Leadership

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The following 1952 guide tells a young officer what it means to be a junior officer (i.e. Officer Cadet, 2/Lt. or Lt. or Captain). It was written by officers of the World War I and World War II generation. What expectations there are of an officer (although the male gender is used here, the female gender also applies), how to deal with his NCOs and men, how to interact with senior officers, and mess etiquette.

Some might view the booklet as "old fashioned", but good manners do not really go out of fashion, however they DO help to distinguish between a "an officer and a gentleman" and someone who simply has a commission.

When a recruit mistakenly calls an NCO "Sir", many NCOs reply "I'm not an officer, I WORK for a living!" This is a mistake. Officers work far harder than most people realize.

"Horse first, men second, officers last."

My Grandfather, (Captain) William Arnott Stevens of the 19th St. Catharines Regiment (commissioned in 1907, later the unit was renamed the 19th Lincoln Regt, and later still the Lincoln & Welland Regt. and the  Royal Flying Corps), told this to my father (Lieutenant Colonel (Pete) Arnott Hume Macgregor Stevens (Lincoln & Welland Regt.; W Force; Essex Scottish; No. 4 Commando; RCAMC; RCNR) who in turn told me. I in turn taught it to my Air Cadet NCOs and Junior Officers.

What does the saying mean? When soldiers come in from a battle or training, they should take care of their horses first in case they must suddenly go out again. [Note a well trained soldier knows that he should first clean his weapon - though not everyone in the platoon should clean his at the same time in a tactical situation in case they are attacked). Today's version of the horse is your military vehicle. Refuel, lubricate, clean, restock and prepare it to go out again in case you get a "Pull pole" (strike camp, take down tent poles) or "Move now!" order suddenly. If you have not cared for your horse/vehicle, it will break down on you just when you need it the most. 

Next the officer has to make sure that his men are taken care of - food, water, a place to sleep, dry clothes, warmth, and replenishment of their supplies such as ammunition. A good officer will do the rounds of his men to ensure that they are bedded down, have taken care of their weapons, their feet, and that they have eaten. 

Lastly, the officer. IF there is any food left over, he can now eat. IF there was not enough food, the officer goes hungry, but his men are fed. They realize that their officer is taking care of them. Imagine how they would feel if they saw their officer eating first, and then there was no food let for the men? What would that do to morale? Would they follow such an officer into battle? Would they willingly obey his orders in a life and death situation?

RHIP - "Rank Hath Its Privileges". 

It also has its obligations as the "Horses first..." quote shows.

This book contains many other valuable and timeless lessons. These tips are useful for serving personnel (Army, Navy or Air Force) as well as military re-enactors. 

Do you remember the scenes in the Officer's Mess in Cairo in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA? Obviously if he had read this booklet, he would have been spared many embarrassing moments. Another good film for understanding Officer's Mess etiquette is TUNES OF GLORY. 

Junior Officer's Guide page 1.jpg (129287 bytes) Inside front cover and page 1. 

Click on small pictures to enlarge them. 

Junior Officer's Guide pages 2-3.jpg (233230 bytes) Pages 2-3

Junior Officer's Guide pages 4-5.jpg (207485 bytes) Pages 4-5

Junior Officer's Guide pages 6-7.jpg (224358 bytes) Pages 6-7

Junior Officer's Guide pages 8-9.jpg (201923 bytes) Pages 8-9

Junior Officer's Guide pages 10-11.jpg (273764 bytes) Pages 10-11

Junior Officer's Guide pages 12-13.jpg (267026 bytes) Pages 12-13

Junior Officer's Guide pages 14-15.jpg (279207 bytes) Pages 14-15

Junior Officer's Guide page 16 and inside rear cover.jpg (106244 bytes) Page 16 and inside rear cover.

 
 
Copyright Colin Stevens Updated: August 24, 2008
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