A Subaltern’s Lot

So, young man, you think you have what it takes to be a subaltern in the King’s Army?

Well, go away and learn this lot.

Quite a responsibility for an eighteen year-old fresh out of school.

And yet learn it they did.

And they won the war.

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5 Responses to A Subaltern’s Lot

  1. Margaret Draycott says:

    That is astonishing can’t believe an 18 year old Boy had to learn and implement all that, yet they did it and be the first over the top. And yes win they did.
    Amazing documents M.

  2. nicholas Kilner says:

    Wow! what a remarkable series of documents! It just goes to show how much was actually expected of these young men, and in fact that they weren’t just picked at random from public school and put in charge. Incredible really.

  3. Magicfingers says:

    Thanks both. I was a public schoolboy, for my sins, and thus spent two years in the Army section of the Combined Cadet Force at my school aged 16/17. I, and others, used to get a lot of flak from the other schoolkids in Croydon ‘cos we had to go to school on the bus/train school in army uniform. Character building, I believe it was called. Of course in the CCF I learnt to shoot and how to throw thunderflashes at people and scare the living sh*t out of them, I even once jumped out of an airborne helicopter with no parachute (don’t laugh), and all sorts of fun stuff. And then I considered that less than sixty years previously, kids just like me at my school had been doing similar stuff, except the Kaiser interrupted, and changed their futures forever. And 251 of them, I think, paid the price. Kids just like me. I wonder how I’d have done leading men over the top.

  4. Jon T says:

    Its certainly amazing what those young men went though and how they were expected to lead in such appalling circumstances. By coincidence I am currently reading “6 weeks The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War”. Astonishing and humbling accounts contained therein….

    I too was in the CCF at School (minus the leaping from Helicopters !) and thinking how we were then at that age and trying to imagine myself and my fellow cadets in the trenches frankly boggles the mind. Great post as always MF.

  5. Magicfingers says:

    Indeed – I know that book!! Fyi have just finished a fairly recent publication. ‘Deserters of the First World War: The Home Front’ which I found most interesting. Deserter or absentee? And who decides?
    I should add to the CCF image that we also all had hair down to our shoulders at that time (another perk of public school, it seemed. No ‘get yer ‘air cut’ there) which I imagine looked most odd when combined with ‘battledress’ – and that’s a word I haven’t used in a long time. Cheers Jon.

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