I do not know about the use this privilege gets

Monday, March 18th, 2019

I didn’t realize that the British Army maintained the old Christmas tradition of inverting the hierarchy:

Christmas is the only day in the year the British private gets a break. Theoretically he can have his say about anything. If he does not like the way the army is run, he can go tell the general about it, or anyone else, without fear of getting kicked around for opening his mouth. I do not know about the use this privilege gets.

Also, it is the day the officers and sergeants are supposed to pay for their privileges by working for the ranks. In this little camp it took the form of serving the dinner.

For New Year’s Eve, a case or two of fancy twelve-year-old Scotch was produced, as the boys did not consider the Johnny Walker used as bar whisky very good! Beer was harder to get than hard liquor, being rationed from headquartermaster. All this at a time when American soldiers in a lot of places were stealing dried apricots and raisins from the cooks to make their own.


  1. Graham says:

    This was actually depicted in an episode of MASH.

    Perhaps one of the show writers had encountered the phenomenon during the actual Korean War and remembered it 20 plus years later.

    Or really did his homework when somebody asked him to write a story with Brits in it.

  2. Graham says:

    To clarify, I think a British officer character visiting his wounded men described the custom, and the MASH personnel imitated it as a morale-boosting stunt. Klinger was enthusiastic.

  3. Kirk says:

    Still done, in most US units I have been in.

    Food is a primal thing. This is why you have the leadership serve the food in the field, and not eat until everyone else has. You giving your subordinates their food is a reinforcer for dominance and fealty, acting out the role of pack leader on a larger scale.

  4. Wayne says:

    That sounds like Saturnalia. https://www.historytoday.com/archive/did-romans-invent-christmas

    This is an interesting video that mentions it. https://www.alephbeta.org/playlist/origin-of-hanukkah-winter-holiday They don’t go into specifics, but Saturn has associations with many pagan rituals…

Leave a Reply