The Officer and Fighting Efficiency (1940)

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


Sound administration is a necessary foundation of fighting efficiency. The administrative problems of the junior officer have been discussed in general terms in earlier chapters. The one hundred and nine points listed below are intended to draw specific attention to points of detail.




(a)     Have a "cut and dried" drill. You will be less likely to overlook things. You do not want to keep men hanging about longer than is necessary.

(b)     Have the kit laid out in a uniform way so that every article is clearly visible. If necessary, have a complete specimen kit laid out for others to copy.

(c)     Neatness counts for a lot. It helps to train an orderly mind. An orderly soldier is generally a good soJdier.

(d)     Before you start, have a general look round. See that kits or beds are in line.

(e)     Every man should stand by his kit, each coming to attention as you reach him. The remainder can stand at ease.

(f)     If you are not sure what should be there, have a complete list of kit on a board to which you can refer.

(g)     Have a look at articles of clothing, i.e., shirts, socks, woollen drawers, and see if they are serviceable. A man will not march far with ill-fitting or badly darned socks.

(h)     See that boots are in good repair and the leather pliable. Make the man turn about and lift up his feet to see if the boots he is wearing are in good repair too.

(i)     If an article has been lost it is easy to say, "It is at the tailor's or shoemaker's." Satisfy yourself that this is so.

(j)     See that all cleaning kit is in gond order and complete. Boot polish and Blanco tins should be open for inspection.

(k)     Check toilet requisites. A man's personal appearance and health largely depend on them.

(l)     Every man must be jn possession of a holdall in which should be a knife, fork, and spoon; a comb, razor, shaving brush, tooth brush, and button stick. The holdall should be laid out open. See that the contents are complete, clean, and serviceable.

(m)     As every man must be prepared to do his own minor clothing repairs and darning, he must be in possession of a housewife. This should contain spare buttons, needles, thread, and darning wool. This also will be laid out open for inspection.

(n)     The mess-tin should be clean and undamaged with the cover still on it.

(o)     Check up on the oil bottle and pull-through - with complete cord, without knots. If the cord shows wear, have it exchanged.

(p)     The water bottle should be shown empty with the cork out. It should smell fresh and the cork must be serviceable.

(q)     All clothing should be folded. Pick up an article here and there and see that it is serviceable and that the buttons are secure and complete. Metal trouser buttons and those worn on battle dress are the chief offenders.

(r)     If you are satisfied after your inspection that all kit is complete, clean, and fit for active service, then you have done your job.


There are two ways of inspecting equipment.

(a)     On the man, when you can kill two birds with one stone and see that it fits correctly.

(b)     Laid out "stripped," when each article can be inspected separately.

Whichever way you adopt, you must make sure of the following points;-

(a)     Equipment complete.

(b)     All studs and clips work properly and are secure.

(c)     All articles in good state of repair and fit for active service.

(d)     Water bottles do not leak and corks fit correctly.

(e)     Gas cape in good repair.

(f)     Respirator haversack and contents complete and service- able.


The health of your men largely depends on the cleanliness and preparation of their food. Too much stress cannot therefore be laid on the careful inspection of cookhouses and their immediate surroundings. A cookhouse can be a happy breeding ground for flies if it is not kept clean. Watch the following points:-


(a)     The immediate vicinity should be clean and free from all refuse.

(b)     Drains should be clean and free from smell. A supply of disinfectant should be provided for this purpose.

(c)     Grease traps should be in working order.

(d)     See that slops and greasy water have not been thrown on the ground.

(e)     Swill tubs and ashbins should be in good repair with properly fitting lids.

(f)     See that they are emptied regularly and are not over


(a)     The floor of the cookhouse must be clean and there should be no excess water lying about after scrubbing.

(b)     Shelves, cupboards, etc., should be clean and tidy.

(c)     Windows and all fixtures should be clean and unbroken.

(d)     Scraps of food, vegetable peelings, and refuse must be placed in proper receptacles and not thrown on the floor.

(e)     Cooling appliances and utensils should be in good condition and serviceable. Report deficiencies or damage to the quartermaster.

(f)     Check any waste of fuel, i.e., petrol cookers burning when not in use.

(g)     See that all cookhouse sinks, tables, chopping blocks, pastry slabs, mincing machines, and other utensils are thoroughly clean and being made proper use of.

(k)     Pots and pans not in use should be freed from grease and placed on their side on shelves with their interior exposed to the air and view. Do not allow piles of dirty plates and dishes to remain lying about.

(i)     Food not actually being prepared should be protected from flies either in a fly-proof safe or with muslin cloth.

(j)     Cloths for covering food, and for washing and drying dishes, must be clean and not mixed up with those for handling hot and sooty dishes.

(k)     Cooks' clothing should be clean and in serviceable condition.

(l)     Clothing, other than that worn by cooks, etc., working in the cookhouse, should be kept outside on pegs provided for the purpose.

(m)     There should be a nominal roll of cooks, initialled by the medical officer as to their fitness, hung in the cookhouse.

(n)     See that there is a basin with clean water, soap, nailbrush, and clean towels for the cooks to wash their hands in. See that cooks’ hands and nails are clean.

(0)     See that the diet sheet in use is kept in the cookhouse.


The following points should be borne in mind:-

i.     Before starting your inspection you want to know what you should find in the store.

ii.     You will get thjs information from A.F .B.293, in which are shown arms, ammunition, equipment, public clothing, and barrack stores held by companies, etc. You can further check all articles issued to each man from the company arms, equipment, and bedding book, which should have a nominal roll of the company with the signature of the recipient against the articles issued. The company copy of A.F .B.293 can be cross-checked from the duplicate copy held by the quartermaster .

iii.     There should be a list and inventory of all kits and arms belonging to men admitted to hospital or of. men ordered to hand in their kit during temporary absence.

iv.     You should now have an idea of what you are likely to find in the store and it is your job to see, not only that it is there, but that it is being looked after correctly.

v.     A good storeman will take great pride in. hi& store and in the way it is kept, and should have all articles laid out to facilitate easy checking. See that this is so and that the store is clean and tidy.

vi.     Next start to check the articles on charge. You must see either the article itself or a signature for it. Do the actual counting of articles yourself. Count everything, and do not skimp, however boring the job may be.

vii.     When. things are done up in bundles said to contain so many, do not just check the numbers of bundles: make sure that they contain the correct numbers.

viii.     When counting blankets, make sure there are no "U" (unserviceable) blankets in the pile.

ix.     Are rifles or guns kept in store clean and well looked after?

x.     Check the numbers on rifles, bolts, and bayonets and see that they agree.

xi.     Have the L.M.G.s. dismantled and check the numbers on all parts and all spares to see that each gun is composed of its own parts, See that they are slightly oiled or greased.

xii.     Is the rifle oil properly stored to prevent dust and dirt getting into it.

xiii.     Is the flannelette kept clean and the issue properly controlled?

xiv.     See that officers' revolvers kept on charge are locked up in a box.

xv.     Are all valuable articles, i.e. , watches, monoculars, binoculars, instruments, etc., kept in a safe place and proof from theft and damp?

xvi.     Are respirators and anti-gas stores properly storec1 in accordance with instructions contained in Protection Against Gas and Air Raids, Pamphlet No, 2, Respirators?

xvii.     Is all leather equipment properly cared for? Leather, will perish if not looked after.

xviii.     Have a look at the washing book and see that it is properly kept up,

xix.     Check all company or platoon sports kit. See that it is properly washed and clean. Note any articles for replacement.

xx.     Go round and check all property on charge in barrack rooms, i.e., beds, biscuits, and pillows. They have a habit of wandering. This record should be shown in the company bedding book. All articles out should have the signature of the man to whom they have been issued.

xxi.     Satisfy yourself on the following points:-

(a)     Is the store free from damp?

(b)     Is the store proof against theft?

(c)     Is there a sound system for the safe custody of the keys of the store whereby dual responsibility is avoided?

xxii.     Finally put your trust in no man until you are satisfied that all IS in order. Your storeman will be the first to appreciate your thoroughness.


The following notes are not meant to amplify the very full instructions contained in Instructions for Officers Commanding Units Ordered Overseas (War) but rather to assist the officer who has to take over a draft for the first time.

i.     Report to the orderly room of the unit concerned, if possible, two or three days before the date of departure.

ii.     Ask the adjutant for a copy of Instructions for Officers Commanding Units Ordered Overseas (\\'ar). Go away and study it If there is anything about the procedure for the journey you do not understand, come back and ask him. This will save your asking a lot of questions, the answers to \\'hich arc to be found in the pamphlet. He is probably a very busy man.

iii.     Ask If you may have your prospective draft paraded at least a day before the departure in that you can get to know them and make them acquainted with some of the orders for movement by rail and sea contained in the pamphlet. In particular-

(a)     See that each man knows how to mark his own baggage and kit.

(b)     Make sure that all men have a copy of "Conduct in the event of capture."

(c)     Warn them that no cameras may be taken on the journey.

(d)     Warn them against points contained under heading of "Train discipline." (Appendix III to pamphlet.)

(e)     Explain P.A.D. and A.R.P. instructions. (Appendix III to pamphlet.)

iv.     Find out number of N .C.Os. proceeding with the draft. If none, arrange for appointment of acting N.C.Os. by the unit concerned.

v.     Arrange to meet the senior N.C.O. If he is an old soldier, he may be able to help you. Go through the orders of the move with him.

vi.     Ask him to pick you out a suitable man for your batman. He can mark your baggage and look after it during the journey.

vii.     If time permits, arrange with the unit for kit and equipment inspections. Ensure that each N .C.O. and man has his A.B.64 completed to date.

viii.     Arrange that an advance of pay is made just before the final parade.

ix.     See that the rations, as laid down in Appendix I to pamphlet, have been arranged for.

x.     Acquaint yourself with orders for dispatch of baggage and kit.

xi.     Ask adjutant for:-

(a)     Train timings and railway warrants.

(b)     Documents in connection with draft. (Sec. 7 of pamphlet.)

(c)     Cash entitlements for meals on route.

(d)     Time draft is parading for departure.

xii.     Check with station master or R.T.0. time of departure of train and changes (if any) en route.

xiii.     Send N.C.O. ahead to exchange warrant for tickets.

xiv.     Make sure that roll is called and that all men on your nominal roll are present.

xv.     If there is an O.C. train, report to him on arrival at the station. From then on you come under his orders.

xvi.     If not already done, arrange to take over troops' accommodation in conjunction with the railway authorities, noting any damages, and allot troops to compartments. If available, an N.C.O. should travel in each compartment. Remind your draft that no one will leave his carriage without orders.

xvii.     Finally, remember that every move must be carried out as an operation of war. See P .A.D. Instructions, Appen- dix III to pamphlet.


Before the move-

i.     The men's clothing and equipment must be in good condition and complete in all essentials. To ensure this an early kit inspection may be necessary.

ii.     Boots and socks must be comfortable and in good condition.

iii.     Equipment must be properly fitted and comfortable.

iv.     Deficiencies must be made good. Follow them up yourself and do not be content until replacements are forthcoming. The lack of a knife or mess tin may prevent the man from getting properly fed.

v.     The men must know how and where to pack all the small items which they should carry.

vi.     Is a hot meal or haversack ration being issued during the day? If the latter, has it been cut up ready for issue to each man? If food is to be carried in bulk, have arrangements been made to pack it properly so that it will not become dirty or broken ?

vii.     The truck must be properly loaded with its correct contents.

viii.     You must tell the men as much about the move as the dictates of secrecy will permit. Their destination, time of next meal, etc.

ix.     The billets or bivouac you vacate and the surroundings must be left scrupulously clean and tidy.

On the move-

x.     Men should be encouraged to sing on the march.

xi.     March discipline must be strict. You must set an example.

xii.     Water bottle discipline must be strict. In the absence of orders you must insist upon self restraint.

xiii.     Men must loosen their equipment and sit or lie down at halts; if possible, raising their feet.

xiv.     At a long halt for rest and food, you must see that the men are fed before you get your own food. See that latrines are available.

After the move (immediately)-

xv.     See to protective measures.

xvi.     Find out about the men's billeting or bivouac accommodation. Area they comfortable?

xvii.     Do they all know the location of the latrines?

xviii.     See them started on a meal before you get your own.

xix.     If their clothes are wet, make arrangements for drying them.

xx.     Tell them where they can go, and when.

xxi.     If you have a detachment, arrange for a guide who knows the way to accompany any party taking out meals.

After the move (later)-

xxii.     Carry out a foot inspection.

xxiii.     If there are men on night duty, make sure a hot drink. See that a roster is arranged.

Next - Chapter VI

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