In teaching the recruits, [NCOs] must exercise all their patience, by no means abusing them, but treating them with mildness, and not expect too much precision in the first lessons, punishing those only who are willfully negligent. - Baron Von Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of The United States, 1778
[NCOs] must suppress all quarrels in the company; and where other men fail, must use their authority in confusing the offender. - Baron Von Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of The United States, 1778
[North Africa, 1943] "The fighting here was very heavy and many casualties occurred. My Sergeant was Allen Watson and he would often ask me to accompany him on patrols, these were extremely dangerous and I would not have been with anyone else. Later when I was positioned about two hundred feet up on the side of Green Hill, the Germans had launched their usual dawn attack causing many wounded, and I received a chest wound. The medical orderlies were unable to evacuate the wounded quickly as the ground was so precarious when hauling stretchers. The Company Commander therefore ordered all walking wounded to make their own way to a gully below, where they would be collected and taken to headquarters situated about a quarter of a mile away. I was bleeding rather badly so holding a field dressing to my chest I decided to make my way down to the gully. I rolled and staggered to the bottom of the hill, and then after a pause to readjust the dressing and check direction, went on my way. My progress was rather a stoop--stagger--and rest. Moving towards the headquarters I had not been mobile for long when I was abruptly halted by a roar, "Corporal Sheriff--if you can't walk in a soldierly manner--lay down!" Naturally I quickly obliged and I saw RSM Lord standing over me. As he was carrying a sten gun in his right hand I thought he might just shoot me. "What's your trouble Corporal?" he asked. I replied that I had a chest wound, hoping vainly for some show of sympathy. John Lord glanced me up and down for a brief moment then said "You haven't shaved this morning Corporal", "No sir, I admitted, "I didn't have time as the Germans attacked at dawn." There was a pause as 'J.C.' [Lord] growled that this was no excuse, but he then softened, suddenly stooped and made me comfortable and handed me a cigarette. He then went away to find a couple of men to carry me in, and still affected by the confrontation, I was laying in a position of attention and smoking by numbers when he returned. As we waited he spoke of the days gone by and of the many men of the battalion who were now missing." - Corporal Ray Sheriff, 3rdBattalion, The Parachute Regiment; quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford
At Apeldoorn, Major Frank Lindley found himself in a room with about twenty other wounded Officer POWs. He says "We were all dirty and unshaven and in various stages of dress and undress. The door opened and in came RSM John Lord, also a POW. He was dressed in immaculate battledress, trousers creased, and he had an arm supported in a snow white sling. Without a word he turned his head slowly to look at each individual in turn and then said in his brisk voice "Gentlemen, I think you should all shave!" He then turned about, stamped his foot and marched out of the room. The effect was electric. The motley group of officers Infantry, Gunners, Engineers etc. stirred themselves and started to clean themselves up. It was an unforgettable experience". - quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford
The Academy Sergeant Major was often telephoned in his office by various officers; normally the Adjutant, or Assistant Adjutant. In discussion in the Mess one day they both remarked that having announced to him who was on the telephone, there would be a short sharp swishing sound from the other end. Baffled by what it might be the Adjutant suggested that the Assistant Adjutant should position himself outside the Academy Sergeant Major's window--while he himself put through a telephone call. Later when the Assistant Adjutant reported what he had seen, it transpired that in response to the Adjutant's "Good morning Mr. Lord" the Academy Sergeant Major replied, "Good morning sir", snapped to attention and saluted! What an example of discipline." - quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford
No aspect of the reforms in the human dimensions addressed taking care of leaders or leaders taking care of themselves, though many provisions increased the stresses on them. A cohesive unit demands more of its officers and NCOs than a less tightly bonded group does. Compared to soldiers in ordinary units, members of cohesive units expect more professional expertise of their leaders, and seek continually increasing complexity and sophistication in training exercises. Soldiers in cohesive units evolve group expectations that their leaders will devote almost unlimited attention to their subordinates' personal, professional and familial welfare. Trusting and empowering subordinates can impose heavy psychological stress on leaders when they are ultimately responsible. However, stressed-out leaders need not be the price of cohesive and high performing units if those leaders enjoy the trust, respect, and support of their own superiors. - Faris R. Kirkland, Ph.D., LTC, USA-ret., Self-Care, Psychological Integrity, and Auftragstaktik, 1996
There is a saying in the Navy that if you want someone to think, ask an officer. But if you want it done, ask a chief...nicely! - Tom Clancy, Marine; A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1996
Repair and improvement of trenches was a never-ending job in the line. Much of the work of course we could only carry out at night up on the parapet, hoping that the enemy wouldn't choose that particular moment to open up. I can still see in my mind's eye the figure of one of my best sergeants, Hugh Carton, a magnificently built man, outlined against the night sky as we filled and laid sandbags, to patch up the shell-shattered parapet. Carton was a superb NCO, vibrant with life and energy - like so many more he was killed a year later on the Somme. Filling sandbags was one of the many tasks that we all, young officers, NCOs and men, did together. Anything we could scrape up in the dark went into those sandbags, which often in the Cuinchy sector included pieces of dead bodies. A unit was always judged by the standards of repair and of hygiene in which it left its trenches. Needless to say, all units grumbled at what they considered the poor state of trenches or billets which they took over from somebody else. - Francis Law, A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, 1983
Julian [Byng] was now just over twenty-one. In later life he could seldom be persuaded to speak of his experiences in war and when he did he would usually divert his questioner with a joke. Once when asked about the Battle of Tamai he told of the Irish Fusiliers who formed one side of a square against which the Dervishes were mustering for one of their desperate assaults. 'In a brogue you could cut with a knife, a brawny sergeant shouted, "Now, boys, wait for my word to fire and when I give it, aim low and imagine every man jack of them is a landlord!".' - Jeffery Williams, Byng of Vimy; General and Governor General, 1983
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. Larry 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
Rule Number 1: Know your enemy and avoid him.
The subaltern's natural adversary is, of course, the Adjutant....
Rule Number 2: Know your enemy and supervise his bath.
There are many units that employ a fifth column in the shape of a 'senior subaltern.' ...
Rule Number 3: Know your enemy and charm her.
The Commanding Officer will be married ...
Rule Number 4: Know your enemies and join them.
Passing reference has been made to the wives' club ... the [successful subaltern] offers his services to the wives' club as its 'Military Coordinator.' ...
Rule Number 5: Know your enemy and don't be his assistant.
The bane of every young officer's life is the extra-mural jobs that he is given on top of running his platoon or troop. ...
Rule Number 6: Drink water in the Sergeant's Mess. ... - Sustainer, How to be a Successful Subaltern, British Army Review, Number 60, December 1978
Any Complaints? is a military cry that few who have served in the Armed Forces of the Crown can have failed to have heard at some stage of their careers. the 95% who serve in the lower non- commissioned ranks, and feed in the "Men's Dining hall," "Cookhouse," or "Men's Mess," depending on Regimental or Service terminology, are usually far too well mannered to express their opinions to the Orderly Officer in anything but the politest terms should they feel that all is not well with the fare that is placed before them. The Orderly Officer normally is left to judge by the look of pain and astonishment in the soldiers' eyes the real depth of their feeling.
Only on rare occasions are they driven to extremes, and the morning after it became common knowledge that the butcher had cut off a finger in the brand new (and rare in the 1930s) sausage machine, their eyes spoke volumes. Confronted by a silent dining hall, every man glaring balefully at his plate, the very young Orderly Officer rashly, perhaps, enquired "What's the matter?"
"The Bangers," said a sullen voice, after a pause.
Like a ship in ful sail the Master Cook came to the rescue. raining his voice to a parade ground bellow (Cook Sergeants were Regimental NCOs in those days), he thundered"
"So you think the Butcher's finger is in the bangers do you. Well you're wrong, and if you want the proof, here it is." Delving into the copious pockets of his whites, he produced triumphantly the missing finger, intact and unminced! - James Hope, Lesser Known Regimental Records, The British Army Review, Number 30, December 1968