"Kindly Moderate Your Language . . . ."
During a conference at the White House in 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S Truman, and their staffs discussed a number of possible ways to improve Anglo-American interoperability.
At one point the subject of standardizing rifle ammunition arose. The U.S. was using the M1 Garand, chambered for .300 rounds, while the British were using the Enfield No. 4, chambered for .303. Naturally, each side held out for its own standard.
The issue went back and forth for a while, and finally Field Marshal William Slim said, “Well, I suppose we could experiment with a bastard rifle, partly American, partly British.”
Whereupon Churchill said, “Kindly moderate your language, Field Marshal. It may be recalled that I am myself partly British, partly American.”
Note: Those curious about Churchill’s “American Side,” might be interested in Churchill and Americaby Martin Gilbert (New York: The Free Press, 2008).
" . . . How Will You Reward Me?"
In the mid-seventh century B.C., during China’s “Spring and Autumn Period,” palace intrigue caused Prince Chong'er to flee his native Jin (now Shanxi or Shan-shi), ruled by his elder brother. The prince wandered from state to state for 19 years. During his wanderings, he once chanced to visit Chu, a vast kingdom in what is now central and southern China. King Cheng of Chu received Prince Chong'er with the honor due a fellow-ruler.
One day King Cheng asked the prince: "If you return to your own country some day and succeed to the throne, how will you reward me?"
Prince Chong'er replied, "Your Highness has plenty of treasures; I do not know what would be worthy of being presented to Your Highness." When the King pressed him, Prince Chong'er said, "Should I be forced some day to fight against the army of Your Highness on the battlefield, my troops will retreat for three she [c. 30 miles], so as to express my gratitude to Your Highness."
Eventually Prince Chong'er did indeed return to Jin and shortly succeeded to the throne as Duke Wen.
Some years later, King Cheng of Chu invaded Song (around modern Henan). Song was allied with Jin at the time. So Duke Wen found himself at war with his erstwhile host. He probably was not unhappy about this, for he had been engineering a network of alliances more or less against Chu.
The decisive battle of the war came when the armies met at Chengpu, in Henan or Shantung. As the armies approached, Duke Wen ordered his troops to retreat the promised three she.
Naturally, the Chu army pressed forward.
Apparently, by pulling back 30 miles, Duke Wen cleverly suckered the Chu into fighting on ground favorable to himself. As a result, he won a crushing victory.
In later times, the phrase "withdrawing for three she" came to a common Chinese idiom for giving way in the face of superior strength, to gain a better position.