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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

what would an adjutant do?


johndawson

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I'm just wondering what an adjutant would do? and whether it was just a junior officer acting as the admin guy or was it more than that?

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I believe he did do admin

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An adjutant is responsible for delivering to the commanding officer an efficiently organised and administered unit - both in barracks and on operations. Naturally the emphasis alters on operations, but the principle is the same. This allows the CO to get on with the commanding, without having to concern himself with the detail.

Jack

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Just to follow up on Jack's input, on operations he was responsible for all personnel administration, running the battalion command post and writing up all orders and operational plans.

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Hi John,

The text book description of an adjutant is an officer who assists a superior officer, paricularly in communicating orders.

The term most commonly applied to an officer, typically a captain, holding this post in an infantry battalion, or the equivalent units in the other arms of service.

Hope this helps?

Regards, Womo

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many thanks for everyone who's replied

I read somewhere that an adjutant would also take over the command of the battalion if the battalion commander was injured. But i think that is wrong - surely it would go to the next senior officer rather than an adjutant.

My Great uncle Syndey Dawson was the adjutant and a second lieutenant in the 8th York and Lancs and died on 1st July. Was the adjutant's position likely to be at the side/near the commanding officer if they went over. I realize that this is just guesswork but I have very little knowledge of detailed military behaviour.

My other guess is that he got the post because he was training to be an accountant! He was perhaps the most exciting accountant that I've come across. (sorry - cheap shot to all the accountants out there)

but once again I want to say thanks for all your responses

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Hi John,

As has already been said the Adjutant was the PA (right hand man)to the Commanding officer dealing with all admin and Staff issues relating to the command, he had the RSM as his right hand man and had responsibility for the disciplining of the Junior Officers below Captain level.

In the event of the CO being killed the Regiment would be commanded by the 2IC or the Senior Major, the Adjutant would more than likely move to take over one of the Rifle Companies.

Rob

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just another piece of info - I have seen examples of the change of adjutant being reported in the London Gazette (even during the war years), so it was an important position, and carried some status. In 'normal' conditions, I believe the appointment was for a period of 2 years.

Regards

Steve

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An adjutant is responsible for delivering to the commanding officer an efficiently organised and administered unit - both in barracks and on operations. Jack

That sounds pretty comprehensive, Jack. What does it leave out for the CO to do? Phil B

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As I said, he gets on with the commanding! So, for example, in peacetime he might be off round the rifle companies during the morning visiting training, while in the meantime the adjutant and RSM, having toured barracks in their usual manner to spot any horrors, might then bring together everything required for commanding officer's orders and interviews. CO returns, listens to requests, congratulates the worthy then conducts the assizes. Adjutant then mops up after it during the afternoon, whilst CO goes to a conference at brigade headquarters - and so it goes on. On operations, most of the more tedious routine admin goes out of the window, but there is still an amazing paper chase to be dealt with - both upwards and downwards. The Great War is replete with examples of runners arriving at a battalion dugout, having spent an hour dodging shells - only to deliver a demand for a return concerning the number of men who wish to change their religion - or similar. All this paper has to be dealt with, rubbish or not and at that period, when there were no Ops or Int officers at that level (as far as I know), if it was not a Q matter for the quartermaster, all the rest landed on the adjutant's shoulders. The adjutant is always a busy man. It is still a key appointment in any unit.

Jack

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John

The answers received already tell the story, but in Regimental life the Adjutant's post was coveted by the career officers, & in peacetime a senior Captain would be appointed.

A successful tour as an Adjutant set you on the road to commanding a Battalion.

Your Great Uncle Sydney must have been highly thought of, & trusted, by the CO to be appointed to the post as a 2/Lt.

Doubtless his diligence as an accountant was respected, & helped him to keep working tidying up the necessary paperwork to keep the Bn running, when others would have headed for their bunks.

Maybe he was killed when a shell hit the Command Post, or maybe the CO told all officers that they were going forward that day.

Harry

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my father was an adjutant in ww2,and said that his most important task was to ensure that the beer and mail got through at all times

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The following on the duties of the adjutant is from: Stupart, R. (1915), 'Hints to Young Officers in the Australian Military Forces', Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

"The adjutant is the commanding officer's mouthpiece. Through him is the channel of communication with all the officers and men of the battalion. Under the direction of the commanding officer he issues all orders, makes all reports and returns, keeps all records and rosters, and has charge of all correspondence pertaining to the administration of the battalion His relations with the commanding officer are close and confidential, and he should give his chief his entire, unqualified support. His loyalty should be absolute, and under no circumstances should he ever, by act or word, criticise the action of the commanding officer, no matter how much he may himself personally disapprove of the same.

In neatness and correctness of dress, and in soldierly bearing, he should be faultless, setting an example to the rest of the command. He should cultivate soldierly qualities and amiability and should be just, pleasant arid courteous to everyone, performing his duties with partiality to none and fairness to all.

As the adjutant occupies an office which is regarded in the service as representing accuracy, method and precision, and as he is often required to call the attention of officers to the violation of, and non-compliance with, regulations and orders, he cannot himself be too careful and punctilious.

An efficient adjutant must have a general knowledge of the administrative duties of all the other battalion officers and company commanders, and special knowledge of his own duties. He must be a dose student of the Defence Act, Regulations and Standing Orders, the Drill and Training Manuals. the Manual of Ceremonial, etc., and should read carefully the Military and District Orders as soon as issued.

Under no circumstances should he permit any other officer of the command to be better informed than he is in these subjects. Unless he is well posted on the duties of his office, he cannot command the respect and enjoy the confidence of his fellow officers. By study, application, and observation he should inform himself upon all points of military usage and etiquette, and on proper occasions aid with his advice and experience the subalterns of the command.

He is responsible to his commanding officer for everything connected with organization and discipline.

He should form up all the parades of the battalion, inspect guards and piquets before mounting and when dismounting, attend all parades, accompanying the commanding officer in his inspection, supervise the work in the orderly room, make out states and see that the duties are allotted companies in accordance with the roster.

He is answerable for all the orderly room work, books, returns and orders, and has under his special direction the battalion sergeant-major, band-sergeant, orderly-room-sergeant, etc., and provost-sergeant. He should regulate all duty rosters, that of the officers being under his especial care.

He should be responsible for the discipline of the band, buglers, etc., and take charge of all the regimental drills, but at which only officers who arc his juniors in the battalion need fall in. Should it be necessary for an officer senior to the adjutant to fall in at his drills for instruction, another officer senior to all should be present.

The drills of all recruits and young officers should be under his especial direction.

The adjutant should pay particular attention to the instruction of the non-commissioned officers;' he should also inspect them, together with the band and buglers before every commanding officer's parade.

He should enter into the characters and disposition of the non-commissioned officers and men of his battalion, so as to be able to assist them with advice and information, when he perceives defects; and so that he may be qualified to recommend men for advancement when occasion offers.

He should be the first to set an example to officers and men in dress, obedience to orders, punctual attendance at parades, alertness and unceasing attention to all the duties of a soldier.

He should be constantly vigilant and careful that the orders are attended to and obeyed with the most scrupulous exactness. He should be active and persevering, never taking for granted that anything is right, but constantly seeing that it is so, in forming the commanding officer when he finds neglects or irregularities which it is not in his power to correct.

The dress, appearance and carriage of the men, both on and off duty, should be particularly attended to by him.

He should parade and inspect guards and armed parties proceeding on duty, which should then be handed over to the charge of the proper officer.

Although the adjutant should not interfere in the interior arrangements of companies, he should take notice of all deviations from the orders, and any. other irregularities he may observe on the part of the officers, non-commissioned officers or men.

He usually acts as prosecutor at court martials, when he should be prepared, if necessary, to answer to the character of the accused, or any other particulars which may be required, taking care that the accused and witnesses have been previously warned, and that everything is in order so as to prevent unnecessary delay. He need not, however, be present at courts of inquiry and regimental investigations of that nature unless required.

There is no circumstance in which the discipline of the battalion can in any way be concerned which the adjutant should think foreign to his observation, and its general efficiency will best evince his zeal and ability."

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  • 6 years later...

Hello Mike

Yes, though he often managed to off-load that particular job onto a junior officer with ambitions to become an adjutant himself in due course. But in general terms, the War Diary was written up by the adjutant daily, signed off by the CO once a month when one copy was sent to the AG's Office at the Base, Rouen. It is the latter set which comprises class WO95 at Kew.

It was an important job, and an adjutant got extra pay for it - normally two shillings a day.

Ron

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Probably not as such, Mike, but I think his appointment as adjutant should be shown. In fact I think it would have to be, in order to authorise his regimental agent to pay him the extra money.

Ron

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Probably not as such, Mike, but I think his appointment as adjutant should be shown. In fact I think it would have to be, in order to authorise his regimental agent to pay him the extra money.

Ron

Thanks Ron. I missed it, and it's there clear as day. " paid acting Adj "

Mike

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In the RN, I once saw the Fist Lieutenant (the equivalent of the adjutant) being described as St Peter to God.

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Is A.G. adjutant General? and would A.A.G. be Assistant Adjutant General

Yes and yes.

Ron

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In the RN, I once saw the Fist Lieutenant (the equivalent of the adjutant) being described as St Peter to God.

Fist? Lieutenant? Was he O i/c corporal punishment? I'm glad I was in the Army!

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