Jocko Podcast 84 w/ Echo Charles: Importance of Trust, Discipline, and Creativity. “18 Platoon.”

Jocko Podcast 84 w/ Echo Charles: Importance of Trust, Discipline, and Creativity. “18 Platoon.”


this is jaco podcast number 84 with echo
Charles and me Jocko willing good evening echo good evening gentlemen
your life expectancy from the day you join your battalion will be precisely
three weeks the florid moustached major who addressed us at the small
reinforcements camp a few miles from Bay you obviously had misplaced had a
misplaced sense of humor or he should have been sacked on second thought he
definitely should have been sacked not that any of the dozen infantry
subalterns took the slightest notice of what to us with the ramblings of an old
fool he was probably no more than 40 the fourth Battalion the Somerset light
infantry was in 129 brigade and was a pre-war territorial army battalion with
close links with Bristol and bath in the United Kingdom till late June 1944 it
was a close-knit unit which had almost been decimated within a period of 48
hours on 5th of July three officers and 62 other ranks were required as
reinforcements between the 14th and the 18th of July a further 12 officers of
whom I was one and 479 other ranks arrived and even then the battalion was
still below its full strength of 36 officers and nearly 700 NCOs and men
this will give some idea of the appalling level of infantry casualties
which had to be accepted in order to enlarge the slender and vulnerable
Normandy beachhead because I had the had had previous experience of 6 pounder
anti-tank guns the commanding officer Limpy lieutenant-colonel CG Lipscomb
posted me as second in command to the battalions anti-tank platoon which
consisted of six guns but my stay with the platoon was short and I was quickly
sucked into the real infantry battle as commander of 18 platoon in D company
on the 31st of July immediately after the Battle of Brisco
sard d company had just lost their commander Tim Braithwaite who lost a
foot and gained a military cross an 18 platoon there commander so that right
there is the beginning of a book that we’re gonna look at today it’s called 18
platoon it’s written by a guy named Sidney Gerry Jay ary who was born in
Essex in 1924 joined the Army in 1942 as a private soldier in 1943 he was
commissioned and from 19 from July of 1944 until June of 1945 he served as the
platoon commander for 18 Belton and the chances of survival for an infantry
subaltern in a rifle company during the campaign in northwest Europe were slim
most survived for only a few weeks Sidney Geri survived 10 months from July
1944 when he took command of 18 platoon in Normandy until the end of the war
near bremen in early May of 1945 so this guy this is this is amazing this guy
Sidney Gerry be the only platoon commander in the in the British Second
Army to survive as a platoon commander from Normandy to the German surrender
one guy one guy and this is the guy it’s yeah
it’s amazing and you’re going to see that his attitude is I mean the lessons
that he learned he was young coming in was 20 years old 20 year old platoon
commander coming in in experience kind of lived a sheltered life you got to
check out some pictures of him he has that look – he was a sheltered look he
looks like you know sheltered it looks like a little young whippersnapper so
we’ll go back to the book here as he breaks down what a platoon was at this
time in 1944 the war establishment of a British infantry platoon was 36 men it
consisted of three rifle sections each of ten men including a Bren gun er each
commanded by a corporal or sometimes a lance sergeant there was also a small
platoon headquarters with a two inch mortar detachment a Piatt which was a
anti-tank weapon the platoon sergeant and the commander’s Batman / runner on
July 31st 18 platoon consisted of 17 all ranks 12 of whom were recent
reinforcements Hill 112 and brick wrister guard had claimed the rest so
think about that you’re supposed to have 36 people in your platoon and they have
17 of which 12 are replacements which means that 29 people had been casualties
there’s seven people that had been either killed or wounded they’re sorry
seven people out of this 36 that hadn’t been killed or wounded that remained in
the platoon right now so that’s what we’re talking about here and again he’s
come in no combat experience he rolls in and going back to the book I sensed
instantly that a tight grip was required particularly so because those few who
survived Hill 112 had witnessed what was without a doubt the most horrific
tragedy that befell the battalion during the entire case
Payne so he’s about to explain what they had been through he wasn’t there for it
but he knew and he had heard what they had been through and I’m gonna say that
again this is the most horrific tragedy for the entire campaign this is what
they’re coming off of him this is who he’s going to take over for because what
they had been through back to the book during a nut during a company night
attack one of our soldiers had been hit in the lower chest by a rifle or
machine-gun bullet passing through his body it had not killed him outright the
bullets devilish coarse lay through the soldier’s webbing equipment pouch which
contained a 77 phosphorus smoke grenade which exploded caught on barbed wire the
poor soldier laid disemboweled for all around to see his writhing body a
smoking mass of burning phosphorus responding to his agonized screams to
put him out of his misery his platoon commander shot him through the heart and
finally through the head after the poor man’s final frenzied please not there
sir through the head Doug Proctor was witness to this sublimely courageous
incident which seared itself upon all our hearts so that’s what you’re going
to take over for okay can you do that I mean is that like legal you know like if
they found out that that happen I have no idea what the legal ramifications are
but the moral weight on the shoulders of the men that witness that is is
unbelievably it’s hard to imagine what that feels like back to the book to the NCOs sergeant
Jim Kingston and corporal Doug Proctor immediately reported to me and explained
forcefully and in great detail the poor state of the platoon as they knew it to
be so you’ve got these guys these are the senior enlisted guys in the platoon
Jim Kingston and Doug Proctor you hear a lot about them and they’re coming from
here’s this new guy checking in and they’re coming to him and they’re you
know telling him how what what a bad state the platoon is in back to the book
while they did so I was conscious of being weighed up was I fit to be their
platoon commander they were responsible anxious and discriminating NCOs
that stands for noncommissioned officer to the senior enlisted guys and my
apprenticeship was to start immediately they were startled by my attire
previously warned by a young officer who’d fought in Tunisia that battle
dress was most unsuitable for brat battle I had come prepared in sand
colored corduroy trousers and a stout pullover not unlike that now worn
throughout the army among my prejudices was an acute dislike of steel helmets
they gave me headaches on exercises in England I had been obliged to wear one
but the surge of individualism which now engulfed me convinced me that this was
an article of equipment best left out of battle so he’s he shows up and he’s kind
of dressed out of uniform doesn’t want to wear his helmet wearing corduroy
pants back to the book battle schools in England had insisted that off infantry
officers should wear the same equipment and dress as their soldiers the idea
being that they could not be then be so easily identified by enemy snipers they
also decreed that one should carry a rifle or a Sten gun clearly this was
ridiculous how on earth could your own soldiers recognize you in the heat of
battle if you went through such lengths to disguise he had the same the same
attitude as Lieutenant lean Korea that was wearing the orange vest you remember
that so he could be identified in battle by his own men that’s what this guy’s
attitude is like I’m not going to dress like I would also need to be they need
to know who that I’m out there how could they need
to be able to see me back to look I dispensed with the rifle and gun –
because I’m hopelessly short-sighted and I did not fancy trying to command a
platoon while got up like a Christmas tree
meaning covered in a bunch of gear as a concession to impending battle I sported
a 45 colt automatic pistol with two spare magazines the 38 Enfield revolver
then general issue throughout the army managed to combine total mechanical
liability with complete ineffectiveness I once fired six shots from one at a
target pinned to a plywood board none of which even penetrated the board
neither did I hit the target which gave me little confidence in this weapon the
nine pounds I paid for the colt proved a sound investment so there’s a lot of
people that like to talk about what type of sidearm there you’ve got a big
proponent for the Colt 45 the old classic again important to remember that
he’s not even carrying a rifle because he knows his job asleep nicely when we
had to seal seal leaders that would spend too much time on their gun I would
say hey you know what they used to care in the Marine Corps in the army if you
were leader you know they’d carry they carry a pistol so give me a rifle and we
take it from like you you need to be leading not shooting life talks about
that a lot oh yeah it’s very you know life talks about his mentality which was
he wants to shoot yeah he’s from Texas you know he wants to shoot his gun and
he realized hey I’m not here to shoot my gun I’m here to you know be a high port
and be off my gun and leading that’s my job
and these guys took it to the point where they’re not even carrying a rifle
now he’s talking about his senior leadership a little bit his enlisted
leadership back to the book Jim Kingston was short quiet and shy with the
shrewdness of a countrymen although he had lived and worked in Bristol all his
life he barely raised his voice but had total command over his section there was
no argument with Jim but that’s another thing to fight about this book this book
it takes so many stereotypes from from
Sidney Gerry on down like the stereotypes are just out the window of
the way this platoon was and there’s a classic example you know you picture the
senior enlisted guy this bra you know Gunny Highway scenario not
happening hmm now he now he talks about Doug Proctor
back to the book Doug prop Proctor although a Somerset came from nodding
him also short he was positive direct with unfailing common sense and like Jim
quietly dominated his section so there’s another and I got to see some great
leaders there are some guys that were in learning to you bruiser that were quiet
when they were into you bruiser and when I was putting them through their next
workup I was thinking myself hey they’re gonna
be able to step up the lead and that’s exactly how they did it right there they
were just like quiet professional and controlling but they’d run their mouth
to get it done back to the book I had not previously
met any platoon like this one they were quiet thoughtful and on abrasive
soldiers there was little swearing and there existed a tranquility in their
relationships with one another their eyes implored me not to fail them two
factors were immediately apparent firstly the platoon required quiet thumb
and confident leadership so that’s a good assessment you know you can see
these guys don’t need anybody yelling at them and here’s the second point
secondly if I failed to use my imagination and slavish ly followed the
battle school drills most of the platoon would not survive another major battle
so all the things he learned the standards typical stuff that he’d
learned that wasn’t gonna work and it hadn’t worked that’s what I had so many
replacements come in back to the book in fact the problem that faced me with 18
platoon was identical to the one facing general Montgomery our Army Group
commander how to fight and defeat the cream of the SS Panzer divisions in the
close norman normandy bocaj and still retained sufficient infantry
riflemen to live and fight tomorrow the problem was a difficult one obviously I
must set an example and always lead from the front however if I became overeager
and got myself killed or wounded the whole object of my previous training and
my responsibilities to my platoon would be cast away I would in fact be letting
down 18 platoon so he knows he’s got to lead from the front same time he knows
gonna stay alive hmm he knows got to stay alive and this Normandy fighting
here he talks about Normandy being a defenders paradise meaning when you’re
on the defense and Normandy it’s good it’s a paradise for the people on
defence which was the Germans back to the book we fought from one hedgerow to
the next up torturous overgrown sunken lanes ideal country for the German
defender but appalling for attacking infantry however no arm but infantry
could take and hold the Normandy Bocage bocaj is like a trees shrubs mangled
together it was here that I served my apprenticeship and the platoon developed
its character which despite constant depletion by casualties over the coming
10 months it would retain until the end of the war it was also here that
imperceptibly I became possessive with 18 platoon it was mine to be guarded
with an almost maternal jealousy that resented all criticism of my soldiers
that’s building at this point most important it was in the Bocage that I
began to appreciate how vital is grip grip on oneself grip on one soldiers and
grip on the situation unlike characters and novels and films most men react
nervously to real battle conditions discipline and regimental pride are
supports but in decisive moments of great danger the grip of the leader
on the lead is paramount infantry section platoon commanders must possess
the minds and hearts of their soldiers strength of character is not enough
successful leadership in battle although complex and intangible always seem to
need to depend on two factors firstly soldiers must have confidence in their
leaders professional ability and secondly they must trust them as men so
there you go they gotta have confidence in your ability and Trust and this trust
topic comes up all the time and I use the word relationships kind of
interchangeably with trust I always have to remind myself to point that out that
when I’m talking about relationships and building relationships in business on
the battlefield in life relationships are trust that’s what they are yeah they
build your relationship on trust and I guess you could have you know
relationships that aren’t built on trust that those are like another thing you
know I have a relationship with that guy but you know yeah so but that’s not
that’s not one thought I’m already I’m a good relationships yeah those are based
on trust and there’s obviously the second most important thing to him so
first is confidence in their ability and second is trust I like this part it
helps to if a leader has the reputation of being lucky Field Marshal Montgomery
placed great importance on the principle of making the enemy dance to your tune
nowhere is this more important than in platoon and company battle it is
decisive because if you do not dominate events your enemy will there you go
that’s jiu-jitsu right there be first fever yeah you’ve got to be first you
got to dictate the pace you got a you got to be proactive back to the books
sound leadership like true love to which I suspect is closely related is all
powerful it can overcome the seemingly impossible
its effect on both leader and lead is profound and lasting even after the
passage of 40 years brief mention of the battalions finest officers and NCOs
bring brings a smile to the faces of the survivors of my platoon their resentment
of those who failed to lead when it mattered most still runs astonishingly
deep so leadership can overcome seemingly impossible this is why
leadership is the most important thing on the battlefield now he’s going into
his so that’s kind of his assessment and this is based on his experience which
we’re about to get into then he does more assessments there’s more he talks
more about what he learns about leadership as a whole but you have to
kind of understand what he went through and figure out where he learned it from
the first his first command in battle here we go back to the book we were to
attack this rugged hill from the West with the 5th Wiltshire’s on our right
and the 4th Wiltshire’s in reserves the approach march to our forming up place
had been a nightmare of swirling abrasive dust shelling and the stench of
exhaust fumes from the tanks which transported us forward we were due to
attack at 1500 hours with a company leading on the right and B company on
the left we followed B Company B Company moved off quickly with our company
deployed about 300 yards behind their forward platoons had barely crossed the
stream when concentrated spandau fire came from the front and from both flanks
so spend now fire this is kind of a generic term that the Brits used for
German machine guns they’re primarily talking about the mg42 which is a big
belt-fed machine gun very similar to a modern what we have m60 or mark 48
machine gun a big heavy belt belt fed machine gun which lays down the insane
amounts of suppressive fire so here we go they’re getting hit from both flanks
from with these machine guns back to the book there must
been about 12 machineguns firing at one time this devastating display of
firepower stopped the battalion dead in its tracks
there was no way forward or around it and no way to retire some of the guns
had engaged D company over the heads of B company and private Morrison 18
platoon was killed so there’s his first guy lost I like this the way he starts
off this next sentence here first word powerless so he’s in his first combat
situations got one man killed and how does he feel powerless here we go
powerless and crouching in a hedgerow I tried to identify the spandau positions
this proved impossible as they still kept up their crushing display of
firepower in my ignorance I expected that the enemy machine gunners would
soon expend their ammunition they did not nor did they in dozens of subsequent
battles so he’s waiting for them to stop shooting they don’t it just keeps coming
captain’s camel commanding a company was severely wounded major Thomas commanding
D Company was killed their companies were badly cut up on our right v
Wiltshire’s had fared no better with their co killed and casualties mounting
their attack also foundered as the afternoon turned to evening shelling and
mortaring increased much of it passing over our heads thus isolating us from
the reserve battalion so that the Germans are more during over their head
so at the reserve battalion can’t get to him shortly before dark a troop of tanks
arrived one of which was able to cross the stream and give us some brave close
support undoubtedly it increased our morale but it was not enough to get the
whole attack underway again any movement by B Company to our front brought down
instant and concentrated spandau fire the same applied to us a few hundred
yards to their rear fortunately the enemy did not seem to have any anti-tank
guns so our armoured friends were
parrot of ly safe but the fact remained that about 12 span doze had halted a
battalion attack without our locating even one of them
that’s what suppressive fire does that’s what that’s what a big machine gun does
you got 12 big machine guns they’re stopping 700 people from moving
that’s called suppressive fire that’s why you know you heard Roger Hayden talk
about how how many heavy weapons they how many machine guns they’d carry they
had I think they had nine out of over to the 14 that’s why yeah as dusk fell a
new plan was made C&D companies would advance in single
file through a and B companies and using the cover of dark darkness infiltrate
the enemy position once through them we would climb to the top of the hill and
consolidate a cold and damp mist descended which with fading light gave
us welcome cover but also wretched discomfort we were still in shirtsleeves
which became damp from the sweat of our exertion climbing the steep lower slopes
alert which pistol in hand I anticipated a sudden brush with an enemy post not a
shot was fired by some miracle we passed right through their positions without
being too decked detected our luck had changed so you’re going to see quite a
bit of that is as they what the Germans were doing at this point defending hard
but then instead of staying and dying in most cases they would retreat and so
they fight really hard for a while and then retreat Advaita advance if they had
a opportunity but you’re going to see a lot of that back to the book we now had
to advance across a large orchard so I deployed the platoon with two sections
up and urged them forward as fast as possible suddenly in the middle of the
orchard we came across a young girl in a clean white dress sitting with her back
to an apple tree sketching now I just talked about this the muster of the
random things that happen in combat and this is what I’m talking about and how
do you train for that how would you ever if you’re running a battle problem to
train people what are you going to do put a white grow on a white dress and
then sitting with a back to a tree sketching doesn’t make any sense how do
you deal with it back book she seemed quite oblivious to the
border fire in 18 platoons warlike appearance how to stop pretty young
girls from interfering with battle had not been part of my training as an
officer cadet nor had it appeared on the curriculum of any battle schools which
without exception had despaired of my future as an infantry soldier
fortunately there was a farmhouse beside the orchard and it had a cellar where
she was persuaded to shelter while we got on with our battle I reported what
had occurred to our company commander who told me that I was being quite
ridiculous really Jerry you’re being absurd with that remark I realized that
he had been a schoolmaster a breed with whom I had been in conflict until quite
recently a breed with whom I’d been in conflict with until quite recently so
this guy has the the attitude of a schoolmaster which in England is a
little bit different and especially in the 1930s and 40s you know the strict I
think of a Pink Floyd you know the headmaster how can you have any pudding
if you don’t eat your meat that guy that’s what he’s comparing them to his
next sarcastic remark I would be obliged Jerry if you would kindly get on with
the war he gave me a little indication of what he wanted my platoon to do nor
did it inspire confidence we were still over 200 yards from the meadow
surrounded by cornfields which was the company’s objective it now became
apparent that our company commander had an academic and detached attitude of
mind which made it quite impossible for him to command the company so the
company the company commanders on the game there’s one thing to be detached
from your emotions to make sure you’re not getting caught up and mayhem there’s
another thing to be so detached that you’re not even aware of what’s going on
and actually I had a name for this when I was running training battlefield
aloofness is what I called it because we get these guys you get these guys and
we’d be running these crazy battlefield problems on them and there’d be not to
be crazy and you’d go I remember one time there’s a the task unit commander
there’s always mayhem going on the platoons are getting overrun and people
are getting you know shot with paintball and they’re not hitting their objectives
and I walk over to complicated he’s sitting in a Humvee our
sorry the the tu commander the troop commander he’s sitting in a Humvee and I
like the windows up because they’re both windows but he’s gonna get shot with
paintball the windows up he’s just sitting in there he’s got his headset on
others radio like a knock on the door I’m like hey man you know what’s going
on out there he said well I’m trying to gather that information right now and
I’m like bro you’re gonna gather anything here but dust yeah you need to
get out there and make something happen because his idea was you know I need to
be detached yeah which I talked about being – that’s all the time but there’s
a difference between being and as you see the same thing in businesses where
the the the boss or the leader has no idea what’s happening on the ground
floor right he doesn’t know what the the workers are doing so he’s so far
detached that he’s he’s you know let them eat cake right right that’s where
that’s where this guy is wait so why is that it’s because what they they just in
a way just depend on them to just handle it on their own
thanks for gonna handle it on their own which is a good attitude to have until
they can’t handle it anymore right right once they can’t once a once a team or a
platoon or a business unit can’t handle it on their own and they’re failing you
have to get you have to go do your job you have to step up you have to step
down you have leader you have to get in there
and is where that stuff away yeah yeah so it’s that without the get in there
part right it’s just like I did it call me when it’s done yeah and and the
problem is somebody’s gotta sort these problems out yeah yeah they’re there
they’re real and and they’re not getting better and you might take you a minute
to go okay wait a second these problems aren’t getting better what should I do
once you realize that they’re not getting better you got to get in there
make it happen yeah this guy’s not doing that back to the book he’d be behaved
like a supercilious umpire on an exercise in England at any moment I
expected him to admonish me for bad tactics and the schoolboy and me feared
that I might be sent to the headmaster for a beating so they continue on when
he’s the highest point which face the enemy and the other platoons quickly
deployed to give all around offense of the other flanks after being more gird
the company required no courage meant to dig in it’s a real
motivator getting mortared will make you shovel hard yes the company commander
walked round the platoon positions eyeing everyone with distaste nothing
pleased him and he suddenly announced that he must
sleep which he did in my slit trench getting not a good feeling about this
company commander just looking at everyone like negatively and then all of
a sudden he wants to sleep I like this guy and of course he sleeps in in my
trench yeah now this is good there’s another officer that’s there that’s
present a guardian angel was watching over us in the guise of Dennis Clark
Dennis some years older than me was exceptionally kind to me and tolerant of
my immaturity pay attention this is good he took my took me by the arm a few
paces away from my platoon who the hell is in command of this shambles sunny I
muttered the unconvincing explanation that it was our company commander
looking me straight in the eye he drew a deep breath which managed to express
both exasperation have my explanation and sympathy with my predicament you and
I know that he is not so what are you going to do about it I asked him if I
should take command his expression hardened yes you bloody
well should some demonstration of loyalty to my wretched company commander
was obviously required I blurted out that he was really a schoolmaster and
not a professional soldier so it’s kind of defending him Dennis put his arm
around my shoulder and whispered in my ear so was I sunny so that’s awesome the
company commander is not leading and this this guy Dennis Clark I think he’s
a artillery gunner pulls this guy’s head aside and just bro you better take
charge of this and you better do it quick back to the book we were now well
dug in on objective the company commander was
still asleep Denis was arranging defensive fire tasks for me I had
assumed command of D company without a word passing between our company
commander and me in practice it made not the slightest difference because because
like a bad preparatory school master he saw his role as one of examination and
criticism this he continued to do despite the incredulous stairs of the
NCOs so he’s taking charge and and he hasn’t
even said anything he just done it he just took charge and all the guy the
guys continued to walk around did stare glare at everyone but that doesn’t
matter so this is a classic example your leaders not leading I I’ve given this
answer so many times but this is a classic this might be one of the best
examples your leaders not leading that’s fine good step up and lead yourself back
to the book by dawn the enemy had retired and elements of the Italian
moved forward to consolidate and strengthened D company’s position the
whole operation was very amateur there was no doubt that the new company
commander could not command a company in battle nor could I who is just beginning
to master the rudiments of commanding a platoon he was removed within a few
hours I think Denis had something to do with it but he was not the kind of man
to confide in twenty-year-old subalterns so that’s
another classic thing right there is that this guy Denis who is another
officer probably went and said get this guy out of here get this company
commander out of here but when he does it the company commander gets removed
and and he doesn’t say anything to Sidney Gerry he doesn’t you know rat it
out or brag about or make a big deal he doesn’t say anything just happens
it’s like when I had a mutiny in my platoon and the commanding officers like
no we’re not firing anyone you guys get out of here to shut your mouths and go
back to work we’re like ok and then a few days like a week later he got fired
but it wasn’t because of us as far as we know right no one’s anything we just
knew he got fired yeah what reason hmm Thanks we had something to do with it
but it same thing so you don’t need to you create distrust and disloyalty and
and not even just those words but you don’t need to create drama yeah right
don’t create the drama yeah that guy’s going to consumers getting billed in
somewhere else hey you guys want everybody yeah yeah we’re not doing that
yeah we’re not doing that when I’m building up our own ego yeah by
disparaging someone else’s let’s worry about the whole team yeah sound sounds
like a good idea to me you know back to the book I now have little doubt that
for the first two months in Normandy we lack two things comprehensive and
imaginative training and personal experience of battle we’re also
seriously handicapped by our casual attitude to many junior officers did not
think for themselves and persistently relied on the narrow
teaching of battle schools whose Dogma had assumed the proportion of Holy Writ
so whatever he was taught he was taught that’s the only way you can ever do it
and these guys let’s talk about this many times on them on the podcast the
goal when I was running training was to actually get the people to think it
wasn’t good sure you have to establish the baseline standard operating
procedures that’s great and those need to be rock-solid but once those things
are established you need to make people understand that you don’t always follow
them and you need to call off a piece of that standard operating procedure to
insert some other thing and bring in another percenter operating procedure
and mix and match them so you get something that’s effective you need to
think that’s what a leader needs to do and leader needs to think back to the
book the British infantry platoons and companies were over trained and bored
stiff with basic infantry tactics which as far as they went we’re good
much of this training unfortunately had been in the hands of battle school
instructors who themselves lacked battle experience and imagination these tend to
become pedagogues disciples of DS directing staff solution about which no
argument could be tolerated so DS’s that we he mentions in a bunch like that’s
their solution the directing staff you can argue with them they’re the stairs
of cadre yes yeah possibly like most of our entry
infantry they suffered some consequences of the pre-war shortage of creativity
intelligent regimental officers too few of them were professionally dedicated to
the extent that they could visualize how battles will be fought and identify the
problems that might arise when planning them they seemed to lack the capacity to
think relentlessly through these things until solutions were found much of their
time had been spent policing the British Empire also unlike the Germans we
British instinctively avoid displays of keenness the enthusiasts particularly if
he is innovative is an embarrassment thus the battlefield became our teacher
and inevitably it exacta dag rim price in blood and time so as you’re training
you’ve got to push yourself hard you’ve got to put yourself in situations I
don’t care what you’re training for I don’t care if you’re training for combat
in a seal platoon in an army infantry platoon or if you’re in the business
world and you’re training your leaders to handle situations or you’re training
your customer service reps to handle situations what no matter which one of
those you’re in you need to push people hard you need to put them in worst case
scenario so that they need to learn how they need to learn how to think to get
out of those problems I recall with embarrassment an incident at 45th
Infantry Division abadan school during the spring of 1944 an exceptionally tall
and good-natured Canadian officer had been sent to the school to give a talk
on the street fighting he had experienced in Italy it was an
interesting talk but some of his advice ran contrary to that being taught in the
school when the lecture was over the chief instructor with insulting
condensation thanked this shy and kindly man for a vivid word picture and turning
to the students warned us that at as this officers experience was probably
unusual we had best not stray from the Diaz
solution has taught at that school so you’ve got a combat veteran coming back
with experience from street fighting in Italy and he’d come back with some
different tactics and they tell them that you don’t listen that guy that’s
just a rare case mm-hmm closed mind will get you killed this is starting to talk
about their overall sort of formulation of combat plans and how they operate it
back to the book the most successful actions by 1815 were fought without the
support of artillery or armor we had learned in a hard school how to skirmish
infiltrate and edge our way forward the right or left flanking platoon attack so
beloved of the battle school staff would rarely succeed in the Normandy bocaj I
remember with horror being locked into timetables of meticulously planned
larged battles these invariably left the junior
infantry commander no scope for exploitation if you found a gap in the
enemy defenses adherence to artillery program which rarely could be altered
effectively stopped any personal initiative so what that’s saying is you
have these the artillery that’s going to drop bombs they’re going to bomb or
strike with artillery at certain regions and certain times so you might see the
enemy running away and you have a chance to gain a superior tactical position but
you can’t because you know that that’s where the bombs are good that’s where
the artillery is can be hitting in the next 12 minutes so you can’t go so now
you sit and wait so yet locked in by that back to the book to me the
preparations for these battles assume the demented proportion of a Kafka like
nightmare ballet in which the anonymous they ordained that we must perform a
choreographed ritual dance McCobb I felt trapped and
helpless no solo parts were written into the score nor was there scope for small
groups of performers in this mammoth ballet of machines undoubtedly far
shadows from the soul at the Battle of Somme
and my emotions but instinct told me that this kind of show would be unlikely
to succeed the irony was that this support was planned and given to the
infantry with the best of intentions the psalm had cast its shadows on our
artillery and armored commanders both genuinely believed that their hands they
that in their hands they had the Panthea which would protect us
the infantry from the terrible slaughter of 1916 instead they put us in a
straitjacket so very interesting viewpoint and and it’s something that we
need to pay attention to because you’ve got to be flexible you got to be
flexible and that’s exactly what about and these they would make these plans
that were so comprehensive and there was no you weren’t allowed to deviate from
the plans and when you’re not allowed to deviate from the plans and something
starts going differently than what you expected you’re trapped
yeah tough form back to the book far too much time had been spent fitting the
infantry and armor junior leaders into the big picture and too little time
spent training them and stimulating their imagination initiative and
individual resourcefulness to probe draw conclusions infiltrate and exploit
weakness in the enemy’s dispositions so he’s he’s criticizing this lack of
initiative lack of creativity and the training to get that initiative
creativity back to the book after the 1st of August 18 platoon never failed in
any attack sometimes we took a little longer than planned but we always got
there in the end in defense we never lost one yard of
ground nor did the enemy ever penetrate our platoon position and we always
dominated no-man’s land with our patrols whether persistent patrolling is always
sound policy I will argue elsewhere so he’s saying once he kind of figured it
out they didn’t lose any more they didn’t lose any attacks and they didn’t
give up any ground talks about the armor our armor was accused of being tiger shy
meaning scare the tiger tanks and the Germans and I
don’t wonder why the devastation caused by a single hit of an a millimeter
armor-piercing shell needed to be seen to be believed
and this is an overall statement for the infantry and armor the British Second
Army the sheer ferocity of the fighting in Normandy came as a solitary cell
Ettore shock for which they were in some ways unprepared so it was devastating
for these guys and now we start pushing out out of outer Normandy and pushing
into the CN and here we go they’re pushing in the next day 28 August D
company occupied a Hera Court this is the only operation of war that I ever
known to go precisely as planned our supporting Field Regiment softened up
the objective with their 25 pounders the company advanced over open farmland
in immaculate formation and consolidated exactly on time the only thing lacking
was an enemy total bag one dazed German one dead German and one dead hare rabbit
room so the only one that ever went well was when there was no enemy to fight
against there was two Germans one of them was
dead the other was dazed and that was there the last battle in France back to the book experience in Normandy
had removed anxieties regarding commanding and under-strength platoon so
he hasn’t had enough men he’s supposed to have 36 he’s had like 17 18 19 in the
attack particularly at night a platoon at full strength is just too big to
maneuver quickly three rifle sections of about 20 above about seven men each plus
headquarters was ideal in defense it was a different matter the more riflemen on
the ground the better or short stay in the menzel Milan gave me time to think
the first opportunity to do so since I took command of 18 platoon it also gave
me time to meet and talk with other young officers in the battalion it was
then that I realized that 18 platoon was no ordinary platoon it had some
undefinable magic no quarrels little swearing despite the war that was the
despite the war there was something peaceful about it a helping hand was
always available for anybody the emotional links were firm and true I was
a happy man so he realizes once he starts talking the other platoon
commanders he’s got this really special platoon that gets along great and he’s
he realizes it doctor look no young officer can command a platoon in battle
on his own in Normandy I’d seen platoon commanders
served by poor NCOs struggling to gain some semblance of control over their
bewildered and frightened men I had also seen platoons with good NCOs go to
pieces in the hands of an indifferent officer Jim Kingston Doug Proctor and
Owen Cheeseman set the standard and tone for 18 platoon without them I as a
platoon commander would have joined the ranks of so many poor young officers who
never achieved grip now going to another he’s putting together another plan as
they’re advancing and obviously this is a long book I’m doing an abridged
version hitting some highlights you should get the book I obviously get the
book by the book back to the book at zero four hundred hours on 24th of
September Douglas this is the new company commander Douglas Douglas held a
long oh group by candlelight in the cellar of the farmhouse at which much to
his annoyance I kept falling asleep we were ordered to advance straight
eastward down a narrow country lane from the orchard to the
main road and consolidate after the Oh group and Oh group is what they call
like when they’re when their officers get together and pass the word they
called Oh group after the Oh group I made myself unpopular by asking why
we’re advancing towards an area of considerable German opposition when my
patrol had found a better route by which we might outflank the enemy so the so
he’s saying hey wait why because that his patrol his platoon had been out on a
patrol and found a better route and he’s asking why and he kind of gets shut down
I was just 20 years old at the time and even then I knew I was incapable of
disputing orders without giving offence we started at zero six hundred hours two
platoons leading on either side of the track the third falling in single file
down the track itself on either side were the small Holdings were small
holdings a few allotments and bungalows surrounded by small picket fences the
platoons advanced through the gardens and vegetable patches and passed on
either side of the bungalows the rear section searching each one quickly and
while they’re searching these little bungalows as they’re on patrol they find
this back to the book during one of these hurried searches one section found
a Dutch family the windage ‘as father mother son and daughter riddled by
Schmeisser fire that’s a German machine-gun they lay in awkward postures
of death amid their ransacked home a visit from the SS no tears came nor did
they come a half an hour later when we came upon the charred wreckage of an
American Dakota it had carried us parachute troops of the 82nd Airborne
Division and their torn and burnt bodies littered the orchard like charred and
mutilated rag dolls there was a further iron or irony attached to the front
window in what remained of the dacotahs cockpit was a tiny teddy bear untouched
by flames two months before a lonely teddy bear and an impersonal pool of
blood had brought forth tears now I was collected an objective when
faced with in the span of 30 minutes with an atrocious murder and mass
carnage by fire and he’s referring there in the beginning of the book one of his
first experiences he’s by a slit trench and there’s a dead guy soldier in it and
there’s a little teddy bear and and for some reason you know he’s young he’s
inexperienced and it gets gets makes him super emotional he starts crying and and
now he’s a little further in the war he sees you know this horrible murdered
family and these tragically you know burned and killed paratroopers and he’s
able to detach emotionally from it back to the book the enemy decided to make
life unpleasant for us as possible by sudden unpredictable concentrations of
heavy artillery right in the middle of our company area we called them stalks
so he’s going to use that word it just means we’re getting bombed one of these
shells unfortunately fell right into one of 16 platoon slit trenches no trace
remained of the two men that were manning in it manning a Bren in my
platoon Lance Corporal Jack Lee and private Peter filmer were buried in the
trench they shared other members of their section quickly dug them out
unharmed very dirty and remarkably cheerful the self-propelled guns
increased their activities filling the sky above the company with ugly black
airbursts they could place these with uncanny accuracy to burst about 25 feet
above the road junction outside company headquarters the casualties mounted
company sergeant major Sammy Jones and spot Martin the jeep
driver were both hit outside company HQ it was Sammy Jones who committed the
battalions only atrocity late one summer evening as the shadows from high trees
and hedges fell across a small I’ll seal the Normandy we took some
young Waffen soul Waffen SS soldiers prisoner one of them a short stocky and
fair youth of about 18 proved insultingly truculent seizing the young
lout by the scruff of his neck Samri roared you can take that Glynn out
of your eyes my boy and putting the wretched youth across his knees he gave
his backside a sound whacking that is legit and that’s again you know Sidney
Gerry and he talks about how proud he is that his men his men’s behavior is so
upstanding throughout this whole miserable experience and even when they
see atrocities committed like by the SS they still maintain their discipline and
their character and this is this is what he does Oh your little punk kid I’m
gonna spank you you know tough little SS soldier getting put over the knee and
spanked so after the attack so now that this is again this is happening after
one of these attacks and and the whole the whole basic premise of this book is
attack rest attack rest attack rest so as I’m reading them kind of picking out
some of the attacks that they’re going on and they’re just moving through
France and then through Germany that’s what it is I should have explained that
earlier but this is after one of the attacks it’s interesting he says this
smiling face is vanished and the gray look returned once more men walked with
one err cocked in the air for approaching shells and with a slight
stoop if you remember I was talking on JP I was talking about how like you see
guys they have the magical little student yeah yeah that’s what he’s
talking about and JP didn’t have those do they fuse day enough like you stupid
he was not yeah you stupas you stand ready to get some but these guys as and
it’s contrasted because when they’re on the attack
they go into like JP mode they’re standing I’m straight they’re ready to
get some but then once they’re on the defense and they’re just waiting it’s
shelled they start to stoop they started to crouch a little bit he continues back
to the book the jokes began to peter out and the cheerful good morning sir ceased
when i went around the platoons that stand to morale was always hired during
an attack sitting around and being shelled is not an occupation to be
recommended so there’s a good lesson there if you or your team is being
defensive about things your morale is gonna go down mmm but you’re waiting to
get hit so go out and hit somebody you know go on the attack don’t wait around
don’t let your morale drown here’s another attack
back to the book scrambling out of the culvert we set a fast pace up the side
of the road to a company’s positions this immediately brought small-arms fire
down on us but by then we were then 200 yards of their slit trenches so on we
ran as fast as we could being soaked I began to steam my boots
squelched and seemed to drag me back clawing at my feet as in a bad dream and
stopping me from reaching the inviting cover of the slit trenches a company was
dug in with two platoons forwarded an orchard face to face the enemy who were
in dikes only a few yards beyond the third platoon was to the right rear
protecting the open flank and company headquarters to the left rear centered
on some farm buildings it was to these farm buildings that we ran hurling
ourselves onto the straw on the barn floor we lay panting and gasping for
breath John a cock a company commander appeared round the door of the barn
he looked Haggard and worn I doubt he had slept for a week the whole company
area was covered by the most intense Spandau fire and defensive and the
defensive battle here was one of fire supremacy which the Germans had
undoubted one a company’s morale was low they had
just lost Harry Barnes one of the platoon commanders who refusing to take
cover strutted about in his usual manner he took a complete burst of Spandau fire
under the arm Harry was an amazing and fearless fellow
who didn’t care a damn for anything even after the burst hit him he still lived
for about three hours the men respected Harry and with their idle shot down in
front of them they were very jumpy another time you have to watch out for
morale obviously now if you remember this book started in the summertime and
now we’re starting to get towards fall and this this was something I’d never
thought about before when fall comes you know the Sun is up for a shorter period
of time there here we go back to the book the nights became longer and the
dawn’s gray and chilly the sunsets were red and vivid and the days though
beautiful shortened rapidly as the nights lengthened the hours of stag
lengthened and with them the mental and physical fatigue of the company so they
have to stay after stay up you know rotate through watches at night you just
don’t get to sleep the whole time so if it’s dark for longer you got to stay
awake longer at night so that’s starting to wear on the company itself back to
the book there was there is one incident small room when remembered by itself in
a life of such incidents but very but to me very vivid in my platoon there was a
young lad aged 18 named Biddle he was of slight of build fare and looked a mere
child he had a pleasant personality and was liked by everyone he had joined the
company ATLA Menzel Malone after we had crossed the CN
at Vernon in August one morning there was a crack in a short interval of
silence soon the shout went out stretcher bearers echoed through the
orchard I ran towards the commotion and saw Biddle writhing in agony on the
ground at first he looked unhurt but as I tore open his tunic I saw a clear
wound through his abdomen coming out by his spine he soon became numb and was no
longer in pain but was very frightened and shivered we dragged him back behind
the house and applied field dressings to his stomach and his back in case the
wound started to bleed his young life slowly ebbing from his body our
stretcher bearers quietly and reverently carried him away the scene is now too
poignant to remember without shedding a tear after Biddle had been evacuated the
morale of the platoon dropped he had been hit while standing in his slit
trench by a sniper at least 300 yards away and you know it’s interesting and I
didn’t go into this part but there’s a part earlier in the book where he he
basically disparages somewhat the use of snipers hmm and he talks about how they
usually don’t gain you anything tactically but it’s interesting what it
does to the morale of a platoon isn’t it and he you know he doesn’t complete he
explains that there’s uses and there’s ever believed me there’s probably no
bigger believer in the use of snipers in the world than me but it’s interesting
yeah he he basically you can tell he’s a very a guy with you know this extremely
high moral character and he kind of gets the feeling when he explains it that you
know he didn’t feel comfortable with sniping because people aren’t expecting
it there’s not a battle happening he felt like it was a cheap shot mm-hmm
just but it’s interesting the effect that it actually has on his platoon in
this moment here we’re going to get to a point he’s got Germans are in a dike of
just a head of IT 18 platoon in 1815 is kind of pinned down and remember this
character from earlier Dennis Clark Dennis Clark was the was the guy that
pulled him aside and said hey you need to take command in this company well
like I said Dennis Clark or I thought I’d remembered I was right Dennis Clark
was a was an artillery guy that called an artillery so here we go back the book
I was saved by Captain Dennis Clark and see our tame gunner Dennis had a
virtuoso touch where 25 pounders were concerned sniping with one gun that
should get the buffers out he said with total confidence moving his 19 set into
monitor radio moving his 19 set into my platoon position no easy task in
daylight he gave us a display of the most brilliant professionalism
we had come to expect from the 94th field regiment by firing with only one
gun and making his mean point of impact beyond the Dyke containing the Germans
he slowly decreased the range yard by yard until one shell exploded in the
dike out came five very wet and shaken Panzer grenadiers ‘s during this episode
all the platoon had to remain in the bottom of their slit trenches because
Dennis’s shells came over our positions with minimum clearance I doubt if any
experienced infantry officer would deny that the Royal Artillery during the
Second World War were the most professionally competent people in the
British Army so again an interesting dichotomy because in the beginning he
talks about how the artillery can trap them because it’s being used in this
broad plan that’s locking in where there’s no deviation but here he’s
talking about how brilliant it is because he’s directly coordinating with
it he’s explaining to the artillery officer where to put those rounds what
the problem is and then letting the artillery officers solve it so there’s a
dichotomy there just like there’s a dichotomy with the snipers back to the
book after a few more days in the orchard we were becoming increasingly
exhausted and our fighting efficiency deteriorated this condition existed not
only in my company but throughout the battalion consequently the news of a
move back to rest came as a colossal colossal relief to us all but we did not
know who is going to take over our positions the takeover was to be at
night and was to be carried out as quickly as possible if the enemy
discovered it a determined attack could cause endless confusion and slaughter
during the late afternoon of one particularly unpleasant day
Douglas appeared at the company commander appeared with an American
captain and two lieutenants from a parachute battalion of the 101st
Airborne Division they patted around the company area in their rubber-soled boots
with the eyes of the whole company following them so 101st is coming in to
relieve them having wreckin ordered our area the
Americans returned to the company HQ to discuss administrative points for the
takeover the plan was for the American company commander to bring his company
down the main road in single file along the edge of the ditch when the head of
the column reached our company HQ they would be met by guides from each of our
platoons to lead the American platoons to their positions as soon as they were
on the ground our platoons will withdraw and assemble on the road
this may sound simple in practice at but at night in close contact with the enemy
it certainly was not this type of operation leaves two companies
particularly vulnerable during the handover a determined enemy could attack
and turn the operation into a massacre this is one of and I’ve said this before
on the podcast one of the hardest things to do is link up with friendly forces on
the battlefield and if you’re under fire it’s it’s even harder so this one
they’re trying to do it not under fire trying to sneak and make it happen
back to the book the rest of the day was spent packing making sure the enemy
noticed nothing of this nted activity we put our spare ammunition onto the
carriers with great coats and blankets the whole afternoon was strangely quiet
there was no activity from the enemy and we in turn kept quiet the Sun went down
amid a fiery sky looking east the sky was threatening li gray I went around I
went round my positions with sergeant Kingston before the Americans arrived
all my men looked tired and could hardly muster a smile as I went from slit to
slit many had contained two men and now contained only one together with some
momento of his former made a mess tin or a blood-stained jacket even a packet of
cigarettes wet and limp with Dew I wondered how many more mementos would be
there when the Americans were relieved about an hour later the Americans
arrived they loomed up in the darkness by the roadside padding along in the
rubber-soled boots without a whisper I fought at the time what
blended troops they were and how excellent their equipment I wasn’t
particularly impressed by the silent and quick way they were led by their squad
commanders to our section positions so there come the Americans to relieve them
one hundred and first Airborne Division who’s just outstanding soldiers they’re
just awesome and we worked with them I mean one of my platoons in Ramadi or
could live with them the first of 506 the band of brothers and you can tell
their reputation that the guys in Ramadi upheld that standard in every possible
way but it’s rooted all the way back to these soldiers right here sounds like
this is what struck me when I read that I was like oh this this that that
tradition of excellence in that unit has gone from world war ii from these guys
right here and it’s that same attitude that I saw with guys in Ramadi the same
attitude all right now he makes a statement here about this whole big
operation which was called Market Garden which was this giant operation to try
and cut off the Germans seize multiple bridges and there was three bridges they
were trying to seize and it it didn’t reach its full effect it wasn’t like a
complete mission success they didn’t achieve every objective that they wanted
to so here we go back to the book Market Garden was a sad operation complete
success coming so close and a stroke the war in Europe could have been finished
in 1944 undoubtedly mistakes were made both by the first Airborne Division
particularly their planners and also by 30 Corps and there was no shortage of
bad luck however in my experiences in my experience most battles are riddled with
misfortunes and mistakes and the suit of the sort found in this operation it was
not a failure because the ground was taken and a prerequisite to both
operation veritable and the Rhine crossings
wasn’t like a total failure back to the book I’m convinced that had the supreme
commander General Eisenhower given Market Garden the unqualified support
that it justified it would have totally succeeded despite its crop of pack Co
errors and planning and execution I suppose it was just one more casualty
of the American mania for dispersal of effort however it was without a doubt
the most exciting and imaginative leap land battle in which eighteen platoon
ever fought and I’m proud to have taken part so he’s talking about folks of
effort he’s talking about you if you spread yourself out too thin you’re not
going to you’re not going to make it happen we call that prioritizing execute
what’s the biggest priority let’s put our resources there we didn’t do that
and therefore didn’t get a full mission success now of course what resources
were there what was available there’s no one has unlimited resources no one if
you have that you have no issues right and just crush problems with manpower all right so now they’re moving beyond
Market Garden and planning actually planning he’s planning a patrol through
a village back to the battle school teaching at the time prescribed a
strength of twelve to twenty four a fighting patrol here again my instincts
and experience did not conform to their teaching he’s a rebel
how can you command and control that number of men in the dark particularly
in a skirmish Douglass the completely under tolerant of the absent abstinence
II of my opinions on these matters left the planning to me so cool Douglass’s
little decentralized command you figure out your plan then I like this the
composition of the patrol I based on personalities and not all to battle
school a toward a numbers so imagine that your your planning based on the
personalities of the individuals you have the countryside being comparatively
open I decided to take a brand gun being steady Williams and filmer would fill
the bill admirably if we ran into trouble they could provide
ring fire for any assault we might make or if things went badly they could cover
our withdrawal cover move obviously the assault party required strengthening so
I decided to take a total patrol strength of six men one Bren with seven
magazines and three armed with stands with five magazines and 436 grenades
each plus a pair of wire cutters I carried my Colt for grenades and an
umbrella my umbrella had been a source of
amusement to the platoon since I had found on the roadside in mook apart from
keeping me dry in or out of a slit trench it was useful when prodding for
mines and brought some fun and color to our lives
Jim Kingston and Doug Proctor fought otherwise maintaining a disapproving
silence which I failed to notice so now they’re out on patrol moving down the
bank the right we crawled forward in the mud and wet grass until we’re almost
past the orchard from which came the sound of digging and voices suddenly a
challenge came from our front followed by a shower of stick grenades thrown
from a trench just inside the orchard on our left one of the grenades landed
between my legs which were stretched out and spread apart as I lay flat on the
riverbank there was no flash its explosion seemed muffled and more
importantly owing to the soft mud I received not a scratch the game was up
now the concentrated fire of the three stands poured into the German into the
surprised Germans putting away my pistol I threw three 36 grenades in quick
succession into the orchard hurriedly reaching for my umbrella which eluded me
and then ignominy bignum aeneas lee we beat her retreat so he gets a gray throw
on him and actually had this happening to you Boozer some guys were out on a
patrol they were in an open field they had cover from one side because
they had pre-planned how they were in across this field and while they were
out there they got hit with machine-gun fire and then mortars and they got
mortars dating like on them and luckily because it was they were in like
muddy field like almost rice paddy scenario the mortars when they hit they
went into the mud and so they exploded but there was no all the district law
was all absorbed by the mud that’s a lucky day for to you bruiser right there
was we’ve also fired up with a cane mashing up now they get back into a
defensive perimeter I remember nights and defensive
positions like grosbeak stretched out in a slit trench trying to get an hour
sleep before going around the platoon positions to check that everything and
everyone was alright one felt and was dirty and in the small hours of the
morning with bootlaces cutting into swollen feet a foul-tasting mouth and an
aching stomach life had little to commend it the dirt and discomfort
worried me more than the danger danger for some reason that I’ve never
understood exhilarates but despite every effort to keep clean it did not always
prove possible and that was unbearable never once since I never once since have
I not been grateful to sink into a hot bath or slide into a bed with clean
sheets we went to extraordinary lengths to keep the dirt at bay once in Normandy
I washed and shaved in the rain water in the deep ruts made by carts afterwards I
discovered that 400 yards away the opposition had been overlooking my
ablutions a decent lawd who obviously approved of my personal hygiene
so estate agent Caleb hey this guy’s just trying to be clean let’s let him
continue back to the book during the campaign a teen platoon carried out
three types of patrols reconnaissance standing and fighting the first two
invariably useful because they provided information if only negative fighting
patrols of which I led many were a different and contentious proposition
unlike the German and American armies we had a vigorous policy regarding fighting
patrols particularly at night and when things were static on both sides on the
hence the thinking behind this policy seemed to me at times to be superficial
and probably leftover from the Great War World War one if when detailed for a
fighting patrol young officers queried the wisdom of its given object there was
always the standard reply I quite agree with you but it all helps to dominate
no-man’s land there is undoubtedly a certain validity of this argument but
was it worth the consequent loss of good young officers and NCOs I doubt it shortly after the war I was able to
briefly voice my reservations to my illustrious Army Group commander that’s
Montgomery by the way after giving me my MC that’s a Military Cross ribbon he
stepped back and said crisply patrolling his bloody isn’t it when I stammered
that it seemed a bit hard that it was always the same people chosen for
patrols he replied with a twinkle in his eye
one day you’ll command a battalion and you’ll understand the problem for
20-year old sub alternative exchange like this where the Field Marshal was
heady stuff but Monty’s mischievous humor and utter lack of philosophy
coupled with his single-minded professionalism professionalism extended
his personal influence to the most junior soldier in 21st Army Group we
felt we knew him and that he knew us often he did so that’s a great little
interaction you know he says patrolling his bloody work isn’t it and and Sidney
Gerry says yeah and the thing is it seems like it’s always the same platoon
that get made to do the patrolling and he says one day when you’re in charge of
battalion you’ll understand why that is and the reason why that is because
you’ve got the good guy and that’s the guy you’re going to send out you’re
going to rely on the people that get it done this is an interesting they’ve got
another patrol that they’re getting ready to have to go out on and the
patrol was to probe between the roads and advance if possible as far as the
forest beyond this its purpose was indeed vague Douglas called me and
another platoon commander to company HQ and explained it to us he then suggested
we should toss a coin for an embarrassing situation arose I fought
that the winner would lead the Patrol the other officer dissipated that the
loser would I lost the toss and got the job so so imagine that you and me are
saying alright there’s a dangerous Patrol we’re gonna have to do let’s flip
for it I’m thinking heads if I win I get to do
the Patrol you’re thinking of you win you don’t have to do the Patrol not
everyone was quite as fired up I guess a Sidney Gerry was and they wrap up a
relatively kind of uneventful patrol relatively uneventful patrol and he
returns and they’re having a cup of tea and some biscuits sir in true British
form back to the book it was said that I suddenly realized that I had been
commanding 18 platoon for three months to be precise three months in two days
before I joined the battalion in mid-july I had been warned warned that
my life expectancy would be about three weeks it seems strange to me now but at
no time did I anticipate being either wounded or killed I was just too busy
for thoughts like these and I become totally absorbed in my grim
responsibilities in July I had been ridden by doubt about my ability in my
innocence I’d expected success in battle to be the prerogative of a victor the
durum which is like the champion I now had no such doubts or illusions
furthermore I discovered just how much soldiers resent and fear a young officer
who sees battle as a means to win his Spurs
possibly at the cost of their lives so when you grow Lynn and your mr. beating
your chests anywhere here you’re going to prove yourself to the world yeah
don’t be that guy because you’re going to write checks with my life and we
don’t like that my duty had become clear to me it was to command 18 platoon with
quiet confidence providing I made them only once my mistakes would be forgiven
if my soldiers were to go we’re going to place their very lives in my hands they
in return or acquired of me a serious attitude to my profession if I could
achieve this with a light touch so much the better that’s an interesting comment
so you know he’s saying look what they require is that going to be serious
I’m going to be as serious as possible and the it’s like you ever heard the
term minimum force required yes yeah you believe you probably said as a bouncer
right hey you got to use the minimum force required so what are you saying is
that as a leader the lighter touch the better the
lightest touch you can use to lead it is better that’s pretty cool statement
that’s a good thing to think about thing how can you lead with minimum force
every time you go and use more than you then you need your your overexerting
right and who knows what kind of you know you’re taking away initiative you
might be stamping out morale so lead with that minimum touch I like that
so at this point they’re in a they’re in a position and there’s three of these
mark 3 75 millimeter self-propelled assault gun so they kind of look like
tanks they got big tracks they’re Germans they’re German and they’re and
they’re sitting out in front of them they’re in a they’re in a static
position the company’s in a static position and there’s these the tanks
sitting there three of them and Douglas looks at them thinking himself hey I
don’t know what those they look like they’re functioning they don’t look
damaged and so Douglas is saying okay well we need to find out what’s going on
even if there’s no one even if there’s no one in them right now it could be a
place where they use snipers later so someone’s got to go check them out so
hit me Jerry the guy goes out alone kind of sneaks out there he just stuff alone
a little bit more often this actually does stuff alone there’s another story I
didn’t mention but at one point there he hears noise look one of the guys reports
this nighttime may he hear noise in this field they think there’s an ax me out
there and he’s like well there’s one way to find out so he I think he does grab
another guy in this occasion but it goes out and he’s going through this field
and it’s like a cornfield or something and he can’t see and he’s horrified and
he’s trying to think of a reason to quit he’s like I just want to go back this
isn’t smart and as he as this is taking place and his fears climaxing all of a
sudden he hears a bunch of cows in the field interrupt
so you’re doing another solo operation here trying to find out what these tank
like us all guns are doing out there back to the book climbing up above the
tracks I put my head into the cupola which was open a familiar and terrible
stench hit me inside was a charnel-house six inches away a set of bared teeth set
in unrecognizable black and incinerated lump
and in me beside it a charred and bony arm reached up in agony spread on the
floor like a pool of tar lay the melted remains of the driver I had entered
Dante’s Inferno my head reeled and with my mouth nose and lungs filled with the
stench of death I fell back to the ground
although unmarked by fire on all on our side all three assault guns had brewed
up and were blackened on their sides which faced the enemy with no stomach to
look further I ran back to the company forgetting to look for American Minds
never again did I look into a knocked out tank or self-propelled gun I
reported to Douglas that nobody in the right mind would use them for an
observation post or for any other purpose later that day he asked that’s
Douglas Dulles asked the commander of a Sherman tank to fire some armor-piercing
shells into each of them positioning his tank hold down beside 16 platoons
positions which were to our left the tank commanders the tank commander first
selected the assault gun I had visited his first shell hit slightly above the
tracks like the hammer of Vulcan a red glow blossomed on the armor plate around
the point of entry and slowly faded it was followed by a second and third shell
until a mirage of heat appeared above it and for a second time the funeral pyre
blazed with an incandescent ferocity the Sherman gunner then turned his attention
to the next assault on which despite being penetrated by about six
armor-piercing rounds failed to brew up his first shot at the third caused a
massive internal detonation no doubt due to hammy nation stacked within a volcano
erupted from its cupola sending a dense cloud of black smoke smoke and red
sparks into the air a truly magneri in’ for the warriors entombed within but it
revolted me for the rest of the day I bleeded this communicated itself to my
NCOs and soldiers who stole mystified glances at my grief for an unknown enemy
during the afternoon I wandered across the road to a lone house where Dennis
Clarke had his observation post I was looking for solace from a wise and good
friend the post was filled with gunner officers there must have been a dozen of
them setting up their equipment in preparation for an attack by to14
brigade this activity precluded any solace for me immature and undisciplined
my imagination ran riot what were they like these men whose already incinerated
remains had been blasted into oblivion by the 75 millimeter shells of our
friend in the Sherman my attitude to war was ambivalent undoubtedly I was parked
pacifist but despite an abysmal record in mathematics and particularly in
geometry I was moderately logical for my age this clearly ruled out total
dedication to pacifism I had previously discussed the concept of conscientious
objection with clergy of all denominations but
none of them could give me constructive answers to my questions the privations
and suffering of 18 platoon hurt me an infantry subaltern is faced with a
conflict which cannot be resolved one gets emotionally involved with those
under one’s command without this bond few men will respond and consequently
little can be achieved however to win battles decisions have to be taken and
orders given which at times may seem to be a betrayal of this trust before battle the commander must exude
confidence and enthusiasm whatever fears his private thoughts may hold just how
thin a line divides this from deliberate deception I call it the commander’s
dilemma a pretentious phrase but there is nothing to be done about it in
Nicholas Montserrat’s book the cruel sea poor commander Eriksson makes the point
with poignancy it’s the war the whole bloody war we’ve just got to do these
things and say our prayers at the end there was another side possibly caused
by adrenaline danger attracted and excited me I felt elated and until the
battle was over I was impervious to exhaustion commanding a platoon in
battle demands not only a clear mind but also considerable emotional force I
suspected is the same transmitted force that exists between a conductor and
orchestra forty years later the dilemma of my ambivalence is still unresolved
I find the suffering inflicted by war unacceptable particularly amongst women
children and animals thank God I was spared the horrific sights at fillets on
some days I am a pacifist and yet I’m still attracted by the sounds of guns
and but for an extraordinarily happy marriage would have found it difficult
to resist the lure of soldiering so what he calls the commander’s dilemma
there’s what I call the dichotomy in leadership and that one is the premiere
of them all and that is as a leader as a combat leader you are going to love your
men and care about them more than anything else in the world and with that
you are going to make decisions and make plans where you are sending those men
into a situation where they can be wounded or killed and that’s it and that is the ultimate dichotomy of
leadership that is the hardest one to balance back to the book a new officer arrived
named Humphries he used to play cricket for worchestershire he came on the same
day that sergeant oxalá received a well-earned commission in the field
Douglas told them about Sargent oxen and with great consideration
he went to 17 platoons position to offer his congratulations while they talked
just one salvo of 105 straddled them on shell fell into second lieutenant
Auckland’s slit trench and both were killed instantly like me Ken auxin has
survived five months Humphreys survives not a full day is there a mathematical
formula by which survival can be calculated who are the survivors and can
they be recognized over the past 40 years I’ve often pondered this but still
offer no real answer I suspect however that is something to do with attitude
attitude seems to me to be a parameter which restricts not only our
relationships but also our creative effort further common is unwise
Humphries one could argue had little time to develop an attitude to our kind
of existence undoubtedly a self-fulfilling circle develops
newcomers inexperienced in the perils of the battlefield suffered the highest
casualties knowledge of what can and what cannot be risked postpones the
fatal reckoning for the soldier for the commander however Junior battlefield
experience will not only protect himself but also all those under his command and that’s the that’s why training is so
important so important that’s why when I got done with you know deployment romani
that’s why I went to training because I knew that right there and I was thinking
you know I didn’t know how long the war was glassed and when we left for Mahdi
Ramadi was still horrible and when the task unit came in relieved us man they
were getting after it and I didn’t know how long that was gonna last I mean it
ended up not lasting that much longer that kind of intense fighting but it was
impossible to tell at that time we were just barely seeing stuff start to get it
start to get better at the end of our deployment just barely starting to see
the first indications of that back to the book v Duke of Cornwall’s light
infantry had attempted to attack joven village through these ghastly woods and
had taken heavy casualties there rain-soaked bodies littered the paths
and clearings while carrying out a reconnaissance I came across one of
their sections lying across lying along a small path facing the enemy at first I
fought them alive until I saw that the studs on their boots were rusty and
their webbing equipment was bleached with rain their battle dress was
starched with mud and their hands and faces were Green German booby traps were
on or near many of the tracks and I was told by the company commander of the 4th
Wilshire’s from whom we took over the position that some of the bodies were
also booby-trapped don’t try to bury them he said I was
temporarily commanding the company because Douglass had been given a
well-deserved leave in Brussels although militarily comparatively
uneventful Hoeven has a special place in my memories it was rounded out my most
the most grisly and horrifying position that we have her hold held but more
importantly it was the place of private Charl
Ravens triumph Raven had fought in all our battles until 1:12 which to him was
a yardstick of horror all subsequent experience was compared with that his
first battle he was no soldier I doubt if he influenced greatly any discourages
encounters or battles in which he took part sometimes he was frightened and he
was so out of place on the battlefield that I often wondered how he became an
infantry soldier before the war he had been a clerk in North London I’m sure he
was a conscientious and loyal employee and considerate and loving husband for
unlike most of us he was married Raven had hidden depths and could be
inspired once in Normandy during a nasty little Platoon attack up a sunken Lane
18 platoon was held up by the inevitable unlocated Spann dose straining my eyes
to binoculars I was trying vainly to locate these guns when I was handed a
steaming mug of tea he should have been observing to his front but judging the
moment right he had brewed a Meston of tea on a solid fuel stove by any
standards this was an inspired act he was considerate with our reinforcements
pale unsure men some of whom until recently had served in the Royal
Artillery and had been transferred to infantry regiments to replace the
appalling losses incurred in the Normandy bocaj beside them Raven looked
bronzed and weather-beaten a hardened campaigner complete with a
German Luger pistol to prove it some of the platoon regaled the reinforcements
with horrible tales from Normandy and Elst as little more than a schoolboy I
found these stories amusing Raven did not
fear for him was horribly real and never to be joked about
he developed a paternal attitude toward the newer and younger soldiers a
relationship devoid of patronage but essentially one of kindly understanding
he spoke to me about it when he I thanked him for his help I admit I’m
dead windy sir his extraordinary honesty with himself on the rest of the tune
forbade him to attempt to hide the fact Raven and over taxes nervous and
physical resources long before we arrived in joven woods after two days in
the position he came to me late one evening and asked my permission to
report sick the following morning I suppose I should an thetic Lee had
refused but something made me hesitate and avoid dealing directly with the
situation I said simply alright Raven but do come see me before you leave he
didn’t come the matter was never again mentioned I can only surmise the
struggle which rage in his mind all that night while he crouched in his water
long slit trench peering into the sinister darkness of the wood I do know
however that in joven wood a considerable moral triumph over stark
horror was achieved by a good man unequipped for nature unequipped by
nature for war in my view the bravest of the brave so that guy Raven had been
through all this stuff and just barely held the line and finally he was going
to break climb he was going to break in it and he comes to City Jerry and says
hey I’m gonna go sick tomorrow mm-hm Timmy Jerry says ok come and see me
before you go it doesn’t come back doesn’t come back to him doesn’t go sick back to the book infantry warfare is
wretched business it makes physical and emotional demands on participants that
run contrary to all human instinct the strong minority must quietly help the
weak majority to me that is the essence of good teamwork and that jewel and the
crown of the British Army the regimental system is the strong foundation upon
which we all knowingly or unknowingly relied so there’s going to be some
people that deal with it better than others and you got to help here’s a
situation they set up early warning flares so
we’ll trip wires in case due to to notify them if the enemy is moving down
one of their flanks and here we go back to the book after about 10 minutes it
passed we heard the popping of mortars behind joven village and a concentration
of bombs fell in the fields where we had laid the flares suddenly our left flank
was vividly illuminated as flare after flare ignited knowing little about these
flares we had laid them with the trip wires to talk had we allowed a degree of
slack the flares would not have ignited my fault I should have known had to do a
little extreme ownership from Sidney Gerry and therefore y’all sure now he’s
talking about the attitudes of the soldiers and how soldiers you know there
was a claim here at an article years after the war that said that people Gil
people became brutal from the from the war then here’s what he says back to the
book does war brutalize one can only speak from personal experience but I
think not certainly no soldier of mine was made brutal rather the opposite war
developed an 18 platoon consideration for comrades and humanity towards
civilians and prisoners of war I was proud of my soldiers then and this
sentiment has increased with the passing of years I would not suggest that the
naturally boodle might not find in war an outlet for their brutality however
that war does not brutalize the type of decent men the type of decent and fair
minded young English men whom I had the very great honour to command
we were not an aggressive generation a fact which may explain my failure to
understand some present-day attitudes in the armed services particularly in the
Royal Marines and the parachute regiment possibly a degree of personal aggression
is appropriate in troops are committed to battle for comparatively short
periods like the Marines and the Paris when the success of an operation depends
on ultra rapid action however in my experience troops lose personal
aggression after about two months in battle after three months they acquire a
mature compassion which in no way detracts from their offensive capability
they simply know a lot more about war I would suggest that personal aggression
should not be confused with offensive spirit based on professional competence
and experience interesting cake that aggression that you can maintain if you
it’s not going to last forever and and then you’re gonna have to fall back on
duty and in that mature compassion which isn’t taken away from their offensive
capability interesting back to the book on the 11th of January
we return to the south a fine yeah just to go back to that one piece right there
dichotomy leadership there’s a dichotomy and everything and you know obviously
I’m a big proponent of being aggressive and I also always talk about the fact
that there is such a thing as being too aggressive you’re running to your death
no not a good idea not a good idea and there’s probably a
good chance that when he talks about people after two months of combat
everyone starts to develop a different type of attitude also the people that
were ultra aggressive didn’t make it like the kid like the leader that he
talked about that was strutting around the guy was ultra aggressive didn’t care
about anything and he’s dead yeah so there’s a balance you got to have that’s
the dichotomy of leadership that’s why the economy of leadership is so
important and so hard to understand back to the book on the day after the
battalion was relieved in joven woods someone I expect I suspect it was the
adjutant Tim Watson decided that I should enjoy 48 hours on leave in
Antwerp I was overjoyed the large hotel although faded was still plush and
filled with officers including women 80s officers from the various base units
stationed in the city just as I had left the battlefield I was both disheveled
and soiled surrounded by the residents many of whom were in service dress I
could not have felt more isolated and lonely so he’s getting some leave time
but he’s showing up off the battlefield grimy my first MIT visit was to a
magnificent white marble gentleman’s hairdressing salon in the basement of a
hotel without a word the barber washed and rinsed my hair
twice before touching it with his precious scissors and clippers I
remember the feeling of well-being as climbing the stairs I returned to my
room next I took three very hot baths one after the other to rid myself of
I’m both physical and emotional I think I must have slept for 14 hours before I
rose shaved took another bath and decided to explore the city a rather
creased battle dress was my best suit and in this I descended the main
staircase into the lounge which was filled with the resident officers all of
whom seemed to be annoyingly self-assured I met a barrier I had
walked out of a world that I knew into one where I was desperately unsure of
myself away from the battlefield this world had no place for me I did not go
out to lunch go to night clubs or meet the girls who were everywhere seemed to
be canvassing for these establishments I had wandered too far into dark and smoky
battlefields across the sticks to find solace or comfort in the bright lights
behind the blackout curtains of Antwerp I longed to return to the battalion and
2-18 platoon which without my knowing it had become my home with a light heart a
clean body flesh freshly laundered clothes and refreshed by hours of
unbroken sleep I gladly climbed into the 3-ton truck that took me there years
later I found the same problem after I left the army Antwerp had did a small
taste of the real world and as anyone who has served with good soldiers on
grim battlefields will confirm afterwards real life never seems real
again later there was no 18 platoon to slink back to
and without a loving life it would have proved intolerable well that’s the feeling that that we get
when you get done doing that job can real life never seems real again in
comparison I know the vets that are listening to understand that part back
to the book on 11 January we returned to the South Holland’s this time to gank
Anglet snow lay on deeply frozen ground and life for the entry and life for the
infantry Manning their split trenches became unbearable again the battalion
front was extensive D Company was in reserve closed close to battalion
headquarters on the edge of town fortunately gang L was on a reverse
slope which allowed us to move freely during daylight hours the cold was
penetrating the oil in our automatic weapons froze and until antifreeze
lubricants were issued our brands were useless holding a wide front with large
gaps between our company positions necessitated putting out many standing
patrols particularly at night the privation suffered by these small
patrols usually a corporal and three or four men or harder than the rest of us
some had hallucinations and if you were exact evacuated suffering from exposure
keeping fit warm and clean became a great effort conversation dried up the
platoon became quiet but never morose at one stage I decided they needed cheering
up and I wandered around the section post ready to chat with all of them it
was quite unnecessary I had wrongly judged their mood they just wanted to be
left alone now there’s a begin by the book and read
the book there’s a chaotic bottle battle at a pace place called cleave and after
the Battle of cleave he kind of debriefs here back to the
book what instructors at the school of infantry would think about the fighting
cleave I shudder to think it resembled no other battle in my experience I had
little control and it developed into a section commanders battle looking back
over the years it seems military league totally unprofessional a real Wild West
shoot-out tactically the Germans had every advantage we were strung out in a
long column amid shattered buildings and piles of rubbles with the groups of
parachute troops attacking from both sides they could snipe at us and engage
with our with their span downs from dozens of positions totally hidden by
piles of rubble they had the opportunity to concentrate their counter-attacks on
the narrowest of fronts but failed to do to do so so they failed to focus their
efforts I can only assume that we had the psychological advantage the
circumstances being so chaotic and disorganized perhaps being Germans they
could not overcome their instinct for organization and tidiness in the end
they departed possibly and discussed leaving us undisputed victors on another attack
the Germans at this point are retreating and they can see that they’re retreating
fearing that the retreating parachute troops would make a stand on the edge of
the wood I increased the rate of advance joining lance-corporal Porteous in the
forward section running across the level crossing I suddenly found myself face to
face with a German platoon complete with the mg34
fortunately the gun was mounted on a tripod which was unusual and could not
be traversed in our direction from a drainage channel on the left of the road
a parachutist leaped up swathed and camouflage veil pointing his Schmeisser
at me from about 10 yards range he fired a whole magazine of about 30 rounds it
was like watching a slow running silent movie I didn’t hear the chatter of the
Schmeiser but I do remember seeing the stream of
empty cartridges cartridge cases fly from the German machine-gun miracles do
indeed happen one 9-millimeter bullet went through my beret messing my head
literally by a hair’s width another went under the epaulette of my
jacket penetrating the webbing across brace the webbing crossed brace of my
equipment and grazing my right shoulder a third bullet ricocheted off the
surface of the road and disintegrated the jacket finally lodging in the palm
of my right hand then came the anticlimax the German
looked at me in amazement through his Schmeiser and I with a shrug of the
shoulders he surrendered my natural elation was short-lived behind me lay
Lance Corporal Porteous shot through the heart some of the German platoon ran
away across the open fields to our left and were cut down by rapid fire brand
gun by sergeant Kingston section which now lined the railway track to the left
the road the remainder the enemy came towards us over the level crossing with
their hands raised we took fifty
prisoners now they’re moving along and they are clearing some cottages and they
get to this one cottage filled with rough wooden bunks and it obviously
served as an air-raid shelter the house having been found clear of enemy Jack
Lee was off his guard as he descended the steps suddenly from under a pile of
blankets left the fanatical German paratrooper the only fanatical German
paratrooper we encountered the entire battle a large man he sees Jack around
the throat in an attempt to strangle him private flute rose to the challenge in a
bound he was down the steps and with a mighty lunge transfixed the German on
his bayonet a brave lad he undoubtedly saved Lance Corporal Lee’s Life just
eight days before losing his own the German was indeed unlucky as it was the
only occasion throughout the campaign on which 18 platoons bayonets were bloodied
we usually used them to open food cans having checked the platoon positions and
arcs of fire for the Bryn’s exhaustion hit me I fell into a deep sleep during
the evening a senior officer I understand it was either the brigade or
divisional commander came out to my company position when he asked to speak
to me sergeant Kingston refused to have me awakened I am sure that Jim was the
most diplomatic about it but it says much for our visitors
humanity that he let it go by another attack a and C companies were
unleashed and passing B company secured their objectives against some opposition
there is now our turn D company advanced across the flat open fields down the
left-hand side of the main road into zanten the name of the city village
casualties from the preceding companies and the opposition lay all around about
300 yards short of the town were extremely accurately engaged by a
battery of 105’s some of their shells exploded on the hard surface the road
ear-splitting detonations and frightening fragmentation pieces of
shell casing hummed and whined around us one coiling piece embedded itself with a
thud into the chunk of a tree a few inches from my right ear was the only
time in the whole campaign when I regretted throwing away my steel helmet
I think it was the accuracy and the intense noise of the shelling that
caused it one of 18 platoons lance corporals a big man who had served
honorably since Market Garden went to pieces there was a pathetic sight and to
everyone’s credit he was quietly removed from the battle he had passed his limit
and nothing more can be said so you don’t know these guys are brave
at one moment and then a week a month two months four months they can’t do it
anymore they get across the Rhine now they’re fully in Germany there’s a
little bit of a lull in the fighting back to the book early one morning while
we were waiting for our supporting armor to arrive our Padre John Williams drove
over asius after wandering around the platoon for a chat he suggested he
suggested that we should go for a short stroll I had now been commanding 18
platoon for over eight months and I suspect that our adjutant Tim Watson a
kindly soul had asked him to find out what shape I was in we had not gone far
into the next field when we came across some grisly remnants one of our
artillery shells must have exploded right at the feet of a German soldier
who had been digging a slit trench his splintered and twisted Spade lay beside
laid by the side of that half dug trench beside which was a smaller shell hole he
had been disintegrated into small pieces of flesh and bone which lay scattered
all over the field had I been on my own I would no doubt have shuddered and
quickly departed from this horror draped over a wire fence nearby lay a parachute
which our extraordinarily brave Padres spread out as a shroud on the cold and
damp grass then stooping he walked around the field a lonely figure
reverently picking up every piece of that poor soldier to my shame I stood
and watched him I lack the courage to help somewhere beneath those flat damp fields
just north of the Rhine that poetic pathetic bundle must still lie now they’re an attack again but it seems
like things are going their way and we’re going he’s kind of giving a brief
to his to his runner when all of a sudden he hears yelling back in the book
sir they’re charging us sure enough from about 150 yards ahead and well spread
out line of about 20 Germans were putting in a bayonet charge brave lads
they didn’t stand a chance I gave no orders except ceasefire not
one got within 75 yards of us a few minutes later a procession of Germans
with stretchers and a huge red flag emerge from the village behind when they
were close to their casualties they hesitated so I stood up and waved them
on all our unarmed stretcher bearers and they moved across our front collecting
their dead and wounded when they had finished their tasks of mercy one of
them I think he must have been a German medical officer turned and saluted in
our direction I returned the salute and with that gesture the tiny Battle of
cinder and ended in Bremen little over a month later one of our stretcher bearers
Lance Corporal Jay Stevens was killed by a German grenade as he went – 10 –
wounded German soldier 18 platoon remembering syndrome were justifiably
outraged by such on soldierly behavior there is a mathematical formula
aggression increases the further one goes behind the lines opposing infantry
with few exceptions like the SS are joined by a natural bond of mutual
compassion which few but the aristocracy of the battlefield can understand the
public influence no doubt by writers with literal no experience of battle
have strange and sometimes silly ideas about what makes a good soldier
ill-informed television programs have added to this
misunderstanding few professions can be have been so misleadingly caricatured I
had I been asked at the time before August 1944 to list the personal
characteristics which go to make a good infantry soldier my reply would indeed
have been why to the mark wide of the mark
plank most I no doubt would have suggested only masculine ones like
aggression physical stamina a hunting insect instinct and competitive nature
how wrong I would have been I would now suggest the following firstly sufferance
without which one could not survive so he’s listing what he thinks the most
important characteristics for for an infantry soldier are the first one is
sufferance the ability to suffer secondly a quiet mind which enables a
soldier to live in harmony with his fellows through all sorts of
difficulties and sometimes under dreadful conditions as in a closed
monastic existence there is simply no room for the assertive or acrimonious
thirdly below no less important a sense of the ridiculous which helps the
soldiers surmount the unacceptable add to these a reasonable standard of
physical fitness and a dedicated professional competence and you have a
soldier for all seasons none of the soldiers or NCOs who made 18 platoon
what it was resembled the characters portrayed
most books and films about war all quiet sensible unassuming and some by any
standard for heroes if I now had to select a team for a dangerous mission
and my choice was restricted to stars of the sports field or poets I would
unhesitatingly recruit from the ladder very interesting and you know obviously
you have to put this in the context of of his time but well there’s no doubt
that I mean you get a sports star especially these days those guys that
are getting paid 20 30 40 million dollars a year to play a game that
they’re probably not going to be the best at suffering in a trench interesting and I think the key point of
that is what he’s going back to what he talked about earlier someone that can
think someone that can think someone that is not trapped in thinking the same
thoughts as everyone else which certainly an artist or a poet has to be
outside the box of normal thought otherwise they become they don’t become
that right in this situation his platoon is kinda
pinned down and there’s an air-raid shelter which has someone in it is
firing these things called a Panzerfaust which is like a it’s kind of like a
bazooka or like an RPG looking thing and he sees where it’s coming from
and he sees that it’s this shelter but he doesn’t know who’s in the shelter
here we go back to the Kulu who else was in the shelter women and children
sheltering more enemy soldiers with more Panzerfaust and Spanos we were in a
vulnerable situation it was no good pushing forward and ignoring the Menace
lurking inside that shelter I could have sent two or three men to clear it
however experience had taught me that when clearing cellars that the first man
sent in is invariably killed instead concentrated fire was poured into the
entrance including a Fiat bomb around us the battle still raged and no
opportunity arose for medians for me to inspect the consequences of an awful
decision nevertheless my duty was to win battles and not to gamble with the lives
of my soldiers by fussing over too sensitive a conscience so there you go
there’s dichotomy for you at the one hand he’s looking at this shelter figure
there might be women and kids in there but at this moment in time he doesn’t
have time to find out and doesn’t have time to to take of the most cautious
route so they hammer it with machine-gun fire and some some anti-tank rounds he
never even goes to look but he knows that he can’t hit his duty is to win
battles and he can’t did he dally because he has a sensitive conscious
doesn’t work back to the book Bremerhaven was our
final objective it was 5th May 1945 19 days before my 21st birthday think about
what you were doing you were told I am that’s like so interesting ready to
break out we were concentrated at whilst at about 20 miles north of Bremen when
the end became and by the end I mean the end of the war 129 brigades order was
stand down and spliced the Mainbrace which is a military effective Navy term
splice the Mainbrace means like drinking light is lit you can drink the war is
over I had just given orders for our small partner brigades move forward
against 15 Panzer Division one of the famous Africa Corps formations in 1983
Jim Kingston gave me his copy of those orders which he had kept all those years
reaction to the end of the war like aggression increased further behind the
lines one went the natural aristocracy of the battlefield the infantry having
fired a photo joy of fairy lights curled up and slept we had learned too much to
indulge in shallow demonstrations so everyone’s all fireworks and getting
crazy these guys are like cool I’m going to sleep since July we had come a long
way from the Normandy beachhead the battalion had lost 47 officers and 1266
NCOs and private soldiers killed or wounded after July 31st 1944 no member
of 18 platoon was put on a charge no one went absent or deserted of the original
36 NCOs and soldiers who had landed in Normandy only corporal Cheeseman
remained one man many came after them and lasted
a few days weeks or months few I was able to thank adequately I doubt if any
of them realized how much I personally owed a teen platoon when I joined them
on 31st to July I was naive and gouge due to a narrow upbringing except for a
passionate love of music my intellect and emotions were unstimulated my
achievement at school had been abysmal my mind was undisciplined and confidence
in myself nil this was rapidly swept away probably even three weeks certainly
before we crossed the sin on the 20th of August discovering an ability to command
a group of men some frightened and bewildered produced a newfound
confidence particularly since I seemed to be able to achieve it quietly and
without acrimony or fuss having to improvise tactics to overcome the
shortcomings of battle school training also helped it proved to me that in some
circumstances older and more experienced than I otherwise that I could be wrong I
suspect that as an only child I had been brought up in too much of my elders a
new world had opened before me forethought and planning were demanded
imagination and instinct too was that apparently quiet Normandy Lane lethal
the intense spandau fire and more during along a dike was it a prelude to an
enemy’s withdrawal did the orchard in front of the village hide 88 my judgment
in these things had proved equal to better than most of than the most and it
was the making of me it also brought a few problems I’m now only able to plan
and run things in my way as a result I’m probably unemployable
however I would never wish to change places with the shy hesitant boy whom
circumstances put in command of a teen will tune age 20 I was far too young and
inexperienced to appreciate that an infantry platoon was the finest command
in the army and that’s the success or failure of a battle so often lay solely
in the hands of a young officer after careful reflection I doubt that at any
time since the war have I carried the burden of responsibility that I bore as
a subaltern in battle when an Army Corps division or brigade was committed to
battle it was the battalion company in platoon commanders who took over the
mantle of responsibility from the generals from the generals and
brigadiers in close country forests and street fighting the platoon commander
became the linchpin only the company and platoon commanders particularly the
latter were able to have close relationship with their soldiers which
is a prerequisite for having above-average success failure by one
infantry company could wreck a divisional battle plan conversely
gallant success like B company at Zanten underwrote the italians victory again i
would emphasize the analog with the bond of professional respect between a great
conductor and the members of a symphony orchestra without which a truly great
performance is not possible outstanding performances cannot be arranged in the
concert promoters office they are created by some magic by the conductor
and players in rehearsal and performance similarily while senior commanders
appreciated the strengths and weaknesses of their battalions and brigades they
cannot extract a great performance from the rifleman upon whom victory depended
only the company of platoon commanders supported by their NCOs could ensure
that 42 years on I get consider satisfaction from 18 platoon successes
more so than I got at the time so those are his thoughts and he’s the wars now
over and a few days after the war ended well go to the book after collar
inoculations we were conducted into the world of Frankenstein nothing had
prepared us for what we now experienced not hail 112 not Mountain shown else or
Hoeven could compete with this horror before the incredulous eyes of a teen
platoon spread over acres of delightfully wooded countryside was a
factory of death emaciated bodies resembling wax effigies of an alien race
from a strange and distant planet filled many pits the stench of death and the
sight of such highly industrialized human degradation left my soldiers
speechless private Macy D company’s deep driver aptly summed it up there is now
no doubt that we have fought a just war that’s after they saw the concentration
camps obviously back to the book within a month of the war ending 21st Army
Group was required to supply junior officers for the 14th army in Burma
limpy the commanding officer decided that I should be one of them
and by then being intent on a military career I was not inclined to argue I
would gain useful experience of jungle warfare of which I knew nothing about so
they’re getting order still a war going on in the Pacific
oh you wrapped up pushing from Normandy through Germany through their surrender
yes well we need we need people to go to fight in Asia we need people in Burma I
was totally unprepared for the platoons for the emotions that were unleashed
immediately after I was deprived of 18 platoon as a jeep took me away from the
battalion a ghastly desolation engulfed me I felt like a small boy on his way to
a grim and unknown boarding school the pleasures of commanding 18 platoon in
peacetime were being denied me and it’s interesting so he gets pulled
away from this platoon and any good thing to talk about what happened to the
guys that survived they knew in half I found this part to be fascinating in
the how these people went back to normal life back to the book Jim Kingston was
demobilized in January 1946 and two months later he returned to a civilian
post with the Bristol Corporation electricity department retired in 1975
never married Doug Procter returned home to his wife
and baby son and Nottingham in March of 1946 found the transition from Army to
civilian life painless returning to his accounting post in the coal industry owen Cheeseman during the first few days
of a demobilization his wife died miserable and forlorn he returned to his
old job in Covent Garden and a few years later he met and married Bella who in
his own words was a comfort and inspiration to him Charles Raven joined
the London Transport as a bus conductor later transferring to the clerical staff
and rose by hard work and study to be a garage inspector Joe Thomas and George
Harris went into the building trade industry and Bridgewater surprisingly just incredibly normal
paths after this incredibly not normal life and and what happened to Sidney
Gerry so here’s what happened to Sidney Gerry back to the book arriving England
on 9th July 1945 I reported to the holding battalion of the Hampshire
regiment at Westgate on sea and was immediately sent on 28 days leave after
a night out in London with three friends also Burma bombed I telephoned my
parents and found them away trapping them to Bognor Regis I caught a train
from Waterloo and went to see them staying at the same hotel as my parents
were flight lieutenant Jack Weatherly’s widow Peggy and their three-year-old
daughter and we’re staying at the same hotel as his parents at once a bond of
deep understanding and affection developed between us in August an atom
bomb was dropped and so at a stroke my visit to Burma was rendered pointless so
too in my heart was a military career I soldiered on in Libya and Palestine with
the first Battalion of my own regiment for two more interest in years and
finally was demobilized in May of 1947 more than a week of leaving the army I
attended a job interview the managing director who saw me a pale and thin
lipped man was a business acquaintance of a relative he eyed me coldly slowly
and precisely from his desk he lifted a ruler which he lewdly pointed at my face
I understand that you made a slight name for yourself from the war be that as it
may people like you Jerry should remember that while you have been
gallivanting around the world most of my staff had remained loyal to the cup
to the company if you can give me one valid reason why I should even consider
you for any position I should be interested to hear it I nearly hit him
now I wish that I had quickly grabbing my hat and umbrella I rose and told him
that if he was the last man in the world I would rather starve than work for him
with that I left my heart pounding and a foul taste in my mouth
I walked aimlessly through miles of streets wishing that I was back on some
battlefield with real men soldiers like 18 platoon Armistice Day brings its
problems peg and I would like to go to church we used to go but found almost
without exception a lack of perception and sensitivity amongst the clergy we
suffered one Armistice Day sir sermon devoted to the curates theory that war
being a crime against humanity all chivalry must therefore be hypocritical
I wondered whether the Germans stretcher-bearers and their wounded at
synderen would have agreed I took offense peg and I have a lot to mourn
she Jack Weatherly and I 18 platoons dead perhaps it is expecting too much of
any one to understand intense grief particularly that of a now ageing
platoon commander who had to lead some of his men to their deaths we now spend Armistice Day quietly at
home with our ghosts memory is abound during the night I made
a habit of wandering around the platoon position so that each of my soldiers
could talk to me I learned a lot they talked about their families and their
future hopes I hardly had to contribute to those whispered conversations that
some times took place in the dead of night or in the cold gray light just
before dawn I think it may have helped my soldiers to have a confidant
invaluable experience of human nature I now treasure the memory weapons also
left memories the monotonous repetitive bursts of the Bren the hysterical shriek
of the mg 42s for furious rate of fire and the lethal chatter of the stands and
schmeiser’s all contribute all contributed to the cacophony of battle
tracer bullets seared themselves into memory fired from a distance that / out
their parabola approached almost lazily until suddenly like a swarm of fiery
demons they accelerated directly past one’s head with ear-splitting cracks I
shall never forget the brain splitting shock wave as mortar bombs detonated nor
the rending of the atmosphere when a stick of never wore fur bombs straddled
one slit trench my memory is stocked with smells the metallic stench of dead
cattle in Normandy the pungent odor of German prisoners and the vile
penetrating chemical smell from a newly plowed shell crater strange fleeting
memories to why in circumstance of great danger did the palms of my hands moisten
making it difficult to grip the butt of my pistol
why on pitch-black sites full of menace was it possible to
discern enemy movement by fixing my straining eyes slightly to excite it
sounds foolish but I swear that it works after 40 years I am sure I could still
prime a 36 grenade in total darkness or load the magazines of a Colt automatic
pistol I remember are dead their souls departing they lay awkwardly like
bundles of discarded clothing at bed burg lance-corporal Porteous lay by
their railway crossing in an instant he had gone leaving his body clothing and
equipment empty at health and boom private Jones died with a tiny cry lost
in the chill winter air as the bullet took him from us memories are not all
sad rarely since as my adrenaline flowed as an advance to combat with all the
senses alert one lived for a few hours sometimes for day at a concert pitch
like a drug it captivated me I wanted more totally absorbed one pressed on
until objectives had been seized and I flopped as I had never done since I remember the mood of pulsating
expectancy during the last few hours before battle old trusted friends like
Dennis Clark and Bramley Hancock would arrive to tie up their artillery support
others troop commanders from the Sherwood Rangers would appear almost in
party mood to marry up with us the very air was vibrant with excitement and good
fellowship no acrimony simply an exercise and
willing cooperation to help us the infantry overcome the day’s grim task but my most treasured memory is the
simple and sincere affection which existed between us all based on mutual
trust it was the cornerstone of the platoons
success and it survives unchanged to this day this is tinged with regret
regret because Jim Kingston Owen Cheeseman and particularly Doug Proctor
did not receive any recognition they so richly deserved Jim and Owen were
mentioned dispatches but Doug was left unrewarded over the years this omission
has troubled me particularly because I had not been so had I not been so young
and inexperienced more notice might have been taken of my representations I have
no doubt that they all learned a military medal on more than one occasion
and I their platoon commander failed them in this respect I miss my soldiers
the warmth of their presence comforted me and their humor restored my spirits
in the brutal world of infantry warfare although few of them realized it and
certainly none would admit it their behavior was noble their absence left a
void which but for an exceptionally happy marriage would have certainly
drawn me back into the Army for the comfort that only a soldier can
understand strangely I have never since considered myself anything but a soldier and that wraps up that book and I’m not
sure if I have much to add because because Sydney Jerry seems to capture it
and so much of what he talks about explains so much not only about about
being a soldier but also about what it’s like when a soldier is no longer a
soldier to to miss the adrenaline to miss that singular focus to miss seeing
men at their best at their noblest to miss the men themselves your comrades your friends your brothers to miss what
he calls so perfectly that simple and sincere affection that
exists in a platoon in affection that I’m not sure exists anywhere else then
you can we talk about when I start talking about a seal platoon about how
that’s the best thing in the world and Sidney Gerry captures it better than me
you miss the mission then you miss the men and of course you miss the fallen as the British call them the glorious
dead and you wonder what would have become of them where would they be now and you you wonder why why then why was it down and you know I talk about the gift right
the gift that they gave us that the Fallen have given us this gift of
freedom and this gift of life but there’s there’s more there’s more because you see the rest of us we grow
old some time passes us by and that’s that simple and sincere affection that
Sydney Geri describes it changes as we change it ages as we age but the fallen do not change but fallen do not age time has no effect
on them they remain they remain young and bold and brave and unconquered and so we remember them that way as they
were and as they will always be our heroes héroes a walk no more and yet
walk everywhere with us who smile no more and yet they never stop smiling heroes who live no more
yet never stop living our friends who shine no more and yet
never stop shining then that is the other gift that they
give us the fortune to bask in their light and to remember they make it that’s all I’ve got for
tonight so echo maybe if you could talk about
something else for a little while yeah I would appreciate it sure you know a part
that kind of stood out and we talked about this before where there is that
part where you know the Germans the bayonets they’re attacking 150 yards
wings and they just get mowed down they just get killed and then the red flag
comes up stretchers come out and one sees fire it’s kind of like you know
they’re following these specific rules and then so they collect the bodies and
they salute kind of like okay we’re good and then he salutes back okay solid no
game on essentially game on now but this is like a war though you know it’s
different I mean you kind of get that same feeling way on a lower level
obviously but like your watch like a UFC fight and then the round ends there and
then the guys kind of like bunk up for good round you know for sure but two
seconds ago you guys were trying to knock the guy out you know just like in
this situation two seconds ago these guys were coming to kill you and you
killed them killed them yeah boom it happened round over
you know let’s essentially continue following the rules and it it’s weird
because it’s less about the rules and more about like their respect
you know it is and on top of that you can pile on the fact that when they were
in joven woods the Germans had booby-trapped the
British body so they were just laying there they didn’t they didn’t get this
they didn’t get the same respect back yeah but I think that’s one thing that
that Sydney Gerry is very intent on throughout the book is that regardless
of how depraved the enemy acts they are going to take the high road yeah and you
know I think that’s why this book is this book they give this book everyone
at UH at Sandhurst which is the the military academy he gives everyone
that’s a great reason why because he sets a standard with his troops and they
hold that standard through regardless of the way the enemy because they don’t
lower themselves to that behavior you know the worst atrocity that gets
committed by his soldiers is when they spank a waffen-ss guy on the ass yeah
you know that’s that’s why this book is so powerful and and you know there’s a
lot of the book is very it’s very you notice there’s stuff in there that you
you just aren’t ready for right even when he was talking about the the traits
that someone should have and you know when you start thinking about it right
you know he’s right and if you had the choice between getting some meathead
that was going to go do your bidding even though he might look like a big
beast and he’s gonna but then if you think about how that guy can act when
things get tough or when things become ethically challenging yeah how’s that
person gonna act so these are it’s and I love the fact also that then he’s
killing people she’s you know it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that he’s
wearing corduroy pants and he’s got this there’s a part of another part I didn’t
didn’t go over the podcast but there’s there’s a group of German there’s a
German some kind of artillery piece and an artillery team and they’re getting
the the Brits are getting their guns dialed in to the team and they’re going
to start killing them and they make a run for it and they have horses and
there’s like six guys and some horses towing this this artillery piece away
and Sidney Gerry feels happy he’s happy that the especially happy the horses
like he doesn’t like seeing the the animals get killed and so he’s actually
happy that these guys escape and then he just says you know well that’s wrong
because these guys didn’t come back and kill my soldiers so he does a he you can
see how hard it is for someone to be in these situations
where you have the good conscience which wants to do the right thing and at the
same time you got to kill people yeah and that’s a that’s what makes combat so
hard yeah and you can can you get to thinking back remember the Christmas
yeah the Christmas trees yeah where the Germans the Germans kind of in that
situation they initiated that right there they’re like sounds like a mutual
initiation but yeah yeah if you remember that particular story but I think
overall it was almost like a mutual initiation but yes and that particular
story there was sort of a voice that says hey yeah okay I don’t cheat you
whatever and yeah man it’s just crazy how that can tenant emerge from these
situations where guys are just straight up gang blown to pieces on purpose by
the way not you know not like some tragic accident like this that’s the
intent that’s the intention then they want to just stop and sing together
please soccer and then the next day by the way they’re going back to killing
each other on mass yeah dang yeah that’s that’s the thing about you know that
again you know this a book like this is so revealing of human nature because
business people have to do the same thing yeah you know if you’re a business
person and your business is losing money well guess what you might have to do cut
staff you know if you got it and you you don’t want let’s say we’re working with
a small business or you go you’ve got a small business you’ve got 20 people you
know all those 20 people yeah it’s not like a nameless person that you’re
firing right when you let go four or five people because you need to save
money next quarter or you’re gonna lose your building yeah guess what you’re
going to know those people yeah and so it’s the same dichotomy where this boss
who wants to take care of his people just like Sidney Jerry wants to take
care of his men and all of a sudden the only way to do your mission is you got
to kill it you got are going to get some of these people killed you’re going to
fire some of these people otherwise our plant shuts down otherwise we can’t go
forward yeah and everyone dies no one has a job now so the similarities again
that’s why it’s the why these things about war reveal so
much about human nature which is really what this podcast is about it’s about
human nature and the better you understand human nature there’s two
things that can happen number one the better you can lead other
people but equally as important if not more important is if you understand
human nature you can understand yourself ya can understand the decisions that
you’re making you can understand why something’s bothering you you can
understand what you need to conclude so that you can move forward in the best
possible way and if you don’t understand human nature you’re you’re in that so
understanding yourself yeah and these books allow you to gather it and garner
so much of that yeah see all the similarities so many all the
time I remember in it’s not junior high yeah
hi um maybe really high school so when I used to play Pop Warner football where
my best friend played for a different team but we’re all you know it’s in Pop
Warner it’s different it’s not by school it’s by like region you know like in
that region I guess town mmm the pump boy in the region so I don’t think
anyway so the you know my best friend at the time she was Byron he who became a
pilot by the way I think it involves her yeah army or Marines I forget anyway
um he played for a different team but we were best friend so it was kind of that
thing you know where you’re friends with the guys but then you know you go on the
battlefield and you guys are battling your back to friends just weird yeah
you’re not killing him though no way different yeah Anderson did you ever see
that in our Iraq like any of that like I don’t know compassion you know yeah yeah
for sure even with the enemy time you’re not not so much with the enemy types
enemy but with the civilian types for sure I mean I mean obviously and you’d
see guys would go completely out of their way to try and protect the
civilian the enemy over there is a lot different now yeah yeah there’s there’s
a there’s you know here you have a uniformed soldier yeah you know they’re
you don’t have a uniformed soldier you got somebody that’s trying to sneak
around and and building up with my EE D and yeah you don’t see that same level
of now I mean once you get a guy captured that’s it you know okay we got
him captured zip them up put them in the back of the Humvee I mean that’s it yeah
so you definitely what what he talks about is this this mutual respect of
like look we’re sitting in a slit trench getting mortared and when I feel like
when I meet you you’re on the other side but I know that you’ve been slipped into
sitting a slit trench getting mortared all day right that’s why we have mutual
respect for each other yeah in Iraq it’s asymmetrical warfare so they’re not
suffering the same type of situation and and they also you know one thing that
that really throws that stuff out the window is the way that the insurgents
treated to civilian populace yeah you know so so we’re witnessing non-judicial
murders like when executions we’re seeing that we’re seeing civilians
getting tortured we’re seeing you know people being beheaded and so when you
see that you’re they’re trying to help these people and you start to think look
V if you’re another infantryman and opposing army I can I can empathize with
you understand what you’re going through but if you’re even if you’re another
army but I see you raping torturing murdering burning people alive
I don’t empathize with you anymore it doesn’t work that way
so not really yeah now you would get occasionally you’d get like you could
tell that someone would be mixed up in something that they shouldn’t have been
mixed up in maybe a young kid and maybe a 17 18 year old because because some of
those kids some of the insurgents were not vehement
we you know pro al Qaeda some of them were just hey look I’m gonna get paid 50
bucks to put an IV in the road to my gig yeah and and if you paid me 50 bucks to
go and plant you know crop over there I just assume do that yeah
so you’d see some of that there’d be okay look this this kids just you know
he just caught up and something doesn’t understand and then again I mean all
again the dichotomy is if you’re putting an ID in the road to kill Americans
though I don’t care about you and I want to kill you that’s all there is to that
in and but it’s definitely a different scenario when the people that you’re
fighting are are the ones that are committing these kinds of atrocities
because even as these guys you know they did you see how he differentiate between
like the waffen-ss and like a normal infantry group he differentiates those
two yeah that’d be like if let’s say the war in Iraq was against let’s say
al-qaeda had taken over Iraq and you were fighting even the hardened al-qaeda
guys or some normal you know infantrymen Iraq your army like oh yeah those guys
you’d have been like a look this dude surrendered okay yeah the al-qaeda guys
first of all they’re probably not going to surrender and if they do that’s
they’re going to not get the same treatment that a that a guy that’s a
victim of circumstance right a lot of the Germans their victim a circumstance
a that this guy came into power I was a soldier I’m a soldier yeah you know and man heavy it is but there is a
definitely a mutual respect that you have for for another servicemen that’s
you know has been through the same kind of crap that you’ve been through yeah
make sense so with that speaking a heavy lifting
kettlebell anyway I feel like we should talk about on it on it great kettlebells
again I do feel spoiled even every time I pick them up even though they’re dope
you know the artistic ones and she would call them artistic no because they have
names right primal bells they’ll just call them that and I’m rather than or
legend bells all that stuff you know I feel kind of spoiled because they’re
kind of like the designer ones they’re designer ish balance by the way anyway
got into that um here’s the thing about the guy and I
said this before starting light with kettlebells is critical my friend
Anthony came over you remember Anthony no there the first day we recorded he
was at my house oh yeah yeah so he came over the other day and he was like hey
Ellis left and you know last time I seen him I wasn’t so much into the kettlebell
so I was like alright we’re doing this thing be careful and I saw and he had I
don’t think he’d ever done you hurt no but borderline all he just he grabbed
the lightest one and you know I should start light or whatever and you could
tell his imma say this was all due respect if you haven’t done it before it
makes sense but like his form was way off and I’m thinking bro you’re gonna
get hurt real careful yeah so I was going to go into like what crazy workout
I did but I’ll save that for another time since we’re now three hours right
now or now I just look at my watch 253 that’s not a good sign so I apologize to
everyone in the world for doing a three and a half hour podcast which is going
to turn into a fact for teen workouts a for an F of a detail nonetheless so
we’ll create krill oil real quick I was talking to somebody at the muster think
it was I forget who it was nonetheless was talking about the benefits yet again
it’s like a common thing it’s true I don’t exaggerate about the krill oil
is no kind like I can’t go back to not taking krill I don’t take the krill oil
and I don’t mind see Oh actually we were talking to lace remember I said you ran
out of Rolla yeah and he’s all mad at me because you
gave me some oh yours I didn’t Rosalee yeah actually technically technically
was generally who brought me something I think I just gave you what nonetheless
he gave me yeah so I guess he’s gonna have a part of it got the credit yep
nonetheless I’ll never go back to no krill oil so
where would you get it on it krill what if you wanted to save money to go
on it calms last chocolate there’s a lot of things on there and on it is one of
those good companies slash website where anything you need like anything you need
supplementation with all the way down to workouts they got it on there try your
best not to get too addicted you the website because very that very
really person that has that issue I don’t think so high I will guaranteed
people spend time like watching the videos and stuff browsing the products
sometimes you can get like we talked about the you know how you get on Amazon
and you’re like yeah I want to get that thing too you don’t really need it just
looks super cool it’s one of those Amazon’s Amazon does that yeah so be
careful it does but it I don’t think it like prompts you it’s just the list of
stuff is all cool you know it’s not just a kettlebell it’s a really cool one you
know so it’s that situation anyway on a comm flash chocolate if you want the ten
percent off and yeah report back tell me what you think and if you ask me about
the krill oil right I’ll tell you I’ll tell you till the end of time I will not
not take krill oil ever again if I have anything to say about it another way to
support is when you pick up your copy of a teen platoon or whichever books you
choose that chuckle reads on this podcast go on our website jackal
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YouTube’s a good one video version I got YouTube red by the way ok wait wait
what’s the benefits ago one of the benefits is on you
Reb you can listen to you even if you go to another app all right yeah so playing
so real it’s a real cool deal for me yeah I am and sounds pretty no house I
like that yeah I know you do they’re relevant most of time yeah unless you
see the same ad over and over and again edge you know what though
you know when they play you ever see the same well you don’t see ads anymore
no but for us who may or may not enjoy ads and or still have the only person
that in a cab you guys not all you know you know house is it like here for
example so ty Lopez right they all have like a head every single time I know you
know there’s this other financial company which is a weird one which is
really poorly done nonetheless it so ty Lopez here’s the example ty Lopez he’ll
be like it’ll talk about some stuff and then it’s the same at over note and
after a while you’re like okay okay skip the ad but then it kind of sticks with
you and then you’re kind of like yeah that’s called advertising but yeah but
it’s kind of like yeah I see what’s going on yet I still am compelled you
know so it’s like it’s kind of like it’s beneficial almost I’m over here not
compelled compelled uh no anyway I am compelled to subscribe to YouTube yeah
yeah okay there you go so you’re trying to say you had a lot of
other stuff right now well you know age is not healthy I go on in these tangents
and it’s relevant I feel like people can relate on some level sometimes maybe
occasionally me weird people nonetheless YouTube that’s a good one video version
what’s the what’s Jocko podcast is the channel yeah dr. Roger Kast yeah sure
it’d be cool if you put videos on there more often I do it like two three week
oh yeah two three week now kind of okay good I’m looking forward to that new
whatever I hope I put one on the other two what is Monday yeah okay that’s one
it’s it’s whatever it is right now yeah man Thursday
don’t worry no worries I got you go to subscribe to that if you haven’t already
and you can get the video version and excerpts which are shareable shareable
meaning they’re just shorter and they’re shorter so you know whoever
opens it and the more of a chance they’re gonna listen to it when it’s two
three minutes long rather than two and a half three and a half in this case hours
long that’s it’s not fired from doing podcasts because they’re too long is
that possible maybe I guess what else what anything is
possible right that’s the thing um what else
Jaco has a store it’s called Jocko store website chuckles door calm see catchy
right easy to remember if it’s a store and it’s Jocelyn’s is chocolate or if
it’s a podcast and Jacques is Jocko podcast if it’s you know if it’s
keychains I was meeting some jungle keychain I was meeting some people
talking to some people at a group the other day who were not familiar with me
or with anything disrespect a and they they said oh well you do you know one
who said oh he’s got a podcast and then the other one said oh what’s the name of
the podcast that’s what other podcast is called
Jacques a podcast and she said this one girl said did you pay your marketing
team a lot for that that’s you know exactly real original like that yeah so
original but hey Madame you know could be worse so back to the store
Jaakko store that is some t-shirts on there if you want to represent you know
the t-shirts carry a message the message has layers actually I guess technically
the shirts have layers because the message is one of the layers of the
shirt okay anyway go there Jeff Lester calm if
you like something get something that’s a good way to start where shirts coming
out this week that’s my question to you yeah that’s the intention okay so I’m
getting angry yes understand understand oh but you’ll make me get in your
business ain’t no Elfi normal fee don’t as almost my favorite isn’t way normal
but don’t make me come and get in your business and do your job for you you’ve
ever heard me talk on this podcast I talk about what people don’t do their
job that’s awesome even I can take the job from them right right you gotta step
it down and think about what I’m more my mindset is and you may want to step it
up over on your end well bang you’re going to do
to the song yes not another respect I am I did it and we’re going to try to get
that that’s right for you know what to do you know why you’re saying this right
now because you can’t wait for the shirt that you designed to come on if you want
the recognize also I think you’re I think you might be some sabotaging and
sabotaging my efforts I made the better shirt uh-huh and you don’t want to print
it mm-hmm because you’re self-conscious uh-huh and that’s not gonna stand well I
will give you the respect because there is in fact layers to this shirt as well
so all right how about this more layers more layers you all Yelly yeah you could
be right I think you might have more layers than the standard I guess we’ll
see we’re gonna find out about that one anyway shuffle start off the women’s
stuff on there as well some patches some rash guards some cool rash guards you
know indeed put these other stuff anyway one there check it out if you want
something to get something good way to support also psychological warfare
if you’re having trouble if you’re having trouble if you’re like me and
sometimes used to or currently having trouble with not feeling like working
out not feeling like it so you’re considering skipping the work out
waiting for tomorrow making your workout day into a rest day if you’re having
that problem this is what you did go psychological warfare search on itunes
google boy amazon amazon obviously anyway where you can get mp3s
you search psychological warfare Jaakko a link and it’s an album with track and
the news tracks will help you through anything that you’re feeling that
weakness like I just mentioned whether it be waking up early or skipping the
workout or cheating on the diet and I say cheating on the diet because you
made a promise to yourself you’re not gonna eat those donuts you made a
promise and then now like all of a sudden eat the doughnuts no that’s not
the problems you may just think I can never eat a doughnut again no sure
exactly right you can’t because everyone in the world will like some little there
with a with a camera yeah I know give me good yeah yeah
f’hace and consider this like what if you knew hundred-percent no one’s you
know watch you know whatever then you’re eating the donut can you imagine the
guilt you’re feeling yeah I’m good guilt yeah you can do it you’re done
donut so much guilt no but in the event of other people not you draw for other
people feeling that weakness there’s a track for that remember back when iPhone
kind of came out and there’s that thing there’s an app for that remember they
used to always say that oh there’s an app so that is it out for that that was
like an expression okay look it with this there’s a track for that seems I
just made that up right now anyway psychological warfare you check
it if you need that that spot because really that’s what it is it’s a spot in
life when you try to lift heavy things it’s good to have a spot if you’re
lifting light stuff or not lifting at all you don’t need a spot so don’t even
worry about that if you’re not doing nothing don’t even get this you don’t
even need it if you’re not doing anything in life don’t get it jimson
yeah get it – exactly all right like I said 18 platoon you can
get that at rifles direct comm from the UK it supports that regiment which I’m
all about also you know speaking of rash guards and stuff check out origin main
comm my boy up there Pete Roberts he’s kind of he’s kind of a psycho actually
he heard I’m a madman he’s all about manufacturing in America which I’m all
about – and I’m gonna go into this but at some point but like he wanted to make
keys here and he couldn’t get the fabric so he went out and bought old abandoned
looms from abandoned factories and hired like old timers that knew how to work
these things and refurbish them and rebuilt them and has made these looms
brought them back to life so he can make keys and rash guards here in America in
Maine and like I said that’s kind of crazy
borderline psychopathic which I kind of like and yeah that’s kind of why we’re
kind of working on joining forces in some way Pete origin warpath it’s going
down we’re going to make something happen I’ll keep everyone in
formed as we finalize the plan that rash guard that you mentioned yeah
and posted the video oh yeah that was a lot nicer is a lot oh yeah I’m certain
legit then I and yeah when you see it it underplayed it you look at well you
didn’t have it I made it sound like just kind of cheesy yeah like you but you
didn’t realize it was that bad yeah but the thing is that rash guard it’s
already sold out no so now he’s printing a bunch more but there but he got away
you gotta weave the material yeah yeah right or gets he gets one of his
producers here in America with some materials so anyways check out that
origin main comm growing company we’re getting in league with them
big-time also jock a white tee on Amazon here’s a here’s an actual again this is
a certified verified report I have a cat that used to catch one or two mice per
month I forgot to pick up a tea bag after I brewed it and the cat ate the
tea bag now my cat is bringing home raccoons full-grown rabbits and even the
neighbor’s dog so be careful don’t let your cat get it unless your neighbor’s
dog is going to go I know the chocolate cake you can have it and it’s not
doesn’t take it the thing is doesn’t taste like normal tea it tastes like
victory alright way the warrior kid boom also
this is a warning about window or your kid when you order way of the warrior
kid just go ahead and also order a pull-up bar some flashcards some healthy
food energy Jitsu G because when your kid gets done reading this factually
they’re going to want to be stronger better tougher and smarter so supply
them the way they need to be supplied quit playing around
get some also the discipline equals freedom Field Manual there’s no book
like this doesn’t exist it is not a normal book it’s kind of like the
podcast this podcast is not for everyone not everyone wants to listen this
podcast that’s okay I’m not making a podcast for
everyone we’re making a podcast for people that like to get after it so this
book is not for people that want to read um junk sure some people don’t get the
podcast some people aren’t gonna understand the book they’re knocking on
know where it’s coming from that’s okay I’m not I’m not I’m not
we’re not toning down the podcast right now we’re not saying I’ll you know what
I think everyone would like it more if we did more you know interspersed some
some jokes throughout it and maybe if we made it 45 minutes and do a little fun
presentation if I get some backup music just to kind of a little jangle to make
people get in the spirit we’re not doing that not happening yeah if you want to
listen to a little Django or a little you know metallic risk to get you in the
zone on the beginning of the podcast that’s cool but if you want that that’s
awesome there’s other podcasts that offer it we don’t offer it here you know
what you’re going to get with the book if you’re looking for a you know 50
shades of gray you’re not going to get that it’s but that’s the cool thing the
cool thing is that the publisher let me do whatever I wanted to do so I did and
I made give a feel you’re going to feel that that’s that the feeling of the
podcast mm-hmm is the same feeling that the book get you day so it’s a little
heavy mm-hmm little dark right sparse right get after it that’s in there
anyways this one equals for you freedom Field Manual order it it’s it’s not
printed I’ll give you a living example it’s not printed on white paper go
straight up let’s just go from there it’s actually printed the background is
all images thanks black and white images I know that comes as a big surprise to
everyone and then put over that is words so there you go little indicator of what
the field manuals like you can get that you preorder it now of course extreme
ownership it’s a little book it’s about leadership it’s actually it’s about
combat leadership and how you can take the combat leadership principles that we
don’t on the battlefield and apply them to your life you can get that book
through if you want it we also have a tional on front consulting me Lafe
babban JP janelle Dave Burke we will come and help your team
align your leadership so you can crush your enemies you just heard Sydney Gerry
saying it a leadership is the thing that makes you overcome seemingly impossible
things so if your leadership isn’t squared away
you’re not going to overcome them so you need to get in the game you can contact
us info at national on front comm if you want that also the muster we just got
back from the Austin muster outstanding outstanding it was awesome so many great
people there lessons learned knowledge spread Tim Kennedy was there Tim Kennedy
showed up and it was cool and I didn’t realize it until we were at jujitsu and
I think I came up to you instead that Stern jujitsu so the last night we have
Thursday then Friday and the Friday night we don’t do jujitsu we went to
10th planet at Austin Austin 10th planet Jiu Jitsu with my boy Curtis Curtis Todd
wait Lisa and Todd white representing who represent yeah he’s an old-school
like me and him or from that same era yeah we’re from the same era from back
in the day only here only he’s a better artist a better artist with me yeah so
when we went and and what I realized is this you know like way the warrior kid
people say ah man I wish I had that book when I was a kid is an extreme ownership
people say oh man I was sad that I was had that book when I started out my you
know when I got promoted five years ago and you know what I say about way the
warrior kid I wish I had it when I was a kid you don’t I say about extremely
ownership I I had it when I was a vote assistant
platoon commander I wish I had it yeah I didn’t have it and what’s cool about the
muster is so that feeling when you go to mustard you’re giving just like we’re
just giving this massive amount of information pragmatic information that
you can take and you can execute with yeah and so when we were at jujitsu I
realized man we just all this at these people in this room just got all this
information and it and it’s so practical that you can take back your team and
then on top of all that here’s a little something else jiu-jitsu
yeah because um only 1/4 of the people that came to jiu-jitsu had ever trained
existed before the other what was a 50 people that had never trained before so
they’re getting this gift yeah the gift of jiu-jitsu a little intro yeah yeah
man little intro now I would say 50% of them will go back and start training
yeah maybe more I wish it was a hundred percent yeah it might be it might be
yeah it did be a dependable you’re into you yeah yeah it’s hard
it was always bizarre to me that when I introduced someone is easy to it was a
100% conversion rate you know it’d be a 100 percent conversion rate yeah 100% oh
you just chokes me and I couldn’t stop you I need to learn that 100% otherwise
I go through life vulnerable to being choked by anyone I don’t like that
feeling ya know I don’t like this the muster to
is sprinkled and I don’t and I mean heart sprinkles hard by the way which is
a very critical compelling part in my opinion is this the social stuff and I
don’t mean social like you’re just cruising and not learning I mean the
people you need oh yeah well you definitely are going to meet good people
there yeah because everyone there is in the game big-time and they’re all
looking to get better they’re all invested to get better yes and any other
thing is you know we’re hanging out I got ya know there’s me Lafe Dave JP echo
or not there’s no green room it doesn’t exist we don’t even take breaks just
like felt really good when when we take a break to let the audience like go to
the restroom or grab a you know a cup of coffee or a jock a white tee we we just
read stand there like we stepped down office
agent we get everyone lines up when we talk questions and you know what I was
doing this time was I was like instead of answering one person’s question just
to that person I was in here from career could he’s asking for anyone coming
where’s your bike hey what is this there’s 12 people standing in line yeah
instead of answering this one question this one guy whispering no hey everyone
come up here Malaya and you can all hear this because once the who knows maybe
there’s some of those questions maybe something experienced in the future I
don’t know yeah you might as well listen and maybe you have a better solution
than I have yeah it’s like a like a little brain on table yeah briam yeah
yeah it’s cool that that’s true you we take breaks every what we’re there’s
breaks throughout the thing you take yeah Jacquelyn don’t take another x-ray
cuz break time is talk times off you guys oh yeah in jail yeah sign a book
whatever yeah no green room no green room itself that’s the master and by the
way they’ve sold out all of them that we’ve done have been sold out now the
next one that we got coming up is September 14th and 15th back the Omni
Hotel in downtown San Diego California muster zero force it’s gonna sell out
this is a known fact so if you want to come it’s September 14th and 15th that
is right around the corner so if you want to come to that come to that
extreme ownership calm is where you can register if you want to also by the way
this is interesting if you train jiu-jitsu or if you’re interested in
training jiu-jitsu origin up in Maine has this immersion camp that they do I’m
going Echo’s going with me we’re going up there it is there’s two
sessions that they run it’s the 20th august 22-23 or august 24th and the 27th
those are the two different sessions or you can come to the whole week anyways
I’m going to be there for those middle three days like Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday so I’m going to be there for the last day of the first camp and the
first day of the lot of the second camp and I’ll be on there on the middle day
we’re gonna be training rolling talking hanging out eating
lobster eating steaks uh just generally getting after it so
you go to orange name.com if you want to come up there’s not a lot of spaces for
that it’s it’s it’s not that’s like I think the most they’re going to go is
200 people so that’s not a lot of spaces so if you want to come up register quick
panel see you guys up there in Maine I’m gonna what I like about it is unlike the
muster where everything is scheduled like we don’t have a lot of break time
and even the break times were working this thing I mean you can only train
jiu-jitsu what six hours a day maybe okay you know what I mean two hours in
the morning two hours at launch two hours in the evening so that’s six hours
you know you’re going to sleep four hours so you still got 14 hours left in
the day so what are we going to do we’re going to kick it yeah we’re going to
cruise there’s a lake there’s kayaks there’s a zip lines in whatever yeah
I’ll just go lay in bed and try and recover did you do session uh so yeah um
bunch of good people coming up after that if you want to come up and hang out
do it then that will work we’ll see you up there you go at the muster or we’ll
see you at the immersion she can’t leave how do you register for that one origin
main calm and then you click on the immersion thing and you’ll find it you
press Google figure it out yeah yeah there’s a certain element of like if you
can’t figure it out don’t bother yeah and there’s also a certain element of
like hey register now I can go to this thing oh yeah today
register today you’re the only thing today yeah I know they say that today by
the time this podcast comes out it won’t even be today so alright also until
we’re at one of those events if you want to roll with us virtually we are on the
interwebs the Twitter the Instagram the Facebook Keep Watch echo is that
echo Charles and I am at Jocko will Inc and finally thank you to everyone for
listening to this podcast and for supporting this podcast which by the way
is made possible by our military who protects our great nation from evil this
podcast is made possible by police law enforcement firefighters EMTs first
responders that keep us safe and orderly here at home and it’s made possible by
each and every one of you out there working in the economy making and
creating and building so don’t stop doing that and don’t ever stop
remembering those that went before us those that still shine down on us and
remember that we are not here long and time is fleeting it is ever fleeting so
you might as well make it a good hard run then get after it so until next time
this is echo and Jocko out

44 thoughts on “Jocko Podcast 84 w/ Echo Charles: Importance of Trust, Discipline, and Creativity. “18 Platoon.”

  1. 2nd. What the fuck

    You guys are awesome. Trying to change my life around – and by God I have tried that many times but maybe something was missing. Discipline.
    I get it now. My new life, I'm gonna fuckin chase you and get you

  2. This podcast was the sole motivation to get me over a 5 year heroin addiction. I overdosed and died twice at one point. Im now over 2 years sober. I can't Thank you enough Jocko you actually saved my life!!!

  3. You guys are completely fucked in the head, I hope you know that. Very respectable death occultism, you are good satanists.

  4. Another great reading – I found the book on Amazon but crazily it had no reviews. Thanks for hunting down these hard to find books I would never hear about otherwise.

  5. This one got me all teared up around 2:35:00 – 2:39:00. Compared to the life soldiers live everyday and the hell they endure, i cannot think of myself as a man, but a soft baby who knows nothing of the world. This podcast gives me a brief glimpse of that reality, and humbles me at the deepest level.

  6. Jocko and all readers of Military History I highly resommend you check out these free youtube series. Soldier histoory of men in battle, Valour and Horror, and Hell in the Pacific. There was once a great website called Witness to War which had 100's of gret interviews from ww2 on u to today. I can't get it to work on my new computer but, it still exist and maybe you can tap into the resource. I was a Marine grunt and the war s we have fought in the past 13 years have been bad enough but, could you imagine if it was 1st world on 1st world again like in ww2? It would be a slaughterhouse.

  7. Jocko, I saw some criticism recently about the "dead air" on your podcast, and I hope I speak for more then myself when I say the dead air is great, it helps build suspense and helps show the importance of certain pieces of writing!!

    Keep it up, DISCIPLINE = FREEDOM

  8. We need an Echo version of the Jocko "GOOD" shirt. It should be a black and white shirt with Echo's face, but the caption will say "DANG" haha.

  9. I work at my office through the weekends and the staff bring donuts so often that they've started a Sat/Sun "donut club" to rotate who brings the flaky glazed rings of weakness.

    I respectfully declined membership to their club of lies.

  10. Jocko, this podcast gets me to sleep at night, thriving off the wisdom here. Many regards, a warrior in the making

  11. Jocko, please bring on Justin Legg, Navy Seal BUDS Class 234. I'm sure you're aware of him. Would love to hear him on the show!

  12. "Firstly, sufference… " The way you read the book and how Sydney Jary tells the stories through his eyes haunt me in such a way that I cannot get his thoughts out of my head. Even though you basically read the book to us…I still have to get this book!

  13. This podcast desperately needs guests. It really works when you have a guest Jocko but without one it's, "meh".

    Get Eddie Bravo on here, I'm sure he's game.

  14. Jocko, you are a huge source of personal motivation for me, especially how you talk about discipline. Also the way you talk about the heroes of past wars and keep them in remembrance, and how respectfully you go through their experiences, can't thank you enough sir.

  15. Sydney Jary was right about the about poets over sports stars. His work in the seal teams as evidence Jocko is made of soldier stuff. His work in this podcast and books show his poetic side.

  16. Jocko, I'm sure a lot of people will agree with me on this , I would love to hear a podcast from you that is focused on jiu jitsu , I recently started taking classes in bjj predominantly because I hear you talk about it often on your podcast it really stood out when you said one of your children asked if super powers were a real thing and you replied with " jiu jitsu" .. I would love to hear how your experience was starting as a white belt being that it's a little discouraging already and any advice or tips on practicing and learning faster or better outside of class . I'm already fascinated with the sport of bjj but as I mentioned it's very frustrating how technical and slow I feel that I'm comprehending the fundamentals. Would love to hear your story and point of view on the whole learning process

  17. Was listening to this in the car, I could tell it wasn't easy for Jocko to talk about the fallen. But it seemed so important, not just to the narrative but to Jocko personally. I can't imagine how hard that was for him to express, but thank you for doing so.

  18. Blubbering, humble and thankful. "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them." For The Fallen, Laurence Binyon.

  19. Jocko is the type of leader you just don't want to fail regardless. I don't think I could ever hate this man even if he smoked me every god damned day in training! A cool badass!

  20. Like always, this Podcast contains so much war education for all of to grab and lead:) Just extremely outstanding. So get some( education) and get after it!

  21. I've been trying to pick out the most interesting books from the podcast and read them. I realize I'm a couple years behind… This book is now ridiculously priced! The cheapest one I could find is on Amazon for $917!!! Y'all must be getting after it.

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