Training: Spit & Polish

What was Percy required to learn and do during his training? There were, of course, lessons in the spit and polish of Army life; there was physical training, drill and marching, and there were lessons and some practice in the skills demanded for the handling of artillery and horses.

On receiving his uniform and kit, Percy, like every soldier discovered the requirements of maintenance – his own and his kit’s.


Morning shave using a rifle tripod, Camp ValCartier (1)

All soldiers were issued a razor (not a safety razor) and shaving soap. Daily shaving, they were told, was required even on active service. A moustache was permitted. Indeed, there was a fashion for moustaches in the early years of the war but that fashion passed. Cleanliness under the uniform was ensured by a Shower Bath Parade, usually once a week. The uniform itself, subject to constant wear, was to be kept clean by brushing. Buttons, buckles and badges – any metal appurtenances – were to be polished. Boots, belts, those pigskin bandoliers were also to be clean and polished. Tears were to be mended (a sewing kit was part of the official equipment issue)and buttons replaced if they went missing.

Inspection took place at the morning parade, so the hours between reveille at 7 and parade at 9 included not only a brief PT (physical training) parade and breakfast, but the spit and polish required to pass muster.

(1) Image from Queen’s University Archives

With information from Derek Grout. Thunder in the Skies. A Canadian Gunner in the Great War. 2015 (38-39) and Robert Clements. Merry Hell. The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment) CEF 1914-1919. Ed. B.D. Tennyson. 2013 (17).

Copyright 2016. See “About this Project.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s