Home    History index

The Role of the RSM in an Artillery Regiment

The RSM was speaking to a group of Officer Cadets. "Gentlemen, while you are officer cadets, you will call me 'Sir' and I will call you 'Sir'. The only difference will be that you will mean it."

In practice, the Regimental Sergeant Major is referred to by everybody as "The RSM" but is addressed as "RSM" only by the Commanding Officer. Other officers address him as "Mister ..." and all non-commissioned ranks (including officer cadets) address him as "Sir" or as "Mister ..., Sir".

The Regimental Sergeant Major plays a unique role in the life of an artillery regiment. As the senior enlisted man in the regiment he is directly responsible to the Commanding Officer and usually has an office close to the CO's.

During peacetime, his duties are concerned with discipline, training and administration. During war, his duties are expanded to include ammunition resupply, assisting the Adjutant in manning the fire orders net (which is concerned with the control of ammunition expenditure), assisting in the deployment of RHQ vehicles and personnel in action, coordinating local defence of RHQ area and overseeing the processing of POWs who are sent to RHQ from batteries.

Historically, promotion to RSM is by merit and selection, not by seniority. The RSM must have a commanding personality and have the confidence of both the officers and non-commissioned ranks. He must excel in all the necessary attributes of a soldier of any rank from Gunner to Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) comprising a combination of promotion exams and experience.

The post of RSM is the highest point of a serviceman's career. The RSM is always available to give advice and guidance to his subordinates (gunners, lance bombardiers, bombardiers, sergeants, staff sergeants, colour sergeants, Warrant Officers Class II, Warrant Officers Class I) and is first among equals of Warrant Officers Class I in the Regiment. Although a regiment might have more than one WO1, there will be only one RSM.

In time of war, promotion to WO1 and appointment as Regimental Sergeant Major (or any other rank and appointment) can take place without any or all of the peacetime prerequisites, as determined by the exigencies of the Service.

The duration of an appointment as RSM is influenced by the CO but is usually determined by higher command. Barring accidents, reorganisations and enemy action, a Regimental Sergeant Major might expect to serve for the duration of an emergency with his unit since he is the 'binding glue' that holds the unit together.

WO1 GR (Yogi) Young MBE,
RSM 16 Fd Regt 1969-73

Whereas officers tend to be posted frequently, an RSM stays with his Regiment and is considered to embody much of the spirit of the Regiment. It is for this reason that individuals appointed to this position are of the highest calibre.

JG Gilberd, RSM 7th Anti-tank Regiment 1940 - 1945
WL Ruffell, RSM 1 Field Regiment 1958 - 1962
ET O'Neill, RSM 16 Field Regiment 1964 - 1965
GR Young, RSM 16 Field Regiment 1969 - 1973
RG Blankley, RSM 16 Field Regiment 1973, Sergeant Major of the Army 1981
PJ Duggan, RSM 3rd Field Regiment 1985 - 1987

December 2000

Return to top

History Index    |    Home