- All present and correct.
King's Regulations (Army) Report of the Orderly Sergeant to the Officer of the Day:
- If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; and if you can't pick it up, paint it.
The Official Rules (1978): 1940s military saying, in Paul Dickson
- Lions led by donkeys.
associated with British soldiers during the First World War
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): attributed to Max Hoffman (1869–1927) in Alan Clark
- 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.
Bible : ‘For You But Not For Me’ (First World War song); see
- A soldier of the Great War known unto God.
standard epitaph for the unidentified dead of World War One: adopted by the War Graves Commission
- 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
Rudyard Kipling (rev. ed. 1978); see Bible, Sassoon: Charles Carrington
- Give them the cold steel, boys! 1817–63 American army officer: during the American Civil War, 1863; attributed
- 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. 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
- To save your world you asked this man to die:
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
1907–73 English poet: ‘Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier’ (1955)
- 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
The Reason Why (1953) ch. 12 1810–61 French general: Cecil Woodham-Smith
- 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.
1920–44 English poet: ‘Vergissmeinnicht, 1943’
- Carts rattle and squeak,
Horses snort and neigh—
Bows and arrows at their waists, the conscripts march away.
Fathers, mothers, children, wives run to say goodbye.
The Xianyang Bridge in clouds of dust is hidden from the eye.
(Tu Fu) 712–770 Chinese poet: ‘Ballad of the Army Carts’ tr. Vikram Seth
- 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
Inscriptions Suggested for War Memorials (1919) 1875–1958 English classicist:
- The sergeant is the army. 1890–1969 American Republican statesman, 34th President 1953–61: attributed
- Old soldiers never die,
They simply fade away.
1906–70 British songwriter: ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ (1920 song); copyrighted by Foley but possibly a ‘folk-song’ from the First World War
- Rascals, would you live for ever? 1712–86 Prussian monarch, King from 1740: to hesitant Guards at Kolin, 18 June 1757; attributed
- The courage of a soldier is found to be the cheapest and most common quality of human nature.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788) ch. 25 1737–94 English historian:
- 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.
The Pirates of Penzance (1879) act 1 1836–1911 English writer of comic and satirical verse:
- 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. 1878–1943 German general: attributed, 1933; possibly apocryphal
- 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.
Last Poems (1922) no. 37 ‘Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’ 1859–1936 English poet:
- 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.
and : ‘Bless 'Em All’ (1940 song)
- In God's name, the soldiers will fight, and God will give the Victory.
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
- Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.
Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 10 April 1778 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer: James Boswell
- 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? 1943– American Democratic politician: speech to Senate Committee, 23 April 1971
- 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.
Russell 1865–1936 English writer and poet: ‘Tommy’ (1892); see
- 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.
1865–1936 English writer and poet: ‘Tommy’ (1892)
- 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. 1755–1824 French monarch, King from 1814: speech to Saint-Cyr cadets, 9 August 1819
- An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.
The United Front in Cultural Work 30 October 1944 1893–1976 Chinese statesman; de facto leader of the Communist Party:
- Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
advice given to his Marines in Iraq
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006) 1950– American general: Thomas E. Ricks
- An army marches on its stomach.
Mémorial de Ste-Hélène (1823) vol. 4, 14 November 1816; also attributed to Frederick the Great 1769–1821 French monarch, emperor 1804–15: attributed, but probably condensed from a long passage in E. A. de Las Cases
- 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.
1893–1918 English poet: ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ (written 1917)
- I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.
This is the happy warrior,
This is he…
Naked Warriors (1919) ‘The Scene of War, 4. The Happy Warrior’; see Wordsworth 1893–1968 English art historian:
- 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.
1914–86 English poet and dramatist: ‘Lessons of the War: 1, Naming of Parts’ (1946)
- A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. 1858–1919 American Republican statesman, 26th President 1901–9: speech at the Lincoln Monument, Springfield, Illinois, 4 June 1903
- They dashed on towards that thin red line tipped with steel.
of the Russians charging the British at the battle of Balaclava, 1854
The British Expedition to the Crimea (1877); Russell's original dispatch read, ‘That thin red streak topped with a line of steel’ 1820–1907 British journalist:
- 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.
1886–1967 English poet: ‘Base Details’ (1918)
- 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?
1886–1967 English poet: ‘On Passing the New Menin Gate’ (1928)
- 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.
Arms and the Man (1898) act 1 1856–1950 Irish dramatist:
- ‘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.
1809–92 English poet: ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1854)
- 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.
Plain Speaking (1974) ch. 24 1884–1972 American Democratic statesman, 33rd President 1945–53: Merle Miller
- Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak and esteem to all. 1732–99 American statesman, 1st President 1789–97: letter to the captains of the Virginia Regiments, July 1759
- 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’
Supplementary Despatches… (1860) vol. 6 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: letter, 29 August 1810, in
- Ours is composed of the scum of the earth—the mere scum of the earth.
of the army
Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington (1888) 4 November 1831 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: Philip Henry Stanhope