Marching order of the British Army

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by ancienturion, Aug 1, 2009.

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  1. ancienturion

    ancienturion LE Book Reviewer

    I have not been very successful in finding the following information. Perhaps someone could help.
    When did the British army stop forming four ranks and parade/march in three ranks?
  2. Not long after WW1. Early 1920s maybe.
  3. ancienturion

    ancienturion LE Book Reviewer

    Many thanks. Info so far had indicated somewhere around WW1 but not sure whether during or after.
  4. JINGO

    JINGO War Hero Book Reviewer

    I recall reading somewhere (but cant recall where) that it was linked to the downsizing of Infantry Battalions, but ive got it in my head that this occured before WW1 in the early 1900s. Mind you if Brown keeps going the way he wants the Army will soon be parading in one rank and one file.
  5. If you look at photographs of WW1 troops they are still marching in fours. Couldn't find the answer on Google either.
  6. FSR's 1923
  7. After the first day of The Somme, I'd say.
  8. Nope FSR's 1923
  9. I read one WW1 account which linked the change to "3's" to the need to ease traffic flow on the narrow roads/tracks in the support area.

    Maybe it was a wartime expedient that was only later formalised into the drill manuals?
  10. The Infantry changed from 4 platoon companies to 3 and 4 company Bns to 3 in the later stage of WW1,it was brought on by a shortage of manpower. I reckon this is probably when they changed into 3 ranks from 4. Mind you I read somewhere recently that the Brigade of Guards, apparently having decided to wait and see if such a bold, dangerously radical step would cause a breakdown in discipline and a decline in saluting, didn't change their drill until they had specifically received permission from King George V in 1940 or something!!
  11. Are you sure it was as early as WW1? I recall my father describing forming fours on the drill square as a newly joined aircrew volunteer in 1940.
  12. HA! Toldja, toldja, ner ner ni ner ner!
  13. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I was going to give my two penn'orth because I was under the impression that it happened after Dunkirk because the columns of troops were so pitifully short, but reading this thread I didn't want my head above the parapet.

    Since somebody beat me to putting his two penn'orth in, there's mine now.
  14. You do mean George VI don't you :?
  15. From memory: wasn't the effectiveness of the British Army based on the change to a two-rank firing line instead of the naff, continental three-rank line?
    Marching in four files offered a tactical advantage. When turned, the second and fourth could quickly fill the gaps in the first and third ranks to form the firing line - less caterpillaring. less time wasted closing up the formation.
    Once the Thin Red Line disappeared from the battlefield it's likely the 'fours' soldiered on until 1923 before reverting to the (more convenient?) threes.