Life on the Front Line
Taking part in Colonel Banks' training course

Colonel Banks, Captain Rowe, Lieutenant Humphries and Corporal Bedford took students out onto the school Astroturf and playing fields and distilled three months of a newly-recruited soldier’s basic training into an hour of fitness, discipline and military skill.

Colonel Banks greeted the new recruits and roused their spirits with a stirring address. Captain Rowe then took the measure of them and split them into three battalions.


Lieutenant Humphries and Corporal Bedford put the students through their paces with exercises taken from the Model Course of Physical Training (1902), with staves (sticks) carried as dummy weapons while the students worked their way through a series of lunges, bunny hops and press-ups.


Captain Rowe drew on his military background to instruct the students in how to march together, in time and around corners. By the end of his 15-minute slot he had converted an incoherent rabble into a well-drilled military unit.

Military Skill

Colonel Banks timed each battalion as they negotiated their way around his fearsome training course. Each student in turn had to dig their share of wet sand while a fellow recruit went on a long sprint carrying a heavy roll of barbed wire. On their return, they set off for another extended run towards a mock rifle lying hidden in the long grass, which they pretended to aim and fire (with chests pounding from their exertions) before sprinting back to the start.

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To round the session off, students marched in parade around the Astroturf in front of their instructors and saluted the Colonel as they passed and filed back to the changing rooms.