Visit to the Imperial War Museum

Posted on May 3, 2015

As part of my research, I have been to the Imperial War Museum to look through the papers of Major-General Maxse. Maxse was responsible for the 18th Division after its formation as part of K1 – Kitcheners first army of conscripted soldiers. It was the Eastern Division, including the East Kents and East Surreys, the regiments associated with the PWRRQM.

Maxse was concerned with preparation and training of men; wanting any platoon of men going into action to be as fit, well trained and as aware as possible of the objectives allocated to it on day of battle.

I was looking for information that might help create a script or series of actions that can be filmed.




Here are some of the copies I made from the artefacts, that are unfortunately only available on Microfiche. I was hoping to find original copies of the training pamphlets and manuals that he had written.

A number of things struck me; Maxse talks about what the Infantryman does, at all times: from digging a trench, marching or cleaning clothes.
For instance, Trench digging:-

‘Direct the intensive labour of many men on to each tool by a system of relays. Thus, allot three men to each spade and keep that spade working without any pause…

An average man can work intensively for TWO MINUTES only, that is, if he really puts his whole head, heart and muscles into his digging and sweats like a pig. He should then REST FOR FOUR MINUTES, dig again for two minutes, and so on for two hours…

In average soil three average men should, on this system, complete in one hour a trench SIX FEET DEEP (below ground level) and sufficiently roomy to contain three men fully armed and equipped.’

I imagine this saved many lives. I would quite like to reconstruct this and film it as a piece of work. It might be fun to see if I can  work with soldiers or maybe members of the public? I would need some waste ground!