Days at the barracks

For general discussions on the British Army of the Victorian era or specific regiments.

Days at the barracks

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 12 Aug 2016 09:49

Was just wondering, how would a regiment, regular soldiers and officers spend their days in the barracks in England? Would each day be spent on the drill ground with sergeants, would the officers observe their men or would they spend time riding and fencing or be off the grounds shooting and hunting?
If a regiment was confident it was about to be sent abroad, would time be spent drilling in prep for marching and fighting in a hotter climate (forming square, long runs and marches etc?)

Was watching Band of Brothers the other night, obviously that is a different war and the US army but it is that which got me thinking.
HerbertKitch12
New Member
 
Posts: 94
Joined: 28 Oct 2013 13:49

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby zerostate » 15 Aug 2016 00:37

The daily routine was pretty standard throughout the army. There were more duties for artillery or cavalry as they had horses to look after.

Reveille: 06:00 or 06:15, dependent on the season.

Breakfast: 08:00

Orderly Room: 10:00-11:00

Dinner: 13:00

Tea: 16:00

Tattoo roll call: 21:30

Lights Out: 22:15

Daily parades would normally be held at 07:00 or 07:15, and would last about 30 minutes. Then another at 11:00 or 12:00.

Variations might be that one or both parades could be replaced by some form of training. Tradesmen (such as a cook or smith) would be excused a lot of the parades and work duties to practise their trades.

Work duties would be regular, and would involve things like getting the coal issue, keeping the barracks clean etc.

After 13:00, once a soldier was excused from the need from compulsory schooling or any remaining recruit training, the day was often their own until tea at 16:00., which was the final official meal of the day.

A fair bit of spare time would be taken up by what was called 'soldiering' – which was the practice of keeping uniform and personal accoutrements clean and in repair.

On Sundays there would be a compulsory divine parade.

Duties that did take up a soldiers time were being on guard, which was for twenty-four hours with each 'go' at being a sentry two hours on, four hours off. Not too bad, but soldiers were not allowed to remove their accoutrements during that 24 hour period as they had to be ready in seconds if the guard was called out. A soldier could be called on for guard duty as little as once per week, or as many as three if the level of eligible manpower was low.
Okay - my memory fails me right now, but there was a barrack room orderly who served either for a day or a week (I think a day) who was the general dogsbody who had to collect meals to be delivered to the barrack room (the soldiers ate and slept in the same room) run errands etc.
Tradesmen were usually excused guard and orderly duties, and most of the other duties too.

During the training months (the warmer ones) there would be frequent full day or overnight route marches etc which would eat into the idle time of the soldiers.

Many soldiers in barracks had a lot of time on their hands.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
User avatar
zerostate
Senior Member
 
Posts: 453
Joined: 13 May 2010 22:38
Location: Suffolk, UK

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby zerostate » 15 Aug 2016 02:48

I forgot to answer about officers.
The adjutant and QM were probably the hardest worked (although luckily for the QM he probably knew what he was doing inside out). Aside from those officers, daily the orderly officer (for each unit) would be the officer dogsbody, and was required to be around and in fact inspect the guard at various intervals, make a tour at meals with the threat/question “any complaints?” and to be available in the barracks for the 24 hours of the duty tour (this officer commanded the guard for that 24 hours). Orderly officer was rotated around the company officers. Majors and above could draw duty as field officer of the day at larger barracks.
There was a lot of leisure time for officers – apart from the generous passes, leaves and furloughs available to enlisted men, officers could get extended time off for all sorts if their regiment was not overtly short of officers. They could also wear civilian clothes when not on duty, which was denied to ordinary soldiers.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
User avatar
zerostate
Senior Member
 
Posts: 453
Joined: 13 May 2010 22:38
Location: Suffolk, UK

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby jf42 » 15 Aug 2016 07:24

In the period before the Crimean war, there was no evening meal. I was reading only last week as to who it was that introduced the change. His name escapes me.
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2211
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 15 Aug 2016 08:40

zerostate wrote:I forgot to answer about officers.
The adjutant and QM were probably the hardest worked (although luckily for the QM he probably knew what he was doing inside out). Aside from those officers, daily the orderly officer (for each unit) would be the officer dogsbody, and was required to be around and in fact inspect the guard at various intervals, make a tour at meals with the threat/question “any complaints?” and to be available in the barracks for the 24 hours of the duty tour (this officer commanded the guard for that 24 hours). Orderly officer was rotated around the company officers. Majors and above could draw duty as field officer of the day at larger barracks.
There was a lot of leisure time for officers – apart from the generous passes, leaves and furloughs available to enlisted men, officers could get extended time off for all sorts if their regiment was not overtly short of officers. They could also wear civilian clothes when not on duty, which was denied to ordinary soldiers.

Chris


Two fantastic posts mate, I genuinely can't thank you enough for taking the time to post such an informative piece. The route marches in the warmer months, would the company officers take part in them or would it just be the sergeants in charge?

Thanks again :-)
HerbertKitch12
New Member
 
Posts: 94
Joined: 28 Oct 2013 13:49

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby Derbys » 15 Aug 2016 13:11

I found this a very interesting thread - many thanks for posting. I understand (I think) that a regiment could be in 'barracks' in one location but their service companies remaining at 'depot' - I'm wondering how would barrack life would differ from life at the depot ?
User avatar
Derbys
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Images: 0
Joined: 30 Apr 2012 12:18

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby jf42 » 15 Aug 2016 14:38

I believe, 'Service' companies were those on duty with the battalion, wherever they might be stationed, or on active service. 'Depot' companies, not surprisingly, would have been those at the Depot, training men to send to the Service companies. On occasion, before the Cardwell-Childers reorganisations of 1872-81, the Depot companies might be formed into a second 'Reserve' battalion and sent to supplement the service companies, as, for example, in the case of the 42nd at Malta in the 1840s and, IIRC, the 91st in the Cape about the same time (discussed on a thread hereabouts: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10060&hilit=+91st).
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2211
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby zerostate » 15 Aug 2016 20:20

HerbertKitch12 wrote:The route marches in the warmer months, would the company officers take part in them or would it just be the sergeants in charge?


I believe the officers went too as it was also for their training in moving the men over the countryside.

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
User avatar
zerostate
Senior Member
 
Posts: 453
Joined: 13 May 2010 22:38
Location: Suffolk, UK

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby jf42 » 15 Aug 2016 20:51

I think it is important to remember that the situation altered between 1815 and 1914, as a greater degree of professionalism pervaded the officer corps. The regime or ' internal economy' also differed between regiments at different times, and indeed with in the same regiment at different times.

Generally speaking, though. officers did enjoy a remarkable degree of leisure time. Riding, hunting and shooting were, of course, pursuits that honed professional skills.
Last edited by jf42 on 16 Aug 2016 09:38, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2211
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Days at the barracks

Postby Maureene » 16 Aug 2016 01:07

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page British Army, section External links, including Historical books online, contains some links which may be of interest.
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/British ... rnal_links

Cheers
Maureen
Maureene
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 775
Joined: 02 Aug 2011 07:33


Return to The Army

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest