Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hunting Jackals as the Cure to the Scholar's Stoop: ELM Burns at Quetta, 1928-29

Emblem of the Quetta Staff College.
The hunched back of the scholar may be considered a trait contradictory to the ramrod soldierly disposition, but with the considerable schooling to be completed as the army officer climbs through the ranks, a peace-time staff-officer may be more likely to suffer from a papercut than a thrusting bayonet.  In the interwar years, there must have been numerous casualties of book smarts in the ranks of the fifty-odd Canadian officers sent overseas to British Staff College to learn lessons in the military art.  ELM Burns noted in his memoirs, General Mud, that his 1928-29 service in Quetta, India was typified by sporting events of upper-middle class respectability.  Burns claimed that such gentrified leisure could prevent the strains of scholarship from wearing a young officer down:

"These were very pleasant years, during which the military instruction was ingested in a fairly relaxed atmosphere, wherein the students, mostly of the rank of captain with twelve or more years service and war experience, were encouraged to maintain their physical fitness with tennis, golf, polo, riding to hounds (after the jackal) and other exercises suited to ward off myopia and the scholar's stoop."
Hunting Jackals at Quetta.  Date Unknown.  Swetenham Ancestors.

1 comment:

  1. Even today this is still common, albeit without the hunting. The Joint Services Command and Staff College here in the UK still has a stable as you walk onto the base.