Page 10 - Chiron Calling Spring 2021
P. 10

                The future but first the history
Taken from RAVC Corps Journals
by Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Chris Ham MBE RAVC
Much has been recorded in this RAVC Journal and its pages, from the first edition in 1929, make fascinating reading. But there is a need for so much more, particularly on the practical aspects of dog training. This editorial is an appeal to those of you who are again actively engaged in operational dog work to record your experiences and to let us have the benefit of them.
Nothing is too trivial of interest- the type of tracking lead favoured, the personnel weapon of choice, the position of the patrol column, what to carry on operations? We have all argued these questions many times and the Editor will be pleased to ventilate further.
Your work and techniques are upholding the good name of the RAVC; let your pens record your experiences for our benefit.
EDITORIAL VOLUME 35 AUTUMN 1964 THE JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS Once again in this time of uneasy peace, RAVC men are on active service fighting in the jungle in Borneo. Call it what you like, police action, brush-fire, emergency, rebellion- our men have proved themselves at the “sharp end” many times since the end of the last war. Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus and now Borneo. In each country the RAVC man and his dog have played an important and active part in the fighting.
This edition of the journal contains an article on the training of Combat Tracker Teams and on reading of the training involved and thinking of the tracking dog.
Over the past twenty years we have gained a vast amount of practical experience of the training and working of specialist dogs. It is unfortunate that, in periods between the emergencies, much of the technique is forgotten, the people with the knowledge grow old and are scattered far and wide to desk jobs.
In the comparative calm of a
home based unit it is difficult to view training of tracking dogs,
their trainers and their handlers, with any sense of urgency. Other important work receives priority,
but the trackers have been required five times since the war and, each time, have had to start virtually from scratch.
We have lost a wealth of knowledge and practical know-how. In another article in this edition, Lieutenant Colonel Bishop discusses transport animals and the need
for the RAVC “to be well informed, practical and adaptable in terms of all round animal management.” He also regrets that not enough of the practical experience of the past has been recorded.
During the 42 years of its existence the Journal of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps has fulfilled a most useful purpose. It has published excellent papers, among them Frederick Smith’s classic treatise
“A Critical Examination of so-called Dislocation of the Patella”. It has also faithfully recorded the affairs of the Corps and provided a valuable repository of Corps history.
Our 1919-1961 history drew extensively on the Journal, which was a better source of reference than the official files, which naturally tend to be devoid of human interest.
Already a decade of history awaits the record and soon another volume must be written. Future historians will sadly miss the Journal and
for their sake we must maintain
in our archives a full account of
our happenings, even if it goes unpublished. It needs to be a full account because with time events change in importance. What seems electrifying now will be banal in
20 years’ time and, by then; many trivial current affairs will have become vastly interesting to the next generation.
In a large establishment, it is useful to have a periodical to record the experiences of its members but now I am not so sorry that the Corps can no longer publish its own professional articles. Much good material goes to waste when it has a small circulation. Far better to publish in reputable professional journals where the scientific world can see for itself that the Royal Army Veterinary Corps is active and very capable of adding to the sum of the veterinary knowledge.
The Corps has good reason to
be grateful for the work of all the Journal’s editors and contributors
so, as Colonel Commandant, I would like to say to them we should have been a great deal poorer without their efforts. They served the Royal Army Veterinary Corps very well indeed.
THE JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS VOLUME 36 NO1 SPRING 1965 “Editors of periodicals have very largely to depend upon their correspondents for the matter that fills their pages, and the members of their profession in the Army
are as backward in recording their experiences as their brothers in civilian life.... Thus it took part in every epoch making campaign, but the officers carried the information they acquired to their graves; not a syllable was written by any one of them... it is precisely the personal experiences which are so valuable and on which reliable history is based.”
The passages quoted above are
to be found in the introduction
to Major General Sir Frederick Smith’s ‘A History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1796 -1919’ and, although the problem of filling the Journal pages is not difficult as General Smith’s problem is filling the gaps in the Corps History, there
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