Quotes - Officers (page 3)

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Food in our mess was expensive and superlative. Most of it came from Fortnum and Mason. Delicious pate and hams, gorgeous chocolate cakes and delicacies in abundance. We were always hungry and tucked in. Salmon and game in season arrived from relations, friends and well wishers. Such bounty was never to be seen again. If we lived well, why not? Our lives were most unlikely to be long. The average period of survival for a subaltern in the line was even then thought to be about three weeks before he became a casualty. Many were killed or wounded much sooner; others survived for months; very few, with charmed lives, for years. - Francis Law, A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, 1983


The shadow of preparations for the Somme fell upon us. In active training we dug trenches and in full battle order assaulted them. We were pretty heavily accoutred, even though the men's big packs and great coats were left behind at B Echelon when we went into action. In addition to rifle, bayonet and ammunition, haversack with rations, water bottle and entrenching tool, gas mask and ground-sheet, the men were also loaded up with extra Mills bombs and often (and very necessary in a captured trench) a full size shovel. Officers in the Irish Guards carried blackthorn sticks - in 1914 they had gone to France with their swords. It was not until 1917 that officers were ordered to dress like their men and carry rifles in the attack, to make them less conspicuous targets for snipers. It was a good idea in theory, but an officer's activities in the assault and subsequent consolidation inevitably marked him out, and enemy snipers were not slow to recognize him. - Francis Law, A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, 1983


In due course, my wound nearly healed, I was sent to a convalescent hospital in Suffolk run by a friend of Lady Carnarvon's. It was a large and very pleasant place, and there were few restrictions. Before long I got myself before an Army Medical Board and was pronounced fit enough to return to duty with our reserve battalion.


"In describing intellectual pursuits among officers, the intellectual officer can be distinguished from the military intellectual. The intellectual officer is the soldier who brings an intellectual dimension to his job. His intellectual quality is held in check by the needs of the profession. He sees himself primarily as a soldier, and his intellectuality is part of his belief that he is a whole man. The military intellectual is a markedly different type. Although he is a professional soldier, his attachments and identifications are primarily with intellectuals and with intellectual activities. He would have no trouble shifting from military to university life, for his orientations are essentially scholarly. He is generally denied, or unequipped, for the highest command posts, as would be the case with intellectuals in civilian society. His position is essentially advisory, but, in the military setting, the advisory post is institutionalized and accepted." - Janowitz, The Professional Soldier, p. 431., quoted in James Eayrs, In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, 1964


There was no pay for any of the Camerons of this era. All pay earned was contributed to the regimental funds in order to provide for a full-time regimental clerk.... Instead of individual pay, the [men] received street-car tickets, coffee and sandwiches.... Each [officer] had to provide himself with regular khaki and Sam Browne for normal parades and activities as well as full dress kit.... A hand-me-down deal [existed] by means of which a man could outfit himself for about one hundred dollars.... Those who kept the unit together did so at great personal cost in time and money, and . . . in the face of much public jeering at "Saturday soldiering." [R.W. Queens-Hughes, Whatever Men Dare: A History of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, 1935-1960, 1960] - James Eayrs, In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, 1964


The military code by which we live is much the same as that which guides all honourable men. The big difference lies in the consequence of observing or violating it. For the officer, the consequences go beyond the personal to affect the lives of many soldiers, the outcome of battles, and sometimes may even determine the future security of Canada. - Gen. Howard Graham, 1958


Expecting neither help nor enlightenment from this colonel from General Headquarters, Samsonov thought of him as probably just another nonentity sent to tell him the proper way to conduct the campaign. He knew in advance that he was going to dislike the new arrival, because all decent officers were serving in their regiments instead of roaming about from one headquarters to another. - Solzhenitsyn, August 1914, 1972


"Discipline is not intended to kill character, but to develop it. ... Discipline, to which officer and private alike were subjected, was, in my opinion, the only basis on which an army could be effectively trained for war." - Gen. Erich Ludendorff


Where could the ambitious young officer [of the 1750s] look for guidance? He found little to inspire him in the day-to-day regimental routine, which had its own mindless life (Puysegur, J.F., Art de guerre de principeset par regles, 2 vols., Paris, 1749, I, 76). - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987


Good officers never engage in general actions unless induced by opportunity or obliged by necessity. To distress the enemy more by famine than the sword is a mark of consummate skill.' (Lieut. John Clarke's 1767 translation of Flavius Vegetius Renatus' De Re Militari, reprinted in Phillips, 1940, 174). - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987


A loud-mouthed, profane captain who is careless in his appearance will have a loud-mouthed, profane, dirty company. Remember what I tell you. Your company will be a reflection of yourself. If you have a rotten company, it will be because you are a rotten captain. - Maj. C.A. Bach, US Army, 1917


"The success of my whole project is founded on the firmness of the conduct of the officers who will command it." - Frederick the Great, to His Generals, 1747


An ensign's usually a young gentleman who passed through all the classes of his education handsomely enough and was ripe for the university, being designed for a clergyman; but unfortunately happening to be caught abed with one of his mother's chambermaids, the scene was changed and the young spark was doomed to the army. - Edward Ward, Mars Stript of His Armour, or The Army Described in All Its True Colours, 1709


The humblest bred man who stands in the ranks of an army is as susceptible of glory, and honor, and shame, as the proudest captain that ever carried a plume. The ideas of the last century still prevail too much in the military service ... It is incompetent men alone who will treat a soldier in the ranks with contempt or cruelty. - William Duane, Adjutant General USA, in "A Handbook for Infantry," 1814


The duties of a military officer are becoming, year by year, more complex and more difficult to perform. Every progress made in the methods of war brings them more within the domain of science. The art of war has already approached the margin of the exact sciences, and the elements of the problems which war presents for solution are vastly more complex and difficult of exact measurement than those which deal with which any other branch of science has to deal. A few may, possibly, by individual exertion alone, gain a mastery of this great science, but it is only by united and harmonious effort that the many may even approach to that degree of excellence which insures success in war. - Major-General J.M. Schofield, United States Army, from the Inaugural Address to Journal of the Military Service Institute of the United States, January 11, 1879


Lord Wolseley says "An inefficient officer is a swindle upon the public." - Major-General Sir William D. Otter, K.C.B., C.V.O., The Guide: A manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry), Ninth Edition -- Revised 1914


When an officer is granted a commission in the army, he does not merely "take a job." He embarks upon a profession which demands as much study and research as any other profession. When a doctor or a lawyer obtains a degree, and sets up a practice, he cannot meet with success unless he is constantly endeavouring to gain fresh knowledge of his profession. This is just as true of a soldier. The only difference is that, whereas the doctor or the lawyer is compelled to earn his living by virtue of professional skill, a commission in the army brings with it a certain degree of social and economic security. It makes it possible for an officer to struggle through his years of service with the barest minimum of effort. - Lieut.-Colonel D.K. Palit, 9th Gurkha Rifles, The Essentials of Military Knowledge, 1953


The younger officer of today is the man who must enter eagerly into this study of war, for many others are now by negligence and complacency unfitted for the army of the future.
As a man studies he finds that he must give out the results of his study: perhaps he may be impelled to write. He then faces criticism. The experience will do him no harm for it will rid him of his complacency, the curse of our forces and the killer of men. - Lieut. General Sir Francis Tuker, K.C.I.E., C.B., D.S.O., O.B.E., The Pattern of War, 1948


James' Military Dictionary, 4th Edition (1816) gives:- "Gentlemen, a man raised above the vulgar by his character and good conduct; also one who obtains the appellation from his post or situation in life. Thus all subalterns in the army are called gentlemen;" and "Subaltern Officers are lieutenants, cornets and ensigns; and with respect to the grand total of the army, all officers under the rank of Major." - Quoted in The Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. II, No. 8, April, 1923


The Standing Orders of the 15th (King's) Hussars, printed in 1910, ... , and refer to an earlier edition dated 1800, from which the following advice to privates was reprinted for the benefit of the modern soldier: "A good soldier is obedient to his officers, regular in his quarters, attentive to the care and cleanliness of his horse, arms and appointments, and alert and exact in the discharge of every duty. It is an honour and principle, and not compulsion, that should prompt him to an observance of all these articles." - Quoted in The Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. V, No. 21 July-September 1926


Much as I approve of strict obedience to orders, even to a court martial to enquire whether the object justifies the measure--yet to say that an officer is never, for any object, to alter his orders is what I cannot comprehend. The circumstances of this war so often vary, that an officer has almost every minute to consider--what would my superiors direct did they know what is passing under my nose? - Lord Nelson to Lord Spencer, 6th November, 1799


A good officer is not afraid of anything--not even a new idea. - US Secretary of State for War, December 1941


There is a vast difference between being a staff officer and being a commander. The staff officer is never totally responsible--the commander always is. For that reason, although a good commander usually will make a good staff officer, the opposite is not necessarily true. - General J. Lawton Collins


There is among the mass of individuals who carry rifles in war, a great amount of ingenuity and initiative. If men can naturally an without restraint talk to their officers, the products of their resourcefulness becomes available to all. Moreover, out of the habit grows mutual confidence, a feeling of partnership that is the essence of esprit de corps. An army fearful of its officers is never as good as one that trusts and confides in its leaders. - Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower in 'Crusade in Europe'


Well Sir, history shows that at the start of every war we have always fought the wrong way and have had to learn from expensive failures. It is now peace; therefore the only doctrine that we can be certain is wrong is that in the text books. That is why I didn't read it last night sir. - from The Owl: Inter Service Staff College, Wellington, India, 1964


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


I went to the Staff College at Camberley in January 1920 with no claim to cleverness. I thought I had a certain amount of common sense, but it was untrained; it seemed to me that it was trained common sense which mattered.
I must admit that I was critical and intolerant; I had yet to learn that uninformed criticism is valueless. - Memoirs of Field-Marshal Montgomery, The; 1958

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