Preparing for War

Preparing for War

The role of the training camp at Bedford was to provide basic training for the soldiers in terms of physical fitness, drill, march discipline, essential field craft, and so on, as well as more specialist training such as rifleman, machine gunner, rifle grenadier, signaller or bomber. Each soldier would receive courses of instruction relevant to his role. For example, Hugh McArthur of the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was taught semaphore as part of his training to be a signaller.

As the men were approaching being sent overseas to the active fronts, they would receive basic training in first aid, gas defence, wiring and other aspects. This training continued when they were on active service.

Basic training taught a man individual and unit discipline, how to follow commands, how to march, some basic field skills and how to handle his weapons safely.

The men were frequently seen marching around the town and surrounding countryside. The clay soil proved problematic during the winter months as it turned into mud. Unknowingly they were having early bit of preparation for the mud of trenches.

9th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders marching along the Embankment in Bedford - image courtesy Bedfordshire Archives Service.