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Minimum Height Requirements


Guest Ian Bowbrick
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Guest Ian Bowbrick

For some reason I always believed that the minimum height requirement for the British Army during WW1 was 5' 3". Recently however I have came across service records of men in the Infantry of the order of 5' 2" & 5' 1"

Any edification welcome.

Ian

<_<

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I'm not trying to hijack Ian's post but on the same theme were there minimum height requirements for specific regiments? I'm thinking particularly about the Guards here.

Marc

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Would be very interested in the outcome of this...

and would add.. did the height restrictions change as the war progressed and more were needed for the front?

John

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Now I'm working from (dodgy) memory here, but I think the 5' 3" height is correct - but don't forget the relaxation of this with the creation of the Bantam battalions. In essence therefore there must ultimately have been no minimum height. It makes me wonder who held the record for shortest / tallest soldier in the trenches. On a tangent, I remember reading somewhere that shorter soldiers had a longer life expectancy - failry clear as to why I suppose. I'm 6' 1", so I assume I might well have been a regular candidate for a German sniper - a scary thought.

All the best,

Andrew

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Guest Ian Bowbrick

As to the tallest, I remember seeing a picture of a Royal Sussex man who was 6' 8" :o

I am sure Paul Reed could verify/correct that.

Ian

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I have coming shortly what I think is a comprehensive tabulation for line infantry height, weight, age etc requirements in my forthcoming two articles in Stand To!, the first in the next issue. It would be tedious to do it twice! Please be patient [like what I am, as they say] waiting to see it in print. It will be a first for me.

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Ian,

It depended. How's that for an answer.

A good place to look for Height standards is the Territorial Force Regulations, which gives a complete table as it relates to TF.

5' 2" was the standard minimum height for most soldiers. For 17 year olds in the TF (not considered a Boy Soldier) and 18 year olds for the Regular army. Growth was expected . Also allowances were made for Boy soldiers to grow to 5' 2".

The War Offices sizing standards for uniforms started at 5'2".

Size number 1 was:

height 5’2”

breast 32” to 33”

Waist 28” to 29”

Joe Sweeney

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When the Swansea Battalion (14th Welsh) was forming in 1914 the height minimum was set at 5'6". After a certain amount of local agitation this was reduced to 5'3". It was felt this gave short, stocky Welsh miners a better chance assuming they could get off pit work.

Bernard Lewis

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I have coming shortly what I think is a comprehensive tabulation for line infantry height, weight, age etc requirements in my forthcoming two articles in Stand To!, the first in the next issue.

LB, this is excellent news. I for one am (patiently) very much looking forward to reading this.

In my research into the 19th London Regiment I am looking at height and weight at enlistment, and how the battalion of 1914-15 compared with that of 1918 in this respect. It will be a while before I have a representative sample of several hundred in order to run the statistics. However, some first impressions from an unrepresentative sample of about 40 1914-15 enlistees who were later commissioned from the ranks:

A. Mean height appears to be about 5' 6" to 5' 7". 5' 9" is pretty much the top end of the height range, and I have only found a couple of outliers beyond this at up to 6'

B. Mean weight so far appears to be a bit below 10 st, with few being much above 10st 7

C. I have also noticed that chest measurements from their application forms for officer training are frequently 1" to 2" bigger than the same measurements from their enlistment papers. The effect of a couple of years vigorous exercise and improved diet?

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As for the Guards, I know not after the war began, but pre-war the minima were changed almost annually, to maintain a suitable flow of recruits. This must have made Queen's / King's Company, Grenadier Guards, the tallest of the tall, tend to look like a set of organ pipes or, if uniformity was the aim, either a bunch of tall wrinkly's, or mere babes, depending on how the height minimum had tended in recent years. However, I have broken a personal rule, never to deal with other than infantry of the line, so, shut up Eccles, shut up.

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