Saturday 16 May 2009

Tales from the Academy – ASM J C Lord

'The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst' is variously known as 'The Academy', 'The RMA', 'The RMAS' or just simply 'Sandhurst'. It has trained countless officer cadets who all have memorable moments to recount, many of them involving the Warrant Officers who drilled them so thoroughly (some might say relentlessly).

Academy Sergeant Major J C Lord MVO MBE was an impressive character. Wounded and captured at Arnhem in 1944 he was taken to Stalag XIB Prisoner of War Camp where conditions were deplorable. Through his strength of personality and enduring military discipline RSM Lord, as he then was, raised the prisoners' morale and rebuilt their confidence and pride.

The title of Academy Sergeant Major is the highest non-commissioned rank in the British Army and there is only ever one man who carries it. All other WOs are junior in rank to him.

At officer cadets' first parade J C Lord would address them, pace stick under arm. 'Gentlemen, I will call you 'Sir' but I will not mean it. You will address me as 'Sir' and you will mean it.' ASM Lord had an extraordinary eye for detail and would spot an infringement in dress or behaviour from a great distance. With one thousand cadets on parade all dressed alike, usually in service dress, he would order his subordinates to 'fetch that idle man over there.' The Warrant Officers would scurry about seeking the miscreant and would shout, 'This one, sir?' and ASM Lord would shout back, 'No!' Another cadet would be pointed out; 'This one, sir?'

'No' would come the reply. A third unfortunate would be singled out – 'This one, sir?'

'No' was shouted back.

Eventually, with WOs trying their hardest to find the cause of their ASM's distress, 'This one, sir?' would bring the response, 'NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! – but he'll do!'

Depending on the severity of the 'crime' the culprit might then find himself detained in the Guard House, of which more anon.

Though the preceding details are correct certain facts may have been omitted in the interests of protecting the innocent!!

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