Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst


The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, commonly
known simply as Sandhurst, is the British Army officer initial training centre located
adjacent to the village of Sandhurst, Berkshire, about 55 kilometres southwest of London. The
Academy’s stated aim is to be “the national centre of excellence for leadership.” All
British Army officers, including late entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers,
as well as many from elsewhere in the world, are trained at Sandhurst. The Academy is the
British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College
Cranwell and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. Location
Sandhurst straddles the counties of Berkshire and Surrey; the county border marked by a
small stream known as the Wish Stream, after which the Academy journal is named. Primarily,
the Academy is situated in College Town, a suburb of Sandhurst, and partly in the outer
region of Camberley town. The nearest railway station is Blackwater, Hampshire.
History The present Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
was founded in 1947 with the merger of two institutions: the Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. The first Military Academy had been established
in 1720 at Woolwich, a town later absorbed into south-east London, to train cadets for
commissions in the Royal Artillery. Known as the “Shop”, this academy moved to a permanent
site at Woolwich Common in 1806 and was granted royal status in 1841. In 1806, the Military
Academy took on the training of Royal Engineers officer cadets and, later, Royal Signals cadets.
In 1799, a school for staff officers was established at High Wycombe, and in 1801 this became the
Senior Department of the newly established Royal Military College, the brainchild of
Colonel John Le Marchant. He opened the Junior Department of the College at West Street in
Great Marlow in 1802 to train “Gentleman Cadets” for the infantry and cavalry regiments of
the British Army and of the Presidency armies of British India. Coincidentally, 1801 was
also the year of foundation of Saint-Cyr in France and of West Point in the United States.
In 1812 the Junior Department of the Royal Military College moved from Great Marlow into
buildings designed by James Wyatt at Sandhurst. A few years later, the Junior Department was
joined at Sandhurst from High Wycombe by the Senior Department, which in 1858 became a
separate institution, the Staff College. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Sandhurst
became the home of 161 Infantry Officer Cadet Training Unit, which moved to Mons Barracks,
Aldershot in 1942; for the rest of the war Sandhurst was used as a Royal Armoured Corps
Officer Cadet Training Unit. The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was formed
in 1947 on the site of the former Royal Military College from a merger between it and the Royal
Military Academy in Woolwich, which trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal
Engineers from 1741 to 1939. Following the ending of National Service in the UK and the
closing of the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in 1972, the RMAS became the sole
establishment for male initial officer training in the British Army. In 1984, the Women’s
Officer Training College Bagshot moved to Sandhurst and in 1992 a new Commissioning
Course finally unified the training of male, female and foreign cadets. The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Collection
illustrates the history of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, the Royal Military College,
and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The collection includes the Gentlemen Cadet
registers, historic archive, uniforms, paintings, photographs, and other artefacts.
For the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the newly created Academy hosted the running leg
of the modern pentathlon competition. Training at Sandhurst was the subject of a
three part television series, first broadcast by BBC television in October, 2011, and rebroadcast
in April 2012. In 2012 Sandhurst accepted a £15 million
donation from the government of United Arab Emirates for the Zayed Building, an accommodation
block, named after the UAE’s founding ruler. In 2013 Sandhurst accepted a donation of £3
million from the government of Bahrain for the refurbishment of Mons Hall, named in honour
of the men who fell in the Battle of Mons, which was then controversially renamed King
Hamad Hall in honour of the King of Bahrain. Selection
Potential officers are identified by the Army Officer Selection Board situated in Westbury
in Wiltshire. Nearly 10 percent of British cadets are female and nearly 10 percent of
all cadets come from overseas. More than eighty percent of entrants are university graduates
although a degree is not required for admission. Some officer cadets are serving soldiers.
Technically, all cadets have the rank of private. Courses
Sandhurst develops leadership in cadets by expanding their character, intellect and professional
competences to a level demanded of an Army Officer on first appointment through military
training and education. The course is accredited by various academic and professional institutions.
The Commissioning Course lasts 44 weeks and must be successfully completed by all British
regular army officers before they receive their commission. It is usually followed by
further training courses specific to the Regiment or Corps in which the officer will serve.
There are two shorter commissioning courses. One is for professionally qualified officers.
The second short course is Module 4 of the Army Reserve Commissioning Course, which lasts
three weeks. The ARCC consists of four training modules; the first three are conducted under
the supervision of RMAS with University Officer Training Corps, with Module 4 of the Officers’
training and assessment being conducted at Sandhurst. This training typically takes 2
years to complete. Upon completion, Officer Cadets become Second Lieutenants in the AR
or Officer Training Corps. Each year, approximately 140 candidates undertake each of these two
short courses. Sandhurst also runs a variety of other courses
for officers including the Late Entry Officer Course.
RMAS has an academic faculty staffed by civilian researchers with expertise in Communication
and Applied Behavioural Science, Defence and International Affairs and War Studies.
Unlike some other national military academies such as West Point in the United States, Ecole
Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France and the Pakistan Military Academy in Pakistan,
Sandhurst is not a university. Organisation
In overall command of the RMAS is the Commandant of the Academy, usually an officer of Major
General rank. The senior warrant officer, the Academy Sergeant Major, is one of the
most senior warrant officers in the British Army. The commissioning course is split up
into three terms, each lasting fourteen weeks. Basic army training is covered in the first
five weeks which, by reputation, are the most gruelling. The main RMAS Commissioning Courses
start in January, May and September of each year. Each intake numbers approximately 200
cadets, each of whom is assigned to a platoon within one of two companies. Platoons are
commanded by captains, with a colour sergeant who takes the main burden of day-to-day training,
especially during the first term. There can be as many as ten companies within the RMAS
at any one time, each commanded by a Major and named after a famous battle or campaign
in which the British Army has fought. The company names change from year to year, and
are drawn from the following: Gaza Company
The Somme Company Ypres Company
Alamein Company Burma Company
Normandy Company The Falklands Company
Imjin Company Malaya Company
Blenheim Company Waterloo Company
Inkerman Company Dettingen Company — the Short Courses mentioned
above are operated sequentially, and are each known as “Dettingen Company”.
Dettingen Company is divided along the same lines as the regular intakes, though smaller
courses may consist of only two platoons. There is also a “rehabilitation” platoon — Lucknow
Platoon. It looks after cadets who are injured during training, with a view to preparing
them to re-enter the commissioning course at the point they left, or processing those
who are medically discharged. Cadets who fail to meet the required standard
may be “back-termed”, that is, “asked” to repeat the previous term and joining a later
intake, or to repeat the whole course. Cadets nominate two regiments or corps that
they seek to join, although in practice this may be influenced by their instructors, if
particular strengths or weaknesses or aptitudes are seen to be important. In the middle term,
interviews are held and final selections are made by the recruiting regiments and corps;
there is competition for strong cadets by the units and, conversely, by cadets for prestigious
or specialised units. Exceptionally, some cadets may have confirmed places in regiments
before the formal selections or even before starting at Sandhurst.
Regular Army A small number of regular army units are based
at the RMAS to provide support for the colleges and their training:
Gurkha Demonstration Company: this is a company-sized unit drawn from all units of the Brigade of
Gurkhas, to provide an opposing force in battle training for the cadets.
44 Support Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps: this is the RMAS’s permanently based transport,
logistic and signals support unit. Until 1984, the RMAS had its own band – The
RMAS Band Corps, the smallest corps in the British Army. Music is now provided by a variety
of Corps of Army Music bands on rotation. Sovereign’s Parade The first Sovereign’s Parade was performed
on 14 July 1948, in front of King George VI. Three Sovereign’s Parades are held each year
outside the Old College to mark the “passing-out” and the final parade at Sandhurst of the Senior
Division. All cadets, except for those who have been back-termed through injury or other
reasons, are inspected by the Sovereign, participate in the Trooping the Colour and parade past
the Sovereign and guests. Guests consist of invited dignitaries and friends and families
of the graduating cadets. During Trooping the Colour, the Colour is
escorted by the Sovereign’s Platoon, which has been selected on merit from the Senior
Division. The Sovereign’s Platoon wears multi-coloured lanyards, using the colours of all three Divisions.
At the end of the Parade, the Colours and the Senior Division leave the parade ground
via the Grand Steps of the Old College building. They are followed by the College Adjutant,
on horseback. Awards
Each Commissioning Course has awards granted to outstanding cadets. The following awards
are presented during the Sovereign’s Parade. Others are merely listed in the Parade programme.
A system of Cadet Government also recognises merit by the appointment of Senior Under Officers,
Junior Under Officers, Cadet Sergeants and Cadet Corporals.
Sword of Honour The Sword of Honour is awarded to the British
Army Officer Cadet considered by the Commandant to be, overall, the best of the course. The
swords were formerly made by Wilkinson Sword but after the closure of their sword making
division they are now presented by Pooley Sword who also present swords for the Royal
Marines and Royal Air Force. During WWII, when abbreviated courses were run to increase
the supply of new officers, a Belt of Honour was awarded instead.
Queen’s Medal The Queen’s Medal is awarded to the British
Army Officer Cadet who achieved the highest scores in military, practical and academic
studies. Overseas Sword
The Overseas Sword is awarded to one of the many cadets from other Commonwealth countries
and from foreign armies. The Overseas Sword goes to the Overseas Cadet considered by the
Commandant to be the best on each course. The award was previously known as the Overseas
Cane. Duke of Westminster’s Sword
The Duke of Westminster’s Sword is awarded to the officer cadet considered by the Commandant
to be, overall, the best of the AR Commissioning Course. This sword is also donated by Pooley
Sword. Alumni
For more information, see List of alumni of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the
category: Graduates of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Chapel There are two Chapels within the Academy,
The Roman Catholic Chapel and The Royal Memorial Chapel, dedicated as Christ Church, which
also contains the South Africa Chapel, which was originally the sanctuary of the second
Chapel before the it was enlarged. The original chapel was what is now known as the Indian
Army Memorial Room. The Royal Engineers designed the original Chapel, which features red brick,
terracotta moulding, interlocking pediment copies and corbels in 1879. The Chapel was
dedicated by King George VI on 2 May 1937, after architect Captain Arthur C. Martin enlarged
the building in a Byzantine style. The Memorial stained glass and Windows in the chapel honour
the Brigade of Guards, Rifle Brigade, Royal Fusiliers, and the Hampshire Regiment, among
other units. Some memorials, including one honouring alumni of the US Military Academy
at West Point, are carved into the black marble flooring. On panels devoted to the particular
campaigns in which they lost their lives, are the names of former cadets killed in action.
At intervals above the panels are circular tablets to the memory of College Governors.
The names of former cadets who have died on active service in the field, or elsewhere
are listed in the spaces between the panels. Other tablets on the walls of the porch of
the Church were moved there from the old Chapel. At the nave near the chancel steps, old Regimental
colours hang from the pillars. See also List of Governors and Commandants of Sandhurst
Sandhurst Competition Lineage
References Notes Bibliography
Mockler-Ferryman, A. F. Annals of Sandhurst: A Chronicle of the Royal Military College
From Its Foundation to the Present. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2007. ISBN
1-4326-6558-8. Thomas, Hugh, 1931- The
story of Sandhurst London, Hutchinson 1961 Christchurch the Chapel of The Royal Military
College: Enlarged and Beautified to the Glory of God and in memory of The Sandhurst Cadets
who have died in the service of their country Gale & Polden Ltd, Aldershot, 1937.
Goodley, Heloise An Officer and a Gentlewoman Constable and Robinson, London, 2012
External links Royal Military Academy Sandhurst website
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Foundation :includes virtual tour and photograph Gallery
Army Officer Selection Board


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *