Quotes - Regimental System, (page 2)

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Once more, there are two sorts of discipline, distinct in principle although sometimes they may overlap in practice.
The one is born in coercion and sets the soldier outside the ring of homely sentiment which surrounds the ordinary citizen from his cradle to his grave. ... Coercive as the old discipline may be, it by no means despises the moral factor. It tries to make a religion out of something very near and real, yet, at the same time, high, intangible, romantic -- the Regiment! ...
The other sort of discipline aims at raising the work-a-day virtues of the average citizen to a higher power. It depends:
(1) Upon a sense of duty (res publica).
(2) Upon generous emulation (force of example).
(3) Upon military cohesion (esprit de corps).
(4) Upon the fear a soldier has of his own conscience (fear that he may be afraid). - General Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., The Soul and Body of an Army, 1921


Thus, automatically, our Army remains brimful of esprit de corps. This spirit is not, as used to be the case in Germany, brewed by the State. Clerks in the War Office used to be always on the nibble at any speciality in custom or dress upon which corps took a particular pride. Nor, in posting to corps, did the Military Secretary treat ancestors very nicely. On the contrary three generations in a regiment count for less in the eyes of our Army Council than three miserable marks in a miserable competitive exam. Still, the spirit is brewed and flows in, so to say, on its own. Officers as well as men manage to get back into old corps in which served their fathers and grandfathers. Units have their own private gala days; uniforms and colours blossom out with roses again on each 1st of August in memory of the battle amongst the roses at Minden in 1759; badges are fixed to the back of the helmet to commemorate 1801, when cavalry were beaten off by the rear rank facing "about" instead of forming square; mourning lace is worn by the corps which took part in the burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna or of Wolfe at Quebec. In fact, in any and every possible way, tradition puts its marks upon something of which helmets, lace and nicknames are only the outward and visible signs. One way or another the roots of tradition strike down deep. The soldier feels the regiment solid about him, The Regiment! It is impossible for a foreigner to realise what that word means to a British soldier. The splendour -- the greatness -- the romance of this awe-inspiring, wonderful creation in which he himself is privileged to have his being! - General Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., The Soul and Body of an Army, 1921


Remember tradition does not mean that you never do anything new, but that you will never fall below the standard of courage and conduct handed down to you. Then tradition, far from being handcuffs to cramp your action, will be a handrail to guide and steady you in rough places. - Field Marshal Sir William Slim


I believe that five hundred new men added to an old and experienced regiment were more valuable than a thousand men in the form of a new regiment, for the former, by association with good experienced captains, lieutenants, and noncommissioned officers, soon become veterans, whereas the latter were generally unavailable for a year. - General W.T. Sherman


Loyalty
(a) Own regiment or corps. An officer must never run down his regiment or corps in the hearing of outsiders. This is being disloyal.
(b) Any other unit with which he may serve. An officer may have to serve in other units than his own and his behaviour should be the same as in his own unit.
(c) Courtesy to other regiments. Esprit de corps must not tempt the officer into running down other regiments; it is bad manners and does harm. A junior officer should keep his opinions and criticisms to himself until asked for them.
(d) The Army. Every officer must be careful not to decry the "Army" in the presence of civilians. There is a tendency to criticise the "powers that be" and, in particular, the "War Office" for any unpopular aspect of Army life. Such criticism is generally based on ignorance of the true facts and unjustified. In any case it is bad for the Army and achieves no useful purpose. - Customs of the Army, The War Office, February, 1956


The Officers' mess is not only the home of individual officers, but it is the home of the unit officers as a group. It is essential, therefore, that an officer should behave as he would wish other to behave in his own home. A great number of personal likes and dislikes must be put aside for the benefit of the Mess as a whole.
Noisy behaviour, ragging, clinking of glasses, and other forms of rowdyism in the Mess, should be avoided, especially at the Mess table. The forming of mess "cliques" should be avoided at all costs. They kill the family spirit in the Mess, besides causing a lot of bad feeling, which is very quickly evident to the rest of the unit.
An officer must realise that the habit of drinking too much is not clever, nor is it amusing for other members of the mess; it sets a very bad example. Behaviour in an Officers' Mess will very quickly become common knowledge in the unit; the Sergeants' and Corporals' Messes will model their behaviour accordingly. It is essential that the behaviour in an Officers' Mess should be exemplary, as it has a direct bearing on the discipline throughout a unit. - Customs of the Army, The War Office, February, 1956


The Tail Twisters were a most particular Regiment. Those who knew them least said that they were eaten up with 'side.' But their reserve and their internal arrangements generally were merely protec-tive diplomacy. Some five years before, the Colonel commanding had looked into the fourteen fearless eyes of seven plump and juicy subalterns who had all applied to enter the Staff Corps, and had asked them why the three stars should he, a colonel of the Line, command a dashed nursery for double-dashed bottle-suckers who put on con-demned tin spurs and rode qualified mokes at the hiatused heads of forsaken Black Regiments. He was a rude man and a terrible. Where-fore the remnant took measures [with the half-butt as an engine of public opinion] till the rumour went abroad that young men who used the Tail Twisters as a crutch to the Staff Corps had many and varied trials to endure. However, a regiment had just as much right to its own secrets as a woman. - from "Only a Subaltern," Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Would be King and other stories, 1994


When Bobby came up from Deolali and took his place among the Tail Twisters, it was gently but firmly borne in upon him that the Regiment was his father and his mother and his indissolubly wedded wife, and that there was no crime under the canopy of heaven blacker than that of bringing shame on the Regiment, which was the best-shooting, best-drilled, best-set-up, bravest, most illustrious, and in all respects most desirable Regiment within the compass of the Seven Seas. He was taught the legends of the Mess Plate, from the great grinning Golden Gods that had come out of the Summer Palace in Pekin to the silver-mounted markhor-horn snuff-mull presented by the last C. O. [he who spake to the seven subalterns]. And every one of those legends told him of battles fought at long odds, without fear as without support-, of hospitality catholic as an Arab's; of friendships deep as the sea and steady as the fighting-line; of honour won by hard roads for honour's sake; and of instant and unquestioning devotion to the Regiment- the Regiment that claims the lives of all and lives for ever.
More than once, too, he came officially into contact with the Regimental colours, which looked like the lining of a bricklayer's hat on the end of a chewed stick. Bobby did not kneel and worship them, because British subalterns are not constructed in that manner. Indeed, he condemned them for their weight at the very moment that they were filling with awe and other more noble sentiments.
But best of all was the occasion when he moved with the Tail Twisters in review order at the breaking of a November day. Allowing for duty-men and sick, the Regiment was one thousand and eighty strong, and Bobby belonged to them; for was he not a Subaltern of the Line - the whole Line, and nothing but the Line - as the tramp of two thousand one hundred and sixty sturdy ammunition boots attested? He would not have changed places with Deighton of the Horse Battery, whirling by in a pillar of cloud to a chorus of 'Strong right! Strong left!' or Hogan-Yale of the White Hussars, leading his squadron for all it was worth, with the price of horseshoes thrown in; or 'Tick' Boileau, trying to live up to his fierce blue and gold turban while the wasps of the Bengal Cavalry stretched to a gallop in the wake of the long, lollopping Walers of the White Hussars. - from "Only a Subaltern," Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Would be King and other stories, 1994


And so developed the regimental uniform in all its splendor. Initially designed for identification, it soon took on far greater significance. Rather than the defensive purpose of preventing its wearer being attacked by his own colleagues, it began to evolve as an aggressive feature of its wearer. In most cases it was cut so as to make its wearer either larger--broader or taller-- or more fearful. Its show of finery exuded confidence. It spoke for the individual within. If its regiment had won numerous battle honors, then its wearer was to be feared as belonging to a formidable force. Whether one wishes to equate developments in uniform design to the display principle of the animal world as some historians have suggested, ie. that "one threatens by making oneself bigger-- whether by raising one's hackles, wearing combs in one's hair, or putting on a bearskin" is a moot point. Certainly the "Death's head Hussars," with their skull emblems, may have thought so. Ultimately, however, bullets are unimpressed. Artillery shells are no respecters of regimental finery. - Geoffrey Regan, Fight or Flight, 1996


There are certain parallels between Sir John Cope's defeat at Prestonpans and Braddock's disaster on the Monongahela River in 1755. In both cases, the commanders underestimated their enemies, judging both Highlanders and Indians by the European standards of the day. In view of the fact that their opponents were irregular fighters of extreme savagery, both Cope and Braddock should have approached matters with greater caution. In both cases the redcoats were not the best troops of their type, both forces being prey to their own fears and magnifying the accomplishments of their enemies. The "unknown and the unexpected" easily cracked their fragile discipline, and the redcoats had nothing to fall back on, even personal initia-tive or esprit de corps. In Braddock's case the British regiments he had with him--the 44th and 48th--had lost some of their regimental spirit by dilution; they had been brought up to strength by reinforcements from other regiments--probably the men nobody else wanted--and by recruiting riffraff from among the American colonists. It was impossible to restore equilibrium to a regiment that has been treated in this way. Moreover, many of the redcoats were simple Irish lads, who found the gloomy American forest a depressing place. Their fears were fed by stories of Indians which made them seem more like fiends or monsters from children's stories. The soldiers "painted a picture" with themselves as victims. When the crisis came, and the Indians ambushed the British column, Braddock and his officers insisted on using European tactics in a North American environment. While the Indians hid behind trees, the British lined up to fire volleys. The Indians sniped their victims, the British peppered the undergrowth with bullet and shell. Those redcoats who tried to take cover were beaten back to their formal lines by their offi-cers and so were shot down by an "invisible foe." The failure of the redcoat on this occasion was a failure of pre-conception: their commander had preconceived notions on the superiority of formal discipline against informal enemies, and the soldiers themselves were fighting not human beings but the creatures their fears had fashioned. When their discipline cracked it was because beneath the drill-master's veneer there was nothing but a terrified and inadequate Irish farmboy, baffled by a situation he could never have imagined. - Geoffrey Regan, Fight or Flight, 1996


Clearly the military historian needs to beware in reading the regimental reports where the reputations of officers as well as their men are involved. - Geoffrey Regan, Fight or Flight, 1996


Comradeship and Regimental Spirit are the roots from which good morale grows. - Major-General F.M. Richardson, Fighting Spirit; A Study of Psychological Factors in War


Morale has three elements:
a. The soldier's personal or individual morale.
b. His morale as a member of a small group -- e.g., platoon.
c. The morale of the unit as a whole.
- Major-General F.M. Richardson, Fighting Spirit; A Study of Psychological Factors in War


The publication of awards [i.e., Battle Honours] to regiments for the [Second World War] will inevitably cause those "enthusiasts" who make a hobby of totting up each regiment's list to declare that this or that regiment is the "best" on active service, whatever that might mean, because it has more "names" of actions than any other regiment. It is impossible to assess the value of regiments or corps on this basis, if only for the fact that not all are granted battle honours, and never have been, although practically all are represented in every expedition of any size. There are other reasons also. Some regiments have been awarded honours when their strength at some engagements was well below 50 per cent, a fact which applies to composite battalions particularly. One Regular Regiment bears an honour though it had less than 25 per cent and no headquarters in the campaign. As already shown, honours have not been granted under identical rules, e.g., for the three days' hard fighting 16th-18th June, 1815, the solitary honour "Waterloo" was awarded, yet some quite minor affairs of a few hours' duration in the Middle and far east have been commemorated by battle honours for each. For some campaigns an honour has been granted for each separate action, and, in addition, a campaign honour, e.g., "Peninsula" and "Afghanistan, 1878-79," whereas in other campaigns no campaign honour has been awarded, e.g., Marlborough's wars, the Crimea, Indian Mutiny, Mahratta war. The mention of Marlborough's wars reminds one that no honours at all have been awarded for the concurrent operations in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession, except for the capture of Gibraltar. There are far too many variable features connected with this question to enable anything like an accurate assessment to be made. - Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R.Hist.S., "Battle Honours," The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, Volume LXXIII, January 1957


The last time Regimental Colours were carried in action was on the 26th of January, 1881, at Laing's Nek. They were carried by the old 58th Regiment, now the 2nd Bn. the Northamptonshire Regiment. Colour-bearers were always a target for the enemy's marksmen, and on this occasion the officer carrying a Colour was mortally wounded. Lieutenant Hill Walker remained behind to bring him in, and was awarded the V.C. for his gallant conduct. - Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R.Hist.S., "Some Military Customs and Survivals," The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal: Volume XXXIX, October 1939 and January 1940


"No observer with an imagination could ever doubt that the most important factor in the life of the army is the regimental spirit, which springs from regimental tradition. They (the men) know the origins of the regiment's own peculiar customs or distinctive touches on the uniform or accoutrements . . . That spirit, as a living source of strength to an army unit is more than fire power." - from The Times, quoted in Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R.Hist.S., "Regimental Customs," The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal: Volume LX (parts 1 and 2), April and July 1950; and Volume LXI (parts 3 and 4) October 1950 and January 1951


Despite the fact that an officer's spare time has been considerably reduced, only a very small proportion of the extra period spent with his Regiment is devoted to the essential side of soldiering, which is training for war. To hazard a guess, one might say that the time is divided in the following proportion:-- one-third training for war, under which may be included the study and practice in command and the training of subordinates and formations; one-third 'barrack-soldiering' or interior economy; while the remaining time is not infrequently taken up in maintaining the Army in what it tends to become, a glorified sports organization. Thus one-third of the regimental officer's time is spent in such duties as organizing the men's games, playing games with the men, teaching the men how to play games, and, worst of all, watching the men play games. Innumerable inter-company and inter-regimental competitions follow one another in never-ending array, while in the summer or Collective Training Season, these are interspersed with tattoos, horse shows, rifle meetings, and a few old favourites such as the Connaught Cup. - Lieutenant G.W. Lathbury, 43rd Light Infantry, "Wasted Time in Regimental Soldiering", Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, Vol. LXXXI, February to November 1936


The moment has arrived when, having pulled the Regimental System to pieces, constructive suggestions are required. - Lieutenant G.W. Lathbury, 43rd Light Infantry, "Wasted Time in Regimental Soldiering", Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, Vol. LXXXI, February to November 1936

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