In memory of
The Wipers Times, with apologies to Captain
12th Bn. Sherwood Foresters
During the First World War a variety of short-lived but entertaining newssheets were published by units, brigades and divisions of the British Army. The best known of these is "The Wipers Times" which went through a series of name changes as its publisher changed sectors of the front. The Wipers Times provided a wonderfully cynical humour to the front line soldiers, a combination of self-deprecation and admiration that officially published sources never seem to achieve through the anal-retentive micro-management of the bureaucracy. In memory of the dedicated few who struggled to publish the Wipers Times and all similar papers, I played with the concept and, during a brief period at the Canadian Army's staff college, I wrote, edited and published "The Frontenac Times" a four-page weekly newssheet for the amusement of my fellow sufferers at the hands of our Directing Staff ("DS", who, of course often received honourable and good-natured mention in its pages.) Much of the content of The Frontenac Times, like the First War papers it imitated, was specific to the place and time, but some content has a broader context as military comment or humour, in the linked editions that follow, I offer The Frontenac Times for your perusal.
The Frontenac Times Vol. 1, No. 2 (There was no No.1)
"Inmates at the Kinston PFC (Prison for Captain’s) have been known to frequent local institutions which partake in the sale of beverages. High among the list of such places are reputed to be the Grizzly, Brandy’s, The Kingston Brewing Company and the Toucan. It’s a wonder that these establishments could survive the PFC being closed for a year. .."
"Ah, the defence. A few days in the line, a few days in reserve, and then a few behind the lines enjoying the estaminets of . . . uh, wrong war. .."
"From the bureaucracy that brought you the old raingear, velcro webbing, the Garrison Dress boot, Tan DEU (and then took it away) and the plastic rifle magazine - we present - the latest in new accoutrements - the NEW LFC COMMAND BADGE. Once again, with a new administration in house, the uniform issue falls to the top of the pile..."
"We used to wage warfare by day (from first light to last light), followed by the daily tot. During the First World War, we started to involve employing soldiers during hours of darkness to ensure they were not bored. Wiring, carrying parties and patrols were effective in maintaining morale for this purpose but few soldiers had the benefit of such QOTL (Quality of Trench Life) programs. ..."
"Ft. Riley Field Trip Report. - Last week the course had a special opportunity – eight hours on a Hercules to read their Commander Reviewed books. Well done to all for getting one more thing off the METL. While it wasn’t Italy (“When you return on the Senior course …yada -yada”), ..."
"The Army Systems Approach to Training - At least we have an approach. Now we just have to start training our leaders to train. For a ‘world class army,’ we have a somewhat disjointed approach. .."
"Tigers Can’t Live in a Box - We’ve spent
a lot of time talking about the box. But the concept of ‘the box’ is
more complex than it first appears. The ‘boxes’ are multi-layered and
concentric, they are multi-dimensional. The multi-layering and
concentricity of the boxes is like overlapping and interlocking arcs of
fire - some people cannot perceive it at all, others can visualize it
only while it is being explained, and a few cannot understand why
others cannot see it. And the box concept supports an ongoing narrowing
of minds and destruction of individuality..."
"Once more into the breach … The TCSC. Why the hell would anyone want to be here? Remember this old refrain: "When you return on the senior course, you’ll get to …" Well? Where's the promised trip to Europe? Come on, we all know that the battlefield tour was the defining drunken moment of every CSC since the College's inception..."
"Paradigm Shifts; and the Unbridled Evolution of Process - The blank stares and quizzical looks that seems to occasionally grace the visages of some of our flock make it sadly apparent exactly what the rate of change has been here in the Fort. Even the DS, who spend only a few short years in their lofty positions, and who wish us to believe that they are much too busy to see past their own in-boxes, haven’t really noticed the ripples of “Huh?” that have appeared. ..."
"There are always some conceptual hurdles with the absorption of any doctrinal philosophy. In keeping with the adage that generals, and, by extensions, their armies, train for the last war, we still tend to perceive our warfighting environment in terms of the Allied advances across Europe from the Normandy beachheads to the Rhine (setting aside, of course, those dirty attritional instances like Caen)..."
"To start by paraphrasing my esteemed peer, who good-naturedly takes a lot of grief for his energetic and voluminous contributions to the SDI fray:-- "I just have one niggling doubt." It’s been bugging me since we started the Ethics package and my mind keeps returning to the point..."
"And the over-riding question remains: "How many different campaigns and tactical situations can we make the students keep in their fore-brains at once." We all know that there is going to be a serious clash of the rising DS work-intensity curve and the falling student background knowledge curve over the next few courses..."
"When Do We Get to The Hard Stuff? - So far, it’s been doctrine this and doctrine that, we continually play inside the doctrine box which, though expanded from past years, remains a constraint nonetheless. Our tactical DIs keep pretty close to the context of the problem, we expound upon our doctrine but we do not yet challenge it. What about the tactical situations that aren’t really covered by the doctrine? ..."
"The importance of good training cannot be understated, but we continue to side-step the central issue of establishing good training development skills in our general service officers. The Canadian Army has a superb instructional methodology that has been honed to a keen edge by many generations of very professional NCOs. The Training Development Branch, created not long ago, has now evolved past being a refuge for those who couldn’t do and now provides structure and guidance over the grander schemes of training evolution and validity. But a gap remains, it is a gap as much in practice as it is, in our minds, a failure to realize that it does, in fact exist...."
"'We're all just nodes in the hierarchy.' After five thousand years of practical experience we’re now going to develop a theoretical model of command. I guess that means we’re well past the point where the guy with the biggest biceps and sharpest war-axe gets to lead our marauding band. Now, don’t mistake my views, I found that particular presentation to be one of the rare intellectually stimulating moments we’ve had, and will enjoy reading more on the subject as it becomes available..."
"Final Drive, we’ve heard so much about it. The opportunity to prove ourselves, the selective designation of certain officers to positions of responsibility which would earmark them as potential streamers, the pace, the intensity, the pressure - so, where’s the beef?..."
"It quickly became obvious to the astute that this was no ordinary group of CSC candidates. They were more mature, calmer and less self-absorbed than the usual run-of-the-mill mix. Almost noticeably absent was the usual quota of biting, scratching, knife-wielding careerists, fighting to claw their way to the top over their own peers...."
And the Guest Editorial:
"Between the LFSC and TCSC we have spent a great deal of time considering leadership and the role of the leader. We have held boisterous discussions over ethical issues and waxed philosophical over the grammar used in the definitions of command and control. These pursuits have all been entertaining and arguably hold value for our professional development, but lets do something intellectually fun for a change. SDI Question 1: "How would one go about instilling mediocrity in an Army? Be prepared to defend your views."..."
of the First World War
Now available from the
Amazon Kindle Store.
• The "Man-in-the-Dark" Theory of Infantry Tactics and the "Expanding Torrent" System of Attack, by Captain B.H. Lidell-Hart, K.O.Y.L.I.