Canadian Expeditionary Force (21) Instructional Troops

Instructional Troops

The vast majority of the First Contingent were either active or former members of the Militia. In addition of 60% were British born many of these having served in the British Army. As infantry ‘wastage’ ran at 10% per month for the duration of the First World War, this pool of trained soldiers was quickly used up. As the need for reinforcements was constant most volunteers, and later conscripts, entered the armed forces with little or no military training of any kind. It was also found practical to send the new recruits to England as soon as possible to prevent AWOL and outright desertions. A number of specialized schools were set up in England to train instructors for the flood of raw recruits arriving from Canada and also to retrain wounded soldiers to enable them to rejoin the Canadian Corps on the Western Front. All staff at the schools of instruction were former soldiers who had been wounded in action.

Before 1917 there were no purely Canadian training organizations in England training was directed by the Imperial Staff at whichever Camp the Canadian troops were located. By the spring of 1918 recruits arriving from Canada went to a segregation camp for 28 days where basic training instruction and physical instruction begun.. After this the recruit transferred to a Reserve Battalion for 14 weeks of basic infantryman training. This included Musketry, Hand-Grenade, Rifle Grenade (Mills Bomb), Bayonet, Anti-Gas, Entrenching and Lewis Gun. Further training for selected soldiers with special aptitudes including signaling, machine gun, engineering, engineer signals and Canadian Army Medical Corps.

In Canada specialized schools were established training instructors at the Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff, The Canadian Trench Warfare School, The Canadian Infantry Instructors Pool, The Canadian Bayonet Fighting, The Canadian Signaling School, The Canadian Gunnery School, The Canadian Machine Gun School., The Canadian Engineering School and the Canadian Engineering Signaling School. Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff.

The Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff was a small cadre of specialists who provided training to the personnel to become the qualified instructors in physical training, bayonet fighting, recreational training and remedial gymnastics for the Canadian Army Overseas. The school, this was originally located at Shorncliffe but later moved to Bordon. All instructors had previously been wounded in the field. The cap and collar badges were worn only by the instructors at the school and not by their students, a uniform has been noted with a collar badges also worn on the shoulder straps. A larger size badge was also worn as a sleeve badge over the chevrons by sergeant instructors both at the school and by the NCO graduates. During the course of the First World War, a total of 1,300 Officers and 2,966 Other ranks attended courses provided by the Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff.

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