What do these entries reveal about the methods of training officers during the First World War?

These notes were written by Roland Gerard Garvin when he was on a course of military instruction at Chelsea in December 1914. They provide a fascinating insight into how officers were trained in Britain before they were sent to fight in the First World War. Garvin like many others volunteered to join the army straight after finishing school. He immediately underwent military training. In just under a year he had to master the complexities of drill, the intricate etiquette of army life and the strict rules of military discipline. As an officer a prime concern was to set an example to his men and adhere to Sergeant McDermott’s three duties of: obedience; cleanliness; sobriety and honesty. 

On 22 July 1916 Captain Garvin, aged 20, was killed by enemy fire during the Somme Offensive.


  1. Transcript


    Precepts of Sgt [McDermott.]

    In turning to the right on the march:-

    (1) the word ‘turn’ comes on the right foot.

    (2) Bring the left foot up to the right, at the same time

    (3) shooting out the right foot in the new direction & coming round on left toe
    – ‘turn’!



  2. Transcript


    The three duties of a soldier are:-

    (1) Obedience

    (2) Cleanliness

    (3) Honesty & Sobriety

    An officer salutes only generals [& of] his own colonel. his own brigadier