Images taken from a set of silk cigarette cards of Canadian Militia uniforms (early 20th century).
Maxims for the Young Officer
From: The Young Officer's Guide to Knowledge, by Senior Major, Fourth Edition, 1915
1. Never do other people's work unless you are driven to it if you do, you will get an evil reputation for liking it.
2. Always ask for leave at all times and in all places. In the end, you will acquire a kind of right to it.
3. Remember that there is a time to work and a time to play. The time to work is when you are being watched.
4. Abandon every hope of individuality. In the Service it is considered indecent, and verges on insubordination. Most young officers join with a distressing amount of "originality," and it is only on reaching the status of member of the Army Council that an officer can be said to be completely purged of it.
Study the fads of your superiors. If the General is looking on, be assiduously practising his little hobby. It does not matter how foolish it is — in fact the sillier it is the more he will like it, as he fully appreciates the fact that you are making a fool of yourself for his benefit. The same rule applies to the C.O.. Only in a lesser degree. The higher the rank, the more abandoned your antics should become. This is why so much leave is required in the Army, the mental strain on the zealous officer being excessive.
There are other points in connection with G.O.C.'s inspection which it is well not to overlook, such as the following:—
(a) Never be at a loss for an answer. In nine cases out of ten the accuracy of your statements will not be questioned.
(b) Do not volunteer information. You assume an awful responsibility if you presume to know too much, and it turns out to be incorrect.
(c) If the G.O.C. is fond of asking the men questions, put all the Company idiots on fatigue.
(d) Always bear in mind Maxim No. 4 [Study the fads of your superiors]. Whatever the General's fad is, study it well. It may be boots, it may be barrack-room shelves, it may be potato-peeling, or it may be an unsavoury delight in examining bare feet. The General may be a Toothy Brush Maniac or a Refuse Heap Wizard. In any case, always anticipate him.