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Drill

This page is under constant revision. More will be added as it come available. If you wish to add any text that you have, please contact me at hocfutue@yahoo.com.
The instructions given here have been taken from various war-era manuals. The drill given here omits certain commands and evolutions for the platoon and company, as the focus of this site is on the section. Graphics may be added in the future.
The first word(s) or syllables of command should be given slowly, and the last word or syllable (shown following "--" on this page) is to be given sharply.

Without Arms

Salute

Salute by numbers--One.

Bring right hand smartly, with circular motion, to head, palm to front, fingers extended and close together, point of forefinger an inch above right eye, or touching edge of peak of cap, thumb close to forefinger; elbow in line, and nearly square with shoulder, tips of fingers, wrist, and elbow in straight line.

Two.

Cut away the arm smartly to side by the shortest way.

When without a cap, etc.

A soldier without his cap, or when carrying anything other than his arms, will not salute, but will, if standing still, come to attention as an officer passes; if walking, he will turn his head smartly towards the officer in passing him, keeping his arms steady by the side.

Right--Dress

Each recruit, except the right-hand man, will turn his head and eyes to the right and at the same time the front rank only will extend their right arm, back of the hand upwards and clenched with the knuckles touching the shoulder of the man on his right. The whole squad will then take up their dressing in line by moving, with short quick steps, till he is just able to distinguish the lower part of the face of the second man beyond him. Care must be taken to carry the body backward or forward with the feet, the shoulders being kept perfectly square in their original position. The centre and rear ranks will ensure they are covering off their front rank man.

Eyes--Front

The head and eyes will be turned smartly to the front, the arm cut away to the side and the position of attention resumed.

Open Order--March

The front rank will take two paces forward and the rear two paces back.

Close Order--March

The action of Open Order--March is reversed.

Squad--Attention

Spring up to the following position: Heels together and in line. Feet turned out at an angle of about 80 degrees. Knees straight. Body erect, and carried evenly over the thighs, with the shoulders (which should be level and square to the front) down and moderately back; this should bring the chest to its natural forward position without any straining or stiffening. Arms hanging from the shoulders as straight as the natural bend of the arm will allow. Wrists straight. Hands closed, but not clenched. Backs of the fingers touching the thigh lightly, thumb to the front and close to the forefinger, thumb immediately behind the seam of the trousers. Neck erect. Head balanced evenly on the neck and not poked forward, eyes looking their own height and straight into the front. The weight of the body should be balanced on both feet and evenly distributed between the forepart of the feet and the heels. The breathing must not in any way be restricted, and no part of the body should be either drawn in or pushed out. The position is one of readiness in expectation of the word of command and is that adopted when addressing, or being addressed by, a superior officer.

Stand At--Ease

Keeping the legs straight, carry the left foot about twelve inches to the left so that the weight of the body rests equally on both feet. At the same time, carry the hands behind the back and place the back of the right hand in the palm of the left, grasping it lightly with the finger and thumb, and allowing the arms to hang at their full extent.
  1. In marching order without the rifle the arms will be retained as in the position of attention.
  2. When a recruit falls in he will stand at ease after he has got his dressing.

Stand--Easy

The limbs, head and body may be moved, but the man will not move his feet, so that on coming to attention there will be no loss of dressing. Slouching attitudes are not to be permitted. If eitehr foot is moved men are inclined to lose their dressing. On the caution Squad, etc., the correct position of Stand at Ease will be assumed.

Right--Turn

  1. Keeping both knees straight and the body erect, turn to the right on the right heel and the left toe, raising the left heel and right toe in doing so. On the completion of this preliminary movement, the right foot must be flat on the ground and the left heel raised; both knees straight, and the weight of the body, which must be erect, on the right foot.
  2. Bring the left foot smartly up to the right.

Left--Turn

  1. Keeping both knees straight and the body erect, turn to the left on the left heel and the right toe, raising the right heel and left toe in doing so. On the completion of this preliminary movement, the left foot must be flat on the ground and the right heel raised; both knees straight, and the weight of the body, which must be erect, on the left foot.
  2. ii. Bring the right foot smartly up to the left.

About--Turn

  1. Keeping both knees straight and the body erect, turn right-about on the right heel and left toe, raising the right toe and the left heel in doing so, but keeping the right heel firmly on the ground. On the completion of this preliminary movement the right foot must be flat on the ground and the left heel raised; both knees straight, and the weight of the body, which must be erect, on the right foot.
  2. Bring the left foot smartly up to the right.

Right (or Left)--Incline

Inclining is similar to turning, except that a half-turn is made instead of a full turn.

The Squad Will Advance. Quick--March

The squad will step off together with the left foot in quick time.

Squad--Halt

The word of command being received as the right foot passes the left. Squad, etc., will complete the pace with the right foot, take another pace forward with the left foot, and bring the right foot smartly into the left. At the same time the arms will be brought into the side and resume the position of attention.

Mark--Time

The foot then advancing will complete its pace, after which the time will be continued, without advancing, by raising the foot alternately about six inches, keeping the feet almost parallel with the ground, the knees raised to the front, the arms steady at the sides, and the body steady. On the command For--ward, the pace at which the men were moving will be resumed.

... Paces, Step Back--March

Step back the named number of paces of 30 inches straight to the rear, commencing with the left foot, keeping the arms still by the sides.

Change--Step

The advancing foot will complete its pace, and the ball of the rear foot will be brought up to the heel of the advanced one, which will make another step forward, so that the time will not be lost, two successive steps being taken with the same foot.

Right--Turn (on the march)

On the command Right--Turn the left foot will be brought forward until it is just in front of the right foot, and each man will then turn smartly in the required direction, using his left foot as a pivot, and advance a full pace of 30 inches in the new direction with the right foot. The turn to the right must be made off the left foot and to the left off the right foot.

About--Turn (on the march)

Complete the pace with the left foot, take another pace forward with the right foot, then commence the turn with the left foot, the turn being completed in three beats of the time in which the soldier is marching. He will turn square to the right the fist two motions, mark time one pace with the left foot and will at once move forward, the fourth pace being a full one and taken with the right foot.

Change direction Right. Right--Wheel.

The inner man of the front rank will move round a quarter of the circumference of a circle having a radius of four feet, stepping short to enable the other men of the Platoon to wheel with him. When the quarter-circle is completed the Platoon leads on in the new direction. The other ranks in succession will follow in the footsteps of the leading rank without increasing or diminishing their distance from each other or altering the time.

Squad--Dismiss (without arms)

The squad will turn to the right, salute (the head and eyes will not be turned towards the officer) and, after a pause equal to four paces in quick time, break off quickly and leave the parade ground in quick time. If no officer is on parade the men will not salute before they break off.

With Arms

Falling in with Arms at the Order

The recruit will fall in as described, with the rifle held perpendicularly at his right side, the butt on the ground, its toe in line with the toe of the right boot. The right arm to be slightly bent, the hand to hold the rifle at or near the band, back of the hand to the right, thumb against the thigh, fingers together and slanting towards the ground, elbow to the rear. When each man has taken up his dressing (in this case putting up his left arm and looking to the right) he will stand at ease.

Stand at--Ease

Carry the left foot about twelve inches to the left so that the weight of the body rests equally on both feet. At the same time push the muzzle of the rifle smartly forward with the right hand, the right arm straight and close to the side, without allowing the right shoulder to drop, toe of the butt remaining in line with the toe of the right boot, the left arm to be kept in the position of attention.

Stand--Easy

On the command Stand--Easy, the right hand will be slid up the rifle to the piling swivel and the men will act as in Stand--Easy without arms. On the caution Squad, the right hand will be slid down to the band, and the position of Stand At Ease assumed.

(from Stand at Ease) Squad--Attention

The left foot will be brought smartly up to the right and the rifle returned to the order.

Slope--Arms

  1. Throw the rifle upwards with the right hand, catching it with both hands at the same time, left hand at the back sight, the right hand at the small of the butt, thumb to the left, elbow to the rear, right arm nearly straight, rifle kept perpendicular, close into the right side, shoulders to be kept square.
  2. Carry the rifle across the body and place it flat on the left shoulder, magazine outwards from the body. As the rifle comes on the shoulder seize the butt with the left hand, the first two joints of the fingers grasping the upper side of the butt, the thumb about one inch above the toe, left elbow close to the side, forearm horizontal, and the heel of the butt in line with the centre of the left thigh.
  3. Cut away the right hand to the position of attention. Rifle to be kept perfectly still.

Order Arms

  1. Bring the rifle down to the full extent of the left arm, at the same time meeting it with the right hand, where it is held at the order, arms close to the body. Butt not to be drawn to the rear.
  2. Bring the rifle tot he right side, steadying it at the time with the left hand at the nose-cap, butt just clear of the ground.
  3. Place the butt quietly on the ground, cutting the left hand away to the side.

Present--Arms (from the slope)

  1. Grasp the rifle with the right hand at the small, forearm close to the body.
  2. Raise the rifle with the right hand perpendicularly in front of the centre of the body, magazine to the left; at the same time place the left hand smartly on the stock, wrist on the magazine, fingers pointing upwards, thumb close to the forefinger, point of the thumb in line with the mouth; the left elbow to be close to the butt, the right elbow and butt about three inches from the front and in the centre of the body.
  3. Quitting the rifle with the elft hand, bring the rifle down perpendicularly in front of, and about three inches from, the centre of the body, turning the magazine to the front, holding at the full extent of the right arm, fingers together slanting downwards, and meet it smartly with the left hand immediately behind the backsight, outside the sling, thumb pointing towards the muzzle and on the left of the rifle; at the same time place the hollow of the right foot against the left heel, both knees straight. The weight of the rifle to be supported by the left hand and forearm parallel with the ground.

Slope--Arms (from the present)

  1. Bring the right foot up in line with the left, and at the same time place the rifle on the left shoulder as described in the second motion of the slope from the order.
  2. Cut away the right hand to the side. Rifle to be kept still.

Salute at the Slope

Salute to the Front By Numbers--One

Bring the right hand across and strike the butt of the rifle just below the small, with the palm of the hand, fingers extended and thumb close to the forefinger. Forearm parallel to the ground.

Two

Cut the right hand smartly to the side.
Note: When marching with a rifle at the slope and a compliment is being paid, the right hand will be brought up as in One above three paces before reaching the Officer and cut away three paces after passing him. When acting as a sentry and standing at ease a compliment will be paid by the sentry springing to attention and standing at ease again after the Officer has passed him.

Squad will Fix Bayonets

  1. On the command "Fix Bayonets" being given, grasp hold of the bayonet handle with the left hand and place the bayonet on the rifle as quickly as possible, care being taken to see that it is properly fixed.
  2. On the command "Unfix Bayonets," place the rifle between the feet, grasp the bayonet handle with the right hand, put the bayonet away and return to the order.

For Inspection, Port--Arms

Throw the rifle, muzzle leading, with the right hand smartly across the body, magazine to the left and downwards, and meet it at the same time with the left hand close behind the backsight, thumb and fingers round the rifle, the left wrist to be opposite the left breast, both elbows close to the body.
Turn the safety catch completely over to the front with the thumb of the right hand. Pull out the cut-off, first pressing it downwards with the thumb, then seize the knob with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand and, taking the time from the right-hand man, turn it sharply upwards and draw back the bolt to its full extent. Then seize the butt with the right hand immediately behind the bolt, thumb pointing to the muzzle.

Ease Springs

From the position described above, work the bolt rapidly backwards and forwards until all cartridges are removed from the magazine and chamber (this precaution will also be adopted when magazines are not charged, and at drill it should be presumed that five rounds are in the magazine and chamber) allowing them to fall to the ground, then close the cut-off (except with the S.M.L.E Mark III* rifles which have no cut-off) by placing the right hand over the breech, press the trigger, turn the safety catch over to the rear with the first finger of the right hand, and return the hand to the small with the forefinger along the outside of the trigger guard. In the case of the P.14 rifle the above exercise cannot be carried out, as the breech cannot be closed when the magazine is empty. The magazine platform must first be depressed to allow the bolt to go forward.

Charge Magazines

The magazine will hold two chargers of five cartridges each, but should, in ordinary circumstances, be loaded with one only. If it is desired to charge the magazine without loading the rifle, the top cartridge may be pressed downward with the thumb and the cut-off closed.
The breech will then be closed, trigger pressed, and the safety catch applied.
When using a rifle which is not fitted with a cut-off and it is required to charge magazines, keep the pressure on the top cartridges with the thumb of the right hand, and draw bolt head over it with the little finger, close the breech, press the trigger and apply the safety catch.

Order Arms (from the port)

Order Arms--One

Holding the rifle firmly in the left hand, seize it with the right hand, where it is held at the order.

Two.

As in the second motion of the order from the slope.

Three.

As in the third motion of the order from the slope.

Instructions for Inspecting Arms.

  1. When arms are inspected at the port only, as in inspecting a platoon on parade, the officer, warrant officer, or N.C.O. will see that the exterior of the rifle is clean and free from rust; that the magazine and action are clean and in good order; that the sights are at zero; and that no parts are loose or damaged. He will here and there examine the bore of a rifle to see that it has been cleaned and is free from obstructions.
  2. Each soldier, when the officer, warrant officer, or N.C.O. has passed the file next to him, will, without further word of command, ease springs, order arms, and stand at ease, the last two men of each rank working together.

Examine--Arms

Each rank, being at the port, will come to the position for loading, with the muzzle so inclined as to enable the officer, warrant officer, or N.C.O. to look through the barrel, the thumbnail of the right hand being placed in front of the bolt to reflect light into the barrel.
The soldier, when the officer, warrant officer, or N.C.O. has passed the next file to him, will act as detailed in Section 38, 2 above.
  1. If it is necessary to examine arms, the men, when in the position of for inspection, port arms, will receive the command "Examine Arms." They will then come to position as in the first paragraph above.
  2. In ordering arms from the examine, the first motion is to seize the rifle with the right hand, where it is held at the order, at the same time bringing the left foot back to the right. With the second motion, the rifle will be brought to the right side, the left hand steadying the rifle, as in the second motion of the order from the slope. The third motion is the same as the third motion of the order from the slope.

Trail Arms From the Order

The trail is not to be used in close order drill except by Rifle and English light infantry regiments.
It will be used, however, in the field when the men are advancing in section groups or other similar formation and when they extend.

Trail--Arms

By a slight bend of the right arm give the rifle a cant forward and seize it at the point of balance, bringing it at once to a horizontal position at the side at the full extent of the right arm, which should hang easily from the shoulder, fingers and thumb round the rifle.

On Guard From the Order and Vice Versa

1. On--Guard

Throw the rifle up with the right hand and come smartly to the on-guard position, by bringing the rifle in front of the body, bayonet pointing to the front and slightly upwards, grasping it with the right hand at the small of the butt(which should be just in front of the right thigh), and with the left hand holding the rifle in the most convenient position just in front of the backsight so that the left arm is only slightly bent. At the same time take a full walking pace with the left foot, left knee slightly bent.

2. Order Arms--One

Seize the rifle with the right hand at the band and come to the order, at the same time bring the left foot back to the right and turn to the front, steadying the rifle with the left hand.

Two.

Cut away the left hand to the side.

The High-Port from the On-Guard, and Vice Versa

1. High--Port.

Keeping the grasp of the rifle as in the on-guard position, bring the rifle to a diagonal position across the front of the body, the muzzle pointing upwards, magazine to the front, and butt sufficiently advanced to enable it to be brought instantly to the should to fire. At the same time bring the right foot smartly up to the left.

2. On--Guard.

Return to the on-guard position, advancing the left foot.

To Ground Arms and Take up Arms, from and to the Order

(Although not now taught as a drill movement this should be explained to the men so that they can do this when necessary.)

1. Ground Arms--One.

Bend down and place the rifle on the ground at the right side, magazine to the right. The right hand will be in line with the toe as it places the rifle on the ground, and rifle at same angle as the right foot.

Two.

Return smartly to the position of attention.

2. Take Up Arms--One.

Bend down and seize the rifle with the right hand in line with the right toe.

Two.

Pick up the rifle and return smartly to the order.

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