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Remembered Today:

"Assisted" Entry to Staff College


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I was surprised to read recently that Wully Robertson didn`t fully pass the entrance exam to Staff College and had a nominated entry. (Surprised because he seemed brighter than most and because I didn`t expect him to have friends in high places). And we all know of another man who failed the exam but subsequently reached the top! Is it possible that assisted entry men actually generally attained higher rank than exam passers? And, if that`s the case (& I don`t know it is), does that mean that the exam wasn`t finding the best men or that influence was more important? Or maybe the men in high places were better able to recognize potential staff talent? Or are Wully and DH just exceptions? :unsure:

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Your post prompted me to reread John terraine's lecture to the WFA seminar in June 1991. He said that 30 officers were admitted to the Staff College annually, three quarters by competitive examination and the rest by selection. I guess is that Wully Robertson's work in the Intellegence Branch in India had distinguished him - he was awarded a DSO and an MiD before he studied for the Staff Exam- and brought him to the notice of the CinC India who nominated him for a vacancy. I'd suggest that he was 'talent spotted'

John Terraine mentioned 8 of Wully Robertson's contemporaries at Staff College who all reached high rank, so 9 out of 30 suggests that the selection system was fairly reasonable, and it may be that some of the other anonymous 20 contemporaries were also successful.

But no system of selection is perfect

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John Terraine mentioned 8 of Wully Robertson's contemporaries at Staff College who all reached high rank, so 9 out of 30 suggests that the selection system was fairly reasonable, and it may be that some of the other anonymous 20 contemporaries were also successful.

There was a similar year in the US - "the year the stars fell on" at West Point IIRC. I can`t remember whether it was pre WW1 or WW2. Since attainment of high rank is somewhat dependant on a good (& large) war, the other years probably didn`t have such high rates.

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Your post prompted me to reread John terraine's lecture to the WFA seminar in June 1991. He said that 30 officers were admitted to the Staff College annually, three quarters by competitive examination and the rest by selection. I guess is that Wully Robertson's work in the Intellegence Branch in India had distinguished him - he was awarded a DSO and an MiD before he studied for the Staff Exam- and brought him to the notice of the CinC India who nominated him for a vacancy. I'd suggest that he was 'talent spotted'

John Terraine mentioned 8 of Wully Robertson's contemporaries at Staff College who all reached high rank, so 9 out of 30 suggests that the selection system was fairly reasonable, and it may be that some of the other anonymous 20 contemporaries were also successful.

But no system of selection is perfect

The thirty does not include Quetta - I think (would have to check) that twenty or so were admitted every year there.

On another point entirely, you would have to be a pretty good draughtsman as well - some of the sketches in the Haig papers from his staff college days are very impressive indeed and they had to be produced in a pretty limited time frame.

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