We trained hard - but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing. And what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency, confusion and demoralization. - Gaius Petronius Arbiter, 1st Century AD (source unknown)
"A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops while . . .an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops" - General John J. Pershing
During the morning we were a silent battalion, except for snoring. Some eight-inch guns were firing about 200 yards from the hollow, but our slumbers were inured to noises which would have kept us wide awake in civilian life. We were lucky to be dry, for the sky was overcast. At one o'clock our old enemy the rain arrived in full force. Four hours' deluge left the troops drenched and disconsolate, and then Dottrell made one of his providential appearances with the rations. Dixies of hot tea, and the rum issue, made all the difference to our outlook. - Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, 1930
Officers are responsible, not only for the conduct of their men in battle, but also for their health and contentment when not fighting. An officer must be the last man to take shelter from fire, and the first to move forward. Similarly, he must be the last man to look after his own comfort at the close of a march. He must see that his men are cared for. The officer must constantly interest himself in the rations of the men. He should know his men so well that any sign of sickness or nervous strain will be apparent to him, and he can take such action as may be necessary. - George S. Patton, Jr., War as I Knew It, 1947
A good soldier has his heart and his soul in it. When he receives an order, he gets a hard-on, and when he sends his lance into the enemy's guts, he comes. - Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, (1944-45)
The heart of the matter is to relate the man to his fellow soldier as he will find him on the field of battle, to condition him to human nature as he will learn to depend on it when the ground offers him no comfort and weapons fail. Only when the human, rather than the material, aspects of operation are put uppermost can tactical bodies be conditioned to make the most of their potential unity. - S.L.A. Marshall, Colonel, AUS, Men against Fire; the Problem of Battle Command in Future War, 1947
A speech from the general, especially if he seems under no apprehension himself, may animate dejected soldiers. - Vegetius
It is necessary to know the sentiments of the soldiers on the day of an engagement. Their confidence or apprehensions are easily discovered by their looks, their words, their actions and their motions. No great dependence is to be placed on the eagerness of young soldiers for action, for the prospect of fighting is attractive to those who are strangers to it. On the other hand, it would be wrong to hazard an engagement, if old experienced soldiers testify to a disinclination to fight. A general, however, may encourage and animate his troops by proper exhortations and orations, especially if by his prophecies of a favorable result of the approaching action he can persuade them into the belief of an easy victory. - Flavius Vegetius Renatus, The Military Institutions of the Romans, translated from the Latin by Lieutenant John Clark, Military Service Publishing Co. Edition, 1944
Message: 'German attack east of St. Eloi. PPCLI relief postponed.' ... That extra sentence seemed a lot to men who had not slept for five days and there was some cursing in the darkness. Colonel Farquhar, following his usual custom of considering the front line as healthy as a village lane, appeared at the back of the trench.
'And how is the merry band of sportsmen?', he remarked cheerfully. No one had heard or noticed his approach, but the replies were ready enough.
'Going strong, sir' - 'Good for another week' - 'Enjoying ourselves, sir.'
The colonel chuckled and departed while the men looked at each other and wondered why they had answered that way. But really there was no other. - Jeffery Williams, First in the Field; Gault of the Patricias, 1995
Rifleman F. Scarbrow, 12th (Service) Battalion, The Rifle Brigade
Were we brave? I don't think we were brave. We had a job to do, and we did it. Of course, I used to be frightened sometimes, like a scared rabbit. But it was the comradeship among the troops that used to keep us going. I've never experienced anything like it before or since, and not just between the men. We had this sense of comradeship with the officers too, and apart from the major battles I had some very happy times when I was in the trenches.
I remember one night I had a touch of flu, or PUO as they used to call it, and I wasn't feeling well. Some of the boys were going out on a trench raid, and before they went over, my platoon commander, Lieutenant Arthur, took off his greatcoat and gave it to me to keep me warm, and told me to crawl into a little bivouac, lie down and try to rest. It was an hour or so before they returned. They'd had a stiff time and lost one or two chaps, but the first thing Lieutenant Arthur did when he got back into the trench was to come along to look at me and ask how I was feeling. That's the sort of comradeship we had in the battalion. It kept our morale up through all the bad times. - Lyn MacDonald, The Roses of No Man's Land, 1980
Each individual and service component has cherished beliefs and traditions about the best way to conduct military operations. To outsiders these beliefs and their associated doctrines often appear to be sacred cows, and some of them probably are. But there is no sure way to know without testing them in combat. Tradition and heritage are vital in developing unit cohesion and morale. Without cohesion men and women will not make the personal sacrifices necessary for combat success. But tradition and heritage can become irrelevant or even destructive influences if they result in a stultifying institutional mind-set. - Air Force Colonel Robert M. Chapman, Jr., quoted in David W. Lutz, Unit Cohesion and Organizational Change, 1998
Major General James Utino once said that morale exists when "a soldier thinks that his army is the best in the world, his regiment is the best in the army, his company is the best in the regiment, his squad the best in the company, and that he himself is the best damned soldier in the outfit." Our job as leaders is to foster that attitude and morale. - General Dennis J. Reimer, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, "Leadership for the 21st Century: Empowerment, Environment and the Golden Rule" - 1996 Military Review Article
May I say a few words about "morale." A good soldier's morale is something like a lady's virtue--you don't talk about it; but there has been so much said about it recently that I want to add my bit. Above all we must rid ourselves of the notion that morale is achieved by giving somebody something. Real morale is more readily achieved by depriving soldiers of something rather than giving them something. Hostesses, movies, soda fountains and what have you, have their place, but endurance of hardship, sacrifice, competition, ability to outdo another unit, the feeling of inner strength--in short, the knowledge that he is tough, hardbitten, and able to take and inflict stiff blows, gives the soldier morale, and the more he has to put up with things and overcome obstacles, the more it develops. - Honorable John J. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War, Sept. 19, 1941
Leadership and morale are not synonymous; yet they are ... inseparable ... - Lt. Col. Edward Lyman Munson, Jr., Leadership For American Army Leaders, 1942
It must be remembered that a few unsuccessful patrols have a bad effect on morale. - Current Reports From Overseas, No. 39, The War Office, 27th May 1944
MORALE is confidence in your cause;
The fundamental basis of morale is
--Confidence in weapons--
--Confidence in leadership--
--A full stomach--
- Current Reports From Overseas, No. 51, The War Office, 19th August 1944
Work defeats boredom (From an Australian report on the New Guinea fighting)
48. A busy battalion has no time to mope. No matter how inactive the operational situation may be, much can be done to maintain high morale and an offensive spirit by patrols, raids, the improvement of positions, training, range practices--in fact, by plenty of hard work. A high standard of discipline was insisted upon all times and, as a result of saluting and courtesy, a strong team spirit developed. Work, and plenty of it, is the complete answer to the fairly general belief that fighting troops suffer from tropical tiredness after twelve months. Work, interest, and insistence on efficiency will beat the tropics. - Current Reports From Overseas, No. 73, The War Office, 24th January, 1945
Factionalism among officers infested every regiment. Within the army's caste system, in which promotion could be measured in decades now that the conflict had ended, and within the intimacy of post life, human frailties of pettiness, jealousy, and resentment festered. Favoritism by a regimental commander could mean assignment to better companies, favorable recommendations, and increased opportunities for advancement. In a profession that measured authority, status, and pay by defined ranks, perceived or real preference ignited internal disputes that caused divisions among members. The effects of such internecine turmoil could weaken morale and the combat prowess of units. - Jeffrey D. Wert, Custer; The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer, 1996
No man is a leader until his appointment is ratified in the minds and hearts of his men. - Anonymous, 1948
A section, normally ten men, is the smallest infantry unit in the army and a section leader the most common casualty. A corporal gets only four dollars a month more than a private but his chances of going for the long sleep are infinitely greater (the Canadians had seven killed and wounded in the first three weeks of action). He has some of the responsibility of a commissioned officer but none of the privileges. In action, the lives of nine men depend to a great degree on what he does.
Section leaders are chosen for a variety of qualities: ability to lead, efficiency, general savvy. Cpl. Karry Dunphy, leader of No. 1 Section, No. 4 Platoon, Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was given his chance because he has a knack of keeping up morale. Although he is not yet considered a truly first-rate NCO, men will listen to him and follow him because of his personality.
Dunphy is the kind of man who emcees all battalion parties, writes a column in the battalion paper, can sing all the old army songs to the fiftieth verse and make up new ones on the spur of the moment. After taking over his section he dubbed it the Leper Colony--a steal from the movie Twelve O'Clock High, and his slogan, "Once a Leper Always a Leper," worries his officers because it tends to make Dunphy's section a tight clique within the platoon. - Pierre Berton, Corporal Dunphy's War, June 1, 1951, reprinted in Canada at War; from the archives of MacLean's, 1997
Infantry and Artillery
The better the infantry, the more it should be economized and supported by good batteries. Good infantry is without doubt the sinews of an army; but if it has to fight a long time against very superior artillery, it will become demoralized and will be destroyed. A general who is the superior tactician and more skillful that his adversary may with better infantry obtain some success during a part of the campaign even if his artillery is very inferior. But, on the decisive day of a general battle he will severely feel his inferiority in artillery. - Maxim of Napoleon