The Minute Book
Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Noncomformity
Topic: Officers


General Stilwell enjoys his Christmas dinner, 1943

Noncomformity

Defeat Into Victory, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim (London, 1956)

I was struck, as I always was when I visited Stilwell's headquarters, how unnecessarily primitive all its arrangements were. There was, compared with my own or other headquarters, no shortage of transport or supplies, yet he delighted in an exhibition of rough living which, like his omission of rank badges and the rest, was designed to foster the idea of the tough, hard-bitten, plain, fighting general. Goodness knows he was tough and wiry enough to be recognized as such without the play acting, for it was as much a bit of stage management as Mountbatten's meticulous turn-out under any conditions, but it achieved its publicity purpose. Many people sneer at generals who wear quaint head-dress with too many or too few badges, carry odd sticks, affect articles of civilian attire in uniform, or indulge in all sorts of tricks to make themselves easily recognizable to their troops or to anybody else. These things have their value if there is a real man behind them, and, for the rest, his countrymen should forgive almost anything to a general who wins battles. His soldiers will. Stilwell, thank heaven, had a sense of humour, which some who practise these arts have not, and he could, and did, not infrequently laugh at himself.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Sabre
Topic: The Field of Battle

For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor.

The Sabre

Cold Steel: The Saber and the Union Cavalry, by Stephen Z. Starr, presented in Battles Lost & Won; essays from Civil War History, John T. Hubbell (Ed), 1975

 

For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor. A cavalry officer of the Napoleonic Wars once remarked that the function of cavalry in warfare was to give tone to what overwise would be nothing but a vulgar brawl. And cavalry derived its distinctive tone from the saber and the saber charge. The long-range rifle, the breech-loading magazine carbine, and the rifled cannon had become instruments of mass slaughter, impersonal machines of destruction, and only the saber remained as a weapon of individual combat, man against man. Of course, given the self-consciously heroic atmosphere of the Civil War, such single combats sometimes occurred in ways not contemplated by the regulations, as when Captain Myrick of the 1st Maine and the colonel of another cavalry regiment settled a crossroads dispute as to which outfit had the right of way by fighting a saber duel on horseback. It may be taken for granted that neither the Confederate nor the Union War Department would have sanctioned the highly unorthodox but eminently sensible proceedings of a party of about one hundred Federal troopers and a contingent of roughly equal size of the 7th Tennessee, C.S.A., when they met by chance near Aberdeen, Mississippi. The commander of the Union detachment proposed, and the Confederates agreed, that rather than have a general engagement with its inevitable casualties each side should appoint a representative to fight a mounted saber duel. The Confederate champion was a "Polander; a German did battle for the honor of the Union. The two gladiators met between the lines, and (the story is told by a member of the Tennessee regiment) it was but an instant after they clashed the sword of the German went flying from his hands." The issue thus settled, the two groups parted "the best of old friends," with mutual expressions of esteem.

 

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 July 2015

Discipline; US Army, 1884
Topic: Discipline


Dress Parade at Fort Yates, 1880s

Military Discipline; US Army, 1884

Soldier's Handbook, for the use of the Enlisted Men of the Army, Washington, 1884

1.     All inferiors are required to obey strictly, and to execute with alacrity and good faith, the lawful orders of the superiors appointed over them.

2.     Military authority is to be exercised with firmness, but with kindness and justice to inferiors. Punishments shall be conformable to military law.

3.     Superiors of every grade are forbidden to injure those, under them by tyrannical or capricious conduct, or by abusive language.

4.     Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline; respect to superiors will not be confined to obedience on duty, but will be extended on all occasions.

5.     Deliberations or discussions among any class of military men having the object of conveying praise or censure, or any mark of approbation, toward their superiors or others in the military service, and all publications relative to transactions between officers of a private or personal nature, whether newspaper, pamphlet, or handbill, are strictly prohibited.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 July 2015

We Behaved Disgracefully
Topic: Officers

We Behaved Disgracefully

Tapestry of War; A Private View of Canadians in the Great War, Sandra Gwyn, 1992

"We have some daring ladies from The Sketch and illustrated weeklies pinned to the walls—one balanced on a diving board in a diminutive bathing suit of flaming red with black borders … another with piled-up yellow hair plucking feathers from Cupid for her hat. These ladies are often the subject of comment. We discuss their characters. They are attractive but disturbing and create restless wishes for home or Piccadilly."

As racy—perhaps even a bit unnerving to a Philadelphia belle—were Talbot's descriptions of the rough male camaraderie that characterized the trenches and sometimes erupted into wild horseplay as a way of letting off steam when the regiment was out of the line. "We live now in a sort of a hut," he explained in mid-August. "It is built of coloured canvas to deceive aviators. Eight of us live in each hut in two rows with a lane down the middle. Our sleeping bags are spread upon the uneven earth and we each have a soapbox to support a candle in a bottle and small articles. The 'Baron,' i.e., Captain Van Den Berg, lives opposite to me. Last night I was rolling off my puttees when the Baron, who is a pugnacious devil, suddenly swung round and batted me on the foot with his cane. I naturally went for his throat. We each secured a stranglehold and for several moments dust and clothes and legs and arms rose and fell in confusion. Eventually we arranged terms of peace. Later, for some reason which I cannot recall I fired five rounds of ammunition with accuracy against Barclay's candle, which was extinguished; Barclay then retaliated on my bottle with equal success.… We behaved disgracefully, I admit."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 July 2015 8:09 PM EDT
Saturday, 18 July 2015

20 Censorship Taboos
Topic: OPSEC

20 Censorship Taboos

[US] Army Talks, Vol. III, No. 9, 17 March 1945

In order not to waste time in the actual writing of letters, knowing what you can't say is a help. Twenty taboos, based on European Theatre of Operations (ETO) circulars, should be borne in mind:

1.     No details of movement to or from this theater.

2.     No military armament, equipment or supplies of any type

3.     No strength, efficiency, training or morale of any outfit.

4.     No location, movements or engagements. This includes billets and hospitals

5.     No linking APO with exact geographical locations

6.     No signs used to identify organizations or their baggage

7.     No plans or guesses about military operations

8.     No details about enemy or Allied operations; or results of actions

9.     No use of roads, transport or communications

10.     No mention of individual cas­ ualties before families have been officially notified. This means not until 30 days after notice has gone forward from your unit

11.     No detailed weather reports

12.     No criticism or dirty cracks about our Allies.

13.     No restricted Allied or US documents

14.     No enemy papers containing information about the enemy

15.     No codes, ciphers, or secret writing.

16.     No games, puzzles, maps or blank paper

17.     No photographs or pictures showing these forbidden subjects

18.     No chain letters in any form

19.     No uncensored drawings, sketches, music manu­ scripts, or paintings

20.     No private diaries.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 17 July 2015

British and German Rations; 1914 & 1916
Topic: Army Rations

British and German Rations; 1914 & 1916

The World War One Sourcebook, Philip J. Haythornthwaite, Arms and Armour Press, 1992

British Daily Ration, 1914:

1 ¼ lb fresh or frozen meat, or 1 lb preserved or salt meat; 1 ¼ lb bread, or 1 lb biscuit or flour; 4 oz. bacon; 3 oz. cheese; 5/8 oz. tea; 4 oz. jam; 3 oz. sugar; ½ oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper; 1/20 oz. mustard; 8 oz. fresh or 2 oz. dried vegetables; 1/10 gill lime juice if fresh vegetables not issued;* ½ gill rum;* not exceeding 2 oz. tobacco per week. (* at discretion of commanding general.)

The following substitutions were permitted if necessary: 4 oz. oatmeal or rice instead of 4 oz. bread or biscuit; 1/30 oz. choclate instead of 1/6 oz. tea; 1 pint porter instead of 1 ration spirit; 4 oz. dried fruit instead of 4 oz. jam; 4 oz. butter, lard or margarine, or ½ gill oil, instead of 4 oz. bacon.

British Daily Ration, India:

1 lb fresh meat; 1 lb bread; 3 oz. bacon; 1 lb potatoes; 1 oz. tea; 2 ½ oz. sugar; ½ oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper.

British daily ration, Indian troops:

¼ lb fresh meat; 1/8 lb potatoes; 1/3 oz. tea; ½ oz salt; 1 ½ lb atta; 4 oz. dhall; 2 oz. ghee; 1/6 oz. chillies; 1/6 oz turmeric; 1/3 oz. ginger; 1/6 oz. garlic; 1 oz. gur.

British Iron Ration, carried in the field:

1 lb. preserved meat; 12 oz. biscuit; 5/8 oz. tea; 2 oz. sugar; ½ oz. salt; 3 oz. cheese; 1 oz. meat extract (2 cubes.)

elipsis graphic

German Daily Ration, 1914

(measured in grams; ounce equivalent in parentheses)

750g (26 ½ oz) bread, or 500g (17 ½ oz) field biscuit, or 400g (14 oz.) egg biscuit; 375g (13 oz.) fresh or frozen meat, or 200g (7 oz) preserved meat; 1,500g (53 oz.) potatoes, or 125-250g (4 ½-9 oz.) vegetables, or 60g (2 oz.) dried vegetables, or 600g (21 oz.) mixed potatoes and dried vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee, or 3g (1/10 oz.) tea; 20g (7/10 oz.) sugar; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt; two cigars and two cigarettes or 1 oz. pipe tobacco, or 9/10 oz. plug tobacco, or 1/5 oz. snuff; at discretion of commanding officer: 0.17 pint spirits, 0.44 pint wine, 0.88 pint beer. The meat ration was reduced progressively during the war, and one meatless day per week was introduced from June 1916; by the end of that year it was 250g (8 3/4 oz.) fresh meat or 150g (5 ¼ oz.) preserved, or 200g (7 oz) fresh meat for support and training personnel. At the same time the sugar ration was only 17g (6/10 oz.)

German Iron Ration:

250g (8.8 oz) biscuit; 200g (7 oz.) preserved meat or 170g (6 oz.) bacon; 150g (5.3 oz.) preserved vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 July 2015

Taking Care of People
Topic: Leadership

Taking Care of People

Leadership for the 21st Century: Empowerment, Environment and the Golden Rule, General Dennis J. Reimer, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1996 Military Review Article

My leadership philosophy is very, very simple. It can be summed up in three basic points. First, if we empower people to do what is legally and morally right, there is no limit to the good we can accomplish. That is all I ask of anyone: Do what is right. Leaders must look to their soldiers and focus on the good. No soldier wakes up in the morning and says, "Okay, how am I going to screw this up today?" Soldiers want to do good and commanders should give them that opportunity. An outstanding soldier, Command Sergeant Major Richard Cayton, the former US Forces Command (FORSCOM) sergeant major, summed up a leader's responsibility this way: "Your soldiers will walk a path and they will come to a crossroad; if you are standing at the crossroad, where you belong, you can guide your soldiers to the right path and make them successful."

The second point of my leadership philosophy is to create an environment where people can be all they can be. Many soldiers enlisted und er this recruiting slogan, and we have a responsibility to assist them in developing mentally, physically, spiritually and socially to their full potential. It is essential that leaders develop the initiative of subordinates.

Our doctrine values the initiative, creativity and problem-solving ability of soldiers at all levels. Valuing these traits has always been the hallmark of America's Army. In the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant's instructions to Major General William T. Sherman reflect this concept: "I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign. … But simply to lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute it in your own way." During World War II, Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr. allowed his subordinates to be all they could be by being tolerant of their errors. He said, "Never tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower's guidance for the invasion of Europe remains the classic example of this concept. He was told, "You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces."

The third point of my leadership philosophy is to treat others as you would have them treat you. A leader must have compassion-a "basic respect for the dignity of each individual; treating all with dignity and respect." This is a simple restatement of the Golden Rule—but it is a critical issue. Every soldier must feel he is being treated fairly and that you care and are making an honest attempt to ensure he or she reaches full potential. Initiative will be stifled and creativity destroyed unless soldiers feel they have been given a fair chance to mature and grow.

There is nothing extraordinary about these three points. They are very simple, but I challenge you to think about them.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pilfering
Topic: The Field of Battle

Pilfering

Voice from the Ranks; A Personal Narrative of the Crimean Campaign by a Sergeant of the Royal Fusiliers, edited by Kenneth Fenwick, 1954

Sergeant-Major Timothy Gowing

All our wounded found in [Sevastopol] were carried as quickly as possible to camp, and then the men set to work to get what they could for themselves out of the midst of the ruins—set to work plundering, if you choose to call it so.

But it was dangerous work and many of them lost their limbs—and some their lives—through their foolishness, by the fire from the enemy across the harbour. Some who were laden with all sorts of articles were stopped by the officers, who wanted to know what they were going to do with all that rubbish. The men would at once throw down their loads and salute the officers, who repeated the question:

'What on earth do you want with all that rubbish, my men?'

'An' sure, your 'onor, don't we mane to let furnished lodgings!'

They were carrying chairs, tables, bed-cots—in fact articles too numerous to mention:

'Sure, your 'onor, we are not going to let the Zouaves have it all!'

A stalwart Irish grenadier, when being rebuked for pilfering, answered:

'Sure an', your 'onor them nice gentlemen they call Zouaves have been after emptying the place clane out. Troth, if the Divil would kindly go to sleep for only one minute them Zouaves would stale one of his horns, if it was only useful to keep his coffee in.'

Truly these gentlemen were capital hands at fishing up all that was likely to be useful!

Some of our Hibernian boys had got a good haul, and were making off as fast as possible, when a party of Zouaves stopped them and wanted to go halves, but Paddy was not half such a fool as he was taken for—he would not give up anything until he had found out which was the best man, so the load was thrown down, and the Frenchmen were very soon satisfied and only too glad to get out of the way.

It was a common saying in camp that there was nothing too hot or too heavy for the Zouaves to walk off with; and where there was room for a rat, there was room for one of these nimble little gentlemen to get in. They proved themselves all, during the fighting, troublesome customers to the enemy; and now that the fight was over they distinguished themselves by pilfering everything they could lay hands upon. But they did not get all—our huts were made very comfortable by the wood that our men brought out of the town.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Arthur Currie's Return to Canada
Topic: CEF

Arthur Currie's Return to Canada

Byng of Vimy; General and Governor General, Jeffery Williams, 1983

Despite the obvious satisfaction of the public, there were politicians in Ottawa who viewed Byng's appointment [as Governor General of Canada] with misgivings. The flowering of national spirit which began at Vimy and continued until the end of the war had been inspired by the unbroken successes of the splendid Canadian Corps. As the commander who shaped it and led it to its first major victory, Julian Byng's popularity was unparalleled. In the words of Gen McNaughton, 'The Canadians literally adored Byng.'

Arthur Currie, who succeeded to its command, was not regarded with the same warmth of affection, but his men would contend that he was without doubt the best general on the Western Front Canadian politicians had no experience of popular soldiers and were apprehensive that they might turn their popularity to political advantage. So abject was this fear of 'the man on horseback' that when Currie, returning from the War, arrived in Halifax in August, 1919, no one met him when he stepped ashore. Eventually an official arrived to escort him and his wife to a drab little civic ceremony. When it was over one of his former officers came forward, saluted and said, 'Welcome home, Sir'. For a moment he lost his self-control. His eyes moistened and his lips trembled as he placed a hand on the officer's shoulder and hooked two fingers of the other in his Sam Browne belt, then quietly shook him for a moment, saying not a word. His reception in Ottawa was an even more pointed rebuff. No publicity was given to his arrival and he was greeted officially on Parliament Hill by a cold and non-committal speech given by a junior cabinet minister. The Prime Minister was out of town.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 13 July 2015

Corporal Ray Sheriff
Topic: Leadership

Corporal Ray Sheriff

Quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford

John Lord went on to describe the moving circumstances in which Ray Sheriff arrived at Stalag XIB, a memory always recalled by him with great emotional strain.

elipsis graphic

In the Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment I had a Corporal Ray Sheriff, he was a very good Corporal of great spirit, a good athlete and boxer and he had fought with the Battalion in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Arnhem. In searching through our men and trying to get accounts of what had happened to them, I could find no trace of Corporal Sheriff.

We had been in the prison camp for three months with still no news when I heard that he was in the German reception hut and was in bad shape. I collected together what few cigarettes I could and using my pass, which enabled me to move around a little, I went to the reception hut.

I can see this long low gloomy hut now, packed with men of different nationalities. I looked around for Corporal Sheriff and eventually saw him to my far left—sitting on the floor with his head hanging down. He was dressed in some strange uniform which had been provided for him. I walked over to him and said, "Hello Corporal Sheriff, how are you getting on?" and that Corporal—three months after the battle—with no great cause to love me at all, with great dignity stood up to attention, faced me and said, "Hello Sir, it's good to hear your voice." and I realised that he was blind … this was the most harrowing experience I think of my whole life. I don't claim—I would not claim that he was saying this to me personally, but here he was for the first time after all the suffering of the past three months, and he heard a voice from the family. Even in those circumstances he felt that he was back with the family …"

Placing aside John Lord's account again, Ray Sheriff writes: "I was rather a late-comer to the camp as I dropped off at a couple of hospitals en route to see if anything could be done for my sight and to operate on my poorly leg."

"I shall never forget this day, a bitterly cold day in mid January, 1945.1 was carried into a hut by two Germans who placed me on a pile of straw on the floor of a wooden hut. I gathered from the volume of noise that the interior was pretty full and all the voices were foreign. I learned later that the majority were Polish. I felt alone, helpless and not a little frightened, and I drifted into half sleep. Suddenly I heard a voice and could I believe it was it a dream? Instinctively I stood to attention as the voice of RSM John Lord enquired about me! I honestly think that this instant proved to be the turning point for me. Life would be okay again, and I would describe my meeting on that occasion with J.C. as a life-saver."

elipsis graphic

[John Lord] went on to close his lecture with the words, "Even in those circumstances Corporal Sheriff felt that he belonged again, and he was back in the bosom of the family. Now that's soldiering, that's spirit, that's understanding. That's all the things I've been trying to say."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 12 July 2015

Cohesion
Topic: Military Theory

Cohesion

Ride of the Second Horseman, Robert L. O'Connell, 1995

Groundbreaking research conducted after World War II into the factors influencing cohesion during combat showed clearly that it was founded upon bonding among small groups. Soldiers consistently indicated that their primary motive in assuming risks during battle was a deeply felt desire to support and protect their "buddies." Meanwhile, the anthropologically well documented tendency of human males to join together in small groups, along with its reflection in the primary units of so many armies (even those with very large and homogeneous tactical groupings), points to an innate behavioral foundation, with the logical origin being the hunting of big game by our prehistoric ancestors. For along with weapons use and speech, the kind of teamwork and unity engendered by such banding-plainly a feature of other pack animals-would have provided us with a significant competitive advantage. It makes sense that this capacity would have been selected for and passed forward, making it available for exploitation in later dangerous pursuits such as warfare. In both hunting bands and the small units of ancient armies, this cohesiveness would have been further reinforced by the likelihood of kinship ties and the limited though still powerful force of genetic altruism known technically as inclusive fitness.

But if this affinity within small military units can be analogized to the "strong force" operating at the subatomic level to bind nuclei, then the assembly of army-sized groupings still demanded an alternate source of attractive energy, equivalent to electromagnetism at the molecular level, to knit pods of combatants together at successively higher tiers. This force was the cultural medium known broadly as regimentation, but it operated through several instrumentalities of execution anc reinforcement. For however much innate behavioral repertoires might be manipulated, armies were still highly unnatural social entities and ones whose functioning inevitably subjected them to unusually powerful entropic forces. Therefore military cohesion always implied a healthy measure of coercion, but not exclusively so.

How this works on an individual level is most apparent during the initial transformation of a raw recruit into something approaching a fighting man, a basic training process encompassing not only the stimulation of latent propensities but also the teaching of new skills and the calculated repression of certain unwanted inhibitions. It seems likely that the widespread practice of such activities is nearly as old as organized conflict itself, and if the precepts reflected in the writings of the Roman Flavius Vegetius Renatus and the so-called Seven Military Classics of ancient China are any guide, military training was always based on a fundamentally shrewd and pragmatic understanding of our motives and limitations in war. At a higher level, attempts at organizational and institutional manipulation are clearly less consistent and more contingent on economic and social variables, including those of personal whim, but they remain based on a fairly uniform view of what might be useful in welding an individual to a military organization.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 11 July 2015

An Officer and Gentleman
Topic: Officers

An Officer and Gentleman

Canada in Warpaint, Capt. Ralph W. Bell, 1917

He was a tall well-built chap, with big, blue eyes, set far apart, and dark wavy hair, which he kept too closely cropped to allow it to curl, as was meant by nature. He had a cheery smile and a joke for every one, and his men loved him. More than that, they respected him thoroughly, for he never tolerated slackness or lack of discipline for an instant, and the lips under the little bronze moustache could pull themselves into an uncompromisingly straight line when he was justly angry.

When he strafed the men, he did it directly, without sparing them or their failings, but he never sneered at them, and his direct hits were so patently honest that they realised it at once, and felt and looked rather like penitent little boys.

He never asked an N.C.O. or man to do anything he would not do himself, and he usually did it first. If there was a dangerous patrol, he led. If there was trying work to do, under fire, he stayed in the most dangerous position, and helped. He exacted instant obedience to orders, but never gave an order that the men could not understand without explaining the reason for it. He showed his N.C.O.'s that he had confidence in them, and did not need to ask for their confidence in him. He had it.

In the trenches he saw to his men's comfort first—his own was a secondary consideration. If a man was killed or wounded, he was generally on the spot before the stretcher-bearers, and, not once, but many times, he took a dying man's last messages, and faithfully wrote to his relations. A sacred duty, but one that wrung his withers. He went into action not only with his men, but at their head, and he fought like a young lion until the objective was attained. Then, he was one of the first to bind up a prisoner's wounds, and to check any severity towards unwounded prisoners. He went into a show with his revolver in one hand, a little cane in the other, a cigarette between his lips.

"You see," he would explain, "it comforts a fellow to smoke, and the stick is useful, and a good tonic for the men. Besides, it helps me try to kid myself I'm not scared—and I am, you know! As much as any one could be."

On parade he was undoubtedly the smartest officer in the regiment, and he worked like a Trojan to make his men smart also. At the same time he would devote three-quarters of any leisure he had to training his men in the essentials of modern warfare, his spare time being willingly sacrificed for their benefit.

No man was ever paraded before him with a genuine grievance that he did not endeavour to rectify. In some manner he would, nine times out of ten, turn a "hard case" into a good soldier. One of his greatest powers was his particularly winning smile. When his honest eyes were on you, when his lips curved and two faint dimples showed in his cheeks, it was impossible not to like him. Even those who envied him—and among his brother officers there were not a few—could not bring themselves to say anything against him.

If he had a failing it was a weakness for pretty women, but his manner towards an old peasant woman, even though she was dirty and hideous, was, if anything, more courteous than towards a woman of his own class. He could not bear to see them doing work for which he considered they were unfit. One day he carried a huge washing-basket full of clothes down the main street of a little village in Picardy, through a throng of soldiers, rather than see the poor old dame he had met staggering under her burden go a step farther unaided.

The Colonel happened to see him, and spoke to him rather sharply about it. His answer was characteristic: "I'm very sorry, sir. I forgot about what the men might think when I saw the poor old creature. In fact, sir, if you'll pardon my saying so, I would not mind much if they did make fun of it."

He loved children. He never had any loose coppers or small change long, and two of his comrades surprised him on one occasion slipping a five-franc note into the crinkled rosy palm of a very, very new baby. "He looked so jolly cute asleep," he explained simply.

Almost all his fellow-officers owed him money. He was a poor financier, and when he had a cent it belonged to whoever was in need of it at the time.

One morning at dawn, he led a little patrol to examine some new work in the German front line. He encountered an unsuspected enemy listening post, and he shot two of the three Germans, but the remaining German killed him before his men could prevent it. They brought his body back and he was given a soldier's grave between the trenches. There he lies with many another warrior, taking his rest, while his comrades mourn the loss of a fine soldier and gallant gentleman.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 10 July 2015

Craufurd's Discipline and Influence
Topic: Discipline

Craufurd's Discipline and Influence

The British Soldier; His Daily Life from Tudor to Modern Times, Colonel H. de Watteville, C.B.E., M.A. (OXON), P.S.C., 1954

The army of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, moreover, contained ruffians whose excesses in the field could best be repressed by the lash, if only to save them from the gallows; accordingly the cat was accepted by the troops almost as a necessary part of the hardships of war. So there comes to mind a vision of Robert Craufurd when, on the awful retreat to Corunna, three men were sentenced to be flogged. One was flogged by torchlight and the column moved on: there was no time to halt longer. Next morning it was believed the other two would be forgotten. Not so Craufurd! Through that fearful night he had trudged at the head of his starving, fainting, footsore Light Division. At dawn, haggard, and with hair, eyebrows, beard, all caked with ice, his first order was that the two remaining sentences were to be carried out—even though he finally remitted one. Truly a picture almost majestic by reason of its very grimness! It depicts the astonishing Craufurd to the life! And what a hold he exerted over his men's minds! It is told that his Light Division, marching back from his funeral near Badajoz in 1810, was faced by a stretch of flood water risen across their road. The leading men hesitated, looking for a way round. Then of a sudden they remembered their lost commander who had always insisted on his troops keeping straight ahead regardless of obstacles. As though paying homage to his memory the whole column without a word went straight through the water and the mud. They forgave all the iron discipline—all that rigid severity!

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 9 July 2015

Honours and Awards
Topic: Medals

Honours and Awards

Battle Dress, by Gun Buster

Later, I shall come to the incident itself in which Lieutenant Reginald Ellington of the 666th Field Regiment R.A. figured as hero.

Hero is the word understood of, and approved by thc general public. But it is not the term under which Reggie Ellington's comrades ever consider him. And, of course, it is the very last word he would dream of in connection with himself.

Upon this subject of gallant deeds and decorations there is a noteworthy difference of thought between the population of the Army itself and what may be called their civilian relatives—in other words, the outside public. It may be accepted as a truth beyond contradiction that the Army knows all there is to be known about decorations, their worth, their significance, and sometimes their insignificance. They have standards and appreciations that are not always identical with those held outside its ranks. The generous-minded, sentimental public love to have their heroes. They take them to their heart and glamourise them. But to the people within the Army there is no glamour about a medal. Even a V.C.—which takes a bit of winning—does not carry hero-worship with it. This, of course, must not be taken to mean that the Army does not care for decorations just as much as everybody else. The Army does But it is very reluctant to regard them as a badge of superhuman courage or ability, by which one man is to be for ever distinguished beyond his fellows. They like decorations in the Army, but they like them mainly as an indication that a job of work has been well done. The only possible exception to this is to be found in the case of the V.C. to win which a man must face almost certain death. It is recognised that here is something a bit more out of the way than a "job of work." It is also recognised that a man will do things in the heat of battle that in cold blood would make him sick merely to think about. So the soft-pedal comes down on the hero-worship, even with the V.C.

The Army nurtures no illusions about "gongs," their own expressive slang for medals. They know that the man disporting one is as likely to be no braver than the man without. They know that many factors have to fall just right for the winning of one. And they know that a principal factor is luck. All may be brave, but not all may be lucky enough to have their deeds noticed. A man may miss a V.C. merely because his gallant behaviour happens not to be seen by "someone in authority"—an essential condition. Opportunity is another potent factor. One man may go through a long campaign and never a chance of qualifying for a "gong" comes within a mile of him. Another has opportunities thrust upon him in his very first engagement. He simply cannot miss them. There still remains the mystery of the final adjudication—how one bit of work comes to be acknowledged by the powers that be as worth an M.C. or an M.M. while another, to all intents and purposes just as meritorious, goes unrewarded. Illustrative of this is the story of a gunner subaltern in the last war, who was recommended on four different occasions for the M.C. but never received more than a "mention in despatches." He was recommended a fifth time, and got it. Ultimate recognition came to him because in the middle of an action he had thrown a bucket of water over the hessian camouflage net covering a gun-pit, after it had been set on fire by the flash from one of the guns. The deed involved him in no particular danger. He happened to be standing near a bucket at the time, and acted with presence of mind. That was all. As a "gong-earner" the exploit could not be compared with any of the previous four that had not been considered worthy of the M.C. The subaltern knew it, and was always very shy of his belated ribbon. It is the complete understanding of these fortuitous factors governing decorations that gives the Army its very clear perspective on the subject.

The Army divides all D.S.O.'s, M.C.'s, M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s into two distinct classes. The first are known as "Immediate Awards," and they are given for gallantry or distinguished conduct in action. Your recommendation for one of these goes in from the Regiment to the Division directly the action is over. Sometimes this will be the same day. The C.O. may make it his last job that night. There is as little delay as possible. Hence the term: "Immediate Awards."

The second group are familiarly known in the Army as "Ration Honours," and though the "high ups" may be slightly- shocked by the irreverence of the phrase, nevertheless it very neatly sums up their character. They come along automatically, like rations, after an action in which a Division or more has been engaged. It may be one, two, or three months after. But they arrive. So many D.S.O.'s, so many M.C.'s, so many M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s for each Division. These in turn are cut up and allotted to each regiment that took part in the action. If, as often happens, there are no outstanding cases of gallantry still deserving recognition, the C.O. of the regiment or battalion holds a conference with the Majors to decide who shall receive them for general good work. Much like the distribution of good conduct medals at school.

Therefore, it will easily be understood that a D.S.O., M.C., M.M. or D.C.M. may mean many different things. If it be an "Immediate Award" it implies a good deal more than if it be a "Ration Honour." Generally speaking, "Immediate Awards" are individually earned honours. A Colonel or Major may get a D.S.O. simply because his battalion or regiment, or company or battery, has been doing well. They cannot get less, because the M.C. is not awarded to anyone over the rank of captain. On the other hand, a D.S.O. can be won by a subaltern and, speaking generally again, if a subaltern gets the D.S.O. you can bet your boots that it is worth far more than the majority of D.S.O.'s handed out to Colonels and Majors. A subaltern's D.S.O. is never a "Ration Honour." It's more likely to be a near-miss to a V.C.

Perhaps it is because the Army knows so much of the "inside story" of decorations that the subject is never a popular one for conversation among officers or men. If the topic does crop up it is mentioned in a very diffident manner, and the talk soon dies a natural death. The last man in the world to tell you how he won a "gong" is the wearer of the ribbon himself. (I am speaking, of course, as in the Army. Among his civilian friends he may feel less embarrassed.) Most of them wear their new ribbons almost apologetically. "You'd have done the same if you'd been in my position," sums up the whole medal attitude. They can also be very touchy on the subject amongst their comrades. I recall a young gunner subaltern who, after being evacuated from Dunkirk, went home on leave, and the morning after saw to his horror that the newspapers had made a headline story of his winning the M.C. He felt so embarrassed that when he rejoined the regiment six days later he still hadn't put up the ribbon.

"Why aren't you wearing it?" asked the Colonel.

"I'm very annoyed about the whole affair, sir" he replied. "I hope none of you think I had anything to do with that newspaper stuff."

"My dear fellow, we never dreamed for a moment that you had," said the Colonel. "Let me see you with that ribbon on to-morrow. That's an order."

Having seen a good many "gongs" cleaned up by the B.E.F. in Flanders and France I am able, without hesitation, to add my testimony to the bulk of evidence supporting the theory that there exists no specific "brave man" type. A lot of preconceived ideas about who would do well and who wouldn't went by the board as soon as men came under fire. Some of the frail looking rabbits did magnificently. Some of the great hefty fellows, real bruisers, turned out hopeless. And it was the same with temperament as with physique. Which only goes to show that human nature is as incalculable on the battlefield as it is elsewhere.

And this brings me back to Lieutenant Reggie Ellington, whose externals were not of the type usually associated with candidates for battlefield honours. Reggie had the pallor of a lily. He was frail, and somewhat drooping. If he represented any type at all, it was the youthful man-about-town, dandified, and a bit affected. Later on, we were to remember that if Reggie exhibited the paleness of the lily, he also possessed its coolness. We remembered occasions when he had talked to brass-hats as if he were doing them a favour. (Surprisingly enough, they'd take it from him.) Winning an M.C. would come as child's play to a youth who could do this, we realised. But this was only wisdom after the event. So was our realisation that his treatment of serious matters as a joke, and his apparent lack of any sense, of responsibility, had all the time been merely a pose. Before the war, Reggie had "been something" in his father's business in the City. He affected to find army life unendurable without his portable wireless set, and his cigar in the evening. Wherever he was, and whatever the critical conditions during the Retreat, he never missed his cigar. Whatever else had to be jettisoned, he clung to his cigar box and wireless set to the grim end. And it was grim enough, in all conscience. Dunkirk beach, strewn with its dead and dying, a pall of smoke blotting out the sky, the promenade one sheet of flame, the German shells bursting among the dunes, the dive-bombers distributing their final dose of death and destruction before nightfall. And in the middle of the horrors, Reggie Ellington seated calmly on the sand in front of his crooning wireless, smoking his very last cigar. Just one man of many who, in the hectic days of the preceding three weeks, had done a good job of work.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Unknown Warrior
Topic: Remembrance

The Unknown Warrior

Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, Edward Fraser and John Gibbons, 1925

THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR: The bringing "home" of the body of an "Unknown Warrior"—soldier, sailor, or airman, whichever it might chance to be—from one of the Fronts and re-interring it in Westminster Abbey as representative of the British Forces in the War was first proposed in 1919, but the idea was rejected by the Cabinet. A year later the Dean and Chapter of the Abbey laid the proposal directly before the King, who desired the Cabinet to reconsider it, expressing his own approval. The Cabinet thereupon took up the idea and arrangements were made. A number of bodies were disinterred at random in various cemeteries on the Western Front, and one taken, again at random. Removed to Boulogne with every honour the French could show, Marshall Foch personally representing the French Army, and escorted by British and French destroyers to Dover, thence, again with every honour, the body was brought to Victoria and to the Cenotaph on November 11th, 1920, the day the permanent Cenotaph was unveiled. Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals, and a guard of honour of V.C.'s escorted the coffin, with the Padre's Flag (q.v.) over it for pall. At the Cenotaph the King, as Chief Mourner, representing the Empire, laid a wreath on it. Borne then into the Abbey, and laid in the grave in the nave, the King in the course of the funeral service strewed earth from a Flanders battlefield upon the coffin. The grave was kept open for a week, and over a million people in a queue, it was calculated, filed past it. France, Belgium, Italy and America followed suit, France laying her "Unknown Warrior" beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Orders and Morale
Topic: Leadership

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves.

Orders and Morale

"Morale," by Lieut.-Colonel J.G. Shillington, D.S.O., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCV, February to November, 1950

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves. All leaders from the lowest to the highest should consider the effect their orders will have on those who have to carry them out. In this connection the following principles are applicable:—

(a)     Never give an order which cannot be obeyed, and be prepared to represent your subordinate's case to your superior if such an order comes from above.

(b)     Always ensure that an order once given is obeyed. Give ample time for it to be carried out, but make sure that in due course you see for yourself with your own eyes that you have been obeyed, i.e., practise "the eye of the Master" Do not suspect disobedience or irregularities, but always exercise normal supervision and be prepared to help, i.e., "act as a watchdog not a bloodhound."

(c)     Never put your men into battle without adequate support, and let them know this. It will be remembered that Field-Marshal Montgomery stressed this particularly when he made his many addresses to the 21st Army Group before the invasion of Normandy.

(d)     Ensure that your men know the object of everything they are called on to do, be it in peace or war. A man will carry out orders more willingly, however irksome they may be, if he knows why they are given. If there is not a good reason an order should not be given.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 July 2015 12:11 AM EDT
Monday, 6 July 2015

Regimental Tradition
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Tradition

… the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique…

"Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

The value of regimental tradition also appears in its effects upon leadership. Here again the commander of the more technical arms has an advantage; the most important part of his task is the application of principles, scientifically established and agreed upon, to a given situation which may indeed be affected by the fact that it occurs in time of war but is not radically altered thereby. Thus, in peace or war, it takes very little time for a seaman with any experience at all to sum up a new Captain: simply by observing the way he shapes he will very soon gain confidence that his commander is among those who can claim with truth, "I never run a ship ashore." Similarly it is very soon clear whether a commander of artillery or engineers is technically competent. But the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique: it consists of the application of principles, it is true, but these principles are profoundly modified by the individual commander's view of the way to apply them, in fact, by his personal character. Thus a thrusting Irishman may attack with three companies up, while a cautious Scot may prefer to commit only one company at the outset: both may succeed admirably, but it is probable that neither will have much success at all unless he has somehow gained the confidence of his men before the battle, so that every soldier will go "all out" without anxious fears of something going wrong. Such confidence is based on knowledge, and knowledge is more easily and quickly acquired if both leader and led are on the same metaphorical "wavelength" as the result of a common military culture and upbringing based on shared traditions. A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2015 12:04 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 July 2015

If You Don't Stand Behind Our Troops
Topic: Commentary

If You Don't Stand Behind Our Troops…

The messaging of the image above, whether in a facebook feed, on a bumper sticker, or plastered somewhere else has always raised my hackles. It's in keeping with the rhetoric that comes of veteran outrage syndrome and the trend that continues to propagate the same sense of entitlement is well described in this article; The Death of the Quiet Professional.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

Really? If you've ever spouted this, did you actually pause and think about what it's actually saying? No, I didn't think so?

I'm sure some soldiers and veterans, and supporters of same, picture this (if they picture it at all) in the context of an armed force in all-round protection. Soldiers in a tight circle (proportional to the force size, of course, for the pedants out there), all facing outwards, sheltering a select deserving few inside, and everything outside defined as potential targets, where everything in front of the muzzle is the enemy. But life's never really that simple, is it?

First off, it's not the soldier's choice who might be under his (yes, or her) protection. That decision falls to the political masters, the ones who decided if we'd be at war, and with whom. And the soldier certainly doesn't get to decide that someone no longer deserves protection. The mere thought of that undermines the whole context of being a soldier in a democratic society. Soldiers can't claim to be defending the rights and freedoms of our country's populace, if they don't accept and allow them having an contrary or adversarial opinion. That, quite specifically, is one of those rights and freedoms.

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication… – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom

That freedom includes being able to disagree with how the elected officials running the country decide to employ the military. even if they, directly or indirectly, benefit from the military's existence in some other way. Those citizens are still entitled to express their opinion. We should be glad that they are, for they maintain that right even as some soldiers evolve from ardent supporters of their employer, the Government, to ardent veteran critics of every thing that same Government does in support (or perceived lack thereof) of soldiers and veterans.

Soldiers protect, both persons and materiel, and defend the rights and freedoms of their society, in ways chosen by the Government (that's part of the deal, the Government chooses the missions), and they protect individuals, very directly, when they happen to be inside one of those protective circles soldiers form on operations. No serving soldier on an operational mission would turn to a sheltered civilian (of any status) and declare that they no longer deserved protection. No soldier who dutifully embraces their responsibilities would cast a civilian from that protective circle.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

You cannot hide behind suggested contexts and declare that the lack of a physical intent to cast someone out excuses the thought. The declaration itself offers to withdraw the protection that it is a duty of a serving soldier to provide. The soldier does not have the authority to withdraw it, because that authority has not, and never will be, delegated. To make such an declaration doesn't display a strong validation of one's support of soldiers and mission, it antagonistically shows a careless disregard for duty and loyalty to the nation's rights and freedoms. It doesn't reinforce the support it attempts to proclaim, it undermines it.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

It's not simply a cute rhetorical quotation, it's an offer of violence, directly or indirectly. Parsed by the military mind, it says to the receivers that if they doesn't wholly support the soldier and his purpose (or support the soldier separate from mission, as some angry veterans might allow), than the receiver is welcome to walk into the danger zone. The citizen who does not agree with the Government's use of the military does not deserve to be sent into the crossfire. That citizen's opinions are just as valuable, and just as worthy to be expressed, in a democratic society. If anything, their right to express that opinion deserves to be openly recognized, and protected, from those who might try to muzzle it.

Soldiers like the analogy of sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. Soldiers are the sheepdogs, protecting the populace (the sheep) from the bad guys (the wolves). The sheep can rest peacefully, because the sheepdogs remain awake, alert, and ready to counter the wolves. But the analogy always leaves out one important player … the shepherd … the Government. The sheepdog obeys the shepherd, and no true sheepdog abandons a sheep to the wolves, no matter how recalcitrant that sheep might be. It's not the sheepdog's choice, to do so is counter to the sheepdog's duty.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

It's time for this facile expression to die and disappear. Those who express it are certainly entitled to their opinion, but perhaps they need to think a little harder about that opinion first and how it can be interpreted. It's not just a reprehensible expression, it's directly in contradiction to the soldier's duty.

In its place, I offer this quote, which thoughtful soldiers have seldom hesitated to express:

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." – Voltaire

Pro Patria


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2015 8:42 PM EDT
Saturday, 4 July 2015

Discipline as Combat Motivation
Topic: Discipline

Discipline as Combat Motivation

Soldiers in Revolt; The American Military Today, David Cortright, 1975

Our first task is to probe the justifications for the traditionally accepted mode of military discipline. The basic explanation seems simple, at least on the surface: The organizational efficiency required on the battlefield demands total compliance with command decisions. It is assumed that men will not advance under fire without the impetus of inflexible authority, which must be instilled through rigid indoctrination and the threat of punishment. Colonel Heinl fervently argued this point in a recent attack on reform of military law: "Nothing save deeply inculcated discipline can drive soldiers or Marines to cross a fire-swept beach, storm a pill-box, or advance into the next house in street-fighting." In a similar vein, retired Army General Hamilton Howze argued in Army magazine in 1971 that traditional discipline must be maintained as the backbone of military efficiency: "In the last analysis it is the authority of the commander which gets the job done …". General Westmoreland repeated the same argument in describing the primary purpose of military justice: "Discipline is an attitude of respect for authority which is developed by leadership, precept and training … which leads to a willingness to obey an order no matter how unpleasant or dangerous.…"

Despite such claims, the available evidence casts considerable doubt on the value of military discipline. A number of scholarly studies suggest that men are not motivated in combat by command authority or training, but by simple personal concerns such as the desire to retum home safely, mutual bonds with a buddy, and the basic drive of self-preservation. During World War II, Samuel Stouffer and a team of social scientists conducted a pioneering survey of the attitudes and experiences of enlisted men and officers, later published in the two-volume report The American Soldier. Concentrating on a veteran infantry unit that had fought through two Mediterranean campaigns, the scientists asked the men what motivated them under fire. They found a marked difference between officers and enlisted men in the value attached to military authority. When asked to select the factor "most important to you in making you want to keep going," enlisted men identified "leadership and discipline" least of all the incentives listed; only 1 per cent considered it their primary motivation. When officers were asked to name what they thought was most important to the troops, however, discipline was selected most frequently, by 19 per cent. The GIs were concerned not with military authority but with returning home safely and protecting their buddies. The research also indicated that the threat of punishment under military law had little impact on the battlefield, that men in the infantry were generally unmoved by potential disciplinary sanctions. Less thorough but similarly directed studies were conducted during Korea and Vietnam, with results confirming the seeming irrelevance of military discipline. Sociologist Roger Little observed Army units in Korea and concluded that solidarity among small groups was the most important factor in explaining the behavior of enlisted men in combat. Charles Moskos, studying GIs in Vietnam, saw combat troops as concerned only with their own personal survival. None of these studies found military discipline or authority important to combat motivation. The basic drive to return home safely and the intimacy of buddy groups seem sufficient to convince soldiers to co-operate and to sustain them under fire. There is no evidence that the strictures of military discipline contribute to combat effectiveness.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 3 July 2015

The Most Essential Condition of Service is Danger
Topic: The Field of Battle

The Most Essential Condition of Service is Danger

Bayonets of the Republic: Motivation and tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791-94, John A. Lynn, 1996

American troops in World War II definitely felt that their efforts were appreciated. Of 3,754 troops who were surveyed in the European theater, 82 percent answered that one half or more of the American people appreciated the soldiers' efforts. The last word has yet to be written concerning the American experience in Vietnam, but it is clear that the young men who fought in its jungles and rice paddies felt no such confidence in the folks back home. Some of the troops even went so far as to express their disillusionment by chalking "UUUU" on their helmets, that is "the unwilling led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful." There are indications that the young American in Vietnam was no less patriotic, tough, and capable than was his father in World War II. The great difference was that by the late 1960s a profoundly divided America could not applaud the soldier's actions. War resistance may have affected combat troops not so much by winning them over as political converts but by telling them that their suffering, endurance, and bravery would go unappreciated and unrewarded. The soldier could be left with the conviction that no one cared about him. He was a victim or sucker, fighting the war no one wanted.

Another aspect of wartime opinion is the status awarded to the wartime soldier. A nation that holds the peacetime soldier in contempt may glorify him at war. Perhaps it is only because an army swelled to wartime proportions contains a broad cross-section of society, so to look down on men in uniform is to look down on your own neighbors and sons. A last element of wartime opinion worth mention is the respect and aid given to soldiers' families. The knowledge that those at home are being honored and cared for not only frees a soldier's mind, but also tells him that he is respected and valued.

Reactions to conditions of service include opinions and feelings generated by the realities of the soldier's daily life. Some observers go so far as to say that good food, sufficient rest, efficient equipment, proper medical care, and frequent mail guarantee high morale. Experience does not always bear out this view, but such conditions are unquestionably important. Without doubt, good weapons give troops confidence while poor weapons sap it. Conditions of service also include less tangible, but very important elements, such as the character of discipline, the concern shown by company grade officers, and the competence of commanders. The momentum of victory or defeat is also a determinant of morale. An army marching from success to success has fewer morale problems than does the army it is defeating. Ultimately, troop reactions to all the elements of what will be called the military system become part of morale.

For the combat soldier, the most essential condition of service is danger and the fear it engenders. This point cannot be overstressed. Experience—time on the line—can teach a man to learn how to fight effectively, how to depend on his fellows, and how to deal with fear. Yet at the same time studies have demonstrated that courage has its season; men can only bear the burden of fear for a given amount of time before they collapse under its weight.' But fear is not the only condition that undermines morale after long periods at the front; boredom, too, takes its toll.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 8:26 PM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

The Regimental Rogue.

Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

« July 2015 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Armouries
Army Rations
Battle Honours
British Army
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army
Canadian Militia
CEF
Cold Steel
Cold War
Commentary
CWGC
Discipline
DND
DND - DHH
Drill and Training
European Armies
Events
Film
Forays in Fiction
Halifax
Humour
LAC
Leadership
Marching
Marines
Martial Music
Medals
Militaria
Military Medical
Military Theory
Morale
Mortars
Officers
OPSEC
Paardeberg
Pay; the Queen's shilling
Perpetuation
RCAF
RCN
Remembrance
Resistance
Russia
Sam Hughes
Soldier Slang
Soldiers' Load
Staff Duties
Stolen Valour
Taking Advantage
The Field of Battle
The RCR
The RCR Museum
Tradition
US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

You are not logged in. Log in
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile