Customs of the Service
(Advice to those newly commissioned.)

by A.H.S.

Published at Aldershot, by Gale & Polden Ltd, 1939



25.     The manner in which salutes are given and acknowledged is an indication of the standard of discipline in any particular unit. It would be as well at this stage to define discipline and thereby bring home to all a realization of its importance.

Discipline is that quality which transforms a disorganized rabble into an efficient fighting force.

It is naturally distasteful to any officer that, from slackness in saluting, his own unit or, worse still, the Service to which he has the honour to belong should be looked upon by others as a “disorganized rabble.”

He will undoubtedly strive his utmost to maintain the highest standard of discipline possible, in order that his unit may fulfil the object of its creation by becoming and remaining always an efficient fighting force. The standard of saluting will indicate to what extent this has been achieved.

A salute is not an obeisance. It is a mark of respect to the authority of His Majesty The King, whose commission the officer bears, and also an expression of mutual esteem and good will.

Over a period an officer had reason to check several men for failing to salute. On each occasion he carefully explained the ancient traditions behind saluting, the respect for His Majesty The King's commission, that it was a breach of regulations to fail to salute, and furthermore it showed good relationship between officers and men, being in addition a normal method of greeting each other. To explain the latter part in simple language, he concluded with the question, “When you meet a pal, don't you say, ‘Good morning, Bill’?” When they agreed he added, “Well, that's what I mean.”

Weeks later he checked a new arrival for not saluting and as an opening to his usual lecture on tradition, etc., he said, “Do you realize all that saluting means?” To his utter amazement, the reply came: “Yes Sir, it means ‘Good morning Bill,’ Sir!”

Previous lectures or at least portions of them had obviously been in circulation and the effect on some may have been more helpful; who knows?

26.     When in uniform be meticulous at all times in saluting officers of field rank and above. It is equally important to acknowledge with a proper “full salute” all compliments paid to you by other ranks.

The occasions when you salute are clearly laid down in King's Regulations, and for the purpose of this book it is only necessary to give a general outline together with circumstances not covered by regulations.

ON PARADE, if occasion demands, in that you personally receive an order from an officer senior to you, never fail to salute.

OFF PARADE salute all field officers, senior officers in charge of troops on the march, during the National Anthem, passing a funeral and ladies of your acquaintance (never commit the unpardonable error of raising your uniform cap by mistake).

If you are with other officers, only the senior re- turns salutes and he should be on the right. If a salute is being ignored by the senior, acknowledge it yourself and inform the officer concerned that you have done so for him: it will draw his attention to the fact that he is the senior present and doubtless cause him to fulfil his obligations.

27.     It becomes a question of recognition of individuals when plain clothes are worn.

When in “mufti.” if you meet or pass a field officer, raise your hat.

If other ranks recognize you and salute, never fail to return it in the proper manner. Do not salute, touch your hat with your finger or waggle your stick, it isn't done. Raise your hat, which is the correct form of acknowledgment when you are dressed in plain clothes.

28.     If when in plain clothes you see men behaving when off in such a manner as to need reproof, it is your duty as an officer to take suitable action.

Great tact is necessary in deciding what action is most appropriate under the circumstances.

You must not lay yourself open to insult with absolutely no means of redress.

The presence of a non-commissioned officer facilitates things considerably; you can establish your identity with him and then order him to take suitable action.

Failing this, if your authority as an officer is likely to be of any use, without the danger indicated above, use it, but if not pass on. If you do decide to use it, inform the individual spoken to of your rank and name.

Never reprove or talk to a drunken man; telephone the nearest Service police if possible. The man himself may not be in a condition to understand you and aggravate his offence by using insulting language, or even worse.

29.     When you have to investigate a charge against a man for an alleged offence, remember the result of your investigations may have serious consequences later in his career; see to it that you carry it out thoroughly and conscientiously.

Leniency is permitted for a first offence of a minor nature, but make it clear that you never give a second warning and, most important of all, keep a record of the names of those you do let off in order that swift and suitable punishment follows any further offence. (Pour encourager les autres.)

When informing an accused that you find him guilty of an offence, it is customary to make him understand that he is being punished for two reasons-

(i)     Because he deserves it;

(ii)     To deter others from committing a similar offence.

Let your men enjoy to the full the privileges which the regulations permit, but immediately withdraw them for a suitable period from those who abuse them.

30.    Should you be married your wife can be of the greatest assistance to you in the background, but do not let her obtrude on Service matters. Whatever undue persuasion you may have to contend with, never discuss the details of your day's duty with your wife. Discourage discussions on purely Service matters; an officer's career can be sadly damaged by an incautious word dropped at home.