At 2:07 of this clip from the 2019 movie 1917, Colonel MacKenzie (of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment), whose "decorations indicate he's a veteran of the Boer War as well", tells Lance Corporal William Schofield
Have someone see to your wounds. Now fuck off, Lance Corporal.
I know that a Colonel, a commissioned Field Officer, ranks much higher than a non-commissioned Lance Corporal. But English in 1917 was more formal, fustian, and England in 1917 was more classist and less meritocratic. So I don't reckon that a 1917 upper-middle class Colonel would cuss with "fuck off" that feels too boorish and unprofessional.
In a country defined by class, only 'gentlemen' from the upper- and middle-classes were expected to become new officers in 1914.
Until the First World War, most officers came from the upper middle class and were already well connected within the army, usually receiving the recommendation of a family friend that would allow them to take a position as an officer. Almost to a man the upper class of Britain were the product of a public school education. They were an intellectual elite who would endure the highest attrition rate of any social strata during ‘The Great War’.
Their education imbued them with a sense of loyalty and obligation, the expectation that they should be prepared to keep a stiff upper lip in adversity, their sacrifice an acceptable consequence of ‘doing the right thing’
Leaving Eton, Harrow, Winchester, or Repton, young men of 17 could find themselves as subalterns in charge of men and with the likelihood of becoming a casualty within the first six weeks of their deployment.
Their education would have bred into them a sense of duty and devotion to King and country. As junior officers the expectation would be that they were to be the first “over the top” and because their education elevated them and accelerated their career progression they were ultimately the recipients of a hugely disproportion of casualties?