Quotes - Regimental System, (page 1)

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And last [of the foundations and objects of the Regimental system] there is Tradition--tradition which draws its strength from a regiment's past history and which is enshrined in the uniforms, drills and customs which have been developed and cherished by past generations of fighting men. Any man must be proud of belonging to a unit with a fine tradition, and automatically he takes for himself some of the glory which has gone to make it - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


All three of these factors--the Territorial link, Tradition and the Regiment as the parent of the soldier, play a tremendous part in building up the spirit, pride, loyalty and fighting efficiency of the Army, and should on no account be sacrificed; but we must examine carefully how they are applied and to what extent they have succeeded in attaining their object under modern war conditions. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


One aspect of ... mixing of units [when casualty rates and available replacements did not align for each regiment] was that the Regimental System started to defeat its own ends. Owing to the closeness of their ties with their own regiments and their conviction that that was the best regiment in the Army, men who were suddenly drafted to another which they had been taught to believe was less good, automatically suffered a loss of morale and, in some notable cases, even refused to fight and deserted to join a battalion of their own regiment which was somewhere in the same theatre. This was a deplorable state of affairs, and happily did not occur very frequently, but it must be realized that the mixing of regiments in this way was unavoidable and was the direct result of the Regimental System as it stood. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


[The Regimental System's] greatest disadvantage, from which most of the present troubles have sprung, is the inflexibility of personnel even within such a small formation as the infantry brigade. The battalion has developed into and independent and exclusive body whose men cannot be used to make up any deficiencies elsewhere without bad psychological effects on themselves and their hosts; whereas the situation frequently demands that within the brigade, and if possible within the division too, men should be reasonably at home with any battalion.
This disability is not only confined to the psychological field; it occurs also in training because, so long as a brigade consists of three separate and quite independent battalions, so long as there will be divergencies in their training and methods and a further restriction on their flexibility.
The Germans overcame this by integrating on a higher level and centralizing basic training under the divisional staff. the reaped the benefit in the facility with which they could form ad hoc battle-groups from badly mauled units and continue to present a solid front in the way that they did in Italy or after the collapse in Normandy in 1944. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


Tradition, where it turns its eyes resolutely towards the past with too much insistence on the old and too rigid a dislike of the new, can have a strong effect by discouraging progressive thought and change. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


There can be no doubt that the aims of the original Regimental System are sound, but equally it is clear that the system itself is out of date and incapable of competing with recent developments. the system must be redesigned, brought up to date and its basis enlarged, so as once more to proportion itself to the scale of forces employed. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


Traditions must be maintained for building up the psychological background of the units, particularly where these traditions are based on recent exploits. For a unit to have fought at Alamein or Arnhem has more military value now than to have fought at Waterloo, however gallant the exploits if those bygone days may have been. Equally, the peculiarities of the modern foot-infantry or the armoured divisions or airborne divisions will engender far greater pride of regiment than perpetuation of the drills of the Fusiliers, Light Infantry or Rifle regiments whose special functions vanished in the twilight of the Nineteenth Century. Where in the course of reorganization, therefore, the question of amalgamation or disbandment of units comes up for considerations, very careful choice should be made between those whose retention is desirable on purely sentimental or historical grounds and those whose claim is based on the firmer ground of their record in the recent fighting. There are many very young units whose record should guarantee their place against all claimants in spite of their lack of historical background. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


There will inevitably be some opposition to whatever changes are proposed. The Army is naturally conservative in its outlook, and no part of it more so than the infantry with its very long history and traditions. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


There are many historical precedents for change. Before the 1914-1918 War, regiments often altered not only their names and their dress, but also their functions. The 31st Foot were at one time marines, the 87th did not become Fusiliers until 1827, the Rifle Brigade and older Light Infantry regiments were formed from heavy infantry regiments during the Napoleanic wars, and yet no-one would suggest that these changes in function or name or dress had an ill effect on the regiments themselves; indeed many of their proudest traditions date from those very changes. - Lieut.-Colonel R.J.A. Kaulback, D.S.O., p.s.c., "The Regiment", Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCI, February to November 1946


History suggests that the British Infantry may fairly claim to be second to none in staunchness and fortitude in battle: until recently at any rate regimental spirit was the characteristic feature of that infantry, every member of which was determined that his regiment should hold its ground regardless of what its neighbours might do. Is it too paradoxical to claim therefore that the success of British Infantry has been based upon the principle "Divided we stand"? - Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


The value of regimental tradition also appears in its effects upon leadership. Here again the commander of the more technical arms has an advantage; the most important part of his task is the application of principles, scientifically established and agreed upon, to a given situation which may indeed be affected by the fact that it occurs in time of war but is not radically altered thereby. Thus, in peace or war, it takes very little time for a seaman with any experience at all to sum up a new Captain: simply by observing the way he shapes he will very soon gain confidence that his commander is among those who can claim with truth, "I never run a ship ashore." Similarly it is very soon clear whether a commander of artillery or engineers is technically competent. But the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique: it consists of the application of principles, it is true, but these principles are profoundly modified by the individual commander's view of the way to apply them, in fact, by his personal character. Thus a thrusting Irishman may attack with three companies up, while a cautious Scot may prefer to commit only one company at the outset: both may succeed admirably, but it is probable that neither will have much success at all unless he has somehow gained the confidence of his men before the battle, so that every soldier will go "all out" without anxious fears of something going wrong. Such confidence is based on knowledge, and knowledge is more easily and quickly acquired if both leader and led are on the same metaphorical "wavelength" as the result of a common military culture and upbringing based on shared traditions. A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle. - Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


If the influence of regimental tradition, particularly in the case of infantry, is admitted, it is clear that it is an asset to be fostered and encouraged provided that the soldier, as a general rule, can start and continue his military career as a member of the same regiment. But if the system involves the possibility of transfer from one regiment to another of the individual soldier, not as a volunteer, but simply because of the requirements of a situation over which he has no control, then regimental tradition is just as obviously only going to prove a liability. - Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


Yet it is only human for one who is proud to belong to some perhaps ancient and honourable institution, be it a college, society, firm or regiment, to need some outlet for his pride: and this is often found to take the form of depreciatory references to a rival or neighbouring institution of the same sort. - Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


It will be a sad day and an evil day for the British Infantry if the reformers succeed in weakening or destroying the regimental tradition. - Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, 1950


Only infantry officers are qualified to express opinions on this subject. - Lieut.-Colonel B.E. Ferguson, D.S.O., O.B.E., The Black Watch, "The Case for the Regimental System," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


The machinery which runs the human side of the Army has been greatly elaborated since the War. We have now a host of departments which we did not have in 1939--Personnel Selection, 2nd Echelons, a Directorate of Manpower Planning. It is odd, therefore, why the human touch and the value of tradition cannot be made to run side by side with modern requirements, despite the difficulties in certain areas under modern conditions. We do not want beery old recruiting sergeants, with ribbons in their bonnets; we do not want glamorous posters and advertisements in the newspapers and on hoardings. We want young, smart and contented n.c.o.s going on leave and saying that their regiment is the finest on God's earth; join it and grow old in it. Much has been done in various directions for the Army since that War; but the preservation of the Regimental System is basic. - Lieut.-Colonel B.E. Ferguson, D.S.O., O.B.E., The Black Watch, "The Case for the Regimental System," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951


In the old army, a recruit's service life began in the regimental depot, where he received his basic training and was indoctrinated into his regiment. The process generally took six months and was about equally divided into training and indoctrination. In the words of Col. Ian Fraser, who commanded the Canadian Airborne Regiment in the mid-1970s, "It was really a form of brainwashing. The new soldiers memorized battle honours and the names of regimental heroes. They learned about regimental history, ceremonies, customs and traditions, music, bugle calls, order or dress, special drill movements, and all the other trappings that made each regiment in the Canadian Army unique. When they left the depot . . . the soldiers weren't prepared to admit that any other regiments even existed, much less discuss them with anything other than scorn. - David Bercuson, from "The Old Army", an extract from "Significant Incident"


Officers . . . wanted the prestige of being associated with a 'good" regiment, preferably one with its senior officers nearing retirement age. This way they stood a better chance at early promotion. "Good" meant dashing uniforms, decent postings to comfortable peacetime quarters, amiable companionship, acceptance into the highest levels of society, plus a variety of interesting soldierly activities throughout the year to prevent boredom. During wartime men might serve their King and Country, but they died for their regiments. - from "The Making of a Warrior", Land Force Staff Course handout.


The officers' mess. Everything revolved around the mess. Mess dinners. Mess social events. Mess bar. It was every regiments' central gathering place for exchanging ideas, jokes, scandals and complaints. There were happy messes, sad messes, stuffy messes and casual messes. But there were no nonalcoholic messes in the Canadian or British armies. - from "The Making of a Warrior", Land Force Staff Course handout, 1998.


...the roots of soldiering, which are these:--
(a) The soldier's pride in his own personal smartness and efficiency, and in the unit to which he belongs. Many a time in the history of our Army pride of Regiment alone has steadied men in a tight corner.
(b) Instinctive ability both to obey and to command. The soldier is always doing one or other of these, and intensive drill is the best method of accustoming a commander to impress his will upon those under him, and them to obey instinctively and smartly. .
(c) Adaptability. A soldier must instantly be ready to take orders from his commander of the moment, however frequently the hazards of battle may transfer that command; and be equally ready to take command himself should occasion arise.
(d) The sense of Order and Discipline. This enables troops to be assembled and manoeuvred rapidly and without confusion at moments of emergency.
(e) Resiliency, or quick power of recovery, which restores the morale of disorganised troops in the shortest possible time.
(i) Physical and mental endurance, which enable a soldier,
however desperate the situation, or however exhausted he may be, to carryon far beyond the limits of his normal strength and courage.
....
Such are the qualities of the true soldier; and experience has proved that they are best and most lastingly ingrained by simple routine exercises in the elements of soldiering, continually and patiently repeated. So trained, a soldier will be able, whatever the danger and distractions about him, to concentrate steadily on his duty, whether it is to lead, or follow, or act upon his own initiative. Then it is that he will appreciate the value of his early and, at times, perhaps ruthless training, for it will have made him a keen, flexible and fully tempered instrument. - "Drill and Discipline," by Major-General J.H. Beith, C.B.E., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXXXIV, February to November, 1939

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