Marching pace of the British Army

Millions of men. Thousands of horses and wagons. Hundreds of units. All crammed into a relatively small area of Northern France. All needing to be moved into the line, out of the line, to the rear for training, and back again, over and over again. And those men, horses and vehicles having to use a relatively limited road layout in many areas. Can you imagine, in the pre-computer world, the incredible amount of planning and staff work that was necessary? One thing that was vital for the staff was a standardised view of how fast a unit could and should move. This was provided in Field Service Regulations.

1 mile = 1.6 km; 1760 yards = 1 mile

1. In moving to a starting point it may be taken that troops march at the rate of 100 yards a minute.

2. Rates of movement in the field are approximately as follows:

– Infantry: usual pace 98 yards per minute; 18 minutes required to traverse 1 mile; 3 miles per hour including short halts.
– Mounted troops at the walk: usual pace 117 yards per minute; 15 minutes required to traverse 1 mile; 3.5 miles per hour including short halts.
– Mounted troops at the trot: usual pace 235 yards per minute; 8 minutes required to traverse 1 mile; 7 miles per hour including short halts.

– Mounted troops at the gallop: usual pace 440 yards per minute.

3. The rates of marching of transport on a level road are:

– motor transport: 6 miles an hour.
– tractors: 3.5 miles an hour.
– pack mule or pony, 3 miles an hour.
– wheeled transport, mule or pony cart: 2.5 miles an hour.
– camel: 2 miles an hour.

See also how much road space a unit would need.

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