Before being accepted into the army during the Great War, new recruits had to pass strict medical exams. Medical officers would assign each man a letter and number that indicated his suitability to join.

A.... Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service
Al .... Fit for dispatching overseas, as regards physical and mental
health, and training
A2.... As Al, except for training
A3.... Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical
A4.... Men under 19 who would be Al or A2 when aged 19
B.... Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of
communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics.
Bl.... Able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well
B2.... Able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary
B3.... Only suitable for sedentary work
C.... Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service in garrisons
at home.
Cl.... Able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well
C2.... Able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary
C3.... Only suitable for sedentary work
D.... Unfit but could be fit within 6 months.
Dl.... Regular RA,RE, infantry in Command Depots
D2.... Regular RA,RE, infantry in Regimental Depots
D3.... Men in any depot or unit awaiting treatment

How wide is your chest?

- minimum requirement 33.5 inches,
with an expansion of 2 inches.

How is your heart?

Can you see and hear well?

How are your teeth?

What is your weight?

How are your feet?
- flat feet not allowed!

How tall are you? Minimum requirement 5’3”

Soldiers living together in the trenches developed a language all their own to describe their shared experiences and conditions — something referred to as trench slang. We still use some of these words and phrases today.

A blighty one Wound that sent someone home for good
Bully or Bully Beef  Canned meat
Bags/the bags Sandbags
Blighty/old Blighty British or Britain “old Blighty”
Caught a Packet  Killed
Char Tea
Clicked It Killed
Cooties Body lice
Copping a packet Killed
Cubby hole Foxhole or a tiny dugout
Chit A written message
Cushy Places away from shelling or attacks (cushy jobs, cushy trenches)
Dixie Food container
Dud A shell that fails to explode
Egg A grenade
Gone to blighty Gone to England for leave
Having a doss/kip Sleep
Holy Joe  Military Chaplain
Hop the Bags Going over the top
Hun  A German soldier
Iron rations

Emergency food (tin of bully beef, hard biscuits,
a tin of tea and sugar); also, enemy shellfire

Muck about

To wander aimlessly (originally referred to the
mud in and around the trenches)

Narpoo (or ‘napoo’) Finished or dead
No man’s land Land between lines of opposing trenches
Over the Top  Climbing over sandbags in front of a trench for an attack
Pear drops  Poison gas
Scarper To run away
Shrapnel Flying splinters from high-explosive shells
Sniper  Specialist marksmen or “sharpshooters”
Tank  Armoured fighting vehicle
Tommy  British or Canadian soldier
Up against it In trouble
Whizz-bangs Fast approaching shells; also hastily written and posted letters
Wooden overcoat A coffin

How did soldiers prepare for battle during the Great War?

During basic training, U of S recruits took part in drills that were designed to improve physical fitness, teach core military skills, and instil discipline.

Later, drills were also held on campus to prepare “the boys” in case they were “called up.”

Average total weight

carried by each soldier in 1914:

30 kg (66 lbs)

Military Kit
2 Beret
3 Combat trousers CADPAT
3 Combat shirt CADPAT
5 Combat T-Shirt
5 Combat underwear / Boxers
5 Combat socks black
5 Combat socks green
2 Pairs of combat boots
1 Cold wet weather boots (Gore-Tex)
1 ICE jacket
1 Wind pants
1 Rain jacket
1 Rain pants
2 Thermal undershirt
2 Thermal underwear
1 Bush cap
1 Combat toque
2 Kit bag

1 Helmet with cover
1 Tactical Vest
1 Ballistic Eyewear
1 Combat gloves
1 Mortar gloves
1 Bayonet carrier
1 Gas mask carrier with shoulder strap
1 Gas mask
1 Water bottle, 1 litre
1 Cup canteen water bottle 1 litre
1 Water canteen, 2 litres with cover and sling
1 Flashlight

Field Kit
1 Rucksack
1 Valise
1 Air mattress with bag
1 Sheet utility
1 Bivy bag
1 Liner sleeping bag
1 Hood sleeping bag
1 Outer sleeping bag
1 Inner sleeping bag
1 Wash basin

Winter Kit (required 31 Oct – 1 May)
1 Combat parka
1 Parka bib pants
1 Boot, mukluk
2 Duffle socks, mukluk
2 Polar fleece shirt
2 Polar fleece pants
1 Suspenders
1 Insert arctic mitt
1 Shell, arctic mitt
1 Thermos canteen, 1L
1 Balaclava, white

Average total weight
carried by each soldier in 2017:
27 kg (60 lbs)