Junior Officer's Guide
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This is a re-print of the JUNIOR OFFICER’S GUIDE put out in 1959. The only changes that have been made are for clarity, and in the revision of the Commissioning Scroll paragraph.

It is my hope that the reader will be both humored and informed by the contents of this guide. Many of the items found within are still relevant today, making the guide a useful source. Also, it serves to remind us of many traditions that have gone by the wayside, and will hopefully in the end produce a more “enlightened” officer.

Lt M.A. Bobbitt
November 1994

Junior Officer’s Guide



“These notes are intended as a guide and a help rather than as an all embracing set of rules. However, if the principles, procedures and customs set out in these notes are followed it is more than possible the newly appointed officer will be spared many embarrassing moments.

“The written notes have been carefully checked by Senior Officers serving in the Active and Reserve Defence Force and have met with their approval and believed to be fully consistent with current customs in the Canadian Service”

 May 1959

Section I


“He became an officer and a gentleman which is an enviable thing”

- From “Only A Subaltern” By

Rudyard Kipling



1. The main difference between an officer and his comrades in the Ranks is this: An officer is personally responsible to the Queen, by virtue of holding the Queen’s Commission, for the good name and efficiency of the Army. The soldier in the Ranks does not have this personal link with the Sovereign: he is engaged to serve under the command of the Queen’s Officers and to obey them.

2. The Queen’s Commission is simply this: it is the Queen’s authority delegated to selected persons, thus creating them Officers, so that they can exercise command over the Army on the Queen’s behalf.

When he receives his Commission the newly appointed Officer reads:

“We reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and Integrity do by these Presents Constitute and Appoint you to be an Officer in our Canadian Armed Forces. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of __________________ or in such other Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote or appoint you to, and you are in such manner and on such occasions as may be prescribed by us to exercise and well discipline both the Inferior Officers and Non-Commissioned Members serving under you and use your best endeavor to keep them in good Order and Discipline, and We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their Superior Officer, and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us, or any other your Superior Officer according to Law, in pursuance of the Trust hereby Reposed in you.”



3. To possess authority over one’s fellow men is no mean thing. The Queen’s Commission can make an Officer, but it cannot make a Gentleman. Yet if the Army is to receive the respect that is due it, and the soldier in the Rank is to be given the leadership he deserves, it is essential that officers at all times are worthy of the name Gentleman. The qualities of a Gentleman can be no better stated than by the philosopher Amiel who said

“The gentleman, then, is the man who is master of himself, who respects himself and makes other respect him. The essence of gentlemanliness is self-rule. From self respect a thousand other things are derived, such as care of a man’s person, of his language, of his manners, watchfulness over his body and over his soul, dominion over his instincts and his passions, the effort to be self sufficient, the pride which will accept no favours, carefulness not to expose himself to any humiliation or mortification, and to maintain himself independent of any human caprice: the constant protection of his Honour and his Self Respect.

In order to lay himself open to no reproach, a gentleman will keep himself irreproachable: in order to be treated with consideration, he will always be careful to observe distances, to apportion respect, and to observe all gradations of conventional politeness, according to rank, age and situation.” 


4. An officer has a dual responsibility which can never be shirked, forgotten or allowed to take the background. He is responsible to those set above him that he at all times carries out their orders and directions to the best of his ability, and with no thought of his own personal desires, comfort or safety. He is responsible to those placed under him that he is in every way worthy of being their leader under any circumstances of hardship, danger or despair.

5. To be capable of assuming such responsibility an officer must possess a STRONG CHARACTER and to achieve this he must have moral and physical courage, self respect, loyalty, tenacity and honesty in his make up. He must be capable of SOUND JUDGMENT, and this can be developed by learning to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad, strength and weakness : by acquiring a sense of values and by practicing logical thinking. An officer must be full of ENERGY and only when he keeps himself mentally enthusiastic, physically fit and possesses or develops personal “drive” will he have the energy needed. To these qualities must be added a SENSE OF HUMOUR. The gloomy fellow, the “sad sack” will never be a complete officer: no matter how brave, how brilliant or how otherwise acceptable he may be.

6. Twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year the Army officer is liable to the demands of the Service. Always he must be ready to discharge his duties with a deep sense of responsibility. This is his task. As to his reward, that is not to be thought of. Suffice it to say :

“Who does in the wars more than his Captain can become his Captain’s Captain.”


Section II



(a) Every military station, formation and unit has its own Standing Orders and Officers must be perfectly familiar with them. Ignorance of orders is never taken as an excuse for non observance.

(b) In addition, every unit issues Daily Orders with which Officers are also expected to be familiar. On returning from leave read any orders that may have been issued while you were away.

(c) Read Canadian Army Orders and other orders of the higher formations. All of which you can see in your Company Office. Make this a habit.


(a) The parade square of all good units is “sacred ground.” You should not smoke on it or go across it in plain clothes during duty hours. When you cross it you must move in a smart and soldierly manner.

(b) Never pass between any body of troops on parade and it’s commander or indeed anyone, whatever he may be doing, who is interested in that parade.


(a) On parade the practice of saluting must be carried out with careful formality. When you have the occasion on parade to address an officer senior to you, even if he is only one place above you in seniority, say “Sir” and salute him. This is a normal custom of the service, so you need not feel self-conscious about it.

(b) Off parade, Subalterns salute Field Officers (i.e.: Majors and above) and address them as “Sir”. Always salute Captains the first time you see them in the morning, and when taking leave of them at night. Subalterns address Captains and other subalterns by their names only. Do not call officers below the rank of Major “Sir” in the Mess.

(c) Be careful to return salutes smartly and readily: never with anything in your saluting hand or with a cigarette or pipe in your mouth. Look directly at the person whose salute you are returning and remember that salutes are “returned” not merely acknowledged.

(d) Also be careful to return, punctiliously, salutes paid you by bodies of troops on dismissal and compliments paid by bodies of troops on the march or otherwise.


(a) When in uniform always salute uncased colours and funerals. In plain clothes raise your hat.

(b) When the National Anthem and O Canada are played stand to attention and salute, or in plain clothes remove your hat.

(c) When the Guard turns out to a Commanding Officer or to a General Officer, everybody nearby stands to attention but they do not salute.

(d) If there is an officer in any military office you may have occasion to enter, you should salute him whether he is senior to you or not. If you are not wearing uniform ask the senior officer to excuse your dress.


Remember to salute senior officers of the Navy and Air Force, and of friendly foreign Powers. If you have occasion to visit a warship always remember to salute the Quarter-deck both on arrival and departure.


It is unsoldierly and a serious matter to be late for parades. It is unmannerly to be late for an appointment. Always make a point of being ready five minutes ahead of time so that your arrival is “on the dot.”

“He who would command must first learn to obey.”


Section III


(a) Never reprove and NCO in the hearing of any of his juniors.

(b) In dealing with NCOs and men be courteous, just and consistent, but do not be familiar. Always address them by their military rank : “Sergeant Brown” not “Brown.” 

(c) It is custom for the Commander of a squad, troop, platoon, etc. to ask permission to dismiss or march off. Do not be “deaf.” If you hear an NCO say “Dismiss, Sir, please” return his salute and reply “Dismiss, please” and it is a matter of politeness to stand and return the salute of the men as they dismiss.

(d) When you are being instructed by an NCO, remember he is in a difficult position and you must assist him by courteous behavior. Don’t be afraid to ask him questions as he is your instructor.

(e) NCOs are of great importance to the Army, but they naturally have their limitations. Remember that you are the responsible officer and don’t give NCOs responsibilities which are not in keeping with their rank.

(f) Your turn-out, bearing and behavior both in and out of uniform must be such as to command the respect of your men at all times.

(g) The standard of intelligence of men in the ranks is comparatively high. It is essential therefore that you should interest them in their work and make certain that they understand why a particular task it to be done. Only by so doing will you ensure keen and intelligent work on their part. Men are to be led, not driven.

(h) Get to know your men individually: learn their names and all particulars about them. There is no better way of doing this than by organizing and joining in unit sports activities, concerts, etc. Nevertheless, always remember to keep your distance. You can play on the same team as an NCO or Private soldier without allowing liberties of conduct on his part, or by letting down the necessary barriers yourself.

(j) Be your man’s champion. This does NOT mean that you should allow yourself to be influenced by the “grouser.” It does mean that you should see that no injustice is done to them either collectively or individually. Men always respect an officer who takes their part, but they despise the weakling who seeks popularity by helping them “dodge the issue.” If your men have an unpleasant task to do your example must encourage them to carry it out. Perhaps you can reward them later when the job is done.

(k) Always support your NCOs. If they are not worthy of support take steps to get rid of them. You cannot have a good unit without good NCOs. Respect the wisdom of NCOs whose experience is greater than yours, but always remember that you are the officer. Ensure that your subordinates no matter how long their service or how extensive their experience, are kept in their proper place.

(l) Correct error, punish misdemeanor, reward the deserving and always be fair and above-board. If you make a mistake be man enough to admit it: but DO NOT make the same mistake again. The men know you are human too, but they expect that extra “something” from an officer.

(m) If your station is such that you are allowed a soldier servant (batman) don’t get the idea that it is because personal “housekeeping” is beneath your dignity. Such is not the case. Officers are allowed servants for two reasons only: first, so that they are freed from minor personal tasks for the purpose of looking after their men’s welfare, and second, so that they can obtain the necessary relaxation to help them carry the heavier and more demanding responsibilities of their rank. This is especially true in war when the officer is called upon to carry out many exacting and difficult tasks while his men are waiting for their job to begin - a job in which the officer must also play his difficult part. An officer who allows himself to be beaten into the ground by petty labours and personal worries is a bad officer. A good officer saves his strength for burdens and problems that really matter.

“Some men are born leaders, some must make themselves leaders by constant effort.”

Section IV


(a) When entering the ante room before dinner say “Good Evening Sir” to the senior officer present. Also if your Commanding Officer or any General or Field Officer enters after you, stand up and say “Good Evening Sir.” 

Do NOT click your heels at anytime nor stand to attention on entering the ante room or dinning room.

(b) On parade an officer should always address other officers senior to him, whether by rank or appointment as “Sir.” 

(c) When a subaltern is addressed on parade or referred to in an unofficial way he is mentioned as “Mr. Smith,” but in an official way he is referred to by his actual rank, i.e. “Lieutenant Smith” or “2nd Lieutenant Smith.” 

(d) Except on parade it is advisable to avoid addressing a Captain as “Captain Jones.” However if it is desirable for any reason to address an officer by his rank this form may be used. It is quite wrong to address a Captain as “Captain” without using his surname.

(e) Field Officers should be addressed as “Sir” by Captains and subalterns, but it should not be laboured, or used so frequently as to make the conversation sound ridiculous. It is not incorrect to address a Colonel or Major by his rank alone, but the possibility of appearing unduly familiar makes it advisable for junior officers to adopt this habit only after considerable length of service, and more than an ordinary acquaintance with the Senior. Obviously a subaltern is rarely in a position to do so.

(f) It is customary when meeting any officer of the Armed Forces in the street to bid him “Good Morning” whether you know him or not. It is for the junior to speak first. If he is of field rank he should also be saluted.

(g) Warrant Officers Class I are addressed on parade by the title of their appointment e.g. “Sergeant-Major Brown” but off parade they are usually addressed as “Mr.” 

(h) Other Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers are always addressed by their rank.

(j) Private soldiers are always addressed by their surname only.

(k) Other Ranks address Officers by their rank and name except subalterns whom they address by using “Mr.” and their name. In answering an Officer or Warrant Officer, Other Ranks always say “Sir.” Do not allow “Yes, Major,” “Yes Lieutenant,” or any other bizarre form to be used by your subordinates.

“Speech is a mirror of the soul: as a man speaks, so is he” 

Section V



(a) When the Commanding Officer first enters the ante-room of the Mess in the morning all officers should rise and greet him. This does not apply in the mess room where the officers are dining. Similarly, any Officer entering the ante room will greet the Commanding Officer should he be there.

(b) The Mess is not only your home but that of your brother officers. Bear this in mind.

(c) Every Mess has a constitution with which you must make yourself familiar.

(d) When your Commanding Officer, the General or guests come into the ante room, stand up and let them have the best chairs, but don’t be still or too formal.

(e) Stand up when spoken to by older civilians to whom you as a private individual would pay the same courtesy.

(f) When visitors come to the Mess whether you know them or not, you must act as their host. The whole Mess is liable to be judged by the way strangers are received. If they are your private guests, what they take is put down on your mess bill, but if they have come to call or are members of a visiting team, you should tell the Mess Steward afterward to put their drinks down to “Mess Guests.” Don’t shirk this duty, but rather go out of your way to do it.

(g) Remove your Sam Browne or Webb belt when you enter the ante room of the mess room. Only the Orderly Officer wears his belt in the Mess, for him it is “equipment” rather than an item of dress.

(h) Change out of your working clothes for the evening meal. In any case, do NOT wear shorts or short sleeves in the evening. If you come into the Mess after dinner in your working clothes, ask the senior Officer present to excuse your dress.

(j) Regimental business should not be conducted in the ante room or mess room, but the discussion of professional affairs should be encouraged.

(k) Politics, religion, or other controversial subjects, which might give offence should not be discussed in a Mess, nor should a lady’s name be mentioned.

(l) Bridge, billiards and other recreational games should not be played for more than the points fixed by the Mess Committee.

(m) Breakfast, luncheon and dinner are normally informal meals and Officers are at liberty to sit down or leave the table at their convenience within the time limits laid down. As far as possible the service for these meals is arranged so that, to a large extent, Officers can help themselves from a side table. The same applies when cold supper is served.

(n) Avoid forming Mess cliques, they kill the family spirit in the Mess.

(o) Do not find fault with, or make complaints to a Mess servant. If there is anything wrong, you may complain afterwards to the Mess Secretary, or your representative of the Mess Committee.

(p) When you are made an honourary member of another mess write and thank the officers of that mess in the following manner:

“Mr. John Snooks thanks Lt-Colonel U.R. Gallant, OBE and the officers of The Adanac Regiment for their kind invitation to consider himself an honourary member of their Mess, a privilege of which he will have much pleasure in availing himself.” 

(q) When you have a guest, be sure to introduce him to the PMC.

(r) Noisy behavior, singing, ragging, etc. at the Mess table are bad forms at all times.

(s) Help the Mess servants to keep the Mess in order. Return newspapers and magazines to the tables provided for this purpose. DO NOT take Mess property to your Quarters: this includes publications subscribed to by the Mess.

(t) The practice of dropping cigarette end or ashes on the floor or leaving a lighted cigarette on a table are examples of thoughtless bad manners.

(u) The senior subaltern is responsible for behavior of all subalterns in the Mess. He will tell you if you make mistakes: it is his job to give you advice, so go to him if you are in doubt about procedure or Mess custom.

(v) As a member of the Mess you must assist as a host at entertainments given by the Mess. This means spending time and sometimes money, but all Officers should do their part.

(w) Take a pride in your appearance both in uniform and in plain clothes. Neckties should invariably be worn unless special permission has been granted to the contrary. One sloppy looking officer will let down the Mess in the eyes of visitors. It is extremely bad manners to appear in the Mess untidily dressed.

(x) Employ a good tailor. It is cheaper in the end. Well cut clothes are indicative of the smartly groomed officer. “Flashy” haberdashery and exaggerated styles are NOT expected of an officer.

(y) Exotic hair styling, long nails or public use of combs, nail files, and toothpicks cannot be tolerated.

(z) Junior officers should not be afraid of entering into conversation with senior officers in the Mess, especially at meals, but excessive familiarity should be avoided.


(a) Officers must provide themselves with visiting cards for use on those occasions when they visit or take final leave of Messes, or visit private homes, etc. An officer’s card must be of standard size and must always be engraved (NOT printed) in a proper manner.

(b) On no account will an officer who has received an order or decoration reflect this by the use of letters on his visiting card. Similarly, it is customary that the given name of the officer will be set out on his card, not merely his initials. Of course, if an officer has more given names than can be accommodated on his card, and for personal reasons wishes his other initials to appear, he may have his card engraved as for Figure 1. Normally is should be as for Figure 2.

(c) Second Lieutenants and Lieutenants do not show their rank on visiting cards, but use the prefix “Mr.” with their Corps or Regiment. This in itself indicates that they are subaltern officers.

(d) The name should not be in fancy type, but in plain script. Abbreviations in regimental titles should not be used except as absolutely necessary, due to subsidiary or exceptionally lengthy titles which could not otherwise be accommodated on the card. Corps or Regimental titles are in smaller script than the officer’s name.

(e) Correct cards are as follows:

Lieutenant J. J. C. R. Smudge, MC, The Royal Canadian Regiment, will appear on his card as:

Figure 1

Mr. John Joseph C. R. Smudge
The Royal Canadian Regiment

Major Thomas P. Muggins, MBE, PPCLI will appear on his card as:

Figure 2

Major Thomas Peabody Muggins
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

(f) Officers make use of their visiting cards in the same way as gentlemen of civilian status. In addition however, custom dictates that when calling on a Mess the officer leaves two cards: One for the G.O.C. or Commanding Officer and one for the officers. The officer leaving the card writes in ink in his own hand in the upper left hand corner on the one card:

Major-General X. Y. Zedd, CBE, DSO
General Officer Commanding.
Southeastern Command.

and on the other:

Major-General X. Y. Zedd, CBE, DSO and the Officers
Headquarters, Southeastern Command

From the above it can be seen that the visiting officer leaves a card for the G.O.C. or Commanding Officer personally, and one for the “Mess Membership.” 

(g) When an officer has been posted away from his station he leaves two cards as above, but this time he places the letters “P.P.C.” in the lower left hand corner as well. This is the abbreviation for “Pour Prendre Congé”, the accepted French term, roughly translated: “On Taking Leave.” 

(h) Young officers are advised to make themselves familiar with the subject of formal calls, and any variations to normal custom which certain situations may employ, immediately when they arrive at a new station. The best person from whom to seek guidance is the Adjutant. In these informal times many of the one time considered “social niceties” have been dropped, but the fact remains that it is better to check with local customs first, than to expose oneself to social embarrassment.


(a) Although officers meet in the Mess on a footing of social equality, it nevertheless must be distinctly understood that a Mess Dinner is a parade. Officers so according are under the same military discipline and are as much under orders as though they were actually under arms. The senior combatant Officer present is always in charge, and is responsible for all that takes place at the table and in the Mess premises both before and after the dinner.

(b) When entering the ante room before dinner say “Good Evening, Sir” to the senior officer present. Also, if your Commanding Officer or any General Officer or Colonel enters after you, stand up and say “Good Evening Sir.” Remember, do NOT click your heels at anytime nor stand to attention on entering the ante room.

(c) When dinner is announced, the PMC will escort the senior Officer present in to dinner followed by Mess guests. Other officers then follow into the Mess room and remain standing until the Senior Officer present takes his seat. The Senior Officer sits at the centre of the head table. The senior guest sits on the right hand of the Senior Officer which is the place of honour. Except as specified above, places are not normally reserved for officers, neither do they sit according to rank, although it is customary for the next senior officer to sit opposite the senior officer on Guest night.

(d) The PMC sits at one end of the table and is responsible for the correct carrying out of every detail connected with the service of the table. Certain duties in connection with the service of dinner may be delegated to the Vice PMC.

(e) The Vice PMC usually sits at the opposite end of the table to the PMC and nearest the point of entrance for the servants. He assists the PMC in the execution of his duties.

(f) No letters should be opened or notes written at the table without the permission of the senior officer present or the PMC.

(g) When, at the conclusion of dinner, the table has been cleared and the wine placed before the PMC and Vice PMC, on a signal from the PMC the wine is passed from right to left until each set of decanters reaches the point from where the next set started (The decanters may contain vintage port, light port, sherry or Ma deira).

(h) The custom of drinking the health of the reigning sovereign is universal, but the procedure is not the same in all units.

(j) The following procedure for drinking the health of the Queen is the most commonly used in Canadian Army messes. As soon as the wine shall have made the tour of the table, the PMC shall rise and call “Mr. Vice, ‘The Queen.’” The Vice PMC then rises and says “Gentlemen, ‘The Queen,’” when and not before officers rise and take their wine, saying “The Queen” without any qualifying words. It is not imperative that the Queen’s health be drunk in wine.

(k) After dinner and while still at the table, smoking of cigars and cigarettes (but not pipes) is permitted with the consent of the senior Officer present, but this should never occur until the health of the Queen has been drunk.

(l) When a senior Officer or other distinguished guest dines at a Mess, all officers should rise when he leaves the table after dinner, but it is not necessary for them to follow him.

(m) The Vice PMC remains at the table until all other officers have left the Mess room.

(n) It is customary not to touch the dessert course until the Queen’s health has been drunk.

(o) At formal Mess Dinners no one leaves the table before the PMC. However, should you have urgent reason to leave the table for any reason during dinner, send a message through one of the stewards to the PMC requesting permission.

(p) On Guest nights, Officers sitting at the side tables and wishing to send a request or suggestion to the PMC should do so through the Vice-PMC. If speeches are made after dinner, give the speaker a courteous hearing -- even if he fails to be witty or is inaudible to you.

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