The Royal Canadian Regiment and
The First World War - 1914-1919

Canadian Corps Trench Standing Orders

London – Printed Under the Authority of His Majesty's Stationery Office by Harrison And Sons, St Martin's Lane, W.C., Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty – 1916


  1. Duties
  2. Sentries
  3. "STAND TO"
  4. Night Conditions
  5. Alertness
  6. Patrols
  7. Rifles, Equipment and Ammunition
  8. Bombs, Grenades, Care of
  9. Machine And Lewis Guns
  10. Trench Mortars
  11. Arrangements in Case of Attack
  12. Gas Alert
  13. Precautions to be Taken in an area where there is Mining Activity
  14. Firing at Aeroplanes
  15. Communications
  16. Time Tables and Organization of Work
  17. Tools
  18. Working Parties
  19. Trench Sides, Undercutting of
  20. Log Books and Trench Store Books
  21. Rations and Cooking
  22. Ration Parties When Found from Front Trenches
  23. Rum
  24. Sanitation
  25. Reliefs: General
  26. Reliefs: Points to be Noted by Company Commanders
  27. Reliefs: Guides
  28. Reliefs: Smoking and Talking
  29. Reliefs: Rate of March to Trenches
  30. Reliefs: Procedure on Arrival in Trenches
  31. Reliefs: Chilled Feet and Frostbite, Prevention of
  32. Salvage

(B18179)     Wt. w. 10631-9217 5M 12/16 H & S P 16/999

Canadian Corps Trench Standing Orders


(a)     One Officer per company and one N.C.O. per platoon will always be on duty.

(b)     By night the officer and N.C.O. on duty will frequently patrol the trench line, to see that the sentries are alert and to enquire whether they have any information to report about the enemy.

(c)     The N.C.O. coming on duty will go round and post new sentries with the N.C.O. coming off duty.

(d)     The length of each tour of duty will depend on the number of officers and N.C.O.s available in the company. Normally, each tour should be; by night 2 hours, by day 4 hours, day commencing at morning "stand to," and by night commencing at evening "stand to." In inclement weather it may be advisable to reduce the tour to one hour.

(e)     N.C.O.s after posting sentries will report "All Correct" or otherwise to the officer on duty.

(f)     The officer on duty will be responsible for sending in the reports required by Battalion Headquarters, unless there is anything unusual to report, when this duty will be performed by the Company Commander.

(g)     Men will be warned for duty by the platoon N.C.O. on duty. This will be done at evening "stand to."

(h)     On being detailed for duty, a man will be informed at which hours he will come on duty.

(i)     When possible to do so, notice boards will be placed in each section's trench on which will be pinned, daily, all orders regarding working parties, and a list of the men in the section, giving the times at which they will come on sentry and other duty.

(j)     Except under special circumstances, such, for instance, as a sentry being killed or wounded, no sentry will be: relieved by another man unless the relief is properly carried out in the presence of an N.C.O.


By Night

(a)     Sentries will be posted every two hours, except under bad weather conditions, when the length of the tour of sentry duty may be reduced.

(b)     From evening "stand to" till morning "stand to" one sentry to every four men will be posted. If wiring or digging parties are not out in front, or listening posts are numerous, this number may be reduced.

(c)     The next relief will remain within reach of the sentry.

(d)     Every sentry is to be regularly posted by an N.C.O., who will explain to him his duties and the front to be watched, and ascertain that the sentry and his relief are aware of the position of his own Company and Battalion Headquarters, and of the Section and Platoon Commanders, the sentries on either side, and whether there are any patrols or working parties out in front. Should there be salients in the line, the sentry will be carefully instructed, so as to avoid any possibility of him firing towards his own trenches.

(e)     By night or in places which have the reputation of being dangerous, i.e. where enemy are suspected of mining, advanced posts, &c, no man should ever be posted alone. There should be either a double sentry post or the next relief should rest within kicking distance of the sentry.

By Day

(f)     The number of sentries required demands on the proximity of the enemy's trench line and whether a good view to the front can be obtained; normally one to every four bays is sufficient.

(g)     Every sentry will be provided with a periscope.

(h)     Well protected "look-out" posts for sentries will be built along the front trench line.

(i)     As little challenging as possible will be done by sentries, and then only in a low tone of voice.

3. "STAND TO":—

"Stand to" will take place one hour before daylight and one hour before dusk. All ranks will be present at this parade.

Rifles, ammunition, equipment, box respirators and gas helmets, clothing &c., will be inspected. Rapid loading will be practiced. The firing position of every man will be tested to see whether he can hit the bottom edge of our wire. Orders will be issued and steps taken to see that the men understand them. After "Stand to" in the morning and before "Stand to" in the evening, rifles will be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.


In the event of the weather being foggy the order "Night Conditions" will be given by Battalion Commanders, upon which all defensive dispositions adopted for the night, i.e. extra sentries, &c, will be continued, or put into effect, until the order is cancelled.


Anything seen or heard in connection with tie enemy, such as movements of individuals, transport wagons, troops, working parties, &c., is to be reported to the nearest officer.


Patrols will never be sent out without definite orders as to what is required of them. They will go out by a listening post, where such exists.

The officer on duty will be responsible that all listening posts and sentries are warned of the strength of the patrol and the approximate hour of return to. Word will be passed quickly along the line of sentries


Carrying and Wearing of

(a)     Equipment will always be worn by the garrison of the front trench.

(b)     All ranks will wear steel helmets.

(c)     Ration and carrying parties, orderlies, &c., will wear bandoliers and carry rifles, bayonets and gas helmets, or small box respirators.

(d)     Parties at work may be permitted to "pile" or "ground" arms and take off equipment.

(e)     The magazine will be kept charged with five rounds.

(f)     Sentries will have a round in the chamber, but will unload when relieved. Except as stated above, or when it is necessary to shoot, a round will never be kept in the chamber. Cut-offs will always be "in" and safety catches "back." In the case of rifles unprovided with cut-offs, the cartridges will be pressed down and the bolt engaged over it and thrust home.

(g)     Bayonets will always be fixed in the front line trenches, except in the case of N.C.O.s. on duty moving up and down the trenches, who will always carry their rifles.

Care of Rifles

(h)     Rifles and ammunition will be inspected at morning and evening "stand to," when rapid loading will be practised.

(i)     In very cold weather sentries will occasionally work the bolt of the rifle, to prevent the striker becoming frozen. For the same reason, in cold weather, men will sleep with their rifle close to the body. Breech-covers will be kept on rifles except those of sentries.

(j)     Reserve boxes of S.A.A. will be kept in deep dug-outs and will not be opened except on emergency. All daily expenditure will be from open boxes kept at Company Headquarters for the purpose.

(k)     All loading will be from pouch or bandolier; no ammunition must ever be placed on ground or parapet.

Disposal of Rifles, Equipment and Ammunition

(l)     Wounded and men going sick will, if able, wear their equipment and carry their rifles. The rifles and equipment of men unable to carry them and also those of dead men: will be sent back to the dressing station. All other rifles, however badly damaged, and equipment damaged or not required will be sent back to the quartermaster. Damaged cartridges and empty cases will be collected and returned to the quartermaster, under company arrangements.


(m)     Every man will have 120 rounds in his possession.

(n)     Platoon Commanders will report at evening "stand to," whether their ammunition is correct or otherwise.


(a)     Only a small percentage of bombs will be kept in the front trenches. These will be kept in a well-protected and dry bomb receptacle.

(b)     Bomb stores will be built in the end of communication trenches in the support line.

(c)     Detonators and fuzes except in the front line, will normally be kept in tins and not in the bombs.

(d)     The Battalion Bombing Officer will make frequent inspections of all bombs and grenades.

(e)     The alarm posts for bombers will be close to where the bomb stores are placed.

(f)     No one, other than a bomber, will interfere with the bombs and grenades.

(g)     Ammunition boxes in the trenches will be examined frequently to see if the lids work easily.


(a)     Lewis guns will be used in the front line for defence. Machine guns may be employed in the front line to cover some particular point or for special enfilade purposes, but, where the ground permits, they should be sited to cover the front line by enfilade fire from positions near it.

Except in cases of emergency, fire will not be opened from "battle" positions.

(b)     During an enemy's bombardment, machine and Lewis guns will be withdrawn to dug-outs, which must be provided for all detachments in the front system, Concealed splinter proof machine and Lewis gun emplacements should be constructed where possible to give protection against shrapnel barrage.

(c)     At night machine and Lewis guns, when not in use, will be kept laid on definite night lines.

(d)     One man per detachment will always be on duty with a machine or Lewis gun. He will be provided with a periscope.

(e)     Range cards will be prepared and kept at each machine gun emplacement.


(a)     Trench mortar emplacements should not be sited close to communication trenches, or much used trenches.

(b)     Trench mortars will be manned and ready for action at all times. When not engaging special targets they will be laid on defensive night lines.


(a)     Battalion Commanders will be responsible that all ranks know what to do in case of bombardment, gas and/or attack by the enemy.

(b)     Arrangements must be made for getting men quickly out of deep dug-outs to repel an assault.

(c)     All officers' servants, bombers, orderlies &c., will have duties allotted to them to perform in case of attack.

(d)     Certain sections of bombers and riflemen will be allotted definate alarm posts, where they will be held in readiness to deliver local counter-attacks immediately should the enemy succeed in gaining a footing in our trenches.

(e)     Battalion Commanders will be responsible for assigning positions, and the action to be taken in case of attack by tunnellers and engineers who may be working in their areas.

(f)     Commanders will constantly test their defensive arrangements by practising an alarm at uncertain hours.


When "Gas Alert" is ordered the following precautions will be taken :—

(a)     All ranks will wear their small box respirators in "Gas Alert" position.

(b)     All anit-gas appliances, including box respirators, strombos horns &c, will be inspected at once by an officer, and twice daily as long as the "Gas Alert" continues.

(c)     A sentry will be posted over each gas alarm signal, Headquarters Signal Office, Advanced Dressing Station, dig-out holding 10 men or more, group of small dug-outs and working party.

(d)     Gas blankets at entrances to dug-outs will be lowered and kept damp. Vermoral sprayers, filled with water, will be kept at Battalion and Company Headquarters for spraying these blankets.


(a)     In sectors where the enemy is known to be mining each company in the front line will have parties told off to be always ready to rush forward and occupy the lip of a crater should the enemy explode a mine, and to consolidate the new post, joining it up with our front line.

(b)     Emergency dumps will be formed containing the necessary tools and engineer material for the work of consolidation.

(c)     In the event of one of our own mines being exploded, a clear space of 5 yards will be kept on either side of the mouth of the mine shaft.


Firing at aeroplanes will not be permitted except by order of an officer.


(a)     All ranks using the telephone must understand that the Germans have listening apparatus and that it messages of value to the enemy are sent the sender will be severely punished.

(b)     Artillery lines will be laid on one side of a trench. Infantry lines on the opposite side.

(c)     The Infantry Brigade Signal Officer will exercise general supervision over all lines in the brigade area, and will notify the orderly officer of the artillery brigade when any artillery lines require attention or relaying. He will assist the artillery whenever it may be possible to do so.

(d)     Line will be laid as low as possible, preferably not more than 9 inches from the bottom of trench. They will be picketed into groves cut into the side of the trench, the pickets being securely driven in at every re-entrant bend and at every 10 yards along the straight.

(e)     Lines will be clearly labelled at every hundred yards, and at every junction with another line.

(f)     All lines will be carefully patrolled at least once daily.

(g)     One telephonist will always be on duty.

(h)     Telephone communications to Battalion-Headquarters and the Company on each flank will be frequently tested.

(i)     All "dead" lines will be reeled up at once.

(j)     Every man is to know the position of his Platoon Commander's shelter and the Company Headquarters.

(k)     At least two men per section of the support and reserve companies must be able to act as guides to all the company headquarters of the battalion.

(l)     All officers must know the shortest route from their own headquarters to those of the company on their flanks and their own battalion headquarters.

(m)     It is the duty of every officer or man to fasten any loose wire that he may see, which has become temporarily detached.

(n)     All officers and company runners must know the location of the nearest trench wireless set, and the shortest way to it.

(o)     Pigeon Service:—

(i)     Pigeons in the trenches must be kept under shelter as far as possible. A bird whose wings are caked in mud is unable to fly

(ii.)     Birds should only be fed once a day, one hour before sunset, and should not be fed until they have been away 24 hours from the loft.

(iii)     The message carrier must be attached to the lower part of the leg of the pigeon which has no ring, and care must be taken not to stop circulation by pinching the clips.

(iv)     Messages must be written on the form supplied, Pigeon Service Message Books (A.B.418), and all the spaces on the form should be correctly filled up.

(v)     It is generally advisable to send two birds each carrying a copy of the same message.

(vi)     Pigeons must be released not later than one hour before sunset, otherwise the birds may not come home. Pigeons will not home at night.

(vii)     Pigeons should never be released in a thick mist or fog, as they cannot home.


(a)     A time-table will be drawn up by each company commander. In this time-table he will allot hours of work, rest and meals.

(b)     Working parties will be properly organized. Definite tasks will be allotted. Each commander of a working party should know what work is expected from his party before the hour appointed to commence, so that no time is wasted in getting to work.

(c)     Unless it cannot be avoided, men should never be taken for sentry duty without having had a reasonable period of rest, and when this becomes necessary a report should be made to the C.O.

17. TOOLS:—

Tools should not be stored in large dumps but distributed in small tool stores throughout the trench.

All dug-outs will be provided with a compliment of picks and shovels. These arrangements will facilitate the rescue of men buried by shell fire.


(a)     The command of a working party involves leadership of the highest order, and young officers and N.C.O.s should not be detailed for this duty after having attended as supernumeraries.

The outline and specification of the work is the duty of the engineer; the fulfillment of the task is the duty of the working party. To reduce the time a working party is engaged, the engineer must have his arrangements complete before its arrival and the number of the party should never be in excess of the men who can be fully employed.

The commander of the working party should invariably know the nature and extent of the task before the arrival of the party.

(b)     Working parties will, as far as possible, consist of complete units, i.e. section, platoon or company, and which will invariably be commanded by their own officers.


The undercutting of trench sides to make shelters is forbidden.


(a)     Each company commander will keep a log-book in which will be entered up daily the work done. This logbook will be handed over from one commander to another on relief.

(b)     A trench store book will also be kept in which will be entered up all trench stores issued to the company. On relief, the incoming company commander will give a receipt to the outgoing commander for all trench stores taken over.

(c)     Commanding Officers are personally responsible that no trench stores, bath mats, &c., are used as firewood.


(a)     Ration parties from the support and reserve trenches will be made up in complete units as in 18(b).

(b)     The Company Quartermaster-Sergeant will accompany the ration parties for his company and report his 'arrival to the Company Commander.

(c)     Great care is to be taken that ration and carrying parties make as little noise as possible.

(d). Cooking, if possible, will be done behind the front line trenches and should be concentrated by section or companies. Steps must be taken to ensure that as little smoke as possible is made by the cooks' fires.

(e)     Unused rations will be returned to the Quartermaster.

(f)     Waste in any form will be discouraged.

(g)     Arrangements should be made to ensure that soup or some hot drink should be available for the men between midnight and 4 a.m.


Rations and stores will be carried up to the trenches by supports and reserves and not by the garrison of the front line.

23. RUM:—

(a)     Rum will always be kept under the personal charge of the Company Commander.

(b)     The best time for a rum issue is in the early morning.

(c)     No issue of rum will be made, except in the presence of an officer; any rum left over will be handed back to the charge of the Company Commander.

(d)     Men undergoing punishment for drunkenness will receive no issue of rum for 14 days after the offence, unless it is necessary for medical reasons.


(a)     The importance of strict attention to sanitation should be impressed on all ranks.

(b)     Empty tins or other refuse will be collected in receptacles kept for the purpose in the trenches and buried in a refuse pit.

(c)     Latrines will be constructed in trenches leading from communication trenches. Where the bucket system is employed, chloride of lime or creosol will be freely used. The soil will be removed at night and buried in a deep pit, well away from the trenches, each day's deposit being covered; these pits will be filled in when within a foot of the top and labelled.

(d)     Every man must ascertain the location of latrines as soon as possible after entering the trenches, and any fouling of trenches or saps will be considered a most serious crime.

(e)     The Commanding Officer is responsible for sanitation in his unit, and the Medical Officer will, advise him in sanitary matters, making daily inspections of latrines, refuse pits and water arrangements. Under the Medical Officer, latrines and refuse pits will be attended to by the regimental sanitary men and water duties by the C.A.M.C. details attached.



(a)     Prior to taking over a new line of trenches, the Commanding Officer, Adjutant, Machine Gun Officer, Signalling Officer and Company Commanders will reconnoiter the trenches.

(b)     Machine guns will not be relieved at the same time as the infantry.


(a)     Number of men holding line to be taken over and distribution.

(b)     Shelter accommodation.

(c)     Work being done and proposed. To ensure a continuity of work an officer of the incoming battalion should go over the line in daylight.

(d)     Condition of the wire and defences generally.

(e)     Information as to the enemy, his habits, snipers, the work he is doing, &c.

(f)     Water supply.

(g)     Artillery support.

(h)     Communications.

(i)     Dangerous points.

(j)     Line of advance to be used in a counter-attack.

(k)     Position of "shell trenches" or "feathers" or other cover from enemy artillery fire.

27. GUIDES:—

(a)     Arrangements will be made between the C.O. of relieving and about to be relieved battalions as to places where guides will be provided by the latter to conduct the incoming troops to the trenches.

(b)     One guide per platoon, one for each Company Headquarters and one for Battalion Headquarters will be provided These guides must know the exact spot where they will meet the relieving troops and the best and safest way to the trenches.


After leaving the rendezvous there is to be no smoking or talking till arrival in the trenches.


The rate of marching to the trenches from billets will not exceed 2 miles per hour.


(a)     The troops being relieved will not leave the trenches until all trench stores have been handed over and receipts received, all the relieving troops are in position and new sentries have been posted and orders to move have been received from the Company Commander.

(b)     Platoon Commanders will at once personally examine all firing positions and satisfy themselves that each man can fire on the foot of the nearest part of the wire entanglement.

(c)     They will examine the ammunition and bomb magazines, vermoral and other sprayers and anti-gas solution vessels.

(d)     When the relief is completed O.C. Companies will report to that effect to Battalion Headquarters.

(e)     Men will not be dismissed till the O.C. Company has received reports from all his Platoon Commanders that everything is in order.


(a)     Before marching to trenches, feet and legs will be washed, then thoroughly dried and rubbed with anti-frostbite grease or whale oil, under platoon supervision. Boots should be large enough for two pairs of socks, and puttees must be put on loosely.

(b)     The march to the trenches will be in ankle boots. Every man will carry two pairs of spare socks, spare grease and towel.

(c)     On arrival at the trenches, take off ankle boots and wet socks, dry and grease feet, put on dry socks, gum boots (trench stores)     or paper stockings and ankle boots.

(d)     During the tour in the trenches, circulation must be kept up by movement; the restriction of the circulation of the lower limbs is the principal cause of chilled feet.

(e)     Boots and puttees will be removed at least once every 24 hours, feet and legs will be dried, rubbed and greased, and dry socks will be put on.

(f)     Gum boots will be taken off before troops march out on relief and will be handed over as trench stores to the relieving unit.

(g)     On arrival in billets, feet will be washed and rubbed; dry socks, hot drinks and food will be provided under battalion arrangements.

(h)     Warming braziers made from 3 or 5 gallon oil drums will be provided, and a daily allowance of 2 lbs. coke and 1/2 lb. charcoal per man in the trenches. An extra pea soup, tea and sugar ration will also be issued.

(i)     C.Os. are responsible that all trench pumps on charge are kept in good repair and made use of to the fullest extent. The drier the trenches are, the fewer will be the cases of chilled feet.

(j)     A daily foot inspection, under the supervision of an officer, will be carried out while in the line.


It is the duty of all ranks to assist in the salvage of articles which may be used again or which have any value for manufacturing purposes; the formation of Divisional Salvage Companies in no way absolves units of their duty in this respect.