Quotes - Soldiers (page 1)

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Private soldiers [of the early 1800s] tended to mistrust those officers who had been raised from their midst, because they knew too many of the tricks of the trade. - Turner, E.S., Gallant Gentlemen: a portrait of the British Officer, 1956

The better you dress a soldier, the more highly he will be thought of by women, and consequently by himself. - Sir Garnet Wolseley, quoted in "How Not To Do It"; A Short Sermon On The Canadian Militia, 1881

Initiative is a desirable characteristic in a soldier only when its effort is concentric rather than eccentric: the rifleman who plunges ahead and seizes a point of high ground which common sense says cannot be held can bring greater jeopardy to a company than any mere malingerer. -- S.L.A. Marshall, MEN against FIRE, 1947

At one point during the winter of 1916-17, General Odlum decided to cancel the rum issue to the [11th Canadian Infantry] Brigade. Instead, the troops in the forward area were to be served hot cocoa. Now it is a fact thet the rum issue sometimes led to abuse; some soldiers got less than their share, while other managed to scrounge more and became drunk. A favourite soldier's song included the line, "Where's the Sergeant-Major? I know where he is; boozing up the privates' rum." But as can be imagined, General Odlum's innovation got minus zero in the front-line opinion polls. After a time he was overruled by the divisional commander [Major-General David Watson] , and the rum ration was restored. - Lt.-Gen. E.L.M. Burns, C.C., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., General Mud, 1970

An army that maintains its cohesion under the most murderous fire; that cannot be shaken by imaginary fears and resists well-founded ones with all its might; that, proud of its victories, will not lose the strength to obey orders and its respect and trust for its officers even in defeat; whose physical power, like the muscles of an athlete, has been steeled by training in privation and effort; a force that regards such efforts as a means to victory rather than a curse on its cause; that is mindful of all these duties and qualities by virtue of the single powerful idea of the honor of its arms - such an army is imbued with the true military spirit. - Carl Von Clausewitz, On War; ed and trans by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey), 1984

...General Headquarters decided that it was advisable to have pass-words for fighting troops, so every twenty-four hours a pass-word was issued from Brigade, who selected it. The new word commenced from the evening "Stand to," and our Brigade, the 73rd, chose the names of the officers commanding battalions at first--Greene, Mobbs Murphy, etc. On the fifth and following nights, ordinary words such as "Rabbit," "Apple," etc., were introduced.
        Some of the "old toughs," however, found some difficulty in remembering the absurd words which followed, and on one of the dark nights of this tour, seeing a man approaching me, I called out, "Halt, who goes there?" only to get the following unusual reply, "Begad, I was a rabbit last night, a spud the night afore, and I'm damned if I know what I'm meant to be at all to-night."
        It was 8645 Pte Corbally. He apologised profusely when he recognised me. I told him the pass-word, and went on my tour laughing. Corbally was a treasure. - Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., "Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915- 18, 1937

The more helpless a position in which an officer finds his men, the more it is his bounden duty to stay and share their fortune, whether for good or ill. It is because the British officer has always done so that he possesses the influence he does in the ranks of our army. The soldier has learned to feel, that come what may, he can in the direst moment of danger look with implicit faith to his officer, knowing that he will never desert him under any possible circumstances.
        It is to this faith of the British soldier in his officers that we owe most of the gallant deeds recorded in our military annals; and it is because the verdict of this Court-Martial strikes at the root of this faith, that I feel it necessary to mark officially my emphatic dissent from the theory upon which the verdict has been founded. - Sir Garnet Wolseley, in his review of the Court Martial findings of Lieutenant Harwood, quoted in Donald R. Morris, The Washing of the Spears; The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, 1965

However much we may honor the "Unknown Soldier" as the symbol of sacrifice in war, let us not mistake the fact that it is the "Known Soldier" who wins battles. Sentiment aside, it is the man whose identity is well known to his fellows who has the main chance as a battle effective. - S.L.A. Marshall, Colonel, AUS, Men against Fire; the Problem of Battle Command in Future War, 1947

The newly-arrived soldier almost invariably comes with the idea that he will be maltreated when he is learning the drill, and some of the effects I have seen are quite extraordinary. We must therefore build up the confidence of the ordinary soldier by speaking to him gently, so that he is not turned against his new condition of life from the outset. (Griesheim, C., Pflichten des Liechten Reuters, Warsaw, 1777, 206-7) - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987

Platoon Leader: "As a green second lieutenant, I got the impression somewhere that the rough, tough individuals (usually the troublemakers in the company) would necessarily be hot shots in combat ... A lot of eight balls were tolerated for that reason ... and the truth of the matter is ... your best soldiers in garrison will invariably make your best combat men ... Impress that upon your junior leaders ..." - Extracts from Combat Lessons (World War II Combat Reports) and Combat Report from Korea, [US Army] Infantry, Vol. 50, No. 2, February-March 1960.

What is the soldier? Right through the ages we see him leading the advance. Great nations are born in war and decay in peace. All that is strong, virile, and manly springs up during a great war; we could ss it but yesterday among ourselves, a whole empire gathered to meet a common enemy, each soldier possessed by one common thought--the destruction of the enemy, even at the cost of his own life. - Brevet Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, D.S.O., "Moral, Instruction and Leadership," Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXV, February to November, 1920

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