Officer Training WW2

Leedsboy

Swinger
I am researching a Black Watch Officer, served 1943-49. The museum told me training could have taken place anywhere and I wondered how they were trained up then?

Obviously not 12 months at RMAS but has anyone seen an old handbook perhaps reprinted? How to be an Officer 1940s style? Or general Infantry stuff from that period?

I'm told Regimental records are almost non-existent unless a retired Colonel wrote about a particular Battalion etc. APC may have some records but at £30 a go it's not cheap.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
I am researching a Black Watch Officer, served 1943-49. The museum told me training could have taken place anywhere and I wondered how they were trained up then?

Obviously not 12 months at RMAS but has anyone seen an old handbook perhaps reprinted? How to be an Officer 1940s style? Or general Infantry stuff from that period?

I'm told Regimental records are almost non-existent unless a retired Colonel wrote about a particular Battalion etc. APC may have some records but at £30 a go it's not cheap.
If I remember correctly, Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Frazer recounts factually his commissioning from Lance Corporal from a battalion of the Border Regiment whilst stationed in South East Asia at the end of the Second World Unpleasantness.

Pretty sure if you read his Complete MacAuslan (a work of faction in that all names were changed including his own, and some characters are the conflation of two or more) he also flashed back to his commissioning in an authentic manner.I

Whatever, both are required reading.
 

exspy

LE
From what I have read in biographies, and it seems to have been a consistent system of officer selection across the board, is that during the War, all officers (other than specialists) were selected from the ranks. That is, several weeks into a soldier's basic training, those considered to be officer material were selected for what was known as the Brigade Squad. This was where potential officers finished their training and attended the officer selection board. Those who passed were sent to an OCTU (Officer Cadet Training Unit) for officer training and commissioning.

I don't believe individual OCTU's provided officers for particular regiments or corps, so any OCTU could have provided the training to the officer for whom you are looking.

For examples, have a look at the biographies of Peter de la Billiere or Colin Mitchell.

Cheers,
Dan.
 

offog

LE
I brought a Star.

In this book Thomas Firbank describes his experiences of training and war in the years 1939 to 1945. He went from hill-farmer in Snowdonia (described in 'I bought a Mountain') to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Guards in four years. It begins in Spain from where he drives to London to help the war effort. His account of training in Scotland and North Africa is detailed and realistic, proving his extraordinary physical resourcefulness. He saw active service in Italy. Then, in September 1944, on the Netherland-German border, he descended by glider to Nijmegen. Firbank's rare first-hand account of this famous engagement is told with a wry humour and an engaging lack of melodrama.
The author was awarded the Military Cross and Bar.
May be of help.

My Grandfather spent part of his war at a OCTU. Unfortunately I was too young to understand and take not.
 
161 OCTU moved to Mons Barracks Aldershot - used by the Royal Signals - in 1942. This became the Mons OCTU (Aldershot). AIUI and from a vague recollection of the Shot, Mons Bks was just over the canal bridge from the ACC Trg Bn & Depot. I may even have been into Mons once or twice when the 'Duke of Boots' were there.

Edited to add
A Mumbles boy recalls his training days at the Royal Military College during the 2nd World War - written by Grafton Maggs:
Grafton Maggs: Reluctant Heroes
 
Last edited:
If I remember correctly, Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Frazer recounts factually his commissioning from Lance Corporal from a battalion of the Border Regiment whilst stationed in South East Asia at the end of the Second World Unpleasantness.

Pretty sure if you read his Complete MacAuslan (a work of faction in that all names were changed including his own, and some characters are the conflation of two or more) he also flashed back to his commissioning in an authentic manner.I

Whatever, both are required reading.
I agree, two superb books. The McAuslan series loses it ever so slightly as one gets the impression that old George was moving from memoirs (I know they are ostensibly fiction but you can't help thinking he only changed a few names and slightly embellished a couple of real-life tales) to having an eye on a Sunday evening slot for a BBC light drama series, but nonetheless a great read.

Of course if, like me when you first read them (I know incredible, I had no idea who George MacDonald Fraser was when I read QSOH), you have never read Fraser's Flashman series then you are in for a treat (except the last one, avoid Flashman on the March like the plague it will just make you sad reading it).

Sorry, I know this doesn't help with the OP's query.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
The OCTU at Sandhurst was for the RAC with a 21 week course (in 1944, anyway):

 
I agree, two superb books. The McAuslan series loses it ever so slightly as one gets the impression that old George was moving from memoirs (I know they are ostensibly fiction but you can't help thinking he only changed a few names and slightly embellished a couple of real-life tales) to having an eye on a Sunday evening slot for a BBC light drama series, but nonetheless a great read.
In the last story of the third MacAuslan book, his colonel slaps his wrist for doing just that!
Of course if, like me when you first read them (I know incredible, I had no idea who George MacDonald Fraser was when I read QSOH), you have never read Fraser's Flashman series then you are in for a treat (except the last one, avoid Flashman on the March like the plague it will just make you sad reading it).
Light on at Signpost was excellent.
Superman? James Bond? Oh, and Red Sonia!
Who'd have thunk it.
 
My maternal grandfather told me of his experience with officer training in WW1. It went something like this:

The scene, a trench near Loos. Lots of bangs and screaming. Significant casualties amongst the unit's leadership.

Officer: "Here, Private Wightsparker's Grandfather - take this pistol and whistle and you can be a second lieutenant!"

Grandfather: "No thanks, I've seen what happens to them."

By the end of the war, he had not progressed beyond private. But he came home.
 

Latest Threads

Top