Compiled by S-17, C.S. Of I., Vernon, B.C.
27th Jan., 1945
How often in our lives have we, as officers, been faced with dreadful moments of uncertainty when our one wish was for the earth to open up and swallow us.
In an effort to assist young officers these embarrassing moments, these few hints have been gathered together and are offered as a guide to your correct handling of a situation.
It is the privilege of commanders to prescribe the procedures they wish carried out within their commands, be it the parade ground or the Mess, therefore, it is repeated - “THESE HINTS ARE BUT A GUIDE.”
Officers will salute all officers senior to themselves. It is not necessary, however, except on parade, for lieutenants to salute captains more often than on the first and last occasion of their meeting each day. It is essential however, for a junior officer when addressing a senior, or on being addressed, to pay the proper compliments. The senior officer on a parade must always be saluted and addressed as "Sir" regardless of rank.
Officers should bear in mind that there is only one way of saluting, i.e. the one laid down in the drill book, and any modification of it is not only slackness in the officers themselves, but reflects upon the credit of their unit. When in mufti, officers salute or return a salute, by raising their hats.
When two or more officers in a group receive a salute, it will be returned by the senior only, regardless of whether he may be in mufti while his juniors are in uniform. When a group of junior officers passes a senior officer, all will salute.
It is customary when officers of different regiments meet in uniform to greet each other, whether or not they are acquainted. If a junior officer of one unit passes a senior officer of another unit he will, of course, salute him.
When a junior officer is in command of a platoon or squad and there is a senior officer present, the senior officer will return any salutes. The only occasion when a junior officer may return any salute is when the senior has failed to notice a salute.
The officer in command of troops on the march will call them to "Attention" and give "Eyes right" (or left) when passing:-
He does not order "March at Attention" nor give "Eyes Right" but he himself salutes officers senior to himself. He pays no compliments to captains or subalterns, but he will return compliments paid to him.
He will march to "Attention" when passing other armed troops.
No compliments are paid by troops passing at night.
When "marching at ease," officers may recognize their friends and may even salute ladies but this must not be done when marching at "attention."
When a junior officer is in command of a parade and a senior officer is present, he should not march off, or dismiss, without first asking permission of the senior. If a junior officer wishes to leave a parade, he asks his immediate superior.
When an officer wishes to take an NCO or man from a formation under the command of another officer, whether or not he has been instructed to do so by higher authority, he should first ask permission of the commander of the formation to which the man belongs.
When an officer is passed by a body of troops, he should stand at "Attention" and salute its commanding officer. If the troops are carrying their colours, uncased, all ranks salute the colors at all times. Civilians should raise their hats and ladies should curtsey.
Officers should salute the coffin.
All officers should stand at "Attention" and salute when the National Anthem is being played. Other ranks stand a stand at "Attention” and do salute. It is customary to stand at “Attention” and salute for “O Canada.”
It is not customary for an officer to remove his headdress In an elevator or the lobby of an hotel.
On parade, an officer should always address other officers senior to him, Whether by rank or appointment as "Sir."
When a Subaltern is addressed on parade or referred to in an unofficial way, he is spoken of as "Mr. Smith," but in an official way he is referred to by his actual rank, i.e. "Lieutenant Smith" or "2nd Lieutenant Smith."
It is advisable to avoid addressing captains as "Captain Jones" except on parade. However, if it is desirable for any reason to address an officer by his rank, this form may be used. It is wrong to address a captain as "Captain'" without a surname.
A young Subaltern often feels diffident in addressing a senior captain with possibly 20 years service, as, say, "Huntley" without the prefix, but it is quite correct for him to do so. However, he may prefer to call him "Sir," It is then a matter for the senior to check him if he wishes to be called by his surname. In some regiments the Use of Christian names and nicknames is customary, but this should be very carefully indulged in by newly joined officers. For equals in rank, be guided by age of officers and length of acquaintance.
Field officers should be addressed as "Sir" by captains and subalterns but the title should not be labored or used so frequently as to make the conversation sound ridiculous. It is not incorrect to address a colonel or major as "Colonel" or "Major," but this habit should, as a rule, be indulged in by junior officers only when they have had considerable length of service.
Warrant officers Class I are addressed and spoken of on and off parade as "Mr." All ranks junior to him address him as "Sir."
Warrant officers Class II are addressed as "Sergeant-Major." They are also addressed as "Sir" by their juniors in rank (KR1389) (B).
Lance sergeants and Lance Corporals are always addressed and referred to as "Sergeant" or "Corporal." QMS Jones, Sgt. Smith, not "Jones or Smith."
The adjutant is the mouthpiece of the commanding officer and it is to be understood that orders issued by him are issued on behalf of the CO and are to be respected as such. He is addressed as "Sir" on parade by all below 2 i/c.
Like Gaul of ancient days, the mess is divided into three parts:
(i) It is the home of all officers
(ii) It is the club of every officer
(iii) It is the centre of social life of the camp.
On the manner in which each part is conducted, the success of the whole depends. To enable the officers' mess to function successfully, the members must conduct themselves in such a manner as not to adversely affect the efficient running of the mess.
It is necessary that all officers should be correctly dressed when outside their own living quarters. To wear dressing gowns, slippers, or "any old dress" in the mess is advertising the fact that they are lacking in ordinary good manners. Civilian clothing may not be worn by officers in camp, but recreational clothing may be worn as the circumstances require.
By his conduct in his own and other service messes an officer can bring credit to himself, and the corps to which he has the honor to belong.
Informality in messes may be carried too far on occasions. Nothing is more deplorable than to hear a junior officer being cheekily familiar with his senior officers. Parade ground manners are also out of place, but a well mannered mess is one where normal respect is shown to senior officers. It is important that officers should learn the difference between servility or fawning upon their senior officers and the ordinary courtesy due to superiors in rank.
Civility costs nothing and it might prove to be a good investment later on and is most certainly good insurance against trouble. This type of insurance was carried rather far by a very ancient man who always made a low obeisance whenever our Lord's name or Satan was mentioned in the church service. A new vicar, struck by the oddity of this and anxious to correct him, inquired after the service why he bowed when the devil was mentioned. He immediately replied: "Well, you see, I be very, very old and civility costs nothing," and after a pause, "and you never know."
If your commanding officer or any officer of corresponding rank enters the mess for the first time that day, all officers should stand and greet him and remain standing until he sits, or asks them to be seated. It is to be noted that the room is not called to "Attention" by the senior officer. The same procedure is adopted when a general officer enters the mess. The fact that officers get to their feet even in their own home, "the Mess" when their Commanding Officer enters, brings home to visitors the high standard of discipline, as well as the good manners of the officers concerned. Never fail to address your Commanding Officer as "Sir" even in the closer relationship which mess life brings to all.
The President of the Mess Committee (PMC) is appointed by the CO and is responsible to him for the conduct of the Mess.
The Mess Committee is elected by the members and assists the PMC in the operation of the mess.
Mess servants take their instructions from the PMC and members may not censure a serrvant. If they have any reason to find fault they must enter their complaint in the Complaint Book which is kept for the purpose. It is wise for junior officers not to have complaints.
Mess bills form the first claim on officers' pay and allowances. Even if indebted in other ways, an officer must invariably settle his mess bills in full by the 7th of the month.
There is nothing more enjoyable than the right drink in the right place at the right time. Choose your drink with at least the same care that you would your food. However, many officers have realized that alcohol undermines their powers of resistance, their reactions in emergency and steadiness of nerves, and have become total abstainers for the duration of the war. Their fine example and courage in maintaining their principles amongst many who openly scoff at them are to be admired and should be followed by those who have sufficient strength of character. There is no service custom which calls upon officers to offer brother officers a drink in the mess. Not only is there no such custom, but you are breaking King's Regulations by doing so. "Standing Drinks" to fellow members of the mess at any time is forbidden.
At one time when Sam Browne belts were part of an officer's fighting equipment, it was a rule that they were not worn in the mess except by the Orderly Officer. However, in most units, Sam Browne belts are now worn in the mess. Sam Browne belts are not removed in restaurants, etc.
Never listen to or indulge in loose gossip concerning women in the mess. Traditional chivalry of officers during the ages has forbidden this. It is up to you to keep this excellent custom and do not let it be said that officers of today are less chivalrous than those of the past. Discussions about politics or religion should be avoided in the mess when they are liable to arouse ill-feeling. Do not talk "shop" about routine matters although there is no objection to talking about military matters in general.
Hospitality extended to individual members by local residents and others is not infrequently returned by a garden party, dance or other social in the mess. On these occasions remember that every member of the mess is a host. It is up to each one to see that no guest is neglected. Make visitors to the mess feel at home. If they are unaccompanied, always rise to meet them when they enter the ante room, and try to entertain them until the officer they are visiting arrives. Do not spend the entire evening with your own party. Officers should see that their own guests are introduced to the senior officer and his Wife, if present, and to some of the other officers and their ladies.
Officers and their parties should arrive promptly at mess entertainments and when the function is over they should leave the premises. Everyone should say "Good-night" to the senior officer before leaving.
You have another personal responsibility. That is to remember that "by their friends ye shall know them" and pick your guests with care that will safeguard yourself and the mess from any possible adverse criticism. Only such guests should be introduced to the mess as you would invite to your own home.
No lady, unless she is an officer in the forces, may be brought into the mess, except on special occasions sanctioned by the CO.
Guests in the mess, as in the club, are not permitted to pay for anything, and they are not permitted to introduce other guests.
Breakfast and luncheon are informal meals and officers are at liberty to sit down and leave the table at their own convenience, within the time limits laid down. They must be correctly dressed.
Dinner in wartime is not, in most messes, a formal meal, but service dress should always be worn when the unit is under static conditions.
There is considerable ceremony attending "Guest Nights" and Mess Dinners and young officers should make themselves familiar with the "Regimental Customs" of the units in which they receive their commissions and be on the alert to observe the customs of any mess to which they may be attached or invited.
On "Guest Nights" all officers meet in the ante room at least fifteen minutes before dinner. In some messes it is forbidden to smoke in the ante room before dinner, but this is not general.
When dinner is announce1, the mess president says to the CO or senior guest officer, "Shall we go in?" and leads in, followed by the CO and guests. Others follow in any order.
The CO of the unit, accompanied by the senior guest, takes his place: at the centre of the table. The other guests are taken in by officers delegated by the PMC. The remaining officers enter and take their places leaving chairs at the head and foot of the table for the president and vice-president. In some messes a seating plan is arranged and is set up in the anteroom. It is the responsibility of every officer to find out exactly where he is to sit before dinner is announced. Place cards at the table will confirm each officer's appointed place at the table.
When all officers and guests are at their places, the president calls upon the padre, if any, to say Grace, and then all sit down. If there is no padre, the president may or may not say Grace, but his sitting down is the signal for all others to do so.
At the conclusion of dinner, the waiters clear the table prior to serving the "Port." Some messes still continue the custom of clearing all glasses, whether empty or not, and in such cases officers should be careful not to attempt to hold on to an unfinished drink.
The King's health may be drunk in water. (KR Can. 1009).
The port decanters are placed in front of the president and vice-president who start them around the table "clockwise." When the decanter arrives at your right hand, serve yourself (even if you don't drink port put a little in your glass) and pass it on to your left hand neighbor for him to serve himself. Never serve another person to port and never pass the decanter to your right. Also, never allow the decanter to remain in front of you. Do not drink your port until the toast has been given. In some units it is customary not to let the decanter touch the table.
When all have been served with port, and the decanters have arrived back in .front of the president and vice-president, the president stands up and says, "Mr. Vice, the King," then the vice-president stands up and says, "Gentlemen, the King," whereupon and NOT BEFORE THE VICE HAS FINISHED SPEAKING, all stand up and say, "The King." In some messes it is permissible for senior officers to add: "God bless him," but this should not be indulged in by junior officers. It is neither necessary nor desirable to drink down your full glass of port on this occasion.
Smoking is permitted only after the King's health has been drunk.
Some regiments propose a toast to the regiment a few minutes after "The King." Sometimes the senior officer proposes the toast "To Fallen Comrades" and you must watch whether it is drunk standing or sitting. This toast in invariably drunk in silence. Some Highland Regiments do not propose the toast, but a piper marches into the dining room playing a "Lament" When everyone remains seated and quiet. When the "Lament" is finished you take a small drink and remain quiet until a senior officer again commences talking.
Other toasts may follow these, according to the program, but there is not usually any particular ceremony attached to them.
When the dinner is officially over, the senior officer escorts the senior guest out of the dining room and they are followed by the other guests and then the other officers. The president or vice is the last to leave the table. Do not keep the president waiting.
When visiting other messes, be careful to watch for and conform to their "customs." Your host should introduce you to his senior officer and before leaving, you should seek him out and say "Good-Night."
After being entertained In a mess other than your own,You should leave cards for the CO and officers. Since subalterns do not use the rank lieutenant on their calling cards, it will not be necessary for newly commissioned officers. to have special cards engraved. It is quite acceptable to use civilian cards to which you may add in handwriting, under your own name, the name of your unit. You leave two cards, on one of which, on the top left hand corner, you write "The Commanding Officer, the Blankshire Regt." and on the other "The officers, the Blankshire Regt."
In accepting a formal Invitation to a mess function, the following is the correct form:
Mr. Robert Barnes
accepts with pleasure
(regrets that he cannot accept)
the kind invitation of
the Officer Commanding
and officers of
The St. Lawrence Regiment
to dine in the Mess
on Saturday, February 10th, 1940.
Montreal, February 3rd: 1940.
1. No coveralls or khaki drill Battle Dress will be worn in the Mess at anytime.
2. Meal hours are:
3. Dinner parades will be held in the Mess fortnightly on Weds. alternating between A & B Coy Messes. These parades are governed by the following rules:
(a) All Offrs. must be in the anteroom NOT later than 1850 hrs.
(b) From 1850 hrs. no games of any kind will be played.
(c) Dress - Service dress, incl. Orderly Offr.
(d) Theses parades are compulsory. Offrs. may only be excused by permission of the Comd, PMC. or Vice PMC.
(e) At the conclusion of the dinner. Offrs wishing to leave the Mess must request permission to do so. from the Senior Offr present.
4. Conduct in the Mess:
(a) All Offrs will rise when any Offr above the rank of Major enters the ante-room.
(b) Junior Offrs must at all times be respectful to Offrs of higher rank.
(c) Games of chance - The stakes for Poker will never exceed 10c ante and 10c raise. Bridge stakes will not exceed 1-20 (one twentieth). Other card games will be governed by the above stakes. Under no circumstances will games of chance played with dice, such as "crap," be played in camp. severe discipline action will be taken against Offrs not complying with these instrs.
(d) Any complaints regarding messing, service or conduct of the Mess Staff will be made directly to either the PMC, the Vice PMC, or secretary.
(e) Newspapers and periodicals will NOT be removed from the ante-room at anytime.
(f) Bar sales are on a cash basis only. No drinks are permitted to be taken from the bar to living quarters.
(g) Mess accounts will be rendered at the end of each calendar month and must be paid on or before the 7th day of the succeeding month.