What do the notes reveal about British training methods?

In April 1915 Second Lieutenant Roland Gerard Garvin attended a course of instruction at Staff College in Camberley, Surrey. Here he went to lectures on tactical instruction, topography, field engineering, administration, organisation, military law and hygiene. One of his lecturers was Major Rees who had commanded a battalion during the retreat from Mons in 1914. 

These notes and the drawings come from a tour of field works Garvin attended, which was led by Major Rees. On this tour Garvin learnt how to create a loophole in a nine inch and in a 14 inch wall, how to conceal an abattis or field fortification, and the measurements for an effective overhead cover. Major Rees also stressed the need to use this knowledge along with their common sense as ‘trenching’ was not an exact science.


  1. Transcript


    Tour of Field Works with Major Rees. D.S.O
    (Commanded battalion during retreat from Mons)

    In using a damaged lost house for sniping, keep sniping posts as far as possible in the shadow.
    When you knock a loophole in a wall, splay it inwards:-

    B A B A B A = header )
    B = stretcher )
    A B A B A B
    B A B A B

    To loophole a 9” wall knock out 1 header & enlarge gap by chipping.

    From a 14” wall knock out first a stretcher, then a header. Smooth by chipping.

    Abattis & similar obstacles demand concealment to be of value. Picket & wire down the tree-trunks

  2. Transcript


    Recess fire – trenches.
    Construct “bores” in a narrow trench.

    Specimen measurements for overhead cover:-

    14” 9”

    Insist on good lateral communication.

    Use your knowledge sensibly, applying it flexibly. Rule of thumb is fatal in trenching as elsewhere. “You may dig a trench utterly different from anything you have seen here, & yet it may be quite right.”