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"Physical Training Notes for British AA Units" from Intelligence Bulletin, May 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on British physical conditioning is taken from the Intelligence Bulletin, May 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

 
PHYSICAL TRAINING NOTES FOR BRITISH AA UNITS

1. INTRODUCTION

The British Antiaircraft Command reports that a number of antiaircraft regiments have arrived at battle training centers without having had the proper physical conditioning. The regiments which have been trained and hardened physically go through the rigorous battle training with practically no injuries or sickness, while those lacking in physical conditioning have a high rate of injuries and sickness.

In emphasizing better physical conditioning of regiments before they reach battle training centers, the British Antiaircraft Command pointed out that this could not be accomplished with mere "daily dozen" exercises of the "bend-and-stretch-arms" type.

2. PHYSICAL EFFICIENCY

The following tests, laid down by the British War Office, are used by their Antiaircraft Command as a basis of judging the physical efficiency of antiaircraft units (all tests should be carried out with full combat equipment):

a. Run 2 miles cross-country in 17 minutes.

b. Rim 200 yards, and at the finish carry out a firing test in which three hits out of five rounds must be obtained on the figure 3 target (British) within 1 minute 15 seconds.

c. Complete a forced march of 10 miles in 2 hours, followed by a firing test.

d. Carry a man of approximately the same weight for a distance of 200 yards in 2 minutes, on level ground.

e. Jump a ditch 8 feet 6 inches across, landing on both feet.

f. Scale a 6-foot-high wall without assistance.

3. GENERAL PROCEDURE

To attain top physical efficiency, the British War Office has laid down the following general procedure:

a. Seek a general toning up of the body.

b. Strive to harden and strengthen the feet and ankles; practice them to withstand the strain of moving over rough or hilly terrain.

c. Train the lungs to coordinate efficiently when climbing or running.

d. Increase stamina by training the body to surmount natural obstacles skillfully, and to run, climb, pull, lift, carry, and crawl with the minimum use of energy.

e. Practice swimming with full equipment, and practice methods of crossing water obstacles at full speed.

f. Train the body to relax.

g. Train the body to react quickly and correctly to the unexpected.

4. SUGGESTIONS BY AA COMMAND

The British Antiaircraft Command makes the following recommendations with the object of assisting commanders of antiaircraft regiments in making such preparations as will enable them to get the maximum benefits from the battle training course:

a. Feet

The great majority of interruptions to training are caused from minor foot troubles, primarily blisters. The following precautions are therefore of first importance:

(1) A preliminary and thorough inspection by officers of the fit of shoes and of the condition of socks.

(2) Regular foot inspections by officers after marches, coupled with instruction in the care of feet.

(3) Training that hardens the feet (for example, route marches), to be carried on right up to the time of going to battle school, as even a short lapse of time will permit feet to soften again.

b. Route Marches

On arrival at the school, all men must be capable of making at least an 8-mile route march with full combat equipment.

c. Wearing of Equipment

As all training at the schools is carried out in full combat equipment, all ranks should get used to wearing equipment beforehand. This will involve wearing equipment as often as possible and for as long as possible during the weeks immediately prior to the course.

d. Jumping from Heights

Many cases of minor injuries to ankles and knees have been incurred by men when jumping over ditches, or down banks and over obstacles. On arrival at the school, all ranks should be capable of carrying out a running downward jump of 4 feet 6 inches in full equipment without sustaining injury.

Progressive instruction should be given in how to land when jumping from heights. It will be found that in the majority of cases elementary instruction will be necessary in plimsols (sneakers) from a low height.

The main point to be stressed is the necessity for landing on the ball of the foot and not with the weight back on the heels. Troops will gradually accustom themselves to shoes and battle equipment, and the height of the jump can be increased.

e. Forearms

Much of the training is carried out with the rifle at the port, and men have been inclined to suffer a good deal from lack of the necessary strength in the forearm. Every effort should be made to prepare for this with suitable exercises. Bayonet drill should figure prominently in the training programs.

f. At the Double

The majority of training is carried out at the doubleómuch of it over rough ground. As much practice as possible should be given at this, and stress laid on economy of effort in order that all ranks will appreciate the necessity not only for reaching their objective, but for reaching it in a condition fit to fight.

g. Obstacles

The correct technique of clearing obstacles such as wire, walls, ditches, and streams should be taught as preliminary training in negotiating the pursuit course. In this connection due regard must be given to the care of arms.

h. Endurance

All preliminary training should be progressive, but it must be hard. A man's powers of endurance and his will to see a job through will be fully tested only when he is on his last legs.

(Motor transport drivers and office personnel will need special attention in this preliminary training.)

 

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