Welcome to Bisley, the famous rifle ranges. During the years leading up to war, depots such as Bisley, and many others up and down the country, were used as training depots, preparing soldiers for service overseas. These depots are still used for this purpose today.
Interpreter: Drummer Thompson, I’m looking at your uniform there, and I can’t help but noticing there are quite a lot of differences. I mean, mine here is khaki service dress uniform. It’s made of a thick, woollen serge, but I’m afraid it is as uncomfortable as it looks. It’s itchy, but it’s durable. What about your uniform? Is it durable? Is it comfortable?
Drummer Thompson: Yeah, well the thing with this here is when it gets wet it dries quite quick. It’s multi-terrain pattern, so you can use it in many different places around the world, so you blend in with the scenery. We’ve got pockets here on the sides of our legs for maps and carrying some med [medical] kit in. We actually carry field dressings.
Interpreter: You’ve not got putties like me. These, they might look uncomfortable, and I tell you what, they’re a pain to put on, but they have their uses. They support the calf when you’re marching, they stop stones, sticks, creepy crawlies getting into your boot and they stop your feet from getting wet… in theory. Although if there’s a deluge and you’re stuck in a puddle for a while, then your feet aren’t going to be that secure from water. But have you got any such protection from that?
Drummer Thompson: Yeah, well we use gaiters. They come over the whole boot and they have zips on them. You put them on and it keeps your feet dry. If your feet do get wet, nowadays they have Gore-Tex socks. So if your feet do get wet, or your boots get wet, you take your wet socks off, powder your feet, put the Gore-Tex socks on, put them into your boots and you’re good to go. Your feet are dry and warm.
Interpreter: We’ve not got such luxury. Some of the soldiers, they take their socks off and they put them in their uniforms under their armpits to keep them dry. But those Gore-Tex socks, sounds like a luxury. I can’t help but noticing you’ve not got any brass, so you ain’t got to do much polishing, I’m guessing.
Drummer Thompson: Well, I think they’ve realised from back in the day that brass, shiny things are combat indicators, where the enemy’s going to see you. So the enemy’s going to know where you are with the shine. So that’s why we don’t have anything now – the shine’s a combat indicator.
Interpreter: And your headwear. I’m wearing the service dress stiff cap there. Again, with brass upon the front. It’s comfortable, but yours looks a little bit heavier, a little bit more durable. Am I right?
Drummer Thompson: The reason why we wear it is because it can stop a round, a 7.62-calibre round, and it has in the past been proven to save lives.
Interpreter: Thanks, Drummer Thompson. Thank you very much.