The Battalion on the March (1922)
A battalion which is slack in march discipline is generally slack in battle.
Infantry Training, Vol. I; Training, 1922, Provisional
1. Before commencing a march platoon commanders should inspect the men's feet as well as the fit of their boots. Equipment should also be fitted to prevent discomfort and chafes. Water-bottles should be examined and cleaned. Platoon commanders will arrange for short lectures to their men on the importance of march discipline, the orders to be observed during the march, how smoking affects endurance and how thirst is aggravated rather than reduced by frequent recourse to the water-bottle. Every endeavour must be made to develop self-discipline in the men. The success of this training will depend on the efforts and preparations made by platoon commanders as well as on the example they set themselves. March discipline is the ceremonial of war. A battalion which is slack in march discipline is generally slack in battle. Want of march discipline has been the cause of battalions being unable through fatigue to take part in a battle after a march. The strictest march discipline will be enforced at all times, especially when marching to and from the range, when working parties are marching to and from work &c., &c.
2. The following rules will be observed by infantry on the march:—
i. Fours [i.e., files] will be kept dressed, closed up and covered off. No officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer will march outside the column.
ii. An officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer will march in rear and another at the head of each platoon.
iii. Halts will be made for ten minutes at ten minutes to every hour, irrespective of the hour of the start or the nearness of the end of the march.
iv. Every man in a four will change places after each ten minutes halt.
v. A battalion should start and halt by companies by whistle or signal, or by both. The battalion as a whole should be warned by whistle one minute before each halt or start.
vi. Troops will march at attention when the warning signal to halt is given. They will wait for orders from platoon commanders before falling out after a halt is signalled. Troops will fall in when the warning signal to start is given. On the command Advance they come to Attention, Slope and march off, then march at ease without further orders.
vii. During halts cross roads and road junctions will be left clear for traffic.
viii. Every man will take his equipment off during each clock hour halt and put it on again one minute before starting. Men should be practised in taking off and putting on equipment quickly. They should be made to lie down during halts and, if possible, raise their feet so as to relieve them of pressure and allow the blood to circulate.
ix. Medical officers should spend most of their time looking after the rear, not the front, of their units and should regulate the pace to avoid distress behind.
x. Men should never be allowed to double. If distance is lost it will be picked up gradually. If this fails word should be sent to the head of the column to march slower. Mounted company commanders can see to this.
xi. Organized singing on the march should be encouraged in every battalion. It helps men to march well even when fatigued.
xii. The more tired the men are at the end of a march, the more strictly must march discipline be enforced.
xiii. Men unable to keep up until the next halt should be instructed to fall out and follow in the rear of the column. Written permission to fall out should be given them by an officer. Section commanders will remain with their sections and not fall out to take care of sick men.
xiv. Men's feet will be inspected by platoon commanders immediately after every march.