• Robert Heinlein has mentioned "The Birkenhead Drill"

    From a425couple@21:1/5 to All on Fri Feb 26 15:07:39 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.heinlein, alt.war.vietnam

    FB Heinlein Forum
    3h ·
    Robert Heinlein has mentioned "The Birkenhead Drill" at least once in
    his writings. Something like, "Every one must be able to face the
    Birkenhead Drill at some time."
    This is what that is.

    Under Every Leaf
    1tSpondn0nscorehd ·
    On this day...
    Men of the 74th Regiment line up on the deck of the steam transport 'Birkenhead' which sank off the coast of South Africa on 26 February
    1852. She was carrying 480 officers and men as reinforcements for
    British troops engaged in the 8th Cape Frontier War (1850-1853). Besides
    the soldiers and crew, there were about 26 women and children on board.
    As she rounded the Cape, the ship struck the rocks off Danger Point.
    Water rushed in through the damaged hull and drowned many soldiers in
    their hammocks. The remainder assembled on deck, manned the pumps and
    helped the few lifeboats with the women and children safely away.
    As the ship broke up, Colonel Seton of the 74th Foot called on the
    soldiers to 'Stand fast!'. If they jumped overboard they might endanger
    the boats, which were close by. They kept ranks and went down with the
    ship in shark-infested waters. There were only 193 survivors out of 638 passengers and crew; but all the women and children were saved. The
    incident captured the world's imagination and the story was allegedly
    read aloud to every regiment in the Prussian Army as an example of
    supreme discipline, courage and self-sacrifice. The disaster gave rise
    to the 'Birkenhead Drill' meaning 'women and children first'.
    Painting by Lance Calkin, 1899

    One of my favorite quotes from Pournelle -
    To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand
    and fight a thousand miles from home when you’re all alone and
    outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the
    pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard
    at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.

    Tom Bates Thanks for reminding me of this quote. I used it when I shared

    I looked it up when I first read it.

    thank you for sharing this should have looked it up myself.

    I remember looking it up many years ago, but it should be repeated
    often, for the benefit of all.

    To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
    Is nothing so bad when you've cover to 'and, an' leave an' likin' to shout;
    But to stand an' be still to the Birken'ead drill is a damn tough bullet
    to chew,… See More

    And btw, the entire poem could be compared to the notion of the
    Heinleinian Competent Man.
    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion,
    butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall… See More
    Poems - Soldier an' Sailor too
    Poems - Soldier an' Sailor too
    Poems - Soldier an' Sailor too
    · Reply · 2h

    It sounds brave and gallant, and worthwhile,,,,,, . But I wonder. There
    was a serious lot of empty seats on the Titanic's lifeboats. I'm not
    really sure that an orderly departure overboard from the 'Birkenhead'
    would really have endangered the lifeboats.

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