The prestige of a regiment or unit depends to a great extent upon the tone of the Sergeants' Mess. A well-run Mess will ensure contented and hardworking members. A slack and bad Mess leads to general slackness and inefficiency amongst its members as well as getting the regiment a bad name outside from people who come as visitors.
A great deal can be done by all officers of a regiment or unit to foster the right spirit in the Sergeants' Mess. When officers go to the Mess a lot depends on their manners and general behaviour. It is sometimes supposed to be the "thing" to try and give young officers too much to drink when they visit the Mess. This is entirely wrong, and it is up to the officer himself to see that it is not allowed to happen.
The behaviour of an officer in the Sergeants' Mess, as has already been stressed, is of the utmost importance and has a direct bearing on the members of that Mess and their own behaviour.
The R.S.M. is the main host, and when invited to the Mess an officer, on arrival, should look for the R.S.M. and say "Good evening." Before departing the R.S.M. should be seen and thanked for the evening's entertainment.
It is most important that an officer should bear in mind that he is a guest, and he should behave as he would like to see guests behaving in his own Mess.
Under no circumstances should officers allow members of the Sergeants' Mess to become familiar with them: at the same time an officer should not stand on his dignity.
The Sergeants' Mess should only be visited by officers on duty or when formally invited to a Mess function. An officer will always remove his hat on entering the Sergeants' Mess even when on duty.
It is strictly against the rules of etiquette in the Army for an officer to use the Sergeants' Mess as a place to go when he feels like it. This will only lead to familiarity between the officers and senior non-commissioned officers.
When attending .Sergeants' Mess dances it is customary and good manners to ask the R.S.M's. wife and the wives of the senior warrant officers and sergeants to dance.
Officers should avoid spending their whole time at the bar or monopolising the attention of the prettiest girls in the room.
The rules for taking a guest to the Sergeants' Mess are the same as those for any invitation. If the invitation includes a guest, there is no reason why one should not be taken. It is extremely bad manners to take a guest when one has not been asked, unless it is a special occasion and then the R.S.M. should be approached.
It is the custom in some regiments or corps that, when officers attend a Sergeants' Mess dance, it may not end until all officers have left. Officers should be quite clear about this before attending the Sergeants' Mess.
For social functions other than dances in the Sergeants Mess the time of departure is exactly the same as at any social function inside the Army or out.
Customs of the Army (1956) - Section VII