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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Cap Badge of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Active 1802 (as Royal Military College) – Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Training
Role Officer Training
Size Ten companies
Part of Army Recruiting and Training Division
Garrison/HQ Sandhurst
Motto Serve to Lead
Colonel-in-Chief HM The Queen
Commandant Major General Patrick Marriott CBE
New College, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
New Colours are presented to RMAS, June 2005. HRH Prince Harry of Wales is on parade.

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is the British Army officer initial training centre. The Academy is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College Cranwell and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines.

The Academy's stated aim is to be "the national centre of excellence for leadership". All British Army officers, including late entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers, as well as many from elsewhere in the world, are trained at Sandhurst. Nearly 10 percent of British cadets are female and nearly 10 percent of all cadets come from overseas.

The Academy opened in 1947 in the former Royal Military College (RMC) at Sandhurst. It straddles the counties of Berkshire and Surrey; the county border marked by a small stream known as the Wish Stream - after which the Academy journal is named. Primarily, the Academy is situated in College Town, a suburb of Sandhurst, and partly in the outer region of Camberley town. The nearest railway station is Blackwater, Hampshire.

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) develops leadership in cadets by expanding their character, intellect and professional competences to a level demanded of an Army Officer on first appointment through military training and education. The core objectives reflect the three key elements in the training and education of the young officers: the moral, the intellectual and the physical. It was descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the Royal Military College (RMC). The Commissioning Course is the first stage of officer training and education. Its main purpose is to develop an officer with the generic leadership qualities to lead soldiers both on and off operations. The course is accredited by various academic and professional institutions.

Sandhurst, unlike some other national military academies such as West Point in the United States and the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr in France, is not a university. Eighty-five percent of entrants are university graduates, but this is not a requirement.[1] This is illustrated by Prince William and Prince Harry; one a graduate, the other not.



The RMA Sandhurst was formed in 1947 from a merger of the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich (which trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 to 1939) and the Royal Military College (1801-1939)[2] at Sandhurst. Following the ending of National Service in the UK and the closing of the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in 1972, the RMAS became the sole establishment for male initial officer training in the British Army[3].

The Royal Military College opened its doors in 1802, although a Staff College on the same site opened 2 years earlier[4]. Coincidentally this was the same year as both Saint-Cyr[5] and West Point. RMAS is an amagamation of the RMC and the Royal Military Academy and can therefore claim a history stretching back to 1741[4].

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Collection contains displays the history of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, The Royal Military College and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The collection includes the Royal Military Academy's gentlemen cadet registers, historic archive, uniforms, paintings, photographs and other artefacts. Visits are by appointment only [6]


Potential officers are identified by the Army Officer Selection Board (formerly the Regular Commissions Board, or RCB) situated in Westbury in Wiltshire[7].


The Commissioning Course lasts 44 weeks and must be successfully completed by all British regular army officers (with some exceptions) before they receive their commission. It is usually followed by a further training course specific to the Regiment or Corps the officer will serve in. A shorter commissioning course is run for professionally qualified officers (e.g., doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, vets and chaplains). This shorter course, lasting ten weeks, is known colloquially as the Vicars and Tarts course.[8]

Another short course is Module 4 of the Territorial Army (TA) Commissioning Course (TACC) which lasts three weeks. The TACC consists of four training modules; the first three are conducted under the supervision of RMAS at TA Regional Training Centres, with Module 4 of the Officers' training and assessment being conducted at Sandhurst. This training typically takes 2 years to complete. Upon completion, Officer Cadets become Second Lieutenants in the TA or Officer Training Corps (OTC)[9].

Sandhurst also runs a variety of other courses for officers including the Late Entry Officer Course (LEOC).

RMAS has a renowned academic faculty staffed by civilian researchers with expertise in Communication and Applied Behavioural Science, Defence and International Affairs and War Studies[10]. The noted academics and authors John Keegan and Richard Holmes were both members of the faculty.

All officer cadets who complete the full Commissioning Course are eligible for a variety of civilian accreditations such as a City and Guilds of London Institute Licentiateship in Leadership and Associate Membership of the Chartered Management Institute.


The 149th Sovereign's Parade in front of Old College.

In overall command of the RMAS is the Commandant, usually an officer of Major-General rank, while the Academy Sergeant Major (AcSM) is the most senior individual warrant officer in the British Army. Only Conductors of the Royal Logistic Corps rank higher than the AcSM[citation needed], but there are several of them at any one time).

The main RMAS Commissioning Courses start in January, May and September of each year. Each new intake numbers approximately 270 cadets, each of whom joins a company. The commissioning course is split up into three terms, each lasting fourteen weeks, and on each course cadets are put into one of three companies. There can be as many as ten companies within the RMAS at any one time, each commanded by a Major and named after a famous battle in which the British Army has fought. The company names have changed over the years, and are currently :

  • Gaza Company
  • The Somme Company
  • Ypres Company
  • Burma Company
  • Normandy Company
  • Rhine Company
  • Imjin Company
  • Falklands Company
  • Malaya Company
  • Dettingen Company — the Short Courses mentioned above (for Territorial Army and Professionally Qualified Officers) are operated sequentially, and are each known as "Dettingen Company".

Within a company are three platoons each of thirty officer cadets, commanded by a Captain and supported by a Colour Sergeant. Unlike West Point, RMAS entrusts the majority of officer training to SNCOs. Dettingen Company is divided along the same lines as the regular intakes, though smaller courses may consist of only two platoons.

There is also a "rehabilitation" platoon—Lucknow Platoon. It looks after cadets who are injured during training, with a view to preparing them to re-enter the commissioning course or processing those who are medically discharged.


Regular Army

A small number of regular army units are based at the RMAS to provide support for the colleges and their training:

  • Gurkha Demonstration Company (Sittang): This is a company-sized unit drawn from all units of the Brigade of Gurkhas, to provide an opposing force in battle training for the cadets.
  • 44 Support Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps: This is the RMAS's permanently based transport, logistic and signals support unit.
  • Until 1984, the RMAS had its own band - The RMAS Band Corps[11], the smallest Regiment in the British Army. Music is now provided by a variety of Corps of Army Music bands on rotation.


Each Commissioning Course has awards granted to outstanding cadets.

Sword of Honour

The Sword of Honour is awarded to the British Army Officer Cadet considered by the Commandant to be, overall, the best of the course.

Queen's Medal

The Queen's Medal is awarded to the British Army Officer Cadet who achieved the highest scores in military, practical and academic studies.

Overseas Sword

With the other two awards being for British Army Officer Cadets, the Overseas Sword is awarded to one of the many cadets sent by foreign armies. The Overseas Sword goes to the Overseas Cadet considered by the Commandant to be the best of the course. It was previously known as the Overseas Cane.

Duke of Westminster's Cane

The Duke of Westminster's Cane is awarded to the officer cadet considered by the Commandant to be, overall, the best of the TA Commissioning Course.


For more information, see the category: Sandhurst graduates.

Sandhurst is prestigious and has had many famous alumni. There are so many famous generals and VC winners that a fair and representative list would be immense. Despite urban myths to the contrary, Idi Amin and Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi did not attend the RMAS[6]. Note, this list contains a number of 'students' who did not complete the course. Some of the foreign royalty were not, for example, commissioned.


Commonwealth realms


Kingdom of Bahrain









Saudi Arabia









Authors and poets


TV Writers







  • Robert Taylor-Hughes: Managing Director, Beiersdorf Middle East[20]
  • Greg Leniston: Sales Director, Ice Broadband Dublin
  • Paul Brown, CBE: Chief Executive, Commercial Radio Companies Association[21]
  • Arturo Sarmiento, Venezuelan: billionaire[22]
  • Hamish Bryce: Chairman, Independent Age; Non-Executive Director, Henderson Strata plc; Chairman: Thorn Lighting Group plc (until 1997)[23] (Royal Engineers)
  • Charlie Mayfield. Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership[24] (Scots Guards)
  • Vitoon Visutipol: Chief Executive Officer of The Thai-Setakij Insurance Public Company Limited, Bangkok,Thailand. Director of The Siam Mineral and Resources Co.Ltd. Bangkok, Thailand.[25]


Black sheep


Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Royal Military Academy Royal Military Academy
East India Company Military Seminary
Royal Military College
Mons Officer Cadet School
Women's Royal Army Corps College



  1. ^ RMAS: The Officer Cadet.
  2. ^ Facilities in Sandhurst - 1937 A detailed description by a new recruit.
  3. ^ "Mons Officer Cadet School". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "RMAS: The story of Sandhurst". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ecoles Des Saint-Cyr". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "RMAS Archive". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  7. ^ "AOSB Site". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "PQO Course". Retrieved 09 November 2009. 
  9. ^ "Choosing a Commission". "He is placed on the strength of a TA Unit but completes Modules 1-3 of the TA Commissioning Course (TACC) with the RTC and Module 4 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Commission is confirmed by completing Module 5, a Special to Arms Course, a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2 years commissioned service." 
  10. ^ "RMAS site". 
  11. ^ "Memorial Chapel" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2008. 
  12. ^ "Daily Telegraph". Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  13. ^ "Independent". Retrieved 23 March 2009. 
  14. ^ "Times "Crowning glory or a costly folly? George Tupou V's coronation divides Tonga"". Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  15. ^ Chris Moon MBE: Motivational Speaker (official site).
  16. ^ Gordon, Bryony. "The Daily Telegraph - Land mine victim's 1,284-mile trek". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  17. ^ "Biog from Motivational Speakers website". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  18. ^ "Biog from RFU website". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  19. ^ "biog from website". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  20. ^ "International Speaker Conference, Dubai". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  21. ^ "International Times Online - Media". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  22. ^ "New York Times". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  23. ^ "Independent Age". Retrieved 31 August 2008. 
  24. ^ "John Lewis website". Retrieved 19 March 2009. 
  25. ^ "Thai-Setakij Insurance website although oddly subject is credited with a Sandhurst BA (whatever that is!)". Retrieved 22 April 2009. 


  • Mockler-Ferryman, A. F. Annals of Sandhurst: A Chronicle of the Royal Military College From Its Foundation to the Present. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2007 (reprint; original 1900). ISBN 1-4326-6558-8.
  • Thomas, Hugh, 1931- The story of Sandhurst London, Hutchinson 1961

External links

Coordinates: 51°20′26″N 0°46′07″W / 51.340532°N 0.7687°W / 51.340532; -0.7687


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