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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Cap Badge of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Active 1802 (as Royal Military College) – Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Training
Role Army Officer Training
Size Seven companies
Part of Army Recruiting and Training Division
Garrison/HQ Sandhurst, Berkshire
Motto Serve to Lead
Colours Red, Yellow & Blue
Colonel-in-Chief The Queen
Commandant Major General Stuart Skeates CBE
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
New Colours are presented to RMAS, June 2005. Prince Harry (at attention, to left of horse) is on parade.
New College buildings of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is the British Army officer initial training centre located adjacent to the village of Sandhurst, Berkshire, about 55 kilometres (34 mi) southwest of London. The Academy's stated aim is to be "the national centre of excellence for leadership." All British Army officers, including late entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers, as well as many from elsewhere in the world, are trained at Sandhurst. The Academy is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College Cranwell and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines.


Sandhurst straddles the counties of Berkshire and Surrey; the county border marked by a small stream known as the Wish Stream, after which the Academy journal is named. Primarily, the Academy is situated in College Town, a suburb of Sandhurst, and partly in the outer region of Camberley town. The nearest railway station is Blackwater, Hampshire.


Royal Military College cricket grounds, Sandhurst, ca. 1895
Old College Royal Military Academy Sandhurst UK

The present Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was founded in 1947 with the merger of two institutions: the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

The first Military Academy had been established in 1720 at Woolwich, a town later absorbed into south-east London, to train cadets for commissions in the Royal Artillery. Known as the "Shop", this academy moved to a permanent site at Woolwich Common in 1806 and was granted royal status in 1841. In 1806, the Military Academy took on the training of Royal Engineers officer cadets and, later, Royal Signals cadets.

In 1799, a school for staff officers was established at High Wycombe, and in 1801 this became the Senior Department of the newly established Royal Military College (RMC),[1] the brainchild of Colonel John Le Marchant.[2] He opened the Junior Department of the College at West Street in Great Marlow[3] in 1802[4] to train "Gentleman Cadets" for the infantry and cavalry regiments of the British Army and of the Presidency armies of British India.[1] Coincidentally, 1801 was also the year of foundation of Saint-Cyr in France[5] and of West Point in the United States.[6] In 1812 the Junior Department of the Royal Military College moved from Great Marlow into buildings designed by James Wyatt at Sandhurst.[7] A few years later, the Junior Department was joined at Sandhurst from High Wycombe by the Senior Department, which in 1858 became a separate institution, the Staff College.[1]

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Sandhurst became the home of 161 Infantry Officer Cadet Training Unit (RMC), which moved to Mons Barracks, Aldershot in 1942; for the rest of the war Sandhurst was used as a Royal Armoured Corps Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU).[8]

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was formed in 1947 on the site of the former Royal Military College from a merger between it and the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, which trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 to 1939.[9] Following the ending of National Service in the UK and the closing of the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot (which had trained Short Service Commissioned Officers) in 1972, the RMAS became the sole establishment for male initial officer training in the British Army.[10] In 1984, the Women's Officer Training College Bagshot moved to Sandhurst and in 1992 a new Commissioning Course finally unified the training of male, female and foreign cadets.[1]

The Wellington Room after Arthur Wellesley showing a depiction of Waterloo and his bust - RMAS Collection
Marlborough Room showing tryptych on leather of the Battle of Blenheim by Horensburg RMAS Collection

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Collection illustrates the history of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, the Royal Military College, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The collection includes the Gentlemen Cadet registers, historic archive, uniforms, paintings, photographs, and other artefacts.[11]

For the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the newly created Academy hosted the running leg of the modern pentathlon competition.[12]

Training at Sandhurst was the subject of a three part television series, first broadcast by BBC television in October, 2011, and rebroadcast in April 2012.

In 2012 Sandhurst accepted a £15 million donation from the government of United Arab Emirates for the Zayed Building, an accommodation block, named after the UAE's founding ruler.[13] In 2013 Sandhurst accepted a donation of £3 million from the government of Bahrain for the refurbishment of Mons Hall, named in honour of the men who fell in the Battle of Mons, which was then controversially renamed King Hamad Hall in honour of the King of Bahrain.[13][14]


Potential officers are identified by the Army Officer Selection Board (formerly the Regular Commissions Board, or RCB) situated in Westbury in Wiltshire.[15] Nearly 10 percent of British cadets are female and nearly 10 percent of all cadets come from overseas. More than eighty percent of entrants are university graduates although a degree is not required for admission.[16] Some officer cadets are serving soldiers. Technically, all cadets have the rank of private.


Sandhurst develops leadership in cadets by expanding their character, intellect and professional competences to a level demanded of an Army Officer on first appointment through military training and education.[17] The course is accredited by various academic and professional institutions.[17] The Commissioning Course lasts 44 weeks and must be successfully completed by all British regular army officers (with some exceptions) before they receive their commission. It is usually followed by further training courses specific to the Regiment or Corps in which the officer will serve.

There are two shorter commissioning courses. One is for professionally qualified officers (e.g., doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, veterinarians and chaplains).[18] The second short course is Module 4 of the Army Reserve (AR) Commissioning Course (ARCC), which lasts three weeks. The ARCC consists of four training modules; the first three are conducted under the supervision of RMAS with University Officer Training Corps, with Module 4 of the Officers' training and assessment being conducted at Sandhurst. This training typically takes 2 years to complete. Upon completion, Officer Cadets become Second Lieutenants in the AR or Officer Training Corps (OTC).[19] Each year, approximately 140 candidates undertake each of these two short courses.[1]

Sandhurst also runs a variety of other courses for officers including the Late Entry Officer Course (LEOC).[20]

RMAS has an academic faculty staffed by civilian researchers with expertise in Communication and Applied Behavioural Science, Defence and International Affairs and War Studies.[21]

Unlike some other national military academies such as West Point in the United States, Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France and the Pakistan Military Academy in Pakistan, Sandhurst is not a university.[22]


In overall command of the RMAS is the Commandant of the Academy, usually an officer of Major General rank. The senior warrant officer, the Academy Sergeant Major (AcSM), is one of the most senior warrant officers in the British Army. The commissioning course is split up into three terms, each lasting fourteen weeks (referred to as the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Divisions, identified by differently coloured lanyards). Basic army training is covered in the first five weeks which, by reputation, are the most gruelling (cadets' families are encouraged to support the cadets' morale by maintaining home contacts). The main RMAS Commissioning Courses start in January, May and September of each year. Each intake numbers approximately 200 cadets, each of whom is assigned to a platoon within one of two companies. Platoons are commanded by captains, with a colour sergeant who takes the main burden of day-to-day training, especially during the first term (unlike West Point, RMAS entrusts the majority of officer training to Senior Non-Commissioned Officers). There can be as many as ten companies within the RMAS at any one time, each commanded by a Major and named after a famous battle or campaign in which the British Army has fought. The company names change from year to year, and are drawn from the following:

Dettingen Company is divided along the same lines as the regular intakes, though smaller courses may consist of only two platoons.

There is also a "rehabilitation" platoon — Lucknow Platoon. It looks after cadets who are injured during training, with a view to preparing them to re-enter the commissioning course at the point they left, or processing those who are medically discharged.

Cadets who fail to meet the required standard may be "back-termed", that is, "asked" to repeat the previous term and joining a later intake, or to repeat the whole course.

Cadets nominate two regiments or corps that they seek to join, although in practice this may be influenced by their instructors, if particular strengths or weaknesses or aptitudes are seen to be important. In the middle term, interviews are held and final selections are made by the recruiting regiments and corps; there is competition for strong cadets by the units and, conversely, by cadets for prestigious or specialised units. Exceptionally, some cadets may have confirmed places in regiments before the formal selections or even before starting at Sandhurst.

Regular Army

Open Day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

A small number of regular army units are based at the RMAS to provide support for the colleges and their training:

  • Gurkha Demonstration Company (Sittang): this is a company-sized unit drawn from all units of the Brigade of Gurkhas, to provide an opposing force in battle training for the cadets.
  • 44 Support Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps: this is the RMAS's permanently based transport, logistic and signals support unit.
  • Until 1984, the RMAS had its own band - The RMAS Band Corps,[23] the smallest corps in the British Army. Music is now provided by a variety of Corps of Army Music bands on rotation.

Sovereign's Parade

The 149th Sovereign's Parade in front of Old College.

The first Sovereign's Parade was performed on 14 July 1948, in front of Trooping the Colour and parade past the Sovereign (or her representative) and guests. Guests consist of invited dignitaries and friends and families of the graduating cadets.[1]

During Trooping the Colour, the Colour is escorted by the Sovereign's Platoon, which has been selected on merit from the Senior Division. The Sovereign's Platoon wears multi-coloured lanyards, using the colours of all three Divisions.

At the end of the Parade, the Colours and the Senior Division leave the parade ground via the Grand Steps of the Old College building. They are followed by the College Adjutant, on horseback (the origins of this tradition are unclear).[1]


Each Commissioning Course has awards granted to outstanding cadets.[24] The following awards are presented during the Sovereign's Parade. Others are merely listed in the Parade programme. A system of Cadet Government also recognises merit by the appointment of Senior Under Officers, Junior Under Officers, Cadet Sergeants and Cadet Corporals.[1]

Sword of Honour

The Sword of Honour is awarded to the British Army Officer Cadet considered by the Commandant to be, overall, the best of the course. The swords were formerly made by Wilkinson Sword but after the closure of their sword making division they are now presented by Pooley Sword who also present swords for the Royal Marines and Royal Air Force. During WWII, when abbreviated courses were run to increase the supply of new officers, a Belt of Honour was awarded instead.

Queen's Medal

The Queen's Medal is awarded to the British Army Officer Cadet who achieved the highest scores in military, practical and academic studies.

Royal Memorial Chapel south aspect Royal Military Academy Sandhurst UK

Overseas Sword

The Overseas Sword is awarded to one of the many cadets from other Commonwealth countries and from foreign armies. The Overseas Sword goes to the Overseas Cadet considered by the Commandant to be the best on each course. The award was previously known as the Overseas Cane.

Duke of Westminster's Sword

The Duke of Westminster's Sword is awarded to the officer cadet considered by the Commandant to be, overall, the best of the AR Commissioning Course. This sword is also donated by Pooley Sword.


For more information, see List of alumni of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the category: Graduates of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.


There are two Chapels within the Academy, The Roman Catholic Chapel (Christ the King) and The Royal Memorial Chapel, dedicated as Christ Church, which also contains the South Africa Chapel, which was originally the Byzantine style. The Memorial stained glass and Windows in the chapel honour the Brigade of Guards, Rifle Brigade, Royal Fusiliers, and the Hampshire Regiment, among other units. Some memorials, including one honouring alumni of the US Military Academy at West Point, are carved into the black marble flooring.[25] On panels devoted to the particular campaigns in which they lost their lives, are the names of former cadets killed in action. At intervals above the panels are circular tablets to the memory of College Governors. The names of former cadets who have died on active service in the field, or elsewhere are listed in the spaces between the panels. Other tablets on the walls of the porch of the Church were moved there from the old Chapel. At the nave near the chancel steps, old Regimental colours hang from the pillars.[26]

See also


Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Royal Military Academy Royal Military Academy
East India Company Military Seminary
Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Mons Officer Cadet School
Women's Royal Army Corps College



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sovereign's Parade Programme. RMA Sandhurst. April 2012. 
  2. ^ Major-General John Gaspard Le Marchant (1766-1812) Defence Academy
  3. ^ Marlow Tour Marlow Society
  4. ^ "RMAS: The story of Sandhurst". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ecoles Des Saint-Cyr". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  6. ^  , p.22
  7. ^ Sandhurst - Royal Berkshire History
  8. ^ Training Army
  9. ^ Facilities in Sandhurst - 1937 A detailed description by a new recruit.
  10. ^ "Mons Officer Cadet School". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  11. ^ "RMAS Archive". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  12. ^ 1948 Summer Olympics official report. p. 47.
  13. ^ a b Matthew Teller (26 August 2014). "Sandhurst's sheikhs: Why do so many Gulf royals receive military training in the UK?". BBC. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Tom Whitehead (17 February 2013). "Row over renaming of Sandhurst hall after Bahrain donation". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "AOSB Site". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  16. ^ RMAS: The Officer Cadet.
  17. ^ a b Commissioning Course Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
  18. ^ PQO Course at, accessed 1 March 2014
  19. ^ "Choosing a Commission". He is placed on the strength of a AR Unit but completes Modules 1-3 of the AR Commissioning Course (ARCC) with the UOTC and Module 4 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Commission is confirmed by completing Module 5, a Special to Arms Course, a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2 years commissioned service. 
  20. ^ Late Entry Officer Course Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
  21. ^ "RMAS site". 
  22. ^ Academic Departments Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
  23. ^ "Memorial Chapel" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2008. 
  24. ^ Sovereign's Parade Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
  25. ^ Royal Memorial Chapel Sandhurst
  26. ^ Major Augustus F. Mockler-Ferryman F.R.G.S., F.Z.S. `Annals of Sandhurst : a chronicle of the Royal Military College from its foundation to the present day, with a sketch of the history of the Staff College` (London: William Heinemann, 1900)


  • Mockler-Ferryman, A. F. Annals of Sandhurst: A Chronicle of the Royal Military College From Its Foundation to the Present. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2007 (reprint; original 1900). ISBN 1-4326-6558-8.
  • Thomas, Hugh, 1931- The story of Sandhurst London, Hutchinson 1961
  • Christchurch the Chapel of The Royal Military College: Enlarged and Beautified to the Glory of God and in memory of The Sandhurst Cadets who have died in the service of their country Gale & Polden Ltd, Aldershot, 1937.
  • Goodley, Heloise An Officer and a Gentlewoman Constable and Robinson, London, 2012

External links

  • Royal Military Academy Sandhurst website
  • Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Foundation :includes virtual tour and photograph Gallery
  • Army Officer Selection Board

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