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Charles Fair

Schools of Instruction for army officers 1915 - predecessors to the OCB system

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Charles Fair

Hello all

I am currently researching officer selection and training, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of the Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB) system.  The OCBs were a pre-commission course of 4 months which were set up as a result of an ACI in Feb 1916.  However, the OCBs were preceded by a number of 'Schools of Instruction' for officers.  The Schools of Instruction were set up in the UK from about November 1914 and operated until Feb/March 1916 when a number were used as a basis for OCBs.  These Schools gave a 4 week course to newly commissioned officers.

 

I am trying to establish how many Schools of Instruction for officers there were, and how many men attended these Schools.  Please see the attached image which is my best estimate to date and which has been created from about a dozen sources.  (Please note that I have not included the GHQ Officer's School at Blendeques in France which was set up by the Artists' Rifles and which is relatively well documented.)  It would appear that a minority of those men commissioned in 1914/15 went on such a course.

 

I would be most grateful for any facts and sources which could help me to improve the estimate:

1. Numbers shown in red are my guesses, so could be some way off the mark.  (Numbers in black are definite and have been given in a source - usually a published history of an OTC.)

2. The schools in the orange band may have existed: I have seen some tantalising hints, but nothing conclusive.  It would be good to confirm or eliminate these.

3. Are there any Schools missing from this list?

4. Are there any extant personal accounts by officers who attended one of these Schools?  (I already have those by HEL Mellersh [Oxford], Emmerson papers in the IWM [Cambridge], Billie Neville [Sandhurst School] and Cameron Stewart [Glasgow])

 

Thanks in anticipation!

Charles

 

 

Screenshot 2019-02-25 21.11.14.png

Edited by Charles Fair

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Gunner Hall

The Durham O.T.C was formed in 1908 and some 2,400 members died in the Great War.  I'm afraid that I don't know if it ran a "school of instruction"

 

BTW,  have you seen the COMEC occasional paper entiled " UNIVERSITY OFFICERS’ TRAINING CORPS AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR By Edward M. Spiers ?

 

Its available online at http://www.comec.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/occasional_paper_no_4_no_crop.pdf  It has a comprehensive list of refences,.

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Charles Fair

Thanks Gunner Hall.  I was aware of Durham, and as far as I know there is no published history of that OTC.  With the exception of St Andrews, I think I have seen all the Senior Division OTC histories that I know about.  I may have to look at the archives - if they exist - of the Military Education Committee and OTC of each University.

 

I've seen the COMEC paper.  Its very helpful and I have already looked at many of the sources therein.

 

The trouble with these Schools of Instruction is that they were short-lived, and were not constituted as a unit in themselves (as were the OCBs).  There is not a lot surviving in the historical record.  Hence the need to look at University archives as well as references in personal accounts.

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JimE

I was interested to see that you have Inns of Court Officers School of instruction listed.

I had thought that this OTC trained their men as ORs at Berkhamsted.

In the early part of the war they were selected directly for commissions from the OTC until in early1916 men transferred first to an OCB before commissioning. No14 OCB was run by the Inns of Court at Berkhamsted

The only reference I can find to a School of Instruction is to a "School of Instruction for Officer instructors in Cadet Battalions" set up on 22nd January 1918 at Berkhamsted,. At the same time No 14 OCB left Berkhamsted for Catterick.

Jim

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Charles Fair

Thanks Jim - I think you are right on this, and I have conflated the two. The Inns of Court seems to have been entirely pre-commissioning training whereas the schools of instruction were post-commissioning.

 

A few days ago I had a look at the Military Education Committee minutes and reports in the U of London archives.  The London OTC ran 10 courses for a total of 1,100 officers.

 

The Instructor's School of Instruction is interesting, and an implicit recognition of the need to have high standards amongst the instructors.  The first (only?) CO of this had previously been the CO of No. 7 OCB in Moore Park in Ireland.  I know of instructors from No. 4 OCB who went there for 4 weeks.  Other than these few snippets, info on it is scanty.

Charles

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Charles Fair

I found evidence of another School of Instruction in the file of 2/Lt JM De Lacey WO 339/51895.  It was the Tynemouth School of Instruction, address as per this sheet in his file.  I suspect it was run by Durham UOTC, though I will need to confirm by digging in the Durham archives.  De Lacey was a former Durham UOTC cadet.

 

This is the first time I have come across this form, and I must have looked at circa 1,800 officers files by now.  Has anyone else coma across one of these?

983910819_TynemouthSchoolofInstruction.JPG.14f9aa9697481113efc6c361f17710cf.JPG

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