Training and Recruitment

Training and Recruitment

Section: Medieval Period (c.500-1500)

  • Feudal system: During this period, soldiers were often obtained through the feudal system. Vassals were obligated to provide military service to their lords in exchange for land holdings.
  • Knightly training: For knights, a kind of military elite, training started from a young age, often as a page, then a squire, before they could become a knight. They practised skills such as horsemanship, weaponry, and chivalry.
  • Lack of formal training: For many others, there was a lack of formal training. Infantry was often made up of peasants who were given basic weapons.

Section: Early Modern Period (1500-1800)

  • Standing armies: The establishment of standing armies meant soldiers became professionals, with more formalised training.
  • Drill and discipline: ‘Drill’ became increasingly important in training, with soldiers learning to move, reload, and fire in unison. Marching in step and maintaining formation became vital.
  • Press-gangs and conscription: Methods of recruitment varied. The navy often used ‘press-gangs’ to force men into service. Contracts, financial incentives and conscription were all used to recruit men into the army.

Section: Modern Period (1800-Present)

  • National service: This was introduced during times of war, such as during the world wars. All eligible men were expected to serve in the military for a certain period of time.
  • Regulars and reservists: Over time, Britain’s military force became a mix of full-time professional soldiers (‘regulars’) and part-time soldiers (‘reservists’). Reservists would have another job but could be called up in times of need.
  • Development of specialised training: With different branches of the military and various specialised roles, training became increasingly specific. This includes roles such as medics, engineers, and pilots, each requiring unique training programs.
  • Women in warfare: From the 20th century, women played an increasingly important role in warfare. Initially, they served in supportive roles such as nurses or in women’s auxiliary units. Later, especially from WWII onward, they found themselves in more combat or near-combat roles.

Remember, the methods of training and recruitment transformed significantly over time. It was shaped by the needs and technologies of the period and the socio-political context, reflecting wider changes in society.