CSM’s Rule Okay

4 Sep

I can only speak for the men who serve or served in the army in saying the regimental Company Sergeant Majors run each individual company. They get to know each and everyman’s name and face. This takes some doing but they do it. What is more they know every trick and dodge in the book known to a soldier. This is because they have been down that road when they were Privates. The organisation is massive for the work they do in making their Company’s tick over and this must take some doing. The rank and file such as me did not fully appreciate this, all we remember is the tongue lashings we got from the CSM’s. Believe me, nobody escaped the tongue lashings!
During my time with the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, I was transferred from Charlie Company to Support Company. On reporting to the (S) Company office I noticed a CSM stood by a desk giving me the once over. He shouted to me what’s your name, on my reply he glared at me and with a louder voice he said stand to attention when you talk to me. This was my first encounter with Company Sergeant Major Kershaw and it certainly wasn’t my last. The lads in my new billet said have I met the screaming skull yet, referring to CSM Kershaw. I just nodded with a grin
For the next 15 months both here in England and abroad if he was around everything you were involved in such as equipment, tents, weapons, weapons, ammunition and general smartness had to be spot on. I will say this for CSM Kershaw his drilling was of the highest order and he was always well turned out. Obviously he set by his high standards and we the rank and file had to follow suit or else!
I was a few hours late getting back to Barnard Castle after my dis-embarkation leave and I put my hand up and say it was my own fault. Next day along with five or so others, I was on OC’s orders. Outside the OC’s office was the CSM, he inspected all of us and then double marched us into the OCs office. The OC gave all five of us a dressing down and said “don’t let it happen again.” That was it and we were marched out. Not content with this and because he knew me, he dismissed the others. He put his head right up to mine and said in a loud voice, “If it wasn’t for the fact I was leaving the battalion, I would give you a dog’s life.” With this ringing in my ears I was dismissed and I never saw him or wanted to see him again.
He took a post as an RSM to territorial units, probably until he retired. When, I now look back over those years that involved CSM Kershaw. I know he had a job to do, which in his eyes was done to the book. In our eyes, that is the rank and file it was definitely a bit over the top. It is a soldier’s lot to moan and did we moan. I have no axe to grind with CSM Kershaw if I had met him I would shake his hand and wish him all the best (stood to attention of course)
When CSM Kershaw left the battalion, we had a new CSM named Driver. He was good but not as good has CSM Kershaw at drill. On the good side we never saw him much after muster unless you went into the company office, don’t get me wrong he knew all our names. CSM Driver only came into the billet odd times and always looked into one’s locker. He always looked to see if your utensils were in the right order etc. such as Knife, fork, spoon, lather brush, razor, button stick, and button brush. All in our billet made certain of immaculate lockers and CSM Driver loved it. He had a human side about him and we all thought he was okay. There was only one CSM Kershaw and we certainly did not want another one.
I am sure the present day soldiers will have tales to tell about their Company Sergeant Majors. No doubt some good and no doubt some bad.
Alan

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