The Senior Subaltern; guidance for young officers

Messes and Mess Dinners

The Officers' Mess
"There is probably no subject more imposing to the new officer, or more clouded in the mysteries of implied traditions and expectations, than the Officers' Mess."
Mess Dinners
"The following provides a guide to the general procedures for mess dinners. Tradition may produce variation …"
The Subaltern's Court
"The Subalterns' Court, or Subbies' Court, was based on the young officers' collective experience with, and study of, the military justice system."
Mess Dinners; Advice for Subaltern Organizers of
So, you were moving when you should have been covering and you've been cornered by the CO or the Adjutant with those infamous words, "We'd like you to run the upcoming Mess Dinner."
In the Officers' Mess, by Alden Nowlan
"The cellophane-wrapped young technocrats, most of them graduates in engineering, have had one beer each, have applauded the old general with the fingertips of one hand …"
Entre nous … (1951)
… any young officer can eat three helpings of all courses and still leave the table hungry, there is always the possibility that you may be dining with civilians whose education may not be so advanced as to include this knowledge.
In Aid of Fewer Extras and an Easier Life in the Subalterns' Mess (1977)
A great number of new subalterns past and present have, unfortunately, learned to conduct themselves socially only after a great deal of embarrassment. This is rather a hit-and-miss way of learning to conduct yourself which is neither effective nor pleasant Unfortunately with this method in order to be corrected in regard to what you have done wrong you must first do it.

Staff Duties

Staff Duties and the Young Officer
"The line officer despises the lowly "staff officer," and rues the day he might become one himself."
How to Write Effective English
"It is a matter of fact that most writing done by Staff Officers falls short of the required standard…"
Completed Staff Work (1943)
"Completed staff work" is the study of a problem, and presentation of a solution, by a staff officer, in such form that all that remains to be done on the part of the head of the staff division, or the commander, is to indicate his approval or disapproval of the completed action.
Notes and Quotes - Staff Duties
The Senior Subaltern
"… it includes such responsibilities as advising younger officers on duties and social responsibilities …"
Advice to Officers (1782)
"A Major, for instance, will probably enjoy every Chapter except that addressed to officers of his own rank, which he will not relish at all."
Mess Rules of the Infantry School (1884)
"The commandant wishing to create and support such an establishment, in which the comfort and respectability of the officers under his command will be so much concerned, demands from all their support in carrying out the following rules."
A Few Tips for Officers, Before and After Joining (1906)
"Officers on joining should have their hair cut according to regulation. They should be particular about shaving and always neat when in uniform. They should, when speaking to the commandant, address him as "Sir"; when meeting him they should salute."
Standing Orders of The Royal Canadian Regiment (1910)
"Officers will not forget that it is due to the honour of the professions which they have selected, to set at all times an example of gentlemanlike feeling and conduct. It will be each officer's endeavour to support the high character of the service and especially to maintain the esprit de corps of the Regiment."
Standing Rules for Officers' Messes of The RCR (1913)
"At inspection dinners or luncheons all officers, married or single, must be present. The additional expenses by such inspection luncheon or dinner, including the extra cost of wines, etc consumed by the guests, will be equally defrayed by all members of the mess present and absent."
The Young Officer's Guide to Knowledge (1915)
"… contains everything essential for a young officer …"
An Open Letter to the Very Young Officer (1917)
"In the Old Army the great majority of the officers were drawn from the … combative … genus..."
The RCR, "A" Company Standing Orders - Officers (1918)
"All Officers in reporting will acquaint themselves with all orders; General, Command, Battalion and Company, also with the Officers Mess Rules …"
An Officer's Code (1925)
"His Majesty the King has done me the honour of conferring upon me a Commission as an Officer. This is the greatest honour that can be conferred upon any man."
Hints on Promotion Exams (1925)
"Lieutenants Gonwithin and Dunmore were brother subalterns in the same Company of the Blankshires, but there their equality ended."
The RCR; Rules for Officers' Messes (1927)
"Officers' Messes shall be conducted wholly in accordance with the provisions of The Kings' Regulations and orders for the Canadian Militia."
RCSI Hints for Young Officers (1931)
"The hints contained in this pamphlet are not intended to cast the least reflection on the behaviour of officers – rather are they intended to be of assistance …"
RCSI Notes on Drill (1931)
"Drill is necessary in every branch of the service."
Standing Orders of The Royal Canadian Regiment (1935)
"The following Orders are issued subject to the provisions of the King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, which it is their purpose to supplement in matters pertaining especially to The Royal Canadian Regiment."
Customs of the Service (1939)
"Every officer is expected to obey certain unwritten laws. There are no regulations or written instructions to assist the newly commissioned officer in most of these matters."
The Officer and Fighting Efficiency (1940)
"The immediate responsibility for the care and preparation of men for battle rests on the shoulders of the junior commander …"
Comrades in Arms (1942)
"Three Talks to Junior Officers or Officer Cadets to assist them in the handling of their men."
Example Standing Orders - Subalterns (1942)
"A good Senior Subaltern can save his brother subalterns a lot of trouble by a few timely words of warning, and he should not hesitate to correct and advise them whenever necessary."
Hints for Newly Commissioned Officers (1943)
"… adapted from a pamphlet produced by The Infantry School and distributed to all Officer Candidates upon completion of their training."
Hints for Junior Officers (1945)
How often in our lives have we, as officers, been faced with dreadful moments of uncertainty …
An Analysis of the Sub-Unit Commander (1949)
Enthusiasm "on the job" is absolutely essential. There can be no play acting when an officer is under the curious eyes of men who can tell easily whether their leader's enthusiasm is just being "put on" or whether it is the real thing, derived from real interest in the value of the job to be done.
Customs of the Army (1956)
"This pamphlet is intended to give an Officer Cadet about to be commissioned an idea of some of the things to look out for on joining his regiment or corps."
1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Senior Subaltern (1956)
"To assist the Senior Subaltern in his duties the following is a guide for his terms of reference."
Neptune's Notes (Undated, estimated 1950s-60s)
Guidance for young Naval Officers: "You will find that a considerable amount of space is devoted to matters of Dress, Conduct and Social Activities."
Pigs Have Wings, by Strome Galloway (1960)
"Talk of Many Things," for the Instruction of Subaltern Officers of The Canadian Guards; by Lieut.-Col. Strome Galloway, ED, CD, 1960.
Officers (1964)
"Officers should at all times treat non-commissioned officers with civility and attention, and refrain from reprimanding them in the presence of the men."
First Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment; The Sergeants' Mess - "Tips" (1971)
Every member of a Sergeants' Mess is expected to obey certain unwritten laws but there are no regulations or written instructions to assist the newly promoted senior NCO in most of these matters. This memo is intended to assist those new senior NCOs and refresh the memories of the senior and older members.
How to be a Successful Subaltern (1978)
The successful subaltern, on promotion, is perfectly placed to mount an effective assault on the somewhat tedious middle ranks of Captain, …
The RCR Regimental Standing Orders - Senior Subaltern (1992)
"The subaltern appointed unit Senior Subaltern will have status immediately following that of the junior Captain though he may not be the senior subaltern by virtue of time in rank."
What You Always Wanted to Know about Naval Tradition (But were afraid to ask) (circa 2000) (pdf); advice for Naval Officers by Captain (N) (Retired) Robert "Bob" G. Allen:
"There are three things - and only three - that are inevitable in this world. There is death, there is tax, and there is the fact that from time to time, senior naval officers and Chief Petty Officers will lament the erosion of naval ethos among more junior officers and NCMs."
The Young Officer and the NCO - Quotes

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