On This Day - 13th April

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Royal Military Academy

The 13th of April 1741

As armaments became more complex, and particularly as artillery became ever more important in battle, the need for improved training of the officers involved in the more technical aspects of warfare became evident. In 1740 John Duke of Montagu, Master General of the Ordnance, requested that a school for such training be established.

Thus in April 1741, by the warrant of George II , a former workshop at the Woolwich Warren became The Royal Military Academy . Here 100 or more fee-paying students, commissioned only after graduation, studied mathematics, engineering, the art of fortification, artillery use (with cannon provided for their practical application of the theory they had learned), and other more basic subjects such as sword-fighting and the use of the musket.

The 'gentlemen cadets' who graduated improved the standards in the engineering and artillery arms of the army, and competition at the Academy was fierce, as on graduation posts were assigned to them according to their ranking in the graduating order of merit.

As the originally officers only Royal Engineers paid better than the Royal Artillery, graduates from the top of the list generally selected that route to glory and fortune. This advantage derived from ability and study continued in their later careers, as within the Ordnance Corps, unlike the more traditional parts of the forces, promotion was according to seniority rather than posts being purchased, thus a cadet who had finished above another was promoted before him.

The phrase 'talking shop' meaning to discuss technical matters within one's circle of colleagues derives from the RMA being nick-named 'The Shop,' because of the former workshop it occupied for many years.

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