How to be a Successful Subaltern

by “Sustainer”

Introduction - Rule No. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Rule Number 5:

Know your enemy and don't be his assistant.

The bane of every young officer's life is the extra-mural jobs that he is given on top of running I his platoon or troop. These extra-mural jobs cover a " wide range -some, such as Cricket Officer, can be fun but a job on the mess committee is another matter. ' Assistant Wines Member' is purgatory. Assistant Food Member is pure unadulterated hell.

The SS will appreciate the situation. He is doomed to be given one of these crummy jobs unless he prepares a defensive posture. He may wake up one morning and find himself titled' Assistant Wines Member'. The description 'assistant' is flagrantly misleading because he will, in fact, bear the brunt of the work. The Wines Member will doubtless be an elderly major racing towards his 35th birthday who, on the strength of two weeks spent with the US Army at Bad Krueznach (or "BK" as he revoltingly insists on calling it), is the regimental expert on Rhine and Moselle wines. He owns to knowing a bit about Coca-cola, too. The Wines Member will not be prepared to soil his hands on routine tasks such as checking the daily bar sales or stock taking. Instead he will depute these chores to his 'assistant' while he busies himself by "organising the cellar for future generations by laying down some quality". This policy involves frequent trips to London for consultations with a wine broker.

The Food Member will be the senior living-in officer. He has a friend in the ACC, has visited the ACC mess, and suffers delusions of grandeur as a result. He insists that food like that served at St Omer Barracks be reproduced by Lance Corporal Cruikshank who is still waiting to do his Bl. The Food Member will specify the exotic dishes he requires to be prepared, but will leave the budgeting to the Mess Sergeant and the Assistant Food Member. The whole mess will hate the Assistant Food Member -they always do. The attrition rate among Assistant Food Members is even now receiving attention at Army Board level. Those who haven't 'attrited' have made the supreme sacrifice and married.

It will be clear that volunteering as 'military coordinator' for the wives' club has the merit of removing our hero from a job on the mess committee, thereby saving him from either professional doom or marriage.

Next - Rule No. 6

Introduction - Rule No. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6