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LoneRider
03-17-2013, 01:50 AM
I'm working on some future parts of a fanfiction of mine (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=239581) based on the X-men First Class story and I'm curious about British society of the late 1960s (1964-1969) timeframe.

I'm curious specifically what life would be life in that era for a garrison town in the UK (Aldershot and Hereford are where the male character of mine lives). One of my future plot points involves my male and female lead characters in my story getting married and settling down in the UK (where my male lead is from).

The lead female character is Moira MacTaggert from the X-men: First Class film. I've gone with the retcon from that film (American and in my story a former member of the US CIA) and educated at Georgetown University.

I know her being American would stick her out like a sore thumb amongst the other wives in Aldershot, but I'm trying to think of other things she might have difficulty with dealing with wives of other British Army officers with in mid-to late 1960s Britain.

Weirdmage
03-17-2013, 02:32 AM
I don't know if this has any relevance to your story at all, but Hereford is the Regimental Headquarters of the Special Air Service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_air_service).

LoneRider
03-17-2013, 02:42 AM
Yes it does. My male lead is an officer with the SAS. He also served in the Parachute Regiment.

Weirdmage
03-17-2013, 02:59 AM
I know they are from the wrong time period, but if you go to Amazon and search for "married to the sas" you'll find two books written by wives of SAS soldiers. Not sure that is helpful to you. -Should be possible to find some info on life in the UK in the '60s, not sure where you'd look for info on being an army wife at the time though. Hope someone else here can give you more help than I can.

waylander
03-17-2013, 03:58 AM
My uncle was an army officer during this time period.
A lot of officers wives at that times would have been upper middle class/privately educated. The lifestyle was pretty good with lots of events at the officers mess, subsided housing in married quarters, allowances for private education for children. The wives were often encouraged to do a certain amount of welfare work (run by the colonel's wife) for the ordinary soldiers' wives.

LoneRider
03-17-2013, 04:31 AM
A lot of officers wives at that times would have been upper middle class/privately educated. The lifestyle was pretty good with lots of events at the officers mess, subsided housing in married quarters, allowances for private education for children. The wives were often encouraged to do a certain amount of welfare work (run by the colonel's wife) for the ordinary soldiers' wives. Sounds like a good bit of information. I'm wondering if she'd be seen as outsider because she's American versus being from the UK by some of the wives (an imagined possible conflict)?

A plot point was inspired by a line from Andy McNab's Immediate Action which said, "Several wives wore their ranks worse than their blokes." so I'm imagining Moira maybe running afoul of a spouse who introduces herself as, "Mrs. Smith, wife of Colonel Smith."

waylander
03-17-2013, 12:34 PM
A lot would depend on the character of the colonel's wife - she is the unofficial commanding officer of the wives. If she is a snobbish bitch who feels superior to an American then conflict is likely.
There are plenty of things to fall out over. Your character is educated, few, if any, of the wives would be university graduates. Many might be daughters of officers. The Suez crisis would be a recent event for some of the older wives, particularly if their husbands served through it. A lot of the socialising could be sports based: rugby, cricket, point-to-point racing. So if your character has no interest in these then there's another point of conflict.

Shakesbear
03-17-2013, 01:39 PM
Fashion could be a huge divider - the mini skirt was seen by some women, young and old, as being the Devil's Work. I seem to recall being told by a friend who was in the Paras during the 60s that officers wives had to present a 'staid' appearance. Going against that was seen as unacceptable. Being an American would not automatically set her apart from the rest - if the colonels wife was one of the 'who are her people/family?' types she might either have a social entrée or be ostracised. There are so many nuances that anything could cause her problems - from the right shade of lipstick to knowing what to do with a napkin at a regimental bash. Her possible ignorance of all sorts of things would also make her a possible target for being set up by another wife feeding her false information.

ClareGreen
03-17-2013, 02:20 PM
If she's educated and ex-CIA, she'll have a lot less trouble in some regards and a lot more trouble in others.

She'll already have at least some understanding of how military people think, but she's going to find that conversations stop or change when she walks into a room - especially in Hereford. If they know she's ex-CIA, she's going to be politely but firmly held at arm's length, on the assumption that she's still working in intelligence for a foreign power.

Her husband is going to get looked down on for having the poor taste to fall in love with an American, and not even a girl from the Commonwealth. Fell head over heels for the honeytrap, what an idiot.

LoneRider
03-17-2013, 10:00 PM
Thanks for the information. This is inspiring quite a few ideas and even helps me flesh out my male lead even more.

He's a veteran of both the Paras and SAS, having served in the Paras as a lieutenant before attending Selection and making it into the SAS as a senior lieutenant and serving with 22 SAS as a captain before returning to the Paras as a senior captain/junior major before returning to Hereford as a major with 22 SAS. I did read in McNab's book that officers in the SAS only served portions of their careers in 22 SAS, versus other ranks who could spend almost the entirety of their careers in the Regiment.

For my female lead, from your insights I've got all sorts of neat little dynamics that can form. In Aldershot she'd be dealing with the staid image that Shakesbear mentioned that wives in the Parachute Regiment were to have. And I assume wives in the 1960s didn't work? Because I've got her working selling insurance, since my female lead isn't the sort to be a housewife.

Even more dynamics I came up with is the male character's lead is a battalion commander with 1 Para (his son serves in 3 Para). My male lead and his father did disagree about the former joining the SAS as a captain, but reconciled that. I had the male lead's mum remind, gently, her husband that he had broken with family traditions himself by joining the Paras versus staying with the 'Family Regiment' (in this case the 7th Queen's Own Hussars). I'd heard of the concept of 'a family regiment' when reading Sniper One by Dan Mills where the author mentioned that the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment was a unit his family had historically served in.

And ClareGreen, thanks for this insight in particular:


Her husband is going to get looked down on for having the poor taste to fall in love with an American, and not even a girl from the Commonwealth. Fell head over heels for the honeytrap, what an idiot. I imagine that to be a problem in both Aldershot and Hereford? And at Hereford our female lead, since her husband is B Squadron's commander, she'd have some seniority amongst the spouses? And that would be a neat source of tension there, especially if the Regimental commander's spouse holds that same opinion.

All sorts of neat tension dynamics could come into play with that 'poor taste' angle whispered behind the couple's backs and behind closed doors.

clee984
03-17-2013, 10:12 PM
I don't know if this helps you at all, but my grandfather served in WW2, and although he went back to civilian life, my dad (born 1950) has told me that he remembers my grandad would frequently go off on "weekend maneouvres" in the territorials with the mates he served with, and that when he did, their wives tended to get together for the evening too, to chat etc.

And this was Southampton, late 50s, early 60s.

waylander
03-17-2013, 11:38 PM
Officers wives of the 1960s did not generally have jobs

ClareGreen
03-18-2013, 12:39 AM
Agreeing with Waylander; an officer's wife in that period would not usually have a job, especially if her husband was anything above a Lieutenant. However, sitting about idle wasn't done - she'd be doing any of the womanly crafts such as embroidery, and/or volunteering for charity/the Girl Guides/etc. Officers were to be perceived as upper or middle class, and a married upper or middle class woman did not work.

As to the American bit - does she have to be CIA? The Scottish version of Moira MacTaggart could be British Intelligence, even previously assigned to the British Embassy in the USA and with contacts in the CIA, if it's a more general Intelligence angle you're looking for. The reason I ask is that I know would-be SAS are scrutinised very heavily from a security standpoint, but I don't have the specific knowledge to say whether a CIA wife would have been enough of a reason for your MC's husband to get flat-out denied the SAS or not.

LoneRider
03-18-2013, 03:55 AM
As to the American bit - does she have to be CIA? Yes, I'm sticking with that particular piece of canon from X-men First Class. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men:_First_Class)

As to how the pair first met, they were assigned to work together on a joint US/UK mission that went badly. Details are here in this fic: Disavowed (goes to fanfiction.net) (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7669228/1/Disavowed)

Her husband, Captain Carl Allenby was a member of 22 SAS on this joint operation at the time. The story that this thread brainstorms deals heavily with his return to the Parachute Regiment after his time with the SAS.


Agreeing with Waylander; an officer's wife in that period would not usually have a job, especially if her husband was anything above a Lieutenant. However, sitting about idle wasn't done - she'd be doing any of the womanly crafts such as embroidery, and/or volunteering for charity/the Girl Guides/etc. Officers were to be perceived as upper or middle class, and a married upper or middle class woman did not work.I assume this was a long-standing tradition in the United Kingdom?

I'm also curious about the concept of family members having histories of being in the same unit. I've got Captain Allenby being the son of Lieutenant Colonel Allenby who was a first generation Para. I am considering writing that his son's choice to break family tradition by joining the SAS as a junior captain was a source of strain for a few years.

I thought of a way that conflict was resolved being that my male character's mother reminded his father that he had broken tradition too by leaving the 7th Queen's Own Hussars and joining the Paras when they first formed in World War II.

Also I'm curious about socializing with spouses of other ranks. Like if Moira were to befriend the wife of a senior non-com would that be considered offensive in that day and age?

Also, is there a particular reason that a British Army officer marrying an American woman would be cause for disdain? I'm just curious where that attitude could have originated given it had been some time since the War of 1812.

ClareGreen
03-18-2013, 11:52 AM
I assume this was a long-standing tradition in the United Kingdom?

A wife not working wasn't so much long-standing tradition as How Things Were. The husband went out and earned the money, and as long as he made enough to allow her to do so, the wife looked after the house and children and spent her spare time doing Worthwhile Things. Only working-class women and unmarried girls worked; educated women were mostly nurses or teachers, and usually spinsters. One of my grandmothers didn't work a single day after she was married.


I'm also curious about the concept of family members having histories of being in the same unit. I've got Captain Allenby being the son of Lieutenant Colonel Allenby who was a first generation Para. I am considering writing that his son's choice to break family tradition by joining the SAS as a junior captain was a source of strain for a few years.

I thought of a way that conflict was resolved being that my male character's mother reminded his father that he had broken tradition too by leaving the 7th Queen's Own Hussars and joining the Paras when they first formed in World War II.

The Paras and the SAS work slightly differently to the regular regiments; both take men from other regiments via a selection process. With the SAS, you're listed as still being a member of your parent regiment until you go back to them. Any medals you win while in the SAS are officially attributed to your parent regiment, and so forth.

While you can go into the Paras from basic training as an infantryman now, I'm not sure about historically, or doing that as an officer. Either way, he's more likely to have joined the family regiment and gone on from there, which would resolve at least a part of that conflict.


Also I'm curious about socializing with spouses of other ranks. Like if Moira were to befriend the wife of a senior non-com would that be considered offensive in that day and age?

Officers are needed, yes, but sergeants are vital. Befriending a sergeant is always wise, and the strictures of rank were much less rigid for the wives. Friendship with a sergeant's wife would be perfectly fine, but the class divide would always be present, possibly even more so than the husbands' ranks.


Also, is there a particular reason that a British Army officer marrying an American woman would be cause for disdain? I'm just curious where that attitude could have originated given it had been some time since the War of 1812.

It's not so much marrying an American woman that would be the problem as marrying American Intelligence. Congratulations, Johnson, as a senior officer of the most secretive and security-conscious part of the British Army you've managed to knowingly marry a foreign spy.

When I say 'secretive' and 'security-conscious', I mean it. There are great big black bars over the eyes of any released photos of SAS personnel so they can't be identified from the pictures, and the pre-joining security interviews encompass friends and family.

waylander
03-18-2013, 02:25 PM
It is not so long ago that women were expected to give up work when they got married. A man would not be granted permission to marry by the father of a 'nicely brought up girl' unless he could afford to keep her in respectable circumstances.

LoneRider
03-23-2013, 09:45 AM
Officers are needed, yes, but sergeants are vital. Befriending a sergeant is always wise, and the strictures of rank were much less rigid for the wives. Friendship with a sergeant's wife would be perfectly fine, but the class divide would always be present, possibly even more so than the husbands' ranks.


So how pronounced of a class divide would this be?

waylander
03-23-2013, 12:36 PM
My guess is that it might be rather less in a young elite 'action' regiment like the Paras. If we were talking about one of the old socially elite regiments like the Guards or the Cavalry it would be huge.

ClareGreen
03-23-2013, 04:30 PM
Oh, crumbs. How to condense the British class system and the army that both typifies and breaks it into short paragraphs. Firstly, the rules are a little looser now than they were in the 60's, but the class system is still very much a part of our society. Please understand that these are massive, sweeping generalisations, and that I am not now nor have never been a soldier. I've spent a long time around the Forces looking in, but I don't have the experience to give you anything more than educated guesses.

The social classes are almost a caste system. The class of your parents determines your class, as the class of their parents determined theirs. It is possible for someone to change their class, but it's almost always a multi-generational effort, and starts with a family close to the 'borders' of their class - who had been of the other class a few generations back, or whose occupation straddles the borders.

The upper class are the nobility, the old money and the landowners (and proud of it). They are the ones who lead. 'Gentlemen' by definition, in the army they are also the 'officer' class and always have been. Most families who consider a particular regiment their family regiment are upper class, but becoming an officer was (and still remains) one of the classic roles for the upper class male. However, there aren't that many upper class males to start with, compared to the other classes.

The middle class are the intellectuals, the ones who think (and are proud of it). They can rise to the upper class over the generations, by sending their children to the right schools and having enough money, but they have a substantially different set of values. Most middle-class people remaining in the army in the 60's will have been officers, but some few will have been enlisted. They tend towards the younger regiments and the specialist trades, such as Military Intelligence, Communications and Engineering - the ones that require technical proficiency or other learning, more than those that require charismatic leadership. Compared to the upper and lower classes the middle class don't send many to the army, but there are a few families with military traditions and while a family regiment is not unheard of, a family occupation is more common.

The lower class are the working class, the ones who labour (and are proud of it). The vast majority of enlisted are lower class, while very few officers have a working class background. This is the other place where deep familial regimental ties are found, and this is where the 'area' a regiment is supposed to recruit from is most important. The regional regimental names are more than just places, they're where that regiment belongs and where most of its men belong to.

The socially elite regiments can have enlisted from almost anywhere, though there was often a set of criteria for getting in, based on wealth, possessions or background - a cavalryman in the pre-WWI days had to be able to ride, for instance.

The Paras are an elite regiment of another kind. They take only those enlisted men who have passed through a training regime designed to make sure that a Paratrooper is one of the best the army has to offer. I'm not sure about their officer criteria - that's not something I've ever looked at - but most Paras came from another regiment to start with (and some go on to SAS Selection, but that's another tale). Becoming a Para is an aspiration, rather than a default position, and as far as I understand it there are few conflicts between loyalty to the Paras and loyalty to the 'home' regiment.

Meanwhile, back to the question - a sergeant is typically a paragon of the working class, a solid and practical man with a wealth of experience who knows how to get things done. He's the go-to man when you don't know something, and it's his job to know everything. A married sergeant of that era would be expected to have a wife who's similar. Competent and capable, she would be expected to provide support and experience for the younger wives of the regiment, whatever their class. She'd be a veteran of moving herself and the children to another country with a few weeks' notice, of spending days and weeks without word from her husband, and of taking care of everything a husband was more usually expected to do in the pre-feminist era.

The officers' wives would in turn be expected to know how to work with older women of the working class. The class divide informs everything, but the gulf between upper and lower class is a lot wider than the gulf between middle and lower class. I suspect a larger proportion of wives in the Paras would have been middle class, rather than upper; the type of elitism involved lends itself more to those with aspirations than those who already know they are at the top of the heap.

There would be mutual respect between the wives, but in general the British know their place and aspire to better their family's lot, rather than wanting to bring the whole system crashing down. A sergeant is in one of those occupations which pushes the boundary between working class and middle class, for instance. The sergeant himself will remain working class, but his children or grandchildren may be able to make the transition, especially if his wife has made the right friends.

An American thrown into all this - none of which is written down anywhere - could make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe, all without realising it.

jaksen
03-23-2013, 05:48 PM
But she would find allies here and there, though it might be hard to dig them out: a colonel's wife whose grandfather 'worked in the mines' and she's hidden this from everyone. Or an upper-class wife who finds it thrilling to be a bit rebellious and when she goes out (with your character) changes from her dowdy tweeds into a mini-skirt.

In every upper class group there's always a few chafing to get out, be different, be 'dangerous.' The majority will drag her back into the herd when/if they find out. "Marjorie's always been a little off her head!"

Your character might turn up more than a few of these. Might spice up the social aspects of your story.

My sister-in-law was the wife of a high-ranking American officer stationed in the UK at this time. She made LOTS of friends and her background, in the US, was solidly working class. (Her father, my father-in-law drove a truck.) She wasn't accepted right away, but she went to church, she threw parties (to which few came at first) but her best UK friends still keep in touch. (She lives in Maine now.) Friendliness and persistence helped her break down many of those social barriers and constraints. And yes, the two examples in my first paragraph were real people.

ClareGreen
03-23-2013, 05:57 PM
Seconding Jaksen, with thanks. There's always some who stand out from the crowd and an American will get a bit of leeway, especially if she's obviously trying to be nice.

mirandashell
03-23-2013, 06:47 PM
Yeah, I think an American officer's wife would get a lot more leeway than a British one purely because she wouldn't be expected to know all the unwritten rules that make up the class system.

LoneRider
05-05-2013, 09:56 PM
But she would find allies here and there, though it might be hard to dig them out: a colonel's wife whose grandfather 'worked in the mines' and she's hidden this from everyone. Or an upper-class wife who finds it thrilling to be a bit rebellious and when she goes out (with your character) changes from her dowdy tweeds into a mini-skirt.

In every upper class group there's always a few chafing to get out, be different, be 'dangerous.' The majority will drag her back into the herd when/if they find out. "Marjorie's always been a little off her head!"

Your character might turn up more than a few of these. Might spice up the social aspects of your story.

Definitely. I also think that her husband's Battalion (3 Para) going over to Northern Ireland would also mean the spouses do get close to each other as well.



The socially elite regiments can have enlisted from almost anywhere, though there was often a set of criteria for getting in, based on wealth, possessions or background - a cavalryman in the pre-WWI days had to be able to ride, for instance.

I assume that's the various Guards units, the Black Watch, Scottish Highlanders and Household Cavalry?

ClareGreen
05-05-2013, 11:47 PM
I assume that's the various Guards units, the Black Watch, Scottish Highlanders and Household Cavalry?

I know most of that list are old-fashioned elites, but I don't know much more than that - the army is not my specialist subject, just one I know a bit about.

The exception are the Scottish Highlanders, and they're a regional regiment rather than an elite. The regiments that have been amalgamated into the Highlanders over the centuries have had long and storied histories, but the Highlanders themselves are from an area of Scotland which includes Glasgow.

waylander
05-06-2013, 04:11 PM
I assume that's the various Guards units, the Black Watch, Scottish Highlanders and Household Cavalry?

I wouldn't include the Scottish regiments in the 'social elite'. Their recruitment was as noted above, much more regionally based and they kept a very traditional Scottish feel to the regiments i.e. own pipe band, traditional drees uniform with kilt.

LoneRider
05-10-2013, 05:55 AM
I wouldn't include the Scottish regiments in the 'social elite'. Their recruitment was as noted above, much more regionally based and they kept a very traditional Scottish feel to the regiments i.e. own pipe band, traditional drees uniform with kilt.

Didn't the Scottish regiments earn their share of battle honors though? I would imagine that would earn them a place in the 'social elite' for their officers at least.


This is the other place where deep familial regimental ties are found, and this is where the 'area' a regiment is supposed to recruit from is most important. The regional regimental names are more than just places, they're where that regiment belongs and where most of its men belong to.

The regional regiments I understand occupy rather high places in the order of precedence. I figured that puts them in a 'Social Elite'. And there is the Royal Regiment of Scotland which is the first in the Infantry.

I've also heard Paras (at least enlisted ones anyway) are known to have been fairly ardent brawlers. I assume that was the case in the 1960s?

ClareGreen
05-10-2013, 12:16 PM
Again, this is from the point of view of someone who has connections to the Forces, but not specifically with the army. I spent a lot of time at the local barracks for a civvie kid - while it housed a Scots infantry regiment, no less - but my family, friends and perspective are Royal Air Force or Royal Engineers. This is an outsider's view, cobbled together from what I've seen and heard.

The Scottish regiments earned their share of battle honours, and in some ways more than their share - but this is the British army. Every regiment has earned their share of battle honours. We've been keeping track of these things for centuries, and those regiments that are currently extant have all had other regiments amalgamated into them, all of which had their own share of battle honours, traditions, silverware, mascots and stories.

The regional infantry regiments are actually in many eyes at the very bottom of the army's social ladder, and always have been. It used to be that the Irish and Scottish regiments were at the bottom of the infantry ladder purely because they were Irish and Scots - which was a ludicrously unfair viewpoint and one that's almost dead, but the army being a creature of tradition it will still exist in some quarters (and people will refer to it out of traditional regimental rivalry, regardless).

If you look at the history of any given regiment - the 74th of Foot are a good example, with Assaye and half of Spain on their honours, along with a shipwreck that spawned the 'women and children into the lifeboats first' philosophy - you'll find that there are mergers. A good rule of thumb is that the more socially elite the regiment is, the fewer mergers will be in its story.

Every officer is part of a social elite - the officer class is in itself an elite - but as with all things, some are more elite than others.

Finally, most squaddies (enlisted infantry) are ardent brawlers, by reputation at least. They've been trying to crack down on that over the last few decades - brawling is no longer as socially acceptable as it was - but back in the 60's? People didn't really pay too much attention to lads in high spirits as long as they kept it among themselves and no-one involved got too badly hurt.

waylander
05-10-2013, 01:17 PM
I've also heard Paras (at least enlisted ones anyway) are known to have been fairly ardent brawlers. I assume that was the case in the 1960s?

Oh yes.
It was certainly true in the 80s when I came to live relatively near Aldershot where they do their basic training. There were some pubs you just didn't go into on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Paras trade on their hard reputation and I'm not going to dispute it.

waylander
05-10-2013, 01:21 PM
Didn't the Scottish regiments earn their share of battle honors though? I would imagine that would earn them a place in the 'social elite' for their officers at least.


More than their share
There's elite soldiers and then there's the social elite - not the same thing. The social elite (as ever) cluster around history, land, old money and certain private schools. The Scots have their own social elite based on the same things, but they maintain a separation.

Shakesbear
05-10-2013, 02:08 PM
Not all Scottish Regiments wore the kilt. My dad was in the Highland Light Infantry and wore trousers (troons?)

For a insight into Scottish Regimental way of life I suggest, and strongly recommend, George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan books. They are set in the last few years of WW2 and the beginning of the Peace. They give a wonderful and humorous view of life back then.

LoneRider
06-01-2013, 06:45 PM
Finally, most squaddies (enlisted infantry) are ardent brawlers, by reputation at least. They've been trying to crack down on that over the last few decades - brawling is no longer as socially acceptable as it was - but back in the 60's? People didn't really pay too much attention to lads in high spirits as long as they kept it among themselves and no-one involved got too badly hurt.

I wonder how being on report worked in the British Army in the 1960s? In the modern US Army certain punishments can be meted out by the company commander but other punishments have to be administered by Battalion or higher echelons depending on severity.

For instance if three squaddies from my male MC's company got into a rather substantial scuff at the local pub where locals and Paras alike had a go at each other would he have the authority to administer punishment to said squaddies or would he have to send them to Battalion for punishment?

I imagined the fight resulted in broken tables and chairs, no deaths, one broken window (as one para flung a particularly insulting civilian through said window) and the like. The injuries from the fight were cuts and bruises mostly.

From what you say it seems like Moira's husband would have the authority to punish the three squaddies who got into this brawl by first trading insults with a couple catering corps soldiers and then a brawl broke out as a result of it. I wonder though, if a company commander's reputation would be sullied if his lads got into too many fisticuffs in town?

waylander
06-01-2013, 08:19 PM
Depends on whether these were repeat offenders. and if they were otehrwise good soliders. He could hand out 14 days confined to barracks or he could send them up the chain if he wanted to be rid of them. Might also depend on who were the investigating authority, the military police or the local police.
What do you want to have happen?

LoneRider
06-01-2013, 09:01 PM
Well I'm thinking one of the three had a previous charge (punching a lance corporal) but the other two were just new squaddies to the unit. I'm thinking the military police are the ones involved in this since most of the offending parties were either the Catering Corps and Paras that were fighting each other with a few civilians who also got into the fight.

I wonder if the military police worked with the civilian police in Aldershot when soldiers got out of hand ?

waylander
06-01-2013, 10:05 PM
My gut feeling is that the local police would be perfectly happy to let the redcaps take care of it if there were no damaged civilians. The redcaps had (and still have) a hard reputation and the local bobbies would rather not go up against a bunch of fighting drunk paras if they could avoid it.

Shakesbear
06-01-2013, 11:10 PM
My gut feeling is that the local police would be perfectly happy to let the redcaps take care of it if there were no damaged civilians. The redcaps had (and still have) a hard reputation and the local bobbies would rather not go up against a bunch of fighting drunk paras if they could avoid it.

This.

Military law is sometimes differs from civilian law. This might be useful:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offences_against_military_law_in_the_United_Kingdo m

mirandashell
06-01-2013, 11:16 PM
My dad was in the Signals in the 1960s and was stationed in Worcester for quite a while. And from what he and my mom have told me, the local civvie police wouldn't even think of entering a soldier's pub when it kicked off. They would be straight on the phone to the Redcaps.

girlyswot
06-02-2013, 01:55 AM
Didn't the Scottish regiments earn their share of battle honors though? I would imagine that would earn them a place in the 'social elite' for their officers at least.

You don't earn your place in the social elite. Or at least, you didn't. Things have changed a bit.

LoneRider
06-04-2013, 04:32 AM
Meanwhile, back to the question - a sergeant is typically a paragon of the working class, a solid and practical man with a wealth of experience who knows how to get things done. He's the go-to man when you don't know something, and it's his job to know everything. A married sergeant of that era would be expected to have a wife who's similar. Competent and capable, she would be expected to provide support and experience for the younger wives of the regiment, whatever their class. She'd be a veteran of moving herself and the children to another country with a few weeks' notice, of spending days and weeks without word from her husband, and of taking care of everything a husband was more usually expected to do in the pre-feminist era.

What of warrant officers? From my research Warrant Officers in the British Army are more akin to First Sergeants/Master Sergeants and Sergeants Major in the US Army in terms of their responsibilities and duties.

Would a Warrant Officer also be considered 'working class'? I would assume yes since he comes from the enlisted ranks.

ClareGreen
06-04-2013, 11:47 AM
Warrant Officers / Sergeant Majors are special cases. They are, quite simply, God. You go to a Sergeant to get something done, and a Sergeant Major if you need a lot of people to do it right now.

They are still members of whichever class they were born into, but they are marked as exceptional individuals on every scale - and will be respected for that by anyone of any class with half a clue. Their children/grandchildren will almost certainly be able to make the leap into the middle class if the Sergeant Major wants that to happen.

mirandashell
06-04-2013, 03:03 PM
Sergeant Majors pretty much run the Army. Any officer with any intelligence knows this and develops a good relationship with his or her SM as soon as possible. Cos if you don't they can make things very tricky without ever once disobeying an order.

LoneRider
06-05-2013, 04:44 AM
Sergeant Majors pretty much run the Army. Any officer with any intelligence knows this and develops a good relationship with his or her SM as soon as possible. Cos if you don't they can make things very tricky without ever once disobeying an order.

That goes without saying, in both the British Army and the US Army (the latter due to experience I am more familiar with).


Warrant Officers / Sergeant Majors are special cases. They are, quite simply, God. You go to a Sergeant to get something done, and a Sergeant Major if you need a lot of people to do it right now.

A Sergeant Major's wife would thus be a great ally for my female lead then I imagine.

LoneRider
07-26-2013, 02:46 AM
I imagine for married squaddies they'd be allowed to live in the town as opposed to their single mates in the barracks?

I'm well aware Paras have a reputation of headbangers as a result of the training to make them among the best soldiers of the British infantry. That high esprit de corps definitely means their younger squaddies are likely to get into the odd bar fight in town.

In the British Army of the 1960s would a unit commander who had more than a few of his men get into scuff ups in town be looked at poorly by his superiors? I would imagine not so.

I'm also interspersing the fact that my male MC has to go over the water to Northern Ireland with his company of Paras as well. I assume that it would be expected of officer/NCO spouses to help the spouses of squaddies deal with the stress of deploying husbands if they could do so?

ClareGreen
07-26-2013, 10:34 AM
Married squaddies would be expected to live in the barracks' Married Quarters section. Picture an estate of small houses, often over the road from the base, allotted by number of bedrooms and rank of the occupant (and with fixtures and fittings and furnishings allotted by rank of the occupant, too).

Married squaddies wouldn't usually buy a house - that'd be expensive and they'd only need to sell it when posted elsewhere.

LoneRider
08-28-2013, 10:40 AM
Would it be a bad thing for a company commander in those days if his soldiers got in fights in town? Basically would his superiors think poorly of him for the fact that his men got into fights or would they understand that Paras are by their nature on the aggressive side of the fence?

waylander
08-28-2013, 12:48 PM
Depends on the superiors.
'There's something wrong with Paras who don't want to fight' could easily be the view taken by the colonel, particularly if he had seen active service with the Paras.

LoneRider
08-30-2013, 06:00 AM
I figured as much, but I didn't think it was possible for a non Para colonel to command a battalion in the Parachute Regiment. I thought officers and all ranks had to pass P Coy to be Paras and the standards for officers were stricter anyhow.

waylander
08-30-2013, 01:17 PM
These might be non-Para senior officers who have overall responsibility for the base/region and relations with the civil authorities. I would imagine a senior Para officer would defend his men robustly

LoneRider
09-30-2013, 06:09 AM
These might be non-Para senior officers who have overall responsibility for the base/region and relations with the civil authorities. I would imagine a senior Para officer would defend his men robustly

Sounds good.

Question about married life in that era, if the husband was home, would the concept of something like a 'date night' for him and his wife be an all together foreign one?

wilchris
09-30-2013, 07:03 AM
My uncle was an army officer during this time period.
A lot of officers wives at that times would have been upper middle class/privately educated. The lifestyle was pretty good with lots of events at the officers mess, subsided housing in married quarters, allowances for private education for children. The wives were often encouraged to do a certain amount of welfare work (run by the colonel's wife) for the ordinary soldiers' wives.
I was at boarding school in the early 70s and the father of a good friend of mine was a Wing Commander in the RAF. Went to stay with their family in RAF Bracknell in about 74, so a bit later than your period, but the main thing I do remember is that it was VERY hierarchical and everything revolved around the base, massive support structure - like a whole sub-culture.

LoneRider
10-21-2013, 10:41 AM
How would university work for a young man of middle class origins, let's say he somehow got into Cambridge? I am certain his upper class schoolmates would likely not let him forget his decidedly middle class origins?

I'm writing the background of my male MC who came of age in the 1950s.

waylander
10-21-2013, 01:15 PM
Cambridge of that time was full of smart kids from grammar schools. I don't see any problem with him finding a group of friends.

Cath
10-21-2013, 01:51 PM
How would university work for a young man of middle class origins, let's say he somehow got into Cambridge? I am certain his upper class schoolmates would likely not let him forget his decidedly middle class origins?

I'm writing the background of my male MC who came of age in the 1950s.

Quoting the new question so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the previous page.

ClareGreen
10-22-2013, 11:58 PM
The upper class are few in number compared to the middle class, and the middle class - especially in that era - were the university-going class. A working class youngster at Cambridge then would be expected to be truly exceptional, but someone from the middle class would be absolutely standard (and university always has been one of the most accepted ways for a boy to improve his lot).

What his class could affect would be which college he was accepted into, though - and college defines a huge amount for a Cambridge student. The older and richer colleges - viewed as higher status - tend to have an intake skewed to the upper class, while the younger colleges tend to be more accepting.

skylark
10-25-2013, 09:31 PM
At that point, there were no university fees and there were maintenance grants available that you could actually live on.

Plus there were grammar schools available for free to anyone who passed the 11+, and in many places they were the schools that the bright upper class kids went to as well, unless they were sufficiently upper class to be sent to boarding school.

Both my parents are from working class (maybe just about verging on lower-middle class) and went to Oxford in the early 1960s. Their class wasn't considered a big deal. Getting into the grammar school was the big step for a kid without an academic background at home.

My mum tells tales of the occasional appalling snob, but both of them had a wide range of friends and acquaintances, some of whom were (still are) of pretty high social status.

LoneRider
10-26-2013, 08:48 AM
Thanks. Well, I wrote my male MC as having gone through Cambridge before following in his fathers footsteps as an army officer (this would be the mid 1950s). I have heard the UK had something similar to the American ROTC program. Is this the case?

mirandashell
10-26-2013, 12:34 PM
What is the ROTC program?

waylander
10-26-2013, 02:24 PM
ROTC = Army cadets, officer training corps
Many schools (grammar or private) back then had an Army cadet programme. The Army would fund you through university if you committed to joining after graduation - not sure what the minumum period was. If you signed up you were, I think, formally a member of the territorial army unit associated with the univeristy and would go on Army exercises during the vacations.

mirandashell
10-26-2013, 02:45 PM
Ah! Thanks Waylander