Drilling and Training

World War One Squad Drill

Squad Drill

From the Infantry Drill Regulations, 1911, Corrected to December 1917

3. Simple movements and elastic formations are essential to correct training for battle

4. The Drill Regulations are furnished as a guide. They provide the principles for training and for increasing the probability of success in battle.

In the interpretation of the regulations, the spirit must be sought. Quibbling over the minutiae of form is indicative of the failure to grasp the spirit.

School of the Squad

101. Soldiers are grouped into squads for the purpose of instruction, discipline, control and order.

102. The squad proper consists of a corporal and seven privates.

The movements in the School of the Squad are designed to make the squad a fixed unit and to facilitate the control and movement of the company. If the number of men grouped is more than 3 and less than 12, they are formed as a squad of 4 files, the excess above 8 being posted as file closers. If the number grouped is greater that 11, 2 or more squads are formed and the group is termed a platoon.

For the instruction of recruits, these rules may be modified.

103. The corporal is the squad leader, and when absent is replaced by a designated private. If no private is designated the senior in length of service acts as leader.

The corporal, when in ranks is posted as the left man in the front rank of the squad.

When the corporal leaves the ranks to lead his squad, his rear rank man steps into the front rank, and the file remains blank until the corporal returns to his place in ranks, when his rear rank man steps back into the rear rank.

104. In battle officers and sergeants endeavor to preserve the integrity of squads; they designate new leaders to replace those disabled, organize new squads when necessary, and see that every man is placed in a squad.

Men are taught the necessity of remaining with the squad to which they belong and, in case it be broken up or they become separated therefrom, to attach themselves to the nearest squad and platoon leaders, whether these be of their own or of another organization.

105. The squad executes the haltrestsfacingssteps and marchings, and the manual of arms as explained in the School of the Soldier.

To Form the Squad

106. To form the squad the instructor places himself 3 paces in front of where the center is to be and commands: FALL IN.

The men assemble at attention, pieces at the order (order arms), and are arranged by the corporal in double rank, as nearly as practicable in order of height from right to left, each man dropping his left had as soon as the man on his left has his interval. The rear ranks forms at a distance of 40 inches.

The instructor then commands: COUNT OFF

At this command all except the right file execute eyes right, and beginning on the right, the men in each ranks count one, two, three, four; each man turns his head and eyes to the front as he counts Pieces are then inspected


107. To align the squad, the base file or files having been established: 1. RIGHT(LEFT), 2. DRESS, 3. FRONT.

At the command dress all men place the left hand upon the hip; each man, except the base file (i.e., the file to which the squad is dressing), when on or near the new line executes eyes right, and, taking steps of 2 or 3 inches, places himself so that his right arm rests lightly against the arm of the man to his right, and so that his eyes shoulders are in line with those of the men on his right; the rear rank men cover in file.

The instructor verifies the alignment of both ranks from the right flank and orders up or back such men as may be in rear, or in advance, of the line; only the men designated move.

At the command front, given when the ranks are aligned, each man turns his head and eyes to the front and drops his left hand by his side.

In the first drills the basis of the alignment is established on or parallel to, the front of the squad; afterwards, in oblique directions.

Whenever the position of the base file or files necessitates a considerable movement by the squad, such movement will be executed by marching to the front or oblique, to the flank or backward, as the case may be, without other command, and at the trail.

108. To preserve the alignment when marching: GUIDE RIGHT (LEFT).

The men preserve their intervals from the side of the guide, yielding to pressure from that side and resisting pressure from the opposite direction; the recover intervals, if lost, by gradually opening out or closing in; they recover alignment by slightly lengthening or shortening the step, the rear rank men cover their file leaders at 40 inches.

In double rank, the front-rank man on the right, or designated flank, conducts the march; when marching faced to the flank, the leading man of the front rank is the guide.

To Take Intervals and Distance
109. Being in line at a halt: 1. TAKE INTERVALS, 2. TO THE RIGHT (left), 3. MARCH, 4. Squad, 5. HALT.

At the second command the rear rank men march backward 4 steps and halt; at the command march all face to the right and the leading man of each rank steps off; the other men step off in succession, each following the preceding man at 4 paces rear rank men marching abreast of their file leaders.

At the command halt, given when all have their intervals, all halt and face to the front.

110. Being at intervals, to assemble the squad: 1. ASSEMBLETO THE RIGHT(LEFT), 2. MARCH

The front-rank man on the right stands fast, the rear rank man on the right closes to 40 inches. The other men face to the right, close by the shortest line and face to the front.

111. Being in line at a halt and having counted off: 1. TAKE DISTANCE, 2. MARCH, 3. SQUAD, 4. HALT.

At the command march No. 1 of the front rank moves straight tot the front; Nos. 2, 3, and 4 of the front rank and Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the rear rank in the order named, moves straight to the front, each stepping off so as to follow the preceding man at four paces. The command halt is given when all have their distances.

In case more than one squad is in line, each squad executes the movement as above. The guide of each rank of numbers is right.

112. Being at distance, to assemble the squad: 1. ASSEMBLE, 2. MARCH.

No. 1 of the front ranks stands fast; the other numbers move forward to their proper places in line.

To Stack and Take Arms

113. Being in line at a halt: STACK ARMS.

Each even number of the front rank grasps his piece with the left hand at the upper band and rests the butt between his feet, barrel to the front, muzzle inclined slightly to the front and opposite the center of the interval on his right, the thumb and forefinger raising the stacking swivel; each even number of the rear rank then passes his piece, barrel to the rear, to his file leader, who grasps it between the bands with his right hand and throws the butt about 2 feet in advance of that of his own piece and opposite the right of the interval, the right hand slipping to the upper band, the thumb and forefinger raising the stacking swivel, which he engages with that of his own piece; each odd number of the front rank raises his piece with the right hand, carries it well forward, barrel to the front; the left hand guiding the stacking swivel, engages the lower hook of the swivel of his own piece with the free hook of that of the even number of the rear rank; he then turns the barrel outward to the angle formed by the other two pieces and lowers the butt to the ground, to the right of and against the toe of his right shoe.

The stack made, the loose pieces are laid on them by the even numbers of the front rank.

When each man has finished handling pieces, he takes the position of the soldier.

114. Being in line behind the stacks: TAKE ARMS.

The loose pieces are returned by the even number of the front rank; each even number of the front ranks grasps his own piece with the left hand, the piece of his rear rank man with his right hand, grasping both between the bands; each odd number of the front rank grasps his piece in the same way with the right hand, disengages it by raising the butt from the ground and then turning the piece to the right, detaches it from the stack; each even number of the front rank disengages and detaches it from the stack; each even number of the front rank disengages and detached his piece by turning it to the left, and then passes the piece of his rear-rank man to him and all resume the order.

115. Should any squad have Nos. 2 and 3 blank files, No. 1 rear rank takes the place of the No. 2 rear rank in making and breaking the stack; the stacks made or broken, he resumes his post.

Pieces not used in making the stack are termed loose pieces.

Pieces are never fixed with the bayonet fixed.

The Oblique March

116. For the instruction of recruits, the squad being in column or correctly aligned, the instructor causes the squad to face half right or half left, points out to the men their relative positions, and explains that these are to be maintained in the oblique march.


Each man steps off in a direction 45 degrees to the right of his original front. He preserves his relative position keeping his shoulders parallel to those of the guide (the man on the left front of the line or column), and so regulates his steps that the ranks remain parallel to their original front.

At the command halt the men halt and face to the front

To resume the original direction: 1. FORWARD,2. MARCH

The men half face to the left in marching and then move straight to the front.

If at half step or marking time while obliquing, the oblique march is resumed by the commands: 1. OBLIQUE, 2. MARCH

To Turn on Moving Pivot.

118. Being in line: 1. RIGHT (LEFTTURN, 2. MARCH.

The movement is executed by each rank successively and on the same ground. At the second command, the pivot man of the front rank faces to the right in marching and takes the half step; the other men of the rank oblique to the right until opposite their places in line, then execute a second right oblique and take half step on arriving abreast of the pivot man. All glance toward the marching flank while at half step and take full step without command as the last man arrives on the line.

Right (Left) half turn is executed in similar manner. The pivot man makes a half change of direction to the right and the other men make quarter changes in obliquing.

To Turn on Fixed Pivot

119. Being in line, to turn and march: 1. Squad RIGHT (LEFT), 2. MARCH.

At the second command, the right flank man in the front rank faces to the right in marching and marks time; the other front rank men oblique to the right, place themselves abreast of the pivot and mark time. In the rear rank the third man from the right, followed in column by the second and first, moves straight to the front until in rear of his front rank man, when all face to the right in marching and mark time; the other number of the rear rank moves straight four paces and places himself abreast of the man on his right. Men on the new line glance toward the marching flank while marking time and as the last man arrives on the line, both ranks execute FORWARD MARCH, without command.

120. Being in line, to turn and halt: 1. Squad RIGHT (LEFT) 2. MARCH, 3. SQUAD, 4. HALT

The third command is given immediately after the second. The turn is executed as prescribed in the preceding paragraph except that all men, on arriving on the new line, mark time until the fourth command is given as the last man arrives on the line.

121. Being in line, to turn about and march: 1. Squad RIGHT (LEFTABOUT, 2. MARCH.

At the second command, the front rank twice executes “squad right”, initiating the second squad right when the man on the marching flank has arrived abreast of the ranks. In the rear rank the third man from the right, followed by the second and first in column moves straight to the front until on the prolongation of the line to be occupied by the rear rank; changes direction to the right; moves in the new direction until in the rear of his front rank man, when all face to the right in marching, mark time and glance toward the marching flank. The fourth man marches on the left of the third to his new position; as he arrives on the line, both ranks execute FORWARD MARCH, without command.

122. Being in line, to turn about and halt: 1.Squad RIGHT(LeftABOUT, 2. MARCH, 3. SQUAD, 4. HALT.

The third command is given immediately after the second. The turn is executed as prescribed in the preceding paragraph except that all the men, on arriving on the new line, mark time until the fourth command is given, when all halt. The fourth command should be given as the last man arrives on the line.

To Follow the Corporal

123. Being assembled or deployed, to march the squad without necessary commands, the corporal places himself of it and commands: FOLLOW ME.

If in line or skirmish line, No. 2 of the front rank follows in the trace of the corporal at about 3 paces; the other men conform to the movements of the No. 2, guiding on him and maintaining their relative positions.

If in column, the head of the column follows the corporal.

To Deploy as Skirmishers

124. Being in any formation, assembled: 1. AS SKIRMISHERS, 2. MARCH.

The corporal places himself in front of the squad, if not already there. Moving at a run, the men place themselves abreast of the corporal at half-pace intervals, Nos. 1 and 2 on his right, Nos. 3 and 4 on his left, rear-rank men on the right of their file leaders, extra men on the left of No. 4; all then conform to the corporals gait.

When the squad is acting alone, skirmish line is similarly formed on No. 2 of the front rank, who stands fast or continues the march, as the case may be; the corporal places himself in front of the squad when advancing and in rear when halted.

When deployed as skirmishers, the men march at ease, pieces at the trail unless otherwise ordered.

The corporal is the guide when in the line; otherwise No. 2 front rank is the guide.

125. The normal interval between skirmishers is one-half pace, resulting practically in one man per yard of front. The front of a squad thus deployed as skirmishers is about 10 paces.

To Increase or Diminish Intervals

126. If assembled, and it is desired to deploy to greater than the normal interval; or if deployed, and it is desired to increase or decrease the interval: 1. AS SKIRMISHERS, (so many) PACES, 2. MARCH.

Intervals are taken at the indicated numbers of paces. If already deployed, the men move by the flank toward or away from the guide.

The Assembly

127. Being deployed: 1. ASSEMBLE, 2. MARCH.

The men move toward the corporal and form in their proper places.

If the Corporal continues to advance, the men move in double time, form and follow him.

The assembly while marching to the rear is not executed.

Kneeling and Lying Down

128. If standing: KNEEL.

Half face to the right; carry the right toe about 1 foot to the left rear of the left heel; kneel on the right knee, sitting as nearly as possible on the right heel; left forearm across left thigh; the piece remains in position of order arms, right hand grasping it above the lower band.

129. If standing or kneeling: LIE DOWN.

Kneel, but with right knee against left heel; carry back the left foot and lie flat on the belly, inclining body about 35° to the right; piece horizontal, barrel up, muzzle off the ground and pointed to the front; elbows on the ground; left hand at the balance, right hand grasping the small of the stock opposite the neck. This is position of order arms, lying down.

130. If kneeling or lying down: RISE.

If kneeling, stand up, faced to the front, on the ground marked by the left heel.

If lying down raise body on both knees; stand up, faced to the front, on the ground marked by the knees.

131. If lying down: KNEEL.

Raise the body on both knees; take the position of kneel.

132. In double rank, the positions of kneeling and lying down are ordinarily used only for the better utilization of cover.

When deployed as skirmishers, a sitting position may be taken in lieu of the position of kneeling.

Loadings and Firings

133. The commands for loading and firing are the same whether standing, kneeling, or laying down. The firings are always executed at a halt.

When kneeling or lying down on double rank, the rear rank does not load, aim, or fire.

The instruction in firing will be preceded by a command for loading.

Loadings are executed in line and skirmish line only.

134. Pieces having been ordered loaded are kept loaded without command until the command unload, or inspection arms, fresh clips being inserted when the magazine is exhausted.

135. The aiming point or target is carefully pointed out. This may be done before or after announcing the sight setting. Both are indicated before giving the command for firing, but may be omitted when the target appears suddenly and is unmistakable; in such case the battle sight is used if no sight setting is announced.

136. The target or aiming point having been designated and the sight setting announced, such designation or announcement need not be repeated until a change of either or both is necessary.

Troops are trained to continue their fire upon the aiming point or target designated, and at the sight setting announced, until a change is ordered.

137. If the men are not already in position of load, that position is take at the announcement of the sight setting; if the announcement is omitted, the position is taken at the first command for firing.

138. When deployed, the use of the sling as an aid to accurate firing is discretionary with each man.

To Load

139. Being in line or skirmish line at halt: 1. WITH DUMMY (blank or ballCARTRIDGES, 2. LOAD.

At the command load each front-rank man or skirmisher faces half right and carries the right foot to the right, about 1 foot, to such position as will insure the greatest firmness and steadiness of the body; raises or lowers the piece and drops it into the left hand at the balance, left thumb extended along the stock, muzzle at the height of the breast, and turns the cut-off up [the cut off is found on the M1903 rifle, but not on the M1917 rifle]. With the right hand he turns and draws the bolt back, takes a loaded clip and inserts the end in the clip slots, places the thumb on the powder space of the top cartridge, the finger extending around the piece and the tips resting on the magazine floor plate; forces the cartridges into the magazine by pressing down with the thumb; without removing the clip, thrusts the bolt home, turning down the handle; turns the safety lock to the “safe” and carries the hand to the small of the stock. Each rear rank man, takes a similar position opposite the interval tot he right of his front rank man, muzzle of the piece extending beyond the front rank and loads.

A skirmish line may load while moving, the piece being held as nearly as practicable in the position of load.

If kneeling or sitting, the position of the piece is similar; if kneeling, the left forearm rests on the left thigh; if sitting the elbows are supported by the knees. If lying down, the left hand steadies and supports the piece at the balance, the toe of the butt resting on the ground, the muzzle off the ground.

For reference, these above positions (standing, kneeling, and lying down) are designated as that of load.

To Unload

142. UNLOAD.

Take the position of load, turn the safety lock up and move bolt alternately back and forward until all the cartridges are ejected. After the last cartridge is ejected the chamber is closed by first thrusting the bolt slightly forward to free it from the stud holding it in place when the chamber is open, pressing the follower down and back to engage it under the bolt and thrusting the bolt home; the trigger is pulled. The cartridges are then picked up, cleaned, and returned to the belt and the piece is brought to the order.

To Set the Sight


The sight is set at the elevation indicated. The instructor explains and verifies sight settings.

To Fire by Volley

144. 1. READY, 2. AIM, 3. SQUAD, 4. FIRE.

At the command ready turn the safety lock to the “ready;” at the command aimraise the piece with both hands and support the butt firmly against the hollow of the right shoulder, right thumb clasping the stick, barrel horizontal, left elbow well under the piece, right elbow as high as the shoulder; incline the head slightly forward and a little to the right, cheek against the stock, left eye closed, right eye looking through the notch of the rear sight so as to perceive the object aimed at, second joint of forefinger resting lightly against the front of the trigger and taking up the slack; top of front sight is carefully raised into and held in, the line of sight.

Each rear-rank man aims through the interval to the right of his file leader and leans slightly forward to advance the muzzle of his piece beyond the front rank.

In aiming kneeling, the left elbow rests on the left knee, point of elbow in front of kneecap. In aiming sitting, the elbows are supported by the knees.

In aiming lying down, raise the piece with both hands; rest on both elbows and press the butt firmly against the right shoulder.

At the command fire press the finger against the trigger; fire without deranging the aim and without lowering or turning the piece; lower the piece in the position of load and load.

145. To continue the firing: 1. AIM, 2. SQUAD, 3. FIRE.

Each command is executed as previously explained. Load (from magazine) is executed by drawing back and thrusting home the bolt with the right hand, leaving the safety lock at the “ready.”

To Fire at Will


Each man independently of the others, comes to the ready, aims carefully and deliberately at the aiming point or target, fires, loads, and continues the firing until ordered to suspend or cease firing.

147. To increase (decrease) the rate of fire in progress the instructor shouts:FASTER (SLOWER).

Men are trained to fire at the rate of about three shots per minute at effective ranges and five or six at close ranges, devoting the minimum of time to loading and the maximum to deliberate aiming. To illustrate the necessity for deliberation, and to habituate men to combat conditions, small and comparatively indistinct targets are designated.


Executed in the same manner, as fire at will, except that each man, after having exhausted the cartridges then in the piece, suspends firing.

To Suspend Firing

149. The instructor blows a long blast of the whistle and repeats same if necessary, or commands: SUSPEND FIRING.

Firing stops; pieces are held, loaded and locked, in a position of readiness for instant resumption of firing, rear sights unchanged. The men continue to observe the target or aiming point, or the place at which the target disappeared, or at which is expected to reappear.

This whistle signal may be used as a preliminary to cease firing.

To Cease Firing


Firing stops; pieces not already there are brought to the position of load; those not loaded are loaded; sights are laid, pieces are locked and brought to the order.

Cease firing is used for long pauses to prepare for changes of position, or to steady the men.

151. Commands for suspending or ceasing fire may be given at any time after the preparatory command for firing whether the firing has actually commenced or not.

The Use of Cover

152. The recruit should be given careful instruction in the individual use of cover.

It should be impressed upon him that, in taking advantage of natural cover, he must be able to fire easily and effectively upon the enemy; if advancing on an enemy, he must do so steadily and as rapidly as possible; he must conceal himself as much as possible while firing and while advancing. While setting his sight he should be under cover or lying prone.

153. To teach him to fire easily and effectively, at the same time concealing himself from the view of the enemy, he is practiced in simulated firing in the prone, sitting, kneeling, and crouching positions, from behind hillocks, trees heaps of earth or rocks, from depressions, gullies, ditches, doorways, or windows. He is taught to fire around the right side of his concealment whenever possible, to rise enough to fire over the top of his concealment.

When these details are understood, he is required to select cover with reference to an assumed enemy and to place himself behind it in proper position for firing.

154. The evil of remaining too long in one place, however, good the concealment, should be explained. He should be taught to advance from cover to cover, selecting cover in advance before leaving his concealment.

It should be impressed upon him that a man running rapidly toward an enemy furnishes a poor target. He should be trained in springing from a prone position behind concealment, running at top speed to cover and throwing himself behind it. He should also be practiced in advancing from cover to cover by crawling, or by lying on the left side, rifle grasped in the right hand, and pushing himself forward with the right leg.

155. He should be taught that, when fired on while acting independently, he should drop to the ground, seek cover, and then endeavor to locate his enemy.

156. The instruction of the recruit in the use of cover is continued in the combat exercise of the company, but he must be taught that the proper advance of the platoon or company and the effectiveness of its fire is of greater importance, than the question of cover for individuals. He should also be taught that he may not move about or shift his position in the firing line except the better to see the target.


157. The ability to use his eyes accurately is of great importance to the soldier. The recruit should be trained in observing his surroundings from positions and when on the march.

He should be practiced in pointing out and naming military features of the ground; in distinguishing between living beings; in counting distant groups of objects or beings, in recognizing colors and forms.

158. In the training of men in the mechanism of the firing line, they should be practiced in repeating to one another target and aiming point designations and in quickly locating and pointing out a designated target. They should be taught to distinguish, from a prone position, distant objects, particularly troops, both with the naked eye and with field glasses. Similarly they should be trained in estimating distances.

Food and Rations

Trench Cooking World War One

“Uncle Cron’s Corn Willy”
By Mickey Collins

I have a true trench recipe for “Corn Willy” that was passed down in my family from Great Uncle named Cronley Hanchey who was light (horse-drawn) artillery in the Great War. Take corned beef and fry up in bacon grease in a meatcan. If you have onions add at the same time. Brown, then add a can of tomatoes and bring to simmer. If you have a can of kernel corn, add that as well. Cook as long as you wish then eat. HONEST, this is the real thing. It became the traditional “first meal” in hunting camp each year. I used to watch this guy fix it, he taught me how and I used it to get my cooking merit badge in Boy Scouts. It’s pretty good over boiled rice with a little hot sauce dropped on top. Uncle “Cron’ was “spaded” by a German when they overran his battery position. Carried a long scar from right shoulder to left waist which he used to tease us kids with. He said the worst experience for him was “tending the damned horses in the hold of the ship on the trip over.”

Shit on a Shingle
By Vincent Petty

2 tablespoons butter; 2 tablespoons flour; 2 cups milk; 4 ounces chipped beef; salt and pepper.

Over medium heat, in your meatcan melt the butter and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and keep stirring to keep from lumping. The mixture will gradually thicken. Add chipped beef and cook for about another five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve on toast or broken up hardtack.

In the trenches, bacon grease can be substituted for the butter. For milk use evaporated milk. Mix equal parts evaporated milk and water for whole milk.