Training Manuals

Constructing barbed wire defences

This manual, used for training purposes by the 215th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was based on two years' worth of hard experience in defending captured positions.

Voting in Ontario

Wartime elections meant a new class of voters: those in uniform. In Ontario, the franchise was extended to men who were not normally allowed to vote, including those under the age of twenty-one and members of the First Nations, provided they were serving in the military.

"You have in explosives a good servant"

In this book, Sergeant Coleman of the Royal Canadian Regiment sought to augment the short time given to grenade training by providing practical hints on handling, arming, throwing, and making various kinds of bombs for use in trench warfare.

View PDF: PDF icon Bombs.pdf

Are you physically fit?

According to these regulations, medical requirements for volunteers to the CEF were fairly stringent. In practice, the need for manpower meant that many serious medical conditions were "overlooked".

How to survive in the trenches

This booklet, written with the benefit of three years of experience with trench warfare, covered everything from gas discipline to rum rations.

Killing at close quarters

This training manual stressed that effective bayonet fighting required "Good Direction, Strength and Quickness, during a state of wild excitement and probably physical exhaustion."

"Are my men full of keenness?"

Just a few months before the attack on Vimy Ridge, Canadian Corps commander Lord Byng showed as much interest in the comfort of his soldiers as he did in tactics - and encouraged his officers to do the same.

Army Physical Drill Made Easy

This training manual describes everything an officer needs to know about leading his men through physical training, including diagrams of the proper positions for exercises and simplified language to make sure everyone can understand.

Calisthenics for new recruits

For many new soldiers, the introduction to army life included healthy doses of bending, stretching, and other exercises laid out in this First World War manual.

View PDF: PDF icon PT tables.pdf

Using the Ross Rifle

The Ross Rifle was superb for target shooting, but left much to be desired in combat conditions - as the Canadian 1st Division learned to its peril at Ypres in April 1915.

View PDF: PDF icon Ross Rifle.pdf

Grenades in trench warfare

One lesson of trench warfare was that "bombing" (or using hand grenades) was much more important in capturing and clearing enemy trenches than had been imagined before the war. As a result, training manuals like this one by James Ferris, who joined the 63rd Battalion in Edmonton in July 1915, were published as a way to pass on new tactical knowledge.

Conducting of Troops

The complexities involved in moving large numbers of soldiers in an orderly fashion are outlined in this booklet, which was printed not long before the end of the First World War.

Some Notes on the Minor Tactics of Trench Warfare

A Brigade Major of the Corps of Royal Engineers presents a thorough overview of trench warfare tactics, emphasizing the cooperation between infantry and engineers.