Training to be an officer

Huge demands placed on officer training

The most serious deficiency in the army was the lack of men who could lead and command, both as officers and NCO's. Without a massive scaling-up of the number of officers, the New Armies could not have been established.

Officers Training Corps

Westminster School OTC

OTCs were formed in 1908 at Universities and Public Schools to attract young men into the army and carry out training sufficient to allow the recruit to be commissioned. There were 23 OTC contingents of the 'Senior Division' at Universities and 166 of the 'Junior Division' at schools. The Inns of Court, part of the legal establishment in the United Kingdom, also had an OTC. The OTCs continued their activities throughout the war and played a key role in prviding the raw material for selection as officers.

Officer Cadet units

With the Inns of Court OTC at Berkhamsted

In February 1916, a new system of training for officers was introduced, after which temporary commissions could only be granted if a man had been through an Officer Cadet unit. Entrants would have to be aged over 18 and a half, and to have served as a ranker or to have been with an OTC. The training course lasted four and a half months. The Officer Cadet Battalion had an establishment of 400 cadets at any time (although this was raised to 600 - if the unit could accommodate them - in May 1917). More than 73,000 men gained infantry commissions after being trained in an OTB, with increasing numbers coming from 'the ranks' as the war went on.

OTB Number Location
1 Newton Ferrers
2 Pembroke College, Cambridge
3 Bristol
4 Oxford
5 Trinity College, Cambridge
6 Balliol College, Oxford
7 Moore Park, County Cork, Ireland
8 Lichfield
9 Gailes, Ayrshire
10 Gailes, Ayrshire
11 Pirbright
12 Newmarket
13 Newmarket
14 Berkhamstead
15 Romford
16 Kinmel, Rhyl
17 Kinmel, Rhyl
18 Bath
19 Pirbright
20 Crookham, Aldershot
21 Crookham, Aldershot
24 (Tank Corps) Hazeley Down, Winchester
Household Brigade Bushey
1 Cavalry Netheravon
Garrison Jesus College, Cambridge

Many training schools and facilities were developed behind the lines in France and Flnders and the other theatres of war. Specialist courses on tactics and technologies such as the machine gun and poison gas were developed, and all officers were regularly withdrawn in order to attend. Not only did they update the officer on developments but they provided a welcome respite from the strain of front line command.