Lucius Lincoln Van Slyke.

Modern methods of testing milk and milk products; online

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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited




















AU rights reserved

Copyright, 1918,

Sei up and electrotyped. Published December, 1918.


Wnrinooti JPrcss

J. S. Gushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co.

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



In view of the fact that English Composition has been recognized as one
-~of the courses of training essential to the soldiers and officers of the United
States Military Forces, it becomes the duty of English teachers to modify
their instruction so as to conform to the recommendation made by the War
Department Committee on Education in the Special Descriptive Circular on
English (C. b. 6-Sept. 24). The authors have sought to prepare a brief
book to meet the second of the requirements named in the War Department
circular — drill in correspondence and report writing and their adaptation
to the needs of the military organization.

The most direct purpose which the book will serve is to teach the soldier
student, or prospective officer, how to write the correspondence, orders,
messages, and reports which will be required of him, and which he will be
called upon to understand even if he does not write them. The book gives
instructions, models, and exercises which cover those parts of paperwork
which require composition. Throughout the chapters emphasis is laid
on the essential features of military language, on clearness, brevity, and
precision. The last chapter contains many famous orders which illustrate
those qualities of a leader's style which make for the upbuilding of morale.

For many of the forms used to illustrate operation orders the authors
express their cordial thanks to members of the French Military Mission, and
particularly to Captain Andre Morize and Lieutenant R. Coube. Certain
forms used in recent training were supplied by the courtesy of General M. B.
Stewart and Colonel Edward Croft. The field messages, reports, and diary
are censored documents from an American Machine Gun Company, written
during the third German offensive this spring. For permission to use them,
the authors are indebted to Major Herbert C. Earnshaw, now Commanding
Officer of the Columbia Unit, S. A. T. C.

Harvard University,
12 October, 1918.



I The Principles of Military English .... 1

II Official Correspondence ....... 8

III Soldiers' Letters Home 22

IV Administrative Orders and Memoranda .... 32
V Field Orders 42

VI Operation Orders ......... 47

VII Field Messages . . .67

VIII Reports 79

IX Diaries 92

X Famous Orders and Examples of Martial Eloquence . 97

List of Abbreviations 113




r. Three Principles. — A British colonel lecturing to his officers
on the subject of field messages cautioned them to avoid two words,
the words " if " and " not." An American major added to these
words a third which is almost equally objectionable, the word " and."
Now, the three principles of military English are all illustrated in
this advice to avoid the words " if," " not," " and."

2. Precision. — The first of these principles is precision. Any
message must give its information, and any order must give its com-
mand, so precisely that the reader of it will be certain to understand.
The word " if " sets him guessing. " If the enemy attempts a
raid . . . " is incomplete unless instructions are given what to do
in every other conceivable situation.

3. Clearness. — The second of these principles is clearness.
More than anywhere else this fundamental principle of all writing
is essential in military writing. As an officer or non-commissioned
officer, you will be in charge of men who have only an elementary
education, men who in a great many instances are of foreign birth
and still speak habitually a foreign language. They will know only
the most ordinary words and will understand only the simplest sen-
tences. The word " not," which changes completely the meaning
of the rest of the sentence, very often confuses them. It may not
be written clearly. In the roar of artillery and excitement of action

B 1


the reader, hastily glancing at a message, may wholly fail to see it,
and may be led to do the opposite of what his commander ordered.

4. Brevity. — The third of these principles is brevity. The sen-
tences should be brief. The paragraphs should be brief. Time is
short and brevity prevents confusion. So completely has this prin-
ciple of brevity become fixed in the army that it permits only one
short subject in each paragraph, no matter how many paragraphs
are thereby made necessary. Do not connect two clauses or sen-
tences by the word " and." By avoiding the word " and " you are
certain not to run one thing into another, or ramble on when your
first subject is finished. •

5. The Habit of Accuracy. — These three principles depend on
the habit of accuracy, — accuracy in thinking, accuracy in knowing,
and accuracy in using language. A mistake in time of action will
be held by every one to be so criminal that there can be no excuse
for it. Accuracy is not easy under the most favorable conditions,
and it is immensely more difficult in time of danger and excitement.
A thoroughly disciplined soldier should be able, during an enemy
attack, to explain the movement of "Squads Right" without making
a mistake. A cadet can acquire such a habit of instinctive accuracy
only as he acquires the habit of instinctive obedience, — by frequent
disciplinary exercises. Each student writing a composition should
execute its spelling and punctuation and grammar accurately. He
should take no chance in using words or sentence forms about which
he feels uncertain. The inexperienced often regard such accuracy
as a little and non-essential thing. In the same way they do not
see the importance of accuracy in the School of the Soldier. Such
accuracy, however, is the foundation of every other good principle.
It is considered so fundamental that officers are likely to place most
emphasis upon it in choosing men whom they consider worthy of
recommendation .


6. Structure and Plan. — The structural principles of composi-
tion — Unity, Coherence, Emphasis — apply with particular force
to military documents. Orders and reports give definite informa-
tion about one set of facts ; they arrange their material in an orderly
way ; and they enforce their points. They are consequently based
upon plan so solidly that at first sight the plan seems to be annoy-
ingly rigid. It will be seen, however, that this plan or frame is a
substantial support to a soldier's writing. Reliance upon It becomes
second nature, and he can concentrate his attention on the facts to
be conveyed. For example, all orders concerning operations of
troops include the following facts, arranged in numbered paragraphs :

1. Information about the enemy.

2. The intention of the commander who gives the order and the ends
which he is aiming to accomplish.

3. The objectives to be attained, and the movements to be executed by
the unit to whose leader the order is given.

4. The place where the commander can be found.

5. The movements of the neighboring units.

Messages during combat give information often grouped under five
headings in regular order, which may be remembered by the formula,
" Who, When, Where, How, What." '

WHO refers to the effectives, the regimental numbers, etc., of the

WHEN indicates the exact moment when the observation reported was

WHERE indicates the place occupied by the enemy's troops.
HOW refers to his situation and movements.
WHAT indicates the intentions of the officer sending the report.

Reports of campaigns written by commanders-in-chief are also con-
structed according to careful plans, though naturally in these cases

1 Lt. Col. Paul Azan, The War of Positions, Cambridge, 1917, p. 120.


the plan depends on the circumstances. Field Marshal Haig in his
long report on the first Battle of the Somme (1916) begins by stating
the object of the battle :

The object of that offensive was threefold :
(i) To relieve the pressure on Verdun.

(ii) To assist our allies in the other theatres of war by stopping any
further transfer of German troops from the western front.

(iii) To wear down the strength of the forces opposed to lis.

He then proceeds to show how the operations from July 1 to Novem-
ber 15 (themselves divided into three phases) brought about these
objects, and then sums up as follows :

The three main objects with which we had commenced our offensive in
July had already been achieved at the date when this account closes. . . .

Verdun had been relieved, the main German forces had been held on
the western front, and the enemy's strength had been very considerably
worn down.

Any one of these three results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme

This is a beautiful example of the architecture of writing.

7. Paragraphs. — In military documents, more than in other
kinds of writing, paragraphs should be unified, coherent, and em-
phatic. Remember that orders and messages have to be read in
haste, often in an uncomfortable position or when moving, very
frequently in poor light, in noise, in danger, and in great pain. Under
these conditions the brain is baffled by ambiguity and is liable to lose
sight of the full importance of an item unless the importance is brought
home. If ideas which belong together are widely separated, the
tired brain lacks the power to rearrange and reunite them. Make

^ The complete despatch (23 Dec, 1916) is printed in Tlie New York Times Current
History, Vol. V, No. 6.


sure, then, that the subject of a paragraph stands out clearly in the
first words. When you begin a paragraph, say to yourself and your
prospective reader, " Let's get a clear idea of what we're talking
about " ; and when you end, " Let's leave this paragraph with a
clear idea of what we are to do."

Brevity prevents miscellaneousness and rambling, and insures
emphasis. In longer reports, paragraphs seldom run to more than
five or six sentences, and are usually shorter. Each step has a unity
of its own, and the natural coherence of the facts themselves is so
close that the reader cannot fail to see the connection. In shorter
documents, such as orders and field messages, the paragraphs fre-
quently consist of only one sentence. See pp. 38, 44, 60, 73.

8. Sentences. — A soldier's sentences should be as neat and trim
as his uniform. They should be ^Titten with strict attention to
unity, coherence, and emphasis. Each sentence should be the
shortest distance possible between periods. Once the soldier forms
the habit of expressing himself in compact units, he will abhor long,
stringy, shapeless sentences. As a working rule, compound sen-
tences with " and " should be split into simple sentences. There
are, to be sure, some famous military utterances which are compound
in form, as Cromwell's " Put your trust in God and keep your powder
dry ! " and Perry's " We have met the enemy and they are ours."
But the very life of these sentences depends on the fact that two
dissimilar ideas are suddenly thrown together in a new union which
ignites an electric spark. Furthermore, these are isolated expres-
sions and not parts of larger units.

Clearness demands that the order of words in a sentence should
make the meaning unmistakable. Swift's dictum " proper words
in proper places " has special significance in military writing. Make
sure that modifiers — whether words, phrases, or clauses — are in
proper places. One of the most dangerous errors is the " dangling


participle " — the participle that does not modify the subject of the
main clause. For instance :

Attacking a section of our advanced trench after a heavy barrage, we
repulsed the enemy.

Here " attacking " really modifies " the enemy," not "we." If a
writer begins with a participle, he must keep looking at the subject-
matter from the point of view indicated by the participle. This
sentence should have run :

Attacking a section of our advanced trench after a heavy barrage, the
enemy was repulsed.

In case there are two or more ideas of parallel value, they should
be cast in parallel constructions. The parallelism in form always
keeps the ideas more firmly in hand.

Not parallel : Speed is necessary in order to insure the retention of the
new position and the victorious troops will also be saved from needless losses.

Parallel : Speed is necessary in order to insure the retention of the new
position, and to save the victorious troops from needless losses.

9. Words. — The words used in military communications must
be exact and clear. No vague expressions are tolerated. Indefinite
words and phrases to be avoided are :

to the right behind daybreak "

to the left this side as far as possible

to the front that side as well as you can

to the rear beyond try to hold

in front of night time attempt to capture

Refer to the points of the compass, " north, east, south, west," in-
stead of using phrases like " to the right," " to the left," " to the
rear." The terms " right " and " left," however, may be applied
to individuals or bodies of men, or to the banks of a stream ; in the


latter case the observer is supposed to be facing downstream. The
terms " right flank " and " left flank " may be used, for they are
fixed designations. They apply to the right or left of a command
when facing the enemy and do not change when the command is re-
treating. Instead of saying " morning " or " night," give the hour
and minutes. The French number the hours from 1 to 24, and all
timetables are arranged on this system. The objection to phrases
like " try to hold " is that they tend to divide responsibility between
the commander and his subordinates.

to. Proper Names. — The names of persons and places must
always be clearly understood. To minimize the possibility of error,
geographical names are written or printed in ROMAN CAPITALS.
When writing orders by hand, you should print out these names in
capital letters, for your handwriting may prove to be illegible. If
the pronunciation of a proper name does not conform to the spelling,
give the phonetic spelling of the local pronunciation in parentheses
immediately after the name, thus : ST. QLTENTIN (San Kontan),
OISE (Waz), BAILLEUL (Bayul'). When two or more places on the
map have the same name, they are distinguished by reference to
other points. A road is designated by connecting two or more names
of places on the road with dashes, thus : the ROYE-PERONNE-

11. Aim of the Book. — In the following chapters of this book
the application of the principles of precision, clearness, and brevity
will be shown in the forms of writing now usually in the care of a
platoon leader, especially in military correspondence, orders, field
messages, and reports.


12. Military Letters. — The new soldier, and sometimes the new
oflScer in these days of speedy promotion, finds himself at a loss when
confronted with the problem of composing a military letter. His
ignorance of the proper form may easily betray him and forfeit the
attention and esteem which correct form almost invariably secures.
He cannot rely upon receiving this instruction in detail and in clear
arrangement during the early course of his military training : the
exigencies of time force concentration on drill and exercise. To
learn in time he must learn for himself and at once. No attempt is
made here to treat all the forms and occasions of correspondence :
these may be found in :

Army Regulations, Article LX, §§ 775-790.

Moss's Army Paperwork, Chapter II, pp. 38-110.

Waldron's Company Administration, Chapter XIV, pp. 102-104.

Correspondence Model, G. 0. 23, 1912.

The explanations which follow will suffice for most of the needs of the
great masses of soldiers and officers. They will be mastered most
easily by executing the exercises between two readings of the text.

13. Spacing of the Letter. — A letter of one page — most letters
should be one short page in length — is divided into three parts. ^
The upper third of the sheet will contain nothing but the formal
letter heading presently to be described. The middle third should

^ When foolscap is used, it is spared in four parts, for three fohls, and the heading
occupies only the topmost fourth.



be sufficient space for the entire contents of the letter, which ought
usually to be very brief. Each paragraph must be numbered ; the
numbering must be consecutive (that is, no number may be skipped) ;
and a blank line must be left between paragraphs. Where a para-
graph contains several minor items, these will be separated into sub-
paragraphs with the consecutive lettering — (a), (6), (c), etc. Such
sub-paragraphs are set in further than the lines above so as to make
an extra margin of about one-half inch within the paragraph. The
left margin of the whole letter will be about one inch, and the right
margiii should be very nearly of the same width. The lower third
of the sheet will usually contain the signature and leave sufficient
blank space for indorsements where there is occasion for not more
than two or three. In case the letter is very short, however, the
signature follows the contents immediately, leaving no room for
insertions, which might be made subsequently and perhaps by an-
other person. Only one side of the paper is used. The number of
the page, where more than one is used, is placed about one-half inch
from the bottom and centred.

14. The Heading. — The letter heading, which fills the upper
third of the first page, has a form very precisely defined. It con-
sists of the place and date of writing, the person or office writing,
the person or office written to (with the proper address), and the
subject of the letter. Where the letter forms part of an office file,
it has also a file number. All these items, and no others, must be
written in a correct heading.

15. The place of writing occupies the first and second lines,
usually centred at the top, but permissible in the upper right-hand
corner. The first line consists of the name of the organization, as
*'Co. A, Dartmouth Unit, S. A. T. C," or "Hq., Princeton Unit,
S. A. T. C." It should be noted that smaller organizations than
regiments do not have headquarters (Hq.) except in the case of bat-


talions detached from the larger bodies of which they form part. A
detachment from any unit will use as letter heading the abbreviation
" Det.," as " Det. Co. A," where a part of Co, A has for some purpose
been separated for special duty from the rest of the company. The
second line — or, if necessary, the second and third lines — contains
the ordinary post-office address written as in civilian correspondence.

16. The date of writing does not differ in form from the dating
in civilian letters. It is sometimes centred directly under the place
of, writing, but more usually and more correctly is written to the
right and one line below. The name of the month is written and
precedes the day of the month. It is not good usage to abbreviate
the year. Write 1918 or 1919 (not '18 or '19).

A model letter heading follows :

Hq. 1st Training Regiment, S. A. T. C.
Plattsburg Barracks

File No. 38. Plattsburg, N. Y.

Sept. 12, 1918.
From : Commanding Officer, S. A. T. C. Camp.
To : The Adjutant General of the Army, Wash., D. C.

Subject : Recommendations for Commissions in Artillery.

The words " From," " To," and " Subject " invariably form part
of the heading of a military letter. They begin with capitals and
are followed each by a colon. They are placed vertically in the order
here given, and have a blank line below each. Usually they are
printed with the letterhead on office stationery (A. R., § 512).

17. The person or office writing is indicated after the word
*' From." When the letter concerns a person, as in a report for duty
or a request for transfer or quarters or furlough, the person's name
will be used, as " Captain D. J. Hollister, Co. K, 32d Infantry," or
*' Corporal F. B. Jones, Co. C, 21st Artillery." On the other hand,
whenever the letter concerns official business of a unit over which


the writer exercises control, the writer will use not his personal name,
but the name of the office he holds. He will write " Commanding
Officer, Co. K, 32d Infantry." The same usage is followed in writ-
ing checks or money orders. In this way transfers of personnel,
casualties, or temporary absence do not disturb the routine of official
business, which passes through the office or orderly room regardless
of the individual who serves as a medium of communication.

18. The person or office addressed is indicated after the word
" To." With regard to the use of the individual's name or the
name of his office, the same usage prevails as in the case of the
person or office writing. If the letter concerns the persons addressed,
as in a rebuke for delay in transmitting a report, use his personal
name ; if it concerns the organization over which he exercises control,
address him by the name of his office. This usage applies equally to
addresses on envelopes. On the same line, and if necessary running
over on the blank line below, should be placed briefly but clearly the
post-office address of the person or office you are writing to. Letters
which require many indorsements pass from office to office, with
consequent changes of envelope. The envelope address is therefore
insufficient. Where a letter is not intended to go directly to the person
addressed, place below the designation of the officer addressed the paren-
thesis " (Through military channels)."

19. The subject-matter of the letter is indicated after the word
*' Subject." This part of the heading must be condensed into a very
few words, not more than five or six if possible. A single word or a
phrase of two or three words should be sought. In a large office this
indication enables the person who opens the mail to refer a letter to
the individual who as a matter of routine attends to any given type
of communication. In any case it enables the reader at once to class
the letter with reference to (1) the necessity of immediate action,
(2) its connection with past communications.


As an exercise in composition this selection of the heading re-
sembles choosing a title. Every military letter is required to consist
of one subject and of one subject only. The ease or difficulty of
finding a name for the subject-matter of a letter usually proves cr
disproves the unity of its contents. This principle of unity, im-
portant in all forms of composition, is here of the utmost importance.
Army business, as well as troops, moves in units. Most often when
units are mingled in a single letter, they pertain to the work of dif-
ferent persons ; one of them consequently goes astray and is not
attended to. The teacher of composition should, therefore, re-
peatedly emphasize the importance of unity and secure it in his
pupil's composition by frequent exercises, particularly exercises of
condensation (precis writing) and the separation of confused ma-
terial into logical parts.

20. The file number will be used in orderly rooms and offices,
where records or files of correspondence are invariably maintained
(see Waldron's Company Administration, Chapter XIV, p. 102). It
is placed in the heading at the upper left-hand corner as indicated
in the model on page 20. The numbering of each file must be con-

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Online LibraryLucius Lincoln Van SlykeModern methods of testing milk and milk products; → online text (page 1 of 8)