battlefield commissions - fact & fiction

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Glesga_short_bloke, Oct 27, 2009.

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  1. This started of as a conversation about the recent Star Trek film. A friend moaned about the end of the film - where Kirk saves the day (natch) and is promoted to Captain of the Enterprise

    She moaned that it was "unrealistic". Which is saying something considering its a Star Trek film?!

    I've countered that not only is it a plot device but it's not a new one.

    * Sharpe: battlefield commission to Ensign. Over time he's brevetted to several ranks and ends up as a brevetted LtColonel
    * Empire Strikes Back - Captain Piett is field promoted by Vader to Admiral
    * Starship Troopers - Rico is field promoted through 3 non-com ranks before making Lieutenant
    * Forever War by Joe Haldeman - Mandella is promoted from Privet through to Major
    * Hornblower commanded a ship as an Acting Lieutenant

    But there's real life evidence too. Sadly all that springs to mind is Audie Murphy - brevetted through numerous ranks and finally confirmed as Lt

    Can you chaps supply a list of similar 'real' persons?

    I'm gonna ask this same question in the Books & Lit section to add some more fictional weight
  2. Air vice marshal Sir Ivor Broome, went to Malta as Sgt Pilot within six months was sqn leader as all other senior pilots were dead
  3. Carwood Lipton. Easy Company, 501st.
  4. Hell's teeth - Roll-on, death, promotion's too slow.
  5. He was in RAF Aldergrove in 1970 doing somthing with the Phantoms that were being converted to Brit standard, and spoke to me as we were both Welsh, Me from Cardiff ,he was from the Rhonnda, Porth I think
  6. As they say - 'You're only one bullet away from a promotion'
  7. The late David Hackworth (US Army) was battlefield commissioned as a Sergeant whilst in Korea. Ended up as a full Colonel.

    His autobiography makes it clear that men commissioned in that way usually had a short life-span.
  8. In WW1, there was probably no finer example than Roland Bradford VC MC of the DLI; 2nd Lt on the outbreak of war, a temporary Lt Col and acting Brigadier General by the time he was killed in Nov 1917 aged 25... He may well have never achieved a substantive rank higher than Lt, though I am not sure of this.
  9. Albert Jacka started off in WWI as a Private in Gallipoli. A VC and MC & Bar later, and quite a few casualties, he ended the war a Captain.
  10. Major Richard 'Dick' Meadows US Special Forces officer. He received a battlefield commission to Captain in 1967. He planned and participated in the Son Tay prison raid in 1970.

    Dick did some time with the SAS during the Radfan campaign and was well known and highly respected by a lot of UK soldiers. He features in a photograph in Ken Connor's book - Ghost Force'.

    He had a very exacting military and post military career.

    He died ten years ago of leukemia. They put up a statue to him in Ft. Dill.
  11. My great grandfather during WW2. I have his medals somewhere and the first one his rank is PTE, the next is CPL and the third LT I seem to recall.
  12. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Sub Lt Bertie Packer (later an admiral) was given immediate promotion to Lt for his performance in charge of a turret on board HMS Warspite at Jutland. This is different from dead men's shoes promotions to fill vacancies or the process in both world wars where all sorts of people were promoted up from the ranks and reached quite high levels (like Enoch Powell who finished the war as a brigadier, or the actor Peter Bull (see another thread) whop joined as an Ordinary Seaman in Jan 1941 and by the end of 1944 was a Ty/A/Lt Cdr). One of my great-uncles was commanding a bn in 1918 (as A/Major) when his substantive seniority was 1 yr as Lt. Another 1918 bn CO, Lt Col Wilfrid Elstob VC, had been a peaceful schoolmaster four years before.

    As to Top Badger's comment, the naval toast for Thurday nights is 'A bloody war and a sickly season.'
  13. Lieut. Col. Wilfrith Elstob, whose last words to his Brigade Commander were: ‘The Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last…Here we fight, and here we die.’

    He did.
  14. slightly deviation here but not many do it the other way round, (apart from Lawrence I guess...... and the HAC).........

    Major-General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC; now there was a boy.

    Hobart was born in India and his sister later married Montgomery. He was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers. In 1923s, foreseeing the predominance of tank warfare, Hobart volunteered to be transferred to the Royal Tank Corps. While there, he gained the nickname "Hobo", and was greatly influenced by the writings of B. H. Liddell Hart on armoured warfare.

    In 1938, Hobart was sent to form and train "Mobile Force (Egypt)" although a local general resisted his efforts. While sometimes referred to as the "Mobile Farce" by critics, Mobile Force (Egypt) survived and later became the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats.

    Wavell dismissed Hobart into retirement in 1940, based on hostile War Office information due to his "unconventional" ideas about armoured warfare.

    Hobart joined the Local Defence Volunteers (precursor to the Home Guard) as a lance-corporal and was charged with the defence of his home village, Chipping Campden. "At once, Chipping Campden became a hedgehog of bristling defiance", and Hobart was promoted to become Deputy Area Organiser.

    Liddell Hart criticised the decision to retire Hobart and wrote an article in the newspaper Sunday Pictorial. Winston Churchill was notified and he had Hobart re-enlisted into the army in 1941. Hobart was assigned to train 11th Armoured Division. His detractors tried again to have him removed, this time on medical grounds, but Churchill rebuffed them. Subsequently, however, he was removed from the 11th Armoured when they were transferred to Tunisia in September 1942. He was relatively old (57) for active command and he had been ill.

    Once again, Hobart was assigned to raise and train a fresh armoured division, this time the 79th who were to become an important factor in the success of D-Day.
  15. A couple of examples.

    1. In WW2 several British units were recruited from what was was thought to be "Officer material", such as the HAC, Artists rifles, Public schools battalions, U Company the Gordon Highlanders etc. In at least one case these units were trawled for potential officers who were then told to put pips up and join some unit as 2Lts. The only problem being that the Army took a while to recognise these privates as officers and pay them as such. I think the divisional commander of the 63rd (?) Division had to take the matter up on their behalf with the War Office.

    2. Bernard Freyburg, graduate dentist with a commission in the NZ militia has taken what we might describe as a gap year. In mid 1914 he is in Mexico paying his way as a mercenary for Pancho Villa. One the outbreak of war, he hitches to London and obtains a commission from Churchill in the naval Division. In April 1914 he lands at Gallipoli as a subaltern. Within two years he is a CO with a VC and a series of MIDs to match his wounds. He ends the war as Brigadier, VC DSO and Bar six MIDs and nine wounds.