Customs of the Army

Published by the MoD in 1964


This pamphlet is intended to give an Officer Cadet about to be commissioned an idea of some of the things to look out for on joining his regiment or corps. The pamphlet is not intended to be complete or to give all the answers. It is most important to realise that there are many customs in the Army, some stranger than others, and on joining or being posted to a new unit it is the officers duty to find out what they are.



1. Conduct of an Officer

A very high standard of behaviour and bearing is expected of an officer at all times and wherever he may be. It must be remembered that the Army is judged by the behaviour of all its members, and that other ranks follow the example of their officers.

2. Social and Official Relations

The contrast between social and official relations may at first seem paradoxical. If reprimanded for a fault an officer must not brood over it, and must never allow himself to become a man “with a grievance.” The Commanding Officer, the Adjutant, or the officer’s Sub-Unit Commander may be severe on parade, but this is always forgotten in the Mess. Off parade and in the Mess Senior Officers should be treated with natural courtesy due to their rank, age, experience, and responsibility, hut the young officer must not be frightened of them. The normal polite behaviour of a gentleman is all that is required. It is an old custom of the Service to say ‘Good morning,’’ or ‘‘Good morning, sir,” as the case may he, to other officers when met for the first time that day. It is for the junior to speak first. It is usual for Subalterns when addressing Captains or other Subalterns to use only their name, not their rank. When speaking to a Senior Officer, however, and referring to a Captain, the rank should be included, ie, “Captain Smith gave instructions, etc.” Captains should only be called “Sir” by Subalterns when on duty.

3. Loyalty

(a) Own regiment or Corps

An officer must never run down his regiment or corps in- the hearing of outsiders. This is being disloyal.

(b) Any other unit with which he may sent.

An officer may have to serve in units other than his own and his behaviour should be the same as in his own unit.

(c) Courtesy to other regiments.

Esprit de corps must not tempt the officer into running down other regiments; it is bad manners and does harm. A junior officer should keep his opinions and criticisms to himself until asked for them.

(d) The Army.

Every officer must be careful not to decry the “Army” in the presence of civilians. There is a tendency to criticise the "powers that be" and, in particular, the ‘Ministry of Defence” for any unpopular aspect of Army life. Such criticism is generally based on ignorance of the true facts and is consequently unjustified. In any case it is bad for the Army and achieves no useful purpose.

4. Attitude to Orders

An officer must never apologise for an order. To apologise for an order given by himself is weak; for that given by a superior is disloyal. An officer must always carry out an order to the best of his ability: if he disagrees with an order or thinks it wrong, criticism should be made to the Adjutant or Sub-Unit Commander afterwards. If a junior officer has to implement an order, given by his superiors, which he knows will be unpopular with his subordinates he must give it out as his own order and take full responsibility for it. (This is known as buck passing - mike!)

It is disloyal to pass on such orders in the form The CO or Company Commander, wants us to do, etc., etc.”, as this implies disagreement on the part of a junior with the policy of his superiors. Such orders must always start with the phrase 1 want, etc., etc.”, or ‘You will, etc., etc.”

5. Marrying young

The Army does not officially recognise the marriage of an officer until he is 25 years of age. The reason for this is that a young officer has much to learn before he becomes fully proficient. He must master technical and tactical subjects and gain experience on the practical side of soldiering and man-management. The latter is best learnt by being with the men as much as possible, both on and off parade, and by joining in, or organising, their sports and recreation. If an officer marries young he will inevitably have extra interests outside his Army life and his work and learning will suffer. A young officer must also take into consideration the financial difficulties he may encounter if he marries young. He is not entitled to the full rate of marriage allowance until the age of 25. An officer must obtain his Commanding Officers per mission before getting married.

6. Parade Ground

The parade ground of most units is "sacred". An officer should never smoke whilst on it, nor walk across it in plain clothes during working hours. This is usually laid down, but if it is not, the Adjutant or RSM should be asked. An officer should never go between a squad on parade and its commander, or, indeed, between it and any person who is connected with that parade.

7. Punctuality

It is the duty of every officer to be punctual for a parade or duty and it is had manners to be late for an appointment. If he makes a practice of always being five minutes early an officer will save himself many embarrassments. It is the officers duty, however, to ensure that the men are not paraded unnecessarily early just to ensure punctuality.

8. Current Events

it is essential that an officer keeps himself in touch at all times with the international, political and military situation. This is expected of any intelligent and educated person, and the officer is also responsible for keeping his men in touch with these matters. To keep himself up to date an officer should read a good news paper daily and as many periodicals as possible. An officer is also responsible for participating in or watching as many regimental activities as possible and giving them his wholehearted support even to the extent of putting them, however dull, before his personal amusements. He should organize games, sports and other forms of recreation for his men.

9. Financial Matters

(a) Cheques.
For an officer to write a cheque or a demand on a field cashier for more than he has in the bank, without prior arrangement with the hank, is not only dishonest hut also disgraceful.
A dishonoured cheque may lead to a Court Martial. Never under any circumstances write a "blank" cheque for anyone.

(b) Accounts.

All officers should keep a record of their private accounts, especial on ñrst joining. To assist in this, cheque counterfoils should be filled in. An arrangement should be made with the officers agent and/or bank for a monthly statement to be forwarded to bin. This should be very carefully checked with the counterfoils and statement of account. An officer should regulate his expenditure in order to avoid being "hard up.” Should he find himself very hard up, he should consult his Unit or Sub-Unit Commander.

(c) Cash.

An officer should never leave money or valuables lying loose in his quarters. To do so puts his bat- man in an unfair position.

(d) Receipts.

The receipt of any money should always be acknowledged. When an officer hands over any money or stores he should always obtain a receipt. In this way he win ensure that he is free from blame in case of any loss or deficiency. Letters about money matters should be answered promptly.

(e) Financial responsibility

When an officer is put in charge of public funds or stores he is entirely responsible for their safe keeping, and he will be required to make good any deficiencies or loss due to his negligence.

(f) Subscriptions.

All Mess bills, bills and subscriptions should be paid punctually. If an officer is slack about payments it causes inconvenience to treasurers and secretaries of clubs and business firms, besides being a discredit to the officer, to the regiment and to the Army. In the case of regular subscriptions officers are recommended to arrange payment by a banker’s other to ensure punctuality.

10. Dress—Plain Clothes

An officer should be smart and well turned out at all times. This is most important in plain clothes, Old clothes do not prevent an officer from being cleanly and tidily dressed. When buying plain clothes it will pay the officer to go to a good tailor, as the clothes will last you much longer. They look better than cheap clothes when old, and can therefore be worn longer. Above all, an officer must avoid buying flashy or highly coloured clothes. As regards the wearing of sports clothes and scarves in the Mess, officers are recommended to seek advice from the Adjutant or from some other officer of the unit as customs on this subject vary in different regiments.



1. On Parade

The practice of saluting must be carried out most punctiliously, whether on or off parade. On parade a Senior Officer, or even one who is of equal rank but higher in the seniority roll, must be addressed as "Sir” and saluted. This is the custom of the Army and an officer must be meticulous in complying with it.

2. Off Parade

In many regiments and corps, when in uniform, Captains and Subalterns always salute Field Officers (ie, Majors and above) and address them as “Sir.” The Adjutant should be saluted on ñrst meeting him in the morning. Am officer should find out the regimental or unit customs on this matter. When an officer in plain clothes meets a Field Officer, whom he recognises, he will take oft his hat to him.

3. Returning Salutes

It is an officers duty to return a salute smartly, with the correct hand and without a cigarette or pipe in the mouth. When returning a salute, an officer should look towards the person whose salute he is returning. An officer must remember to “return” a salute and not merely acknowledge it.

4. Dismissing Troops

An officer must always return punctiliously salutes paid to him by bodies of troops when dismissing. He should stand still, facing the dismissing body of troops, and should salute when they do so. If a Senior Officer is watching a parade, the officer, warrant or non commissioned officer in charge of the squad should ask permission from the officer concerned before dismissing the parade.

5. Offices

When entering and leaving military offices an officer should always salute any officer in there at the time, whether senior or junior. When an officer, senior to the one occupying an office, enters that office the junior officer should stand up.

6. General

It is the duty of every officer to ensure that all orders regarding saluting are enforced at all tunes, both in and out of barracks. An officer must not be self-conscious about checking other ranks. In all units saluting should be a source of natural pride shared by all ranks.

7. Other Services

Junior officers must salute Senior Officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force of the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy, and Squadron-Leader in the Royal Air Force, and above.

When visiting any of Her Majesty ships or Royal Naval Establishments the Quarterdeck must be saluted both on arrival and departure. An officer must always salute on boarding or leaving any of Her Majesty ships, or foreign men-of-war.

8. Other Compliments

(a) When in uniform an officer will always salute uncased Colours, funerals, and when passing the Cenotaph. When in plain clothes he should raise his hat.

(b) When the National Anthem is played, an officer in uniform should stand to attention and salute; if in plain clothes he should remove his hat. When indoors an officer should only stand to attention. If attending an outdoor Church Parade at which head-dress is worn an officer will not, however, salute when the National Anthem is played.

(c) When the Guard turns out to a General Officer or the Commanding Officer, all personnel near by should stand to attention, but not salute.

(d) It is a custom in most regiments and corps for all ranks in the vicinity of the square to stand to attention while “Retreat’ is being sounded on the bugle. They do not salute.



1. Reporting to Adjutant or Duty Officer

On arrival on first joining the regiment or any other unit, an officer should immediately report to the Adjutant or Duty Officer.

2. Interview by Commanding Officer

An officer will be interviewed by his Commanding Officer shortly after his arrival in a new unit. The officer will be told by the Adjutant when to report. If an officer requires an interview with his Commanding Officer at any other time he should apply in writing, giving reasons.

3. Joining of Regimental, Corps and Army Associations

On first joining, a young officer will be told details of the Regimental and Army Associations to which it is customary for officers of the regiment to subscribe. He should regard such subscriptions as a prior charge on his income, and should never consider whether he personally will receive any benefit from them.



1. Mess Rules

In different Messes the Mess rules vary, and an o should make himself acquainted with them. Any such rules should be strictly observed. They are made to ensure the smooth running of the Mess and are not merely there to cause restrictions.

2. Behaviour In Mess

(a) General

The Officers’ Mess is not only the home of  individual officers, but it is the home of the unit officers as a group. It is essential, therefore, that an officer should behave as he would wish others to behave in his own home. A great number of personal likes and dislikes must be put aside for the benefit of the Mess as a whole. Noisy behaviour, ragging, clinking of glasses. and other forms of rowdyism in the Mess, should be avoided, especially at the Mess table. The forming of Mess “cliques" should be avoided at all costs. They kill the family spirit in the Mess, besides causing a lot of Lad feeling, which is very quickly evident to visitors and to the rest of the unit. An officer must realise that the habit of drinking too much is not clever, nor is it amusing for other members of the Mess; it sets a very bad example. Behaviour in an Officers’ Mess will very soon become common knowledge in the unit; the Sergeants and Corporals’ Messes will model their behaviour accordingly. It is essential that the behaviour in an officers Mess should be exemplary, as it has a direct bearing on the discipline through out the unit.

(b) Courtesy to Senior Officers

When the Commanding Officer, the Brigadier, the General, or any guest comes into the ante-room an officer should stand up and make room, but he must not be stiff or formal about it. A junior officer should not be afraid to enter into conversation with Senior Officers or guests in the Mess, but excessive familiarity must be avoided. When spoken to by older men, an officer should stand up as he would at home.

(c) Courtesy to Visitors.

(i) When visitors come to the Mess, whether an officer knows them or not, he must act as their host. The whole Mess is judged by the way strangers are received. An officer should offer them tea or drinks, etc., depending on the time of the visit. If they have come to call on the Mess, or are members of a visiting team, the Mess staff should be instructed afterwards to put the drinks down to "Mess Guests.” This is the duty of any host and an officer is not expected to bear the cost of entertaining visitors or guests of the unit, except as a general charge to all members of the Mess.

(ii) When an officer brings a visitor into the Mess, whether his own guest or not, he should introduce him to the Commanding Officer, if present, otherwise the Senior Officer in the Mess at the time. If an officer invites a very Senior Officer to his Mess he should warn the Mess President and the Commanding Officer beforehand. It must be realised that when he invites a “private” guest to the Mess it is his duty to entertain and pay for him. He must not expect this to be done by other members. He must also remember that he is responsible for the good behaviour of his guest.

(d) Tidiness.

The Mess staff should be assisted in keeping the Mess in order. Newspapers and magazines should be returned to the tables provided for this purpose and cigarette ends should be put in the ashtrays provided and not thrown into empty grates or fenders. Messes are now usually understaffed, and consideration of this sort is particularly important and will help to keep the officers’ home more comfortable.

3. Senior Subaltern

The Senior Subaltern is responsible for the behaviour of all Subalterns both in and out of the Mess. It is his job to give advice to all Subaltern officers and to put them tight when they make mistakes. A young officer should go to him when in doubt about procedure or Mess customs.

4. Mess Entertainments

Members of a Mess will certainly be invited to entertainments by other Messes and by civilians in the neighbourhood. This hospitality will be returned by the Mess. and on these occasions all officers will have to act as hosts. This means spending time and money. In most Messes subscriptions to entertainments are made on a pro rata basis. Should an officer feel he cannot afford to pay the amount he is asked to, he should not be afraid to say so. It should be remembered that a party in the Mess, as it would be in his own home, is for the enjoyment of the guests and not solely for the officer himself; he should, therefore, act accordingly and see that the guests do enjoy themselves.

5. Complaints

An officer should not find fault with, or complain to, the Mess staff unless he is a member of the Mess Committee. If he has a complaint to make he should approach one of the members of the Mess Committee or the Mess Secretary. The suggestion book is not the place for complaints; it should be used for constructive suggestions to assist the Mess Committee. In making suggestions in the book, attempts at humour should be avoided.

6. Mess Bills

Not only is it laid down in Queen’s Regulations that Mess bills must be paid on or before the 7th of each month, but it is a point of honour that they should be paid immediately on receipt. It is an officer’s responsibility to see that this is carried out. If Mess bills are produced late they must be paid within seven days of receipt.

7. Mess Procedure

(a) Dinner.

When an officer enters the ante-room before dinner he should say “Good evening” or “Good evening, sir,” to the Senior Officer present. When the Commanding Officer or any guests come in, all officers should stand up and say “Good evening, sir.” When bringing a guest to dinner, an officer should introduce him to the President. It is usual for the President, if he has no guests, or if Mess guests are not present, to ask the officer to bring his guest to sit next to him. When going in to dinner it is normal to allow the guests and their hosts to go first. If an officer is late for dinner he should go and apologise to the President. Should he wish to leave the table at any time before the coffee has been round, he should ask the President’s per mission. There should be no smoking at dinner until the port and/or coffee has been passed round and the President or Senior Officer has lighted up. If the President or Senior Officer does not smoke he will inform the other officers when they may do so.

(b) Guest or Band Nights.

The procedure up to the passing round of the port is similar in most units. After the port has been passed round the usual procedure is for the President to stand up and say “Mr. Vice, The Queen.” The Vice-President then rises and gives the toast “Gentlemen, The Queen” when all remaining officers and guests rise and chink the Queen’s health. If the band is present, then, after the Vice President has given the toast and everyone is standing the band will play the National Anthem before the toast is drunk. Many regiments and corps, however, have different customs. so an officer should always ask what the procedure is when joining a new unit or dining as a guest in another unit’s Mess. It is normal for officers not to leave the Mess on a ‘guest’ night until all the Mess guests have departed, or until permission has been obtained from the Senior Officer present. When an officer asks a guest to a “guest” or “band” night he should warn his guest of any particular customs, such as not rising to drink the Queen’s health, or drinking silent regimental toasts afterwards.

(c) Supper

 When supper is served in Mess as opposed to dinner, there are normally no special formalities. An officer should find out what the unit dress regulations are for supper nights to ensure that he is correctly dressed.

8. Honorary Membership of Messes

When an officer is made an honorary member of another Mess he should write and thank the officers of that Mess in the following manner:

“Mr. A. Baker thanks Lieut.-Colonel C. D. Fox, DSO, and the officers, 1st Bn. The Loamshire Regiment, for their kind invitation to consider himself an Honorary Member of their Mess, a privilege of which he will have much pleasure in availing himself.”



1. The RSM

In some regiments, corps or units it is customary to address the RSM as Mr. —,“ while in others he is addressed as “Sergeant-Major” An officer on joining his regiment or new unit should find out which custom is in use by asking the Adjutant or some other officer of the unit. It must be realised by a young officer that a Warrant Officer, Class I, particularly the Regimental Sergeant- Major, holds an important position in the unit or regiment. It requires great ability and considerable service to attain this rank and the RSM should be accorded the respect which is due to his particular appointment. He can be of the greatest assistance to a young officer in helping him when first joining, especially with regard to drill regimental customs and matters of uniform dress. Most officers, shortly after joining their regiment, will find themselves being drilled on the square by the RSM. This is a very normal procedure, and it is up to the officer to give of his best and to co-operate in every way possible. The RSM is the Commanding Officers and the Adjutant’s direct link with the other ranks of the unit. At the same time it is his duty to report to the Adjutant any irregularities which he may note on the part of the officers of the unit in the course of their duties.

2. CSM

The Company, Squadron or Battery Sergeant-Major can be of the greatest assistance to all young officers on joining their regiment or corps. He can assist the officers in matters of discipline, office routine and orderly-room and parade procedure. It must be realised that the Company, Squadron or Battery Sergeant-Major is a man of considerable service and experience In view of this the officer should not hesitate to ask for advice on matters to do with the routine of the unit or sub-unit. Furthermore, when offered advice by the Company. Squadron or Battery Sergeant-Major the officer should accept it in the spirit in which it is given. Although the officer holds the Queen’s Commission, whereas the Warrant Officer does not, the latter has both service and experience behind him. It is the Company, Squadron or Battery Sergeant-Major’s duty to report to his sub-unit commander any failings he may discover on the part of the young officers in their dealings and treatment of the other ranks.

3. Corporals’ Mess

It should be realised that when a soldier is appointed Lance-Corporal or Lance-Bombardier, he starts on one of the most difficult periods in his service. He is bound to have to give up some friends and make some new ones; furthermore, on his showing as a member of the Corporals’ Mess, depends, very considerably, his future chances of promotion. It is therefore absolutely essential that an officer’s behaviour in the Corporals’ Mess should at all times be of the very highest standard, and an example to the non-commissioned officers.
An officer should only visit the Corporals’ Mess on occasions when there is some social function to which he has been formally invited, or when as duty officer he makes the daily inspection of barracks.

4. Address—by rank

When addressing a warrant officer, an officer should do so by using his military rank or appointment. That is to say a Company Sergeant-Major should be addressed as “Company Sergeant-Major.” For procedure when addressing a Regimental Sergeant-Major see sub-para 1. When addressing a non-commissioned officer, an officer should do so by using the NCO’s rank and name. For example, a Corporal should be addressed as ‘Corporal Snooks.”

5. Warrant and Non-Commissions Officers Instructing Officers. When an officer is being instructed by a warrant officer or non-commissioned officer he should remember that the instructor is in a difficult position, and he should there fore assist his instructor by considerate behaviour. The student should not be averse to asking questions of his instructor, bearing in mind that it is the instructor’s job to teach him correctly.

6. Reproof

Warrant officers and non-commissioned officers should never be reproved within the hearing of any junior ranks, as in this way their authority becomes undermined. This does not mean that there should be any question of a senior rank getting away with it.” If a senior rank merits a reproof it is the duty of the officer to see that he gets it.

7. Leave to Dismiss

It is the custom for any warrant officer or non-commissioned officer, commanding a body of troops on parade, to ask permission from the Senior Officer watching the parade, or in the immediate vicinity, to dismiss or march off. The officer should return the warrant officers or non commissioned officer’s salute and grant permission, then stand still and return the salute of the troops being dismissed or marched away.

8. General

An officer should be very careful not to allow himself to be imposed upon by warrant officers or non-commissioned officers. In all his dealings with them he should be courteous, just, and consistent, but never familiar.



1. Prestige and Importance

The prestige of a regiment or unit depends to a great extent upon the tone of the Sergeants’ Mess. A well run Mess will ensure contented and hardworking members. A slack and bad Mess leads to general slackness and inefficiency amongst its members as well as getting the regiment a bad name outside from people who come as visitors. A great deal can be done by all officers of a regiment or unit to foster the right spirit in the Sergeants’ Mess. When officers go to the Mess a lot depends on their manners and general behaviour. It is sometimes supposed to be the “thing" to try and give young officers too much to drink when they visit the Mess. This is entirely wrong, and it is up to the officer himself to see that it is not allowed to happen.

2. Behaviour

The behaviour of an officer in the Sergeants’ Mess, as has already been stressed, is of the utmost importance and has a direct bearing on the members of that Mess and their own behaviour. The RSM is the main host, and when invited to the Mess an officer, on arrival, should look for the RSM and say ‘Good evening.” Before departing the RSM should be seen and thanked for the evening’s entertainment. It is most important that an officer should bear in mind that he is a guest, and he should behave as he would like to see guests behaving in his own Mess. Under no circumstances should officers allow members of the Sergeants Mess to become familiar with them, at the same time an officer should not stand on his dignity.

3. When Visited

The Sergeants’ Mess should only be visited by officers on duty or when formally invited to a Mess function. An officer will always remove his hat on entering the Sergeants’ Mess even when on duty. It is strictly against the rules of etiquette in the Army for an officer to use the Sergeants’ Mess as a place to go when he feels like it. This will only lead to familiarity between the officers and senior non-commissioned officers.

4. Sergeants’ Mess Dances

When attending Sergeants’ Mess dances it is customary and good manners to ask the RSM’s wife and the wives of the senior warrant officers and sergeants to dance.
Officers should avoid spending their whole time at the bar or monopolising the attention of the prettiest girls in the room.

5. Taking Guests

The rules for taking a guest to the Sergeants’ Mess are the same as those for any invitation. If the invitation includes a guest, there is no reason why one should not be taken. It is extremely bad manners to take a guest when one has not been asked, unless it is a special occasion and then the RSM should be approached.

6. When to Leave
It is the custom in some regiments or corps that, when officers attend a Sergeants’ Mess dance, it may not end until all officers have left. Officers should be quite clear about this before attending the Sergeants’ Mess. For social functions other than dances in the Sergeants’ Mess the time of departure is exactly the same as at any social function inside the Army or out.



1. Representing the Commanding Officer

An officer should always bear in mind that, whilst carrying out the duties of Orderly Officer, he is representing the Commanding Officer. It is therefore essential that these duties are carried out conscientiously and to the best of his ability.

2. Dress

The Orderly Officer must be very smartly turned out at all times. He is on duty for the twenty-four hours of his tour, and must remain in uniform except When he retires to bed or when he is given special permission by the Adjutant to take part in regimental games.

3. Duties

The duties of the Orderly Officer vary greatly in different units. The following paragraphs apply chiefly to an Orderly Officer in an Infantry Battalion. In the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery these duties are often performed under squadron or battery arrangements. Nevertheless, the principles outlined remain the same in all units.

4. Visiting Dining Halls

When the Orderly Officer visits the dining hall at meal times it is not merely sufficient for him to appear for & few minutes. He should take a personal interest in the quality of the food and the method of service, and should any complaints be made they must be very carefully followed up. Facetious complaints must not be entertained and the offender should have disciplinary action taken against him.

5. Mounting. and Dismounting the Guard or Picquet

When mounting or dismounting the Guard or Picquet, the Orderly Officer must be faultlessly turned out. This is the least that is expected of the men. The inspection must be very thorough and no fault should be allowed to pass without the necessary action being taken. It is an officer’s duty to know the correct procedure before going on parade, and also to ensure that the drill is correctly and smartly carried out.

6. Visiting the Guard or Picquet

It is one of the duties of the Orderly Officer to visit the Guard or Picquet once by day and once by night. The object of these visits is to ensure that the men are correctly dressed and thoroughly alert so that they can turn out at a moments notice. It is therefore useless if the visits are always carried out at the same hour. It is the Orderly Officer’s duty to be conscientious in his task, and he should therefore select some time different from that previously chosen. Guards and Picquets may have tactical positions to take up on being turned out, as well as ceremonial ones. The officer must ensure that all men know these positions and understand their orders. Sentries and prowlers should be visited to ascertain whether all is correct or not, and to ensure that they thoroughly understand their orders.

7. Instruction In Orderly Officer Duties

Every officer on ñrst joining his unit will be given special instruction in the particular duties that he will have to carry out as Orderly Officer. He must understand these duties thoroughly and perform them with keenness, for the way in which he carries them out will undoubtedly be carefully noted by his Commanding Officer.



1. Orders

There is always a mass of orders, and it is the officers duty to be familiar with them. Orders come under three main headings:

(a) Standing Orders.

These consist of Regimental, Corps, Unit and Station Standing Orders and the officer must ensure he is familiar with them.

(6) Routine Orders.

These are the normal daily orders as issued by order of the Commanding Officer. They affect all personnel in the unit and must be read daily. On returning from leave, or a course, an officer should read all orders issued during his absence.

(c) District, Command and Army Orders and Defence Council Instructions (Army).

A great number of these orders and instructions will not affect the individual officer, but nevertheless it is his duty to make himself acquainted with them. DCIs are of especial importance.

2. Orderly Room Procedure

This is usually known as Orders but some regiments and corps have other terms.

(a) When attended

It is normal for an officer to attend Commanding Officers Orders the morning after he arrives at a new unit. Should an officer require an interview with the Commanding Officer he should make application, in writing, to the Adjutant, giving his reasons un less private, and at the same time informing his Company or equivalent Commander of his action.

(b) Procedure.

Each regiment, corps, or unit has its own Orderly Room Procedure, and all officers should acquaint themselves with such procedure. "Orders" are a parade, and are usually treated as a ceremonial parade, so the officer should attend suitably dressed.



1. Private Letters

When writing to a Field or General Officer, not well known to an officer, he should start ‘Dear General Blank.” To a Subaltern or Captain he should start Dear Blank.” To finish a letter addressed to a Senior Officer. “Yours sincerely” should be used, and for an officer of Subaltern’s or Captain’s rank Yours ever” The writer does not put his rank after his signature. When writing to a Senior Officer well known to him, an officer should commence with “Dear General” or “Dear Major". It is entirely wrong in private correspondence to address a Senior Officer as “Dear Sir.’ Great care should be taken to ensure that the correct decorations and initials are put on the envelope. If not known, these must be discovered from the Army List or some other source.

2. Answering Invitations

Answers to invitations should be sent off as soon as possible. Delay only causes inconvenience and anxiety to the host or hostess, besides upsetting their arrangements.

(a) Private Invitations.

These should be replied to in the form in which they are written. For example, an invitation received commencing Dear Mr. White” and finishing Yours sincerely,” should be replied to in the same style—Dear Mr. (or Mrs.) Black and ending Yours sincerely.’’

(h) Formal Invitations.

There is only one way to reply to a formal invitation and that is by a formal reply. An invitation in which an officers company is request by one, or a number of persons, requires a formal answer in the following style:

Mr. A. N. Other has much pleasure in accepting the kind invitation of
to (time) on
(day or date)
‘Mr. A. N. Other much regrets that, owing to a previous engagement, he is unable to accept the kind invitation of

Neither of the above replies should be signed.

For ease of reference para 3 below is laid out in accordance with Service writing contained in JSSM Volume 1— Service Writing (JSP 101).

3. Official Correspondence

This subject will be dealt with under the following headings

a. Formal letters
b. Demi-official (DO) letters
c. Routine letters

a. Formal letters
A junior officer will normally only need to write a formal letter when applying for leave or some similar occasion. The subject is normally written in block capitals at the head of the letter which should take the following form

Ref                                                 From
To                                                  Date



1. I have the honour to request  that

2. I wish to visit

I have the honour to be,
Sir, Your obedient Servant

b. Demi Official letters

These letters usually consist of personal correspondence between officers on Service matters, and allow a more informal method of address.  They must not be quoted in official correspondence, they are filed separately. The officer's rank, name and initials should be put at the head of the page.  The salutation "Dear     " and ending "Yours           " are normally inserted in manuscript by the originator. The letter is in normal  social letter form set out as shown below:-

Ref                                                     Tel 
To                                                      Date


Dear Allan


your sincerely

Mike Jones



Well, that took some doing but there it is. Do not be too particular about the layout, especially in the demonstration of the types of letter writing, they were scanned and not in any particular format so I had to make do as best I could.  There may well be words above not scanned correctly but passing the spell checker, like "can" and "call" as an example. If you see any when reading, feel free to jump off a cliff, er - I mean, send me a message with Section, line etc to enable me to find it quickly and amend it.