World War I manuals reveal standards expected of Britains soldiers

November 3rd, 2008 - 5:25 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 3 (ANI): A new book, which is a compilation of First World War manuals, has revealed in extraordinary detail the standards expected of Britains soldiers fighting on the front line in the war.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the compilation of officers manuals, which have been published for the first time since the end of the conflict, gives a new insight into the daily challenges the men faced as well as the lighter side of army life.

Published to coincide with the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, the book, An Officers Manual of the Western Front, also records the levels of hygiene and personal cleanliness required of soldiers.

The pamphlets, which officers used to pass on tactics and orders to their men while on the front line, reveal what soldiers were supposed to do in virtually any circumstance, from standing perfectly still at the sight of enemy aircraft to carrying a spare sock under their jacket, on each shoulder, so they could be changed if their feet got wet.

The manuals even offer suggestions of games the soldiers could play in their free time that would keep their minds alert and also develop skills that could be used in battle.

In a twist on football, a game called bomb-ball was created, which was described as a game for bringing into play the muscles used in bombing (throwing grenades), and for the development of quick and accurate throwing.

According to the manual, such games inculcate discipline and develop quickness of brain and movement, whereas, if carelessly carried out, they may do more harm than good.

The pamphlets also emphasise that maintaining a positive attitude among soldiers was the key to keeping morale high.

Platoon commanders were advised that they would build a well-trained platoon by establishing a high soldierly spirit and setting the example.

Characteristics singled out included being blood-thirsty, and for ever thinking how to kill the enemy, being well turned out, punctual, and cheery, even under adverse circumstances and recognising a good effort, even if it is not really successful.

The pamphlets also discuss methods deployed by the enemies for espionage, and highlight the need to be suspicious of pigeons found in France.

The keeping of unregistered carrier pigeons is illegal, and they are a favourite method of communication by spies, one of the manuals said.

According to Dr Stephen Bull, who wrote the book, Weve got glimpses of the war from memoirs, but this is the first time its been laid out to give such a full picture of life in the trenches. (ANI)

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