We’ve always enjoyed the Heritage Day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. For me, I look forward to the demonstration of pace sticking by Company Sergeants Major [CSM’s], for my wife it’s the horses.
I know many readers enjoy the smartness and precision exhibited by the Academy CSM’s. I’ve collected my videos and photos of pace sticking here, in one place. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Do look at this splendid video by Captain Graham White on the art of pace sticking. Graham was an RSM prior to his commission. Can’t think of a better description of pride in the role and uniform that when Graham says of the soldier,
“He marches down the strip in a bit of style, panache; he wants to be the best for the organisation, or unit he’s representing. As he marches down he has something about him.”
A pace stick is an aid to military drill. Usually consisting of two pieces of wood, hinged at the top, it opens so that the tips separate at fixed distances, corresponding to various lengths of marching pace, such as “double march” or “quick march” and so on. The history of pace sticking was usefully included in the Heritage Open Day program, which I’ve copied here,
“Roman military engineers used a pace stick almost identical the modern British army version, with the main difference being the length of rope in place of the modern brass locking bar. When the Roman pace stick was fully open the rope went taught and the stick was locked at an angle that measured two Roman marching paces.
When building roads, the Roman ‘sticker’ would turn his implement 500 times, equating to a Roman mile. At which point a mile stone would then be erected. In 1928, the then Academy Sergeant Major Arthur Brand developed a drill for the pace stick and promoted its use throughout the Army.”
I’ve included a photo of Academy Sergeant Major Glenn Haugton [now Army Sergeant Major] for a close-up view of a pace stick, and also a photo of an Academy Cadet delivering port.