Wednesday 7 December 2011

Tales from the Academy – Change Parade

In the far-off heady days of the early 60s traffic was light and cars drove fast quite slowly and had no seat belts or heating. Their suspension was basic or non-existent and brakes were either fierce or ineffective.  Those cadets who were not rich but could (just) afford an old banger would chauffeur their enthusiastic fellow cadets to the bright lights of London after the week’s tribulations were done.

A weekend away was fun and often exhausting so that Monday morning’s rude awakening in the far too early hours was a shock to the system of the cadet about town. On parade his sleepiness might bring him to the attention of the Sergeant Major who had a unique way of waking him up.

‘Change parade,’ he ordered and the cadet doubled into his room to change uniform. Presenting himself on the parade ground he was immediately ordered to ‘change parade’ whereupon he would quick march back to his room to undress and dress again in a different uniform. Back in front of the warrant officer he would hear the order, ‘Change parade’ and would go quickly to his room to switch uniforms once more. This would continue until the officer on parade decided the unfortunate cadet was now fully awake and attentive and could rejoin the ranks of his more alert brother cadets.

It may sound harsh but however tired an officer may be he must always be vigilant on duty and the staff at RMAS took and continue to take their task of training young cadets very seriously.

Today’s cadets have a much shorter training period but still must learn to cope with weariness – their lives or the lives of the men and women they command may be at risk. Thus, when fatigue threatens to overwhelm and they feel sleep overcoming them, they are told they must stand up. The lecturers are accustomed to seeing one after another cadet standing up in their lecture rooms. If cadets have been on exercise for a few days it is probable that lecturers are faced with a roomful of young men and women standing and attempting to absorb what they are being taught.


  1. I can barely stay awake on cold winter eves, Ican imagine the poor cadets, but you are right about staying alert on duty.

  2. This was very interesting. I didn't know they had cadets change their uniforms or make them stand if they looked tired. But you do need to be alert when you are in the military and this may have taught them not to party on the weekends!

  3. "Change parade". I'd not heard of that, but it reminds me of what my Uncle Bobby did to my cousin Shell, who was dumb enough, at 17, to come home quite drunk. He sent her from the TV room (in the basement) to the kitchen (first floor) over and over, first for a Coke, then for a glass, then he needed ice, then he needed a sweater -- she finally threw up and went to bed.

    She didn't ever come home drunk again.




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