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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Columns of four to Three


Peterhastie
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Hello all

Can anyone tell me when and why the Armed forces changed from marching in column of four to columns of three.

Regs Peter

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Memory tells me (I read it - I wasn't there :lol: ) that it was inter-war, and was determined by the increase in road traffic. 1930's, I think.

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There is a note with an on-line newsreel at the National Film Board entitled Canadian Training School in Bexhill . It says, in part:

"The practice of forming fours changed just before the Second World War, when troops began to march in three, not four, ranks."

The newsreel itself may be interesting in itself for those nostalgic about their square bashing days (but I speak as an ignorant outsider!)

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I'm pretty sure it came about following a nasty road accident which took out part of a rank of men in the late '20s/early '30s. From memory it was a battalion of the East Surreys but someone may have the exact details. As road traffic was increasing it was decided to change over to three ranks for safety thereby sadly losing one of the nicest drill movements; forming fours!

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