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Since we started keeping records (1914-18 war), average height of the British infantry recruit has been consistently one inch below the average for British males generally. It is a reflection of the poor diet associated with childhood in households at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

In People Of The Abyss, written in 1910, Jack London mentions how the War Office lowered the height requirement 3 or 4 times from 1900 because there were not enough recruits who met the standard.

The industrial slums of Britain and years of poor diet raised stunted unfit young men with all manner of health problems who were unfit for military service.

The mounted soldiers who looked resplendent in their breastplates and feathers were all corn fed strapping country lads.

Then the height restrictions went out the window four years later.
 
Since we started keeping records (1914-18 war), average height of the British infantry recruit has been consistently one inch below the average for British males generally. It is a reflection of the poor diet associated with childhood in households at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

Post-WWI, many of the US States initiated questionnaires, through the individual State Archives, to men who had served during that war.

Of those that I've viewed, many of the respondents note that, after service, they believed that their health had improved and that their physical well-being was more positive (height and weight increases).
 
Certainly in 1914, recruits generally put on weight as they actually had enough food for once.
I found it interesting watching some of the more realistic documentary’s about WW1. The ones where they actually used the veterans own words.

rather than the post 60s viewpoint of wholesale slaughter and working class men resigned to their fate, it was very much viewed as good food, good pay and a great adventure.

I still remember one officer being interviewed who was explaining what a brothel was and how much trouble he had keeping his men out of them.

remember that this was a time when most peoples holidays consisted of a day at the sea side if they were lucky, or a day walking around the corporation park if they lived too far away.

mine always found that the whippets seem to do the best, however, as I liked to point out, when an Army expedition got lost in Brunei in the jungle many years ago, it was the ones that were carrying just a bit of timber that were the ones who fared better as they had just that little bit extra reserves to call on.
 

TC20

Old-Salt
I found it interesting watching some of the more realistic documentary’s about WW1. The ones where they actually used the veterans own words.

rather than the post 60s viewpoint of wholesale slaughter and working class men resigned to their fate, it was very much viewed as good food, good pay and a great adventure.

I still remember one officer being interviewed who was explaining what a brothel was and how much trouble he had keeping his men out of them.

remember that this was a time when most peoples holidays consisted of a day at the sea side if they were lucky, or a day walking around the corporation park if they lived too far away.

mine always found that the whippets seem to do the best, however, as I liked to point out, when an Army expedition got lost in Brunei in the jungle many years ago, it was the ones that were carrying just a bit of timber that were the ones who fared better as they had just that little bit extra reserves to call on.


 
Couldn't think of where else to put this but it deserves an airing.

25-year old Oscar decides it's good day to go for a (US) Marine, on 26 Sep 1899.

Leaves the Recruiting Office and thinks the Murrcan equivalent of 'Sod this for a game of gyrenes!' and has it away on his toes:

View attachment 593434
Still has more time in service than the average arrser.
 
I'd temper that with the recollection of a few words I heard spoken by the late great Richard Holmes (PBUH) about some of the WW1 eye-witness testimonies recorded in the 1960s, along the lines of:

It's all very impressive: "There we were, up to our necks in muck and bullets, thousands of us slaughtered, the Sar'nt-Major was a b@stard etcetera!" but the problem with a lot of it is that there's simply not a single shred of evidence to back it up, and often plenty that simply contradicts it!​
 

syrup

LE
Certainly in 1914, recruits generally put on weight as they actually had enough food for once.


My Grandfather had came out of the Gorbal's in Glasgow to join up for WW2.
He was lucky in the back end of the 30's he had a trade and a job so was making some money
He told me once that for a lot of lads the Army was Salvation.

For some lads it was not only being fed three times a day it was a change of clothes, access to running water and sleeping in their own bed.
They had to be shown how to use showers because they literally only had a kitchen sink to wash in at home.
People ere eating meat and good food they couldn't afford in civvy street.
They had money could afford a beer or see the M.O. or a dentist.
It raised a lot of peoples standard of living

It probably led to the Labour win and a lot of the social reforms due to guys not wanting to go back to it.
 
I'd temper that with the recollection of a few words I heard spoken by the late great Richard Holmes (PBUH) about some of the WW1 eye-witness testimonies recorded in the 1960s, along the lines of:

It's all very impressive: "There we were, up to our necks in muck and bullets, thousands of us slaughtered, the Sar'nt-Major was a b@stard etcetera!" but the problem with a lot of it is that there's simply not a single shred of evidence to back it up, and often plenty that simply contradicts it!​

Not sure I understand the point.

Was there not lots of mud, plenty of bullets, about 20 million dead and bastard NCOs in WWI?

I'm sure I read that in a book somewhere.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Not sure I understand the point.
You can't trust squaddies, they couldn't lie straight in bed.

Was there not lots of mud, plenty of bullets, about 20 million dead and bastard NCOs in WWI?

I'm sure I read that in a book somewhere.
Probably written by a lying squaddie.
 

syrup

LE
Not sure I understand the point.

Was there not lots of mud, plenty of bullets, about 20 million dead and bastard NCOs in WWI?

I'm sure I read that in a book somewhere.


I think the point was there was that but only on occasion

There was plenty of time out the line where there was no muck, bullets and bastard NCO's

You didn't arrive in 1914 sink to your neck in mud while being shelled, shot at and getting charged with having dirty boots by the Sarn't Major and stayed like that until November 1918.

Much of it also in books is routine and boredom with the occasional attack and a big push which if you survived probably saw you out of the line for a while anyway as there was no one to soldier on with
 
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I think the point was there was that but only on occasion

There was plenty of time out the line where there was no muck, bullets and bastard NCO's

You didn't arrive in 1914 sink to your neck in mud while being shelled, shot at and getting charged with having dirty boots by the Sarn't Major and stayed like that until November 1918.

Much of it also in books is routine and boredom with the occasional attack and a big push which if you survived probably saw you out of the line for a while anyway as there was no one to soldier on with
My great grandfather was a professional soldier.

arrived with the old contemptibles as sgt in an infantry regiment (no idea which one.) Finished on armistice day. Not a scratch on him. It was the 50 a day habit of full strength Capstones that did him in at 45.

I don’t know whether or not he was a shirker, but my Grandmother did mention that his regiment always seemed to be in reserve when the major offensives were on.

two reasons for high casualties.
1) high casualty numbers due to incredibly large numbers of troops.
2) combat medicine had t developed as much as weapons.

I went on a combat medic course years back with the Americans. They explained that with the advent of modern day combat medicine, US fatalities in Vietnam would’ve dropped from 56k to about 15 - 20k.

remember that Iraq and AFG got us to the stage where the golden hour had been extended to the golden 2 hours due to advances made in treating casualties and not just of a result of lack of helicopters.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
My great grandfather was a professional soldier.

arrived with the old contemptibles as sgt in an infantry regiment (no idea which one.) Finished on armistice day. Not a scratch on him. It was the 50 a day habit of full strength Capstones that did him in at 45.

I don’t know whether or not he was a shirker, but my Grandmother did mention that his regiment always seemed to be in reserve when the major offensives were on.

two reasons for high casualties.
1) high casualty numbers due to incredibly large numbers of troops.
2) combat medicine had t developed as much as weapons.

I went on a combat medic course years back with the Americans. They explained that with the advent of modern day combat medicine, US fatalities in Vietnam would’ve dropped from 56k to about 15 - 20k.

remember that Iraq and AFG got us to the stage where the golden hour had been extended to the golden 2 hours due to advances made in treating casualties and not just of a result of lack of helicopters.

With regard to your second point, I would contend that the survival rates of those who reached medical care was actually not that bad.

However it was the transmission of casualties from front line to the medical care which took too long.
Whilst antibiotics were yet to be discovered, the likes of blood transfusion and plastic surgery were developed rapidly during the course of the war.
 
when an Army expedition got lost in Brunei in the jungle many years ago, it was the ones that were carrying just a bit of timber that were the ones who fared better as they had just that little bit extra reserves to call on.
First man to fall out from the ranks of the Paras in the FI war (and I am sure I recall correctly) was the racing snake APTC SNCO PTI who was nominally CO's bodyguard.

I forget to which Battalion he was attached.​
 
It probably led to the Labour win and a lot of the social reforms due to guys not wanting to go back to it.
Delete 'Probably'

Insert 'Almost certainly'

XIV Army veterans votes are held by some serious historians to have been decisive. WSC was seen as a the right man in the right place at the right time (to win the war) but he was fighting for a status quo (Empire, Know Your Place In Society, Aristos And Their Rich Chums Are Best) that did not sit well with those who had been so long separated from loved ones, bled, died, been incarcerated and monstrously abused by Hirohito's mob in the long long haul to victory, and were not minded after all that meekly to return to being chattels and underlings of the moneyed class.

They had - indeed, sadly, still have - a valid point.

Even sadder, there are modern Arrsers who think it smart to be fans of the Aristos And Their Rich Chums Are Best philosophy, and won't hear a bad word said about the likes of Jakie Grease-Mogg.
 
Capstones
Correction: "Capstan"

"Wot's one of them?" I hear you ask.

Well, my lad, it's like a giant cotton reel, and in the olden days it was used for winding in a ship's anchor, powered by a dozen jolly Jack Tars singing sea shanties, while the ship's boy sat cross legged on top, playing a fiddle.

So now y'know. :thumleft:
 
Delete 'Probably'

Insert 'Almost certainly'

XIV Army veterans votes are held by some serious historians to have been decisive. WSC was seen as a the right man in the right place at the right time (to win the war) but he was fighting for a status quo (Empire, Know Your Place In Society, Aristos And Their Rich Chums Are Best) that did not sit well with those who had been so long separated from loved ones, bled, died, been incarcerated and monstrously abused by Hirohito's mob in the long long haul to victory, and were not minded after all that meekly to return to being chattels and underlings of the moneyed class.

They had - indeed, sadly, still have - a valid point.

Even sadder, there are modern Arrsers who think it smart to be fans of the Aristos And Their Rich Chums Are Best philosophy, and won't hear a bad word said about the likes of Jakie Grease-Mogg.
No one is a fan of Rees Mogg just because he is an " aristo" the days of automatic deference to the upper class are long gone.
 
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