The Minute Book
Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Military Execution
Topic: Discipline

A Military Execution

Cadet to Colonel, Vol II, Major-General Sir Thomas Seaton, K.C.B., 1866

Of all the solemn scenes enacted in the world, I think a military execution is by far the most solemn, the most impressive, the most terrible. Every regiment and detachment, every officer and man who can be spared from duty, is assembled at the appointed pot and drawn up on three sides of a square, the fourth side being reserved for the execution. The prisoner is marched from his cell under a guard, and when he turns the right flank of the troops, the last scene of his earthly career bursts on his view. There are his regiment and companions in arms, to hundreds of whom he is well known, and with whom he has gone through many a hard-fought day. Close to him are the band of his regiment, the firing party, the escort, and the coffin, all ready for the solemn procession. He is taken to his place behind the coffin, and the sentence of the court and the order for his execution are read aloud; then, after a momentary silence, there is a slight movement in the band, the coffin is raised from the ground, arms are reversed by the escort, and at the word "march," with a deep boom of the drum, the sad procession starts to the solemn strains of the "Dead March," and the prisoner paces onwards, each step bringing him nearer to his death and to eternity. As the procession marches along the front of the troops, he passes his own regiment and company. He looks up, sees the well-known faces of his companions in arms, and perhaps catches the pitying eye of his captain, of his own comrade, or of some loving friend. Deep as may be the internal feeling by which he is moved, yet as his comrades are looking on, with a desperate effort he controls his emotions, and passes on.

But the [soldier] had no friend or comrade to sympathize with him, and there were but few pitying eyes for the traitor who had turned and fought against us. He was a fine man, in full health and vigor, and it was terrible to think, traitor though he was, that in a few moments he would be a lifeless, dishonoured corpse.As he passed me, I noticed that his face, though pale and shrunken, was tolerably calm. His eyes were cast down, and he seemed unable to raise them. Large beads of perspiration stood on his forehead, yet his step was firm and he never faltered, but marched on steadily toward the fatal spot. To see a fellow-creature led forth to die, to know that in a few seconds his spirit will be in the presence of his Judge, is terrible to those who reflect on it; but in a military execution this awful fact is most awfully impressed on the minds of all who witness it. The slow funereal tread of the soldiers, the muffled drums, the soul-inspiring strains of the "Dead March" move the most callous heart to its inmost depths, and suggest the question, "Whither is that soul about to go?"

The calm and still afternoon, the spring-like and beautiful weather, the bright and clear sunshine, and the intensely blue sky, all made for peace and happiness only, contrasted painfully with the tragedy that was about to be enacted; and as the prisoner passed us, the feelings of all were so moved, that I could hear a gasp or two from the officers and men near me. Although there was not one of them who did not fully acknowledge the justice of the traitor?s doom, not one would have bent his finger to save him, yet the scene was intensely painful to all, and there were probably few among the spectators who did not feel some pity for the unfortunate though guilty man upon whom all eyes were fixed.

When at last the condemned criminal reached the appointed place, the music of the band ceased, his eyes were bandaged, the escort withdrew, and he stood alone to face the firing party. The silence and stillness at that moment were awful, not a soul drawing a breath, and I could have shouted out, "Be quick," the suspense was so unbearable. Meanwhile the men made ready, fired when the signal was given, and the [soldier] fell dead. It was a positive relief to all when the melancholy business was completed.

The troops then broke into open column and marched past the body.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 1 August 2015

Ration Tips
Topic: Army Rations

Ration Tips

Army Talks, Vol. III, No. 1, 13 January 1945

Here's a "B" rations tip that claims to make powdered eggs taste like other than powdered eggs. Take the egg powder and add a little water and milk, plus baking powder if you can get any. Grind up your scrap meat and add onions, either dehydrated or regular. Cook in patties like pancakes. The onions kill the eggs, the eggs kill the onions and the meat gives body.

When two men are eating "K" rations, take the cheese from the dinner box and the meat from the supper box. Slice both in half and put the cheese an top of the Meat. Put a quarter inch of water. in a mess kit, plop the patties in, clamp lid down, and steam until water has boiled for sevens) minutes. The cheese melts down over the meat, making hot cheeseburgers; and the wafer becomes a delicious broth.

US Army Rations; World War II

US Army Soldier Systems Center and Horel Foods; Associated Press article, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Apr 2002

The government fed 8 million personnel with 1 billion individual rations. The "Ration, Combat, Individual," or "C" ration — weighing 7 pounds — was first used with 11 different meat and vegetables components and bread, sugar and coffee, but the ration is mostly remembered for its beans because five of the 11 entrees contained beans. It was designed to provide several meals. The "B" Ration was developed to feed 100 soldiers. The raion included Spam, partlly accounting for maker Hormel Foods' shipment of 100 million pounds of Spam overseas by April 1945. The "K" ration, weighing 2 ½ pounds, was developed for paratroopers, provuding a days' worth of food that could be carried in a pocket.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 31 July 2015

Life in the Trenches
Topic: CEF

Life in the Trenches

The British Soldier: His Courage and Humour, Rev. E.J. Hardy, M.A., 1915

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

A Scottish Borderer described life in the trenches in the following extract from a letter: "To kill time we played banker with cigarette cards. We become rather like schoolboys over food. One of our mess had a small tin of biscuits sent through the post yesterday we all crowed over it just like youngsters. One's joys are of the primitive type; when, like our ancestors, we turn to live in the fields and woods again. A padre turned up yesterday, and at night (it was not safe to begin earlier) we held a service at which a great number of our men attended. We are a light-hearted lot and so are our officers. We dug out for them a kind of a subterranean mess-room where they took their meals. One fellow decorated it with a few cigarette cards and some pictures he had cut out of a French paper. Their grub was not exactly what they would get at the Cecil. A jollier and kinder lot of officers you would not meet in a day's march. One officer who was well stocked with cigarettes divided them among his men, and we were able to repay him for his kindness by digging him out from his mess-room. A number of shells tore up the turf, and the roof and sides collapsed like a castle built of cards, burying him and two others. They were in a nice pickle, but we got them out safe and sound. There are apple trees over our trench, and we have to wait till the Germans knock them down for us. You ought to see us scramble down our holes when we hear a shell coming."

The experience of ten days in the trenches was thus described:

"We dig ourselves deeper and deeper into the earth, till we are completely sheltered from above, coming out now and then, when things are quiet, to cook and eat, making any moves that may be necessary under cover of darkness. Ammunition, food, and drinking water are brought in by night; the wounded are sent away to the hospital.

We do not wash, we do not change our clothes we sleep at odd intervals whenever we can get the chance, and daily we get more accustomed to our lot. It is rather an odd existence. Little holes dug beneath the parapet just big enough to sit in are our homes, with straw and perhaps a sack or two for warmth. The cold is intense at night, and those good ladies who have made us woollen caps and comforters have earned our thanks; also, we are getting used to it. The coldest moments are those when there is an alarm of a night attack, and we spring from our sleep to stand shivering behind the parapet peering over the wall to see our enemies, and firing at the flashes of their rifles. It is exciting. Every time you put as much as your little finger over a trench there is a hail of bullets."

A regiment was in trenches under fire and returning it. Two privates noticed that the French interpreter was placed at a spot where the trench was not wide enough to enable him to make proper use of his rifle. "The Frenchman isn't comfortable," said one, and both left the trench, spade in hand, knowing well that they were serving the enemy as targets, dug out the trench in front of their French comrade, and returned with unbroken calm to their own places and their rifles.

There was a humorous attempt to be homelike. A sergeant-major by the name of Kenilworth put outside his bivouac "Kenilworth Lodge. Trades-men's entrance at the back. Beware of the dog." The dog was picked up at Rouen.

Other shelters were named Hotel Cecil, Ritz Hotel, Billet Doux, Villa De Dug Out, etc. Soldiers called the ordinary trenches, "Little wet homes in a sewer."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Mainguy Report: Canadian Identification
Topic: RCN

"The Mainguy Report"

Absence of Canadian Identification in Navy

Report on certain "Incidents" which occurred on board H.M.C. Ships ATHABASKAN, CRESCENT and MAGNIFICENT and on other matters concerning THE Royal Canadian Navy (i.e., "The Mainguy Report"), Ottawa, October 1949.

The following note on the perceived absence of uniquely Canadian identification for seamen of the Royal Canadian Navy was recorded in the Mainguy Report:

There was amongst the men a very real and almost universal opinion that the Canadian Navy was not sufficiently Canadian. The absence of identification on uniforms of Canadian ratings gave rise to many unpleasant international incidents in ports where American sailors were present. While the incident often resulted from ignorance, ill manners, and unfortunate national prejudices, there is no doubt that the relations between Canadian, American and British sailors were greatly impaired by the continual mistaking of Canadian ratings for British sailors. While in general the officers of the Canadian Navy were satisfied with their uniforms and lack of Canadian identification thereon, the men were vehement in their demands that they be identified as Canadians. With the demand we are unanimous in our sympathy, and shall have some further observations to make both in connection with uniforms and ships.

The Report included the following recommedation:

Canada Badges

We have already referred to the almost unanimous desire on the part of the men for some form of clear Canadian identification on their uniforms, at least when they are serving outside Canada. The desire is the natural outcome of pride in their identity as Canadian sailors and of a strong resentment against the recurrence of international incidents in which they are insulted by ignorant citizens or service men belonging to other peoples, who seem to rejoice jeering at those whom they believe to be British. Since we began to meet, the Naval authorities have approved the wearing of some badges in which maple leaves form part of the design. Even the most ignorant member of another race can probably read the word "Canada". A design of maple leaves, however artistic, means little or nothing to such an individual. We recommend that the words "Canada" or "Royal Canadian Navy" be used as shoulder flashes on the uniforms of all ranks. In the case of the Canadian army, the word "Canada" appears somewhere on all uniforms. In the case of the R.C.A.F. the wearing of Canada patches within Canada is a matter of choice. Outside of Canada the wearing of the patch is obligatory. The only other alternative to the decision which we recommend would appear to be the design issue, and wearing of a distinctive Canadian uniform. There are many objections to this change, which need not be detailed at this time. As collateral to the recommendation above, we wish to refer to the painting of maple leaves on the funnels of H.M.C. ships. During the war, Canadian ships were so distinguished. After the war, maple leaves were no longer painted on the funnels. The Board feels that this practice should be reinstituted and has recently learned that Naval Headquarters has so ordered.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 July 2015

8645 Pte Corbally
Topic: Humour

8645 Pte Corbally

"Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915-18, Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., 1937

General Headquarters decided that it was advisable to have pass-words for fighting troops, so every twenty-four hours a pass-word was issued from Brigade, who selected it. The new word commenced from the evening "Stand to," and our Brigade, the 73rd, chose the names of the officers commanding battalions at first—Greene, Mobbs, Murphy, etc. On the fifth and following nights, ordinary words such as "Rabbit," "Apple," etc., were introduced.

Some of the "old toughs," however, found some difficulty in remembering the absurd words which followed, and on one of the dark nights of this tour, seeing a man approaching me, I called out, "Halt, who goes there?" only to get the following unusual reply, "Begad, I was a rabbit last night, a spud the night afore, and I'm damned if I know what I'm meant to be at all to-night."

It was 8645 Pte. Corbally. He apologised profusely when he recognised me. I told him the pass-word, and went on my tour laughing. Corbally was a treasure.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Elements of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Essential Elements of Leadership

From the Basic Infantry Officer Course, Phase II, Pre-Course Study Package, October 1998

Modern research shows that there is no single trait which consistently differentiates leaders from followers, except perhaps intelligence, so how do you differentiate between leaders and followers? This trait concept is perhaps best summarized by Field-Marshall Earl Wavell. In his "Soldiers and Soldiering" he re-emphasises the essential elements of leadership which are:

a.     robustness;

b.     practical sense/common sense;

c.     energy and courage;

d.     flexibility;

e.     interest and knowledge of humanity;

f.     fighting spirit;

g.     spirit of adventure — touch of gambler — takes risks; and

h.     maintains discipline and inspires devotion through:

(1)     justice;

(2)     competence and concern for welfare of men; and

(3)     attention to administration.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 27 July 2015

Tank Characteristics and Limitations (1917)
Topic: CEF

Tank Characteristics and Limitations

Instructions for the Training of the Tank Corps in France, Reprint of a Pamphlet issued by Headquarters, Tank Corps, December 1, 1917, Bitish Army; [US] War Plans Division, July, 1918

General Characteristics and Limitations of the Weapon.

Tanks are mechanically propelled armored vehicles which are designed to accompany the infantry in the attack and to assist, by means of their fire, weight and moral effect, in destroying the enemy's strong points and overcoming his resistance. In defense they can be employed in counter attack either independently or in co-operation with infantry and can be used to cover the infantry in rearguard action.

As the speed of tanks is developed and their machinery perfected it is possible that their tactical employment may develop and that their r6le may become more independent.

At the present time, however, the role of tanks is to act in close co-operation with the infantry both in attack and defense and it is this role of tanks which is mainly considered in the following pages.

(i)     The main characteristics of fighting tanks are their mobility, the security which they afford to their crews and their offensive power.

Mobility. Tanks, according to the type to which they belong, can move on the flat at a pace of 5 to 8 miles an hour; across country at a rate of 3 ¼ to 4 ½ miles an hour and in the night at an average pace of 2 to 3 miles an hour.

Tanks can cross all forms of wire entanglements. They crush down two paths in their passage through the wire, each of which is passable for infantry in single file. They can span a trench of considerable width, surmount an obstacle five feet high and climb slopes of 1 in 2.

Security. Tanks are proof against all bullets, shrapnel and most splinters a direct hit from any field gun, however, will usually put them out of action.

Offensive Power. Tanks can develop their fire power when in motion and consequently they are able to cover the advance of the infantry by a continuous fire. Heavy tanks are divided into two types male and female. The male carries 2 six-pounder guns and 4 machine guns, the female 6 machine guns. The medium tank carries 4 machine guns. The crews are armed with revolvers.

(ii)     The Mark V. tank can travel for 18 miles and the medium "A" tank (Whippet) for 35 miles without taking in a further supply of petrol. This increase in the staying power of tanks materially adds to their fighting value, but their employment in active operations is still somewhat limited owing to the following reasons:

(a)     The physical endurance of the crews cannot be counted upon after 12 hours in action.

(b)     Tanks cannot cross swamps, streams or deep sunken roads, nor can they make their way through thick woods.

(c) The field of view from tanks is somewhat restricted. Objectives should, therefore, be easily recognizable and the routes to them straight- forward.

(d) Tanks cannot be depended upon to go over country which has been heavily shelled, but their capabilities in this respect are being I constantly improved.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 26 July 2015

Small Unit Operations, Vietnam, 1967
Topic: The Field of Battle

Small Unit Operations

Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned No. 61, 27 January 1967

The war in Vietnam is a small unit leader's war. Because of the large number of semi-independent platoon and company missions performed by units in Vietnam, the knowledge and skill of the small unit leader are more important than ever before. Some of the lessons learned by small unit commanders are discussed below.

(1)     A major problem is locating the enemy. One solution to this problem is to patrol from company bases. Consistent with communications capabilities, squads operate in areas for three days without resupply. For example, one company operating by squads in designated zones, separated but mutually supporting, can cover a large area with thoroughness and stealth. The mission of squads under these circumstances is to ambush at night, observe during daylight, and engage small enemy groups. When a squad locates a significant enemy force, the platoon/company consolidates on the squad to fix the enemy. The battalion (–), standing by as an immediate reaction force, is brought to bear on the enemy to destroy him. Once contact is made, the unit reacts rapidly with all available firepower and reinforcements without further regard to deception, stealth or surprise. Following the engagement with the enemy, the squads revert to semi-guerrilla tactics in a designated zone until a subsequent contact is made.

(2)     Another major problem of the commander in jungle terrain is control of his troops. The commander often is hindered by poor ground visibility and difficulty of communications. At times he can help his unit stay on course, spot targets and mark them, and in general have a much better feel for the operation if airborne by helicopter.

(3)     The commander needs a method of locating maneuver elements. When companies are moving by bounds, smoke placed at the flanks of the lead companies becomes a valuable reference on which to base maneuver of the trail (reserve) company.

(4)     To locate small VC units the best results are obtained from separate company and platoon size operations as compared to larger organizations which are detected more easily by the enemy. The separate unit usually is successful in closing with the enemy. However, supporting fires must be planned in detail and a reserve reaction force must be available on short notice. Such operations require the highest caliber of leadership.

(5)     Most enemy contacts are made at distances of 15 to 30 meters. Once contact is made with an enemy employing automatic weapons, the contacted force often is pinned down in its position and it is difficult to use heavy supporting fires on the enemy front lines.

(a)     One technique used successfully by a brigade under these circumstances was to precede the main body by 100 to 200 meters during an approach march with approximately five fire teams of five men each. In this manner, the minimum force will be committed when contact is made, thus ena, ling maximum freedom for maneuver of the main body.

(b)     Because the fire fight upon contact may be short and violent, some automatic weapons should be placed near the point.

(6)     Certain lessons learned concerning contact with the enemy stand out in importance.

(a)     Once contact has been made, pressure on the enemy must be maintained to keep him off balance. The VC are well versed in the use of delaying tactics. Excessive time must not be lost in develop­ing the situation else it may allow the enemy main force to prepare an ambush, occupy a defensive position or escape.

(b)     The VC may choose not to break contact immediately. In this case he employs the "close embrace" or "bear hug" tactic to prevent friendly use of supporting fires. Friendly units must keep the VC at arm's length in order to use supporting weapons. Once a unit is involved in a "close embrace" with the VC, any attempt to withdraw prompts the enemy to follow the withdrawing forces. Extensive use of hand grenades and intensive small arms fire will assist in defeating the "close embrace" tactics.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 July 2015

Commando Rations 1942
Topic: Army Rations

Commando Rations 1942

British Commandos, Special Series, No. 1, Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, August 1942

General.

A special ration, designed to give a man enough sustenance to enable him to operate under rigorous conditions, was developed at the Advanced Infantry Assault School by an officer who had had considerable experience in mountain operations in all climates. The ration was simple and light in weight; it was designed for individual cooking, and was easily handled in the field. A U.S. observer subsisted on this ration and reported that it proved to be sufficient for the period for which it was designed and that it was reasonably palatable.

Typical Ration.—

A typical ration follows:

Daily Requirements

Pemmican (dried meat, 60% lean, 40% fat)ounces3
Chocolateounces3
Oatmealounces5
Biscuitounces6
Dried fruitounces5
Margarine or butterounces1/2
Tea or coffee (compressed)ounces1/4
Saltounces1/4
Sugar (lump)ounces1 1/2
Total weightounces25 1/2

Diet Sheet

Breakfast:
Oatmealounces3
Biscuitounces2
Dried fruitounces1
Margarineounces1/2
Teaounces1
Midday Meal:
Oatmealounces1
Biscuitounces2
Chocolateounces2
Dried fruitounces2
Evening Meal:
Oatmealounces1
Biscuitounces2
Pemmicanounces3
Dried fruitounces2
Chocolateounces1
Margarine or butterounces1
Tea or coffeeounces1

Rations were carried in their packs by the soldiers. Food was prepared in mess tins, individually.

The soldiers were encouraged to use dandelion shoots, grass nettles, and other herbs in conjunction with pemmican and oatmeal for making a stew. Those herbs in the stew contributed to vitamin C. While the standard Army ration was used during the training, the concentrated ration was substituted during tactical operations because of its small bulk and light weight. It was impressed on the students that the ration was sufficient to maintain them in satisfactory physical condition during these short operations, and to enable them to perform their assigned duties without undue hunger and fatigue.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 24 July 2015

Chinese Strategic and Tactical Principles
Topic: Military Theory

General Strategic and Tactical Principles

Handbook of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Defence Intelligence Agency, November 1984

Inherent in Mao Zedong's military writings are numerous strategic and tactical principles, many having a strong emphasis on politics. These principles, although not adhered to as rigidly as they were before Mao's death, as generally used in both planning and operation.

The aim of war. War aims to destroy the effective strength of the enemy rather than to hold areas of cities.

Security. Conservation of the strength of one's own forces is essential to any military operation.

Mobility. Withdraw before the enemy's advance; pursue the enemy's withdrawal; disperse or concentrate one's own forces swiftly on a wide and flexible battlefield.

Local superiority. Concentrate overwhelming strength against an enemy's weaker points; accept a decisive engagement only with two to six times the enemy's strength.

Offensive action. Attack is the primary means of destroying the enemy; surround the enemy and attach from at least two directions.

Singleness of direction. Strategically, there must be only one main direction at a time; tactically, there must be a single objective.

Flexibility. Tactics must be ingenious and flexible, suited to the time, place, and the situation.

Surprise. One's own forces must be assembled in secrecy and must attack at the time and place which the enemy leasts expects.

Initiative. Always seize the initiative, preserve one's own freedom of action, and force the enemy to retreat.

Unity of command. Unified command is essential to success, particularly in the coordination of guerrilla and regular forces.

Preparation. Combat requires meticulous preparation to avoid entry into battle without assurance of success.

Confidence. Victory is determined by the confidence of commanders and troops in the inevitable triumph of their cause.

In addition to these principles, the Chinese place great emphasis on the maintenance of morale. Apart from the normal concerns for morale common to all armies, political commissars are found at all levels down to and including companies. They are responsible for the morale, motivation, and political education of all personnel.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 July 2015

85th Battalion Educational Scheme
Topic: CEF

85th Battalion Educational Scheme (1918)

From the War Diary of the 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion (now perpetuated by the Cape Breton Highlanders).

War Diary, Nov., 1918.

Educational Scheme

85th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Nova Scotia Highlanders

On Friday 30-11-18, at 10.45 hours a class was organised of those who could neither read or write, a teacher appointed and instruction begun.

This class for beginners was the start of a programme for Educational and Vocational training within the Battalion until demobilization.

The order to begin such work was sent to Company Commanders after nominal rolls of those requiring such instruction were prepared. L/Cpl Henderson of the Band, an ex school teacher of long standing was the Instructor appointed.

The following letter was sent to Company Commanders:—

"The following are the proposed subjects to give instruction in:—

Subjects.

  • Reading and Writing.
  • English Grammar and Composition.
  • Canadian and British History.
  • Geography.
  • Arithmetic.
  • Evening Lectures on Subjects of General Interest.
  • Agriculture
    • Farming
    • Gardening
    • Animal Husbandry
    • Field Husbandry
  • Mining.
  • Business Training.
  • Book Keeping.
  • Barbering.
  • Draughting.

Company Commanders will submit by noon tomorrow, Nominal Roll of Officers, N.C.O.s and men in their Company competent to teach any of these subjects."

This outline was a general guide and allowed for any further additional subjects requested.

elipsis graphic

The 85th Battalion in France and Flanders

On Sunday, November 24th, Protestant and Church parades were held as usual. A special feature, was that, at both services, the objects of the Society of the Holy Name were presented and the pledge of this Society was largely signed by officers and men against profanity and obscene language. In the afternoon there was a conference of the Company Commanders with a view to ascertaining the wishes of all ranks regarding the scheme of demobilization, as to whether, so far as the 85th was concerned, it should be classed according to occupations, or as a unit. The subsequent decision was in favor of demobilization as a unit. This was just what might be expected with the Esprit Corps of the 85th. The conference also considered an educational scheme for the Battalion and other means of profitably occupying the attention of the men. A census was taken showing the civil occupation of each man and what occupation he expected to follow in the future, as a guide to map out courses of instruction. A class was immediately formed in the important subjects of reading and writing and handed over to Lance-Corporal Henderson of the Band, who was an ex School Teacher. Also every officer and man in the Battalion, who was capable of teaching any particular subject, was taken into the service. (p. 226)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Noncomformity
Topic: Officers


General Stilwell enjoys his Christmas dinner, 1943

Noncomformity

Defeat Into Victory, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim (London, 1956)

I was struck, as I always was when I visited Stilwell's headquarters, how unnecessarily primitive all its arrangements were. There was, compared with my own or other headquarters, no shortage of transport or supplies, yet he delighted in an exhibition of rough living which, like his omission of rank badges and the rest, was designed to foster the idea of the tough, hard-bitten, plain, fighting general. Goodness knows he was tough and wiry enough to be recognized as such without the play acting, for it was as much a bit of stage management as Mountbatten's meticulous turn-out under any conditions, but it achieved its publicity purpose. Many people sneer at generals who wear quaint head-dress with too many or too few badges, carry odd sticks, affect articles of civilian attire in uniform, or indulge in all sorts of tricks to make themselves easily recognizable to their troops or to anybody else. These things have their value if there is a real man behind them, and, for the rest, his countrymen should forgive almost anything to a general who wins battles. His soldiers will. Stilwell, thank heaven, had a sense of humour, which some who practise these arts have not, and he could, and did, not infrequently laugh at himself.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Sabre
Topic: The Field of Battle

For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor.

The Sabre

Cold Steel: The Saber and the Union Cavalry, by Stephen Z. Starr, presented in Battles Lost & Won; essays from Civil War History, John T. Hubbell (Ed), 1975

 

For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor. A cavalry officer of the Napoleonic Wars once remarked that the function of cavalry in warfare was to give tone to what overwise would be nothing but a vulgar brawl. And cavalry derived its distinctive tone from the saber and the saber charge. The long-range rifle, the breech-loading magazine carbine, and the rifled cannon had become instruments of mass slaughter, impersonal machines of destruction, and only the saber remained as a weapon of individual combat, man against man. Of course, given the self-consciously heroic atmosphere of the Civil War, such single combats sometimes occurred in ways not contemplated by the regulations, as when Captain Myrick of the 1st Maine and the colonel of another cavalry regiment settled a crossroads dispute as to which outfit had the right of way by fighting a saber duel on horseback. It may be taken for granted that neither the Confederate nor the Union War Department would have sanctioned the highly unorthodox but eminently sensible proceedings of a party of about one hundred Federal troopers and a contingent of roughly equal size of the 7th Tennessee, C.S.A., when they met by chance near Aberdeen, Mississippi. The commander of the Union detachment proposed, and the Confederates agreed, that rather than have a general engagement with its inevitable casualties each side should appoint a representative to fight a mounted saber duel. The Confederate champion was a "Polander; a German did battle for the honor of the Union. The two gladiators met between the lines, and (the story is told by a member of the Tennessee regiment) it was but an instant after they clashed the sword of the German went flying from his hands." The issue thus settled, the two groups parted "the best of old friends," with mutual expressions of esteem.

 

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 July 2015

Discipline; US Army, 1884
Topic: Discipline


Dress Parade at Fort Yates, 1880s

Military Discipline; US Army, 1884

Soldier's Handbook, for the use of the Enlisted Men of the Army, Washington, 1884

1.     All inferiors are required to obey strictly, and to execute with alacrity and good faith, the lawful orders of the superiors appointed over them.

2.     Military authority is to be exercised with firmness, but with kindness and justice to inferiors. Punishments shall be conformable to military law.

3.     Superiors of every grade are forbidden to injure those, under them by tyrannical or capricious conduct, or by abusive language.

4.     Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline; respect to superiors will not be confined to obedience on duty, but will be extended on all occasions.

5.     Deliberations or discussions among any class of military men having the object of conveying praise or censure, or any mark of approbation, toward their superiors or others in the military service, and all publications relative to transactions between officers of a private or personal nature, whether newspaper, pamphlet, or handbill, are strictly prohibited.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 July 2015

We Behaved Disgracefully
Topic: Officers

We Behaved Disgracefully

Tapestry of War; A Private View of Canadians in the Great War, Sandra Gwyn, 1992

"We have some daring ladies from The Sketch and illustrated weeklies pinned to the walls—one balanced on a diving board in a diminutive bathing suit of flaming red with black borders … another with piled-up yellow hair plucking feathers from Cupid for her hat. These ladies are often the subject of comment. We discuss their characters. They are attractive but disturbing and create restless wishes for home or Piccadilly."

As racy—perhaps even a bit unnerving to a Philadelphia belle—were Talbot's descriptions of the rough male camaraderie that characterized the trenches and sometimes erupted into wild horseplay as a way of letting off steam when the regiment was out of the line. "We live now in a sort of a hut," he explained in mid-August. "It is built of coloured canvas to deceive aviators. Eight of us live in each hut in two rows with a lane down the middle. Our sleeping bags are spread upon the uneven earth and we each have a soapbox to support a candle in a bottle and small articles. The 'Baron,' i.e., Captain Van Den Berg, lives opposite to me. Last night I was rolling off my puttees when the Baron, who is a pugnacious devil, suddenly swung round and batted me on the foot with his cane. I naturally went for his throat. We each secured a stranglehold and for several moments dust and clothes and legs and arms rose and fell in confusion. Eventually we arranged terms of peace. Later, for some reason which I cannot recall I fired five rounds of ammunition with accuracy against Barclay's candle, which was extinguished; Barclay then retaliated on my bottle with equal success.… We behaved disgracefully, I admit."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 July 2015 8:09 PM EDT
Saturday, 18 July 2015

20 Censorship Taboos
Topic: OPSEC

20 Censorship Taboos

[US] Army Talks, Vol. III, No. 9, 17 March 1945

In order not to waste time in the actual writing of letters, knowing what you can't say is a help. Twenty taboos, based on European Theatre of Operations (ETO) circulars, should be borne in mind:

1.     No details of movement to or from this theater.

2.     No military armament, equipment or supplies of any type

3.     No strength, efficiency, training or morale of any outfit.

4.     No location, movements or engagements. This includes billets and hospitals

5.     No linking APO with exact geographical locations

6.     No signs used to identify organizations or their baggage

7.     No plans or guesses about military operations

8.     No details about enemy or Allied operations; or results of actions

9.     No use of roads, transport or communications

10.     No mention of individual cas­ ualties before families have been officially notified. This means not until 30 days after notice has gone forward from your unit

11.     No detailed weather reports

12.     No criticism or dirty cracks about our Allies.

13.     No restricted Allied or US documents

14.     No enemy papers containing information about the enemy

15.     No codes, ciphers, or secret writing.

16.     No games, puzzles, maps or blank paper

17.     No photographs or pictures showing these forbidden subjects

18.     No chain letters in any form

19.     No uncensored drawings, sketches, music manu­ scripts, or paintings

20.     No private diaries.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 17 July 2015

British and German Rations; 1914 & 1916
Topic: Army Rations

British and German Rations; 1914 & 1916

The World War One Sourcebook, Philip J. Haythornthwaite, Arms and Armour Press, 1992

British Daily Ration, 1914:

1 ¼ lb fresh or frozen meat, or 1 lb preserved or salt meat; 1 ¼ lb bread, or 1 lb biscuit or flour; 4 oz. bacon; 3 oz. cheese; 5/8 oz. tea; 4 oz. jam; 3 oz. sugar; ½ oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper; 1/20 oz. mustard; 8 oz. fresh or 2 oz. dried vegetables; 1/10 gill lime juice if fresh vegetables not issued;* ½ gill rum;* not exceeding 2 oz. tobacco per week. (* at discretion of commanding general.)

The following substitutions were permitted if necessary: 4 oz. oatmeal or rice instead of 4 oz. bread or biscuit; 1/30 oz. choclate instead of 1/6 oz. tea; 1 pint porter instead of 1 ration spirit; 4 oz. dried fruit instead of 4 oz. jam; 4 oz. butter, lard or margarine, or ½ gill oil, instead of 4 oz. bacon.

British Daily Ration, India:

1 lb fresh meat; 1 lb bread; 3 oz. bacon; 1 lb potatoes; 1 oz. tea; 2 ½ oz. sugar; ½ oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper.

British daily ration, Indian troops:

¼ lb fresh meat; 1/8 lb potatoes; 1/3 oz. tea; ½ oz salt; 1 ½ lb atta; 4 oz. dhall; 2 oz. ghee; 1/6 oz. chillies; 1/6 oz turmeric; 1/3 oz. ginger; 1/6 oz. garlic; 1 oz. gur.

British Iron Ration, carried in the field:

1 lb. preserved meat; 12 oz. biscuit; 5/8 oz. tea; 2 oz. sugar; ½ oz. salt; 3 oz. cheese; 1 oz. meat extract (2 cubes.)

elipsis graphic

German Daily Ration, 1914

(measured in grams; ounce equivalent in parentheses)

750g (26 ½ oz) bread, or 500g (17 ½ oz) field biscuit, or 400g (14 oz.) egg biscuit; 375g (13 oz.) fresh or frozen meat, or 200g (7 oz) preserved meat; 1,500g (53 oz.) potatoes, or 125-250g (4 ½-9 oz.) vegetables, or 60g (2 oz.) dried vegetables, or 600g (21 oz.) mixed potatoes and dried vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee, or 3g (1/10 oz.) tea; 20g (7/10 oz.) sugar; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt; two cigars and two cigarettes or 1 oz. pipe tobacco, or 9/10 oz. plug tobacco, or 1/5 oz. snuff; at discretion of commanding officer: 0.17 pint spirits, 0.44 pint wine, 0.88 pint beer. The meat ration was reduced progressively during the war, and one meatless day per week was introduced from June 1916; by the end of that year it was 250g (8 3/4 oz.) fresh meat or 150g (5 ¼ oz.) preserved, or 200g (7 oz) fresh meat for support and training personnel. At the same time the sugar ration was only 17g (6/10 oz.)

German Iron Ration:

250g (8.8 oz) biscuit; 200g (7 oz.) preserved meat or 170g (6 oz.) bacon; 150g (5.3 oz.) preserved vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 July 2015

Taking Care of People
Topic: Leadership

Taking Care of People

Leadership for the 21st Century: Empowerment, Environment and the Golden Rule, General Dennis J. Reimer, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1996 Military Review Article

My leadership philosophy is very, very simple. It can be summed up in three basic points. First, if we empower people to do what is legally and morally right, there is no limit to the good we can accomplish. That is all I ask of anyone: Do what is right. Leaders must look to their soldiers and focus on the good. No soldier wakes up in the morning and says, "Okay, how am I going to screw this up today?" Soldiers want to do good and commanders should give them that opportunity. An outstanding soldier, Command Sergeant Major Richard Cayton, the former US Forces Command (FORSCOM) sergeant major, summed up a leader's responsibility this way: "Your soldiers will walk a path and they will come to a crossroad; if you are standing at the crossroad, where you belong, you can guide your soldiers to the right path and make them successful."

The second point of my leadership philosophy is to create an environment where people can be all they can be. Many soldiers enlisted und er this recruiting slogan, and we have a responsibility to assist them in developing mentally, physically, spiritually and socially to their full potential. It is essential that leaders develop the initiative of subordinates.

Our doctrine values the initiative, creativity and problem-solving ability of soldiers at all levels. Valuing these traits has always been the hallmark of America's Army. In the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant's instructions to Major General William T. Sherman reflect this concept: "I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign. … But simply to lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute it in your own way." During World War II, Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr. allowed his subordinates to be all they could be by being tolerant of their errors. He said, "Never tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower's guidance for the invasion of Europe remains the classic example of this concept. He was told, "You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces."

The third point of my leadership philosophy is to treat others as you would have them treat you. A leader must have compassion-a "basic respect for the dignity of each individual; treating all with dignity and respect." This is a simple restatement of the Golden Rule—but it is a critical issue. Every soldier must feel he is being treated fairly and that you care and are making an honest attempt to ensure he or she reaches full potential. Initiative will be stifled and creativity destroyed unless soldiers feel they have been given a fair chance to mature and grow.

There is nothing extraordinary about these three points. They are very simple, but I challenge you to think about them.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pilfering
Topic: The Field of Battle

Pilfering

Voice from the Ranks; A Personal Narrative of the Crimean Campaign by a Sergeant of the Royal Fusiliers, edited by Kenneth Fenwick, 1954

Sergeant-Major Timothy Gowing

All our wounded found in [Sevastopol] were carried as quickly as possible to camp, and then the men set to work to get what they could for themselves out of the midst of the ruins—set to work plundering, if you choose to call it so.

But it was dangerous work and many of them lost their limbs—and some their lives—through their foolishness, by the fire from the enemy across the harbour. Some who were laden with all sorts of articles were stopped by the officers, who wanted to know what they were going to do with all that rubbish. The men would at once throw down their loads and salute the officers, who repeated the question:

'What on earth do you want with all that rubbish, my men?'

'An' sure, your 'onor, don't we mane to let furnished lodgings!'

They were carrying chairs, tables, bed-cots—in fact articles too numerous to mention:

'Sure, your 'onor, we are not going to let the Zouaves have it all!'

A stalwart Irish grenadier, when being rebuked for pilfering, answered:

'Sure an', your 'onor them nice gentlemen they call Zouaves have been after emptying the place clane out. Troth, if the Divil would kindly go to sleep for only one minute them Zouaves would stale one of his horns, if it was only useful to keep his coffee in.'

Truly these gentlemen were capital hands at fishing up all that was likely to be useful!

Some of our Hibernian boys had got a good haul, and were making off as fast as possible, when a party of Zouaves stopped them and wanted to go halves, but Paddy was not half such a fool as he was taken for—he would not give up anything until he had found out which was the best man, so the load was thrown down, and the Frenchmen were very soon satisfied and only too glad to get out of the way.

It was a common saying in camp that there was nothing too hot or too heavy for the Zouaves to walk off with; and where there was room for a rat, there was room for one of these nimble little gentlemen to get in. They proved themselves all, during the fighting, troublesome customers to the enemy; and now that the fight was over they distinguished themselves by pilfering everything they could lay hands upon. But they did not get all—our huts were made very comfortable by the wood that our men brought out of the town.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Arthur Currie's Return to Canada
Topic: CEF

Arthur Currie's Return to Canada

Byng of Vimy; General and Governor General, Jeffery Williams, 1983

Despite the obvious satisfaction of the public, there were politicians in Ottawa who viewed Byng's appointment [as Governor General of Canada] with misgivings. The flowering of national spirit which began at Vimy and continued until the end of the war had been inspired by the unbroken successes of the splendid Canadian Corps. As the commander who shaped it and led it to its first major victory, Julian Byng's popularity was unparalleled. In the words of Gen McNaughton, 'The Canadians literally adored Byng.'

Arthur Currie, who succeeded to its command, was not regarded with the same warmth of affection, but his men would contend that he was without doubt the best general on the Western Front Canadian politicians had no experience of popular soldiers and were apprehensive that they might turn their popularity to political advantage. So abject was this fear of 'the man on horseback' that when Currie, returning from the War, arrived in Halifax in August, 1919, no one met him when he stepped ashore. Eventually an official arrived to escort him and his wife to a drab little civic ceremony. When it was over one of his former officers came forward, saluted and said, 'Welcome home, Sir'. For a moment he lost his self-control. His eyes moistened and his lips trembled as he placed a hand on the officer's shoulder and hooked two fingers of the other in his Sam Browne belt, then quietly shook him for a moment, saying not a word. His reception in Ottawa was an even more pointed rebuff. No publicity was given to his arrival and he was greeted officially on Parliament Hill by a cold and non-committal speech given by a junior cabinet minister. The Prime Minister was out of town.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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