A British army general has banned soldiers from eating sandwiches after observing the “barbaric” practice of soldiers eating with their hands.

Major General James Cowan sent out a three-page rant criticizing the table manners of troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, England, which was published in the Sun on Wednesday.

The letter penned by Cowan, who is in charge of 20,000 soldiers and 2,500 officers and has led British forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, was addressed to “Chaps” and went out to his junior commanders.  It described Cowan’s overall dismay with the lack of etiquette at the military base.

"Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands,” he wrote. “The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches in the mess is to stop. A gentleman or lady always uses a knife and fork."

The somewhat tongue-in-cheek note went on to address much more than table manners. Cowan went on to describe how one should act at a dinner party.

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"A good party relies on good conversation. This requires you to come prepared to be free, funny and entertaining. Thank you letters are an art form not a chore. It is generally considered better manners if the spouse is the person who writes."

He detailed how to use cutlery.

"The fork always goes in the left hand and the knife in the right. Holding either like a pen is unacceptable, as are stabbing techniques. The knife and fork should remain in the bottom third of the plate and never be laid down in the top half."

And tips for a successful marriage…

"The secret of a successful marriage is never to sit next to your spouse at dinner, except when dining alone at home. It displays a marked degree of insecurity."

He even branched into the need for correct grammar usage.

"In common with officialdom the world over, military writers love to use pompous words over simpler language. Combined with underlining and italics, the wanton use of capitals, abbreviations and acronyms assaults the eye and leaves the reader exhausted."

According to the Sun, a spokesman for the Army stated that the long-winded diatribe was a joke, adding: “This note was part of a light-hearted correspondence between a commander and his officers about an expected code of behavior.”