Witley, February 13, 1917

Tuesday   Weather changing to warmer Ordinary routine Feeling good


Section Gun Drill is  a mainstay of Field Artillery Training, and thus a part of ordinary routine as well as the special training scheme in place at Witley this month.  Training has two parts: instruction and drill. In instruction, we are told, “the language used should be as simple as possible, and the meaning of all technical terms which are necessary should be carefully explained. A conversational tone should be adopted and under no circumstances whatever should anything in the nature of long quotations from drill books be allowed. The men should be permitted to assume an easy attitude and their interest should not be allowed to flag. They should be encouraged in the fullest possible degree to ask questions.

15 Firing Practice Hankley Common crop.jpg“At drill on the contrary the most rigid discipline must be maintained, orders must be clear, decisive and emphatic, and the detachments made to work steadily, smartly, and rapidly. At the same time the utmost accuracy is essential and any deviation from the methods laid down must be at once strictly checked.”(1)

Here is a polite transcription of an instructor dealing with a gun crew whose performance did not meet his standards:

“You’ve learnt your gun drill,” he said, “learned it like a sulphur-crested cockatoo learns to gabble  ‘Pretty Polly scratch a poll;’ why in the name of Moses you can’t make your hands do what your tongue says has me beat.”(2)

(1) Notes on Field Artillery Training compiled by the officers of the 34th Battery, CFA, CEF. 1916.129
(2) Notes on Field Artillery Training. 181

The snippet of typescript is from Appendix 4 of the War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery.Vol. 1 January 23, 1917 to February 28, 1917.Library and Archives of Canada.

The photograph, labelled “Firing Practice, Hankley Common, England, February 1917” is from Percy’s large album.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”


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