Staff College, Camberley

Staff College, Camberley

Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, is a training college for the British Army.


In 1799 Colonel John Gaspard Le Marchant, 7th Hussars, submitted a proposal to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army for a Royal Military College in three departments. A private officer training school, based on the idea of a senior or staff department in the proposed college was opened in the same year by Colonel Le Marchant, at the Antelope Inn, High Wycombe, with himself as Commandant. This was officially recognised by royal warrant in 1801 as the senior department of the Royal Military College which was to open in 1802 at Great Marlow. Le Marchant now assumed the office of Lieutenant-Governor and Superintendent-General, and General Jarry became Director of Studies in 1803.

The course, for which students were to pay until 1858, lasted two years. The role was specifically stated in 1808 as being to train future commanding officers as well as staff officers. The senior department moved to the Royal Military College buildings at Sandhurst in 1820, having been housed at Farnham, Surrey, since 1813. Officers had to have had at least two years experience, and the minimum age was 19 (raised to 21 in 1808).

Decline and independence (1815–1914)

The College underwent a decline after 1815, and in 1820 became almost exclusively scientific and technical, though surveying and fortification was to continue. Funding ceased after 1832.

Following the Crimean War the name was changed to the Staff College (1857), and it was made independent of the Royal Military College in the following year. It now had its own Commandant and Adjutant, although continued to be administered by Sandhurst until 1911. However it now had properly conducted entry and final examinations, and primarily military subjects were taught. Purpose-built dedicated premises were approved in 1858, and built 1859-1863 to a design by James Pennethorne, adjacent to the Royal Military College (but over the county boundary in Camberley). It was built to accommodate 40 students, and the first staff course had 15 officers, and 30 was not reached until 1870, when 40 was set as the target.

Further military subjects were added in 1870, so that by 1921 they were purely military. In 1881 staff duties was added to administration, to replace photography and geology. Indian Staff Corps officers attended from 1877.

By 1884 there were 48 students, and in 1886 it was to be 60 (8 from the Indian Army). In 1906 two Royal Navy officers attended, and Camberley graduates were to attend the Royal Navy Staff Course. The first overseas students arrived in 1909, two Australians and a Canadian. The Staff College closed due to the Second Boer War in 1900, and the First World War 1914-1919. The first post-war course commenced in May 1919.

Restructure (1938)

The College was completely restructured in 1938, with a junior wing at Camberley, for officers of an average age of 29 years, and a senior wing at Minley Manor, Farnborough, for graduates of the former aged about 35 years. Some 120 students would do the new junior course annually. It would last one year, rather than two as formerly. Some 55 officers would attend the more senior course annually. A part-time course for officers of the Territorial Army was introduced in 1938. The new courses were disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Wartime courses lasted 4 months (later raised to 6), and one innovation was the introduction of Directing Staff from the Commonwealth in 1945.

Post-war to present

In 1969 the Junior Command and Staff Course commenced at Warminster.

In 1965-1969 the Technical Staff Course (ptsc) ended, and combined staff and technical staff streams continued.

In 1963 arrangements were for three Royal Navy officers to attend, preference given to those already staff qualified or who had staff experience already, of the rank of lieutenant, lieutenant-commander or commander. Four Royal Marines officers aged 29 to 32 inclusive, were first to attend the General Staff Science Course at Shrivenham. The aim of the course was to provide reserve of fully trained General Staff Officer 2 (GSO2).

In 1988 there were over 500 captains entering the age bracket (28-29 years) annually. Half were disqualified by examination failures (the Junior Command and Staff Course (JCSC), staff selection test, promotion examination), or failure to receive the necessary recommendation. The remainder were chosen by No 5 Selection Board. 122 army officers attended the course, three-quarters as majors, and the rest were promoted during the course. Three Royal Navy, four Royal Marines, and three Royal Air Force officers also attended, and 48 from overseas (one third Commonwealth, one third NATO countries). In all nearly 30% of all British Army officers attended, between the ages of 30-34 years.

In 1994 it was announced that a new Joint Service Command and Staff College would replace the Staff College, the Royal Naval Staff College, RAF Staff College, and Joint Services Defence College in 1997.

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