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Soldiers' stories- incorrect attribution ?


charlie962
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I am trying to unravel who really said what in a book that is based on individual soldiers accounts but where I have a strong suspicion there is a mix-up of stories.

 

Reference to 'sharing ..  with my pal' in a situation of basic survival was a common expression for the ordinary soldier in the trenches or in captivity. Would a Senior NCO of long service use the same expression ?

 

Charlie

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4 hours ago, charlie962 said:

I am trying to unravel who really said what in a book that is based on individual soldiers accounts but where I have a strong suspicion there is a mix-up of stories.

 

Reference to 'sharing ..  with my pal' in a situation of basic survival was a common expression for the ordinary soldier in the trenches or in captivity. Would a Senior NCO of long service use the same expression ?

 

Charlie

I think the expression Pal gained credence during WW1 but it was predominantly a civilian expression and among the regular Army professionals pre war other expressions like oppo (opposite number) or mucker (from the Hindi ‘muckergee’ (Anglo spelling) - workmate but relating to a common surname and religious/tribal connection) were more common.  It’s also attributed to Irish/English for workmate/labourer, I’m not sure which is correct or if it’s a bit of both.  There’s also of course the sadly now obsolete ‘chum’.

 

NB.  Opposite number relates to the numbering off into odds and evens to form files on parade, which in turn relates to

the old British Army practice of firing lines in two ranks.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks. I hadn't realised oppo was pre WW1 nor known the origin of mucker- not suprising though.

I was also thinking that a 'pal' would be needed by the ordinary soldier who teemed up closely with a fellow soldier just to survive. The senior nco would be more independant - or at least likely to show himself thus?

 

charlie

 

PS in this case the setting is Mesopotamia and PoWs Guests of the Turkish

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17 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Thanks. I hadn't realised oppo was pre WW1 nor known the origin of mucker- not suprising though.

I was also thinking that a 'pal' would be needed by the ordinary soldier who teemed up closely with a fellow soldier just to survive. The senior nco would be more independant - or at least likely to show himself thus?

 

charlie

 

PS in this case the setting is Mesopotamia and PoWs Guests of the Turkish

I think Pal was just lingua Franca for friend regardless of rank.  Soldiers cooperating together with a vital work mate was more connected with oppo in the old British Army because British soldiers worked in files.  One front rank, the other his supporter in the rank behind.  Collectively known as ‘files on parade’ of Kiplingesque fame.  Odds and Evens relate to the same thing in military context.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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My problem here is I am using the distiction I drew above to reinforce my view that two mens' stories (one a Staff Sergeant, the other a Private) have been merged. Is that reasonable?

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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An observation, POWs in Turkey were not held in POW camps as such but often distributed to work camps, given the often appalling conditions for other ranks, including NCOs perhaps rank distinction was less important than regimental affiliation for survival

 

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/report-on-treatment-of-british-prisoners-of-war-in-turkey#

 

 

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Ken, thank you. I am aware of the conditions.  My impression from reading numerous accounts on Mesopt and particularly Kut and PoWs is in line with my thinking in my previous post but I am seeking comfort !

 

I can say that I have seen more than one account where the SNCOs very much assert their rank in PoW 'camps', even taking offence at having to share messing with the ordinary soldier when all are living in squalor and barely staying alive.  Perhaps an Indian Army thing ?

 

Charlie

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32 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I can say that I have seen more than one account where the SNCOs very much assert their rank in PoW 'camps', even taking offence at having to share messing with the ordinary soldier when all are living in squalor and barely staying alive.  Perhaps an Indian Army thing ?

 

Charlie

I think you are right that it is perhaps much more pronounced in the British-Indian forces where caste could also be intermeshed (not necessarily harmoniously) with rank and make in such circumstances matters worse.  That's not to say it couldn't be bad with British-Imperial NCOs too, where the occasional petty snobberies of the sergeants' mess could sometimes be carried over.

 

I'm not sure I understand your line of thinking regarding Pals without a more detailed explanation of context.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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5 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

I'm not sure I understand your line of thinking regarding Pals without a more detailed explanation of context.

I will try to dig out a bit of sample text.

 

Charlie

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