The Minute Book
Friday, 1 April 2016

Specific Suggestions for Simple Sabotage
Topic: Resistance

Specific Suggestions for Simple Sabotage

Snarl up administration in every possible way.

Strategic Services Field Manual No. 3, Simple Sabotage Field Manual (provisional), Office of Strategic Services, Washington, D.C., 17 January 1944

General Interference with Organizations and Production

Organizations and Conferences

(1)     Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2)     Make "speeches," Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.

(3)     When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large possible—never less than five.

(4)     Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5)     Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

(6)     Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7)     Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8)     Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Managers and Supervisors

(1)     Demand written orders.

(2)     "Misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.

(3)     Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver it until it is completely ready.

(4)     Don't order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.

(5)     Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don't get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.

(6)     In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.

(7)     Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.

(8)     Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.

(9)     When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.

(10)     To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

(11)     Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.

(12)     Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.

(13)     Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.

(14)     Apply all regulations to the last letter.

Office Workers

(1)     Make mistakes in quantities of material when you' are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.

(2)     Prolong correspondence with government bureaus.

(3)     Misfile essential documents.

(4)     In making carbon copies, make one too few, so that an extra copying job will have to be done.

(5)     Tell important callers the boss is busy or talking on another telephone.

(6)     Hold up mail until the next collection.

(7)     Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.

Employees

(1)     Work slowly. Think out ways to increase the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed, and so on.

(2)     Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or punch, take needless time to do it. If you are cutting, shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary. Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.

(3)     Even it you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.

(4)     Pretend that instructions are hard to understand, and ask to have them repeated more than once. Or pretend that you are particularly anxious to do your work, and pester the foreman with unnecessary questions.

(5)     Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.

(6)     Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

(7)     Snarl up administration in every possible way. Fill out forms illegibly so, that they will have to be done over; make mistakes or omit requested information in forms.

(8)     If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.

(9)     Misroute materials.

(10)     Mix good parts with unusable scrap and rejected parts.

General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creating Confusion

(a)     Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.

(b)     Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or Police.

(c)     Act stupid.

(d)     Be as irritable and, quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.

(e)     Misunderstand all sorts of regulations concerning such matters as rationing, transportation, traffic regulations.

(f)     Complain against ersatz materials.

(g)     In public treat axis nationals or quislings coldly.

(h)     Stop all conversation when axis nationals or quislings enter a cafe.

(i)     Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.

(j)     Boycott all movies, entertainments, concerts, newspapers which are in any way connected with the quisling authorities.

(k)     Do not cooperate in salvage schemes.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 31 March 2016

Canada's First Carrier Reaches Halifax Port
Topic: RCN

Canada's First Carrier Reaches Halifax Port

Montreal Gazette; 1 April 1946

Halifax, March 31.—CP—H.M.C.S. Warrior, first aircraft carrier to wear Canada's green maple leaf on her funnel, steamed into her home port today a week out of Portsmouth, England, on her maiden voyage.

Just inside Sambro lighthouse at the approaches to Halifax, the 18,000-ton flattop turned into the wind and flew off her fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, giving Canadians ashore their first chance of seeing Canadian naval air squadrons flying as units.

Escorted by the destroyer Micmac and the Algerine minesweeper Middlesex, the Warrior moved upstream to her berth at the naval dockyard. Thousands of ship-conscious Haligonians lined the waterfront to catch a glimpse of the newest addition to Canada' fleet.

At noon, W.C. Macdonald, Liberal member for parliament for Halifax, boarded the carrier and welcomed the ship's company back to Canada on behalf of Defence Minister D.C. Abbott.

"One of the lessons of the taught us in Halifax was the value of cooperation between naval and air power, Mr. Macdonald said, "I think it can be said that air power is vital to a modern fleet. Such a vessel as this new aircraft carrier is a recognition of that fact."

Capt. F.L. Houghton of Ottawa and Halifax expressed pride in his ship and the fact that he had been able to bring her to Halifax.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Few Wounds by Cold Steel
Topic: Cold Steel

Few Wounds by Cold Steel

Shrapnel and Shell Fragments Cause Greatest Trouble Owing to Greater Danger of Infection

The Day, New London, Connecticut, 15 September 1917

During the Franco-Prussian war there were only 600 wounds by cold steel among 98,000 wounded.

Much is said about the comparatively unimportant part played by cold steel in the current war. The following passage from the article on "Surgery Military," in the New International Encyclopedia, would seem to indicate that conditions had not changed much in that respect since the Franco-Prussian war; also that the general classes of wounds remain essentially the same.

"Shrapnel wounds are like those of the old round musket balls, because of their low velocity they are more frequently lodged in wounds than are rifle bullets. Shell wounds, as a class, are much less frequent, but far more severe than shrapnel wounds. Shell fragments cause complete destruction near then bursting point, but effect less damage in more distant zones. Both shrapnel and shell wounds are usually infected, because the missiles carry into the wounds pieces of clothing and other foreign matter. The danger of infection is much increased because of the greater extent of the laceration. Wounds by bayonet, saber and lance occur so infrequently as to be of minor interest. During the Franco-Prussian war there were only 600 wounds by cold steel among 98,000 wounded. Grenades, thrown by hand, rifle and trench mortar, a revival in late wars of an earlier practice, recently have been used to a conspicuous extent in Flanders and France. Their wounds differ in no material particular from those of shell fragments and subterranean mines."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Active Militia; Artillery (1868)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Active Militia; Artillery (1868)

The Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C.V.M., 1868

Artillery.—A field battery of six pieces, and with six horses to each gun and waggon, occupies in line ninety-five yards; by thirty-four yards in depth; or forty-four in action; the interval between the pieces is nineteen yards; and the length of a field carriage is about fifteen yards.

In marching, not less than four yards interval should be allowed between each carriage. On opening fire, if the distance of the enemy be not known, it is better to fire rather short of, than over the object. The quickness of firing being regulated by the certainty of execution; at equal ranges, therefore, the object should be to point with great care rather than to fire quickly. With smooth bore guns, round shot should be used from 350 yards, upwards; case at from 350 to 450 when double case may be the used.

The firing should increase in rapidity as the range diminishes. Shrapnel should not be used at a less range than 500 yards. After putting a gun in position the officer's first business is to ascertain the distance of every well marked object within range; next to mask and protect his guns and men by ingenious use of whatever means are at hand. When guns are in position on the brow of a hill they should be retired as far as they can be, without losing command: the more they are retired, the better the men will be covered.

If necessary that they should be immediately at the top, they should not be placed until the firing is to commence. A waggon should wait for a disabled gun, but a gun should never wait for a disabled waggon. Men should be accustomed to work the guns with diminished numbers.

If guns are on an unsupported flank, they should be protected by cavalry in rear. If impassable obstacles to cover the flank do not exist, a wood, or buildings occupied by infantry, will give great security to guns posted on the flank of a line. Infantry should never be directly in rear of artillery. In covering changes of front, the guns should be on the pivot flank and well clear of it, that their fire may not be interrupted.

On a march, halt every two hours for several minutes. Drivers dismount; down props; lift saddles and pads; examine shoulders; sponge nostrils, eyes, and tail; give a mouthful of wet grass or hay, and a little water; if halted for two hours stop feet with wet clay. Frequent watering in small quantities will permit the performance of very severe marches. Feeding at moderate intervals. Cordial balls or drinks (in default of better, a wine-glass of whiskey in a half a pint of water, or one and a half drachms of ginger in oil, grease, or butter,) when horses are weary. When dull, and refusing food, try a a clyster at 96° Fahrenheit. Indian corn should be soaked before feeding. No water until one hour, at least, after feeding. Horses not to graze on grass with the dew on it. Hard water should have a knob of clay, or half a handful of wood ashes mixed with it.

Guns should never be at the head of an advanced guard; but may precede the main body, protected by some cavalry.

Officers should not point guns in action. Their duty is to superintend the working of the guns in all its details; and to note the effect of the fire on the enemy's troops of guns.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 28 March 2016

Drill
Topic: Commentary

Drill

As a rule, soldiers hate drill. This hatred begins in the earliest days of basic training. Hours spent on a parade square, wearing boots not yet broken in, being instructed by some loud and apocryphally impolite instructor who seems intent on creating soldiery through suffering; all these set the conditions for the universal hatred of drill.

And it continues. After basic training the soldier might be subjected to ceremonial parades and the practice they require. These can also require the return to the instructional environment, as new drill movements not imparted during basic training are required for a polished performance. And that necessity only reawakens that visceral hatred of drill developed on the recruit parade ground.

Some parades require few rehearsals and are only annoying in the time they take to accomplish, and the preparation necessary to be in the right uniform. Others, significant ceremonial parades, can require days of practice and rehearsals, sometimes spread out over weeks until the hazy memories of the months before a major event are reduced to that of sore feet, of being told it's not good enough yet, and of more boot polishing. And after finally getting to the point where the sergeant-major is happy, the pain of the experience is renewed when the officers arrive to start learning the parade sequence and their own role on the square.

Many of those who hate drill, at the time or decades later, will argue that there's no military necessity for drill. Drill, they will claim, originated when drill movements were the tactics of the day; and in the mindless military need for tradition and repetition, it simply hasn't died out. Never have they done any military duty that resembled the drill they learned. This last of course, omits the admission that the drill they performed was also a military duty.

The equally eternal arguments in support of drill lean heavily on justifying the need to learn to work together, to follow commands reflexively, and also to have a simple orchestrated method of moving groups of people around in an orderly manner. All of these are sound arguments for some drill to be learned, but they also fall short of promoting the need for all drill in all its painful variations.

Tradition. Customs of the service. The dreaded phrase "we've always done it this way." Hard core traditionalists don't need reasons, it's good enough for them if it resembles what their grandfathers did while serving in the regiment. But those arguments only work on those who have already drunk the same Kool-Aid. Tradition isn't about strictly rigid adherence to unchanging process, it's about upholding principles and "keeping the faith." Traditions can evolve to meet modern necessity and expectation, and "tradition," in itself, makes a poor argument to not examine why we do things the way we do.

A much as old soldiers, and many new ones, profess to hate the drill they did and do, drill remains a part of the military mien. The experienced eye can often pick out a soldier across the room by his or her bearing. A pair or small group of soldiers stands out when they naturally fall into step. Those little things came from the drill they learned, from the conscious, then subconscious, focus on bearing and movement they learned, at least in part, on the drill square.

And the ultimate dichotomy comes out of the fact that many of those old soldiers who decry the drill they had to do, and declaim its irrelevance in a modern army, will also be the first vocal critics when they see new soldiers, with less accomplished drill, performing less well than they had in their day. Soldiers today perform less drill today then their fathers' generation did, but the expectations placed on them to "look like soldiers" doesn't diminish. Old soldiers, and the public at large, still expect soldiers to look like soldiers and drill, when seen, to be performed well. Archaic as it may be to some, drill remains a small measure of perceived professionalism in many armies.

Drill still has its place. The challenge for each new generation of commanders and sergeants-major, is to decide how much is just enough.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 28 March 2016 1:20 AM EDT
Sunday, 27 March 2016

Who Shot the Cheese?
Topic: British Army

Who Shot the Cheese?

By George Fraser
The Glasgow Herald, 23 May 1968

Who shot the Cheese? Who stole the wire? What soldiers were permitted to take a woman into barracks? Why should it be contentious and even dangerous, in certain company to call for "a pint of broken squares"?

Why should the men of the Border Regiment have enjoyed a particular reputation for kleptomania? And why should soldiers of Highland regiments, against common sense and nature, wear their bonnets puller down over their eyes?

And so on; one could compile this type of military quiz ad infinitum. The questions are asked here, not for the sake of their answers, which may be of passing interest, but because within both questions and answers there may lie matter of importance to the historian and the sociologist (and, who knows, the anthropologist). They are bound into British regimental traditions; their investigation could tell more about the British soldier than is to be found in standard military histories. These are things that the military historian seldom touches.

elipsis graphic

Of course, military history is a long way out of date. To paraphrase Adlai Stephenson, it has not yet been marched, strutted and puffing, out of the nineteenth century. It remains, unfortunately, at Establishment level; official accounts of campaigns, memoirs of generals, regimental histories almost invariably written by ex-officers whose manly lump in the throat sometimes threatens to obscure the reader's vision. Not that there's anything wrong with manly lumps, but there is more to the history of a regiment than that, and more than battle honours and campaigns and well-worn legends.

It does not tell us much about the men to know that they were cut to bits at Maiwand or that they shot hordes of Zulus at Rorke's Drift. It has been said that to every official war history or general's memoir there should be a companion version giving the private soldier's account; they might even occasionally be recognisably about the same thing. But unfortunately privates seldom wrote their memoirs, and those who did were not trivial men. Yet it is out of the trivia that one can build a picture of reality.

elipsis graphic

Thus: Who shot the cheese? This question, asked of an ex-Gordon Highlander (they also stole the wire), will elicit more of the essence of his regiment, of its spirit, and of those qualities and characteristics that distinguish it from all others, than any amount of reading in its official history.

Highland soldiers may appear to be ordinary soldiers, but with big chests and kilts; only experience can bring home the great gulf in attitude that exists between them and, say, English North Country soldiers. It is much more than national difference, and far stronger; the phenomenon of the Englishman who turns into a Highlander simply by serving in a Highland regiment is well known; the same thing doesn't happen to him if he simply lives or works in Scotland, but it happens in a regiment.

To define these regimental influences, to discover why they operate so powerfully, is not easy. But most people who have experience of them would probably agree that whereas the Gordons were lighthearted and easygoing The Cameronians were undeniably stern and hard, and so on. The King's Liverpool have always been downright rough, and of the Border Regiment I can speak with personal experience.

As a young soldier in their 9th Battalion I was in a party detached to collect rations dropped on a Burmese airstrip. Parties had come from various units, British and Indian, but when the officer in charge saw the Border badges his face fell. He took us aside and addressed us confidentially.

"Look," he said, "I know you lot. Don't, please, pinch anything, I'll see you get buckshees after. Just don't half-inch the stuff; it throws my calculations out. All right?"

elipsis graphic

I was astonished, and rather hurt. Why, I wondered, should he single us out? Only afterwards, when I discovered that every man in my party had left the airstrip with his trouser-legs stuffed with stolen sugar, with bush hats crammed with cigarettes, and water-skins packed with dry tea—only then did I understand what that officer had been talking about. Nothing was too hot or too heavy for the Borders; they would have solen the Shwe Dagon pagoda if there had been transport available.

The point is that the men were not light-fingered or dishonest in themselves—not more than anyone else in XIVth Army, anyway. But as Border Regiment soldiers they were continuing a regimental tradition which you will not find in any regimental history. Retired senior officers may deny it, but everyone knows it to be true.

Now it may seem fanciful to associate this kind of thing with military history. But the men make the history, and there is no question that regimental spirit, tradition, ethos, call it what you like, profoundly influenced the men. And it seems that there is a useful field of study here for military historians. It is not impossible that one may understand what caused the stirrup charge at Waterloo a little better, if one knows who shot the cheese.

elipsis graphic

These thoughts are prompted by the publication of a new series of regimental histories under the editorship of Sir Brian Horrocks. As histories go they are extremely competent, good to look at, and no doubt as accurate and balanced as research can make them. And some of them, notably Michael Foss's "Royal Fusiliers" and Philip Howard's "Black Watch," show signs of leaning towards the less stereotyped kind of history which, I suggest, is as important as the rolls of battle honours and serving officers.

>Just for interest the regiment which can take a woman into barracks is the Royal Norfolks, because they carry Britannia's image on their badges (this is the kind of Army joke that once set the corporals' mess in a roar); the pint of broken squares is too painful to discuss here, and no-one knows why Highlanders wear their bonnets down their foreheads. Gravity, possibly, and sheer blind contrariness.

Hamish Hamilton's "Famous Regiments" series so far includes the Gordons, Black Watch, K.R.R.C., Royal Fusiliers, Royal Flying Corps, the Queen's Royal berks, Somerset L.I., and Royal Norfolks. Prices are from 21s to 25s.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Old Funding Argument; Militia vs. Regular
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Old Funding Argument; Militia vs. Regular

Extracted from "Military Chit-Chat," The Metropolitan, Montreal, 12 January 1895

We do not wish to under-rate the value of the Royal Regiments of Canadian Regulars, but we do protest against making the object for which the schools were originally formed—the instruction of officers and men of the active militia—a secondary consideration altogether. The camp at Levis last autumn must have cost a good deal of money, and many militiamen asked themselves how it was the money could be forthcoming to hold a long camp for the benefit of the well-drilled men of the permanent corps, when the country can only afford to drill our rural corps, who need it badly, but once in two years, and not always that. Then, again, look at the parsimony practiced toward the city corps, who find it difficult to obtain from a grateful Government even the bare necessities of their equipment. Every officer of a city battalion has to contribute largely from his private means towards the support of the corps in order to provide the men with a proper head-dress and other articles, which the Government have overlooked or forgotten, as being necessary to enable men to turn out properly dressed on parade. And when the officers have gone to the expense of providing the men with the balance of their equipment, and spent money in having tunics made to fit them, the inspecting officer will find fault at the annual inspection, because, perhaps, one man is lacking some small article which the Government does not supply. What funny looking regiments would turn out in Montreal, if the men were dressed only in the uniform and accoutrements supplied by the Government.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 25 March 2016

Shrapnel Wounds Worst
Topic: Military Medical

Shrapnel Wounds Worst, Because of Bad Infection

The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, 13 February 1915

New York, Feb. 12.—Shrapnel, causing infection, makes the most troublesome wounds of the present war, but bayonet wounds are the most deadly, according to Professor Walton Martin of the department of surgery of Columbia university, who was recently engaged in the American hospital in Paris and who was a speaker today at the alumni day exercises at Columbia. The number of soldiers wounded by bayonets who reach the hospital is small, the surgeon said, and from his experience behind the British and French trenches he was convinced that few men this wounded ever left the trenches alive.

Fragments of uniforms, wood and stone and chunks of soil were probed out of the wounds of soldiers felled by shrapnel, Dr. Martin said.

"The great danger is from infection," he continued. "Shrapnel makes a big wound going in and a big wound coming out." Out of 100 cases under his charge 82 wounds were caused by shrapnel and every one of these was infected. Of those due to rifle bullets one-fifth were clean and the infection in the others was milder than that made by shrapnel. In the 100 cases there was only one bayonet wound.

One lesson taught by this wart, he stated, is the necessity for a large base hospital behind the fighting lines, as the fatality list increases according to the distance the wounded have to be moved. A deplorable circumstance in his connection, he noted, is that the wounded can be taken out of the trenches only at night.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 24 March 2016

Tropical Diet
Topic: Army Rations

Tropical Diet

Tasty New Diet for Troops Based in Tropical Areas

The Age, Melbourne, Australia, 18 October 1962

Canberra.—The Australian army had discovered a way of feeding troops based in the tropics with good, edible and interesting meals and at the same time reducing the soldiers' load.

Cooked, minced, dried, compressed with 500 lb. pressure per square inch at freezing point and some months later, soaked in water—that is the pattern of food preparation for the tropical soldier of the future.

An army spokesman said today that work carried out at the army food research station in Tasmania had shown that meat processed in this way retained nutritional value—and still tasted like meat.

Still Wary

Many soldiers from the Second World War are still wary of any food marked "dehydrated," but the days of potatoes that taste like flour and peas resembling buckshot are gone for ever.

In most cases the difference between the taste of fresh food and that processed at the army research station are no more than the minor variations in different women's cooking.

The process for vegetables involves immersing them in hot water or steam to make organic life inactive, a dip in sulphite to aid rapid drying, and compression.

Before compression, the vegetables are held at a high temperature for a short period to obtain an even distribution of moisture.

Meat is cut into pieces about the size of a man's fist, placed on wire racks and cooked in steam ovens for 40 to 50 minutes, It is then cooled and minced.

Blended

The minced meat is placed in a dehydrator and the juice collected during cooking is reduced to a syrup. The syrup is then blended with the partly dried meat.

Drying continues at a slower rate until the moisture content is less than 5 per cent. This is followed by compression into small blocks.

Some months later, a small patrol operating many miles from its base soaks these blocks in hot water before cooking.

Under a tropical sun, the meal tastes like the food served by the catering corps back home in Australia, and the soldier is receiving the nourishment he needs.

A major advantage, according to the rank and file, is that the soldier's load has been lightened considerably and reduced in bulk.

The bulk reduction ratio between fresh and processed cabbage is 11 to 1.

A one-ounce block of cabbage occupies about 1 cubic inch of space, but when reconstituted it is five or six ounces of "fresh" cabbage—sufficient for one man.

Vitamin Loss

The army spokesman said there were some losses of mineral and vitamin during processing, but generally they were not as great as the losses incurred during canning.

Meanwhile the army is continuing work on finding the means of reducing these losses or making them good by addition at a later stage.

Work is also being directed to widening the variety of foods that can be reduced to these lightweight packs—making it possible for the digger to enjoy a diet similar to that he has known all his life, even though he may be miles from the nearest army cook house.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Discipline of the Prussian Army
Topic: Discipline

Discipline of the Prussian Army

Morning Chronicle, Commercial and Shipping Gazette; Quebec, 30 August 1870

The discipline and daily routine of exercise for the Prussian army is to all foreigners a source of never ending wonder. The early morning is devoted to cleansing the quarters, and correcting any irregularities which may have arisen out of the previous days' duties. Later in the forenoon the hours are given to study—arithmetic, geography, geometry, theory and practice of military science; and even singing is not neglected. Great importance is attached to the studies of the soldiers, and by attaining a certain advancement in knowledge, each one, after satisfactory examination, can shorten his term of service from one to two years. In the afternoon of each day the bodily culture is attended to, and this consists not only of purely military drill, but also of every variety of physical exercise calculated to add either strength or suppleness to the human form—running, leaping, vaulting, balancing, bayonet exercise, lifting, shooting, bending, altogether such an innumerable variety of movements that no muscle of the body is without its daily exercise. These "squad" drill are followed by company and regimental parades, and at short intervals by grand field movements of brigades and divisions, and these once a or twice year by grand army movements with mock battles. I have not been fortunate enough to witness any of the grand tactics, but the exercise in detail by company, battalion, squadron, or battery, and in particular the artillery movements, seem to me to be as near perfection as patience and practice can make them. All this perfection pr preparatory knowledge and practice must, of course, have its weight on the struggle of actual war; but if there is any ground for doubt as to the power of the German militia, it would lie on its too great reliance which is here placed on scientific knowledge, and consequent distrust of a quick common sense which is not too overburdened with acquired wisdom.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Thunder by the Left
Topic: Drill and Training

Thunder by the Left

The Glasgow Herald, 22 October 1964
By Alastair Phillips

We never had much truck with the sergeant-majors cast in the classic and fabulous mould of Freddie Archer. There were no such giants in the R.A.F., but merely a few diligent but not very effective imitations, whom we suspected of trying to model their personalities on hearsay and tall tales that came down from places like Pirbright.

Indeed, our own strongest recollection of a warrant officer first class is not of a big man with a voice like a bull, bout of a small slightly palsied one with a hoarse and studiously friendly whisper.

We should explain, however, that during that association we enjoyed the peculiar privilege (although only an aircrafthand-under-training) of being the barman in an officers' mess, an appointment with singular influence that cut across most formal distinctions of rank and service.

The station warrant officer was a man of regular habit, so regular in fact that at 10.30 every morning he put his head through the back door of the beer store and said reassuringly:—

"Carry on, airmen … Just looking around …Everything under control?"

And he always managed to look surprised when we handed him his pick-me-up. We have heard others, less favourably placed, say that he had a mean temper and a nasty tongue, but we must say that he never bawled us out in public and was always extremely co-operative in the matter of crafty forty-eights, railway warrants, and travelling time at each end of a leave.

We have, however, heard other strident and fearful tales from colleagues who had the harder luck of seeing their service out in the Army, one of whom, indeed still trembles when he recalls how he stood mumchance and stricken on the parade ground while the voice of a sergeant-major of the Guards bounced off the adjacent walls, and the echo in diminishing harmonics repeated:—

"It's dopey ——s like you what turns my hair grey."

This is a traditional image of screaming discipline which the Army public relations departments are not at pains to banish, and to this end a company of journalists were this week invited to a Royal Engineers' camp near Farnborough to meet 50 regimental sergeant-majors and to see for themselves (as one of the exhibits said is a courteously conversational tone of voice) that:—

"the days of the pig-ignorant loud-mouth have gone."

elipsis graphic

We do not doubt that the r.s.ms can still summon up a resonant word of command; but we are not persuaded that though, like Bottom, they may aggravate their voices so that they will roar you as gently as any sucking dove, they have not still a discreet whisper for the erring recruit's ear that will leave him squirming in the ranks.

So much was hinted by one of these n.c.o.s, a little self-conscious as a father figure, who explained:—

"I may not kick 'em, but I'm not going to kiss 'em."

There are some conventional misconceptions about the voice of the regimental sergeant major. It is not appalling because it is a great virile bellow; it is sinister and menacing because it is a high searing note that seems to be on the threshold of hysteria. It does not envelop the soldier with two left feet like the rumbling of thunder, but pierces his central nervous system like a nail scratching on glass.

Nor was it true that the voice was the sound of inevitable doom, however fearful it might be. It is said of Regimental Sergeant Major Charles Bradley of the Coldstreams that he never put a man on a charge. He was a tall thin man with a high squeaky voice and, they say, a kind heart. Gerald Kersh recalls the dreadful moment on parade when he realised that he had forgotten the bolt of his rifle and, although he was in a rear rank, saw Bradley bearing down upon him, only to whisper in the passing:—

"You wouldn't be much good in a war, would you?"

We do not know what are the soft spoken concessions that the new sergeant-majors make to "the higher standard of intelligence among recruits," but we may well wonder if these are a sufficient substitute for the regimental personalities of the old Archers and Paddy Flynns who stood to attention when the spoke to an officer on the telephone; who held pay parades for their children's pocket money; who instinctively snapped "Put you hat on straight" even to women they met in the street; and who spoke in voices that could be heard only by dogs and guardsmen.

Of standing, even in innocence, before RSM Bradley, one of our colleagues says, and still with awe:—

"It was like being in the presence of God."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2016 12:25 AM EDT
Monday, 21 March 2016

Colours; Excerpts from Canadian Regulations
Topic: Militaria

All Colours which have been consecrated and presented to a unit of the Canadian Forces (CF), whether donated or provided at public expense, are and remain Crown property in perpetuity, and are controlled by the Department of National Defence on behalf of the Canadian government.

Colours

The following extracts are from the Canadian Armed Forces publication A-AD-200-000/AG-000, The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces (from a pdf copy dated 17 August 2001). Questions regarding Colours which have been laid up in churches or other places should be directed to the Directorate of History and Heritage at National Defence Headquarters.

Chapter 5 — Colours

Section 1 — Policies and Procedures

Colours are a unit's most prized possession. They are presented personally by the Sovereign or by an individual, normally the Governor General, nominated to act on the Sovereign's behalf. Historically, Colours marked and provided a rallying point for army regiments in the line of battle. Today, they are no longer carried in action or held by a unit in a theatre of war. They continue, however, as visible symbols of pride, honour and devotion to Sovereign and country.

On presentation, Colours are consecrated by the Chaplain General assisted by the unit chaplains; when the Chaplain General is unable to be present, he will personally designate a chaplain to officiate for him. Through this means, Colours are sanctified and devoted to service as symbols of honour and duty; all members of the unit, regardless of classification, rededicate themselves to constancy in the maintenance of these qualities. Once consecrated, Colours are closely guarded and they are honoured by the appropriate compliment while uncased.

elipsis graphic

Because of their symbolism and purpose, Colours belong to a separate class from other flags and are not paraded with other flags in any Colour party.

elipsis graphic

Parading Colours. In Canadian practice, Colours and Colour parties are never paraded separately from the military body whose presence they mark and whose honour and duty they represent. They are only paraded as an integral part of the formation or unit concerned. An order to a unit which implies giving up control of its Colour can be seen as a sign of disgrace. Except as detailed in sub-paragraph c. below, commanding officers are responsible for ensuring that their Colours are never paraded with or by another unit. Thus:

a.     In general, whenever a unit or a major portion of a unit is paraded on a ceremonial occasion, the unit's Colour or Colours may also be paraded.

b.     Except for the special case of guards, including escorts and guards of honour, when small portions of a unit are paraded separately they are regarded as detachments rather than the unit itself. In these cases the Colour or Colours remain with the unit.

c.     Colour parties from different formations or units are never combined into a single massed Colour party except immediately prior to joining their units at the beginning of a joint parade or after a joint consecration, or after being fallen out from their units to be lodged, deposited or laid up. Under special circumstances, Colour parties of several battalions of the same regiment may be combined when these battalions are brigaded on a purely regimental parade and not scheduled to manoeuvre separately; the combined Colour party then marks the entire regimental line. (If units manoeuvre, the Colours take post back with their battalion.)

elipsis graphic

Section 2 — Retirement and Disposal of Colours

All Colours which have been consecrated and presented to a unit of the Canadian Forces (CF), whether donated or provided at public expense, are and remain Crown property in perpetuity, and are controlled by the Department of National Defence on behalf of the Canadian government. The Colours are memorials to the brave deeds and sacrifices of the units and individuals who serve under them. If deposited or laid-up, they are the responsibility of the custodian and must remain accessible to the public. Formal permission from National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ)/Director History and Heritage (DHH) is required before removal for any purpose.

Custodians shall ensure that laid-up and deposited Colours are kept on display to the general public. They may not be stored or displayed in unaccessible areas, e.g. stored in sliding drawers in museum curatorial spaces with restricted access for scholarly research purposes only.

Under no circumstances are Colours or portions of Colours allowed to pass into the possession of private individuals. If the custodian can no longer preserve them, they must be returned to NDHQ/DHH for disposal, unless mutually satisfactory arrangements can be made with the unit and DHH.

When Colours are honourably retired and laid-up, they are left to decay and disintegrate, normally on their pikes or lances, until they cease to exist. Although the custodian may preserve the Colours under glass or otherwise handle them to retard disintegration, they shall never be restored. To do so would be akin to creating facsimiles of the consecrated originals. Although there are instances of replicas being made of Colours, NDHQ will not authorize their use or production. If replicas are identified, they must be clearly marked for historical or display purposes.They cannot be consecrated, carried or deposited, and they are not entitled to the honours accorded consecrated Colours.

Pieces which become detached while a Colour is laid-up, lose their sacred status and shall be burnt to ashes. Pikes, cords and pike heads for laid-up Colours shall not be replaced from public, non-public or private funds.

Serviceable Colours of a disbanded unit remain the property of the Crown and may be reactivated should the unit be reconstituted. In such case, DHH shall issue instructions through command headquarters to ensure that Colours can be reclaimed from the custody of those persons entrusted with deposit.

elipsis graphic

After Colours have been laid-up, they are considered memorials and are not normally displaced by Colours laid-up later, e.g., by the Colours if a regiment senior in precedence to the one whose Colours were originally laid-up. Laid-up Colours become extremely brittle and delicate over time. Custodians should ensure that they are disturbed as little as possible to extend their life.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2016 9:48 PM EDT
Sunday, 20 March 2016

New Battle Honours (1954)
Topic: Battle Honours

New Battle Honours (1954)

Back to Armada

The Glasgow Herald, 9 October 1954

Battle honours dating back to the engagement of British warships against the Spanish Armada are being awarded by the Admiralty to naval vessels, naval establishments, and naval squadrons.

The aircraft carrier H.M.S. Eagle (40,000 tons), the largest ship in the Navy, will carry battle honours and so will the Admiralty tug Bustler. Ships of the Royal Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Pakistan, and East African Navies, with ships of the South African and Indian navies share in the honours.

The Admiralty, in a fleet order, say that the awards are intended to foster esprit de corps among officers and ships' companies.

Among the 33 air squadrons qualifying for honours—which begin with the 1940 campaign in Norway and cover the period to the ending of the Japanese war in 1945—are four Royal Australian Navy squadrons, two Royal Canadian Navy squadrons, and seven R.N.V.R. squadrons.

The ships to be honoured include the Victory, Nelson's flagship now preserved in Portsmouth Dockyard, which is the oldest ship in the Navy.

The honours board of H.M.S. Diamond, a Daring class warship, will start with the battle with the Armada and lists 14 other engagements in which ships bearing her name have taken part.

Newest Carrier

H.M.S. Albion, the Navy's newest aircraft carrier will bear four honours—Algiers (1816), Navarino (1827), the Crimea (1854-5), and the Dardenelles (1915).

The ship with the longest list will be H.M.S. Orion, a cruiser of the Reserve Fleet, whose fighting career has covered 20 battles, beginning with the "Glorious First of June" (1794). Thirteen of her distinctions were gained in the Second World War, and she will carry the "Jutland" honour for her part in the 1916 battle.

The scheme of awards covers ships not yet in commission, although in building. Among these are H.M.S. Leopard, a frigate, and H.M.S. Tiger, a cruiser, whose 13 honours will range from the Armada to Jutland.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 19 March 2016

Active Militia; Preparing for Active Service
Topic: Canadian Militia

Active Militia; Preparing for Active Service

The Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C.V.M., 1868

Should a company be warned for active service, the sergeant, whose duty it is to warn the men of his squad, shall be provided with a blank roll, the heading of which shall be as follows:

His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief has been pleased to order the battalion (or company) to be placed on actual service, and to muster at _____ o'clock at _____ .

This heading will be read to every man, who will then sign his name in acknowledgement of bis having received notice Should he refuse to tign his name, a remark will be made to that effect by the notifying sergeant, and signed by a witness who will invariably accompany him.

The officer commanding will lose no time in arresting all such volunteers belonging to his company or battalion, and reporting the same to the district staff officer. — (Regulations respecting Volunteer Militia).

On assembling his men the officer commanding should personally inspect each man, and ascertain tlrat he has proper articles of clothing under his uniform, and that he is provided with suitable boots for marching.

He will also, at the first muster-parade, personally ascertain that each man is in possession of the articles of equipment below enumerated, and will immediately report any deficiencies to the commanding officer of his battalion, who will report to the district staff officer:—

  • 1 rifle with small stores complete.
  • 1 set of accoutrements capable of carrying 60 rounds.
  • 1 knapsack and straps complete, with canteen if supplied.
  • 1 haversack.
  • 60 rounds of ball ammunition.
  • 1 water bottle or canteen.
  • 1 great coat.
  • Should be in every man's knapsack, or haversack; provided by the men themselves.
    • 1 change shirt, flannel or cotton.
    • 1 do. pair socks.
    • Needle and thread.
    • Knife, fork, spoon, tin plate.
    • Piece of soft soap,
    • Towel, brush, and comb.
  • 1 pint tin mug with handle, if no knapsacks are supplied.
  • 1 day's rations bread and cooked meat.
  • 1 small packet of salt.

Where a corps placed on actual service is ordered away from its permanent head quarters, if the men be furnished with knapsacks, the commanding officer will not allow any of his men to take with them any other article of baggage.

When any volunteer corps placed on actual service is sent away from its permanent head quarters, every man will be supplied with a good pair of boots, on application being made by the commanding officer to the district staff officer; for which a stoppage will be made from his pay of 25 cents per week for short boots (price $1.50) or 35 cents per week for long boots (price ___) until the cost price be made good." — (Regulations respecting Volunteer Militia).

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 18 March 2016

Ordered to Wear Swords for King
Topic: Cold Steel

Ordered to Wear Swords for King

Military Arm for Officers Now Practically Obsolete in Active Service

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 6 December 1915
(Correspondent of Associated Press.)

London, Nov. 15.—A curious survival of the martinet spirit of the old army appeared furing the recent visit of the King to the British troops in France, when an order was issued that the officers should appear with swords during the royal review. It was a costly order for the young officers, as few were provided with swords, which are a most expensive part of a kit.

Swords are obsolete as part of an officer's equipment in the field. Officers who had them left them at home when they came to the front. A small bamboo cane has taken the place of the sword except when in action, and then some officers carry rifles.

In anticipation of the royal review an order was issued at the headquarters by France for all officers to provide themselves with swords. This piece of antiquated etiquette fell heavily upon the purses of the subalterns. The King, on account of falling from his horse, was unable to review his troops after all. And it is said that the King would have been the last man in England to place this heavy tax on his officers for the sake of mere form had he known of the order.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 17 March 2016

Development of the Soldierly Spirit
Topic: Drill and Training

Development of the Soldierly Spirit

Cavalry Training, General Staff, War Office, 1912

1.     Soldierly spirit is the product of a high sense of personal honour and duty; of self-reliance and of mutual confidence between all ranks.

A sound soldierly spirit cannot be developed by rules, but much can be accomplished by force of example in teaching high ideals of personal conduct. Officers and N.C.O.'s must be careful, therefore, on all occasions to set a high moral, intellectual, and physical standard to their men.

Men should be taught by example to meet privations cheerfully and never to grumble at hard work or hardship.

2.     Efficient instruction and good example will instill into individuals absolute confidence in their instructors and comrades. Instructors must endeavour to increase the soldier's initiative, self-confidence, and self-restraint; to train him to obey orders, or to act in the absence of orders for the advantage of his unit under all conditions; and finally to produce such a high degree of courage and disregard of self, that in the stress of battle he will be able to use his weapons and his brain coolly and to the best advantage.

3.     In order to impress him with the necessity of upholding the reputation of the army, of our cavalry, and of his own regiment, the soldier should be instructed in the deeds which have made each famous.

Manly games have a great effect on the military spirit, especially if they are arranged so that all ranks generally, and not only selected teams, take part.

Drill is also an important factor, producing that habit of instant obedience which is so essential in war.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2016 12:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Analyze Wound Cause
Topic: Military Medical

Analyze Wound Cause

Most of War Injuries Result of Firearm Action

Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, 18 March 1915

The subject of war wounds from firearms is of special interest to the reading public at this time:

1.     Because the recent improvements in armaments have brought about interesting changes in the source and character of wounds.

2.     In the case of lodged balls, and in bone injuries, the character of the injury through the medium of X-ray evidence gives a striking exhibit of the wounded part.

3.     A knowledge of first aid to the injured is so essential in these days of preventive medicine that modern civilization expects people generally to become familiar with the causation of war wounds, and the most effective means of ameliorating suffering while one is in the presence of the wounded, in the absence of a surgeon. With this end in view, every officer and soldier of the line in all armies is taught first aid to the injured.

War wounds are mostly caused by firearms, while a few, not exceeding 3 per cent., are cause by bayonets, swords, lances. Wounds by firearms are inflicted by the so-called hand weapons, like the military rifle, pistol, revolver and the military arms.

In our civil war 90 per cent. of gunshot wounds were inflicted by the hand rifle, pistol and revolver; 5 per cent. by artillery and about 3 per cent. by the bayonets, swords and other cutting instruments.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Canadian Militia Reform (1911)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canadian Militia Reform

Scheme to Make it More Efficient
Outline Proposed by Sir John French
6 Infantry Divisions, 4 Cavalry Brigades
Thirty-Four Additional Companies of Field Artillery

Boston Evening Transcript, 10 May 1911

Ottawa, May 10—The Minister of Militia has made a statement in regard to the action which the department proposes to take for carrying out the recommendations of Sir John French. He began by a brief reference to the spirit in which the British inspector general made his inspection of the Canadian militia.

"Sir John French," he said, "as a professional soldier looks on soldiers from the point of view of efficiency as armed troops on duty. He was naturally disappointed, as far as the Canadian militia was supposed to represent a force of that kind. We know that the Canadian militia has never been a force ready for war. That has not been the principal idea in its organization. Only in the last four or five years has such an idea been suggested. The business of the Canadian militia has been to assist the British army when difficulties occur in Canada. The British Government until recently kept the nucleus of an army at Halifax and Esquimalt.

Sir Frederick also distributed to the members a statement in which he further made reference to the report of Sir John French. The memorandum opens by stating:

"The recommendations of Sir John French can be classed as coming under two main heads, viz.:

(A)     changes in organization, and

(B)     improved methods of training and education.

"The militia in Eastern Canada will, as recommended, be organized as cavalry brigades and infantry divisions. The ten military districts will form six divisional areas, each of which will furnish one division, and collectively, four cavalry brigades. This reorganization can be effected with practically no dislocation of the existing system, as each divisional command will include one or more of the present districts. The result of this change will be to place under each divisional commander the troops to form the division he would command on mobilization, and tend to associate, during training, the units which would work together as a division in the field."

The memorandum goes on to point out that there are not at present a sufficient number of units to fully form the six infantry divisions, and that before they can be made complete the following will have to be raised: 34 batteries of field artillery; 10 howitzer batteries, one heavy battery and ammunition column, 6 divisional ammunition columns, 7 field companies of engineers, one telegraph department, 13 companies of Army Service Corps, and four field ambulance units.

Similarly, to complete the four cavalry brigades, it will be necessary to raise one regiment of cavalry, one battery of field artillery, three field troops of engineers, and one company of Army Service Corps.

"It is not proposed," the memorandum continues, "to proceed in the work of completing the divisions and cavalry brigades any faster than the usual votes will permit. A continuance of the vote of $1,300,000, which has been annually granted since 1903-4, will be asked, and out of this money the required guns, ammunition and equipment will be purchased. To complete payment of the orders already given for rearming the existing batteries of field artillery with modern guns and for other needs, the entire amount of this vote for 1911-12. About seven years will be required to fully complete the organization on this plan.

"Of equal, if not of greater, importance than the subject of organization is that of training and education. There is an increasing demand on the part of officers of the militia for instruction and education, which cannot, at present, be satisfactorily met. The training and efficiency of militia officers is the first essential for the efficiency of the force itself, and the teaching can only be supplied by obtaining highly qualified men as proposed above. Their duties include lectures and theoretical instructions; supervision, under their divisional commanders of all field training, musketry, signalling and camp training."

The House of Commons put through without discussion the items of $1,325,000 for annual drill and $110,000 for allowances, with the understanding that the general condition of the militia and the selection of the Coronation contingent will be discussed later.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 14 March 2016

Army Bayonet Altered
Topic: Cold Steel

Army Bayonet Altered

Length Has Been reduced From 20 Inches to Nine

 

The Montreal Gazette, 21 April 1931
(Special Cable to The New York Times and Montreal Gazette.)

London, April 20.—Eleven inches has been taken off the length of the British Army bayonet and the soldier's load lightened by about half a pound as the result of modifications in the army rifle just approved.

The new bayonet is only nine inches long against the twenty of the present sword bayonet. The design has also been changed from a flattish blade to a sort of short, sturdy triangular prog. The Belgian bayonet is now 9 ½ inches, Italian 11 ¾ and the French and German about 15 inches long. Moreover, the accuracy of shooting is expected to be improved by the introduction of the aperture sight, instead of the V-sight hitherto exclusively used on the British Army rifle.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Offensive in War (Liddell Hart)
Topic: Military Theory

The Offensive in War

Defence the Best Strategy—True Strategy in the West

By Captain B.H. Liddell Hart
The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 October, 1939

[In the following article, Captain Liddell Hart, who has for long been regarded as one of the most brilliant military critics in Britain, examines the basic problem of modern warfare with results which both illuminate and vindicate the course taken by the Allied High Command on the Western Front.]

The idea of an irresistible offensive dominates the official doctrines of the Continental military machines which admit no aim less than that of victory achieved by the complete destruction of the opposing forces in battle.

German military literature is lit up with the theme of the "blitzkrieg"—the lightning war. The Italian military authorities made the pronouncement only a few years ago that "trench warfare is obsolete"—because "the first onslaught of tanks and fast-moving vehicles would break through trench-lines, force fighting into the open and make movements so rapid that nothing would be gained by digging new trenches." Their experience in Spain may have disillusioned them—but the military hierarchy everywhere has hitherto shown a much greater capacity for explaining away its mistakes than for overcoming more concrete obstacles.

The new Field Service Regulations of the Russian Army, issued after the Spanish War had been in progress for some time, declare: "the fundamental aim of the Soviet Union in any war which is forced upon it will be to secure a decisive victory and utterly overthrow its enemy … The enemy must be caught throughout the whole depth of his position and there encircled and destroyed. Modern technical means make possible the simultaneous defeat of the enemy along the whole of his battle front and throughout the whole depth of his position." The steam-roller of 1914 has become, in theory, the mechanized avalanche of 1939.

Limits of the Offensive

The case for the offensive is so obvious that it can be expressed briefly. Indeed, it can be epitomised in a single sentence—only by the offensive can an enemy country, or position be occupied, and its surrender compelled. It is thus the only way in which a war, or a battle, can be won in the precise sense of the term. Furthermore, the offensive has great psychological advantages as a means towards this end—because it keeps the initiative over the opposing command, and acts as a tonic to one's own troops so long as it produces result proportionate to the effort expended.

The offensive, however, is the more exhausting form of action. Nothing does more to ruin any force, or nation, then offensives which show no profit commensurate with their cost. The sands of history are littered with the wrecks of kingships which set their compass on an offensive course. Napoleon is the greatest of all these wrecks. Yet his career came to its disastrous end before the tide of the attack itself was on the ebb.

While recent wars have provided abundant examples of offensives failing, they have provided a few examples of these succeeding—up to a point. But it is difficult to find any cases where the attacker has not had an immense superiority of armament or the defender has not been in a state of declining morale from other causes. Even the best offensive technique developed from prolonged experiment in the course of the last war required a quantitative superiority of nearly three to one to make an offensive effective. There appears little likelihood of such favourable odds in the Western theatre of war. To organise and train an army primarily for the offensive is therefore to stake the national fortunes on a very dark horse.

Lessons of 1870

Soldiers who oppose the idea of defence by defence commonly support their abstract argument against it by citing the experience of the 1870 war as proof of its dangers. They assert that the French suffered defeat by adopting the defensive as a deliberate policy on the assumption that it would enable them to profit by their superior firearms, the needle-gun in particular. Even if such a belief were well founded the argument from it would not be a credit to the mental adaptability of those who employ it. For, in view of the immense development in weapons, a failure of the tactical defensive more than half a century back, even if it were true, would not be a reasonable ground for dismissing all the evidence of the power of defence under modern conditions. The weapons of 1870 were not the weapons of 1914, still less the weapons of 1939. But it is not even true that the French doctrine was defensive.

The notion that the French came to disaster by relying on the tactical defensive is merely a myth which gained currency by constant repetition on the part of the French advocates of the "offensive a outrance" during the generation which preceded the last war. The myth does not stand examination. While the German successes mere maintained merely due to strategic manoeuvre, helped by their great superiority of numbers, the French vied with them in attempting attacks—which were crushed by the superior German artillery. The actual policy which the French adopted was the tactical offensive combined with the strategic defensive—if what was really strategic paralysis caused by epidemic incompetence can be thus described. This combination was the opposite of what I suggest. Only on rare occasions did the French take up a defensive position proper, and then repulsed attacks with striking success. The disregard of these lessons by the "offensive" zealots of the next generation showed how often military theory is built on faith instead of a dispassionate analysis of facts. Likewise, the repetition of this 1870 myth as an argument to-day shows how far the case against the defensive is based on emotional repugnance rather than on scientific investigation.

A National Nightmare

Under present conditions it would be unwise for Britain and France to attempt an offensive strategy in the West, at any rate, in the early stages of the war. This should become clear when the potential strengths of the rival armies is considered, since no skill of general ship would be likely to achieve a local concentration of sufficient superiority.

In the West, the ratio of space to force is such as to offer no adequate scope for an offensive strategy against opponents who are at least equal in equipment. Battering rams also, are out of date. In face of such conditions, nothing could be more dangerous to the capacity of Britain and France than to indulge in a combined general offensive which suffered a costly repulse. In the tactical sphere, the costliest fiascoes of the last war were the attempt to carry out the old conception of a "holding attack"—in which more slender resources are used than those required for a decisive attack. By 1918, all the armies had learnt by hard experience the uselessness of this method. It would be madness to reproduce it on a greater scale in the strategic sphere.

On the other hand, the advantage of the general defensive could be enhanced, its risks diminished, and its common value increased by combining it with a "harassing offensive." This could be pursued by:—

(1)     Carrying out local or limited attacks, carefully mounted as a surprise, and with the maximum fire-power, against weak points on the main front;

(2)     Utilising artillery fire and air bombing to harass the enemy's routes of supply and rest camps;

(3)     Utilising sea power to isolate, and then to concentrate a decisive superiority of land force against detached bases and territories which the opponent cannot reinforce. As regards this, it must be appreciated, however, that a landing on a hostile shore has become almost impossible unless the defender's air force can be dominated.

Wellingtons_squares_crop_rd700px.jpg

(4)     Utilising sea power and air power combined to cause a general disturbance of the enemy's system of supply and internal life. So far as there is any scope for the offensive in modern war between more or less evenly matched opponents it seems it lie in developing such a super-guerrilla form of warfare.

Defence as Attack

Above all, it should be realised that defence is a psychological attack—on the mind and morale of the enemy's peoples. Now that professional armies have been superseded by nations in arms, these have to be convinced of the justification for the war aims of their Governments and High Commands. Nations contain far more discordant elements than professional armies, and are inherently more susceptible to internal disruption. It is easier to launch a nation into an aggressive war than to hold together its multitudinous components in a prolonged struggle, and maintain their will to continue fighting for palpably aggressive aims. If such an attack is met by attack the aggressor Government is enabled to consolidate its people by representing to them that they are fighting to defend their homes.

Such misrepresentation becomes far more difficult to maintain if the attack is met by defence. This tends to weaken the will of the enemy people, and foster unrest among them, by making it clear that their rulers are the aggressors and are responsible for keeping alight the cauldron in which the nation's manhood is consumed. This state of mind, and loss of spirit, will develop all the sooner if the offensive campaign produces no results comparable with its cost. There is nothing more demoralising to troops than to see the corpses of their comrades piled up in front of an unbroken defence, and that impression soon filters back to the people at home. Locally, where conditions are favourable, it may still be true that "attack is the best defence." But, on the whole, in a modern war of peoples a new truth is becoming apparent—that defence is the best attack.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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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

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