Second World War - Regular Army recruit/officer training

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by currymunter, Feb 19, 2010.

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  1. Anyone know whether regular depots carried on recruiting/training regular soldiers during the war? Similarly, did Sandhurst/Woolwich carry on training 'regular cadres'?

    If not, any idea how they looked to select the future leaders (NCO, WO and Offrs) during war years? References would be helpful.

    I accept that they may just have been too busy fighting to care much. :?

  2. No, money talked, and as such, officers were drawn from the rich and their ilk, have you not watched Sharpe?
  3. Typical woodentop. Can't read. If I bawl it (with pauses), will you understand the question?
  4. Don't know about adult soldiers, but RSignals did recruit 'apprentice tradesmen' (aged 14!) during the war years, so I guess the other tech' Corps did too.
  5. My only info applies to one officer but he went to Sandhurst and "tried for a regular commission", but ended up a wartime officer, so I suspect decisions were not made until the end of the course where presumably the best were offered regular commissions and the rest put into the 'for duration' bracket. Some rankers commissioned during the war were offered regular commissions because one wrote a book about his experiences, See "Mailed fist" by John Foley.
  6. To my knowledge only emergency commissions were granted during the war, at least for those who went to an OCTU, unlike during WW1. The RMC was closed down for the duration and part of its staff and buildings used for 161 Infantry OCTU (which moved to Aldershot in 1942) and 101 RAC OCTU. Many more OCTUs existed around the country. The RMA was also closed down. See here:

    In 1936, it was decided that the RMA should be amalgamated with the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.Before this decision was put into effect, both establishments closed on mobilisation in September 1939, as, in the light of experience during the First World War, no regular commissions were to be granted in time of major war. The senior cadets of both establishments were commissioned at once. The juniors were called up into the Territorial Army as private soldiers. They were then dispersed to various Officer Cadet Training Units, according to the arm or branch for which they were intended

    There are several threads on this already.
  7. My father was at the RAC OCTU in 1944 to 1945. This was based at RMAS. Not sure what else happened there at the time. His entire Sqn were commissioned in Recce Corps due to stratospheric levels of offr casualties, and with a view to invading Japan. Luckily the war ended before graduation - and he was posted to a salvage depot in Egypt instead. Less glamorous but rather safer.
  8. One of the RAC OCTUs was at Sandhurst but there were at least two others as well. Infantry OCTUs numbered about eight or nine and RA about the same. The Recce Corps OCTU had amalgamated with the Sandhurst RAC OCTU in 1942, more from the document I linked to above:

    On the outbreak of the Second World War the Royal Military College was replaced by the Sandhurst Officer Cadet Training Unit of two wings. These became respectively 101 Royal Armoured Corps OCTU and 161 Infantry OCTU (RMC). A London TA unit, the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps, formed the RAC OCTU and the Royal Military College formed the Infantry OCTU, with the subtitle RMC. Officer cadets of 161 Infantry OCTU were allowed to wear the RMC cap badge, although they were in fact soldiers belonging to the various regiments into which they were called up for the duration of hostilities. In 1942 101 RAC OCTU amalgamated with 162 Reconnaissance Corps OCTU (formed from the Infantry Battalion of another London TA regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company) to form 100 RAC OCTU. At the same time, the Infantry OCTU moved to Mons Barracks at Aldershot, where it remained, retaining its RMC associations, until 1946. It then returned to Sandhurst, while the RAC OCTU moved to Bovington.
  9. This site mainly pertains to the Royal Artillery in WW2 but parts of the section on training also apply to the Army in general:

    The outbreak of war meant the TA was 'embodied'. Both regular and TA units were mobilised and brought to their War Establishment strength including regular reservists being posted to TA units, which also absorbed their regular army permanent staff. The Military Training Act was superceded by the National Service Act when war was declared in 1939. This merged the regular army, TA, reserves and militia. It also made all men between 18 and 41 liable for conscription (the upper limit was subsequently raised to 51 but only a few up to 45 were called-up). However, conscripts were able to choose between the army, navy and airforce. Selection for regiment or corps was in the hands of the Ministry for Labour, based on a superficial assessment of the individual, inadequate guidance on the needs of different parts of the army, and the individual's preferences. This suited the navy and airforce very well, and the artillery moderately so (RA was popular), although it was very unsatisfactory from the overall army perspective.

    In 1942 the system was finally changed, and while a man could select his service, all army recruits joined the new General Service Corps for six weeks in a Primary Training Unit for basic training and selection. This ensured a better distribution of manpower according to ability and a properly informed understanding of the needs of the different parts of the army. By this time almost all recruits were 18 year olds. The selection process generally identified about 6% of recruits as potentially suitable for officer training.

    The major failure in the first years of WW2 was the selection of officers for the army. There were insufficient volunteers and high failure rates during training. In April 1942 a new selection process was created where volunteers attended a 3 day War Office Selection Board that involved assessments, interviews and group command tasks instead of the previous system of short interviews. This proved to be an excellent system, and reflected a major change in British military thinking: that leadership ability was not necessarily a matter of inheritance, some considered it 'socialism'. However, the British Army remained committed to the view that junior officers were leaders first and technicians second, and also considered that the RAF put it the other way around!