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 Special service officers,discuss.

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PostSubject: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:31 am

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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:34 am

if you bother to watch this,be aware youtube.
will ban! the music.worldwide No ,. xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:42 am

wow that was instant:no: , the two tunes are!
johnny pearson orchestra, sleepy shores,mixed
with..a theme from a summer place,the obvious
Juxt une postion between calm and carnage..
yes too deep i suspect. if some clever soul could
mix and present the two. xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:55 am

Is this not a forum dedicated to the Anglo Zulu 1879. Should this thread not be in the off topic section.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:13 am

chard1879, the topic is.
special service officers,
theres plenty of them
to talk about re the AZW.
if you know anything about
this you would realize that
Burnaby typifies that breed
( and it was a breed ) of
mainly adventurer's seeking
advancement and excitement.
with cattle rustling ( in the
AZW ) an added bonus.
cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:53 am

Understand that, but your man didn't serve in the Zulu War. If he had I could understand the relevance of posting in this section of the forum.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:30 pm

on reflection, fair enough,
just tried to slip Burnaby in, if you knew
the story of ' my man ' there are very few
characters in any of our ' colonial ' wars to
match him. in my opinion.

But i what i really think is that you dont
have to reply. just scroll past,shut your
eyes if it helps. we have a person doing
the job very well thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:47 pm

I have always assumed that being a special service officer was a wise career move and that was the usual reason for applying. We are aware of the mess hall toast (something akin to, "To a bloody war or a sickly season,") that underscores how officers advanced in rank. Perhaps more so than today even, an ambitious officer would have sought combat experience to accelerate that assent -- and have more gravitas in the eyes of his peers. Two prominent witnesses to Isandlwana, Smith-Dorrien and W.F.D. Cochrane were on special service. If either was a line officer with the 24th they probably would not have survived to tell the tale.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:31 pm

hiya 6pdr, they certainly would not,
lucky Essex, was. so was anybody
who survived.

I have banged on about special service
officers for years, when a campaign is
decided on. the first thing a commander
in chief does is to pick his staff and
at that period it depended on whether
you was an ' african or an indian ' all
other posts were touted out..if you had
an influential friend or understanding
Colonel, no probs job done, after this, it
was pretty much sheer luck as to what
you got as the appointment's were filled.

So what were the majority of these men.
third, fourth,plus sons of the upper classes,
who were under no illusion that they had
to make their own way in the world. so
the career choices for ' gentlemen ' were
severely limited, it was pretty much church
or army. to go into trade was unthinkable!
so nobody advances in peace time, but in
war, brevets are suddenly up for grab's. so
add a steely resolve to advancememt at all
costs, and i only begin to build a sketchy
out line of the ' typical sso. cheers mate.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:14 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
hiya 6pdr, they certainly would not,
lucky Essex, was. so was anybody
who survived.
Curling made it out from the front line, but he was it, pretty much.

Quote :
..if you had
an influential friend or understanding
Colonel, no probs job done, after this, it
was pretty much sheer luck as to what
you got as the appointment's were filled.
Yes, because his Colonel objected to Chelmsford's offer, Smith-Dorrien went to the scandalous extreme of applying directly to the Minister of War, i.e. a civilian authority.  He bet his career right there...and won.

Quote :
So what were the majority of these men.
third, fourth,plus sons of the upper classes,
who were under no illusion that they had
to make their own way in the world. so
the career choices for ' gentlemen ' were
severely limited, it was pretty much church
or army. to go into trade was unthinkable!
so nobody advances in peace time, but in
war, brevets are suddenly up for grab's. so
add a steely resolve to advancememt at all
costs, and i only begin to build a sketchy
out line of the ' typical sso. cheers mate.
Nobody wanted to come off as a "thruster" but the fact remains that a guy who didn't, like Gonville Bromhead, remained a lieutenant for 12 years after buying his commission.  Once the purchase system was kaput it was indeed a VERY SLOW SLOG up the ranks until something created heavy casualties. In a world where official recognition boiled down to medal and promotions a young career minded lieutenant had to push like hell to get himself into a fight somewhere around the world.  Africa, particularly S. Africa, was regarded as something of a backwater compared with Afghanistan, for example, because historically speaking, casualties there had been light.  Apart from the locals, Norris-Newman was the only journalist to accompany Chelmsford's forces...and he did so initially with the colonials.   Anyone with any real "pull" probably ended up in India/Pakistan, the Far East, or East Africa.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:30 pm

6pdr, you said, S. Africa, was regarded as something of a backwater compared with Afghanistan, for example, because historically speaking, casualties there had been light. Apart from the locals, Norris-Newman was the only journalist to accompany Chelmsford's forces...and he did so initially with the colonials. Anyone with any real "pull" probably ended up in India/Pakistan, the Far East, or East Africa.


well you pretty much have all the answers.Smith-Dorrien..
scandalous extreme, surely not:shock:. you might want a
rethink re, Pakistan. cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:49 pm

Special service officers would have commanded no extra, or special respect from peer officers or men. In fact they may have been viewed with some suspicion and thought of (and still do perhaps) as "gong-hunters."

Bromhead and Chard were certainly not thrusting - quite the opposite in fact. Officers like these two are happy going about their regimental business and would have been happy with a (hopefully) quiet posting in a back water somewhere, where they could keep their head down and fulfill their duties with out any drama. But they knew their duty and acted in an exemplary way when the time came.

Smith_Dorrien was obviously a "thruster" and this is evidenced by the fact that he eventually became a general. The armed forces have always been a meritocracy. Even back in Victorian times, this was true. Some officers would no doubt have been very happy to stay a lieuteneant for 12 years, enjoying a quiet regimental existence. Others would want to be a major general before they are 40, but is this not true in any profession?
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:43 pm

kopie wrote:
Special service officers would have commanded no extra, or special respect from peer officers or men. In fact they may have been viewed with some suspicion and thought of (and still do perhaps) as "gong-hunters."
I think we agree in all substantive ways. But I want to clarify a nuance WRT to your first sentence above. AT THE TIME of service, S-D & Co. may have been viewed with a jaundiced eye by some, but as time passed, I think it was a definite plus to have fought on battlefields like Omdurman and had the medal to prove it...very few would be asking down the line, "yeah, but what did he do to get there in the first place?" That's why I think S-D won his bet...he escaped with his life and got a service medal. Becoming a General took something more... The AZW occupies a scant few pages in his voluminous autobiography.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:11 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
you might want a rethink re, Pakistan.
Well, I'm not quite sure what geography people consider Pakistan vs. India during different time periods so I just thought I'd throw it in...but if you do, that's fine. I think that just before the AZW it looked like Britain was going to have another fight with the Russians and everybody was looking for a posting that would get them involved in that for awhile, but then the saber rattling died down. I imagine facing down Russian artillery would have been perceived as far more hazardous than the average African skirmish campaign...until Isandlwana caused a sudden reappraisal.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:26 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
well you pretty much have all the answers.
I am giving you received impressions.  If you intend to build up a scholarly profile of SSOs, I cannot help but offer anecdotes that appear in memoirs.  I am quite sure you have read this, but do you recall Smith-Dorrien pissing and moaning about a boat of "aasvogels" passing his ship by? By that he meant other guys like him, except their vessel was going to win the race to Durban and they were going to claim all the plumb postings before he (and Cochrane) arrived.  Of course Harford was all set because he could speak Zulu. Cochrane managed to land on his feet with Durnford...albeit on the staff of a colonial formation.  But S-D didn't pay a proper bribe and was stuck in the Commissariat as a result.  

My guess is supply jobs would have been considered pretty bottom of the barrel because they offered scant opportunity for winning medals or promotion. OTOH it seems to have been a good way to skim money and get kickbacks from contractors, but S-D was too honest and early in his career to have any interest in playing that game. He was in fact scandalized by what he saw, which was probably only the the tip of the iceberg.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:11 pm

6pdr, re Pakistan..14th of August 1947.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:53 pm

6pdr wrote:
kopie wrote:
Special service officers would have commanded no extra, or special respect from peer officers or men. In fact they may have been viewed with some suspicion and thought of (and still do perhaps) as "gong-hunters."
I think we agree in all substantive ways.  But I want to clarify a nuance WRT to your first sentence above.  AT THE TIME of service, S-D & Co. may have been viewed with a jaundiced eye by some, but as time passed, I think it was a definite plus to have fought on battlefields like Omdurman and had the medal to prove it...very few would be asking down the line, "yeah, but what did he do to get there in the first place?"  That's why I think S-D won his bet...he escaped with his life and got a service medal.  Becoming a General took something more...   The AZW occupies a scant few pages in his voluminous autobiography.
Oh I agree. In the short term, not a lot of respect but in the long term, yes, a good career move.
I think I mentioned, S-D was definitely an ambitious and thrusting career officer. A General, no less, eventually.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:28 am

kopie wrote:
A General, no less, eventually.
The man who saved the BEF at Le Cateau and made the Miracle on the Marne a possibility. I often wonder if he learned some lesson at Isandlwana that allowed him to seize his chance against the Germans.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:07 pm

I am sure that'd be correct 6pdr; as WW1 generals go, SD was one of the better ones, to say the least!
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:25 pm

Funny that John French didn't think so.
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:33 pm

6pdr,

Back in the early 1990's I had the good fortune to meet with David Pelham Smith-Dorrien, the only surviving son of Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien.

After I met with David I felt compelled to write about his father, the piece was subsequently published in Military Illustrated, I later revised it and it was published in The Journal of the Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.  It went through a further revision when I presented it as a lecture at the Royal Military College.

Picking up on your point about did he learn anything from iSandlwana, in my opinion yes he did.  

Here's part of my lecture, which does appear elsewhere on the internet:

With every unit committed the Corps came under intense artillery fire, in some cases at near point-blank range. To counter this Smith-Dorrien had his own artillery brought up into the firing line alongside the infantry. I heard from a man whose father was present in the action at Le Cateau, who told his son he heard the General say, “Don’t fight too bravely lads, remember Isandlwana!” With his casualties mounting Smith-Dorrien ordered a withdrawal, but unfortunately the order was not relayed to some of his foremost units. However these steadfast men, numbering less than a thousand held up the German advance.


The soldier who heard that remark was a lancer in Allenby's Cavalry brigade, within two years his horse was a machine, as he was a tank-driver in the Heavy Machine Gun Corps, later the Tank Corps.

Regards,

JY


Last edited by John Young on Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:15 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Omitted word = Gun)
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PostSubject: Re: Special service officers,discuss.   Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:25 pm

John Young wrote:
Picking up on your point about did he learn anything from iSandlwana, in my opinion yes he did.  

Here's part of my lecture, which does appear elsewhere on the internet:

With every unit committed the Corps came under intense artillery fire, in some cases at near point-blank range. To counter this Smith-Dorrien had his own artillery brought up into the firing line alongside the infantry. I heard from a man whose father was present in the action at Le Cateau, who told his son he heard the General say, “Don’t fight too bravely lads, remember Isandlwana!” With his casualties mounting Smith-Dorrien ordered a withdrawal, but unfortunately the order was not relayed to some of his foremost units. However these steadfast men, numbering less than a thousand held up the German advance.


The soldier who heard that remark was a lancer in Allenby's Cavalry brigade, within two years his horse was a machine, as he was a tank-driver in the Heavy Machine Corps, later the Tank Corps.
What an AMAZING story! And disengage he did, just in the nick of time. That alone justifies the time I sink into this board. Thanks so much for taking the time to pass it on! I'll look for your piece online. Truly a fantastic anecdote.
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