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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

British Army's Staff College at Camberley.


liverpool annie

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Could anybody please tell me - what were the requirements for officers to go to British Army's Staff College at Camberley? and also what did they do there ? what was the prestige attached to it?

Thanking you in advance

Annie

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Annie,

In the aftermath of the Crimean War in the 1850's it became very obvious that the 'staff' work of a large army could not cope as it had under Wellington. Things had advanced further and officers needed to plan and so forth.

The staff college was set up to over come this and in its infancy was not loved by many officers who had a 'never needed one before' attiude. Fortunately this changed and with the rise of people like Sir Garnet Wolseley it took on better presteige in the 1880's.

To join the staff college the applicant had to pass an exam or in some instances be nominated by a commander in chief. Douglas Haig was nominated in this way.

The course was normally a two year course and the content would offer such all sorts of military and non military subjects. The records I have seen in the papers of Sir James Edmonds (the official Great War Historian) show that they had to draw maps, plan movements of troops around the UK and fortifiaction etc. thius is just a small cross section that they were taught.

As the 1880's went on the importance of the staff college gained. The Franco/Prussian war heightened its importance when it was deemed the the Prussian success was due to a good Staff system. The type of which the Britsh model never actually made it too.

Sir Garnet Wolseley, said that whilst it was not essentail for an officer to go to Staff college to reach high command it would cetainly speed the process.

In fact of all the High command in the Great War, there was very few who had not been to Camberley. Sir Ian Hamilton was one and Sir William Marshall (Mesopotamia commander) was another. Both these had wanted to attend but factors had got in the way. (read wars!)

All others like Haig, Allenby, Byng, Birdwood, Gough, Horne, Rawlinson, Smith-Dorrein, Plumer had all attended.

It is widely accepted that it takes along time to 'train/make' a staff officer and with the losses suffered in 1914, it took the BEF a long time to recover the losses of staff traine

It is this lack of staff officers that contributed greatly to the learning curve of the 1914-18 war. I beleive this was more critical than the GOC not being a staff trained officer.

In the modern day Camberley has ceased to be a staff college and it has all moved to Shrivenham and the joint command staff training operation there. I believe the Grounds are still used but for other military matters

Hope this helps you.

Whats your interest in the Staff College?

regards

Arm

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The Staff College was the filter for all serving officers of the three services and it was the goal for all career officers to get there and to pass out. The entry was by exam and on confidential reports, so only a small percentage got there. On passing out you got the coverted Psc after your name (Passed Staff College) besides Camberley you could also go to Washington and a number of other overseas venues. With the massive cuts to defence spending they have now closed down Camberley, Greenwich and moved them all down to Shrivenham as the new Joint Services Staff College.

The Staff College was a concentrated 1 year course on Staff training , war studies, (Communication now ie dealing with the press), leadership, joint services cooperation and higher level tactics.

If you came out of there in the top 5 you could almost choose your posting but a posting as MA to the Military Secretary would if you were a good boy/girl take you to the top of the services in time.

You had to be bright, capable and have demonstrated a high level of ability to get there.

Shrivenham is run by Cranfield University and Richard Holmes is one of the Proffesors there.

Rob

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The Staff College was the filter for all serving officers of the three services and it was the goal for all career officers to get there and to pass out.  The entry was by exam and on confidential reports, so only a small percentage got there.  On passing out you got the coverted Psc after your name (Passed Staff College) besides Camberley you could also go to Washington and a number of other overseas venues.  With the massive cuts to defence spending they have now closed down Camberley, Greenwich and moved them all down to Shrivenham as the new Joint Services Staff College.

The Staff College  was a concentrated 1 year course on Staff training , war studies, (Communication now ie dealing with the press), leadership, joint services cooperation and higher level tactics.

If you came out of there in the top 5 you could almost choose your posting but a posting as MA to the Military Secretary would if you were a good boy/girl take you to the top of the services in time.

You had to be bright, capable and have demonstrated a high level of ability to get there.

Shrivenham is run by Cranfield University and Richard Holmes is one of the Proffesors there.

Rob

Gentlemen!

Thank you so much for your great information!

Arm - the reason I wanted to know is that I have been doing an Honour Roll and in reasearching my Officers - I discovered that quite a few of them went there and some were Gazetted regarding the Staff College - I couldn't find any information regarding the College and wondered if it was a place of prestige! looks like it was! - Aren't I lucky to have some of the best men in England in my Battalion ??

Rob - Is there a list of some sort - with any details regarding the men?

Thanks again to both of you!

Annie

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Annie,

if I may jump back in again. the records of the classes and what they did and pass out results etc, are very hard to get hold of. I recently contacted the someone who should know at Shrivenham and the answer came back not here contact the MOD. one thinks I may as well sing for my supper!

There used to be a staff college museum, but this closed.

The series of Harts Annual Army List will often show those men attending the college in the appropriate year but does not so far as I can see, show any passing out marks or positions.

Of course i have only researched pre WW1, I guess your boys are during the war?

Rob indicates that the great war college was a shorter course and I think was suspended initially in 1914. So not sure if the war years Harts copies show those who attended.

regards

Arm

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Annie,

if I may jump back in again. the records of the classes and what they did and pass out results etc, are very hard to get hold of. I recently contacted the someone who should know at Shrivenham and the answer came back not here contact the MOD. one thinks I may as well sing for my supper!

There used to be a staff college museum, but this closed.

The series of Harts Annual Army List will often show those men attending the college in the appropriate year but does not so far as I can see, show any passing out marks or positions.

Of course i have only researched pre WW1, I guess your boys are during the war?

Rob indicates that the great war college was a shorter course and I think was suspended initially in 1914. So not sure if the war years Harts copies show those who attended.

regards

Arm

Hi Arm!

I just wrote out a big long explaination and it went into cyber space!!

I was trying to say all of my guys were Boer War when I caught up with them! some went on to WW1 - I'm going to see if I can find out about the College and IF I do I'll make sure I pass on the info OK?

Thanks for your information - that's great!

Annie

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If they were Boer War men then assume they went to Camberley after it ended. If so I may be able to help you with who the commandant was when they attended.

Rawlinson, Wilson and Robertson were all Commandants after this time.

please let me know how you get on.

regards

Arm

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If they were Boer War men then  assume they went to Camberley after it ended. If so I may be able to help you with who the commandant was when they attended.

Rawlinson, Wilson and Robertson were all Commandants after this time.

please let me know how you get on.

regards

Arm

Thank you Arm!

I was on a site today that had a collection of Robertson! letters etc. :)

My soldiers were all at Spion Kop - and so you're probably right - I don't exactly know but I think around 1902 !! I'll look it up and tell you later!

I'm still looking - have a great night!

Annie

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I was on a site today that had a collection of Robertson!  letters etc. :)

What site was that Annie?

regards

Arm

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Well Arm!

Did you have them already? :rolleyes:

Annie

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Well Arm!

Did you have them already?  :rolleyes:

Annie

Arm!!

I've emailed MOD - will let you know if I get anything back !

Annie

PS they did reply! - but they've forwarded my emailed to another department - so now it's a case of "hurry up" and wait!!

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Annie,

Some how i missed the reply, it may have been when we suffered site closure, apologies for not replying!

The Liddel Hart Centre is a great place. Yes i have seen the references you have posted. In fact Sir James Edmonds papers, some of what i 'told' you above was gleaned from viewing his papers held there.

They were very helpful.

Good luck with the MOD and if they ask you to sign something dont be surprised if you get a shilling and end up in Khaki

keep me informed as to progress

regards

Arm

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Annie,

Some how i missed the reply, it may have been when we suffered site closure, apologies for not replying!

The Liddel Hart Centre is a great place. Yes i have seen the references you have posted. In fact Sir James Edmonds papers, some of what i 'told' you above was gleaned from viewing his papers held there.

They were very helpful.

Good luck with the MOD and if they ask you to sign something dont be surprised if you get a shilling and end up in Khaki

keep me informed as to progress

regards

Arm

Hi Arm - no sign of a shilling but I got this today !! looks like I have to start again!! can I ask you if you will help me compose something that gets right to the point - so I don't have to keep adding bits ??!!

Dear Annie

Thank you for you email of 29 October, which was recently forwarded to me by the Ministerial Correspondence Unit..  Your project might prove to be a little complicated.  The Staff College at Camberley was amalgamated in 1997 into the Joint Services Command and Staff  College at Bracknell, which in turn moved to Watchfield in Swindon a couple of years ago. The current address of their library is:

Library

JSCSC

Faringdon Road

Watchfield

Swindon

Wiltshire

SN6 8TS

01793 788236

library@jscsc.org

You don’t say what period you roll-call is intended to cover.  There were evidently local records kept at Camberley of officers gazetted, but I don’t know what records got transferred to Watchfield and still exist there.  Your best bet I imagine would be to email them at the address above.

I hope this helps you.

Yours sincerely

Philip Brace

MoD Information Centre/Enquiries Team

Ground Floor, Zone D

Main Building, London

SW1A 2HB

0207 218 4445

philip.brace511@mod.uk

Annie :rolleyes:

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Annie,

Will e-mail you.

regards

Arm

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Hope it didnt clog up your e-mail, they took ages to send!!

You have the index, if you need any other sections, you think would be of use, let me know and i will send them over.

regards

Arm

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Hope it didnt clog up your e-mail, they took ages to send!!

You have the index, if you need any other sections, you think would be of use, let me know and i will send them over.

regards

Arm

Thanks Arm - sorry! - I thought I had thanked you already!!

Sorry it took so long - but I do appreciate your help!

Annie

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Thanks Arm - sorry! -  I thought I had thanked you already!!

Sorry it took so long - but I do appreciate your help!

Annie

You did :)

See two posts above

regards

Arm

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Brian Bond has written an excellent book 'The Victorian Army and the Staff College, 1854-1914' (ISBN 413 27630 9) if you are interested in Camberley. I got my copy through abebooks.com

Robert

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Your right Robert,

I know someone who got a copy of this for £5 i beleive. Me I have to survive with a loan from the library!

Regards

Arm

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  • 7 years later...

Reviving this little thread, I wonder if you got anywhere with attendees/graduates of the Staff College before 1914? I ask as I am trying to ascertain who of the Brigade and upwards commanders of Fourth Army in June 1916 had attended. The Times on-line has proved to be a source of some information but I am not sure how complete it is. Also, it appears to list people who went but not necessarily officers who were successful.

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Righto! Downloading the 147 Mb file of the 1914 Army List as I type. :w00t: And the 1915 one too. How to fill up your hard drive in two easy lessons. Excellent though and thanks again for the suggestion. Fabulously useful.

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Good luck!

Fully ‘qualified’ Staff Officers were like gold dust during most of WW1 (and WW2 for that matter) with most holding senior command appointments or dying while in regimental employ early on during the conflict.

Tim

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