which case they are to salute with the left hand. The junior member is to salute first and the senior member is to return the compliment. Her Majesty the Queen, members of the Royal Family, the Governor-General and State Governors are to be saluted at all times by all ranks.