Beaver at water’s edge. Elliot McCandless.

Beavers and The British Army

 Major Andy Cox RLC Executive Officer, 2 Operational Support Group Royal Logistic Corps, British Army

You may be wondering why a soldier is blogging about beavers? Well, last year my Commanding Officer gave me two tasks: to find a charitable cause and a sustainability project that our unit, 2 Operational Support Group Royal Logistic Corps, could get behind. The Beaver Trust is both of those things, and this blog may be considered to be the start of a fruitful affiliation between the Beaver Trust and my unit. There is however another factor that was key to these two organisations finding each other: the emblem of 2 Operational Support Group is a beaver.  So, what is in an emblem? Why is our totem animal important to us as soldiers? 

Major Andy Cox

The truth is the Army is very fond of animal symbology; both real and mythical.  The symbol of my unit is a beaver, the symbol of my Brigade is a wolf, and the symbol of my Division is a rhino. Other units in my Brigade display a plethora of panthers, seahorses, dragons and more. They can be simply described as unique emblems that differentiate between units, but there is more to it than that.  These symbols are chosen because they resonate with those who originally chose them and remain because they resonate with those who serve under them still. These symbols manifest themselves everywhere, from our flags and badges to our Regimental silverware.

When it was formed in 2015, 2 Operational Support Group inherited the Beaver symbol from one of its predecessor units.  This symbol has been associated with specialist logistic support services in the British Army since at least 1968, although it almost certainly goes back further still. The beaver is a natural choice of emblem for a unit such as ours as there are many parallels between beavers and our unit; indeed for soldiers in general. 

Firstly beavers are territory and community oriented creatures. It is for good reason that the collective noun for beavers is a ‘family’, and the same could be said for soldiers.  A sense of belonging is almost synonymous with Army culture and Army life; hence the current recruiting tagline: ‘This is Belonging’. Like beavers, soldiers depend on a spirit of family and mutual support to succeed in what they do.

The beaver was the natural emblem for the unit.

Secondly, beavers are highly industrious and are natural problem solvers.  It is for this reason that in popular culture beavers are associated with eagerness and enthusiasm.  Soldiers in general, but logistic soldiers in particular are frequently faced with high work loads and complex problems, and it is important that we face them with a ‘can-do’ attitude

Thirdly, beavers are natural engineers and shape their environment to the benefit of themselves and other wildlife.  As military logisticians, it is our task to engineer an environment and system where the rest of the force can not only survive, but thrive in order to fulfil their mission.  It is also our responsibility and duty to set conditions so that others in the environment we are in can also thrive. 

So for these reasons alone, a beaver is a more than fitting emblem for our unit. If any of this seems idealistic, this is for good reason as what are emblems if not a symbolic representation of what we aspire to?  If beavers chose emblems to represent their families, I would hope that at least one would choose a human soldier.*

Contact us for support at info@beavertrust.org and visit www.beavertrust.org for more information and to arrange a trip to the Cornwall Beaver Project.

(*This blog has been written by independent writers outside of our organisation. Beaver Trust welcomes a breadth of opinions, and those expressed within this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the Beaver Trust.)

Major Andy Cox RLC Executive Officer, 2 Operational Support Group Royal Logistic Corps, British Army

2 Operational Support Group RLC provide specialist personnel for staff officers and staff assistants, contract management and labour support capability on operations. In addition, they also supply communications specialists to the Army Medical Services. Find out more about 2OSG here.

#beavers #beaverbelievers #beavolution

© Major Andy Cox, 2021.