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THE OLD GUARD: Admiral Mark Norman antecedents ... More heroes pass from the scene ... 18th Century advice for officers ...


I RECENTLY READ in my daily paper of a criminal offender. Nothing new there--the papers are full of them. What irked me Is the fact that the publication saw fit to mention in its cover story, the story headline and the text of the article that the "bad guy" was a former soldier. I could find no connection between the crime and the offender's military service. Do we ever see an offender described as a former sales clerk/bus driver/farmer etc. Not likely.

This reminds me of a story about the notorious Lady Astor (an M P and antagonist of Winston Churchill). She had formed the opinion that soldiers were spreading venereal diseases, and tried to enforce a policy of having troops returning from the Far East wear green armbands for identification. Readers will remember her from the famous exchange with Churchill in which she suggested that if Winston was her husband, she would put poison in his tea. His reply: "If I were your husband, I would drink it!"


THERE IS ENOUGH material going around on this matter to make any comment of mine superfluous. However, two historic occasions come to mind. The first is the fate of Admiral John Byng (a former military governor of Newfoundland) In 1757, during the Seven Years War. Byng commanded a fleet in the Mediterranean. He was accused of lack of aggressiveness off Majorca and court-martialled for cowardice. Despite the lack of promised support which had not materialized, the Admiralty was quick to make Byng a scapegoat and he was sentenced to death. Appeals for clemency by Prime Minister William Pitt were rejected by King George I. On 14 March 1757 John Byng was shot by Marines on his own quarterdeck.

The other instance is known to most of our readers. In 1894 Captain Alfred Dreyfus, of the French Army, was accused of revealing military secrets and, despite flimsy evidence, was court-martialled and sent to Devil's Island. Two years later Major Georges Picquart discovered the real culprit (who received two years imprisonment). Dreyfus remained on Devil's Island and Picquart was quickly transferred to North Africa. Dreyfus was recalled, court-martialled again in 1899 and again found guilty. After years of heated political dispute, he was finally pardoned by the President of the French Republic in 1906.

By the way, it seems to be open season on senior naval officers. The captain of the Royal Navy super-carrier, HMS "Queen Elizabeth," Commodore CookePriest, has been relieved of command. His offence? Using the ship's official car (a Ford Galaxy) over the weekend.

The only apparent offence by Vice Admiral Norman is a minor dress one. In the widely-circulated photograph after his vindication, he is wearing his jacket lapel OVER his medals rather than vice-versa. (Once a "meathead" always a "meathead"! Les -ex CProC, briefly).


IF I AM INCORRECT in any of the details, my apologies to all concerned.

On 27th March, Honorary Colonel David Hart passed away in Montreal at the age of 101 years. He was the longest-serving officer in the Canadian Army. As a signals sergeant in Dieppe, he earned the Military Medal--he was unable to make contact by radio and ran on foot under heavy fire to deliver a vital message regarding a change in evacuation schedules.

He was commissioned as an infantry officer, and at the time of his death was Honorary Colonel of 34 Signals Regiment.

Eric Smith passed away at the age of 98. He is believed to be the last of the elite group of RCAF pilots seconded to the USAF to fly Sabre jets in Korea. He had served as a night-fighter pilot, flying 50 operations in Mosquitos in WW II. Eric Smith was awarded the DFC in the World War and the US Air Medal in recognition of fifty combat missions in Korea.


WHO LIVED IN your house 75 years ago? Almost four hundred residents will soon find out. As part of the commemoration of D-Day, the Juno Beach Centre Association is sending postcards to former addresses of soldiers who died in the first days of Overlord. The cards will contain information on the soldier's rank, name and unit and the circumstances of his death.


I HAVE A COPY of "Advice to the Officers of the British Army--1783 AD" Two examples. Note that printers used "f" for "s" at times.

Commander-in-Chief. "Be fure to give out a number of orders. It will at least fhew the troops you do not forget them. The more trifling they are, the more it fhews your attention to the fervice; and fhould your orders contradict one another, it will give you an opportunity for altering them and find subject for frefh regulations"

Corporal. "When to regiment attends divine fervice, fhould you be ordered to ftay without to keep the foldiers to their devotions, fee if there is not an alehoufe near at hand, where you may moft conveniently watch their motions."

For more advice--fend (sorry "send") me an e-mail and I'll give you all the appropriate 'advice' for your rank.

Les Peate is a Korean War veteran and author based in Ottawa. If you have news you'd like included, write to

Caption: Lady Astor held her own against Winston Churchill, (NPG)

Caption: Admiral John Byng (1704-57) was shot on his own quarterdeck in order "pour encourager les autres." (PORTRAIT BY THOMAS HUDSON, VIA WIKL)

Caption: This after-action photo shows wrecked Canadian tanks on the beaches of Dieppe, August 1942. The short, intense action resulted in numerous acts of incredible bravery, including Signals Sgt. David Hart, (LAC)

Caption: Eric Smith flew Mosquito fighter-bombers in WWII and received the US Air Medal for missions over Korea with USAF flying Sabre jets. (US ARCHIVES)

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Title Annotation:VETERANS NEWS & VIEWS
Author:Peate, Les
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Date:Jun 1, 2019
Next Article:AT EASE: So you think you know your military history? Well, think again!

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