The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) was formed in 1947. It was descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the Royal Military College (RMC).
The RMA had been founded in 1741 at Woolwich to train gentlemen cadets for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, and later for the Royal Corps of Signals and some for the Royal Tank Corps. It remained there until it was closed on mobilisation in 1939.
The RMC began in 1800 as a school for staff officers which later became the Staff College, Camberley. A Junior Department was formed in 1802, to train gentlemen cadets as officers of the Line. A new college was built at Sandhurst, into which the cadets moved in 1812. After 1860, the RMC succeeded the East India Company’s Military Seminary as the establishment where most officers of the Indian Army were trained. Following the abolition of the purchase system in 1870, attendance at Sandhurst became the usual route to a commission. The college was enlarged in 1912, when New College was built.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, Sandhurst became the home of 161 Infantry Officer Cadet Training Unit (RMC). This unit moved to Mons Barracks, Aldershot in 1942 and for the rest of the war Sandhurst was used solely as a Royal Armoured Corps Training Unit.
In the post-war reconstruction, the RMAS was set up to carry on the traditions of both the RMA and Sandhurst, and to train regular officers for the whole Army. Its two-year course included both military and academic subjects, and allowed for a continuity of the cadet body from one intake to another, as well as many extra-curricular activities. National Service and short service officers were trained at officer cadet schools (OCS).
After the end of conscription in 1960, Mons OCS continued in existence, training short service cadets, graduate entrants, and Territorials. In 1972, the functions of Mons were transferred to RMAS. Academic studies were reduced in scope and undertaken only by future regular officers, while all officer cadets undertook a six-month course, based on that at Mons. Subsequently, many other changes were made leading to the present system.
To make an enquiry about the history of Sandhurst, contact the Curator, Dr Anthony Morton, using the Contact us form.
For a full chronicle of Sandhurst’s past, download the history document available on the right.