Following the Crimea War and Indian Mutiny the War Office made a decision that the military curriculum should include attention to welfare and physical fitness. Thus in 1860 Major Hammersley and 12 senior non commission officers drawn from various units in the British Army (seen right) were sent to Oxford University for a 6 month course of physical training run by a Mr McLaren an authority on physical education in the 19th century. On completion of the course the instructors were then posted to various garrisons in the United Kingdom and thus the Army Gymnastic Staff came into being.
Between 1890 and 1897 the Army Gymnastic Staff assumed responsibility of bayonet fighting in addition to physical training, boxing, fencing, and gymnastics. The first official manual of physical training for the Army was published in 1908, laid down the standard and tests to be achieved throughout the Army.
On the outbreak of war in 1914 a directive was issued to establish a new staff. It formed in France under the title The Army Physical and Bayonet training Staff a title which was retained until 1918 from then until 1940 the Corps was known as the Army Physical Training Staff (APTS).
During mobilisation at the outbreak of World War 2 a vast expansion of the APTS took place. Purposeful training to harden troops for the battlefield was the order of the day. Battle fitness was taught at all levels in units throughout the United Kingdom, overseas physical training schools were established. The APTS was granted Corps status on the 16th September 1940. Field Marshall The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein KG GCB DSO was appointed as the first Colonel Commandant of the Army Physical Training Corps in 1946.
The Royal Army Physical Training instructors are deployed world-wide in Field Force Units, Training establishments and Rehabilitation units. The roles have become more diverse, but the main focus remains that of the 1860 - the physical fitness of the British Army
At the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall on 13th November 2010 Her Majesty The Queen graciously approved the 'Royal' title for the Corps. On Saturday the 17th September 2011 the Royal Army Physical Training Corps held a Freedom of the Borough of Rushmoor parade through Aldershot Town to celebrate this announcement.