Mateship; what does it mean to you?

Discussion in 'The Lamp and Sandbag II - The Tall Story Strikes B' started by auscam, Dec 30, 2009.

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  1. This being the time of year for both reflection and anticipation, I thought this might be timely...

    Notwithstanding Australian political and media eagerness to commodify, exploit, then discard 'mateship' for political and/or commercial gain, no matter how wasted, fleeting, cynical, offensive, crass, patronising, contemptible, superficial or squalid it may be (that's just my opinion, you understand, purely subjective) what does it mean to you?

    What are some examples, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that typify mateship? Perhaps the most arresting that springs to mind is the recovery of the late L/Cpl Mathew Ford's remains from Jugroom Fort (yes, I was reminded of it by the image on the homepage) but that's not my point.

    Obviously, military history is littered with examples of what might be called mateship, but what is it, exactly?

    Self-sacrifice?
    Teamwork?
    Discipline, whether imposed or self-imposed?
    Courage?
    Tenacity?
    Insight?
    Compassion?
    Esprit de corps?
    Religion or spirituality?
    Sheer bloody-mindedness?
    Professional or personal obligation?

    Another example might be that recounted by one of THE survivors of the helicopter sunk by birdstrike during the Falklands. He was hopelessly trapped by one foot in the sinking aircraft, and felt a hand grasp his ankle, followed by a sawing feeling as the obstruction was cut away. The hand tapped his ankle twice, as a wrestler does, and he shot to the surface and survived.

    His rescuer did not. What prompts someone to act like that?

    Equally, it might be my gun team and I sharing, scrupulously, our last one (1) Mars bar- crushed, frozen, mixed with its wrapper, dirt, flannelette lint, insect repellent, cam cream, gun oil, tick shit, leech jism and God knows what unmentionables on a particularly vile night at (shudder) Canungra.

    Over to you, I'll slump back into my brown fugue state now, all this Deep and Meaningful has worn me out.

    P.S.; if you're a journalist, die slowly, horribly and soon.

    P.P.S.; a happy and safe New Year to you and yours, even (squirm) Dashing (cringe) Chap (O God)
     
  2. "Mateship"?

    Sorry but I cannot see the word without recalling the passage in Robert Hughes' "Fatal Shore" that explained its origins.
     
  3. Uh oh (assumes hunted demeanour) that doesn't sound good. Did Hughes 'explain' or 'allege'?
     
  4. "Frendship forged in battle is only terminated by death" Roger Lamb RWF, says it all
     
  5. It has elements of all the things you've listed, IMO. To me, it's reflexively and unthinkingly placing the good of those around you ahead of your own. It could be the greater good as in many a last stand or solo charge; or the individual good as in the Falklands helo crash example.

    It always astounds me that on a website devoted to an organisation that deifies actions like this, so many people still cleave to the idea that individual self-interest is the only way to motivate people. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
     
  6. I really don't know, but I can quote an example of what it might be.

    This is an extract from Stoker John Dykes' (HMS Repulse) account of his incarceration in Changhi Prison and his eventual return home:

    At one point the authorities tried sending me home before Fred. I was having none of it and told them in no uncertain terms; 'I was staying put till they got a draft for the pair of us'. I'd been at his side for my entire term of captivity and wasn't going to be parted from him at the final hurdle. Eventually we were sent onto a merchant ship named the Almonzora. It was an old tub, but we didn't care; we were on our way back home.

    The journey was to take several weeks and I have one marvellous recollection of it. As mentioned earlier, my time in Changi destroyed a lot of the faith I had in the officer class of our country. But for one officer this didn't apply. I think I'm correct with the location of this incident. It was in Port Tufick and I was in the mess hall when a Lieutenant came in and shouted. "Is there a Stoker Dykes in here" I piped up "Yes". He came across with a message in his hand. I unfolded it and I still remember the first words although the rest of it is not quite so clear these days. It began:

    "Dear shipmate, I am sorry I cannot be here in person to meet you, but I have to go on fleet manoeuvres with the 8th Cruiser squadron, I sincerely hope you are okay and if any other shipmates are with you from Repulse, can you send them my best wishes". Signed, Rear Admiral Tennant.

    I couldn't believe it. He was still the same nature of man I'd served under on Repulse and I never had trouble accepting authority from men such as him. It was the finest honour he could have bestowed on me and I've never forgotten it.


    It might be 'mateship' and it might not. But it gets me right there every time I read it. There are two examples of mateship in this extract, these are John Dykes' love for his fellow shipmate Fred, and Rear Admiral Tennant's bond with his men.
     
  7. I would have included 'synergy' in the original list, but was discouraged by it having become a corporate buzzword and consequently debased into meaninglessness.

    It's an intriguing concept though, that 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' makes no mathematical sense, yet I think it's an essential- and natural- element of teamwork. It's as old as humanity, but it's interesting just the same.
     
  8. Why are we talking about "Mateship" in this context?

    Why do we bother substituting an Australian word that began as a description of homo-erotic relationships in the penal colony for a perfectly good one in use already - comradeship?
     
  9. OK then, for the 'M' word, substitute the 'C' word, and if the thread isn't going the way you'd like, 'F' word 'O' word, 'A' word.
     
  10. Mateship or comradeship, it's an uncommon thing which finds greater focus in the armed forces. I saw an example of it recently during a raffle draw. A young ex squaddie badly wanted to win a food hamper to give to his mum for Christmas. One of his mates was an older ex squaddie who had debts and would have found the £50 supermarket voucher which was also up for grabs, very useful for Christmas. There was a lot of greed evident amongst those who eagerly clutched their tickets as the draw took place but when the old boy won, he selected the hamper - and then promptly handed it to the younger lad saying "There you go, mucker. Give that to your Mum." True spirit of Christmas or a special bond which they shared despite never having served together or at the same time?
     
  11. Whilst the old tests of
    'Would you care to be in a life boat with him? May seem a bit of a cliche, it was interesting that back in the eighties, we organised a canal trip on the canal du Midi in France, the more people you could get the better the boat and the cheaper the contribution per person. To cut a long story short, out of a pool of thirty or so friends we realised that many of them were nice people for an evening out, or in but not two weeks on a 36'x8' boat, we eneded up with eight.

    Nowadays I would say that mateship is being able to ring up someone at dark o'clock and ask for their passport and 500 quid saying
    "I can't tell you why and I'll try to get it back to you, but can't guarentee it, knowing that they'll rock up in twenty minutes and help you out no questions asked.