The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
Industrial Training Schools for the Army
Industrial Training Schools for the Army.
Few years ago the writer was tempted, from motives of economy, to institute a system of military routine in a home for boys formerly carried on under the regulations usual for such establishments. The question of industrial training schools for the Army having recently come to the front, he has been prompted to offer a few suggestions emanating from his experience in this direction. The establishment alluded to, the Homes for "Working and Destitute Boys at Birmingham, has for its object to provide a home for neglected and homeless lads, who would otherwise be abandoned to a life in common lodging-houses or the streets. Before describing the system of management, it should be premised that two circumstances have prevented its full development—viz., the want of suitable premises, and the absence of the right sort of paid officer to assist the writer. The small number of boy-inmates at any one time (an average of twenty-six) has also been a drawback. Still, even with these disadvantages, the military system of management has worked well.
It may be described in outline as follows:—
First it was necessary to appoint non-commissioned officers. This, as in the case of the Regular Army, is a most difficult and important matter. With an establishment of thirty, the staff of non-commissioned officers has been one sergeant, two corporals, and two lance-corporals; one bugler is also appointed. The remaining rank and file (twenty-four) are divided into four squads, each under charge of a noncommissioned officer, while the sergeant superintends the whole. Pay is issued for each rank at the rate of 1d. per stripe per week; other emoluments being granted for certain duties performed, such as the offices of librarian, store-clerk, orderly-room clerk, kitchen orderly, etc. There being four dormitories, one corporal is placed in charge of each, he being responsible for the cleanliness and drill efficiency of each individual in his squad. Promotion goes by seniority, as a rule, but sometimes by selection. One non-commissioned officer is on duty daily in turn. He is responsible for reveille at 5.30 a.m., and that by 6.30 a.m. everyone is on parade for boot inspection and drill. At 7 p.m. he marches the parade to breakfast, after which the boys disperse to their daily work in the different factories in the town. At 8 a.m. the sergeant-major inspects each locker in the lavatory and each kit shelf in the dormitories. Punishment for disorder in either of these is one hour's pack drill. At 10.15 a.m. the senior boy at home (one of those out of work or at home from other cause) parades any boys not certified as having passed recruits' drill, and they receive squad instruction and marching drill until 11.45 a.m., when they are dismissed, and are free to amuse themselves until dinner-parade falls in, under the corporal of the day, at 1.15 p.m. From 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. the morning drill is repeated, after which the boys are dismissed for the day, unless employed on some of the duties hereafter mentioned. At 6 p.m. (about which time the boys in work come home), page 11 the guard is mounted, consisting of the corporal of the day and three privates, one of whom is posted on sentry at the entrance and relieved hourly until 10 p.m., the boy coming off at 7 p.m. being released from duty at 8 p.m., and his place taken by one of the working boys, and the one coming off at 8 p.m., being relieved from duty altogether at 9 p.m. in the same way. At 7.30 p.m. is supper parade, and after supper, at 8 p.m., the junior corporal falls in the boys under sentence of pack drill. This on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; on Tuesdays, commanding officer's parade; and on Thursdays a science-lecture takes place at the same hour. At 8.30 p.m. is evening roll-call, after which the prisoners are "told off." For minor offences they are brought before the commanding officer, in the orderly room, but graver ones are referred to a court-martial. Boys who misconduct themselves are reported to the corporal of the day, who enters the report on his daily report sheet. This is called "open arrest." In very serious cases the offender is placed in the guard room, or, if necessary, in the cell. This is called "close arrest." Punishments vary from one hour's pack drill, or an extra guard to seven days' cells, with bread and water. There are various medium punishments as well, such as the stoppage of leave, of pay, etc. At 9 p.m. the non-commissioned officers parade for orders; at 9.30 p.m. first post sounds; at 10 p.m. second post, when all must be in their dormitories, but the corporal and the last sentry remain on duty until the last person is in or out of the institution. On Saturdays the boys coming home from work earlier, the duty times vary. Guard mounting is then at 2 p.m.; kit inspection at 2.30 p.m.; prisoners are told off at 3 p.m., absentees without leave are given seventy-two hours to return, after which time they are posted as deserters, and receive a proportionately severe punishment on capture. When once the guard is mounted no one under the rank of sergeant is allowed in or out without a proper pass. On Sundays there are church parades at 10.15 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Bible class at 3 p.m. On admission to the Horae (which is distinct from the Boys' Night Refuge), the boys have to bind themselves to remain in the Home until they attain the age of eighteen, during which time their earnings go towards their support—they, however, receiving back, as pay, one penny in the shilling. A good-conduct stripe, carrying extra pay at the rate of twopence a week, is awarded to every boy who is six weeks without being reported. The boys wear ordinary clothes to go to work in, fatigue dress about the Home and off duty, undress, with belts, on duty, full dress on Sundays and on guard. Busbies are only worn by the guard on Sundays, and when otherwise ordered. Each boy is provided with a rifle-carbine, which he is expected to keep in good order. There is a library of 300 volumes, and a reading-room where about twenty daily and weekly papers are supplied. The boys, as a company, go into camp for six days annually, when guards are mounted night and day; and the usual camp routine fully carried out.
|Fuel and light||1||15||0|
|Less average earnings at 5s. per week per boy||8||13||0|
|Add proportion of sergeant-major's salary per boy||0||16||8|
|Salry ditto, two staff-sergeants||1||0||0|
For keeping and training sixty boys a sum of £207 10s. would thus have to be made up by the public. The writer would suggest that the only help asked from Government should be a bounty of £10. for each good and healthy recruit finally passed into the Army, together with any slight assistance that could be given in the way of condemned clothing, or a small capitation-grant of say 10/-per head for each boy who attended the annual inspection, such inspection to be undertaken by an officer detailed for the purpose by the authorities at Horse Guards *. Help might also be given in the shape of the occasional services of a drill instructor from the nearest depot and of a military medical officer when required. By carrying out this plan from 15 to 20 lads could be drafted annually from the home into the Army—lads with two to three years' experience of barrack-life, well drilled and trained, and in every way eligible candidates for promotion to non-commissioned rank. Desertions would decrease in proportion as these homes are multiplied, and the bounty of £10 per recruit would surely be repaid, if only in the saving of the expenses incurred in the recapture of deserters. The Birmingham Homes have already sent some score of good young soldiers into the Army, of whom none have failed, and they are prepared to do a great deal more if the public will find the means.
* Such inspection has since taken place. Last August the boys encamped at King's Norton for six days, being inspected at the close by Capt. Scott, Adjutant of the Royal Warwick Regiment. The report was most favourable, and the General Officer commanding the District complimented the writer upon its favourable nature.