snopes.com Post new topic  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Urban Legends » Military » British Artillery Crews

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: British Artillery Crews
glendwr
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I recall reading this story in different books, but I don’t recall where I read it. I was wondering if anybody has also read it or knows anything about it. I have already searched snopes, but it could be hiding from me. This story was being used to demonstrate how tradition bound the British army was and how you should think out of the box. I might have read it in one of Stephen Covey’s books where I also read the Battleship/Aircraft Carrier vs. the Lighthouse legend. Who knows. Anyway, here is the legend:

During WWII someone realized that the British were firing their artillery pieces at about the same rate of fire or less than the Americans. They also noticed that the British had a larger gun crew firing the weapon. Now since both gun crews were firing the same kind of gun (made in America) this person wondered why the British had an equal or slower rate of fire, but were using more men.

So he got together with the British and the British filmed their gun crew in action and the Americans did likewise. They took both films to American efficiency experts to examine them. After examining the British film, the efficiency experts saw one guy in the film holding something, but otherwise doing nothing. When the experts asked the British what this guy was doing, they answered that he was holding the horses so they would not spook during the firing of the gun. The problem was the British had gotten rid of their horses and were using motorized transport to move their guns now.


Jon “but its tradition” Benignus


IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie   E-mail Bonnie       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Brunvand’s got a nice chapter on military legends in his book, The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story. He includes this one, Jon, and he includes my favorite piece of military lore, “The Tale of the Truck.” (But that’s another story.)

A reader sent Professor Brunvand the following anecdote, noting that “[t]his supposedly took place just before World War II, when many thousands of draftees had to be trained but only a relatively few experienced officers were available.”

quote:
An artillery crew that had been training for some time were being reviewed by a senior officer. Each time they went through the firing drill the officer noticed that at the moment the gun was fired one of the team would stand off to the side with his arm extended straight out and with his fist clenched.

The officer asked the purpose of this procedure, but all the men knew was that it was part of the drill.

The officer was curious, so he continued his inquiries around the post. But no one seemed to know the reason for this apparently meaningless gesture.

Finally, a World War I veteran reviewed the gun drill, looked closely at the man with arm extended and fist clenched, and then exclaimed, “Why, of course! He’s holding the horses!”

In the motorized Army, that part of the drill became obsolete, but it was still included in the training exercise.


I find it interesting that forging on with a meaningless ritual or a practice that has lost its true significance with time is a theme echoed in “Bungling Bride” tales, which Barbara describes in her Grandma’s Cooking Secret page, and which Brunvand covers on pp. 146-147 in Too Good To Be True.

--------------------
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.


Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
glendwr
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Thank you for the information. I have two questions for you:

1. What happened to your post count? You have been snopester since 2/00, but your post count is -433. Did you piss off snopes and he dock a few hundred posts??

2. Does Brunvand also cover any other interesting military legends??

Thank you

Jon "fighting for knowledge" Benignus


IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie   E-mail Bonnie       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Does Brunvand also cover any other interesting military legends??

Depends, I suppose, on what you find interesting and what you regard as "military legends."

What Brunvand describes in "Some Oddities of Military Legendry" aren’t really combat tales, if that’s what you’re after.

Rather, he shares five "seldom described categories of military legends": homefront stories (such as whether hippies spat on returning Vietnam vets); training stories (such as the "hold the horses" tale, above); troop transport stories; survival stories (anecdotes involving "surviving military attack in some seemingly miraculous ways"; these tales usually feature the military equivalent of a FOAF, the AGOI ["A Guy Over In ... "]) and technological stories.

I could summarize, but if this is the kind of thing you’re interested in, you should see if your library or bookstore carries Brunvand’s The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story, which contains by far the longest treatment of military folklore in any of his books (er, at least of those books published for mass consumption).

Moreover, in case you’re looking for other bits of military folklore, I might recommend a few additional sources.

John Baky’s extraordinary text, "White Cong and Black Clap: The Ambient Truth of Vietnam War Legendry" (Part 1 and Part 2) details a few prominent ULs (and ULish things) from the Vietnam War.

Lydia Fish coordinates The Vietnam Veterans Oral History and Folklore Project at Buffalo State College. Among other things, she’s compiled a list of articles relating to military folklore, which includes Barry Pearson’s "The Soldier’s Point of View" (Part 1 and Part 2), and a link to some aviation legends (well, they’re semi-military) in The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine Supplement.

In any event, shrug, it’s definitely an intriguing area ...

quote:
What happened to your post count? ... Did you piss off snopes and he dock a few hundred posts??

Oh, that. A word to the wise: never, ever, ever ask the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society to host a "Military Legends" section over at snopes.com.

Bonnie "as we go trolling, trolling home" Taylor

--------------------
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.


Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
dcmoore
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
A bit off topic I know, but an interesting factoid I heard on "Junkyard Wars". When British artillary crews use a countdown, they always skip the number five becuase it can easily be mistaken for the word "fire".

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, fire.

I don't know if that is common practice everywhere.

Dave "Makes sense to me" Moore


IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 19 posted      Profile for pinqy   E-mail pinqy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dcmoore:
A bit off topic I know, but an interesting factoid I heard on "Junkyard Wars". When British artillary crews use a countdown, they always skip the number five becuase it can easily be mistaken for the word "fire".

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, fire.

I don't know if that is common practice everywhere.

Dave "Makes sense to me" Moore


I'll have to double check with a DAGB (dumb ass gun bunny) to be sure, but I've never heard US gun crews use a countdown and I've worked enough with Russian and other ex-Soviet troops to be pretty sure they don't either. There's no logical need for one...you just give the commands to lay the guns and once they're set you give the command to fire.

Even more off-topic trivia, but the command "repeat" is used for artillery to fire again at the same target. For this reason, "repeat" is NEVER used over army radios except for this purpose. You just don't ask someone to repeat what they said, you must say "say again (all before/all after). I've heard apocryphal tales of young officers making that mistake and artillery crews obediently firing again.

pinqy

--------------------
Don't Forget!
Winter Solstice Hanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa & Gurnenthar's Ascendance Are Coming!


Posts: 8671 | From: Washington, DC | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
TumbleWeed
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 04 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dcmoore:
A bit off topic I know, but an interesting factoid I heard on "Junkyard Wars". When British artillary crews use a countdown, they always skip the number five becuase it can easily be mistaken for the word "fire".

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, fire.

I don't know if that is common practice everywhere.

Dave "Makes sense to me" Moore


Never was a DAGB, but I did get to train with them . . . as I recall, the order given was "Clear", not "Fire", and as Pinqy said, there was a serious of commands, no countdown.


IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   E-mail Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I noticed that one of the instructions for firing used in the British naval WWII flick In Which We Serve was "Commence, commence".

Just something to add

Embra "all at sea"

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.


Posts: 4495 | From: Surrey, UK | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2