On the outbreak of War, all Commands were allocating roles to personnel at Training Establishments for Civil Defence duties in order to relieve the need to use Field Divisions for this role. During the withdrawal of various forces for oversees service, many Commands began to make arrangements to bring Training Establishments in to Defence Schemes and assigning them operational roles in emergency or even day to day defence duties. A memo dated 15th June 1940 noted that Training Establishments, as well as Holding Battalions, now held various amounts of weapons and ammunition to carry out operational roles.
During July 1940, Home Forces proposed to order all students at Schools of Instruction not required for operational duties to return to their units on the issue of a code word. The code word was “CINDERELLA”. Not all Schools of Instruction were affected by “CINDERELLA” and students at these schools could be retained for operational roles. In addition AA training units were not covered by “CINDERELLA” and separate instructions were issued for them to reinforce Air Defence Great Britain (ADGB)– the code word for this was “TIMOTHY TWO”.
As from October 25th 1940, all Training units were released from manning defences and day to day operational duties. However they could still be allocated emergency operational roles at the discretion of the C-in C. If allocated such a role they would be required to under take a limited amount of rehearsals or training exercises in order that they could undertake these emergency roles. Beyond this they were not expected to undertake operational roles until the issue of orders:
STAND TO: Only Training units as selected by C-in-C as being available for operational roles were required to undertake operations, at the expense of training.
ACTION STATIONS: All Training units would take up operational roles, at the expense of training.
The various schools that would come under “CINDERELLA” was constantly under question – especially the use of more technical personnel which it was felt should not be used for local operations but rather, as specialists, should continue their training for as long as possible. The number of personnel involved was also quiet substantial. As at March 1941, the following numbers were at Schools under War Office control:
Staff – 960 officers, 6328 N.C.O’s, 406 Civilians
Students – 3593 officers, 18446 students
This resulted in a meeting held at GHQ Home Forces on 22nd April 1941 to decide what action was to be taken by the various War Office Schools and Training Establishments on receipt of the code word “CINDERELLA”. Following this meeting a letter was issued on 17th June 1941 detailing action to be taken on receipt of “CINDERELLA”. This scheme remained in place with some amendments until Oct 1944.
Anti-Aircraft Training Establishments were still excluded and would reinforce ADGB on receipt of the code word “COWHIDE”, which replaced the similar scheme under the code word “TIMOTHY TWO”. The following actions were to be taken by other Training Establishments:
- Staff College, Camberley – staff and students to remain and provide a reserve of staff for the Commands.
Students at the following Schools and Training Establishments would be dispatched to Area Reception Camps and returned to their units as early as possible:
- School of Artillery; S.A.S, Hythe Wing; Infantry Company Commanders School; School of Military Administration; Intelligence Training Center, Matlock; No 1 School of Army Co-operation; School of Photography, RAF; Motor Mechanics School; A.F.V School, Bovington (less 200 students required for local operational roles); R.A.C. Tactical School; School of Signals; Y.S.N.C.O. School; Army Gas School; Senior Officers School; No. 1 and No.2 R.T.C – students on improver courses only; S.A.S., Netheravon School; Infantry D. & M. school; Army School of Physical Training; Army Gas School (Tergantle Wing); Administrative Staff School; Liaison School; Intelligence Training Centre (Cambridge); R.A.S.C. N.C.O’s School
Movement was to be by public rail services even though these may be subject to sever dislocation and delay. Instructors graded as Staff Officers at these schools were to remain as a pool of reserve Staff Officers. All other staff, along with staffs and students in schools not mentioned above or below, were to be placed under command of Areas concerned and training was to continue for as long as possible.
The staff and students at the following schools were to remain but not given any specific role except for their own local defence:
- R.A. School of Survey; Military College of Science; A.T.S Boys, Chepstow; A.T.S Boys, Blackdown; A.T.S Boys, Aborfield; Armourers Training Centre, R.A.O.C
The staff and students at the following schools were to remain pending special instructions from the War Office:
- Officers Training school, R.A.S.C.; HQ Training Establishment, R.A.O.C.; Officers Training School, R.A.O.C.; Intelligence Corps Depot; Special Training Centre (Lochailort)
A separate letter with instructions was issued to:
- A.T.S. Signal School
Late into 1941, there were still concerns about certain Training Establishments assigned an operational role having their training disrupted by practice for these operational roles. As from December 1941 these units were not called upon to practice these roles until 1 March 1942 at the earliest.
Unease at these arrangements still continued into 1942 – a memo by Lt. Gen Eastwood, Commanding Officer Northern Command raised several points:
Personnel sent back to units which had been employed early on under invasion conditions would unlikely be able to withdraw for refitting and reorganization for some time.
Static defence of Commands was largely dependent upon the Home Guard with the employment of local training establishments and formed the main defence against air landings.
The collection of potential reinforcements into Reception Camps / depots would seriously hinder the system of static area defence especially the deployment of local mobile columns in back areas where there were no Field Forces.
It would be bad for morale if large numbers of regular soldiers remained in Reception Camps, barracks etc while the local defence was left to the Home Guard.
The “CINDERELLA” scheme was finally cancelled on 24 Oct 1944 and declared obsolete on Nov 17th, 1944.