The Officer and Fighting Efficiency (1940)

Table of Contents - Chapter - I - II - III - IV - V - VI


The immediate responsibility for training rests on the shoulders of the sub-unit commander. It is a life and death responsibility. If he neglects it, or for any reason whatsoever proves unequal to it, his men will pay for his negligence or incapacity with their lives. It is, therefore, the imperative duty of the individual officer to spare no effort to render himself efficient and to bring his brains to bear on the 'work of training. He should for ever disabuse himself of the notion that he is performing his duty as an officer if he is content to remain an ornamental appendage to his platoon, squadron, or troop, leaving the actual direction of training to his superior officers and N.C.Os.

Again, in the dust or mud, noise and confusion, of the modern battlefield, it is the sub-unit that fights the battle. The junior officer is likely to have neither the time nor the opportunity to refer to higher authority: he will be flung back on his own resources, and depend, primarily, on the co-operation of his N.C.Os. These N.C.Os., in turn, are likely to be called upon to bear an individual burden of responsibility not less formidable than his own. Thus it is not enough that he should make himself efficient; he must demand and ensure an equal standard of efficiency from his N.C.Os.

The foundation of such efficiency, and of his ability to teach and train and develop the capabilities of his N.C.Os. and men, can only be based on knowledge; and the one hundred and forty-three questions that follow are put forward as a test of it.


1     All Arms

i.     General

1.     What do your men know about the organization and the equipment of the German Army and the men they are against? (A.T.M. No.28, Appendix E.)

2.     What do your men know about:-

i.     How we came to be at war?

ii.     German war aims?

iii.     How a German victory would affect the man in the street, e.g., his standard of living, the security of his family, his freedom of action and thought?

iv.     Why France failed?

v.     The general strategic situation?(A.T.M. No. 31. para. 16, and A.T.M. No. 80, para. 3, 2 - "Keeping the Men's Interest Alive.')

3.     How many of your men do you know by name, and what. do you know of their characters? What is their average age and service, and what part of the country, and trades, do rnost of them come from ? Do you keep a notebook containing these and other particulars?

4.     Are you satisfied that your men will come to you with their complaints and troubles, because they realize that they will get a sympathetic hearing and good advice?

5.     Are all ranks getting adequate recreational facilities? If there are no playing fields available, what steps have you taken to see that your men get interesting physical exercise?

6.     What games do you play with your men?

7.     Are you and all under your command physically fit and hard? If not, why not, and what are you going to do about it ? Do you know which of your men have been in hospital recently, and whether they. are really fit now?

8.     Do you regularly go round to your men's dining halls at meal-times, apart from your routine visit as orderly officer? Are you absolutely satisfied that there is no waste of food? (A.T.M; No. 31, Part II. para 9, 'Waste is Criminal.')

9.     Have you tested whether your men can cook in a mess tin?

10.     Do you inspect the men's billet daily? What have you done to improve them since you took over?

11.     What are the arrangements for washing men's clothes? Is the "turn round" quick enough in relation to the number of shirts, socks, etc., the men have?

12.     Are the men's arrangements for drying their clothes as good as your own?

13.     When were your men 1ast on leave? If any of them were "unlucky," what have you done about it?

14.     Which of your men are doing more work than the rest? Are you making too much use of the willing, and allowing the lazy man to slack?

15.     How are the men paid at home and in the field?

16.     Do you know of what a man's kit should consist? What have you done if a man is short of kit?

17.     Are you satisfied that all your N.C.Os. are pulling their weight? If not, what have you done about it?

18.     What steps have you taken to ensure that your sub-unit can carryon in the event of your becoming a casualty?

19.     How many N.C.Os. havc you trained to carry out the duties of one rank above their own?

20.     Are you trying to make yourself competent to take over the job of the next senior man to you?

21.     When did you last demonstrate - or get the M.O; to demonstrate - how to use a field dressing?

22.     Have you explained to your men the objects of the various phases of training you have carried out?

23.     Do you organize your training programmes so that all men on parade are usefully employed - or are many of them for a greater part of the time merely spectators?

24.     Have you done anything about A.T.M. No.29, para. 11? Are your precautions continuously under revision?

25.     Will your headquarters be functioning efficiently and smoothly by the time your collective training starts? (A.T.M. No. 30, para. 4.)

26.     What map-reading competitions have you held? (A.T.M. No, 28, Appendix C.) Can you memorize a map for use at night?

27.     What exercises have you carried out to ensure that your men are capable of keeping direction by day or by night, or in fog?

28.     What are the advantages during training of beginning night operations an hour before dawn?

29.     Who in your unit is detailed to reconnoitre and layout routes when moving into bivouac or occupying a defensive position? (A. T .M. No.25, Part II, para. 5.)

30.     What military inter sub-unit competitions have you held during the past month? (A.T.M. No.28, para. 29.) What were the views of your men on these competitions?

31.     Precisely how much of the Manual of Field Engineering (All Arms) have you studied? (A.T.M. No.31. Appendix A.)

32.     Have you fixed up a road model to teach your drivers traffic control and traffic discipline?

33.     Have you made any attempt to improvise training equipment?

34.     Why is camouflage done late more dangerous than no camouflage at all?

35.     Do you discuss difficulties and compare notes with your fellow officers? Do you pass on tips, and consider theirs? When did you last display a piece of initiative? Have you ever volunteered an original idea on training or administration and secured its adoption?

36.     Do you appreciate the fact that the instructions contained In each Army Training Memorandum apply to you personally, whatever your rank, and that it is your job to take action accordingly? Do you realize that it is your responsibility to read each Army Training Memorandum in its entirety - and not merely the paragraphs directed to your own arm?

ii.     Protection Against Gas

1.     When did you last inspect your men's respirators?

2.     One of your men comes to you and says that he is gassed. What action do you take?

3.     Do you consider that a man who becomes a gas casualty should be punished?

4.     Why is it necessary to enforce very strict gas discipline if the enemy is known to be using toxic smoke?

5.     You are in billets behind the lines, resting during a period of static warfare. What types of gas attack might be expected and what precautionary measures do you take?

6.     What types of (a) ground, (b) weather conditions militate against the use of gas by the enemy?

7.     What is the sequence to be followed for personal decontamination?

8.     What action would you take on encountering a contaminated area during an advance?

9.     What would you do with contaminated clothing?

10.     Your platoon is in a defensive position which has been subjected to gas shelling and is downwind of a heavily contaminated crater. What action would you take?

11.     What personal anti-gas equipment should each of your men have? Have they got it? If not, what have you done about it?

12.     You have been told to detail a man as a gas sentry. What are his routine orders in your sub-unit?

13.     You are in a forward position which has been subjected to a gas attack. What information would you send back?

14.     What means are available in your sub-unit to minimize the casualties incurred by infantry crossing a contaminated area?

15.     Your platoon is marching along a road and is suddenly attacked by a low-flying aircraft. What action would you take?

16.     What instructions have your men been given on the method to adopt to decontaminate the following:-

i.     A rifle?

ii.     A haversack?

iii.     The leather seat of a vehicle?

iv.     An oilskin cape, anti-gas?

v.     The tyres, track or turret of a vehicle?

vi.     Leather gloves?

vii.     A steel helmet?

vi.     A shell crater?

17.     What precautions should be taken to prevent casualties from air spray on the line of match by day and by night?

18.     Your platoon are wearing their capes in the rolled position and you suddenly discover that more than half of the men have been hit by drops of air spray. What action would you take if the drops are large - and if they are small?

19.     What special attention do eyepieces require?

2.     Royal Armoured Corps

1.     What weapons have you not yet handled?

2.     Have you lectured on all the weapons with which you should be acquainted?

3.     Have you personally calibrated guns and sights?

4.     How often do you drive the vehicles under your command? How familiar are you with the details of their construction?

5.     Do you know all the maintenance operations necessary on the engine, gearbox and clutch, transmission (including steering), suspension?

6.     Do you know all the lubrication points covered in the preceding paragraph?

7.     Have you ever traced out a mechanical fault for yourself?

8.     What routine do you follow in the inspection of a vehicle? How many inspections did you carry out last week?

9.     Can you tune in a wireless set quicker than your N.C.Os.? Have you ever replaced a valve? Can you read Morse at eight words a minute?

10.     Have you a thorough understanding of the organization of your formation - or is it rather merely a general impression? Do you know how it co-operates with other arms?

11.     How many signals can you write down now for battle drill?

12.     What tests have you undertaken for map reading in a fast moving A.F.V.?

13.     How many "B" vehicles are required to carry the food, ammunition, and petrol for your squadron or company?

14.     What is the procedure for getting spare parts or a new vehicle?

15.     Can you use hand tools well enough to check the work of the fitters?

16.     How many vehicles, wheeled and tracked, are there on the war establishment of your unit? Assuming that they all start from the same harbour and travel at the cruising speed of the slowest vehicle at a density of 20 v.t.m., how far will the leading vehicle have travelled by the time the last one is due to start? How long will it take to complete a 90 km. bound from harbour to harbour?

3.     Royal Artillery

1.     What is the ammunition echelon allotment per gun in your regiment? Where is it carried?

2.     How many vehicles are there in the L.A.D. allotted to you?

3.     How is the replacement of a damaged vehicle effected in the field ?

4.     What steps do you take to get more ammunition?

5.     Have you explained - and emphasized - to your men the methods by which the artillery support the action of other arms in attack and in defence?

6.     Do you know the M.V. of your guns? How is the figure recorded?

7.     Do you know the number of rounds each gun has fired? How is this obtained? Where is your gun history sheet?

8.     Have you explained to your troops the working of the buffer and recuperator?

9.     What are the causes and remedies for irregular recoil and run out?

10.     How often should the guns be pulled back? What record do you keep of this?

11.     Have you a lubrication chart tor your equipment?

12.     Do you keep a record for each of your vehicles showing distance travelled, average consumption of petrol, last date the sump was changed, charging and topping up of batteries?

13.     How many of your vehicles have you driven under service conditions?

14.     What is the use of a work ticket?

15.     Have you passed a laying test?

16.     How often do you test sights?

17.     What are the standard rates of fire laid down for your equipment?

18.     Have you ever - unaided - dismantled and assembled the breech mechanism and striker?

19.     Have you a list of tools and spare parts carried in your troop? When did you last check them?

20.     Could you set to work immediately to build a gun pit? What dimensions are required? How many sandbags?

21.     Can you quickly produce gun programmes from a barrage map? When did you last practise this? Do you thoroughly understand the procedure laid down in Supplement No.1 to A. T. Vol. II?

4.     Royal Engineers

1.     Do your N.C.Os. know the numbers of each type of tradesman in your section?

2.     Have you tested your N.C.Os. to find out whether they can state generally the contents of the section tools and stores trucks, and give approximate quantities of the more important items carried, e.g., entrenching too1s, explosives, etc.?

3.     What exercises have you carried out to discover whether your N.C.Os. are capable of rendering a reconnaissance report on which full action can be taken for simple field engineering tasks, such, as the demolition of a brick arch or simple steel span bridge, laying down a brigade water point, bridging a gap with a standard mobile equipment?

4.     How many of your N.C.Os. have actually organized the work on a simple engineering project, utilizing a proportion of unskilled labour from other arms, e.g., laying decauville track, strengthening a building for defence, etc.?

5.     Are your N.C.Os. capable of improvising means of getting their sub-section across a small but deep river, when no bridging, rafting, or ferrying equipment is available?

5.     Royal Corps of Signals

1.     Have you enough operators trained in signal clerks' duties, and sufficient men trained as switchboard operators, to ensure the smooth and efficient working of your signal office detachments?

2.     Do your operators observe strict wireless silence and thoroughly understand group working procedure? What are their rates? Do they all practise sending and receiving for at least four hours a week irrespective of their other training?

3.     Have you enough men trained in your section in M.T. driving to take the places of any regular drivers who become casualties?

4.     What steps have you taken to train your technically weaker N.C.Os. as efficient tradesmen?

5.     Is your section storeman the best man for the job - or is it just too much trouble to get him replaced?

6.     Do you know all the regimental signalling officers in the brigade or unit which your section serves, and do you help them with their own signal problems?

7.     Have you instructed your N.C.Os. in the system of equipment maintenance in the field, and are you aware of your responsibilities for the signal equipment of the units of the formation your section serves?

8.     Are there more Class II or Class I tradesmen in your section than in any other? What steps are you taking to achieve a higher standard of efficiency?

6.     Infantry

1.     Are you placing the necessary emphasis on training in fieldcraft, stalking. and night work? (M. T. Pamphlet No.33 and A.T .M. No.30, para. 9.)

2.     When did you last carry out a patrol exercise, and was it carried out against a "live" enemy? (A.T.M. Ko. 27, para. 19 and. A. T .M. No.28, p.ara. :29.) (N.B. - A unit untrained in night work surrenders the initiative to the enemy, and will, sooner or later, get it in the neck - in every sense of the word.) What minor indisposition must preclude a man from being warned for patrol duty?

3.     How many of your men have practised writing a legible message on a message form?

4.     Have all your platoon passed the T.O.E.T. for the weapons with which they are armed, and are the results recorded? (S.A.T ., Vol. 1, Pamphlet 18, para. 2.)

5.     What practice has your platoon had in maintaining their weapons in action in the dark?

6.     Are you confident that your men, in an emergency, will be able to make efftctive use of the bayonet?

7.     How often has your platoon put up a wire obstacle at night?

8.     Have you tried out your platoon at judging. distance?

9.     Have your men been advised of the danger of booby traps and how to avoid them? (A. T .M. No 26. para. 3.)

10.     Have you noticed any improvement in digging by night since you practised them in digging drill?

11.     Have your machine gunners the "spirit of the gun"? (A.T.M. No.31, Appendix H.)

12.     At what range should rifle sights be kept at night?

13.     What map reading tests have you undertaken recently? (A.T.M. No.27, para. 21)

14.     Do you ensure that your troops become accustomed to dealing with unexpected situations by forming, for example, a "floating enemy" to operate on the line of march with a free hand to ambush, "gas," and bomb (with fire crackers)?

15.     Have you demonstrated loopholes and their concealment, and exercised your men in spotting them?

16.     How many nights in bed between guards do your men - and N.C.Os. -average?

17.     What advantage have you taken of the opportunity - which is yours for the asking - to make out or suggest the training programme for your platoon this week, and how do you propose to improve on it next week?

18.     Are you capable of taking over the non-technical instruction given by your N.C.Os.?

19.     What steps have you taken to see that your corporal is competent to take over from your platoon serjeant?

20.     What battalion or other courses have your N.C.Os. been on, and are the N.C.Os. now used to teach the subjects they were taught?

21.     Who runs the platoon - you or your platoon serjeant?

22.     Do you know the sequence of writing orders, and have you practised it on exercises? (I.S.I..., chap. IX, sec. 58 and chap. X. sec. 65.)

23.     What are your orders to your men if an enemy comes forward to surrender?

24.     Should a sentry shoot on first sighting the enemy? If not, why not?

25.     Are you continually warning your men that, if captured and interrogated, they must answer to three questions only? (F.S.P.B., Pamphlet 3, sec. 17) Do you know what they are?

26.     Have you acquired - out of your grant - an old motor car chassis and engine parts to assist M.T. training?

27.     Have you any men in your platoon whose civil trade could obviously be better utilized by the Army? If so, what have you done about it?

28.     How many men have you earmarked in your mind for platoon runner, signaller, promotion, possible candidate for promotion?

29.     How many solid hours of work did your platoon or company put in last week? (A week is 168 hours.)

7.     Royal Army Service Corps

1.     Can you write down now the names of the N.C.Os. in charge of sections and sub-sections and the names of the units they serve? Do your N.C.Os. personally know their opposite numbers?

2.     Can your drivers find their way in the dark with no headlights or sidelights burning, and deliver to a map reference? How do you ensure that your most junior driver shall show initiative when unexpectedly called upon to work independently?

3.     If your sub-unit was suddenly called upon to perform a duty involving long hours and distances, are your vehicles and drivers capable at the moment of standing up to the task?

4.     When did you last get under a vehicle to carry out an inspection? precisely when do the drivers and section and sub-section N.C.Os. carry out their inspections?

5.     What arrangements have you made to remedy defects found on inspections? If adjustments cannot be carried out at once, how do you ensure that they are not afterwards overlooked?

6.     What is the system of replacement of spare parts and vehicles on active service?

7.     If you were detailed to choose or reconnoitre a refilling point, or a supply, petrol, or ammunition point, what would you look for?

8.     Who in your sub-unit is detailed to reconnoitre an alternative location if the one you are in becomes untenable?

8.     Royal Army Ordnance Corps


1.     Do you know the following particulars regarding the Royal Army Ordnance Corps:--

i.     Composition.

ii.     Organization of ordnance services at home and abroad.

iii.     Functions? (Ordnance Manual (War) (O.M.W.))

2.     Can you state the duties of the various services and that of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in particular? (F.S.R. Vols I and II: O.M.W.)

3.     Can you name the principal units to be found within an infantry division? (O.M.W. Table II, F.S.P.B. Pamp. 13)

4.     Are you aware of the articles constituting the full kit and equipment of men of your unit and do you know how to inspect the various stores on unit charge? (A.T.M. No.32, Appx. A.)

5.     Would you know the points to look for when inspecting the cooking arrangements of your units? (A.T.M. No.32, Appx. A.)

6.     Can you effect any improvement in the accommodation and messing of your men?

7.     Can you say that arrangements are made for the personal cleanliness of your men and the washing of their clothing?

8.     If ordered to command a draft proceeding overseas, do you know the regulations governing such procedure and are you aware of the points needing special attention? (A.T.M. No.32, Appx. A.)

9.     Are you satisfied that your P.A.D. scheme is adequate and efficient? (Specimen Standing Orders for Protection Against Gas and Air Raids in Billets, Camps and Bivouacs for all Headquarters and Units.)

10.     Have all your men fired a musketry course and have you a sufficient number of men trained to handle your anti-tank rifles and light machine guns? (S.A.T. Vol. I, Pamps. Nos. 16 and 18)

11.     Can all your officers, N.C.Os., and drivers read a map?

12.     Are your drivers practised in the art of night driving without head or side lights?

13.     Do you understand the system of pay and allowances for your men both at home and in the field? (Royal Warrant for Pay: Regs. for the Allowances of the Army)

14.     Have you got the right men in the right jobs and picked the best men for acting rank?

15.     Do you know thoroughly the system of supply in the field? (M.T .P. No.9: F.S.P.B. Pamps. Nos. 9 and 9A: O.M.W.)

16.     If you are confronted with any problem of supply, can you say which branch of the service would deal with it? (O.M.W.)

17.     Why is a divisional petrol company, R.A.S.C., important from an ordnance point of view? (M.T P. No.9, Sec. 6)

18.     Do you know what are the duties of each of your clerks and why?

19.     Do you know personally the staff and regimental officers with whom you have to deal? (O.M.W.)

20.     Do you know what R.A.O.C. formations and representatives are immediately available in the field to give assistance to units and how they are situated? (O.M.W.)

21.     Do you know the part played by:-

i.     Light Aid Detachment,

ii.     Ordnance Field Park,

iii.     Advance Ordnance Depot,

iv.     Base Ordnance Depot? (O.M.W.)

22.     Do you know how repair and recovery is carried out in the field? (O.M.W.)

23.     Do you realize your responsibility towards salvage and are you on the look-out for any use you could make of salvaged stores and equipment? (O.M.W.)

Ordnance Officers

1.     Could you take on the job of any storeman in your unit?

2.     Could you do it quicker and more efficiently than he can? If so, by what means?

3.     Are there any weak links in the accounting system of your unit? Have you taken any steps to remedy them?

4.     Can you follow the progress of an indent more quickly than any of your clerks? If not, why not?

5.     Are you conversant with the procedure in accounting, issue, and of all other R.A.O.C. Field Units? Could you quickly fit into any of these units? Do you know your own job sufficiently well to be able to administer it from a higher rank? (O.M.W.)

6.     What percentage reserves is your unit holding? What are the scales up to which stocks must be kept for the majority of your M.T. spare parts? (O.M.W.)

7.     Can you think of any new source of information helpful to Provision? What steps do you take to see that any information you acquire is brought to the right ears?

8.     Do you know the system of supply of ordnance stores from the home depot to delivery point? (F.8.R., Vol. I; O.M.W.; M.T.P. No.9)

9.     In what way does the system of transmission of ordnance stores from base to front mainly differ from that for ammunition? (O.M.W.)

10.     Are you familiar with the stores used by the units for which you are responsible?

11.     Are you aware of the deficiencies in units' equipments and what steps have you taken about them?

12.     Have you explored the possibilities of local purchase and do you know your powers in that respect? (O.M.W.)

13.     Have you studied the various appointments allotted to ordnance officers on the line of communication sufficiently well to fill anyone of these posts with confidence? (O.M.W.)

14.     Can you give the composition of the various vocabularies of army ordnance stores? (O.M.W.)

15.     Can you describe the exact procedure of the quartermaster of a unit in obtaining stores in the field from R.A.O.C.? (O.M.W.)

16.     Do you know the correct manner in which to indent for M.T. stores? (O.M.W.)

17.     Do you know with whom stocks of M.T. stores are held in forward areas and in which publications you will find information about them? (O.M.W.)

18.     Do you know what publications are issued to units in the field to assist them in demanding M.T. spares? (Notes on Ordnance Procedure)

19.     Are you familiar with the interchangeability of tires should you have to fit a tire of a slightly different size from the one already in use?

Ammunition Duties

20.     Can you identity the various types and calibres of shell by their markings? Are you aware of the categories into which ammunition is divided for storage in the field and what they consist of? (R.A.O.S. Pt. II: Text Book on Ammunition)

21.     Do you appreciate the signification of "batching" and Lot Numbers with regard to ammunition?

22.     Do you know how you should stack ammunition in the open ? (Mag. Regs. Pt. II)

Ordnance Mechanical Engineers

1.     Can your unit carry on work at night without being spotted from the air?

2.     If you are with a field workshop, is your liasion with your field park section perfect? Is there any information you can give the field park section in advance to help him get the stores or assemblies you may need?

3.     Have you got the maximum number of men, including artisans, trained in :-

i.     Driving,

ii.     Light machine gun,

iii.     Map reading,

iv.     Anti-gas duties?

4.     Do you know where to go to get information on the tactical situation, so that you can plan recovery work intelligently?

The Officer in Command of a Unit in the Field

1.     Do you and your men know how to act when subjected to air attack while on the move? If you have to stop and take cover, remember others may want to pass. (F.8.P.B. Pam. No.6, Sec. 12)

2.     When ordered to carry out reconnaissance for a new locality for a L.A.D. or, workshop unit, do you know what to look for and how best you can defeat detection from the air? (O.M.W., paras. 131 and 132)

3.     When occupying a new locality-

i.     Is there cover into which your men can get during air bombing?

ii.     Are your air sentries posted where they can get an all-round field of view?

iii.     Are your A.A. L.M.Gs. placed where they can bring fire to bear to best advantage without exposing the gun crew unnecessarily?

iv.     Are you satisfied with your plan for local defenee of your workshop?

v.     Does every man know how to act on the alarm being given?

4.     Have you made yourself acquainted with the geography of the countryside? Where roads lead to? What is the most likely line of enemy advance should he break through?

5.     In planning your defence, what are the most likely lines of advance for enemy A.F.Vs.? Try to lay an ambush for them and have roads blocks prepared so that they can be quickly placed in position and covered by fire.

6.     Have you made the best use of camouflage, both natural and artificial? Remember the danger of. tracks giving away an otherwise perfectly concealed position. (M.T.P. No.26)

Next - Chapter V

Table of Contents - Chapter - I - II - III - IV - V - VI