The Minute Book
Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Soldiers (1776)
Topic: Drill and Training

Soldiers (1776)

The Military Guide for Young Officers, Thomas Simes, Esq., 1776

The Officer should instil in the heart of the soldier, that obedience is the foundation of regularity and order; that, by this, discipline is maintained; by this, great designs are executed; and, without it, all is confusion and disorder.

A soldier should be brave, vigorous, careful, and obedient to all his Officers, from the General to the Corporal; and obey the orders of the latter as if coming from the mouth of the former, as in reality they do; the Corporal being the only means by which they are conveyed. He should take care that his uniform, as well as other apparel, be neat and clean; his arms and accoutrements bright and in good order, the use of which he ought diligently to study, and also all his different duties; he should be master of all the beats of the drum and tunes of the fife, and instantly obey them; he should diligently attend his colours on all occasions; the limitation of his furlough should be religiously observed; his time for food and sleep regulated, not by his will, but by his leisure. When sentry, he should be alert, and observe his orders exactly and inviolably; ask no reasons for them, or dare to think them of little importance. The excuse of a soldier, convicted of quitting, or sleeping on his post, frequently is, that he thought no accident or bad consequence could attend it. How absurd! The necessity of his being posted there, is evident by his being ordered there. Suppose it in time of peace, there might (though unknown to him) be a large quantity of gunpowder, the money, arms, or accoutrements of the regiment, and many other things that perhaps his Officer might not think proper to inform him of.—It was in his orders, let them be his guide.

The Officer should instil in the heart of the soldier, that obedience is the foundation of regularity and order; that, by this, discipline is maintained; by this, great designs are executed; and, without it, all is confusion and disorder.

The first thing that soldiers are to be taught is the military step; which can only be acquired by a constant practice of marching quick or slow together. It is of consequence on the march, or in the line, that they keep their ranks well dressed; for men who march in an irregular manner, are in disorder; and, if fallen upon by the enemy, must be defeated.

Nothing is more essential; for a man may be attacked in 4 parts; in the front, in the rear, and on both flanks; but he can defend himself, and annoy the enemy, only when his face is turned towards them.

Marching is reduced to 3 points; front, and both sides; (because it is impossible to do it regular, or at any times, backwards) and by this means you may face the enemy wherever it presents itself. The different steps to be used are 3; slow, fast, and oblique; which may be termed traversing.

The first is proper in advancing upon the enemy, when the ground is unequal, that the line may not be broken; the second is chiefly necessary, when you want to anticipate the enemy in occupying some post, or passing a defile; or, above all, in attacking a retrenchment, to avoid being a long while exposed to the fire of the artillery and small arms; and lastly, when you come near the enemy, you must then advance with a bold fast step, have your bayonets fixed, and charge with vigour and vivacity.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 28 April 2017

Sniper Badge Shooting Test (1951)
Topic: Drill and Training

Sniper Badge Shooting Test (1951)

Infantry Training; Vol. I, Infantry Platoon Weapons, Pamphlet No. 10; Sniping, 1951 (W.O. Code No. 8697)

Introduction, General, Para. 1

Between the wars, sniping has in many cases been overlooked and by some has become almost a forgotten art. When hostilities begin there is a frantic rush to get snipers trained, and because of this, full value is not always obtained from them. These circumstances are sometimes occasioned by lack of knowledge on the subject; there is, however, no excuse for allowing sniper training to lapse.

elipsis graphic

The Sniper's Task

The sniper's task is to kill individual enemy with single shots very quickly aimed if necessary; he will never fire a rapid succession of shots except in self defence. As a guide, the standard of shooting to be demanded of a sniper is that he should be able to hit a man's head regularly at 200 yards and a man's trunk up to 400 yards rage; this standard may well be improved upon. Extreme accuracy can be obtained in target shooting at 1000 yards with the sniper but shooting at anything approaching this range should be discouraged in the field unless there is some very special reason for so doing.

elipsis graphic

Sniper Badge Shooting Test

elipsis graphic

The Hawkins Position

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Getting Ahead in the Army (1917)
Topic: Drill and Training

Getting Ahead in the Army

Home Lessons for New Army Men (Lesson No. 20, of 30)

The first rank above private is corporal. The corporal should be a real leader.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 20 September 1917

Since regimental and company officers have full responsibility for the efficiency of their teams they are given corresponding authority in promoting men from the ranks to positions as noncommissioned officers. For all practical purposes their judgment as to the men under them is regarded as final.

One point as to which you may feel assured is the earnest desire of every officer to give promotion to the men who are best qualified—in other words, to select the men who have cultivated the soldierly qualities and in addition show capacity for further development and leadership. For the officers' own burdens are lightened and their success increased almost in direct proportion to their ability to promote the right men.

Chances for Promotion Good

The first rank above private is corporal. The corporal should be a real leader. He is expected to be more familiar with the various manuals amd regulations and with the duties of the men in the squad than are the men themselves. He is expected also to use his influence strongly toward building up soldierly qualities among these men.

Among the qualifications which all noncommissioned officers should possess the following have been selected by one military writer as being of first importance:

1.     Proficiency as guides in close order drills, and particularly as column leaders in route marching.

2.     Aggressive leadership, especially in drilling, marching and fighting.

3.     Ability to act as instructors.

4.     Thorough knowledge of the elements of field service.

5.     Thorough knowledge of interior guard duty.

6.     Skill in range finding and in estimating distances, so as to assist men in firing accurately.

7.     Proficiency in leading patrols.

8.     Ability to prepare written messages that are clear, complete and concise.

9.     Ability to sketch and read maps.

This list will suggest some of the lines along which you should work, whenever you have the chance. Many of the noncommissioned officers in the national army will be chosen, not only because of the knowledge or skill they already possess, but also because they show capacity for further development and for leadership.

The national army must fit itself for effective service at the front in the shortest possible time. To accomplish this result it must produce out of its own ranks men who are fitted for promotion first to places of noncommissioned officers, either in the first contingent or more probably in later contingents.

This need is your opportunity. It is an opportunity not merely for personal advancement—which in time of war is a small thing to work for—but more than that, an opportunity to render to your country the most effective service of which you are capable.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 18 December 2016 4:20 PM EST
Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Guard Duty
Topic: Drill and Training

Guard Duty

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 19, of 30)

Even though a sentinel be only a private soldier, he is in a position of real dignity and authority. He represents the commanding officer.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 19 September 1917

In addition to drilling and fighting as a member of a squad, company, regiment, or other "team" of the army, you will have certain important duties as an individual soldier. These duties call for a higher level of intelligence and self-reliance and throw on you a greater personal responsibility.

In the training camp your company will be required at times to perform guard duty. This means that one or more of your commissioned or non-commissioned officers, and a number of privates will be detailed for this duty. Customarily a detail of this kind continues for 24 hours, from noon of one day to noon of the next, each private takes his turn at standing guard.

Your duties as a sentinel are best expressed in the general orders which every sentinel is required to repeat whenever called upon to do so. Memorize these general orders now and never permit yourself to forget them. Think them over and you will see that they are clear and exact. They are meant to be strictly obeyed.

Duties of Sentinels

My general orders are:

1.     To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

2.     To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

3.     To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

4.     To report all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.

5.     To quit my post only when properly relieved.

6.     Te receive, obey, and pass on to the sentinel who relieves me all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.

7.     To talk to no one except in line of duty.

8.     In case of fire or disorder to give the alarm.

9.     To allow no one to commit a nuisance on or near my post.

10.     In any case not covered by instructions to call the corporal of the guard.

11.     To salute all officers, and all colors and standards not cased.

12.     To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

Sentinel Must be Obeyed

Even though a sentinel be only a private soldier, he is in a position of real dignity and authority. He represents the commanding officer. He must be respected and the orders he gives as as a sentinel must be strictly obeyed, not only by other soldiers but by officers, whatever their rank.

During the night the sentinel will challenge any person or party who comes near his post, calling out sharply, "Halt. Who is there?" the person challenged, or one of the party if there are several persons, may be permitted to approach for the purpose of giving the countersign or of being recognised. In case of doubt it is a sentinel's duty to prevent any one from passing him and to call the corporal of the guard. A sentinel will never allow himself to be surprised, nor permit two parties to advance on him at the same time.

Scouting Duty Is Important

One of the most responsible duties to which a soldier may be assigned is patrolling or scouting. An infantry patrol usually consists of from 3 to 16 men. It is sent out for the purpose of obtaining information as to the enemy, his numbers, and the nature of the country over which the patrol travels. It is not usually intended that the patrol should fight, since its prime purpose is to obtain and bring back information. However, it may be forced to fight, if discovered, in order to protect the escape of at least one of its members with a report of the information secured.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 5 February 2017

RMC Kit Layout 1926
Topic: Drill and Training

RMC Kit Layout 1926

From the January, 1926, Standing Orders of the Royal Military College of Canada, come these illustrations of the kit layout required of Cadets for inspections.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Cleanliness in Camp (1917)
Topic: Drill and Training

Cleanliness in Camp

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 6, of 30)

The best safeguards against disease, either in the army or out of it, are soap and sunshine.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 1 September 1917

When large numbers of men are assembled in camp it is necessary for the good of all that strict rules of personal conduct and sanitations should be enforced. These rules are by no means a hardship. They are a protection. By insisting on strict obedience to these rules, the diseases which once took so heavy a toll in nearly all military camps have been brought under control; some have been practically eliminated.

Suppose you were asked to make a choice; either to live under conditions in which smallpox, typhoid fever, diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera flourish; or to live under strict regulations, which make these diseases far more of a rarity in military than in civil life. Your good sense would lead you to choose the latter. Bear this in mind. See to it that you cooperate with enthusiasm in the measures that will be taken to keep your camps clean, comfortable and healthful.

One of the pests of camp life, if perfect cleanliness is not observed, is the presence of swarms of flies. Flies are not merely annoying. They are dangerous. Somebody has said, with perhaps a slight exaggeration, that to soldiers they are more dangerous than bullets.

The best way to keep flies away from camps is to destroy the places where they breed and feed; in other words, keep the camp spotlessly clean. For this reason the daily "policing" (or cleaning up) of the camp is a matter of first importance.

This is a duty which an experienced soldier usually performs with more interest and thoroughness than the raw recruit, for he realizes its importance.

The best safeguards against disease, either in the army or out of it, are soap and sunshine.

The good soldiers is almost "fussy" in the care of his person, his clothing, his bedding and his other belongings. Personal cleanliness includes using only your own linen, toilet articles, cup and mess kit. Most annoying skin troubles and such diseases as colds and infectious fevers are often passed from one person to others by using articles in common.

In the training camp there will be plenty of shower baths, and you will, of course, make free use of them. If in temporary camps or at any other time you cannot obtain a bath, give yourself a good, stiff rub with a dry towel. Twice a week, or oftener if necessary, your shirts, drawers and socks should be washed and fresh underclothes put on. In case it is necessary to sleep in your underwear, as it probably will be, put one aside to wear at night, so that you will always feel fresh and clean in the morning.

The scalp should be thoroughly cleaned about as frequently as the rest of the body. This will be made easier if you keep your hair cut short.

The teeth should be brushes at least once a day; twice a day is better. Neglecting this practice will cause decay of the teeth, resulting in failure to chew food thoroughly and probably ending in stomach troubles.

The medical corps of the army and your own officers will use every means within their power to safeguard and improve your general health. Within recent years better methods of medical supervision have greatly reduced the losses and the disabilities due to warfare.

But the responsibility for keeping yourself in good health can not rest wholly upon your officers. Just as in civil life, you are expected to use a reasonable amount of good sense in looking after yourself. You will do this partly because it adds to your own comfort and safety. You will take care of yourself, also, because it is a duty that every soldier owes to the country. You will have plenty of fresh air, exercise and good food, which are after all the chief essentials of good health. It should be a comparatively easy thing for you to look after the smaller things.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Your Equipment and Arms
Topic: Drill and Training

Your Equipment and Arms

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 9, of 30)

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 5 September 1917

Each soldier in a modern army carries with him sufficient food, clothing, shelter, fighting arms and ammunition to take care of himself for a short period in case he should be separated from his company. The total weight of his load, in addition to the clothes he wears, is 50 to 70 pounds. The number of articles is surprisingly large. They are so devised, however, that by ingenious methods of packing and adjusting they can all be carried with the least possible effort.

You are personally responsible for all the arms, clothing, and supplies issued to you.

You will receive on enlistment and ample supply of clothing, including not only your uniform, but extra shoes, shorts, underclothes and socks. You may not be able always to keep your clothes spotlessly clean. But when it becomes dirty or spotted, take the first opportunity to clean it thoroughly.

Your shoes must be cleaned and polished frequently. Wet shoes should be carefully dried.

In general, see to it that all your clothing is as neat and clean as possible at all times. Mend rips and sew on buttons without delay. This will add to your comfort as well as appearance.

Wear your hat straight. Don't affect the "smart aleck" style of tilting the hat. Keep all buttons fastened. Have your trousers and leggings properly laced. Keep yourself clean shaved. Carry yourself like a soldier.

A Soldier's Baggage

Besides his extra clothing, a soldier carries a blanket, a rubber poncho, a canteen, fork and spoon, a cup, toilet articles, a first-aid package and some minor belongings.

One of the most useful pieces is one-half of a shelter tent, with rope and pins. The shelter tent is said to be a French invention which was introduced into the American army during the civil war.

Two men can combine their halves and set up a shelter tent in a few minutes. While it cannot be described as roomy, it is just what its name implies, a "shelter" from wind and rain. It is used only in temporary camps.

Your chief fighting tools will be a rifle, a bayonet in a scabbard, a cartridge belt, and an intrenching tool. Other weapons or defences needed in modern trench warfare will be referred to later. Do not under any circumstances lose track of these articles while on field duty. So long as you possess them, you are an armed soldier capable of defending yourself and of performing effective service. Without them you are for all practical purposes helpless.

The rifle is the soldier's closest friend. His first thought should be to guard it and care for it above all his other possessions. He expects it to take care of him in emergencies. In ordinary times he must take care of it.

In caring for a rifle it is especially important to keep the bore clean. In so doing be sure to avoid injuring the delicate rifling which causes the bullet to spin as it is forced out and this increases the accuracy of firing. Never put away a rifle that has been fired or exposed to bad weather without first cleaning it. Never lay a rifle flat on the ground. Rest it securely against something.

elipsis graphic

Anybody in normal physical condition can learn to be a good shot. Two of the most important points to remember are to take a deep breath just before completing your aim so that you may hold your rifle with perfect steadiness, and to squeeze the trigger so that the gun will not be jerked from its aim at the moment of firing.

In modern warfare the intrenching tool is an essential part of your fighting equipment. The eight men in each squad carry these eight tools: four shovels, two pick mattocks, one pole or hand ax, and one wirecutter. In ordinary soil you can quickly throw up a shallow trench which will protect you to a great extent from the enemy's fire. After a trench has once been started, it can be deepened and extended, even in the face of the enemy, without the soldier exposing himself to direct fire.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 15 January 2017

First Days in Camp (US Army, 1917)
Topic: Drill and Training

First Days in Camp (US Army, 1917)

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 5, of 30)

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 31 August 1917

Your are naturally interested in forming some idea of the camp life of a soldier. The description which follows will help you in forming this idea. However, there will be many changes as you go along in your training.

As the men in the national army must get ready in record-breaking time, their training will be more strenuous than that of soldiers in peace. The soldier arises for the day usually at about 6 o'clock, a little earlier in the summer and a little later in winter. The buglers sound the call known as reveille. The men dress and fall in. Your first experience of military drill probably will consist of "setting-up exercises," which ordinarily occupy the first few minutes of the day. They consist of certain movements of the head, arms, trunk, and legs which are carefully designed not merely to develop your muscles, but also to increase your skill, grace, self-control and self-reliance.


In the mornings, when the bugle rings out to reveille, and you crawl out of your bunk reluctantly, possibly tired and sore from the previous day's work, you will find yourself wonderfully refreshed and cheered up by a few minutes' vigorous setting-up exercises. Watch their effort on yourself and you will see why they are so highly regarded by the most experienced soldiers of the army. It will be only a short time until you lok upon the early morning setting-up drill as one of the pleasantest features of your day. Then comes "washing up" and breakfast. Usually breakfast is followed by a half-hour for cleaning the barracks and bunks and putting clothing and bedding in order. Frequently the company commander will inspect the barracks immediately afterward to make sure that every man has attended to his part of the work. There is then often some time which the trained soldiers uses for attending to his personal needs, tidying up his clothing, and the like.

The remaining two or three hours of the morning are likely to be spent in drill—at the first in "close order" and later in "extended order" also.

During the drill there are numerous short periods of rest.

In most camps guard mounting comes about noon. This consists of relieving the men who have been guarding the camp and turning over this duty to new men. Each soldier mounts guard not oftener than once a week. After guard mounting the men go to dinner which comes at 12 o'clock. At least one hour is always allowed for dinner and rest.

Afternoon program

During the afternoons the work is likely to be varied and to include additional setting-up exercises and other drills, target practice, bayonet exercise, and later, more advanced drilling. About 5 o'clock comes the evening parade and "retreat," when the flag is lowered or furled for the night. The band plays "The Star Spangled Banner," while all officers and soldiers stand at attention. The ceremony is designed to deepen each man's respect and love for the flag which he serves. It is always impressive. After the flag is lowered it is carefully folded and escorted by the guard to headquarters, where it is kept until the next morning, when it is again raised.

Supper comes between 5 and 6 o'clock, and is usually followed by a period of rest. In the training camps there will be many opportunities for a variety of healthful amusements—for sports, music, the theater and so on, as later described. Taps are sounded by 10 o'clock. This is the signal to put out all lights, retire and keep quiet.

This is only a sample of a day in camp. One some days your company will go off on "hikes." After a time, there may be longer marches, when you will carry your shelter tents with you and will make your own camp each evening. These are days that will be especially interesting.

Your officers will ask you to do nothing that they have not many times done themselves. They will ask nothing of you which any normal, healthy man cannot do. After a month or two of this training you will find that you have begun to take on some of the skill and the self-reliance of a real soldier.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2016 8:28 PM EST
Monday, 9 January 2017

Getting Ready for Camp (US Army, 1917)
Topic: Drill and Training

Getting Ready for Camp (US Army, 1917)

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 4, of 30)

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 30 August 1917

Your real training for duties as a soldier will begin after you and your comrades are assembled at the training camps. However, there are a few simple things you can do during the next few weeks which will be of decided value in getting you started along the right lines.

The simplest thing, and perhaps the most useful of all, is to begin at once to practice correct habits of standing and walking. For a soldier must always be strongly marked by his snap, his precision, and his vigor. He can not have these unless he carries himself like a soldier.

The Bearing of a Soldier

Few people without military training have a correct idea of what is meant by the position and the bearing of a soldier. They are apt to imagine that it means a strut or an extremely strained attitude. Or, more frequently, they think that the term can properly be applied to any erect position.

It will be well for you to memorize paragraph 51 of the infantry drill regulations, which gives the complete and accurate description of the position of the soldier. This paragraph is slightly paraphrased and simplified in the description following: Keep in mind that there are ten elements which must be properly adjusted to each other, and check yourself up to see that each one of them is properly placed.

1.     Heels—on the same line, and as near each other as possible; most men should be able to stand with heels touching each other.

2.     Feet—turned out equally and forming an angle of about 45 degrees.

3.     Knees—straight without stiffness.

4.     Hips—level and drawn back slightly; body erect and resting equally on hips.

5.     Chest—lifted and arched.

6.     Shoulders—square and falling equally.

7.     Arms—hanging naturally.

8.     Hands—hanging naturally, thumb along the seam of the trousers.

9.     Head—erect and squarely to the front; chin drawn in so that axis of head and neck is vertical (that means a straight line drawn through the centre of head and neck should be vertical), eyes straight to the front.

10.     Entire body—weight of body resting equally upon the heels and balls of the feet.

Note especially that you are not required to stand in a strained attitude. You are to be alert but not tense.

One of the best things you can do today is to spend 15 minutes practicing this position, getting it right. Keep this up every day until you report at camp.

Making Yourself "Fit"

If you can devote part of your time between now and the opening of camp to physical exercise you are fortunate and should by all means take advantage of every opportunity. Climbing, jumping, gymnastic exercises, all kinds of competitive games, swimming, rowing, boxing, wrestling and running are all recommended as excellent methods of developing the skill, strength, endurance, grace, courage and self-reliance that every soldier needs.

There are some simple rules of eating and living which all of us should follow regularly. They will be especially helpful to you if you put them into practice in preparing for camp life.

Perhaps the most important of these rules is to use no alcohol of any kind.

If you have been in the habit of smoking immoderately, cut down; get your wind, your nerves and your digestion into the best possible condition.

Eat and drink moderately. Chew your food well. It is advisable, however, to drink a great deal of cool (not cold) water between meals. Don't eat between meals.

Keep away from soda fountains and soft drink stands. Learn to enjoy simple, nourishing food.

Accustom yourself to regular hours for sleeping eating and the morning functions.

elipsis graphic

You will find nothing required of you in the army that is beyond the powers of the every-day American. You will see clearly ahead of you, after you have read this course, the path which you are to follow. Look forward with confidence. Enter the service with firm determination of doing your best at all times, of playing square with your superiors, your associates, and yourself, and of taking care always of your assigned duties whatever may happen.

You will find that everyone else will treat you with courtesy and fairness—for that is the inflexible rule of the army. Out of that rule grows the comradeship and the attractiveness, even in the face of all dangers and hardships, that are characteristic of American army life.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 29 December 2016

Nine Soldierly Qualities
Topic: Drill and Training

Nine Soldierly Qualities

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 3, of 30)

Spirit carries a body of soldiers forward. Tenacity is the quality that makes them "stick."

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 29 August 1917

The three basic qualities, loyalty, obedience and physical fitness, were treated in the preceding lesson. There is another group of three soldierly qualities that are especially needed during the periods of training, marching and waiting between combats. These are:

  • Intelligence,
  • Cleanliness,
  • Cheerfulness.

Although these qualities are associated chiefly with camp life, they are, of course, scarcely less helpful in all other phases of military service.


Intelligence does not necessarily mean education, but rather quick observation and willing ness to learn. There is plenty of need for intelligence in modern warfare. The national army will be forced to absorb within a few months a training which would ordinarily extend over a period of two or three years. Those who intend to fit themselves for promotion should study thoroughly the manuals and the drill regulations which affect their duties. In time they should learn something about ma-making and map-reading, the construction of field entrenchments, training and care of horses, signalling, the handling of complex pieces of machinery, and many other subjects.

Captain Ian Hay beith of the English army, points out that in the first British forces of the present war the previous trade or training of every soldier was sooner or later utilized.


Cleanliness is important everywhere, but most of all in the army where large bodies of men are brought together. In its true sense, it includes not only keeping your body clean, but also your mind and your actions. Fortunately, it is a virtue in which Americans generally rank high. There should be little difficulty in setting a satisfactory standard in the new army.


Cheerfulness is always a prominent trait of good soldiers. Here again Americans may be counted upon to make a splendid showing, even in the face of any unexpected hardships or difficulties that may be ahead of us. There are numerous episodes in American military history to justify this confidence.

Finally there are the three battle qualities of the good soldiers:

  • Spirit,
  • Tenacity,
  • Self-reliance.

Unless a man has these three qualities—even though he possesses all the other six in good measure—he is after all only a campfire soldier.


Spirit—fighting spirit—is far from being mere hatred of the enemy of blind fury, on the one hand; nor is it mere passive obedience to orders, on the other. It means cool, self-controlled courage—the kind of courage which enables a man to shoot as straight on the battlefield as he does in target practice. However, it even goes a step beyond that point. Decisive victories can not be won by merely repulsing the enemy. "Only the offensive wins." (Infantry Drill regulations, paragraph 511.)


Spirit carries a body of soldiers forward. Tenacity is the quality that makes them "stick." The thorough soldier is never ready to stop fighting until his part of the battle is won. Tenacity was never better expressed than in the words of John Paul Jones. Standing among his dead and wounded on the sinking ship which was "leaking like a basket," he replied to his adversary's invitation to surrender, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." Two hours later the battle came to a sudden end when the colors of the enemy's vessel were hauled down.


Self-reliance is characteristic of the American, whether he is serving as a soldier or in some civil occupation. It is a quality needed more than ever before in present-day warfare. Major General Leonard Wood, in his introduction to the Field Service Regulations of the United States Army, says:

"Officers and men of all ranks and grades are given a certain independence in the execution of the tasks to which they are assigned and are expected to show initiative in meeting the different situations as they arrive. Every individual, from the highest commander to the lowest private, must always remember that inaction and neglect of opportunities will warrant more severe censure than an error in the choice of the means."

the nine qualities which have just been reviewed are those which every one of us would like to have for himself. They are the essentials of virile and successful manhood, whether in the army or out of it.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Making Good as a Soldier
Topic: Drill and Training

Making Good as a Soldier

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 2, of 30)

Discipline is not only essential in developing the army, but also in developing your own character as a soldier. "The soldier who is by nature brave, will by discipline become braver."

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 28 August 1917

The national army, in which you are to take your place, truly expresses the American character and ideals. It is a great democratic army. It includes men of all degrees of wealth and education, chosen through fair and open selection by lot. All are brought together on terms of equality. There has been and there will be in this great national army no favoritism and no "pull." The poor man will drill side by side with the man who has been raised in luxury. Each will learn from the other. The place each man makes for himself will be determined by his own work and ability.

The question as to whether it is better to join the colors now or with a later contingent is not worth arguing, since the decision has been made for each man by lot. An ambitious man, however, will be glad to join now. It gives him a better chance for promotion. The commissioned officers of the first contingent are picked men who have voluntarily gone through the hardest king of training.

In order to make good in the national army you must, first of all, fit yourself to carry with credit the simple title of "American Citizen-Soldier"—one of the proudest titles in the world. This means that you must develop in yourself the qualities of the soldier. The more quickly and thoroughly you cultivate them, the greater will be your satisfaction and success.

elipsis graphic

Three Basic Qualities

There are three basic qualities, without which no man can be a real soldier even though he may temporarily wear a uniform. They are:

  • Loyalty,
  • Obedience,
  • Physical Fitness.

A man without these qualities is in the way and is a source of weakness to an army, both in the camp and on the field of battle.

The articles of war of the United States set forth the military crimes which are punishable by heavy penalties. Among these crimes are desertion, cowardice, insubordination, drunkenness while on duty, sleeping while on duty as a sentinel, disclosing the watchword, and giving aid or comfort to the enemy. Run over this list and you will see that every one of these military crimes can result only from the absence of one or more of the three basic qualities of a soldier.


A soldier's loyalty governs, first of all, his feelings and actions toward his country. There can be no such thing as half-way loyalty. The slightest compromise opens the door to treason.

But a soldier's loyalty does not stop here. It governs also his feelings and actions towards the army and towards all the officers under whom he serves, it absolutely forbids disobedience among both officers and enlisted men, or disrespect towards those in authority.


The second of the soldier's basic qualities is obedience, based on discipline. Without obedience and discipline an army cannot long continue to exist; it will quickly degenerate into an armed mob. As the infantry drill regulations put it, discipline is "the distinguishing mark of trained troops."

Military discipline is always impersonal. Obedience is required not merely of you, but of every man in the army. It is required of officers by their superiors with fully as much strictness as it is required of you. It will become your duty, whenever you are given authority over other men, to demand from them the same full measure of obedience that other will require of you.

Discipline is not only essential in developing the army, but also in developing your own character as a soldier. "The soldier who is by nature brave, will by discipline become braver."

The third basic quality, physical fitness, is so essential that a large part of the time devoted to your training will be spent in building it up. Physical fitness includes not only muscular development, but good health and endurance as well. It is a quality which every man who passes the physical examinations can develop in himself by reasonable care and by obedience to instructions.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 22 December 2016

Reveille to Lights Out (part 4 of 5)
Topic: Drill and Training

Reveille to Lights Out (part 4 of 5)

The Montreal Gazette, 1 July 1942
By Machine-Gunner

(This is the fourth in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)

The phrase from the Mikado. "Let the punishment fit the crime," might just as well have been taken from the Manual of Military Law as far as the Canadian soldier is concerned.

His interests are protected from the day of his enlistment until he is discharged from the army. Pages have been written in the official documents, and the greatest of pains have been taken to see that his rights are at all times respected.

"To be paraded" is a phrase that means more to the recruit than the civilian ever imagines, and it doesn't mean his being involved in a procession around town. When a soldier is paraded he is taken, in the proper manner, to his immediate senior officer for one of two reasons.

To begin with, he may feel that he has been wronged by a companion, an N.C.O. or an officer. It is his right to be paraded, first to his platoon commander, usually a lieutenant, and if he is not satisfied, from there to his company commander, a captain or major, and still further to the unit commander, a lieut-colonel as a rule.

He is given a chance to tell his side of a story which concerns him, and his right to be paraded guarantees his getting what soldiers have always called a "square deal."

On the other side, there is the case of a soldier who is paraded because he has been guilty of an offence against the Army Act. In this case he is paraded to the company commander by the company sergeant major, and is brought in between two of comrades who are termed "escorts." the accused is marched in with his escorts, to a position in front of the company commander's desk with his head bare.

The name of the accused is read out and he then steps forward one pace. The "crime" is read out, and the witnesses called to testify, and after all the evidence has been presented the accused soldier is asked what he has to say for himself.

If the sentence to be passed involves a forfeiture of pay on the part of the soldier, he is asked, before th punishment is announced "Are you willing to accept my punishment?" by the company commander; if the soldier agrees he is sentenced to the forfeiture of as many days' pay (and the powers of the company commander are limited, in this respect, to three day's pay) and in addition to a number of day (up to seven) C.B., or confinement to barracks. While a soldier is C.B. he may not leave the barracks, and must work after hours of parade on odd jobs around the camp, cutting grass, or washing dishes have taken the place of the old potato peeling punishment of 1914-18 by virtue of the automatic potato peelers in use at present.

The case of a soldier who refuses to accept punishment of the company commander is similar to one whose offence is one for which the punishment is beyond the powers of that officer. The soldier is paraded to the officer commanding (the unit). The procedure is quite the same as before, but the o.c. may award up to 14 days C.B., and 28 days detention.

A soldier in detention is locked up in the camp "jail." called Detention Barracks. While he is so confined he may not smoke, receives no pay and in addition, performs many of the more unpleasant duties around camp. He is made to parade also, but his health and moral welfare are superintended by the medical officer and padre respectively, on their regular rounds of inspection. If the punishment is believed by the officer commanding to be above even his powers he may remand the accused for a district court martial, and the procedure is similar if the soldier refuses to accept the punishment to be awarded by the O.C., but again, the accused must declare his willingness to accept the punishment before it is announced.

The only time there is an automatic forfeiture of pay is when a soldier is absent without official leave. When he has not attended parades, he is not, naturally, paid.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2016 11:20 PM EST
Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Camel Corps
Topic: Drill and Training

The Camel Corps

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 8 November 1916

Men who have been selected for service with the camel corps are trained in Menangle Camp under Colonel Lenehan. The camels used were brought down from up-country under special drivers, who have been accustomed to them and understand their ways. The men are given instructions in riding, loading, and looking after the animals.

Most of the work consists in teaching the men to learn "camel talk," for the camel has to be addressed in a manner he understands, or else he declines to budge, being one of the most obstinate of animals. The men have to be taught how to persuade a camel to lie down or rise up, as the case may be, and also are instructed in the saddling of these "ships of the desert." When it comes to mounting the camel with full kit there are many amusing incidents, for if the animal rises quickly before the recruit is firm in the saddle, the recruit more often than not takes an impromptu toboggan slide down its back and lands on the ground spread-eagled, with his helmet and rifle on either side of him. Australians who are good horsemen, however, quickly learn the "tricks of the trade," many, in fact, having had more or less to do with camels in the pre-war days, with the result that the men forming the Australian Camel Corps know their job from A to Z before they leave for the front.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 19 December 2016

Reveille to Lights Out (part 3 of 5)
Topic: Drill and Training

Reveille to Lights Out (part 3 of 5)

The Montreal Gazette, 29 June 1942
By Machine-Gunner

(This is the third in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)

A chain is as strong as its weakest link; so goes the proverb, and Canada's army has forged a mighty chain of command, the links of which are orders.

The recruit is at first confused by, and then readily appreciative of the fact that orders are not always verbal; his behaviour must conform with, and is often changed by orders which he never hears, but reads. As an example, a soldier entering camp for training is immediately acquainted with camp Standing Orders. These orders tell him many things peculiar to the camp in which he is to live. The camp bounds, the procedure in case of fire, the respective times of reveille and lights out, meal parades and defaulters' parade; in short, anything in which the routine in his camp may vary from that of other similar camps. Some changes in camp standing orders are dictated by notations which appear, from time to time, in District Orders.

Canada has been divided into 11 military districts; each district has, quite naturally, a centre which is district headquarters, and from district headquarters proceed district orders, signed by the D.O.C., or District Officer Commanding. District orders carry new regulations and changes of previous ones which concern the individual district; promotions of officers within the district appear in these orders, punishments by courts martial, changes in dress regulation or any bits of arbitration which may affect the soldier serving in the district.

Routine Orders

Changes in procedure and new regulations in the Canadian Army are distributed from their source, National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

The orders with which a recruit comes in contact are Daily Orders, Part I and Part II. Part I orders (known as "part one"), affect a soldier's drill, duty and discipline. Extra parades, if there are any, appear in Part I orders. The orderly officer and orderly sergeant of the camp are notified for duty in the camp by warnings given in these orders. Writings in the direction of discipline for personnel within the camp appear there; as an example, some place may be put "out of bounds" to members of the armed forces for any one of many reasons, and if this occurs, notification of the fact is given in Part I Orders.

Part II Orders affect a soldier's pay, allowance and documents. Before a soldier may draw pay from a unit he must be taken on strength of the unit, and to be taken on strength his name must appear in Part II Orders. Likewise, if a soldier is to forfeit pay because of some wrong doing his name must appear in Part II Orders before the pay may be deducted. These orders constitute authority for the unit paymaster to act.

If a recruit is married, the permission for him to marry is given by his officer commanding, it appears in orders, and, when the marriage has taken place, the soldier's new dependent is authorized to receive a monthly cheque from N.D.H.Q. by virtue of the fact that notice of the marriage appears in orders. No notation of change may be made in a soldier's documents until the notation or change appears in Part II orders.

It is the duty of each soldier to read daily orders, and if he in guilty of a breach of a new order, that fact that he pleads ignorance is not regarded as an excuse. With the advance of education in the Canadian Army, the troops are more than ever anxious to "do the right thing," and the man is indeed the exception who does not try to keep up with the orders; in most units it is a boast of the men that they are never caught off guard.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 16 December 2016

Reveille to Lights Out (part 1 of 5)
Topic: Drill and Training

Reveille to Lights Out (part 1 of 5)

The Montreal Gazette, 27 June 1942
By Machine-Gunner

(This is the first in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)

A bugle is blown, a flag unfurled, and a new day has begun for the soldier in Canada's army. Routine is to be expected, but it may vary in camps, usually at the discretion of the officer commanding, a typical day begins at 6.30 a.m., or, in military terminology, 0630 hours.

Life, for the recruit, is ever-changing, and although Reveille is the name given to the hour of arising, it means more than "just getting up," First, of course, comes a shave, in one of the comfortable washrooms, and then a general clean-up of of the soldier's person and quarters. He soon learns how to fold his blankets in accordance with camp standing orders, how to arrange his kit, and in a matter of days after his initiation into the ranks he has learned to have pride in the appearance of his hut.

Breakfast, at 7 a.m., convinces the soldier that he is really being considered, because beside his plate he now finds fresh fruit. The first parade, physical training, is not until 8 o'clock, so, for a while at least, leisure is the rule; last night is discussed from many interesting angles and then back to work. Men are usually grouped in quarters as platoons, two platoons share a hut, and the huts are arranged to have companies centralized. The soldier's primary training is termed "basic" and in centres giving this training the number of men in a platoon varies, usually from 40 to 50.

The P.I. parade begins, and the wheels of defence have begun to hum in harmony with the calling of the step or time for exercises by platoon N.C.O.s. Days are divided into periods, in most camps a period means 45 minutes, and happily periods are separated by "breaks" of five minutes for relaxation. Before lunch time, the soldier has completed four periods, and has learned something new perhaps about the Bren Gun, map reading, and possible defence against gas. From 11.30 a.m. to noon he is free to do what he will, and then, with the other members of his platoon, he parades to lunch.

The afternoon consists of another group of four periods for the man in the army, beginning at 1.30 p.m., and ending at 4.30. Reasonably often his afternoon duties give him a chance to see the country beyond the limits of his own camp, because several periods are devoted to map treks and the study of field-craft. Both subjects consist of the practical application of knowledge gained in the classroom.

Except for occasional days, when for one reason or another, the entire establishment of a camp is confined to barracks, a soldier may leave his camp at 4.30 p.m. and his time is his own until 10.00. Although dinner is served at five o'clock he need not eat in camp and is free to keep such engagements as he may have made. Usually two nights a week are set aside as "late leave nights," and then he need not be back until 11.30 or midnight, depending upon the time stated in orders.

Entertainment is provided for troops in barracks by the Auxiliary War Services, and usually there are movies two nights a week and means of relaxation provided for the others. All troops may attend the shows with the exception of those undergoing punishment for some minor misdeed; these are given periods of C.B. (confined to barracks) by their company commanders, and while under sentence they are not allowed to enter the canteen in which the shows usually take place. In addition to this restriction, the offender has extra duties to perform after his day on the parade ground is finished. Grass has to be cut, dishes washed, and other odd jobs done; the C.B. man is usually the one called upon.

Off duty leave, that period between the completion of parades and the time the soldier must be back in barracks, ends in most camps at 10 o'clock. Roll call is taken by the N.C.O. in the hut, and any man marked A.W.O.L. on what is called a tattoo report. These reports are made out nightly, and a copy handed to the military police at the camp gate. A record is thus kept, and though a man may enter the barracks by some means other than the gate he is counted absent because his name appears on the list. This is considered proof that he wasn't in his hut at roll call, and tell his company commander that he came "over the fence."

Authorities agree, that the average soldier is a reasonable person, and the converse is true. If a soldier has sufficient reason, in the mind of his company commander, he may be granted a reveille pass which will allow him to remain out of barracks until reveille on the day after the pass was issued, and even without this pass exceptions are occasionally made when soldiers have been kept late by circumstances beyond their control.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 5 December 2016

Training New Soldiers (1933)
Topic: Drill and Training

Training New Soldiers (1933)

Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon 29 April 1933

Having spoken his mind with refreshing frankness about faulty organization in the War Department, the useful and outspoken Maj.-Gen. Johnson Hagood is now proposing a radically new system of training army recruits.

At present, as everybody knows, the new recruits spends weeks and months just in learning how to do squads right. The intricacies of parade-ground maneuvres, the manual of arms and so on make a long primary course in the school of the soldier. And it takes a long time for the pupils to graduate. It is commonly stated that it takes from one to three years to fit a recruit for actual combat service.

General Hagood thinks this is all wrong. He would teach rookies to handle their guns in the field first and let them learn the other stuff later; and he asserts that it ought to be possible to fit a rookie for active service in no longer than 10 days. His battalions doubtless would be sorry sights on the drill field; but he says that they would be able to fight acceptably—and that, after all, is the main job of the soldier.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Principles of Training (1922)
Topic: Drill and Training

Principles of Training (1922)

…while skill is being acquired, the fostering of moral, which includes the fighting spirit and a high state of discipline, must be borne in mind, so that the two qualities may grow together.

Infantry Training, Vol. I; Training, 1922, Provisional

1.     The training of an army has but one object in view—the defeat of the nation's enemies in war.

The foundation of successful training is mutual confidence between all ranks.

2.     All past wars have proved that victory can be won only as the result of skilled leadership and bold offensive action, while recent experience has shown that the increased decentralization of command necessitated by the power of modern weapons calls for increased initiative on the part of subordinate leaders and increased tactical knowledge on the part of the men.

3.     The success of a campaign depends, therefore, on sound training and skilful leadership, and on the degree to which, as a result of this training and leadership, the troops possess:—

i.     The will to go forward.

ii.     The skill to defeat the enemy.

These two military qualities reinforce each other, but the one cannot replace the other; both are necessary and both can be developed. Upon their development all training for battle must be based.

4.     The pages of this manual are mostly devoted to teaching the leader to lead and the soldier to fight. But throughout the details of training; while skill is being acquired, the fostering of moral, which includes the fighting spirit and a high state of discipline, must be borne in mind, so that the two qualities may grow together.

5.     An army can exert its full power only when all its parts act in close combination. Infantry is the arm which in the end wins battles. It is the arm which can break down the last strands of resistance and seize and hold a hostile position. But against a force of all arms equipped with modern mechanical weapons it can achieve nothing without the support of other branches of the service. Throughout their training, therefore, all ranks of infantry must be taught to realize the close relationship between their own rôle and that of the other arms in battle. They must understand the methods employed by cavalry, engineers, aircraft, artillery and tanks to support them; they must appreciate the importance of close liaison and intimate co-operation during the preliminary arrangements for a battle and throughout every stage of the action.

To assist in the attainment of this object higher commanders will arrange for the temporary attachment of infantry officers and N.C.Os. to branches of the service other than their own. Similarly officers and N.C.Os. Of other branches will be temporarily attached to infantry units. Higher commanders will create opportunities for training the various arms together by means of combined exercises and operations.

6.     It must be the aim of all officers, warrant officers, and N.C.Os. to fit themselves to carry out efficiently the duties of the rank next higher than their own.

7.     The principles of training and fighting herein enunciated are based on wide experience and are well-established. But principles on paper apart from their application have little value. Their usefulness depends mainly upon the effort of the commander to translate them into the every-day life of his men. The virtue most to be cultivated in training, as in war, is energy. Folded hands and fatalism bring certain failure. To do nothing is to do something definitely wrong. Energy in training, energy in fighting, pride in his work, combined with strict discipline, and pride in and sympathy for his men are the commander's sure ingredients to success.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Characteristics of Light Infantry Fighting
Topic: Drill and Training

Characteristics of Light Infantry Fighting

The Operations of War; Gen. Sir Edward Bruce Hamley, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., 1922

The characteristics of Light Infantry fighting may be briefly described.

1.     The men must be accustomed to work at any interval and in any formation that may be ordered.

2.     Accuracy and regularity, except in maintaining the direction and a rough general line, are not demanded.

3.     The section will be the unit of command, but it will work in due co-operation with the remainder of the company, and the company will keep touch with the battalion.

4.     The section will be divided into two sub-sections or groups, and every group will endeavour to render support to those on either hand.

5.     The section will move in such fashion as circumstances dictate, either by rushes, by creeping up, in quick time, or at the double. It is often desirable that a few men should creep up at a time.

6.     In moving either to front or rear every man will endeavour, without crowding his comrades, to expose himself as little as possible to the enemy's fire.

7.     Every man, when ordered to halt, must make the best use of cover that he finds before him.

8.     Whenever independent fire is ordered every man, as a rule, will choose his own target.

9.     The men must be accustomed to the intermixture of sections, companies, battalions.

10.     They must be trained to observe and report on the movements of the enemy, thus using their intelligence to assist their section leader.

11.     The men should be trained to concentrate rapidly at any point the section leader may indicate. If there is some spot to the front whence the section, while sheltered itself, can bring an effective fire to bear upon the enemy's lines, a rush will be made for it.

12.     They should be trained to extend as they leave cover, even when rushing from one shelter to another.

13.     They must be taught that when their leaders are down, or when the tactical unity of their companies and sections has become dissolved, that they are to go on fighting, maintaining their ground or pushing forward as the case may be, but always seeking to combine with others, and to use their rifles to the best effect.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:05 AM EDT
Friday, 29 July 2016

Training a Citizen Army (1939)
Topic: Drill and Training

Training a Citizen Army (1939)

Recruit to Finished Soldier
The Militia Learns Its Job

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 1 November 1939
By a Special Correspondent

The Australian citizen soldier, who is now being trained in the military art in a score of camps throughout the Commonwealth, is undergoing a type of training which will produce materially different results from those which characterise the French, British and German armies which face each other in Europe.

The military training which is being accorded to the 80,000 members of the Militia, and the 20,000 men of the Second A.I.F., is not an ephemeral product of haphazard thinking, hastily applied to meet some nebulous or unexpected military situation. Australia's defence authorities, and the British Army experts who have advised them for more than 30 years, have tried to shape the training to meet specific Australian needs and problems, the chief of which is the problem of resisting an invasion from the sea.

Australia is an island continent. It is, of course, impossible to invade out shores in the manner in which the Germans invaded France in 1914, and Poland in 1939—by mobilising 1,000,000 men and vast quantities of artillery behind a land frontier, and suddenly giving them the order to march. No enemy forces can occupy Australia without first effecting a landing in boats, preferably at a number of points simultaneously, in order to divide the defenders. The prime need of the defending forces, taking naval action out of account, is, therefore, to meet the attacks wherever they may occur, and the availability of highly mobile reserves to reinforce the defenders wherever the pressure is greatest.

The Australian soldier need not expect to face an enemy massed in overwhelming numbers, since the size of an invading army would be strictly limited by the number of transports which could be assembled, nor would he expect to deal with anything like the concentration of heavy artillery and mechanised equipment employed in military operations in Europe. His superiority over such an enemy would rest with his prepared position, his power of concealment, his land (instead of sea) communications, and his intimate familiarity with the terrain. In all of these respects the enemy would be at a serious disadvantage.

Training to Timetable

It is with such factors as these in mind, that the Australian army training system has been devised. It aims at providing the militiaman with a complete all-round training system has been devised. It aims at providing the militiaman with a complete all-round training in four months, a tall order, it is true, but one from which there can be no escape in the immediate future.

The work is divided into sections, and it is performed to a time schedule. Thus the first month is devoted to elementary instruction in arms, musketry, close order dill, and a general shaking down to camp routine. The only team work accomplished in this month is restricted to company drill. In the second month, more complicated tasks are undertaken. The soldier may be introduced to bayonet practice, musketry instruction, moves from the short range to the longer rifle range, and from company drill the men graduate to battalion drill, undertaking field exercises on a miniature scale. At the same time all the work done in the first month is revised.

When the third month is reached the soldier moves on to more advanced work. In this period, brigade field exercises may have a place. Route marches may be undertaken now that muscles have become hardened, instructions may be given in trench digging and wiring, and simple tactical exercises may be practised under active service conditions. As before, there is a good deal of repetition of the second month's work on the principle that practice makes perfect.

In the fourth month, the earlier instruction is supplemented by divisional field exercises. The soldier at last rehearses complicated battle manoeuvres on a scale comparable with what might be expected in war. The route marches are now carried out in full service kit, there are exercises in which co-operation is lent by the Navy, artillery and Air Force, and the men learn the difference between manoeuvres carried out by day and under cover of night.

Field Manoeuvres

By now the soldier has made the acquaintance of the entire training manual, he is physically fit and seasoned, he understands the meaning of discipline, and he appreciates the value of individual resource. He knows what is expected of him, and if lacks the complete efficiency and versatility of the European soldier, trained to arms over a period of years, rather than months, the deficiency can be repaired by a few months of intensive training, if the need should arise. Or at any rate by an additional period of training in the second year.

The more advanced stage of militia training includes exercises for the repulse of beach landings. As a result of careful staff work, these exercises have attained a high degree of efficiency. They are usually carried out at night and involve the close co-operation of artillery, machine-guns, reconnaissance planes, Signal Corps, transport, and commissariat department.

Another exercise which is now a regular part of militia training involved the crossing of unbridged rivers at night. It is an infantry as distinct from an engineers' operation. The instrument used for effecting the crossing is a kapok bridge or pontoon, which is assembled a short distance from the river bank at about 3 a.m. the floats, carried up the communication lines by the men, are lashed together with lengths of decking, so that long before dawn the finished bridge lies on the bank ready for launching. The operation is carried out in complete darkness and silence to conceal the manoeuvre from the enemy.

At zero hour the bridge is launched and the infantry crosses the river with its machine-guns, taking the enemy by surprise. Rivers 80 ft wide have been crossed successfully in this way, the troops being equipped with full war kit, including gas masks. As a substitute for the kapok bridge recourse is sometimes made to collapsible pontoons, each holding eight men.

Practising Retreat

It is proposed this year to devote considerable attention to the operations involved in tactical withdrawal. This form of field exercise, possibly the most difficult of all, has been neglected in Australia, except on paper, although it is a necessary part of army training in every other country in the world. With the extension of camp periods from 18 days to four months, it will now be possible to devote some useful time to this important manoeuvre.

The practice of tactical withdrawal, or retreat, is difficult, not only because its component operations are in reverse movement, but also because its success depends on even more careful timing than is involved in an offensive action. The essence of the plan is to withdraw the defending force at such time, at such speed, and with such measure of concealment that the enemy is not aware of the manoeuvre until his forces have moved forward to the assault. It has its maximum effect when, at the moment the enemy has gathered himself to advance, he finds that the defenders have vanished, confronting him with the fresh and laborious task of locating them and preparing other plans for attacking new and unmapped positions.

Such a movement imposes considerable strain upon the retreating forces, and calls for a high degree of discipline and resource. Men who are unfamiliar with the manoeuvre, and who may be left behind to act as a covering force, with orders to increase their rate of fire to deceive the enemy, are apt to fire so so rapidly that the curiosity of the enemy is aroused and the whole stratagem is defeated. The withdrawal will be jeopardised, too, if one battalion delays its retirement, necessitating a modification of the manoeuvre while the unit is relieved and extricated.

The new camp training schedule is designed to give militiamen, and especially officers and non-commissioned officers, a clear understanding of the intricate operations involved in withdrawal and, at the same time, fill in a hitherto conspicuous gap in military practice in Australia.

School for Officers

The improved efficiency which may be expected from officers and N.C.O.'s as a result of the extension of the camp training period is, indeed, one of the hopeful aspects of the new training scheme. For the task is not merely to train 100,000 clerks, labourers, farmers, miners, professional men, and so on, and to become good soldiers, but to increase the competency of the young militia officers and N.C.O.'s who will be the Army leaders and instructors of to-morrow.

Great importance, therefore, attaches to the officers' training school which has ben established at Studley Park, Camden, under the revised Army system. Here the officers attached to militia units in the Eastern command, including subalterns, warrant officers, and senior non-commissioned officers, are receiving advanced training in arms and military tactics. Instruction in the three wings of the school, namely, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, is given by Staff Corps officers, assisted by sergeant-majors drawn from the Australian Instructional Corps. Each course of training lasts for two weeks, and the school is so busy that it is open continuously, one batch of officers going in as the other goes out.

The Studley Park establishment is an extremely valuable adjunct to the training scheme. It will quickly improve the capabilities of militia officers and inspire renewed confidence and enthusiasm in the ranks of the men whim they will lead.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 21 July 2016

Physical Training of British "Tommy"
Topic: Drill and Training

Physical Training of British "Tommy" Fits Him For Service

The Deseret Times, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 December 1916

New York, Dec. 29.—In an interesting address on "The Making and Remaking of a Fighting Man" delivered at the annual meeting pf the National College Athletic association here yesterday. R.Tait Mckenzie, professor of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania and late Major R.A.M.C. England, said, in part:

"You do not need a watch to tell when it is 9 o'clock at the headquarters gymnasium at Aldershot. For 15 minutes or more groups of men in black trousers and jerseys, or officers in tennis kit, have been accumulating, and at 9 o'clock precisely a shrill whistle petrifies them in the position of 'attention.' There is a dead silence and the sharp command 'fall in' is succeeded by a scramble out of which emerge 20 classes of officers and men, each in a proportion of about 4 to 1, neatly arranged on the floor, each with a staff instructor in charge. At the command 'staff fall in' each instructor doubles to where the sergeant-major stands, and where they stand at attention to receive the day's orders. These given, they make a right turn, rise on the toes and scurry off to their respective classes. Another silence, and the sharp command 'carry on' is followed by a babel of orders as the various groups march out of the four doors to selected places in the 20-acre ground that surround the gymnasium. For the next hour and a half each class is put through the table of exercises for the day; each exercise detailed, repeated and corrected until officers and men have the proper speed and accuracy for which they strive.

The Day's Work

"At 10:30 the whistle breaks the classes up into groups for a brief rest. After 15 minutes the same proceeding is gone through again, but this time the men are paired off; No. 1 teaching the last hour's work to No. 2 and back again from 2 to 1, under the fire of the instructor's criticism. Again a short rest and the bayonets are fixed, and the position of 'on guard,' 'point,' and 'parry' are explained, shown and demonstrated. There is an interval for lunch and at 2:15 the classes reassemble, and now they are marched out, combined into one mass drill of exercises selected from the eight tables of the British gymnastic law. After this display the mass breaks into its component classes and the detiling of exercises, bayonet fighting and gymnastic games fills the time until 4 o'clock, when the day's work is over. Every month a new class replaces those who have gone out into the great training camps.

"When the war broke out in August, 1914, the staff of gymnastic instructors, up to the inspector himself, dissolved overnight and rejoined their regiments, and after 10 days this department had no head. The new inspector was confronted by an urgent demand for instructors, with none to send, but he at once re-enlisted men who had gone into civil life (teachers in board and private schools), in fact anyone who had had training, and he reconstructed his staff from these veterans. Soon, however, their numbers were augmented in another way. Familiar faces reappeared (men from the trenches) one with a bullet through his shoulder blade, another with part of his foot gone from shrapnel. They were not fit for active service, but their experience as teachers was invaluable.

"The new armies had tapped every stratum of English society; the ill-disciplined lordling, whose whim was his only law; the stripling just from school and college; lawyers, doctors, merchants, clerks (soft from a sedentary life); ironworkers, navies, laborers (slow of action and speech)—all had to be wielded into a homogenous body, quick and alert of actions, sure of eye and hand and, about all, capable of endurance; able to march and take care of themselves; ready to obliterate themselves before a hostile aeroplane by day or a star-shell at night; able to dig like badgers even after a hard day's march; steady with the rifle; quick, powerful and relentless with the bayonet.

"The shooting and digging are taught elsewhere, but the headquarters gymnasium is the source of all knowledge on those fundamental exercises that train in accuracy, balance, and speed, without which the musketry instructor instructs in vain and the drill sergeant's shouts are futile. It is also the source from which has come the new practical methods of teaching the use of the bayonet. There is no hesitation or sparring for an opening or elaborate parrying; just a short jab, and on the next, the two simple parries taught being not for defence so much as to clear the way for attack, a subtle but important mental difference. This is the gist of the new bayonet fighting.

Another Function

"Physical training has, however, another function in the great armies that have already tasted the hardships and casualties of life at the front. The wounded man, treated first at the dressing station, then at the field station, sent back to the base hospital, and finally to a hospital at home, is frequently capable os being returned fit for active service if time and care can only be given to his treatment. From the general hospital all such cases are transferred to the convalescent camp or depot, and many are put under physical training at once, and return to their regiment within six weeks, but in the slower and more grave conditions a cure must be effected in months rather than weeks. It is these men who are sent to the command depots, after a 10 days' furlough, and they once again come under military discipline after their month or two of hospital life. From a standpoint of discipline, this month or two has produced great changes in most of them. Many of these cases of scarred and injured limbs, stiffened joints, and other painful wounds can begin only by the gentlest form of massage, given after the injured limb has been prepared by soothing baths of running water, or by the application of electricity or radiant heat. From this they go on to more active massage, regaining the strength and agility that have apparently left them.

"The injuries from which men suffer so enormously vary in extent and gravity that it is not possible bring all men up to this state, and some, although unfit for active service in the full sense of the word, are still able enough for service on lines of communications, or for garrison duty either at home or abroad, while others are unable to do more than sedentary work at home, or when not even this improvement can be obtained, they may be discharged from the army as unfit for all military service.

"By these means, however, at least half of these men who begin such a course of graduates treatment and exercises can be counted on as becoming effective members of the army once again, and the training which they have undergone, either at the beginning of their career, or after they have borne the burden and heat of the day, produces a lasting effect, and brings them to a higher level of physical efficiency and mental alertness than they could ever have hoped to reach without it."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

The Regimental Rogue.

Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

« July 2024 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31
Entries by Topic
All topics
Army Rations
Battle Honours
British Army
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army
Canadian Militia
Cold Steel
Cold War
Drill and Training  «
European Armies
Forays in Fiction
Martial Music
Military Medical
Military Theory
Pay; the Queen's shilling
Sam Hughes
Soldier Slang
Soldiers' Load
Staff Duties
Stolen Valour
Taking Advantage
The Field of Battle
The RCR Museum
US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

You are not logged in. Log in
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile