Officers with style

#1
Back in the 70's I seem to remember that a fair number of officers across the Army as a whole had a certain amount of style and panache, not just in the way they dressed, but what they drove, and how they behaved. From the 70's onwards these chaps seemed to reduce in number, and the last really stylish officer I came across was serving in Dubai as SBLSO and was late RTR (2 RTR I believe). You couldn't mistake him for anything but an officer, from his almost foppish dress, both in uniform and out; his cut glass accent; his supremely good manners and civil, almost laid back, approach that belied his razor-sharp instincts; his Thursday (our Saturday) morning prayers at Gerrards; and his Jack Russell replete with 2 RTR collar.

Am I mistaken that their numbers are reducing; am I guilty of rose-tinted spectaclism; am I mixing in the wrong circles; or do these people still exist in significant numbers?
 
#4
Very sadly the new breed are far more savvy, career concious and determined to make the next two ranks up by breakfast. The system does not allow for or tolerate much by way of high spirits and frowns heavily on too much by the way of straying from the path (of enlightenment). Additionally many more officers are joining later (older as Graduates) and to a greater extent have already had their fun outside. Of course they still mess about and get into scrapes but consequent to these changes - the army gets what it wants.
The chap you mention is also a dying breed as so many of the new generation leave around the 45 years of age mark to go to second career. Those who stay are looking to higher ranks and are unlikely to be characterful - too busy on point papers etc.
 
#5
anyone above major in the engineers...and now some of the LE's too!!

i love that man you describe and truly believe that savvy air really makes a truly great officer!!
 
#6
I hope they still exist.
Nothing like the sight of a British Officer storming the enemy, armed with nothing but a highly polished swagger stick and a black labrador....stirring stuff I tell you. :)
 
#7
The-Goose said:
Very sadly the new breed are far more savvy, career concious and determined to make the next two ranks up by breakfast. The system does not allow for or tolerate much by way of high spirits and frowns heavily on too much by the way of straying from the path (of enlightenment). Additionally many more officers are joining later (older as Graduates) and to a greater extent have already had their fun outside. Of course they still mess about and get into scrapes but consequent to these changes - the army gets what it wants.
The chap you mention is also a dying breed as so many of the new generation leave around the 45 years of age mark to go to second career. Those who stay are looking to higher ranks and are unlikely to be characterful - too busy on point papers etc.
I had an interview with an Army Careers Adviser a while back and on reflection I would say I went on a rant about careerist Officers.

I know of a chap who's going to be one too when he graduates from Sandhurst. I have no difficulty in imagining him putting his career before his men, though it's possible I'm biased because I don't like him. The toss-pot had the audacity to inform me that I'm not suited to army life. I think he feels his knowledge on mixed Roman tactics makes him more suitable for army life than someone who can 'do drawings'.
 
#9
In the early 60s, I was attached to the Scots Guards while they were

serving on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. They did have some

very stylish officers, several of whom bore titles. I suppose having a

few bob does help but of arrogance there was no sign. Impeccable

manners to a man. Cut glass accents were standard.

I cannot comment on the modern officer as I walked out of the gate in

1965, however, depressingly we have just had an officer of field rank,

if you still call it that, done for fraud.
 
T

Tremaine

Guest
#10
Hussars in the 70s, Officers and gents certainly. Laid back and friendly, Manners and the grace to apologise to us when they were wrong. Respect for their blokes, even those Officers with titles, and some of you might know which ones. One , certainly went on to great things, and another appeared on Master Mind years later. On exercise, another would rant his head off swinging high up in the trees, while the Mess waiter had to climb up with the next bottle.... Bosses leading the troops into battle from the front, sword drawn.

As for antics in the Mess, and other hi-jinks ....I'll never tell.
 
#11
You all make it sound like a thing of the past!

Even if there is a good reason for this sort of talk, surely it only takes one or two like-mindeds to trigger an outbreak hi-jinks, élan and simple good humour?
 

BBear

LE
Kit Reviewer
#14
I like your style there. I do not understand it, but it has a certain charm about it...!
 
#15
It was a mistake ... that's why you probably like it. Usuually I am accused of writing crap - please refer to my latest offering 'How to Satisfy a Woman'
 
#16
The-Goose said:
Very sadly the new breed are far more savvy, career concious and determined to make the next two ranks up by breakfast. The system does not allow for or tolerate much by way of high spirits and frowns heavily on too much by the way of straying from the path (of enlightenment). Additionally many more officers are joining later (older as Graduates) and to a greater extent have already had their fun outside. Of course they still mess about and get into scrapes but consequent to these changes - the army gets what it wants.
The chap you mention is also a dying breed as so many of the new generation leave around the 45 years of age mark to go to second career. Those who stay are looking to higher ranks and are unlikely to be characterful - too busy on point papers etc.
Or it could be that today's officers are selected and trained to a much higher standard where parity and impartiality are extant at every level.

On completion of training the young officer is thrust into command in some of the most complex operations we as an army have ever known - think strategic cpl and 3-block war...the YO can typically expect to complete a min 2 such tours in his first 5 yrs.

Then,notwithstanding the selfless committment to the Troop, Sqn, Regt, add the continuous professional development, education and continuous improvement which we need our YOs to complete prior to holding their first SO3 appointment and there's not much time for anything else.

The YOs in the Army now are without doubt the best the Army has seen for generations, professional, dedicated and combat hardened. It's important that we don't confuse these key-attributes that make a truley professional officer with the ability to cut-a-dash in chelsea, the ability to mix a pink gin, or knowing a labrador from a pointer.
 
#17
On my last tour of Afghan (Herrick 6) the Platoon Commanders had a one in 6 chance of being killed... savvy or not they deserve utmost respect!
 
#18
Don_Coyote said:
On my last tour of Afghan (Herrick 6) the Platoon Commanders had a one in 6 chance of being killed... savvy or not they deserve utmost respect!
so one out of every six were killed? cos that's what that stat suggests. or maybe it's a hysteric headline-making stat?
 
#19
Danny_Dravot said:
The-Goose said:
Very sadly the new breed are far more savvy, career concious and determined to make the next two ranks up by breakfast. The system does not allow for or tolerate much by way of high spirits and frowns heavily on too much by the way of straying from the path (of enlightenment). Additionally many more officers are joining later (older as Graduates) and to a greater extent have already had their fun outside. Of course they still mess about and get into scrapes but consequent to these changes - the army gets what it wants.
The chap you mention is also a dying breed as so many of the new generation leave around the 45 years of age mark to go to second career. Those who stay are looking to higher ranks and are unlikely to be characterful - too busy on point papers etc.
Or it could be that today's officers are selected and trained to a much higher standard where parity and impartiality are extant at every level.

On completion of training the young officer is thrust into command in some of the most complex operations we as an army have ever known - think strategic cpl and 3-block war...the YO can typically expect to complete a min 2 such tours in his first 5 yrs.

Then,notwithstanding the selfless committment to the Troop, Sqn, Regt, add the continuous professional development, education and continuous improvement which we need our YOs to complete prior to holding their first SO3 appointment and there's not much time for anything else.

The YOs in the Army now are without doubt the best the Army has seen for generations, professional, dedicated and combat hardened. It's important that we don't confuse these key-attributes that make a truley professional officer with the ability to cut-a-dash in chelsea, the ability to mix a pink gin, or knowing a labrador from a pointer.
Noone would criticise the courage of men and women serving on any operations. However, being professional and operationally experianced, and having style are not mutually exclusive. In fact, as a general rule, the more units have been on operations, the more dress has relaxed and become more stylish, not to say flamboyant. The best known examples of course are Monty with his cap badges but more especially Gen Horrocks and the officers of his XXX Corps and especially Lt Col Vandeleur of the Guards Armoured. Cornelius Ryan noted in his book on Market Garden that dress standards relaxed and the wearing of corduroys and cravats was common when morale was high.

I'd make one comment in respect of careerist, dull officers. An awful lot of good guys with battle experiance in the Falklands and Iraq were binned in Options For Change in favour of people who ticked the boxes for staff college and many characters were driven out. In truth, I think successive generations have always answered the call and it's a tough ask to suggest that the men at Goose Green, Tumbledown, XMG and so on were any less or more qualfied than the people out there now.

Obviously, pink gin remains a Naval affectation along with Horses Necks although last time I was on a ship precious few of them knew what they were either.

Your fashion correspondent.
 
#20
Bumper said:
Noone would criticise the courage of men and women serving on any operations. However, being professional and operationally experianced, and having style are not mutually exclusive. In fact, as a general rule, the more units have been on operations, the more dress has relaxed and become more stylish, not to say flamboyant. The best known examples of course are Monty with his cap badges but more especially Gen Horrocks and the officers of his XXX Corps and especially Lt Col Vandeleur of the Guards Armoured. Cornelius Ryan noted in his book on Market Garden that dress standards relaxed and the wearing of corduroys and cravats was common when morale was high.

I'd make one comment in respect of careerist, dull officers. An awful lot of good guys with battle experiance in the Falklands and Iraq were binned in Options For Change in favour of people who ticked the boxes for staff college and many characters were driven out. In truth, I think successive generations have always answered the call and it's a tough ask to suggest that the men at Goose Green, Tumbledown, XMG and so on were any less or more qualfied than the people out there now.
And why should someone who has 'ticked the boxes for staff college' be dull and careerist? Is it not possible to be an educated character?

msr
 

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