Palms to the Front?

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Palms to the Front?

Postby rd72 » 30 Jan 2018 05:41

Hello all,

I have been revisiting some things lately and was wondering if anyone might have some insight into this.... It's from the 1862 FE&E (and the same in the '59 and possibly the same in the '67). This is quite possibly the weirdest and most unnatural position,... ever.

Image

Any help in clarification or confirmation would be most appreciated. Thank you.
Last edited by rd72 on 04 Feb 2018 08:08, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby colsjt65 » 03 Feb 2018 23:35

Would love to help, but without the image, can't tell what you are asking for. :-)
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby rd72 » 04 Feb 2018 08:09

Bruce,...

I don't know why the link went down, but I think that it is working now.
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby mike snook » 04 Feb 2018 10:45

Rob

Oh no it isn't...as they say.

As ever

M
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby grumpy » 04 Feb 2018 10:56

..........................
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby mike snook » 04 Feb 2018 16:41

Oh the irony. Discourtesy indeed: that which is 'rude and inconsiderate to others'. I think not. I feel moved to observe that in my experience, Rob is in fact an unfailingly courteous correspondent. There is no stipulated requirement at VWF to post on the basis of an assumed zero base-knowledge amongst the membership. It would be a crashingly tedious place if we all had to explain our every remark. We each operate in the realms in which we find most elucidation and/or enjoyment according to our own particular need(s). Rob is doing precisely that. No more.

For those who may not be aware and whose curiosity is triggered FE & E stands for Field Exercise and Evolutions of Infantry. It is a doctrinal/training publication produced under the auspices of Army Headquarters at Horse Guards. It addresses both the parade ground and the tactical setting and is pitched at several levels of training from the individual soldier through several collective levels up to and including the infantry brigade of three or four battalions. There are several Victorian editions reflecting changing foot drill, weapons drill, weaponry itself, firepower and tactics etc over the course of the old Queen's reign. It will tell you exactly what the words of command are for you to move your battalion from line into close column of companies at quarter distance without having a cake and a*** party in between. It is in essence the so called 'infantry drill'. Rob is one of the world's best and most ardent enthusiasts of Victorian living history or re-enactment and is plainly seeking an answer on a technical matter from amongst the small cast of re-enactors/drill experts who abide here as members. He is not going to get the answer he seeks from Mrs Trellis of North Wales (or from me for that matter) or indeed anybody else who doesn't recognize the acronym FE & E. Now everybody knows exactly what it means, not least because if it comes up again they can search the acronym and end up here. FE & E, FE and E, FE & EoI, FE&EOI, FE & EoI.
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby rd72 » 04 Feb 2018 21:19

I apologize to all,

With the demise of other means of posting images, I have tried another method which works when I view the page here, but obviously not when you view it.... here is the link...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qg7I1g ... sp=sharing

I shall transcribe... and include the full title of the document for the benefit of those not familiar.

From the '62 Field Exercise and Evolutions of Infantry... (also in the '59 and although I don't yet have a copy, I suspect the '67. It is not in the '70. There the hands are in the more familiar position of flat against the thigh)

"Squad Drill with Intervals
S.1. Position of the Soldier
The exact squareness of the shoulders and body to the front is the first and great principle of the position of a soldier. The heels must be in line and closed; the knees straight; the toes turned out, so that the feet may form an angle of 60 degrees; the arms hanging straight down from the shoulder, the elbows turned in and close to the sides; in open files the palms of the hands are to be turned full to the front, with the thumb close to the forefinger; the hips must be rather drawn back, and the breast advanced but without constraint; the body straight and inclining forward, so that the weight of it may bear principally on the forepart of the feet; the head to be erect, but not thrown back..."

(Please do not take exception to some basic descriptions included with the following. I have included them for the benefit of those interested in, but perhaps not familiar with some of the terminology, and they (the descriptions) have nothing to do with egg sucking....)

The highlighted part was the motivation of the post...This is definitely a most awkward and somewhat "goofy" position to stand in... and can't for the life of me understand why one would have to stand like that.... Now, what does "open files" mean? especially when the title of the section is "Squad Drill with Intervals".... I would take "open files" to refer to the gap between them (left and right) but that would seem to be redundant if the drill is conducted "with intervals" (which definitely refers to the space between them) so why make special mention of it when there is already a space between files? ... So, does it refer to the files being at the "open order" (spaced front and back)?.. but that would mean the hand position changes at either close or open order (the two different spacings between ranks) which doesn't make any sense.... yes, I sense Victorian ambiguity.... By the way, when parading without intervals (i.e. in the normal way), the hands change to the more familiar "flat against the thigh".

If I were a betting man, I'd say this peculiar hand placement refers to them when the men are spaced at intervals for basic instruction or review... but,.... would this also entail a reference to the position when standing alone? as a sentry?.... when street lining? Simply standing to attention before an Officer or NCO?

Maybe the use of the word "palm" is an esoteric Victorian reference to the back of the hand? (which is a much more comfortable and achievable position)..... Every bone in my body screams "this (the palm to the front) can't be so".... but there it is in black and white... truth may be stranger than fiction here...

Anyway, some musings about an admittedly arcane aspect of the drill of the mid-Victorian era...

Again, sorry about the cock-up with the file posting..
Last edited by rd72 on 05 Feb 2018 06:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Rob
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 05 Feb 2018 06:21

rd72 and all.

I can attain this position with no issue. "Palms to the front". The rest of the instructed chest and leg and feet placement is just a simple standing position, right? It is just standing, or advancing forward. I am very intrigued by your question, but this is not an uncomfortable position. If you took all the positioning to the extreme, one would look like a Pidgeon and yes, that would be uncomfortable.
I think the "palms to the front" was for the exercise/marching yard, and not for every day military/public use, unless we can find some illustrations of this position from the visual archives.

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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby rd72 » 06 Feb 2018 18:22

Thanks for the input Ed. I am sure that it is a matter of anatomy that dictates the relative comfort of the position.. :-)
I agree that this is a position for basic instruction and not general parading of trained troops. It is mentioned in the context of the instruction of recruits in order to give them space to learn (hence the "with intervals")....

Here is an interesting development (thanks to John and Hal). I shall transcribe from a typed copy of the '67

"Squad Drill with Intervals
S.1. Position of the Soldier
The exact squareness of the shoulders and body to the front is the first and great principle of the position of a soldier. The heels must be in line and closed; the knees straight; the toes turned out, so that the feet may form an angle of 60 degrees; the arms hanging straight down from the shoulder, the elbows turned out; the hands open, with the knuckles inclining to the front; the hips must be rather drawn back, and the breast advanced but without constraint; the body straight and inclining forward, so that the weight of it may bear principally on the forepart of the feet; the head to be erect, but not thrown back..."

If this can be taken as the original (as it is a typed copy, but there is presently no reason to doubt it) then there was a change with the '67 to backs of the hands to the front, then another change in '70 to flat against the thigh for all circumstances.

It still begs the question how a man stood when by himself... As "with intervals" or "without"?
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Rob
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby colsjt65 » 07 Feb 2018 06:01

My take on it is - this is S1, the very first thing taught when turning a raw recruit (most likely illiterate or poorly educated - a 'rustic') into a soldier.
There is a re-enacting joke I first heard in the States, when taking part in an American Civil War event, "If you are comfortable, you are doing it wrong."
S1 makes the recruit stand up straight, in a position where he can move together with other soldiers in formation. With Intervals, I take to mean that while he he is learning, he is given space, so he doesn't bump into everyone else.
Standing with elbows in and palms forward is unnatural and a bit uncomfortable. Try it yourself - but first stand with arms down the side with palms against the thighs and thumbs down the seams. Then turn the palms out and your shoulders will be forced back and up about an inch - into the 'soldierly' position required at the time. Once drilled into them, the soldier should retain that posture 'naturally' from then on.
Out of interest, I looked up FE&E 1833, which goes into more explanation on the matter.
FEE1833-S1.png
FEE1833-S1.png (325.5 KiB) Viewed 224 times


I am guessing that the later changes reflected the gradual introduction of a less rigid form of drill as tactics, accoutrements and weapons changed.
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby rd72 » 07 Feb 2018 06:08

That is valuable information Bruce, and illustrates the "evolution" of things, well. Incidentally, what are you using to post the image?
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Rob
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby colsjt65 » 07 Feb 2018 07:46

I had no problem uploading the image as an inline attachment the way I always have.
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby jf42 » 07 Feb 2018 13:02

rd72 wrote:That is valuable information Bruce, and illustrates the "evolution" of things, well. Incidentally, what are you using to post the image?


To be fair Rob, it is a much more difficult exercise than producing, directing, filming & starring, and editing videos to post on-line.
But you'll get the hang of it.

EDIT: 8)
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby grumpy » 07 Feb 2018 15:49

..........................
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Re: Palms to the Front?

Postby Mark A. Reid » 07 Feb 2018 20:32

Sorry grumpy, but I think you brought this comment upon yourself. When you first stated that the use of an abbreviation was a " discourtesy " you had the ideal opportunity to further the discussion, and help those unfamiliar with the abbreviation, by explaining what it meant. Instead, you chose to simply leave his single sentence chastisement and withdraw from what has turned into a most interesting discussion.

I have no desire to cause offence, least of all to an unknown entity who chooses to label himself as " grumpy " but if, with your obvious in-depth knowledge of the Victorian military, and impressive library, you limit yourself to sniping comments then you are likely to receive what you might perceive as unkind remarks in return. A few months ago you took me to task over my use of a particular adjective but when I pointed out that I had actually used it correctly, at least according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, you chose to avoid the spotlight of the open forum and sent me a private message in which you explained that it was all the fault of declining accuracy in common parlance. No one, least, of all me, expected anything approaching an apology ( after all, it was just a single adjective ) but I must say that it made me wonder why you would avoid contributing to the forum and simply restrict yourself to negative comments?

If I have exceeded the bounds of polite exchange with this entry then I beg forgiveness of Mark and the members of this forum, it was not my intention to cause offence. However, I do feel obliged to address negative comments when I see them and I have never liked to see bullying.

Sincerely,
Mark
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