RSM's Pace Stick (see below
for Swagger Sticks)
The RSM of a Unit carries a
'Pace Stick" which originated in the Artillery as a "Gunner's
Stick" and was used to measure the distance between guns.
It was soon
adapted to measure the length of the pace taken by soldiers to get them
all pacing the same. The Pace Stick is actually two pieces of timber, hinged at the
top and able to be set to a particular distance, something like the
compass set you used at school.
Regimental Sergeant Major of The
Warrant Officer B.T. BOUGHTON, OAM (2002)
Note the Pace Stick,
Infantry Combat Badge, Sam Browne Belt. Note the Badge of Rank that is
worn ONLY by the RSM Army. >>>
|The Pace Stick - The Royal
Regiment of Artillery was the originator of the pace stick. It was used
by gunners to ensure correct distances between guns on the battlefield,
thus ensuring the appropriate effective fire. The original stick was
more like a walking stick, with a silver or ivory knob. It could not be
manipulated like the modern pace stick as it only opened like a pair of
callipers; the infantry then developed the stick to its present
configuration as an aid to drill. (from
the Dept of Defence site)
- The Pace Stick is two things.
- It is a indicator of rank as it
is only carried by the RSM, and
- it is tool that is used to
measure the pace (distance taken in a marching step) so that all
soldiers get trained to 'pace' the same and
- it is also used by the RSM
when laying out the marker points on a parade ground so that
the troops turn at the correct point and finish up at the
correct point on ceremonial parades.
British Drill Instructor demonstrates the practical use of a Pace stick
Officer Cadet at Sandhurst Military College several years ago, was taken
aside by a Guards Sergeant Major to be told that his performance on the
drill square had been "distinctly sub-optimal". The Sergeant
Major thrust his pace stick roughly into the ribs of the poor unfortunate
and bellowed at him, "There is a complete idiot at the end of this
pace stick." The cadet replied, "Not at this end, Sergeant
on the end of a pace stick
top of a pace stick
The spring lock fitting allows the pace
stick to be set at different pace lengths.
Stick Drill. In 1952 the Royal Military Academy Sergeant
Major, John Lord, started the pace stick competition as a test in the
use of the pace stick. The team consists of 4 members 3 pacers and a
driver who paces at the back of the team.
World Pace sticking championship 2002
Taylor, World Pace-Sticking Champion, 1999 >>
|This competition was held annually
between Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Guards Depot.
It was originally four Sergeants in the team and a Warrant
officer as the team captain who acted as the driver and gave the
words of command over the course which involved marching in slow
and quick time whilst alternating turning the stick with the
left or right hand. The teams are now modified to a frontage of
three Sergeants but the driver still remains a Warrant Officer.
Since the closing of the Guards Depot in April 1993 the annual
competition has demised, however the All Arms (World
Championships) pace sticking competition still carries on and is
held annually at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Teams from
all over the world compete in different categories for the title
of World Champion Pace-Sticking team or the prestigious
individual World Pace-Stick Champion.
The Royal Regiment of Artillery in Britain claims to be the
originator of the pace stick. Their field gun teams used the pace
stick to ensure correct distances between the guns. At that time the
artillery used the pace stick in an open position, like a pair of
calipers, and not like the drill stick which is adjustable to various
From the beginning the infantry used the pace stick as a drill aid.
In 1982 Arthur Brand M.V.O. M.B.E. developed the drills for the pace
stick. The stick he used is still carried by the Academy Sergeant
Major at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
The objective of the pace stick drill is to provide uniformity in
the use of the stick and a high standard of steadiness and cohesion
amongst the instructors. The stick is used to determine the correct
length of the pace, distance between the ranks and to check drill
movement. The instructor marches with the stick open next to the
squad. By using the stick he can check the length of the pace, and
then lengthen or shorten the pace. from http://www.bydand.co.za/cth/Pacestick.htm
Swagger Sticks as used by
the CSM & Officers
such martial instrument is the "swagger stick," part
of the officer's regalia when he is "walking out."
Usually seen placed under the right arm pit, with the uplifted
hand holding on to the stick's end, it was one of the most
useless pieces of military equipment ever devised, but has
served as an ideal instrument depicting the officer as
3 Officers, including Colonel Ricardo,
"The Father of QMI" when he was Military Commandant of
Victoria circa 1905. Note that they all carry a swagger stick.
It is a cane, timber or
leather covered stick carried by Company Sergeants Major and some
Commissioned Officers. They probably had their genesis in a riding
crop with the mounted units in the British Army. The model above is more
ornate than most. Not many have the "T" piece. In the
British Army it is common to have the Regimental Badge on the top of
the stick. I have not seen that done in Australia but it may be.
The ornate top of swagger stick made for an Officer of the 44th
Battalion The West Australian Rifles.
Ash Plant. During World War I
walking sticks were often carried by officers. Such sticks came to have
a new and greater use with the introduction of tanks which often became
'bogged' on battlefields, particularly in Flanders. Officers
of the Tank Corps used these
sticks to probe the ground in front of their tanks testing for firmness
as they went forward. Often the commanders led their tanks into action
on foot. To commemorate this, officers of the Regiment carry Ash Plant
Sticks instead of the short cane customary to other Arms.
swagger stick with a white metal foot and ball top. The ball is made in
two pieces, the join being around the equator, and features a raised 41
Battalion (The Byron Regiment) badge on the upper half. Charles Hercules
Green was born in December 1919 at Grafton, NSW. Despite serious
injuries suffered when he was kicked in the face by a horse at age 11,
he began working on his father's dairy farm in 1933, and soon joined the
local 41 (Militia) Battalion. By the outbreak of war in 1939, he held
the rank of lieutenant in the Militia, and in October he transferred to
the AIF, holding the same rank. Posted to the 2/2 Battalion, which
reached the Middle East in early 1940, his foot was burned by an
upturned stove, and complications from this injury prevented him from
participating in the battalion's early engagements in North Africa.
Rejoining his unit in Greece in March 1941, Green, now a Captain,
survived the Allied retreat, and led a group of men in a hazardous
escape to Palestine via Turkey.
Returning to Australia in 1942, 2/2
Battalion was soon sent to New Guinea, while Green, suffering from
illness and an injured foot, was hospitalised for some months. As major
and second-in-command, he rejoined the unit in 1943, proceeding to New
Guinea the following year. In March 1945, promoted acting lieutenant
colonel, he took command of 2/11 Battalion, becoming, at the age of 25,
the youngest Australian battalion commander of the war. For his
leadership of the unit in the fighting around Wewak, Green was awarded
the DSO. Post war, having trouble adjusting to peacetime life, he
returned to Militia service as commander of his old 41 Battalion, and
eventually joined the regular army in 1949. In mid 1950 he was taken
from Staff College to lead 3 RAR, which was then preparing for active
service in Korea. He took command in September 1950, and led the unit in
a series of highly successful actions against North Korean forces, but
died of wounds caused by an enemy shell while he was asleep in his tent
near the Tokchon River on 31 October. A decisive and energetic leader,
Charlie Green was revered by his men, and considered to be one of
Australia's finest battlefield commanders.
- Natural timber swagger stick with
shell casing head.
- Machined timber swagger stick with
a SAS badge on the head.
Decorative head of a
USAF Swagger stick, 2004.
model swagger stick, available in brown or black, with matching stand.
The stick is tipped with a .50 bullet & shell. Available
France" stamped on blade
and Warrant Officers, and some civilians, who were posted to dangerous
cities or countries took to carrying a swagger stick with a concealed
rapier style triangular blade that could be used to ward off
"ruffians" or "evil-doers".
Cahill, Colonel of Marines, USMC
Here is some information on the swagger stick. Probably the best
description of it's function may be quoted from a British Regimental
Sergeant Major instructing new officers. "Now gentlemen, the
swagger stick is not for rattling along railings, cleaning out drains at
home, or swiping the heads of poor innocent little flowers. Nor is it
for poking into stomachs or for fencing duels in the mess line. No,
gentlemen, it is to make you walk like officers and above all to keep
your hands out of your pockets".
the Marine Corps, the swagger stick came into vogue in the latter part
of the 19th century, and was a required article of uniform until WWI. The
first actual presentation of the swagger stick was made in 1569 when
Charles IX of France made his brother Henry a Generalissimo and gave him
one to signify his appointment.
1959, the Marine Corps had a new commandant. General D. M. Shoup had
changes on his mind when he took over the position. Most famous of these
changes was the banishing of the swagger stick to a place on the closet
shelf next to the "Sam Browne" belt . Shoup stated that a
clean, neat, well fitted uniform with the Marine Corps emblem was tops.
"There is one piece of equipment about which I have a definite
opinion. It is the swagger stick.
It shall remain an optional item of interference, if you feel the need,
carry it." The swagger stick almost disappeared over night. The
fact that the carrying of a club denoted authority is almost as old as
history itself. Despite the American prejudice against military show,
swagger sticks appear from time to time with official sanction of local
Not only do they satisfy the human desire for something to occupy the
hands, but they also help combat that horrible and most undesirable
tendency of putting your hands in your pockets. I carried the swagger
stick until just before I retired in 1978 when it was deleted from the
Clothing Manual as an item.
At no time did any senior officer suggest to me that I put it on the
shelf. I was definitely in the minority. Other Marines of equal and
lower ranks would confide in me that they also would carry it, but
didn't want to make a statement. To me it was a question of guts. On the
bulkhead in my egomania room I have a plaque with four of my swagger
Two are official as officer and SNCO sticks. Another, with a .50 caliber
cartridge at one end and the bullet at the other, I carried in Vietnam
when I commanded a Marine Infantry Battalion, at Khe Sanh. I hope this
will provide you with some of the information that you are looking for.
Colonel of Marines, USMC