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date: 15 April 2024

The Army 

  1. All present and correct.
    Anonymous: King's Regulations (Army) Report of the Orderly Sergeant to the Officer of the Day
  2. If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; and if you can't pick it up, paint it.
    Anonymous: 1940s military saying, in Paul Dickson The Official Rules (1978)
  3. Lions led by donkeys.
    associated with British soldiers during the First World War
    Anonymous: attributed to Max Hoffman (1869–1927) in Alan Clark The Donkeys (1961); this attribution has not been traced elsewhere, and the phrase is of much earlier origin: ‘Unceasingly they had drummed into them the utterance of The Times: “You are lions led by packasses”’ was said of French troops defeated by Prussians, in Francisque Sarcey Paris during the Siege (1871)
  4. O Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling,
    O grave, thy victory?
    The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
    For you but not for me.
    Anonymous: ‘For You But Not For Me’ (First World War song); see Bible
  5. A soldier of the Great War known unto God.
    standard epitaph for the unidentified dead of World War One
    Anonymous: adopted by the War Graves Commission
  6. Their name liveth for evermore.
    standard inscription on the Stone of Remembrance in each military cemetery of World War One, proposed by Rudyard Kipling as a member of the War Graves Commission
    Anonymous: Charles Carrington Rudyard Kipling (rev. ed. 1978); see Bible, Sassoon
  7. Give them the cold steel, boys!
    Lewis Addison Armistead 1817–63 American army officer: during the American Civil War, 1863; attributed
  8. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.
    Kemal Atatürk 1881–1938 Turkish general and statesman: address to a group of visiting Australians at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 1934; subsequently inscribed on the memorial there, and on the Atatürk memorials in Canberra and Wellington
  9. To save your world you asked this man to die:
    Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
    W. H. Auden 1907–73 English poet: ‘Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier’ (1955)
  10. C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.
    It is magnificent, but it is not war.
    on the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, 25 October 1854
    Pierre Bosquet 1810–61 French general: Cecil Woodham-Smith The Reason Why (1953) ch. 12
  11. For here the lover and killer are mingled
    who had one body and one heart.
    And death, who had the soldier singled
    has done the lover mortal hurt.
    Keith Douglas 1920–44 English poet: ‘Vergissmeinnicht, 1943’
  12. When you go home, tell them of us and say,
    ‘For your tomorrows these gave their today.’
    second line often quoted as ‘For your tomorrow we gave our today’, as on the Kohima memorial to the Burma campaign of the Second World War
    John Maxwell Edmonds 1875–1958 English classicist: Inscriptions Suggested for War Memorials (1919)
  13. The sergeant is the army.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890–1969 American Republican statesman, 34th President 1953–61: attributed
  14. Old soldiers never die,
    They simply fade away.
    J. Foley 1906–70 British songwriter: ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ (1920 song); copyrighted by Foley but possibly a ‘folk-song’ from the First World War
  15. Rascals, would you live for ever?
    Frederick the Great 1712–86 Prussian monarch, King from 1740: to hesitant Guards at Kolin, 18 June 1757; attributed
  16. The courage of a soldier is found to be the cheapest and most common quality of human nature.
    Edward Gibbon 1737–94 English historian: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788) ch. 25
  17. I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
    I know the scientific names of beings animalculous;
    In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
    I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
    W. S. Gilbert 1836–1911 English writer of comic and satirical verse: The Pirates of Penzance (1879) act 1
  18. I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.
    Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord 1878–1943 German general: attributed, 1933; possibly apocryphal
  19. Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
    They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
    What God abandoned, these defended,
    And saved the sum of things for pay.
    A. E. Housman 1859–1936 English poet: Last Poems (1922) no. 37 ‘Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’
  20. You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
    So cheer up, my lads, Bless 'em all!
    Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all! The long and the short and the tall.
    Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake: ‘Bless 'Em All’ (1940 song)
  21. In God's name, the soldiers will fight, and God will give the Victory.
    St Joan of Arc c.1412–31 French national heroine : at her examination by the bishops at Poitiers, March 1429; Edward Lucie-Smith Joan of Arc (1976) ch. 8
  22. Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.
    Samuel Johnson 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer: James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 10 April 1778
  23. How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
    John Kerry 1943–  American Democratic politician: speech to Senate Committee, 23 April 1971
  24. Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ‘Tommy 'ow's yer soul?’
    But it's ‘Thin red line of 'eroes’ when the drums begin to roll.
    Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936 English writer and poet: ‘Tommy’ (1892); see Russell
  25. For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ‘Chuck him out, the brute!’
    But it's ‘Saviour of 'is country’ when the guns begin to shoot.
    Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936 English writer and poet: ‘Tommy’ (1892)
  26. Remember that there is not one of you who does not carry in his cartridge-pouch the marshal's baton of the duke of Reggio; it is up to you to bring it forth.
    Louis XVIII 1755–1824 French monarch, King from 1814: speech to Saint-Cyr cadets, 9 August 1819
  27. An army marches on its stomach.
    Napoleon I 1769–1821 French monarch, emperor 1804–15: attributed, but probably condensed from a long passage in E. A. de Las Cases Mémorial de Ste-Hélène (1823) vol. 4, 14 November 1816; also attributed to Frederick the Great
  28. What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    Wilfred Owen 1893–1918 English poet: ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ (written 1917)
  29. I saw him stab
    And stab again
    A well-killed Boche.
    This is the happy warrior,
    This is he…
    Herbert Read 1893–1968 English art historian: Naked Warriors (1919) ‘The Scene of War, 4. The Happy Warrior’; see Wordsworth
  30. Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
    We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
    We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
    Today we have naming of parts.
    Henry Reed 1914–86 English poet and dramatist: ‘Lessons of the War: 1, Naming of Parts’ (1946)
  31. A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.
    Theodore Roosevelt 1858–1919 American Republican statesman, 26th President 1901–9: speech at the Lincoln Monument, Springfield, Illinois, 4 June 1903
  32. They dashed on towards that thin red line tipped with steel.
    of the Russians charging the British at the battle of Balaclava, 1854
    William Howard Russell 1820–1907 British journalist: The British Expedition to the Crimea (1877); Russell's original dispatch read, ‘That thin red streak topped with a line of steel’
  33. If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
    I'd live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
    And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
    Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 English poet: ‘Base Details’ (1918)
  34. Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
    The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
    Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate,—
    Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
    Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 English poet: ‘On Passing the New Menin Gate’ (1928)
  35. You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub.
    George Bernard Shaw 1856–1950 Irish dramatist: Arms and the Man (1898) act 1
  36. ‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the soldier knew
    Some one had blundered:
    Their's not to make reply,
    Their's not to reason why,
    Their's but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–92 English poet: ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1854)
  37. I didn't fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
    Harry S. Truman 1884–1972 American Democratic statesman, 33rd President 1945–53: Merle Miller Plain Speaking (1974) ch. 24
  38. Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak and esteem to all.
    George Washington 1732–99 American statesman, 1st President 1789–97: letter to the captains of the Virginia Regiments, July 1759
  39. As Lord Chesterfield said of the generals of his day, ‘I only hope that when the enemy reads the list of their names, he trembles as I do.’
    usually quoted as, ‘I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me’
    Duke of Wellington 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: letter, 29 August 1810, in Supplementary Despatches… (1860) vol. 6
  40. Ours is composed of the scum of the earth—the mere scum of the earth.
    of the army
    Duke of Wellington 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: Philip Henry Stanhope Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington (1888) 4 November 1831