events which culminated in the Curragh “Mutiny” of March 1914 had their
beginnings at the end of the 18th century when by the Act of Union the islands
of Great Britain and Ireland were joined admnistratively. Henceforth one
Parliament would serve both countries. UnderSecretary Cooke wrote, in 1799, to
Mr. Pitt, Prime Minister, “The Union is the only means of preventing Ireland
from becoming too great and too powerful.
Repeal of this Act, otherwise known as Home Rule, became the objective of every
Nationalist Party at Westminister. Towards the latter half of the 19th century
Mr. Gladstone became the champion of Home Rule. In reference to the Act of
Union, in 1886, he said:
"There is no blacker or fouler transaction in the history of man. We
used the whole civil government of Ireland as an engine of wholesale
corruption . . . we obtained that union against the sense of
every class of the community, by wholesale bribery and unblushing
twice sponsored a Home Rule Bill in Parliament and was twice defeated. Home Rule
was political dynamite and would have to await a more favourable opportunity for
it’s reintroduction to the Commons.
1910 the situation at Westminister favoured the reintroduction of the issue of
Home Rule. The December elections of that year saw the return to power of the
Liberal Party but with an overall majority of only one seat. Mr. Asquith formed
his government and was maintained in power only by the votes of the 84 Irish
Nationists led by Mr. Redmond. The Home Rule Bill became the topic of the day,
and it was evident from the start that it would have a stormy passage through
Parliament. Whatever the opposition to Home Rule inside the House of Commons
there were those, outside the House, prepared to resist the introduction of the
Bill by force of arms. Irish politics have never been simple, so it is well to
take a moment to examine the various parties and what they stood for.
The Liberal Party formed the Government. It was headed by Mr. Asquith who
believed that whatever the opposition be to Home Rule outside the House that in
the end the will of Parliament would prevail.
The Irish Nationalist Party supported the Government. Redmond defined the
nationalist position when he said:
Ireland to-day is full of hope and expectation. Beware how you dash
that hope to the ground. Rebellion is threatened. Rebellion is justified in high
quarters. The rebellion of a portion of the population of four counties, because
they disapprove of the act of the imperial parliament before any wrong has
been done, and before any oppression has been attempted, would be a crime and a
calamity. Rebellion by over three-fourths of a people of a country distracted,
tortured and betrayed, deprived of the rights of freemen, and condemned to a
barren policy of coercism, would be too horrible a thing to contemplate; and it
is because this is so that I rejoice with all my heart to
The Conservative Party, headed by Mr. Bonar Law, formed the opposition in
parliament. Bonar Law saw in the issue of Home Rule a means of bringing together
a Conservative Party divided by dissension.
The Irish Unionist, led by Sir Edward Carson, whose cry of “Home Rule is
Rome Rule,” had set Ulster afire. Speaking
on the issue in the Commons, he said, “Ulster looms very large in this
controversy because Ulster has a strong right arm .
. . It will not be my fault if resistance becomes
necessary; but, Mr. Speaker, on my conscience, I shall not refuse to join
The Ulster Volunteers were the militant arm of the Unionists. A well organized
and disciplined force they were estimated to number 100,000
in March, 1914. Carson declared:
"I am told it will be illegal. Of course it will. Drilling is
illegal . . . the volunteers are illegal and the government
know they are illegal, and the government dare not interfere with them Don’t
be afraid of illegalities"
The National Volunteers, formed in 1913, were the Nationalist counterpart of the
Ulster Volunteers. They lacked arms, organization and training. Could they be
relied upon to assist in enforcing Home Rule on Ulster? Padraic Pearse defined
the Nationalist attitude on this point when he said:
"Let accursed be the soul of any Nationalist
who would dream of firing a shot or drawing a sword against the Ulster
Volunteers in connection with this Bill."
There remained but one further interested party, namely, ‘The Troops of the
Irish Command,’ to whom would fall the task of maintenance of law and
order or the enforcement of Government policy. The force consisted of two
infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades under the General Officer Commanding
Ireland—Lieut. Gen. Sir Arthur Paget.
is important to the story that follows as his personality was one of the causes
of the Curragh Mutiny. He had seen service in Ashanti, Burma. The Sudan and
South Africa and was aged 63 years at this time. He was considered “too out of
date, too casual, and intellectually too shallow .
. . He could<be genial and amusing, and was a great
ladies man, but his old-fashioned pomposity was a standing joke. He talked as if
he were thinking aloud, and his rambling and often highly coloured language
betrayed the romantic and even melodramatic current of his thoughts, besides a
deeply rooted egotism.” When he died in 1928 his obituary notice in The
Times included the following:
Had he only devoted to Military Study a fraction of the time which he
gave to the observation of trees and shrubs he might have ranked as a learned
Paget’s official residence at this time was in the Royal Hosnital at Kilmainham, a short distance from the administrative headquarters of his command at Parkgate, Dublin.
imaginary line joining Sligo and Wexford
5th Infantry Division consisted of three infantry briagdes each of four
Brigadier General Cuthbert’s 13th Infantry Brigade was located in Dublin.
Brigadier General Rolt’s 14th Infantry Brigade was located at the Curragh.
Brigadier General Count Gleichen’s 15th Infantry Brigade was located in
battalions of the 5th Infantry Division were English. For example, the 14th
Brigade at the Curragh consisted of:
Battalion, Manchester Regiment, occupied Keane Barracks, now Pearse Barracks.
Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, occupied Gough Barracks, now MacDonagh Barracks.
Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, occupied Beresford Barracks,
now Ceannt Barracks.
Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, occupied Wellington Barracks, Dublin.
General Headlam commanded the division’s artillery with his headquarters at
New-bridge where the 27th Brigade RFA was also located. The 15th Brigade RFA was
located at Kildare and the 28th Brigade RFA was located in Dundalk.
General Officer Commanding 5th Infantry Division was Major General Sir Charles
Fergusson, aged 49 years at this time.
had served with Kitchener in the Sudan, and by all accounts he was a very strict
and professional soldier. He had taken over command of the 5th Infantry Division
in 1913 and lived at this time some two miles south of the Curragh Camp, at
Ballyfair House. “He was a big dour Scotsman, always cool and not easily
provoked,” was how one acquaintance described him.
3rd Cavalry Brigade, although located in the area of the 5th Infantry Division,
was not part of that division but came directly under the command of the General
Officer Commanding Ireland. Brigadier General Hubert Gough had commanded the
3rd Cavalry Brigade since 1911. Gough was 43 years old, and wrote afterwards of
himself, “I am Irish by blood and upbringing though I was born in London.”
He came from a famous fighting family. His father, uncle, and brother were all
recipients of the Victoria Cross and he felt he had a personal mission to add to
this list. “Tough, fiery, energetic, a skilled and passionate horseman,”
Fergusson wrote, “he possessed in every sense, and perhaps rather too much,
‘the cavalry snirit ‘.“ “We
ladies of the hunting field could always expect Gough to arrive along when we
were halted at a fence. ‘What’s the trouble, ladies?’ Gough would say, ‘ that fence is easy.’ He would then stand off,
take a flyer at it, and usually end up on
the broad of his back.”
the South African war Gough was the first officer of Buller’s relieving force
to enter Ladysmith. However, he got there by disregarding orders. Ryan records that on the day in
question Gough, when some few miles from Ladysmith, was ordered ‘to retire at
once.’ Gough refused to obey orders and continued on into Ladysmith.
lived, at this time, at Brownstown House, just one mile south of the Curragh.
His B*rigade was comprised of the
Hussars, located at Stewart Barracks, Curragh, now Connolly Barracks.
Lancers located at Ponsonby Barracks, Curragh, now Plunkett Barracks.
Royal Irish Lancers, located at Marlborough Barracks, Dublin, now McKee
to the 3rd Cavalry Brigade were D and E Batteries, Royal Horse Artillery,
stationed at Newbridge.
were the major units located north of the Sligo-Wexford line. There were, of
course, a number of depots and stores in various parts of Ireland apart from
Home Rule Bill was introduced into the Commons and was passed in January, 1913.
The House of Lords rejected the bill. However, because of new limitations
placed on the House of Lords, they could not delay its coming into operation
beyond 1914. Opposition to Home Rule mounted in the interim. The Ulster Unionist
Council delegated its powers to a Provisional Government which, it was announced, would be set up in Belfast as
soon as the Home Rule Bill became law.
sought vainly for a compromise. “We will not close the Avenue—however
unpromising for the moment entrance upon it
may appear— which directly or indirectly may hold out the hope of
leading to concord and to settlement.”
Redmond reached the limit of
compromise when he agreed to “County option with a time limit of six years”
but reminded the Government that if these terms were rejected then it
was their duty to employ “ all
the resources at its command to suppress any movement that might arise to overawe
Parliament or subvert the law by menace of force.”
replied to this offer, in the House, on Monday, March 9th. “We do not want
sentence of death with a stay of execution for six years.”
in March, also, Intelligence reports reaching London suggested that
‘evil-disposed persons’ were plotting to raid stores of arms and ammunition in Ireland, particular reference
being made to Armagh, Omagh, Enniskillbn and Carrickfergus. As a result,
Asquith set Ul) a specDl committee to deal with the mattcr. It was comprised
of the Marquis of Crcwe; Birrell, Chief Secretary for Ireland; Churchill, First
Lord of the Admiralty, and Sccly, Secretary for War.
Saturday, 14th March, Churchill, a great believer in Home Rule, delivered a
speech at Bradford which caused a sensation throughout England. He declared that
there were “worse things than bloodshed even on an extended scale,”
described the Ulster Provisional Government as “a self elected body, composed
of persons who, to put it plainly,
are engaged in a treasonable conspiracy.” Was the parliamentary system to
break down in the face of this challenge? He ended with these words, “I can
only say to you, ‘Let
this day, also, Paget received instructions from the War Office instructing him
to take special precautions for safeguarding depots and stores, special
reference being made to Armagh, Omagh, Carrickfergus and Enniskillen.
Monday, 16th March, Seely wired Paget asking what steps had been taken by him
regarding security. Paget replied on the 17th to state that he was satisfied
with the strength of the garrison at Enniskillen, was about to increase the
garrison at Carrickfergus, and was taking steps to remove arms and ammunition
from Armagh and Omagh. PIe was reluctant to move troops into Ulster least it precipitate a crisis.
as requested, crossed to England that evening and reported to the War Office on
Wednesday, 18th March. No written record was kept of the discussions which
took place at the War Office but reconstruction is possible in the light of
subsequent happenings. Those present included Asouith, the members of the
snecial committee, earlier referred to, Paget, Field-Marshal Sir John French,
Chief of the Imperial General Staff; Sir Spencer Ewart, Adjutant General, and
Major General Sir Nevil Macready.
the instructions transmitted by Paget to his headquarters in Dublin it appears that the following decisions were made:
A Battalion of the 14th Infantry Brigade would be moved to Newry and Dundalk.
Carrickfergus would be reinforced by troops from Dublin.
Enniskillen, Omagh, and Armagh would be reinforced by troops from Mullingar.
The Dorsets Battalion, located in Belfast, would be moved to Holywood, lest they
be blockaded in their city garrison.
General Macready would go to Belfast to take over as military governor when he
considered it necessary. Despite the
fact that all these measures were to take place ‘
with all secrecy ‘ the
leader of the opposition in Parliament, Mr. Bonar Law, was kept fully informed
of the happening at the war office by Major General Henry Wilson, Director of
conference resumed on Thursday, March 19th, but without Asquith who had an
audience with the King.
expressed anxiety on three points:
He still felt that the movement of troops into Ulster would excite a disturbance
which might take the form of active resistance. On this point he was overruled.
He was reminded that as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, he had ‘full discretionary
powers ‘ to
deploy his forces as he saw fit to meet any contingency. Seely told him, “You
can have as many more men as necessary, ~vhen you find they are necessary, even
to the last man.
Paget’s second anxiety concerned the transportation of troops to Ulster.
What if the employees of the Great Northern Railway refused to move them? To
obviate such a possibility Churchill promised Royal Navy support.
The last of Paget’s anxieties related to the possible behaviour of his
officers and was discussed
That officers ordered to act in support of the civil power should not be
permitted to resign their contrnissions but must, if they refused to obey
orders, be dismissed from the Army.
That indulgence might be shown, in cases where it
was asked for, to officers who were domiciled in Ulster.
all these matters Paget received no written orders. He returned to Dublin that
night, but not before he wired instructions for his Unit Commanders to meet him
on Friday at his headquarters at Parkgate.
Cabinet members, who attended the conference at the War Office, hurried to the
Commons to attend a most important session. Mr. Bonar Law had tabled a vote of
censure on the Government and in concluding his address he stated:
What about the army? If it is
only a question of disorder, the army will and ought to obey, but .~.f it is a question of civil war, the soldiers are
citizens like the rest of the people. The army will be divided, and that force
be destroyed on which we depend for our national safety.
vote of éensure was rejected by 345 votes to 252.
0930 hours on Friday, March 20th, seven officers assembled in Paget’s office
at Parkgate, Dublin. They were Fergusson, Rolt, Cuthbert, Gough and three
officers of the General Staff. Paget forbade the taking of notes early in the
conference. There are three accounts available of the happenings. Paget himself
wrote the shortest account for the King five days after the event.
Gough made notes immediately
after the conference but did not assemble them until much later. Ferguson’s
narrative is the fullest and was written seven days after the event.
the officers were seated, Paget strode in, according to Gough, looking ‘stern
and pompous and smoking a cigar.’ What thought were running through Paget’s
mind at this time we shall never know. He may have been carried away by the
visions of a vast armada of warships off the coast of Scotland or a vast army
under his control, all deduced from Seely’s guarantee of support. By all accounts, Paget became very excited and
rambled on about ‘the whole place being ablaze by to-morrow.’ ‘He did not
say one word about law and order’ says Gough, ‘and our duty to
maintain it when necessary.’ Paget had apparently forgotten that all he had
been told to do was to move two Battalions and one company of infantry.
then went on to outline the conditions pertaining to officers as laid down by
Seely in London the previous day. This was later to become known as ‘The
Ultimatum.’ Brigadiers were to go at once and place the alternatives before
their officers and notify him forthwith of the outcome. The meeting adjourned.
Fergusson, Rolt, Cuthbert and Gough were all agitated. ‘Come along,’ said
Fergusson, ‘ iet us talk over this.
The Army must hold together.’ Cough declared bluntly that he wou1d
not go. The party broke up.
was required to remain in Dublin to
view of the possibility of active operations in Ulster, the War Office has
authorised the following communication to officers:
Officers whose homes are actually in the province of Ulster who wish to do so
may apply for permission to be absent from duty during the period of operations, and will be allowed
Any other officer who from conscientious or other motives is not prepared to
carry out his duty as ordered, should say so at once. Such officers \~Till at once be dismissed from the service.
walked the short distance from Parkgate to Marlborough Barracks and placed the
ultimatum before the assembled officers of the 5th Royal
Irish Lancers. All were prepared to accept dismissal
in preference to the possibility of taking part in active operations in Ulster.
arrived by motor car in the Curragh at 11.30 a.m. and outlined the ultimatum to
his battalion commanders. The Colonels dispersed and each summoned his officers
to their mess and
A subaltern, in Dublin,
wrote his father:
Can you imagine a subaltern of 22-26 making up his mind in an hour as to
whether he should shoot down Loyalists in Ulster or try to start a civil job
without a bob? . . . Imagine anything more criminal than making us decide a matter which might affect our whole
careers, without giving us time to think or
get advice from anyone.
did not reach the Curragh until about 3.30 p.m. and immediately ordered all
officers of the 16th Lancers, 4th Hussars, and Royal Horse Artillery to meet at the Officers’ Mess,
Ponsonby Barracks. Cough laid the ultimatum before the assembled officers, Each
must decide for himself. However, he did tell them that he had chosen the option
of dismissal. He requested decisions at 5.30 p.m. and at that time all, except
two, opted for dismissal.
first indication to reach London that all was not well in the Irish Command was
a telegram from Paget to the War Office at 7 p.m. Word also broke on Fleet
Street about this time. Unaware of these happenings in the military world some
cabinet members were, at this time, assuring the people of the Government’s
resolve. Mr. John Burns, President of the Local Government Board, in an address
in the National Liberal Club, said:
Home Rule is a question mainly for Ireland itself. Three-fourths of the
people there have
McKinnon, Secretary of State for Scotland, also voiced this resolve when he
said, “We will carry Home Rule by agreement if we possibly can, but without it if we must.”
returned to the Curragh at 9 p.m. and went directly to his home. He did not
learn of the serious situation within his division until the following morning
when he met Headlam and Rolt at his headquarters and they made him aware of it. Fergusson was not prepared to leave his officers, least of all the young ones, to face a perplexing problem by
themselves. “ It is,” he used to
say, “ the duty of leaders to
ordered the Manchesters and Suffolks to parade to the gymnasium at the Curragh
where he addressed them. Then he journeyed to Kildare, Newbridge and Dublin and
in each place he addressed the assembled units. The contents of his address was
the same in each place—the need for discipline, loyalty to King and Government.
One officer of the East Surrey Battalion wrote later:
He reminded us that although we must naturally hold private political
views, officially we should not be
on the side of any one political party. It was our duty to obey orders, to go
wherever we were sent and to comply with instructions of any political party
that happened to be in power. There was no sloppy sentiment, it was good stuff straight from the shoulder and just what we wanted.
ended the mutiny as far as the 5th Division was concerned.
Paget’s address turned out to be a most
bizarre episode. The old war horse rambled on in his usual manner and told the
assembled officers “that he was their friend and that they should trust him. He had no intention of urging war on Ulster and to prove it he would divulge some of his plans. To such an
extent was he prepared to avoid fighting that he had given orders that if any battalion met with opposition in its march it was to turn around and go back to barracks. And
if fighting took place against Ulster forces he
would order all his men to lie down and not return the fire and he and his
generals would advance alone and parley with the men of Ulster. As far as the
Cavalry were concerned, he would put them on a flank, and if
they met opposition and cleared it he
would be pleased, but if they took no active part he would be content.
concluded his address and, prior to departing
for Dublin, told his audience to make their decision and convey it to Fergusson. On his return
to the Curragh, Fergusson learned of the decision of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade to
the effect that only the officers of the 4th Hussars and Royal Horse Artillery
had relented. Cough, Lieutenant Colonel MacEwen, O.C. 16th Lancers, and Lieutenant
Colonel Parker, O.C. 5th Royal Irish
London the week-end of the 2lst-22nd March was one of considerable political
activity and intrigue. The whole question had now become a national issue with
the press on one side calling the events “a sinister plot to coerce Ulster”
and the Government pleading that only the maintenance of law and order was
Daily Chronicle reported:
For the first time in modern English history a military cabal seeks to
dictate to Government the Bills it should
carry or not carry into law. We are confronted with a desperate rally of
reactionaries to defeat the democratic movement and repeal the Parliamentary
Act. This move by a few aristocratic officers is the last throw in the game.
Daily Express announced in black type
that “the Home Rule Bill is Dead,” and The
Daily News queried, “It is a question whether we govern ourselves or are
governed by General Cough. Speaking on the Irish Question, at meeting held at
Huddersfield on March 2 1st, Mr. Lloyd George said:
We are confronted with the greatest issue raised
in this country since the days of the Stuarts. Representative government in this
land is at stake. In those days our forefathers had to face a claim of the
Divine Right of Kings to do what they pleased. Today it
is the Divine Right of the aristocracy to do what its pleases .
We are not fighting about Ulster. We are not fighting
about Home Rule. We are fighting for all that is essential to civil liberty in this land.
the forces of “ the establishment”
were brought to bear on the Government, at this time, with such success that
when Gough reported to the War Office, on March 23rd, they were seeking a way
out of the impasse. Cough, made aware of the Government’s predicament by
Wilson, was interviewed by French, Ewart and Seely. He was told that there had
been a misunderstanding and was requested to accept reinstatement. This Gough
was prepared to agree to, provided the Army Council
would furnish certain assurances in writing. The Cabinet
approved a letter acknowledging a misunderstanding, but pointing out that it was
the duty of soldiers to support the civil power in the maintenance of law and
order. Cough was instructed to return later in the day to collect the document.
He consulted WIlson who pointed out a difficulty that might yet arise, namely,
that in the event of Home Rule becoming Law could not the Army be called upon to enforce it on
Ulster under the expression of maintaining law and order. Gough sought
clarification on this point in a letter which he dispatched to Ewart at the War
Office. However, this letter did not reach Ewart until the Cabinet had approved
the initial document and adjourned. Seely felt licensed to tamper with the
Cabinet paper, for he added two paragraphs:
His Majesty’s Government must retain their right
to use all the forces of the Crown in Ireland, or elsewhere, to maintain law
and order and to support the civil
power in the ordinary execution of its duty. But
they have no miention
whatever of taking advantage of this right to crush political opposition to the policy or principles of the Home Rule
this document Seely, French, and Ewart appended their initials and it was handed to Cough
when he rcturned to the War Office. Cough retired and consulted with Wilson,
Parker, MaeEwen, and his brother. They were worried about
the term “crush political opposition” in the final paragraph
of the document. Cough wrote, on a sheet of War Office paper, the following:
I understand tbe reading of the last paragraph to
be that troops under our command will not be called upon to enforce the present
Home Rule Bill on Ulster, and that we can so assure our officers.
handed this paper to French who, having studied the paper for some minutes,
wrote at the foot of the page:
is how I read it.”
documents, later to be known as “the Guarantee,” were returned to Cough who
immediately departed for Ireland. So ended the mutiny of the 3rd Cavalry
events already related were to be the subject of many weeks of heated debate and
discussion in both press and parliament. The Government rejected “ the guarantee” on the grounds that the
parties, who amended the Cabinet document, had no authority to tamper with it, Efforts were even made to recover it from Cough but to no
avail. Seely, French and Ewart all resigned because
the “guarantee” was repudiated. There were charges of a
Government plot to coerce Ulster and that the reports of possible seizure of the
arms depots were fabrications. Countercharges of
mutiny and subversion of democratic Government
followed. Lenin cited the incident as an example
of the “determined resistance of the British landlords and
capitalists in Ireland to the introduction of Home Rule.”
was hailed as a hero. “The plot has been defeated by
the courageous stand made by the officers of the Cavalry Brigade . . . we congratulate General
Cough, whose fearless and honourahle conduct has added lustre to the laurels of
a great Irish family.”
was denounced as “ a cur.” Even the King
was to take him to task for using his name in addressing the troops on Saturday,
were the results of “ the mutiny “? They were both long and
short-term, effecting both Ireland and England. The most immediate result was
the reading by Asquith, in the Commons on March 28th, of a New Army Order
concerning discipline. The opening paragraph read:
No officer or soldier should, in future, be questioned
by his superior officer as to the attitude he will adopt in the event of his
being required to obey orders dependent on future or hypothetical contingencies.
it have any effect on the
Army’s ability to fight? The answer was to be found five months later. The 5th
Infantry Division and the 3rd Cavalry Brigade were amongst the first British
the higher levels of the Army the adverse effects of the mutiny were felt
greater. It left a legacy
of suspicion between military and political leaders
which lasted throughout the war. This mutual distrust was to hamper operations.
was in Ireland that the major effects of the mutiny
were felt. The Home Rule Bill, passed in the
Commons on May 25th, found its way into the Statute Books on September 18th with
the proviso that it not
come into effect until after the war. Parliament had dodged facing the issue for
it knew that it could not depend on the Army to implement a Home Rule Bill for the whole of Ireland.
far as the Nationalists were concerned, the damage was done. With all confidence
now lost in parliamentary procedure, it followed that a resorting to arms was
unavoidable. On Easter Monday, 1916, under a banner which said, “We serve
neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland “ they rose in armed rebellion.
significant lessons to be learned from the events outlined above pertain to the
field of ethics and the behaviour of soldiers in certain situations.
when at the War Office on March 19, sought guidance as to his actions in certain
eventualities. This guidance was furnished to him by way of “ the ultimatum.” It was unnecessary,
injudicious and improper to place the choice before the officer body. The blame
for the effects that followed lay not with those who made the choice but with
those who caused it to be offered. To term the
results of this folly “ a
mutiny” is a misnomer. There was no mutiny. In fact, all “orders” given at
the time were punctually and implicitly obeyed.
reactions of Fergusson and Cough to the “ultimatum” provide us with an
excellent case study in leadership. The background of both officers was
similar—royalist, protestant, experienced, and of the same age group, and
yet they reacted in quite different ways. Which was correct? It is evident that both cannot be so.
Needless to say what my inclinations were. All
personal considerations invited me to do what Cough did; and if anything could
strengthen those feelings it was the “ ultimatum” put to me on Friday last.
he goes on to say:
we officers have all the responsibility of being
able to influence, in a greater or lesser degree, according to rank and
position, those serving under us. . . I may be willing to accept
dismissal from the service myself, but I am not prepared to draw others into the
risk of losing everything because of their loyalty to me . .
if we officers . refuse to fight against
If the Army break up, and discipline is allowed to become dependent on
personal considerations, what is there between the country and revolution? . . . Therefore, I will do nothing that will in any
way weaken the discipline of the Army, which I hold to be the paramount consideration.
always have exhibited concern over their military establishments because
military organizations have the ability, as holders of the instruments and
science of violence, to short-circuit the democratic process.” But how is
social control exercised over the armed services? This control may come from
without by way of a political watchdog, from the military establishment
itself, or by some happy compromise between both extremes. “However, when the
balance is on the side of self-imposed control, the military services become a truly professional group.”
who suffered in his subsequent career as a result of his
actions, emerges from the foregoing incidents as a truly professional soldier.
“For experienced military personnel, the difference between the professional
and personal moral codes tend to disappear with increased service. The
professional code of the military is nurtured by and becomes an essential tool
of leadership. Leaders must understand this professional code, adhere to it themselves, and require or lead their followe.s into acceptance of and adherence to
Cough, one can understand how he reacted to
“the ultimatum” and on technical grounds he could never- be accused of
mutiny. Guided entirely by his emotions, he exercised his prerogative
when Paget presented the alternatives to him. Of “
the Guarantee,” which he later sought and obtained in London, his
actions are suspect. Asguith summed mc the whole question of the “ultimatum”
and “guarantee” rather well when he wrote:
In the view of the Cabinet, it was wrong to demand from the officers any assurance as to what their
conduct might be in a contingency which might never
arise, and it is at least equally wrong for an officer to demand any such
assurance from the Government.