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The militaria of Argghhh!

The Budget of Argghhh! currently not supporting acquisition of chemical-powered armaments, I have been indulging other tastes in adding to the Character of Castle Argghhh! - and with a Castle Blogmeet on the horizon, some thought to making that experience apropos to the place we have collectively built. Though, sadly, the Great Chandeliers of Argghhh! will have to remain a metaphysical construct, absent someone wanting to spend the dough to build an artifact in the Bailey that we could suspend a chandelier from... and then build the chandelier...

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Where was I? Oh, yeah - *stuff*. As long-time readers know from previous posts, I like to find the little things of a soldier's life, like this schnapps glass, or this helmet, for example. I sometimes take it to extremes, too - I like dolls (flesh and blood, or plastic).

Anyway, one of the things I remember from my days as the Fire Direction Officer of Bravo, 1/22 FA, was the joy of being the Supply Officer. That is said with tongue firmly in cheek, though being SO made life as a Battery Commander simpler - I already knew how to prevent/make-up shortages and account for it all without going to jail/writing a check - and when your Battery is the size of a small battalion (350+ peak strength in garrison, close to 600 in the field when all the attachments showed up) such skillz are needful if you don't want an ugly time at your change-of-command inventory. I was short two sheets, which I made good by saving the bacon of the Target Acquisition Battery commander... I left command with no Reports of Survey, no Cash Collection Vouchers.

One of the interesting bits of kit that company-sized units used to have was the Officer's Mess Kit, a holdover from a different time in the U.S. Army. A fascinating bit of kit - it held place settings for 8 - serving platters, coffee cups, dinner and salad plates, bowls, salt and pepper shakers, etc. All in a nice fitted box. In WWII they were enameled steel, starting around the Korean War they shifted to aluminum. Sometime in the late 80's, they disappeared off of the MTOEs (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment) that lay out a unit's mission, organization, and allowable property. They were intended for use when deployed units went into semi-permanent bivouac - when engaged in mobile ops *everybody* ate out of a mess kit or box, on top of the jeep hood, or wherever else you could find a flat, semi-level surface - unless you were wolfing it down before the rain washed it all away...

As the Supply Officer of a firing battery, it was just something else to inventory and try to keep people from stealing the flatware and coffee cups from. As a Battery Commander, I only used it for fun - whenever we were deployed, such as for REFORGER, the NTC, etc, I would use it whenever the Commanding General came to visit - set for him, the DIVARTY Commander, and the S3 (more if the visit called for it) in the D/A Commander's tent, set on a red tablecloth - with candles. Hey - we're the Artillery, dammit - we lend dignity to what is otherwise a vulgar brawl...

So - at the Castle Blogmeet - expect the Officer's Mess Kit vice paper plates.


Heh...don' need no steenkeen' mess kits. I followed the field dictum that the troopies ate first, NCOs second, Ossifers last. And since I was the only ossifer in the Company, and everything was usually *gone* by the time everybody else had chowed down, it made my menu real simple: a bread sandwich, i.e., a slice of white between two slices of whole wheat. Or, for variety, a slice of whole wheat between two slices of white.
Looking at that picture of the redleg, I would almost have to say that he looks French. Then I saw that he was solving a problem and I realized that he was an American.
I never ate off the OMK, either. In fact, I think I actually used it 3, mebbe 4 times. But each one was fun. I also did the eggs to order in the MKT when duty allowed. In the field almost *no one* skipped breakfast, and it was a way to look everybody in the eye and see how things were going. But we had better portion control than you did, Bill. There was always *something* left besides bread. But the OMK was really only intended for those times you were encamped, vice "in the field" Like in the TAA, when we'd set up the GP Mediums for a mess tent. You can do that stuff in an Brigade HQ. In the firing battery, we never took it to the field. Of course, the whole Mess paradigm is different now - and I'm still not convinced it's better. You can do a hell of a lot with (and to) morale if you own your own Mess.
Portion control is not a new concept, but when Post consistently shorted the entree and "made up the difference" with sundries, you just kind of sucked it up and drove on. Usually, my Field First and the senior Drill wound up with bread sammidges, too. On the plus side, my kids lost all semblance of pickiness, except for the creamed parsnips. And don't get me started on that...
Nice post on the Officer's Mess Kit. I haven't seen one of those in a dog's age but the photo was unmistakeable. The Mess can really make the Morale. There is something about us humans and taking our food together. It can be a powerful bonding agent in a unit. Some of my best recollections are of great meals with the men, even in the pouring rain under a tanker's tarp. SGM (Ret.)
See, now that is good information - I can return the gift of a Soviet hat with that sort of stuff and not run into (more) questions from the RCMP and the customs folk like I did with that tank I had my eye on for you.
At least aluminium (I am an Aussie!) is a nobler metal than steel, and puts you in the same class as Napoleon III (The Emperor's cutlery)
So, when is our exciting blogmeet to occur?
So, Geoff, gonna bring some Vegemite to the Blogmeet?
Thanks for the invite, John, but it sure is a power of a way to Leavenworth. However, I always travel with Vegemite. (It also comes in a Traveler's Tube now. When we were travelling around Europe with our friends for a month, the French, Germans and Italians would wonder what the hell we were putting on our bread!) Anyway, if you are still coming to Australia at some time, I might be able to get you a meal at the Melbourne Victoria Barracks Officer's Mess, using the finest silver!
We're working getting that way, via SWWBO's employer or mine. The upcoming ABCA 06 exercise offers the current best chance. I've still got some Vegemite left (a little goes a long way, and besides serving as emergency axle grease, it will last forever) - but I'll keep you in mind when it runs out. Yes, I *like* Vegemite. Now Marmite, being Pom-made, ick.
Geez, Vegemite really *is* black. My memory's not as shot as I thought. Although there *are* certain things I wish selective memory would de-select...
A little Vegemite goes a long way. Bread, lotsa butter, a touch of Vegemite. Mmmmm. Never assimilated to the point where I could slather Vegemite like butter...
I remember eating off of our issued mess kit in basic training then having to stand in line to clean them in a series of trash cans filled with boiling soapy water. Then came the MRE.
"I remember eating off of our issued mess kit in basic training then having to stand in line to clean them in a series of trash cans filled with boiling soapy water. Then came the MRE." Which tasted like it had just been fished out of a garbage can filled with *cold* soapy water...
We had an Armoured Corps Mess Dinner in the field during RV 83, complete with silver from the mess. And our Regimental Field Mess Kit (Mess Kit is one of our uniforms up here): Armoured Vehicle Crew Suit with Regimental Ascot and Stable Belt. The Crew Suit is similar to a Flight Suit, but with fewer do-dads which might catch on significant bits such as Breech operating Levers and Triggers. Mine had a 26" zipper, but I'm much less tall than Bill, and younger. Cheers JMH
Aha--I always wondered who'd gotten my hand-me-downs. They were cut 'way too small in the crotch, too...
Newbies worn the crewsuit for their first exercise, then switched to proper combats. Although I avoided the problem by exercising due care and close attention to details, there were known unfortunate incidents where individuals, wearing crewsuits, suffered from neglecting some of the aforementioned details when executing field sanitation techniques under time constraints. Cheers JMH
That has happened to newbie *aviators*, too. "Sir, may I borrow the Jeep?" *wrinkling nose* "Only if you put a poncho on the seat, first. Come to think of it, use *two* ponchos..."