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Regimental Badge

65th (2nd Yorkshire North Riding) Regiment of Foot

Regimental Badge

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Drill on this page [ Extending | Closing | Squares | Advancing in Skirmish Order | Retiring in Skirmish Order ]
[ Passing Obstacles in Skirmishing Order | Inclining to a Flank| Skirmishers changing Front or Direction | Firing in Skirmishing Order ]

LIGHT INFANTRY MOVEMENTS OF A COMPANY

The following general rules are laid down for the guidance of troops employed as light infantry, but all movements in extended order must depend so much upon circumstances, which are ever varying, and the nature of the ground, that officers and non-commissioned officers must depend to a great extent on their own intelligence and judgment, for the effectual performance of the duties required of them.

Recruits must first be instructed in the following movements on level ground, and be made to keep their distances and dressing in extended order; when more advanced they must be taught to apply them practically.

1. Extending

In extending, as a general rule, it is the business of the rear rank man of each file to regulate the distance, and of the front rank man to look to the direction.
The number of paces that files are to extend from each other may be specified in the caution by the commander, thus: - THREE PACES FROM THE RIGHT - EXTEND. When no number is specified, six paces will be the regulated distance between files.

In this section:

From the Halt

COMPANY
FROM THE 
RIGHT (LEFT
CENTRE, or
No_, FILE) -
EXTEND
Bugle Call
G. (G, G, G. or
G, G.)
EXTEND No I.

On the word EXTEND, or the last sound of the bugle, the:

  • captain will place himself in rear of the centre of the company, 
  • the senior supernumerary in rear of the right,
  • and the second senior in rear of the left.

The file

  • on the named flank, or the centre or the named file, will stand fast,
  • the remainder will advance arms, face outwards, and extend in quick time.

The front rank men will move direct to the flank, covering correctly on the march, the rear-rank men will cast their eyes over the inward shoulder, and tap their respective front-rank men as a signal to halt, front, and stand at ease, when they have gained their proper distances.

Men must be taught to extend from any file of a close column of sections, without previously re-forming company; the named file will stand fast, the remainder will face outwards and extend as already described.

On the March

FROM THE 
RIGHT (LEFT
CENTRE, or
No_, FILE) -
EXTEND
Bugle Call
G. (G, G, G. or
G, G.)
EXTEND No I.

On the word EXTEND, or the last sound of the bugle, the file

  • on the named flank, or the centre or the named file, will continue to move straight forward in quick time,
  • the remainder will make a half turn to the flank to which they are ordered to extend, and move off in double time.

As soon as each file has extended to its proper position, it will turn to its front and resume the quick time; the rear-rank men covering their front-rank men and the whole keeping in line with the directing file.

Increasing Distance between Files

Men in extended order may be directed to increase the distance between their files any given number of paces, from either flank, the centre or any named flank. The command will be given thus, TO EIGHT PACES FROM THE RIGHT - EXTEND; if no number of paces is specified, or if the bugle sounds the EXTEND, the skirmishers will open out one half more than their original exension; thus if they are at six paces distance, they will open to nine.

A Company halted while extending on the March

When a company, extending on the march, is halted before all the files are extended, the remainder will make a half-turn outwards into file, break into quick time, advance arms, and complete their extensions as from the halt.

Extending from the Echellon March of Sections

A company while moving to a flank in echellon of sections should be practised in extending on the march without previously forming company, the echellon moving on in double time, each file as it gains its distance turning to the front and breaking into quick time as directed in [On the March].

Skirmishers to kneel or lie down by Order

Soldiers in extended order, though not firing, may be ordered to kneel or to lie down, when it is deemed advisable that they should do so.

2. Closing

In this section:

On the Halt

SKIRMISHERS
ON THE 
RIGHT (LEFT
CENTRE, or
No_, FILE) -
CLOSE
Bugle Call
G. (G, G, G. or
G, G.)
CLOSE No II.

On the word CLOSE, or the last sound of the bugle, the file

  • on the named flank, or the centre or the named file, will stand at ease,
  • the remainder will face towards it, and close at quick time, halting, fronting and standing at ease in succession as they arrive at their places
  • the officers will remain in the rear unless directed to take post.

The file on which the skirmishers close may be faced in any direction; the remainder will form upon it, facing in the same direction.

On the March

ON THE 
RIGHT (LEFT
CENTRE, or
No_, FILE) -
CLOSE
Bugle Call
G. (G, G, G. or
G, G.)
CLOSE No II.

On the word CLOSE, or the last sound of the bugle, the file

  • on the named flank, or the centre or the named file, will move steadily on in quick time,
  • the remainder will make a half turn towards it, and close in double time, turning to the front and resuming the quick time as they arrive at their places.

A Company halted while closing on the March

When a company, closing on the march, is halted before all the files are closed, the remainder will make a half-turn inwards into file, break into quick time, and complete the formation as from the halt.

Closing while moving at the Double

Skirmishers must also be taught to close while moving at the double, in which case the files that are closing must increase their speed.

3. Squares

Company Squares

In light infantry movements, company squares will be formed as laid down in Part II., Section 32; when soldiers run in from extended order they will order arms and fix bayonets or swords independently as they halt and front in their places. A company must be practised in closing from extended order into close column of sections on any named file; when no file is named they will close on the left file of the second section. If much pressed by cavalry, the first section formed may commence firing and the remainder forme in rear of it, the sections passing each other left arm to left arm.

The Rallying Square

When the men of different companies are mixed together in extended order, or when detached skirmishers are overtaken by cavalry, they will form rallying squares, as explained in Part II., Section 33. Two men placed back to back can keep off several cavalry soldiers; half a dozen stout-hearted men formed into a rallying square would be safe against a body of cavalry. When skirmishers of different companies mixed together are ordered to form rallying squares, they will run to the nearest officer standing as a rallying point, whether he belongs to their own company or not.

4. Advancing in Skirmishing Order

COMPANY
ADVANCE
Bugle Call
ADVANCE
No III.

On the word ADVANCE, or the last sound of the bugle, the men will

  • step off in quick time with trailed arms,
  • keeping their distance from the centre.

5. Retiring in Skirmishing Order

COMPANY
RETIRE
Bugle Call
RETIRE
No IV.

On the word RETIRE, or the last sound of the bugle, the men will

  • face to the right about, and 
  • step off in quick time
  • rear rank in front, keeping their distance from the centre.

Men in extended order will invariably face or turn to the right about, whether they are advancing, retiring, or not firing.

6. Passing Obstacles in Skirmishing Order

Men in extended order must frequently be practised passing obstacles both in advancing and retiring. When an obstacle, such as a pond, or a marsh, presents itself in front of a line of skirmishers, the files opposite to it will open out gradually as they approach, and will pass on either side of it, closing on the remaining files, which will continue moving straight to their front. Having passed the obstacle, the files that have been diverted from their direction, will again extend and fill up the interval in the line.

A company advancing or retiring in skirmishing order, should also be practised in closing on the centre files of sub-divisions or sections, those files continuing to march straight to their front; after which, the company should be then extended from the same files, and if the direction has been properly kept, the intervals between the files will still be found correct.

7. Inclining to a Flank

TO THE RIGHT
(or LEFT) -
INCLINE.
Bugle Call,
G. (or G, G, G.)
INCLINE,
No IX.
ADVANCE.
Bugle Call,
ADVANCE,
No III.
RETIRE.
Bugle Call,
RETIRE, No IV.

On the word INCLINE, or on the last sound of the bugle, the skirmishers will make a half turn to the flank to which they are ordered to incline, and move in a diagonal direction, until they are ordered to resume their original direction to the front or rear, by the word or sound advance or retire. If the skirmishers have made a half turn, and are again ordered to incline in the same direction, or the bugle sounds the INCLINE a second time, they will complete the turn by making a second half turn and will take ground to the flank in file.

HALT.
Bugle Call,
HALT, No V.

If the word or bugle sound HALT is given when men are inclining, they will halt and front.

8. Skirmishers changing Front or Direction

A line of skirmishers halted, can change front on any two named files that may be placed as a base for the rest to form upon.

A change of front in this manner may be made at any angle, but it is not likely to be required to a greater extent than the sixteenth, or at most the eigth of a circle.

SKIRMISHERS
CHANGE FRONT
TO THE RIGHT
(or LEFT) ON
THE TWO
CENTRE (OR ON No_, AND No_,)
FILES

1. From the Halt. - On the caution, the captain will dress the two named files in the direction required.

DOUBLE
MARCH

On the word MARCH, if all the files are to be thrown forward on a flank, they will make a half-face inwards, and move across by the shortest way to their places in the new line, dressing on the two base files, as they successively halt.

If all the files are to be thrown back on either flank, they will make a three-quarters face in the direction of the base files, then move across and halt and front as they arrive at their places in the new line.

If the change is on two central files, part of the company wil be thrown forward and the rest back, as above described.

Recruits should first be taught this movement in quick time, and by separate words of command; thus, after placing the base files, LEFT SUBDIVISION RIGHT HALF-FACE; RIGHT SUBDIVISION LEFT ABOUT THREE QUARTERS - FACE, THE WHOLE, QUICK-MARCH.

(RIGHT or
LEFT) WHEEL

Bugle Call,
G. (or G, G, G.)
WHEEL, No X.

2. On the March. - A line of skirmishers on the march may change their direction gradually, on the same principles as a company wheels on a moveable pivot. On the word WHEEL, or on the last sound of the bugle, the pivot file will halt, and the remainder will circle round it, the front-rank men looking outwards for the dressing, and the rear-rank men keeping the distances from the pivot flank.

FORWARD
Bugle Call,
ADVANCE,
No III.

On the word FORWARD, the whole line will advance by the centre.

9. Firing in Skirmishing Order

The men of a file must always work together. Both men should never be unloaded at the same time; they should load, when practicable, under cover; before moving to the front, when advancing; and after falling back, when retiring.

When troops in extended order at the halt are ordered to commence firing, whether by word or bugle sound, they will drop on the knee, or lie down if cover can be more effectively obtained by so doing; when they cease to fire they will rise. When troops firing on the march are halted they will kneel.

Soldiers, after firing in extended order, will invariably come to the capping position and shut down the flap, if it has been raised; if required to re-load on the march they will then bring the rifle to the trail in the left hand, the sling upwards and the muzzle inclining to the right, and proceed with their loading.

In this section:

Firing on the Halt

COMMENCE FIRING
Bugle Call
COMMENCE
FIRING

No VI.

On the words COMMENCE FIRING, or the last sound of the bugle, the whole will

  • drop on the knee 
  • the font-rank men will then make ready, fire and load
  • the rear-rank men when their front-rank men are in the act of capping, will make ready, fire and then load

Firing Lying Down

A line of skirmishers may be ordered to lie down, or single soldiers may lie down for the sake of cover. 

If in very exposed situations a soldier wishes to load lying, he will roll over on his back, and place the butt of his rifle between his legs, the cock upwards, and the muzzle a little elevated.

Firing while Advancing

COMMENCE FIRING
Bugle Call
COMMENCE
FIRING

No VI.

On the words COMMENCE FIRING, or the last sound of the bugle, the whole of the skirmishers will

  • make momentary halt
  • the font-rank man of each file will fire (kneeling if preferred), and take a side pace to his left
  • the rear-rank man will then pass on
  • and the front-rank man will follow close behind him, loading on the march
  • when in the act of capping he will give the word "Ready" in an under tone of voice
  • on which the proper rear-rank man will fire
  • and both men will proceed as above described

When men find difficulty in loading on the march, they may halt and load, and then double up to their file leaders.

When cover presents itself, the men must be taught to take advantage of it, by running forward from place to place as soon as they are loaded; when any large object affording considerable cover comes in their way, several files may run up behind it, fire, load, and then move on and regain their distances and places in the general line.

Firing while Retiring

COMMENCE FIRING
Bugle Call
COMMENCE
FIRING

No VI.

On the words COMMENCE FIRING, or the last sound of the bugle, both ranks will:

  • halt, front and kneel
  • the font-rank man of each right file will then fire, rise, face to the right about, and retire in quick time, passing by the left of his rear-rank man, and loading as he retires
  • the rear-rank man will continue to look to the front till his front-rank man has passed him, and will then rise, face to the right about and follow him
  • As soon as the left files hear the ramrods of the right files working they will proceed in like manner as the right files
  • When the loading of a front-rank man of a file is completed, both ranks will halt, front and kneel
  • the rear-rank man will then fire and proceed as above described.
  • After the first round the files will continue to fire and retire without reference to each other.

On rough ground, files will run back from one place of cover to another, taking care before they leave one station, to select another to fall back upon. One man of each file should fire previous to moving, and re-load when he is again under cover. As the principal object is to keep the enemy in check, skirmishers when retiring, should hold each station as long as possible without risk of being cut off by the enemy, or of being shot by their comrades.

When a line of skirmishers halted, is ordered to advance firing, the front-rank men will first fire, the whole will then rise, and proceed as already described.

Firing while inclining to a Flank, or taking Ground to a Flank in Files

When skirmishers are ordered to fire, or the bugle sounds the fire, while they are inclining to the right or left, or taking ground to a flank in files:

Ceasing Firing

When skirmishers, either halted, or on the march, are directed to CEASE FIRING (bugle sound), they will complete their loading, and the rear-rank men will resume their places in the proper rear of their front-rank men, if not there already.

Halting

Whenever skirmishers are directed to halt, by word of command or bugle sound, they will halt facing to their proper front, and if firing, they will drop on the knee and continue firing.

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Updated 31 August, 2004