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Rapid Training of a Company for War (1914)

WW1 Officer's Rapid Training for War (1914)

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Captain A. P. Birchall

GALE & POLDEN LTD, London, Aldershot & Portsmouth, 1914

An original WW1 British Army officer's handbook, published by Gale & Polden in November 1914. The book is signed on the front cover and front endpaper by its original owner, ‘J. H. Porter’. There is also a pencil note on the endpaper: ‘Staffs Regt'. 

Lt-Col. J. H. Porter DSO (1891-1973): James Herbert Porter was born in Burton on Trent in 1891, the son of a master brewer. He began working for Newcastle Breweries in 1909. He had been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Territorial Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment in 1908. His career in brewing was interrupted by the outbreak of WW1 and in November 1914 he was promoted to the rank of Captain in the 6th North Staffordshire Regiment. He served with distinction throughout the war, ending the war as a Lieutenant Colonel, and being awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in January 1918. His award citation was published in the London Gazette on 16th September 1918: 

‘Capt. (A./Lt.-Col.) James Herbert Porter D.S.O., N. Staff. R., T.F., For Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the enemy had succeeded in reaching his front line, which was on high ground, this officer at once personally led forward his two support companies to counter-attack through heavy shell and machine gun fire. The attack was perfectly successful, and the posts were then pushed forward again.

After the war, Porter returned to Newcastle Breweries and was soon involved in the creation of one of the world’s most celebrated beers - Newcastle Brown Ale. The company had become aware of the rapidly rising demand for bottled beer in the early 1920s and decided to create a new product. As assistant brewer, Porter worked alongside the firm’s chief chemist, Archie Jones, and together they created Newcastle Brown Ale, after three years intensive development work. First advertised in 1927, it won all seven major awards at the 1928 Breweries Exhibition. Newcastle Brown was an instant and enduring success, originally selling for 9 shillings for a dozen bottles. It is said that most of the credit went to James Porter, while Archie Jones’ contribution was largely forgotten. Porter went on to become managing director of Newcastle Breweries in 1931, becoming Vice-Chairman in 1953, and Chairman two years later. Following the company’s merger with Scottish Breweries in 1960 he became the group’s Chairman. (I will include further details of J. H. Porter’s military and brewing career with the book)

Rapid Training of a Company For War was intended to be used by the junior officers in Kitchener's 'New Army’. It is full of fascinating insights into every aspect of a junior officers responsibilities on the Western Front. Subjects covered include: marching, musketry, judging distance, entrenching, lice, attack, defence, retreat, attacking aircraft, bombing, cover from artillery fire, night operations and much more. The book comes with its original officer’s reference card and envelope in a pocket at the rear of the book. There is quite a bit of advice on maintaining morale, some of which, with the benefit of hindsight, sounds pretty ironic: 

'The rapid rise in recruiting which has taken place during the present war. . . together with the splendid response of the Dominions, have proved that the old Latin motto which served as an incentive to the Roman Soldier is equally the sentiment of the Britisher today: "Dulce et decorum est, pro Patria mori”’. 

I wonder if Wilfred Owen saw a copy of this book?


In good condition. The illustrated card cover is in good condition with some marks. The hinges and binding are secure. The text is in very good condition, with a few small Imperial War Museum ‘Withdrawn’ ink stamps. The reference card and envelope are in very good condition. The book is signed on the front cover and endpapers by ‘J. H. Porter’.

Published: 1914 
Illustrated khaki card cover with black and red titling
Dimensions : 90mm x 130mm
Pages: 145