The Senior Subaltern; guidance for young officers

The Senior Subaltern
"… it includes such responsibilities as advising younger officers on duties and social responsibilities …"
Advice to Officers (1782)
"A Major, for instance, will probably enjoy every Chapter except that addressed to officers of his own rank, which he will not relish at all."
Mess Rules of the Infantry School (1884)
"The commandant wishing to create and support such an establishment, in which the comfort and respectability of the officers under his command will be so much concerned, demands from all their support in carrying out the following rules."
A Dozen Military Epigrams (1901)
"Strategy is the science of handling troops in the theatre of war so that they shall as often as possible be where the enemy least desires or expects them."
How The Loafer's Bred (1904)
"Cecil Rhodes once said that no son of his should ever enter the Army, as he had no wish to see him become a loafer. … In this article I intend to discuss the question of where we should lay the blame: whether upon the individual or upon the system under which the individual is trained."
The Promotion and Examination of Army Officers (1904)
"The Army Order of 15th October, 1903, … is to the effect that, in future, officers will be recommended in their annual confidential reports, either for accelerated promotion, for promotion in the ordinary course, or for their promotion to be delayed for further report."
A Few Tips for Officers, Before and After Joining (1906)
"Officers on joining should have their hair cut according to regulation. They should be particular about shaving and always neat when in uniform. They should, when speaking to the commandant, address him as "Sir"; when meeting him they should salute."
Standing Orders of The Royal Canadian Regiment (1910)
"Officers will not forget that it is due to the honour of the professions which they have selected, to set at all times an example of gentlemanlike feeling and conduct. It will be each officer's endeavour to support the high character of the service and especially to maintain the esprit de corps of the Regiment."
Standing Rules for Officers' Messes of The RCR (1913)
"At inspection dinners or luncheons all officers, married or single, must be present. The additional expenses by such inspection luncheon or dinner, including the extra cost of wines, etc consumed by the guests, will be equally defrayed by all members of the mess present and absent."
The Young Officer's Guide to Knowledge (1915)
"… contains everything essential for a young officer …"
An Open Letter to the Very Young Officer (1917)
"In the Old Army the great majority of the officers were drawn from the … combative … genus..."
Advice to a Young Officer (1917)
"A young commander should remember that in critical times the authority that emanates solely from his own personality will always be far more efficacious than that which comes from the regulations"
Battalion Duties; Officers, NCOs, and Soldiers (1917)
"Every Officer must learn the history of his Regiment and endeavour to make history for it. He must inspire his men with the desire to emulate the deeds of their predecessors."
Pleasing Infantry Brigadiers (1917)
Some of the Things That Please an Infantry Brigadier, by a Brigadier. … "A Commanding Officer who is always thinking of, and encouraging by day and night, esprit de corps in his Battalion."
Role and the Responsibilities of the CO in a Battalion Mess (1917)
"The general state and efficiency of a Regiment can be quickly gauged by the tone and bearing of its Officers when in their Mess. It is the duty of a Commanding Officer to first set the standard of life and then to insist on his Officers living up to that standard."
The RCR, "A" Company Standing Orders - Officers (1918)
"All Officers in reporting will acquaint themselves with all orders; General, Command, Battalion and Company, also with the Officers Mess Rules …"
Some Staff Duties (1923)
"We use the term [staff duties] here in its lay sense, i.e., the things a staff officer must do, and do well, the most important of which are to gain and retain the confidence of his general, and to know the troops."
An Officer's Code (1925)
"His Majesty the King has done me the honour of conferring upon me a Commission as an Officer. This is the greatest honour that can be conferred upon any man."
Hints on Promotion Exams (1925)
"Lieutenants Gonwithin and Dunmore were brother subalterns in the same Company of the Blankshires, but there their equality ended."
On Writing Appreciations (1926)
"The writing of an appreciation is looked upon by many with despair as a strange and difficult mystery, chiefly designed by examiners for the purpose of defeating candidates and requiring many years of study to master. "
The RCR; Rules for Officers' Messes (1927)
"Officers' Messes shall be conducted wholly in accordance with the provisions of The Kings' Regulations and orders for the Canadian Militia."
Morale And Leadership (1929)
"Morale, that instinct which inspires achievement as against self-preservation, is the most important factor contributing to success in war, for it increases the efficiency of a force out of all proportion to its physical strength."
RCSI Hints for Young Officers (1931)
"The hints contained in this pamphlet are not intended to cast the least reflection on the behaviour of officers – rather are they intended to be of assistance …"
RCSI Notes on Drill (1931)
"Drill is necessary in every branch of the service."
The Study of War by Junior Officers (1932)
There is no place for the mere bookworm. Let us keep in mind, therefore, throughout this talk on personal study that the goal at which we aim is men of character and sound judgment with the capacity for leadership, and not mere pundits.
Self-Training (1934)
"Training and Manoeuvre Regulations" states that "the efficiency of an army depends on the efficiency of its leaders", and again, "an officer's first duty is to fit himself to become a capable leader in war, but it is almost of equal importance that he should be an efficient instructor in peace, for it is in the training given by him to his subordinates that the efficiency of the army depends."
"The Problem of the First Ten Years" (1934)
"The first ten years of an officer's service in the Permanent Active Militia of Canada presents the problem of self-education."
Standing Orders of The Royal Canadian Regiment (1935)
"The following Orders are issued subject to the provisions of the King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, which it is their purpose to supplement in matters pertaining especially to The Royal Canadian Regiment."
Customs of the Service (1939)
"Every officer is expected to obey certain unwritten laws. There are no regulations or written instructions to assist the newly commissioned officer in most of these matters."
Drill and Discipline (1939)
"But first let us be quite clear in our minds about the word discipline, because in military parlance it has two meanings: First, the degree of compulsion required to control a soldier's behaviour in his daily life; and, second, the measures required to school that soldier into a perfect fighting unit."
Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose (1939)
"The military student, searching the pages of history for some glimmering clue to greatness, is concerned with actions, not adjectives. History is written by historians. But first it is hammered and moulded and made by leaders. If we know them, may we not, following their example, duplicate their success?"
The Officer and Fighting Efficiency (1940)
"The immediate responsibility for the care and preparation of men for battle rests on the shoulders of the junior commander …"
Officers' Mess (RCAF, 1940)
"Every officer on the training establishment or Reserve of a unit, and every officer attached thereto is to be a member of the unit mess."
Comrades in Arms (1942)
"Three Talks to Junior Officers or Officer Cadets to assist them in the handling of their men."
Example Standing Orders - Subalterns (1942)
"A good Senior Subaltern can save his brother subalterns a lot of trouble by a few timely words of warning, and he should not hesitate to correct and advise them whenever necessary."
Hints for Newly Commissioned Officers (1943)
"… adapted from a pamphlet produced by The Infantry School and distributed to all Officer Candidates upon completion of their training."
FOLLOW-ship (1943)
"He wants to follow a leader who is not afraid … not afraid of his position, not afraid of his own boss, not afraid of a tough job. not afraid of the people who work for him, not afraid of honest mistakes—either theirs or his."
Hints for Junior Officers (1945)
How often in our lives have we, as officers, been faced with dreadful moments of uncertainty …
Officer-Like Qualities (1948)
First of all, what are officer-like qualities? Let me mention some of them:— Loyalty, Honour, Truthfulness, Patience, Tact, firmness, Justice, Know ledge, Judgment, Zeal, Self-Control, Sense of Humour, Common Sense, Power of Command, Initiative, Courage—both physical and moral, Sense of Duty, and Self-Confidence.
An Analysis of the Sub-Unit Commander (1949)
Enthusiasm "on the job" is absolutely essential. There can be no play acting when an officer is under the curious eyes of men who can tell easily whether their leader's enthusiasm is just being "put on" or whether it is the real thing, derived from real interest in the value of the job to be done.
Leadership (1950)
I have chosen to speak to you on leadership but I am a little diffident for two reasons. The first is, that if anybody who has had any command talks about leadership, he is awfully inclined to talk about himself and that gets horribly boring. I shall try not to, but I probably shall.
Examination Tactics (1953)
The limitations and drawbacks of examinations are obvious to any man of practical experience. Nevertheless, there appears to be no escape from them. Without the spur of examinations, the incentive to study would decline and there would be no uniform means of making certain that candidates for promotion or for such institutions as the Staff College reached the standard required.
Officers (1954)
"An Officer is never truly supported and obeyed by his subordinates unless he is known to be determined; nor, however excellent in their respect, can he properly command men if unable to obtain their affection or incite their enthusiasm."
Customs of the Army (1956)
"This pamphlet is intended to give an Officer Cadet about to be commissioned an idea of some of the things to look out for on joining his regiment or corps."
1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Senior Subaltern (1956)
"To assist the Senior Subaltern in his duties the following is a guide for his terms of reference."
Neptune's Notes (Undated, estimated 1950s-60s)
Guidance for young Naval Officers: "You will find that a considerable amount of space is devoted to matters of Dress, Conduct and Social Activities."
Pigs Have Wings, by Strome Galloway (1960)
"Talk of Many Things," for the Instruction of Subaltern Officers of The Canadian Guards; by Lieut.-Col. Strome Galloway, ED, CD, 1960.
Leadership and Man Management (1960)
This is the text of a lecture delivered by Colonel Dextraze to the 1959 graduating class (Regular Officers Training Plan) on completion of their Phase 3 training at the Royal Canadian School of Infantry.
Officers (1964)
"Officers should at all times treat non-commissioned officers with civility and attention, and refrain from reprimanding them in the presence of the men."
First Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment; The Sergeants' Mess - "Tips" (1971)
Every member of a Sergeants' Mess is expected to obey certain unwritten laws but there are no regulations or written instructions to assist the newly promoted senior NCO in most of these matters. This memo is intended to assist those new senior NCOs and refresh the memories of the senior and older members.
2RCR Junior Officer's Handbook (1973)
The information contained in this book is promulgated for the guidance of Junior Officers in Second Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. The spirit of the subalterns must never be allowed to slip so low that failure to conduct oneself in a professional manner, as outlined in this book, should be ignored or in any way condoned.
How to be a Successful Subaltern (1978)
The successful subaltern, on promotion, is perfectly placed to mount an effective assault on the somewhat tedious middle ranks of Captain, …
Foreword to the Infantry Journal, No. 8
One of the most important yet neglected aspects of infantry training is the development of the young officer. Without well trained and dedicated officers the infantry cannot function effectively across the full spectrum of roles that we have been, or may be, tasked to carry out.
Do You Appreciate the Finer Points of Life? (1980)
"If you are totally confused, just remember; Don't put your organisations on the ground and then try to work out what their weapons can do, start at the impact end of your weapons and work back from there."
The RCR Regimental Standing Orders - Senior Subaltern (1992)
"The subaltern appointed unit Senior Subaltern will have status immediately following that of the junior Captain though he may not be the senior subaltern by virtue of time in rank."
What You Always Wanted to Know about Naval Tradition (But were afraid to ask) (circa 2000) (pdf); advice for Naval Officers by Captain (N) (Retired) Robert "Bob" G. Allen:
"There are three things - and only three - that are inevitable in this world. There is death, there is tax, and there is the fact that from time to time, senior naval officers and Chief Petty Officers will lament the erosion of naval ethos among more junior officers and NCMs."
Infantry Company Command (2016)
The following was written by an officer leaving company command in a Canadian regiment in 2016. Shared with the author's permission.
The Young Officer and the NCO - Quotes

Messes and Mess Dinners

The Officers' Mess
"There is probably no subject more imposing to the new officer, or more clouded in the mysteries of implied traditions and expectations, than the Officers' Mess."
Mess Dinners
"The following provides a guide to the general procedures for mess dinners. Tradition may produce variation …"
The Subaltern's Court
"The Subalterns' Court, or Subbies' Court, was based on the young officers' collective experience with, and study of, the military justice system."
Mess Dinners; Advice for Subaltern Organizers of
So, you were moving when you should have been covering and you've been cornered by the CO or the Adjutant with those infamous words, "We'd like you to run the upcoming Mess Dinner."
In the Officers' Mess, by Alden Nowlan
"The cellophane-wrapped young technocrats, most of them graduates in engineering, have had one beer each, have applauded the old general with the fingertips of one hand …"
Entre nous … (1951)
… any young officer can eat three helpings of all courses and still leave the table hungry, there is always the possibility that you may be dining with civilians whose education may not be so advanced as to include this knowledge.
In Aid of Fewer Extras and an Easier Life in the Subalterns' Mess (1977)
A great number of new subalterns past and present have, unfortunately, learned to conduct themselves socially only after a great deal of embarrassment. This is rather a hit-and-miss way of learning to conduct yourself which is neither effective nor pleasant Unfortunately with this method in order to be corrected in regard to what you have done wrong you must first do it.

Staff Duties

Staff Duties and the Young Officer
"The line officer despises the lowly "staff officer," and rues the day he might become one himself."
How to Write Effective English
"It is a matter of fact that most writing done by Staff Officers falls short of the required standard…"
Completed Staff Work (1943)
"Completed staff work" is the study of a problem, and presentation of a solution, by a staff officer, in such form that all that remains to be done on the part of the head of the staff division, or the commander, is to indicate his approval or disapproval of the completed action.
Military Writing (1948)
To be able to write clear and concise English is to possess a "pearl of great price." It is a sad commentary on our writing habits that all too often we are seized with a sort of mental laziness, and allow our pens to make unprofitable use of such cliches as "In the case of," or "in view of the fact that."
Thinking and Writing (1953)
The purpose of this article is to encourage career Army officers to avail themselves of every opportunity to reduce to writing their considered opinions on problems confronting them. At the outset, it should be self-evident that the ability to write in understandable language makes for clear thinking and a better Army officer.
On Writing Examinations (1954)
The intelligent allotment of time in relation to the value of the questions and the correct interpretation of the questions, are, in my opinion, the most important points. None of the points covered, however, will make up for a lack of knowledge, so back to your studies and the best of luck in your exams.
Notes and Quotes - Staff Duties