Marching

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JohnAL
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Marching

Post by JohnAL » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:53 am

Marching, in general and at Hertford, was mentioned by FJ Grogan and others in the thread ‘Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses’. Perhaps it deserves its own thread, since I think it is unique to Housey, for, I know of no other (non-military) secondary, educational establishment which has a tradition of marching.

One oddity, which someone may be able to explain, is that Housey’s form of marching changed in about 1951. Earlier, each arm was swung forward in turn between two extremities. The start was at about 30 degrees to the vertical behind the body. The swing ended when the arm had moved forward to be horizontal in front of the body. After the change was adopted, the angle of swing was decreased and the arm was never more than about 45 degrees to the vertical in front of the body. I think this latter swing is still used at Housey. Is it? Was this change something to do with a change at that time in UK military practice?

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Re: Marching

Post by sejintenej » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:25 am

JohnAL wrote: One oddity, which someone may be able to explain, is that Housey’s form of marching changed in about 1951. Earlier, each arm was swung forward in turn between two extremities. The start was at about 30 degrees to the vertical behind the body. The swing ended when the arm had moved forward to be horizontal in front of the body. After the change was adopted, the angle of swing was decreased and the arm was never more than about 45 degrees to the vertical in front of the body. I think this latter swing is still used at Housey. Is it? Was this change something to do with a change at that time in UK military practice?
I don't recall this. The angle to the rear is, of course, dictated by shoulder design so 30° is about right. However, to the front it was to the horizontal AFAIR. I'm considering 1952 to 1961 I looked for photos but Murphy struck - lots of house but no marching photos of that era :(
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J.R.
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Re: Marching

Post by J.R. » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:05 pm

The great thing about learning to march and 'drill' at CH was that when I went into 'Plod' after leaving school, I was 'head and shoulders', (if you'll pardon the expression), over the other new recruits !
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Marching

Post by jhopgood » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:01 pm

I can only remember marching practice to ensure that we could stay in step, but nothing about arm swinging.

Once I joined the band, there would have been no point to arm swinging discipline, since morning and evening parades were always a bit of a shambles, by which I mean that as long as we all got there at approximately the same time, that was good enough.

But maybe that was just Barnes B, who were never very strict about these things.

Curiously, some of the drummers in the village band, with whom I played for a while, had difficulty staying in step, which for a drummer, I found amazing.
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Re: Marching

Post by postwarblue » Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:50 am

I have no recollection of any rules about angles in relation to arm swinging. Perhaps it was a House thing. Marching was one thing less to learn when conscripted into the CCF!
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Re: Marching

Post by sejintenej » Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:58 am

jhopgood wrote: Once I joined the band, there would have been no point to arm swinging discipline, since morning and evening parades were always a bit of a shambles, by which I mean that as long as we all got there at approximately the same time, that was good enough.

But maybe that was just Barnes B, who were never very strict about these things.
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Re: Marching

Post by eucsgmrc » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:40 pm

JohnAL wrote:... I think it is unique to Housey, for, I know of no other (non-military) secondary, educational establishment which has a tradition of marching.
I always assumed that the marching was a necessity, rather than some idiosyncratic whim of a militaristic headmaster. The school was condemned to marching by the design of the dining hall. 850 chaotic boys had to be fitted into the hall in minimal time, through two small doors. Imagine the shambles if they all arrived at the same moment. Imagine the wasted time if they were left to their own devices. Given the mind-set of the era, what other solution than a parade was available?
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Re: Marching

Post by Ajarn Philip » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:29 am

Interesting thread. As a senior monitor in a junior house and a house captain in a senior house, as well as being an RAF cadet, I must have been involved in marching drills at some point, with all that 'eyes left', 'by the left/right' and 'left wheel' stuff, but I'm blowed if I can remember much about it.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that by the early 70s, with long hair and low girdles, smart and crisp marching techniques at lunch parades induced a certain "I'm way too cool for this" attitude in the senior houses, some more so than others (I have a feeling that the further up the Avenue the house was located, the 'cooler' it tried to be...). Having said that, I'm also reasonably sure that most boys were prepared to compromise these 'principles' on special occasions, such as the Lord Mayor's parade and VIP visits to Horsham.
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J.R.
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Re: Marching

Post by J.R. » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:21 pm

I fully accept that standards change with time, but I have to say that during my time, marching smartly was expected.

On my visits to CH since, I have definitely noticed a decline in the standard of marching, AND dress smartness.

(I've had my say on the standard of shoes on another thread )
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Marching

Post by sejintenej » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:10 pm

J.R. wrote:I fully accept that standards change with time, but I have to say that during my time, marching smartly was expected.

On my visits to CH since, I have definitely noticed a decline in the standard of marching, AND dress smartness.

(I've had my say on the standard of shoes on another thread )
There have been references to arms at 45 and 90 degrees to the vertical. Looking at John Wexler's photos I seem to see arms at about 30 degrees below the horizonal which seems about right. And yes, on top occasions marching was better at least in Col A
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Re: Marching

Post by DavidRawlins » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:50 pm

I vaguely seem to remember that in 1946, when I came to CH, that we were instructed to raise our arms parallel to the ground. In about 1950 this was changed, to about 60 degrees. Others may have better memories.
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Re: Marching

Post by Foureyes » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:49 pm

The most interesting thing about Housey drill for me is not the arm swinging but the custom of marching 'in fours;' - i.e., four ranks - with 'forming two-deep' immediately prior to entering dining hall. My understanding has always been that this was how the British Armed Forces marched until after World War One, when they changed to three ranks, as done everywhere else. Thus, to the best of my knowledge Housey is the only place to maintain this old tradition - probably due to School Sergeants not keeping up to speed with the latest trends!
In addition, as far as I know, the custom of the Drum Majors saluting without wearing headdress is also unique to the school - and long may it continue to be so!
Incidentally, while the marching, drill and dress on lunch parades about 5-10 years ago were abysmal, as pointed out by JR, there has been a very marked improvement in all three of late, so much so that I even wrote to the Head Master to tell him so!
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Re: Marching

Post by LongGone » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:05 am

There is a practical reason for being four abreast. Entering the dining hall can be done two abreast: changing from four to two is not too difficult (after a few disasters early in the year), but going from three to two would be very complex.
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Re: Marching

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:42 pm

eucsgmrc wrote:
JohnAL wrote:... I think it is unique to Housey, for, I know of no other (non-military) secondary, educational establishment which has a tradition of marching.
I always assumed that the marching was a necessity, rather than some idiosyncratic whim of a militaristic headmaster. The school was condemned to marching by the design of the dining hall. 850 chaotic boys had to be fitted into the hall in minimal time, through two small doors. Imagine the shambles if they all arrived at the same moment. Imagine the wasted time if they were left to their own devices. Given the mind-set of the era, what other solution than a parade was available?
That may be, but there are pictures of parades at Hertford and London, with quite different logistical problems. As for 'Imagine the shambles...' -- that is precisely what was said when Seaman suddenly abolished chapel parade in 1956, and the shambles didn't materialize.

As for whether other schools went in for this, none that I know of among English public schools, but I have a recollection of watching a film about life in apartheid-era S. Africa which (for greater effect) flashed between black townships and the life of the whites. A scene in an overcrowded black school was followed by what appeared to be an elite white *girl's* school, where the young ladies were shown being marched around a quadrangle by a very domineering prefect.

Incidentally, at my primary school we had a very boastful teacher who was always going on about his war service (in fact when I read, and saw, 'The Virgin Soldiers', I decided he could have been the model for the cowardly Sgt. Wellbeloved). Anyway, he had us marching round the playground under the guise of PE. So when I arrived at CH, I thought I knew how to march, and was much mortified when, during the first tea, a monitor said to my nursemaid: 'Ives, can you teach your squit to march.'
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: Marching

Post by sejintenej » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:49 pm

michael scuffil wrote: .
As for whether other schools went in for this, none that I know of among English public schools, but I have a recollection of watching a film about life in apartheid-era S. Africa which (for greater effect) flashed between black townships and the life of the whites. A scene in an overcrowded black school was followed by what appeared to be an elite white *girl's* school, where the young ladies were shown being marched around a quadrangle by a very domineering prefect.
'
Very much depends on the school; a couple of years ago a previously coloured* state school which is now predominantly bantu* now marches but didn't in 1960

*apartheid definitions
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