The Minute Book
Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Physical Training; Vehicle Manhandling
Topic: Drill and Training

Physical Training; Vehicle Manhandling

These images, contrary to looking like methods of recovery and cross-country mobility, are taken from the publication Basic and Battle Physical Training, Part III, Syllabus of Battle Physical Training and Battle Physical Efficiency Tests (1946). The diagrams show recommended physical training exercises using available vehicles and equipment to develop both strength training and teamwork.

An interesting option for physical training once troops tire of the obstancle course and of throwing logs and medicine balls around. Vehicle manhandling exercises would also have developed both minds and bodies for those times when the manhandling of a vehicle or gun just might be needed to get it into or out of a battle position.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 April 2015

Training Replacements for the Army
Topic: Drill and Training

Training Replacements for the Army

Army Information Digest (U.S.)

Supervision over replacement training by Army Ground Forces [in World War II] was guided by five basic principles, established early and adhered to throughout World War II. In general, these principles are applicable to the Army's training today:

1.     The individual must learn to work and fight as a member of a team. Throughout all aspects and levels of training this concept of teamwork is constantly emphasized.

2.     The troop commander himself is responsible for training, rather than the specialist who might actually conduct it. This reflects the basic military principle of personal leadership.

3.     General military proficiency is stressed. Create the soldier first, the technician later.

4.     Rigid performance tests are given to insure uniformity, adjustment to exacting standards and the earliest efficient completion of the training mission.

5.     Realism characterizes all training whenever possible. Live ammunition and rugged training areas are concrete expressions of this fundamental requirement.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 April 2015

"Fall In!"
Topic: Drill and Training

"Fall In!"

The Last of the Gentlemen's Wars; A Subaltern's Journal of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, Mcmxxxvii

The dust storm blew during the whole of the 27th and 28th, then, on the 29th, an almost worse affliction befell us. I was dozing in my tent, at last free from dust and flies, when suddenly the 'Fall in' was sounded, followed by the 'double'. I seized my helmet, carbine and equipment and fell in with my company. I remember one captain appearing in vest, football shorts, white tennis shoes, helmet and carbine. Considering the suddenness of the alarm I thought it a bit rough when a few minutes later he was checked off for not being properly dressed on parade!

What was all the trouble about? We soon discovered—it was a route march. We formed fours and marched some five miles into the desert; there I slept in a hole in the ground, after which we all marched back again. On the way home somehow or other the advanced guard got lost in the hills, so we halted and for nearly three hours sounded the 'retire', the 'no parade', the 'disperse', etc., but without the slightest result. Then, guardless, we turned towards camp, a worse dust storm than ever submerging us, to find that the subaltern in command of the advanced guard had brought it in hours ago. This was all right, though very unmilitary; but it was more distressing to find that during our absence he had eaten up the last pot of strawberry jam.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Method of instructing recruits
Topic: Drill and Training

Squad Drill.

Method of instructing recruits.

Infantry Training (4 - Company Organization), London, 1914

1.     The instructor should be clear, firm, concise, and patient; he must make allowance for the different capacities of the men, and avoid discouraging nervous recruits; he must remember that much may be taught by personal example, and that careful individual instruction is the best means of developing the intelligence.

2.     The instructor will teach as much as possible by demonstration, performing the movements himself or making a smart recruit perform them. The detail for each movement as given in this manual is for the information of instructors, who must avoid repeating it word for word, because such a method is wearisome and monotonous and would not be understood by some recruits. Thc instructor will explain the reason for every movement and formation, and its application in the field.

3.     Drills will be short and frequent to avoid the exhaustion of the instructor and recruits.

4.     Recruits will be advanced progressively from one exercise to another, men of inferior capacity being put back to a less advanced squad.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 28 March 2015

Clearing Mines; General Rules
Topic: Drill and Training

Clearing Mines; General Rules

How to Clear Mines and Booby Traps, All Arms, March 1943

1.     Handle all mines, igniters, and switches with care at All Times.

2.     It takes only one man to work on a mine — others keep off.

3.     Look carefully all round a mine before sating to work on it.

4.     Look out for Booby traps. Do not lift Anti-Tank Mines. Pull clear with 50 yards of signal cable or cord.

5.     Take cover before you pull a mine and do not come out for at least 10 seconds after you have pulled it. There may be a delay fuse.

6.     Never use force. If a thing will not come undone gently by hand, leave it.

7.     If you have to leave a mine or trap unlifted, mark it obviously.

8.     Never cut a taut wire, never pull a slack one. Look at both ends of a wire before you touch it.

9.     Safety pin anti-personnel mines before you pull them.

10.     Mines which have been subject to blast from Artillery or aerial bombardment are apt to be dangerously sensitive, and should be destroyed in situ by Engineers.

11.     If in doubt ask the Sappers.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 26 March 2015

Gas War for Local Militia (1938)
Topic: Drill and Training

Gas War Enacted for Local Militia

Regular Army Men Demonstrate Methods and Equipment Used for protection
Masks made in Canada
Four Types of gases to Be Combated—Senior Military Officers Attend Demonstration

Montreal Gazette, 15 February, 1938

One of the figures from: Unidentified soldiers modelling various Canadian Army uniforms, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1942. [gas uniform, with coat, helmet and respirator]

Photographer: Unknown. MIKAN Number: 3589879

Veterans of the regular army shows beardless members of the non-permanent militia forces last night how a soldier of modern times saves himself from death or serious injury in a gas attack by the enemy. The demonstrations were the inauguration of a course the militia of the district will take in anti-gas methods, and were the first given in the Montreal area.

A senior staff officer revealed to the Gazette last night, in connection with the demonstrations, that gas masks are being manufactured on a large scale in Canada. The officer said he did not know of any civilian anti-gas training course similar to Great Britain's. It is hoped, he said however, that enough masks will be available to provide the militia with enough for training purposes.

The main demonstration was given in the armory of the combined Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps units, and a brief show was put on at the Armory of the 4th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S. The "guinea pigs" were member of The Royal Canadian Regiment and of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, stationed at St. Jean's Que., under the company of Company Sergeant Major A.C. McKenzie, of the R.C.R.

Four Types of Gases

C.S.M. McKenzie, in a lecture prior to the actual demonstration, pointed out that the four serious types of gases generally used in modern warfare were: chlorine and phosgene, which he identified as choking gases; mustard and lewisite, or blister gases; D.M., a toxic smoke gas; and K.C.C. and C.A.P., or tear gases. The modern soldier, he pointed out, must be prepared to meet any or each of these types of gases.

During the Great War gas was far from being developed to the deadly state it is in today, and protection was much easier. Further, today those in the line of a gas attack must protect their whole bodies, as against only their lungs during the earlier part of the war.

A feature of interest to Canada was pointed out by the instructor when he said that mustard gas freezes at 57 degrees Fahrenheit. It would thus be useless during much of the year in Canada.

The early part of the demonstration showed an anti-aircraft patrol hit by a gas attack. The men, upon receiving the warning from a scout, quickly put on their grotesque masks and covered their necks, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies with a grease which is supposed to keep out the gas.

A squad fully protected against gas, and men charged with "cleaning up" after a gas attack, probed the most effective charade for the non-permanent soldiers present.

Appearance Ghoul-Like

Garbed almost completely in black oilskins and high rubber boots, the demonstrators presented a ghoul-like appearance. Their gas masks, of the most modern type available in this country, and far superior to those used in the Great War, made each man look like a large-scale Mickey Mouse.

The speed with which the machine gun crew, this time expecting a gas attack, slipped themselves into their "gas proof" clothing, amazed the onlookers, few of whom had ever taken part in actual warfare. Completely garbed in steel-gray "tin hats", black rubber rain-cape-appearing cloaks and high rubber boots, the demonstrators offered a gruesome picture.

The "clean-up" men, who in actual warfare scout about the gas area finding out if it is safe for troops to occupy the ground, had spiked sticks much like those used by litter-collectors in parks. On the end of each stick, however, was but one piece of paper, impregnated with a chemical which would tell by turning color, if gas were still present. The clean-up men, heavily burdened with protective clothing, are not expected to fight, the instructor claimed.

Demonstrations will be carried out before other units of the non-permanent active militia later in the season.

Brigadier R.O. Alexander, D.S.O., district officer commanding, headed a large group of headquarters and other officers who attended the demonstrations, illustrating the importance which they are given in local military training.

Among the other officers present were: Lt.-Col. A.E. Lundon, D.D., M.D., Lt.-Col. A.E. Thompson, Lt.-Col. St. John Macdonald, Lt.-Col. A.P. Plante, 20th Field Ambulance; Lt.-Col. Gorssline, D.S.O., District Medical Officer; and Major C. Sanford.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Military Vocabulary (1942)
Topic: Drill and Training

Application of Fire
Visual Training

Canadian Army Training Pamphlet No. 1; A General Instructional Background for the Young Soldier, 1942

Military Vocabulary

Men will be familiarized with all terms applied to features of ground, colours, shapes and military objects, so that their powers of description and recognition may be improved. A specimen military vocabulary is appended; it is intended to be a guide to instructors. The terms should be introduced as opportunity offers, during the soldier's service. It should be increased by teaching the local equivalent for, or additional terms appropriate to, the station in which the unit is serving, for example (in Canada, and respective of region) the added or dissimilar artificial features such as "silos," "elevator" (grain), "power dam," "snake fence"; the term equivalents: "trail" for ride or path, "gully" for ravine, "muskeg" for marsh, "rapids" for shallows; the sometimes necessary subdivision of conifers into the many local tree variants of the type, "balsam," hemlock," etc.; "scrub" or (perhaps) "sugar-bush" for copse, "prairie" for moor or common, "semaphore" for railway-signal, "turn-pike" for metalled road, "creek" for watercourse, etc.

i.    Features, artificial:—

TrackPost and rail fencesFerry
FootpathWire fencesFord
Ride RoadsIron fencesWindmill
TarredHurdle fencesRailway signals
MetalledSign postChurch tower
Fenced and unfencedViaductCrane
Cross roadsCulvertGasometer
Sunken roadsCuttingGable-end
Telegaph PoleEmbankmentQuarry

ii.    Colours:—


iii.    Features, natural:—

Fir (trees)CopsePlough
Poplar (trees)GorseRoot field
Bushy-topped (trees)Corn fieldStubble

iv.    Topographical:—

RidgeKnollMiddle distance
FoldSlopes, forwardDead ground
DefileSlopes, reverseCliff
Crest-lineSlopes, concaveGorge
HorizonSlopes, convexRavine

v.    Field Engineering:—

TrenchBarricadeRight angle
ParadosDefended postTriangle
FirestepDefended localityCircular
RevetmentObservation postVertical

vi.    Fire,—types of:—


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 12 March 2015

Notes on Training (1922)
Topic: Drill and Training

Notes on Training

Infantry Training, Vol. 1, Provisional, 1922

The aim of all training is to produce:—

i.     In the leaders:—

The ability to command—developed by actual practice in the command of men. The ability to command includes readiness of judgment, which can be acquired only as the result of sound military knowledge built up by study and practice until it has become an instinct. It includes the capacity for quick decisions and for giving clear orders, and the will-power to ensure that orders are carried out. It includes initiative, i.e., the ability to see when independent action is required, and the necessary self-confidence to take such action promptly and to assume responsibility for it. It includes the ability to execute an order through subordinate commanders without interference with their personal responsibility. Lastly, it includes tact and knowledge of men so that the best may be got out of them.

ii.     In the men:—

(a)     The moral attributes of a soldier; including patriotism, loyalty, pride of race and a high sense of honour.

(b)     The fighting spirit—resolution to close with the enemy, based on confidence in their own superiority.

(c)     Discipline—in ingrained habit of cheerful and unhesitating obedience which controls and directs the fighting spirit. Individually, self-respect and its outward marks, such as cleanliness and a smart bearing; collectively "team work" under the "captain of the team."

(d)     Esprit de corps—the pride in his unit which makes a man unwilling to bring discredit on it, and ready at need to sacrifice himself for its success.

(e)     Physical fitness—to stand the fatigue and nervous strain of marching and fighting.

(f)     Skill at arms—a thorough knowledge by every man of his weapons and their use, and thus absolute reliance upon them to kill the enemy.

These are the qualities which build up a soldier, and they can all be developed by the methods of training described in this manual.

The growth of the moral qualities will be fostered chiefly by environment and it is the duty of all tanks to assist in this object by their conversation and example.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 8 March 2015

War Secretary Gassed
Topic: Drill and Training

War Secretary Given Taste of Own Tear Gas

Toledo Blade, 23 Feb 1940

The Right Honourable Oliver Stanley, MC

Secretary of State for War
5 January 1940 – 11 May 1940

Aldershot, England, Feb. 23—(UP)—Canadian soldiers today accidentally fired a tear gas barrage at Oliver Stanley, war secretary, and their own staff officers, during an inspection of the Canadian troops.

A unit of the Canadian expeditionary force was being trained in the construction of trenches under a gas attack. The officer in charge, not noticing the arrival of the war secretary, fired off a tear gas bomb.

Stanley was not carrying a gas mask. The officers accompanying him did not have their at the ready. The war secretary and his escorts were caught in the gas.

They ran from the gas zone, their eyes streaming. None, however, was affected seriously.

After bathing their eyes, the official party resumed their inspection.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 5 March 2015

Topic: Drill and Training


Infantry Training, Volume I; Infantry Platoon Weapons, Pamphlet No. 2; Fieldcraft (All Arms), 1954

When you stalk an enemy, you need to use all the knowledge and skill that you have learnt in weapon training and fieldcraft lessons.

Planning a Stalk

The first thing to do is make a plan:—

(a)     Find the enemy by observation, and memorize his position.

(b)     Chose your objective — the position from which you will kill the enemy — and your route, taking into consideration:—

(i)     Cover from fire and view, and dead ground.

(ii)     Bounds.

(iii)     Obstacles.

(iv)     Other enemy positions, known or probable.

(v)     Possible alternative routes, in case of need.

(vi)     How to keep direction.



Outwit the enemy by guile and cunning. Much depends on the circumstances, and how you react to an emergency, but you must always:…

(a)     Be alert; never relax.

(b)     Observe carefully at the end of each bound.

(c)     Think about possible fire positions, in case you are surprised.

(d)     Take advantage of noises, aircraft, gunfire, etc.

(e)     Try not to disturb animals or birds.

(f)     If you must take risks, take them early rather than late.

(g)     Remember that, if you finish up by missing with your shot, at the very best your time and effort will have been wasted.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 27 February 2015

Notes on Fantasian Forces (1964)
Topic: Drill and Training

Notes on Fantasian Forces (1964)


Army Code 70008, Notes on the Fantasian Army, Ministry of Defence, 1964

1.     These notes are intended to provide order of battle information on the ground forces of an exercise enemy known as Fantasia.

2.     The Fantasian Army is organised and equipped on the model of the Soviet Army, and is trained by Soviet advisers. The information on the Soviet Army given in "Tactics of the Soviet Army, Notes for Regimental Officers l964", (WO Code No. 9939) therefore applies to the Fantasian Army.

Background Information on Fantasia

3.     Fanttasia is a leading world power with considerable industrial resources. It has developed strategic nuclear missiles in the inter-continental rabge, and tactical free flight and guided nuclear weapons with ranges up to 3O0 miles. Tactical missiles and conventional artillery also possess chemical warheads.

4.     The Fantasian Army is a modern and well equipped force with a high preponderance of tanks. Particular emphasis is placed on nuclear and chemical warfare, night operations, and the crossing of water obstacles. Military commanders are well trained in high speed offensive operations and, provided everything goes according to their plans, they can be expected to acquit themselves well. Mar ale is high and it is unlike1y that desertion or surrender on a large scale would occur unless the Fantasians sustained a series of reverses. The Army is backed by large trained reserves and a disciplined population.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 23 February 2015

Organization of Infantry 1922
Topic: Drill and Training

Organization of Infantry

So long as one member of a section remains effective, it will retain its identity. Only if less than three other ranks are available for duty may it be attached temporarily to another section of its platoon. It will resume its independent existence as soon as its regains a strength of three other ranks,…

Infantry Training, Vol. 1, 1922, Provisional

[1.]     The detailed organization of an infantry battalion is as follows [Footnoted: This organization of a battalion is a war organization. The peace organization is that laid down in peace establishments which will be published later.]:

i.     A battalion consists of:…

  • Headquarters,
  • Headquarters wing,
  • Four companies.

It is commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, with a major as second in command.

ii.     The headquarters wing of a battalion consists of four groups:…

No. 1 Group.…Composed of the personnel of the light mortar section with two light mortars; signallers, scouts, and stretcher bearers, batmen to battalion headquarters, anti-aircraft (Lewis) gunners and orderlies.

No. 2 Group.…The personnel of the machine gun platoon with eight machine guns.

No. 3 Group.…The personnel employed primarily for administrative duties, but available for fighting in an emergency.

No. 4 Group.…Regimental transport and necessary personnel.

The headquarters wing is commanded by the senior group commander.

iii.     A company consists of:…

  • Headquarters,
  • Four platoons.

It is commanded by a major or captain, with a captain as second in command.

The four companies of a battalion are designated by serial letters or numbers.

iv.     A platoon consists of:…

  • Headquarters,
  • Two rifle sections,
  • Two Lewis gun sections.

It is commanded by a subaltern, with a serjeant as second in command (platoon serjeant).

The platoon is the largest infantry unit composed of men whose only duty is fighting. It is thus the tactical unit of infantry.

Platoons are numbered serially from 1 to 16 in the battalion.

v.     The section is the infantry fire unit. Its members must regard themselves as a team and stick to one another and to their leader in peace as in war.

Sections are numbered serially from 1 to 16 in a company. The odd numbers are rifle sections, the even numbers, Lewis gun sections.

[2.]     The above organization is fixed and definite, and, except as paid down in para. [3.] below, must never be varied. Only when a force is uniformly organized can every part of it be relied on by its commander to carry out the same orders in the same way. Organization quickly degenerates into disorganization when its uniformity is sacrificed.

[3.]     By means of its organization a battalion is best able to stand the shock of battle, to surmount confusion, and to suffer casualties with the least injury to its efficiency. To maintain the organization, in or out of battle, no matter what the difficulty, is one of the first duties of every commander. To abandon it is to destroy fighting power and capacity for training. The following rules will, therefore, be strictly enforced:—

i.     So long as one member of a section remains effective, it will retain its identity. Only if less than three other ranks are available for duty may it be attached temporarily to another section of its platoon. It will resume its independent existence as soon as its regains a strength of three other ranks, i.e., the strength necessary to enable it to act independently as a rifle or Lewis gun "fire unit."

ii.     The transfer of N.C.Os. And men from one section to another, except for purposes of promotion, will be avoided.

iii.     Endeavours must be made to retain the full number of sections in being during training periods, in order that 16 section commanders may be trained in each company. The training of the section commander is more important than the training of the private soldier.

iv.     Sections will normally be maintained as strong as the strength of the battalion will permit; their numbers will consequently vary. Section commanders must learn to work with varying numbers of men in their sections.

v.     If a platoon falls below an effective strength of two sections (each of three other ranks) it may be attached temporarily to another platoon in the same company, but its identity will be retained and it will resume its separate existence as soon as it regains the necessary strength.

vi.     Platoon commanders should not be moved from one platoon to another unless the transfer is intended to be permanent, nor should an officer be brought in temporarily from another platoon to fill the place of an absent platoon commander. Thus a serjeant or corporal will often act as platoon commander.

vii.     An understudy will be nominated and trained for every platoon and section commander.

viii.     Working parties, guards, and other duties will be formed by complete units (companies, platoons, or sections) under their own commanders. Duty rosters will be kept by complete units, not on alphabetical company rolls.

ix.     During active operations, to assist in reforming a battalion after a battle, a nucleus…minimum 50 other ranks…will, when circumstances permit, be left out of the fight. These men must be selected with great care according to their qualifications as instructors, &c., for the work of reconstruction. They will not be available as reinforcements during the battle.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 23 February 2015 11:42 AM EST
Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Physical Efficiency Tests 1942
Topic: Drill and Training

Physical Efficiency Tests (for Trained Soldiers)

Canadian Army Training Pamphlet No. 1; A General Instructional Background for the Young Soldier, 1942

Tests 1 to 9 to be carried out in battle order.

1.     Two miles cross country in 17 minutes.

2.     Run 200 yds. and, at the finish, carry out a firing test at which three hits out of five rounds must be obtained on a Figure 3 target, in one minute fifteen seconds.

3.     Forced march of 10 miles in two hours, followed by a similar firing test ro that in Test No. 2. (No time limit for the five shots.)

4.     Carry a man 200 yds. on the flat in two minutes. The man to be carried must be approximately the same weight as the carrier.

5.     100 yds. alarm race and bombing practice. Start in P.T. kit. Battle dress, equipment, etc., placed on a line 120 yds. from the start. Sprint to clothing, etc., and dress for action, keeping P.T. kit underneath, respirator at the slung position. Run the remaining 80 yds. to cover and from there throw two dummy bombs (1 ½ – 2 lbs.) our of five through a 2' by 3' vertical opening at 30' distance. To be completed in 3 ½ minutes.

6.     Jump a ditch 8 ft. 6 inches across, landing on both feet.

7.     Scale a 6 ft. high wall. Respirator to be short slung.

8.     Scale a vertical height of 2 ft. with the aid of a rope. Traverse a 20 ft. span of horizontal rope, and come down with the aid of a rope.

9.     Swim 20 yds. The respirator will not be carried. Boots to be attached to the rifle or to be slung round the neck.

10. Swim 60 yds. In fresh water or 100yds. In salt water in clothing without equipment or boots, then remain afloat out of depth for a period of two minutes.

(Note:…Static units who are unable to leave their sites may be unable to carry out all the above tests. In these circumstances the basic P.T. tests will be found to be suitable substitutes.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:04 AM EST
Thursday, 5 February 2015

Basic Officer Training; Sandhurst
Topic: Drill and Training

1960 - The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; Intake 28. Junior's Drill Cometition. The Inspection!, posted to flickr by Brian Harrington Spier

Basic Officer Training; Sandhurst

Quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford

Consequently, under the enthusiastic control of Sgt. John France, Scots Guards, we began our drill training on the second day — before we had any uniforms! I remember thinking how my calf-leather shoes were standing up to the punishment. Every opportunity was taken for a few minutes drill as we waited, for example, for kit issues. The training got under way. Two periods of drill a day, two of physical training, the next made up of weapon training, map reading and basic infantry skills. We were up at 6.30, washed, shaved, bed made and dressed for BRC or Breakfast Roll Call Parade, at 07.00. On this parade we had to be immaculate or be punished.

During the first six weeks there were many ways in which we could get into trouble — from BRC to lights out at 11 p.m. we negotiated what seemed to be a continuous minefield of potential disaster. The smallest fault in turnout meant 'show parades'. The inspecting cadet NCO would pick a fault and say, "Show belt brasses" or "Show boots" as appropriate, and that meant that in addition to the rigours of evening work, the unfortunate junior would parade in a specified uniform at 10 p.m., carrying the offending article suitably prepared for a second inspection. Failure to get on parade on time, or being generally scruffy and disordered in dress, were the juniors' ticket to 'changing parades'. The senior cadets would stand after supper in 'Picadilly', the concourse of the four platoon corridors, in the company block, and the first parade would be called. Out would come the juniors from their doors — "Stand to your doors juniors" was the call — and be inspected. Then they would be told the next form of dress and to parade in five minutes for another inspection. Usually it would go from Service Dress to Combat Dress to PT Kit to Battle Order and so on. In each inspection you could be checked and given extra changing parades as a result. When we got to rifle inspection the situation became even more precarious. We had to parade with rifles 'dry cleaned' meaning not a scrap of oil on them anywhere and achieved by using liquid stain remover 'thawpit', and a stiff brush. On the order "Strip the rifles for inspection" we had to take it apart without putting any of the eight basic pieces down. Always somebody dropped a component and depending on the mood of the Cadet NCO, he or the whole platoon had to do it again. Having satisfied the inspection team, rifles had to be re-oiled and reinspected along similar lines of discipline.

All this 'harrassment', as the Americans call it, went on after a full and exhausting day's work and was in addition to room inspections and cleaning muddy gear after periods on the training area.

I remember noting the ironical comment of our Sergeant Major, when he was showing us how to polish boots. He said that best boots had to be polished all over to a glassy shine, including the welts, and the soles had to be brush polished. However we were on no account to polish the studs, because that was 'bull' and not allowed in the army of the 60s!

After work we would spend hours polishing boots. We had three pairs — weapon training (brush polished only), drill (toes and heels polished), uppers (brush polished), and best — every bit polished. We were not allowed out of uniform at any time during the day. We wore plain clothes once, after about four weeks when we were allowed a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon to attend the Horse Show in the grounds — then back into it. Seven days a week and church parade on Sunday. No old soldier will need to be reminded of the methods used to clean uniform and equipment but for the record and for the uninitiated, the glassy shine was achieved on leather boots with a polish painstakingly applied with the index finger cloaked in a yellow duster. The technique was to dab the duster in polish, spit on the boot and rub in the polish in a small circular motion until, after what seemed an eternity, a shine would begin to appear. It took hours and was not just confined to boots. We had brown leather belts and bayonet frogs which had to be equally glassy. My intake was the last to wear the khaki battledress, and this presented additional joys in that it included webbing anklets with brass buckles and leather straps. The webbing had to be blancoed, the straps polished to a high shine and a scrap of polish or blanco on the brasses meant trouble on inspection.

The rifle was no exception; the sling was of webbing and was bound in brass at each end. Similar rules of perfection were applied. The wooden parts of the rifle were polished with what was universally known as 'the brew', of which each company had its own closely guarded recipe. We agreed amongst ourselves that it was basically french polish, with methylated spirit and one or two extra touches. It was doled out by the seniors from the brew bottle shortly before the juniors' competition, with a view to giving us the edge on the other eleven platoons competing. It must be said that when we went on parade, once we had become familiar with the uniforms and equipment, we sparkled. We were absolutely immaculate from top to toe, and in an odd sort of way the work we had put in seemed worthwhile. We began to swank a little. There were times when I wondered if it would ever end. As we flew from one end of the Academy to another we would pass more senior cadets in plain clothes, going to their academic studies in the manner of university students, which in effect they were. Would we ever reach that stage of languid serenity or were they a race apart? Of course, a few months before these young men had been through the rigours we were experiencing, but it was difficult to believe.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ceremonial Drill
Topic: Drill and Training

Ceremonial Drill

"Old Military Customs Still Extant," by Major C.T. Tomes, D.S.O., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXX, February to November, 1925

General Sir David Dundas, GCB
(1735 – 1820)

Ceremonial Drill is not merely a collection of movements designed for the improvement of discipline and to test the steadiness of the men in the ranks. Our modern "Infantry Training" deserves a little study.

There is the "Advance in Review Order," which is nothing more than a rehearsal of the attack for the benefit of the reviewing General. Arms are presented at the close as a sign that the movement is completed. It used to be the last of eighteen complicated manoeuvres performed by a battalion when tested as to its preparedness for war. In this process was included an advance in line, a volley fired obliquely to the right, another to the left, a further advance and two volleys to the front, officers and colours then took post, the whole moved forward fifty paces and the inspection concluded with a Royal Salute. The last movement is now all that remains.

(From a related note: The Chairman; The Hon. J.W. Fortescue, C.V.O.: —The eighteen manoeuvres did not come in till 1781, and were invented by David Dundas in the first drill-book issued for the whole Army written by a private individual and sanctioned by authority. Everybody had his own drill book before that and did what was right in his own eyes. The eighteen manoeuvres became famous because officers considered that they were the beginning and end of their duties. You remember the remark Sir John Moore made to Dundas: "Your drill book would have done a great deal of good if it had not been for those damned eighteen manoeuvres;" whereupon Dundas replied: "Blockheads do not understand. That is the danger of making a drill book.")

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?
Topic: Drill and Training

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?, Major J.M. Walsh, M.C., R.A., The Army Quarterly, Volume LXIV, April and July 1952

The arts of military writing are taught principally, we suppose at the Staff College. Some of our readers will remember the neatly typed precis which urged students to write their writings in the same form as the writing written on the precis itself. We learned about unnumbered sideheadings in blocks and numbered sideheadings not in blocks; of first indents lettered and second indents in little roman numerals; of the correct use of abbreviations and capital letters. We were impressed by the importance of simplicity, of avoiding slang and journalese, and above all, of the virtues of brevity.

But we received a rude shock when we went out into the big military world outside, for we discovered that few people seemed to obey these rules. We found that practically every unit and formation in the British Army had its own particular ideas on how to compose and lay out its correspondence and memoranda (or so it seemed). We learned that the higher the headquarters the more verbose became the signals. We found that sometimes individuals introduced their own idiosyncrasies (we once joined a headquarters in which almost invariably every letter began with the phrase "It is advised that … "). It was all very disappointing to a keen young Staff College graduate anxious to practise his newly acquired skills to find that only lip-service was paid to many of the principles to which he had devoted so much effort to mastering.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 7:35 PM EST
Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ribbon Creek: Remaking the USMC
Topic: Drill and Training

Ribbon Creek: Remaking the Corps

Marine; A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Tom Clancy, 1996

Ribbon Creek brought on a strong Congressional and public reaction. This came from genuine concern for the welfare of individual Marines and the Corps as a whole. Clearly, Americans wanted the Corps to be a reflection of their values and ideals.

The postwar years were busy for the Marines, as they were often called upon to support U.S. interests overseas. But with the coming of the Cold War, the Corps sought to make itself ready for its part in America's defense mission. Thus, Marines endured atomic battlefield tests in Nevada and began to absorb new equipment and tactics. All of this came from a general view that the Corps was remaking itself into a high-technology force that was ready to fight on the nuclear battlefield. Then came the tragedy at Ribbon Creek. In 1956, a drunken drill instructor at the recruiting depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, marched a group of seventy-four recruits into a tidal swamp called Ribbon Creek. Six of them died. The tragedy led to a total reform of Marine recruit training.

Ribbon Creek brought on a strong Congressional and public reaction. This came from genuine concern for the welfare of individual Marines and the Corps as a whole. Clearly, Americans wanted the Corps to be a reflection of their values and ideals. Several hundred instructors were relieved of duty as a result of investigations into their conduct in training Marines. In addition, Ribbon Creek led to a profound transformation in the way the Corps viewed and trained its recruits. The shift reinforced the attitude that all Marines are brothers or sisters to their fellow Marines. Even today, the memory of Ribbon Creek influences the way new recruits are handled—not with kid gloves, but with respect for their safety and dignity. This too is part of the Marine ethos: to take care of their brother and sister Marines.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Spirit of the Bayonet
Topic: Drill and Training

This photo, which shows the bayonet fighting team of The Royal Canadian Regiment in Bermuda (1915) illustates the seriousness with which this was taken as a military sport. Note the padded suits and protective helmets, as the training rifles with blunt tipped bayonet forms.

"Remember that every Boche you fellows kill is a point scored to our side; every Boche you kill brings victory one minute nearer and shortens the war by one minute. Kill them! Kill them! There's only one good Boche, and that's a dead one!"

The Spirit of the Bayonet

Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, Siegfried Sassoon, 1930

But the star turn in the schoolroom was a massive sandy-haired Highland Major whose subject was "The Spirit of the Bayonet". Though at that time undecorated, he was afterwards awarded the D.S.O. for lecturing. He took as his text a few leading points from the Manual of Bayonet Training.

To attack with the bayonet effectively requires Good Direction, Strength and Quickness, during a state of wild excitement and probably physical exhaustion. The bayonet is essentially an offensive weapon. In a bayonet assault all ranks go forward to kill or be killed, and only those who have developed skill and strength by constant training will be able to kill. The spirit of the bayonet must be inculcated into all ranks, so that they go forward with that aggressive determination and confidence of superiority born of continual practice, without which a bayonet assault will not be effective.

He spoke with homicidal eloquence, keeping the game alive with genial and well-judged jokes. He had a Sergeant to assist him. The Sergeant, a tall sinewy machine, had been trained to such a pitch of frightfulness that at a moment's warning he could divest himself of all semblance of humanity. With rifle and bayonet he illustrated the Major's ferocious aphorisms, including facial expression. When told to "put on the killing face", he did so, combining it with an ultra-vindictive attitude. "To instil fear into the opponent" was one of the Major's main maxims. Man, it seemed, had been created to jab the life out of Germans. To hear the Major talk, one might have thought that he did it himself every day before break fast. His final words were: "Remember that every Boche you fellows kill is a point scored to our side; every Boche you kill brings victory one minute nearer and shortens the war by one minute. Kill them! Kill them! There's only one good Boche, and that's a dead one!"

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 10 January 2015

Shifting Ordnance Competition (1876)
Topic: Drill and Training

Dominion Artillery Association
Competitive Practice

Militia General Orders; Ottawa, 15 December 1876
Published in the Canada Gazette

Circular 14—Shifting Ordnance competition.—Open to all Garrison Artillery corps affiliated with the Dominion Artillery Association:

A 50 cwt S.B. [smooth-bore] Gun mounted on a wooden garrison carriage (sights removed) to be dismounted by an Officer or N.C. Officer with a detachment of 20. The gun is not to be dismounted by throwing it off the side of the carriage, or overturning the latter sideways; which would be likely to damage it. After dismounting, the gun is to be remounted on its carriage by parbuckling on a single skid, and a round of blank ammunition fired. The detachment dismounting and firing in the shortest time to be declared winner. Any mistakes in drill to be corrected by the umpire, and the time so lost will count against the detachment which must work by numbers, and keep silence; 10 seconds will he deducted for every word spoken by any one of the detachment, except the commander.

Stores and side arms to be arranged on the ground before the word "commence" is given.

Stores allowed:—

  • 1 long parbuckling skid 20 feet 8 x 8;
  • 2 parbuckle ropes;
  • 1 short skid 6 x 9;
  • 1 short skid 4 x 4;
  • 1 12-ft. lever;
  • 8 6-ft. handspikes;
  • 6 scotches;
  • 2 skids to receive the gun on the ground.

For the competition, men must be in uniform, but tunics may be unbuttoned and belts removed.

Prize: Gold embroidered badge, and "Hand-book, for Field Service," for the commander of the winning detachment; $20 for the detachment."

In accordance with the above circular;

  • "B" Battery G.A. competed on the 28th November, 1876 — Time 7 minutes.
  • "A" Battery G.A. competed on the 28th November 1876. Time 1 minute 33.7 sec.

The following Dominion Artillery Association Prizes were therefore distributed as follows :

  • To Staff Sergeant Swaine "A " Battery G.A. in command of the successful squad, a Gold Embroidered badge of cross skids and Hand-book for Field Service.
  • To the successful competing squad of "A" Battery G.A. a sum of $20.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 4 January 2015

Topic: Drill and Training


A mechanical aide memoire for Tactical Exercses Withour Troops (TEWT) developed by Major A.D.M. Matheson, Royal Canadian Dragoons (later Colonel A.D.M. Matheson, OMM, CD).

Click the cropped images below to open a larger scan of each side of the TEWT-O-GRAF.



The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 4 January 2015 12:07 AM EST

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