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This article is about the military term. For the occupation, see Cashier.
On January 5, 1895, Captain Alfred Dreyfus being cashiered.

Cashiering (or degradation ceremony) generally within military forces is a ritual dismissal of an individual from some position of responsibility for a breach of discipline.

It is especially associated with the public degradation of disgraced military officers. Prior to World War I this aspect of cashiering sometimes involved a parade-ground ceremony in front of assembled troops with the destruction of symbols of status: epaulettes ripped off shoulders, badges and insignia stripped, swords broken, caps knocked away, and medals torn off and dashed upon the ground.

The term originated in the era when British Army officers generally bought their commissions, being cashiered meant that the amount they had paid was lost, as they could not "sell-out" afterwards.[1] Essentially, the commission purchase price was a cash bond for good behaviour, forfeited to the Army's cashiers (accountants) in the event of cowardice, desertion or gross misbehaviour.

Famous examples[edit]

Famous victims of cashiering include Francis Mitchell (1621), Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (after the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814), Alfred Dreyfus (1894, see trial and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus and Dreyfus affair), and Philippe Pétain (1945).

While most closely associated with Captain Dreyfus, the ceremony of formal degradation occurred several times in the French military under the IIIrd Republic. At least one other army officer and a naval officer were subjected to the ritual of having their swords broken and the insignia, braid and buttons publicly torn from their uniforms, after being found guilty of charges of treason. More commonly a number of NCOs and private soldiers underwent similar punishments for committing various serious offenses, before execution or imprisonment.

In fiction[edit]

Anime, cartoons, and manga[edit]

In the manga/anime series Fairy Tail, when Yukino Aguria is expelled from her guild Sabertooth, a form a cashiering occurs: she strips herself naked and self-erases her guild mark before being shown the door.

In the Merrie Melodies animated cartoon short "Fresh Hare" (1942), Bugs Bunny is being chased by Elmer Fudd, in this case an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Bugs impersonates a senior officer and cashiers Elmer, not only tearing off his insignia and decorations but also his buttons and the rest of his uniform, even his undershorts.


A form of cashiering is parodied in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), in which after DJ Drake (portrayed by Brendan Fraser) is fired from his job as a security guard, his superior rips off all the badges on his uniform jacket one by one before ordering him to surrender the now-bare jacket, which ironically rendered the earlier moves unnecessary.

In the movie Mary Poppins (1964), when George Banks is fired, a version of cashiering occurs: a member of the bank's board of directors ceremoniously tears up the carnation from his lapel, and then destroys his hat and umbrella before showing him the door.

In the 1936 film, "The Life Of Emile Zola," the degradation of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus (played by Joseph Schildkraut) is shown if full, with his own troops eventually turning their back on him as he is marched before them.


Cashiering is mentioned in Rudyard Kipling's poem "Danny Deever" (1890), in which a British soldier in India is degraded before his regiment before being hanged for murder: "They're taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away".

In Thomas Pynchon's novella The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), the Metzger character acted as a child star in a film called Cashiered, about a World War II British officer drummed out of the army on trumped up charges, who tries to clear his name.

In David Weber's Honor Harrington novel Field of Dishonor (1994), Pavel Young is cashiered when he is dishonorably discharged from the Royal Manticoran Navy.

In the Starship Troopers novel, Private Theodore C. Hendrick is cashiered for hitting a superior ('Article 9080'). Hendrick's punishment is "ten lashes and Bad Conduct Discharge." N. L. Dillinger is cashiered for murdering a baby girl outside the Mobile Infantry's Camp Currie and then executed by hanging. Dillinger had deserted Camp Currie after only two days of training, but the Mobile Infantry claimed jurisdiction in the case because "military law and jurisdiction take precedence over civil code" and they consider anyone ever associated with the Mobile Infantry to be a current member for the purposes of criminal justice.


In the NBC TV Series Branded, Jason McCord is shown being cashiered in the opening credits.

In Season 8, Episode 8 of South Park: "Douche and Turd", Stan is cashiered when he is banished from South Park for refusing to vote for the school mascot.

In the pilot episode of the AMC television series TURN (April 6, 2014), British Captain Hewlett orders British Captain Joyce to return to England to be court martialled and cashiered for brawling in an American tavern, in violation of the occupying army's rules to maintain law and order.[2][3]

In the Duck Tales S1E12 Spies in their eyes, Donald Duck is court marshalled and cashiered by Admiral Grimits.

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Thirty Days", Captain Kathryn Janeway cashiered Lieutenant Tom Paris in a ceremony.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holmes, Richard (2001) [2001]. "Chapter III - Brothers of the Blade". Redcoat: the British soldier in the age of horse and musket (Hardback ed.). London: HarperCollins. p. 159. ISBN 0-00-257097-1. 
  2. ^ "Turn Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot". TV.COM EPISODE REVIEW. April 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Season: 1, Episode 1: 'Pilot'". AMC TV Episode Guide.