The traditions on which the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is founded go back over two centuries. The Royal Military Academy (the 'Shop') was established at Woolwich in 1741 to train Officer Cadets for commissions in the Royal Artillery. Later, Officer Cadets destined for the Royal Engineers and the Royal Signals were also trained there.
Towards the end of the 18th Century, Colonel Le Marchant drew up plans for a military college to train officers for the remainder of the Army. At the instigation of the Duke of York, a staff school for young officers was established at High Wycombe in 1799 and Le Marchant was appointed Commandant.
In 1801, this school became the Senior Department of the Royal Military College and the following year a Junior Department, to train Officer Cadets for commissions in the Cavalry and Infantry, was opened at Marlow.
In 1812, the Junior Department moved to Sandhurst, into what is now called Old Building, to be joined a few years later by the Senior Department. The latter became the Staff College, with a separate establishment, in 1858. The Staff College moved to Bracknell and became the Joint Command and Staff Course. In September 2000 it then moved to Shrivenham.
After the abolition of the purchases of commissions in 1871, the Royal Military College continued to train Gentlemen Cadets for the Cavalry, Infantry and Indian Army until mobilisation in 1939. During the Second World War both the Royal Military Academy Woolwich and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst were closed and Sandhurst became an Officer Cadet Training Establishment, where potential officers carried out short courses. In 1947 the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College combined and opened here under its present name, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Since that date, over 41,000 Officer Cadets and Student Officers have been trained, including overseas Cadets from over 80 different countries.
In 1972, Mons Officer Cadet School was closed and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst took over responsibility for the training of the Short Service as well as Regular Commission Officers.
On 1st May 1981, the officer training element of the Women's Royal Army Corps College came under command of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and on the 1st August, 1984, became the Women's Royal Army Corps Wing as part of Old College. With further changes and the fuller integration of women into the Army, the female Officer Cadets are now trained alongside their male counterparts on the main Commissioning Course.
Although the location for training has changed since 1971, the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst continues to pursue the highest standards of professional excellence in training future British Officers and many from overseas countries. Indeed, the RMAS is a byword for worldwide excellence.
Edited from the Royal Military Academy Heritage Day Programme (2004).
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