Freelance Knight

On My Shelf: Military Manuals & Scout Handbooks

On My Shelf: Military Manuals & Scout Handbooks

On My Shelf: Military Manuals & Scout Handbooks

Used bookstores and family storage, like attics and closets, can be some of the greatest sources of inspirational material for gaming and writing. Case in point: over the years from family and used books stores, I have acquired various vintage military manuals and Boy Scout handbooks. These books are a treasure trove of material on military organizations and rules, military and scout training, military equipment, survival, tracking, signalling, hand-to-hand combat, first aid, orienteering, pioneering, and more! These books are definitely invaluable for stories and adventures that are historical, military, exploration, or survival based.

Take, for example, some of these books in my collection.

Marine Corp Basic Unarmed Combat Tactics

Delves into hand-to-hand combat training and tactics used by the US Marines in the 80s. Even has photo references.

The Bluejackets Manual of the Navy

This US Navy Manual is a prized book in my collection. The book is so full of amazing information from the 1940s such as Navy Customs, Uniforms, Regulations, Seamanship, Gunnery, Drilling, Small Arms, Signalling, Ships of the Line, Drilling, Equipment, and more!

Boy Scout Handbook

As an Eagle Scout myself, I have a long history with the Boy Scouts. Even with that, I find it fascinating to find vintage Boy Scout manuals to see how the organization and its training has changed over the years. The old handbooks go much more in depth into survival, pioneering, and orienteering which is fascinating.

Each of these books provide such wonderful info. I will provide some snapshots inside these books at the bottom of this post.

You might think these books are only useful for historical campaigns, but that is not the case. I am currently referencing my 1940 edition of The Bluejacket’s Manual for my Spelljammer using D&D 5e campaign I am working on. The Naval organization, tactics, and gunnery sections are assisting with my understanding of space combat in Spelljammer. The combat tactics manual I have used for modern espionage campaigns.

What old military manuals or scout handbooks have you found essential to your gaming and/or writing library?


Excerpts from the books

Bluejackets' Manual page

Bluejackets' Manual page

Bluejackets' Manual page

Scout Handbook page