The laying out of uniform and equipment for inspection is a time honoured part of military life. The kit layout serves a number of purposes. At its most basic it allows an officer to check that men have every bit of equipment they need and that it is in good condition, the regimented layouts allowing missing items to be quickly spotted. Its secondary purpose was to instil care and discipline amongst troops. Great care was needed to lay each item out in its precise place, washed, ironed and folded and to ensure it perfectly matched those of the other members of the unit. This exercise encouraged men to follow orders exactly, show care and precision and it encouraged team work as the whole section would be punished for the failure of one member so teams worked together to help support weaker members. In order to demonstrate what a properly set out bed looked like the military issued posters and photographs of one done correctly so that soldiers had something to copy and knew what they should be aiming for. These layouts evolved over years as uniforms and webbing were updated and today we are looking at a photograph of one from 1961 (the date is helpfully written on the back):
At the rear of the kit layout the rifle is leaning against the wall and the greatcoat has been hung up on the opposite side of the bunk. The webbing gear has been disassembled, the brasses polished and set out at the head of the bed on top of the battledress:
Note the two halves of the mess tins (polished!) on either side. The centre of the bed has the soldier’s wash roll, pyjamas, hussif, boot brushes and polish and a pair of gloves, again carefully laid out with as much symmetry as possible:
Finally on the cabinet at the bottom we have more items of uniform with the respirator and steel helmet placed on top and boots laid either side:
It is interesting that even fifteen years after the end of the Second World War and the introduction of the lightweight anti-gas respirator this layout has the old style general service respirator and its haversack shown. Clearly older equipment was still being used for training whilst the newer patterns were reserved for frontline troops.
Thankfully, in the Airforce we never did this after basic 🙂
Toolbox/board inspections however were a start of shift, start/end of job, and end of shift task and if anything was found missing in any of them, nobody went home and nothing flew until the item was found.