Chapter 8. Signals, Distances, Intervals, Paces, etc

(37 intro.ii,iii.)




1. The following signals will be made with the sword when drawn, otherwise with the hand. Officers using signals should, as far as possible, face the same way as those to whom the signals are made.

Signal To indicate.

i. Arm swung from rear to front below the “Advance” or  “Forward”

shoulder, finishing with the sword pointing to the front.

ii. Sword hilt raised in line with the shoulder, “Walk” or  “quick time” elbow bent and close to the side, sword perpendicular.

iii. Sword hilt moved up and down between thigh “Trot” or “Double” and shoulder, forearm pointing in such a direction that the movement can be seen by those for whom the signal is intended, sword perpendicular.

iv. Sword swung from rear to front below the “Gallop” shoulder, motion repeated several times.

v. Sword raised perpendicularly to the full extent “Halt” above the head.

vi. Sword pointed in the required position (to be “Incline”  followed by the signal for “Forward”.

vii. Slow circular movement of the extended “Shoulders” sword in line with the shoulder in the required direction.

Note. – This signal is also used for “direction”. “Head of column change”.

viii. Sword held perpendicularly above the head “Line of troop columns” raised and lowered frequently. or where a troop is alone,

“Troop column”.; and light machine-gun troops,

“Column of sections”.

ix. Sword waved from the head, to right for a half “Troops half-right or half -left”-right wheel and to the left for a half-left wheel – to a position in line with the shoulder pointing in the direction required.

x. Above signal repeated twice. “Troops right or left wheel”.

xi. Sword circled several times at its full extent “Troops right or left about wheel” above the head, left to right for a right about wheel,   and right to left for a left about wheel.

xii. Sword waved horizontally from right to left 1. “Form squadron column “(from and back again as though cutting, finishing with the line)  delivery of a point to the front. 2. “Form line of squadron columns” (from line, mass, regimental  column of troops or echelon of squadron columns.)

3. “Form line” :-

(a) From line of squadron columns 

(b) From line of troop columns.

(c) From column of squadrons

xiii. Sword held extended above the head as for “Rally”  or “Mass” if in close order, “Halt” and point at once moved rapidly right and or “Close” if in extended order or left. dispersed.

Note. – This signal denotes “close on the centre”.

If desired to close on a flank, finish the signal by pointing towards that flank.

xiv. Two or three slight movements of the open “Dismount” or  “Lie down”. hand towards the ground (palm downwards),  sword transferred to the bridle hand.

xv. Two or three slight movements of the open “Mount” hand upwards (palm uppermost), sword transferred to the bridle hand.

xvi. Sword raised as for “Halt” and then “For action dismount”. pointed to the ground.

xvii. Sword at full extent over the head and “Extend” waved a few times slowly from side to side,bringing the point down at each wave on a level with the shoulder.

Note. This signal denotes extensions to both flanks. If the extension is to be made to the right, finish the signal by pointing to the right. If the extension is to be made to the left, finish the signal by pointing to the left. Extensions are usually 5 or multiples of 5 yards. If an extension other than 5 yards is required the interval will be given by word of mouth.

xviii. Sword waved horizontally from right “Artillery (or aircraft) formation”. to left and back again as though cutting, finishing with the delivery of a point vertically above the head.

xix. Sword swung from rear to front above the “Reinforce” shoulder.

xx. Rifle held up at full extent of arm, muzzle “No enemy in sight”. uppermost.

xxi. Rifle held above the head, at full extent ” Enemy in sight in small numbers” of the arm and parallel with the ground, muzzle pointing to the front.

xxii. As for “Enemy in small numbers”, but “Enemy in sight in large numbers”. the weapon raised and lowered frequently.

xiii. Both arms held out horizontally in line “Bring up the led horses or transport

with the shoulders. vehicles”

xxiv. Both arms held above the head and “Enemy aircraft in sight”.hands waved.

Signals such as “Halt” or “Incline” should be maintained, and signals of movement, such as “Advance” or “Shoulders” should be repeated until it is clear that they are understood.

Signals should not be acted upon until they have been completed.

2. The following signals are used by ground scouts :-

Impassable ground – Halt and raise the arm (without weapon) perpendicularly, transferring the weapon, if any, to the bridle hand ; then ride towards whatever spot appears practicable, pointing towards it with the hand. If the ground within view in front and on either side is quite impracticable, a scout will raise his right arm and ride to the squadron to report.

3. The whistle will be used :-

i. To draw attention to a signal or order about to be given – ” a short blast”. On a “short blast” being blown on the whistle when cavalry are in action dismounted, men will stop firing momentarlily, if necessary, and look towards their leader, and remain looking at him until he has completed the signal and dropped his hand, or until the order is understood. If men are on the move they will continue the movement, looking towards the leader.

ii. To denote “Cease firing” – “one long blast”

iii. To denote “Rally” – “a succession of short blasts”.

iv. To denote “Alarm” or “Enemy aircraft in sight” – “a succession of long and short blasts”. Troops will turn out from camp or bivouac and fall in at, or occupy, previously arranged positions. When on the march, troops will either get ready to fire, open out or take cover, according to orders in force.

To denote “Attack ended” (aircraft), two long blasts on whistle repeated at6 intervals of a second. On this, all troops resume previous formations. Troops who have been firing will recharge their magazines before moving off.

91. Distances.

Distances between mounted troops are measured from the tail of a horse to the head of the one behind it.

Between dismounted troops they are measured from heel to heel.

Line.(squadron) Troop leaders to front rank , 1 horse-length.front to rear rank, rear rank to (on foot 3 paces)

serrefile rank.

Line (open order) Between front and rear rank 3 horse-lengths.on parade for inspection purposes.

Column of sections, Troop leaders to front rank 1/2 horse-length

half-sections or and front to rear rank. (on foot 3 paces)

single file 

 Squadron column Troop leaders to front rank 1/2 horse-length and squadron half- front rank to rear rank. (on foot 3 paces) column.

Echelon Between units in echelon. Frontage of rear unit plus regulation interval in line and less the depth of

the preceding unit.

N.B. – This allows of a correct echelon being formed to a flank by a wheel of 90 degrees.

92. Intervals

Intervals between mounted troops are measured from knee to knee. Including intervals between files, a mounted man in the ranks occupies a frontage of slightly less than one yard.

Intervals between dismounted men are measured from elbow to elbow. Each dismounted man is allotted a lateral space of 24 inches, but a 2 inch space, elbow to elbow, should be aimed at.

Line. . . . . . . Between men (mounted) 6 inches.

” . . . . . . Between squadrons. 10 yards.

” . . . . . . Between regiments. 20 yards exclusive of band and staff.

” . . . . . . Between brigades. 20 yards.

Line of squadron Between squadrons. Frontage of all the rear

columns troops of one squadron plus 10 yards.

Mass . . . . . . Between squadrons. 5 yards.

Any line of columns. Between regiments or Deploying interval plus 20 brigades. yards.

Ranking past by sections. Knee to knee. 1 horse-length.

93. Paces.

1. The command or signal “March”, unless preceded by some other command, means “Trot”.

The commands for the three paces are:-

From the halt. – On the move. –

“Walk-March” “Walk”

“March” “Trot”

“Gallop-March”. “Gallop”

2. The following table shows the regulation paces of drill:-


Pace Distance Distance Time taken

Covered Covered to Cover

In one hour In one minute 1/4 Mile

(1) (2) (3) (4)


Walk .. .. 4 Miles 117 yds. 3′ 45″

Trot .. .. 8 Miles 235 yds. 1′ 52″

Canter .. .. 10 Miles 293 yds. 1′ 30″

Gallop .. .. 15 Miles 440 yds. 1′ 0″


3. Correctness and evenness of pace are essential in order to preserve cohesion in the unit and to avoid exciting the horses. Sudden change of pace in the endeavour to correct alignment or distances must be carefully avoided, and corrections should carried out gradually and quietly.

Each man should be on the alert for any slight change of pace. By careful riding he will be able not only to avoid incresing any irregularity of pace, but also to assist in rectifying it.

94. Details of march discipline.

1. Special parades for the purpose of instruction in marching should rarely be necessary except for transport, but advantage should be taken of every opportunity, such as is offered when troops march to and from the manoeuvre ground, of giving instruction in marching both by day and by night.

2. Whenever tactical considerations permit the following system of marching is suitable:-

Mount after halt and trot 15 minutes, then walk 10 minutes then trot 15 minutes, then lead 10 minutes. Halt 10 minutes. This system can be varied according to circumstances.

When the horses are being led, they should be kept as close to the edge of the road as possible so as to avoid blocking the traffic. The tendency to string out must be avoided.

3. To enable men to look round their horses and saddles, a short halt should be made about a quarter or half an hour after starting or as soon as day has broken. Subsequently, halts of 10 minutes duration should be made before each clock hour. During a long march a halt should usually be made after four hours to water and feed the horses. A regiment should start and halt by squadrons by whistle or signal, or by both. The regiment as a whole should be warned by whistle one minute before each halt or start.

Troops will march at attention when the warning signal to halt is given. The will wait for orders from troop commanders before falling out after a halt is signaled.

When troops halt, the commander should give out at once the duration of the halt, so that the men may know exactly at what time they must be ready to march again.

In roads horses’ heads should be turned towards the centre of the road, and the horses backed into the side of the road. During long halts the horses should be offsaddled and their backs hand-rubbed. During short halts girths should be loosened and saddles eased without further orders.

4. All commands to “Walk”, “Trot”, and “Halt”, must be passed either verbally or by signal down the whole length of the column. Sufficient time must always be allowed for a command to be passed down a column, before the change is made. Opening out, which frequently occurs after a halt, owing to units in rear not mounting and moving off at the same time as the head of the column, should be prevented by units decreasing their distances before dismounting, and by each squadron posting a special sentry to report when the units in front are mounting. It is advisable to walk for a considerable distance after mounting and before giving the order to trot.

5. To avoid tiring the horses, the men should at all times sit square and steady in the saddle. No man should quit his stirrups, and when trotting the men should rise in them, changing the diagonal every half mile or so. The correct places in the ranks should always be maintainedWhen dismounted the rifle must never be left on the saddle.

6. Units moving on a road will march well into the side of the road in order not to impede traffic, the side of the road depending upon the custom of the country they are in. The directing flank will be in accordance with the rule of the road and, during halts, men will fall out on the same side of the road as they are marching.