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"British Army: "By the center, ..."" Topic

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4,738 hits since 13 Nov 2013
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Comments or corrections?

grenadier corporal13 Nov 2013 8:07 a.m. PST

Although not British I am very much fascinated by the British Army, especially the standards they set for ceremonial parades (Trooping the Colour and others).

I always try to follow the commands and to understand them.
And here is my question:
What does "By the center" before (eg) "Quick March" mean?
I have rarely heard "By the right/left", but had never noticed a difference.

Is there a RSM or even a GSM out there to help?
Many thanks from the Corporal
(my reenactment rank in the Austrian Infantry of 1809 for many years now)

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Nov 2013 8:28 a.m. PST

It's who you take your dressing off of ie. you keep in line with the guy in the middle, rather than the left or right. (Normally formations take their dressing from the right marker, so will dress by the right or by the left, but "by the centre" is used for ceremonials and especially by bands.)

TNE230013 Nov 2013 12:54 p.m. PST

the US Army drill and ceremonies manual is FM 22-5


what is the equivelent for other countries/services?

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Nov 2013 2:31 p.m. PST

Yes, I believe Dom has it correct (although I'm not that familiar with British drill). When doing ceremonial movements with large formations its utterly vital for the troops to know which part of the formation to align themselves on, right, center, or left. Otherwise their nice straight lines could quickly start to come apart.

Sparker Inactive Member13 Nov 2013 6:13 p.m. PST

Yes Dom is entirely correct of course. Any drill command has three parts 1. Warning, 2. Dressing and 3. Executive.

Watch this way and I will give you a complete demonstration of the movement:

1. Warning Who you wish the order to apply to your squad, or the whole parade, or your wing? Just the Band, or the Guard and Band, or the entire Parade? Serves to wake every one up and let people know who it applies to:

'Squaad'or 'Paraaade' 'Division', 'Band', 'Guard',
'officers on Parade carrying swords' etc…

2. Dressing who to take guide from Left, Centre or Right. Ie do you match your speed to the bloke on the left or the right or the guy in the centre. Optional for parties acting individually.

3. The executive What it is you are to do, delivered in a sharp tone to enhance speed and performance:

'Shun!' 'Quick March' 'About Turn' 'Draw Swords' etc.

So a complete drill order will start on a High, then issue the dressing, if issued, on a low, and finish on a short high for the exectutive:

'SQUAD!'…'by the left'…'QUICK MARCH!'

Of course if there are multiple parties involved it gets more complex:

'BAND!'….'by the centre'…'GUARD'…'by the left'….'CORTEGE 'n ESCORT'…'by the centre'…"SLOW MARCH!"

grenadier corporal14 Nov 2013 12:12 a.m. PST

Thank you so much, dear all!

Especially appreciate the US Drill Manual.
Is there anything comparable for the British Army?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member15 Nov 2013 11:41 a.m. PST

For the RAF it's Air Publication (AP) 818. There's a condensed version for cadet use here: PDF link

11th ACR24 Dec 2013 10:04 p.m. PST

Two very good examples of British Army marching.
YouTube link
YouTube link

janner Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 12:54 a.m. PST

Sparker is on the button. Dressing is generally by the colours or right hand marker if not escort to the colours, a battalion in line etc. Of course, if the formation conducts an about turn (about face), the right hand marker is on the left. So in moving around a parade square, the commander must always bear in mind where the original right hand marker is in relation to the body of troops. Dressing may temporarily shift to perform a particular movement, such as a left form (that strange wheel come turn you see going on in the corners during Trooping the Colour), eyes left etc. but will revert once it has been completed.


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