Topic: Canadian Militia
Non-Permanent Active Militia Is Reorganized
The Evening Citizen, Ottawa; 15 December 1936
Reorganization of Canada's non-permanent active militia has been completed, and as it emerges from the crucible the new form of the Dominion's citizen soldiers is greatly dwarfed in respect of units but sturdily consistent as far as personnel are concerned.
Last night Hon. Ian Mackenzie, minister of national defence, released the whole plan involving the reorganization of the non-permanent active forces. These contemplate restriction of units but are compensated by compactness in efficiency. They also elevate the militia from the prospective to the actual.
In brief, the militia is cut down with respect to paper units. Regiments which previously existed in the militia list only on paper entirely disappear. Those which persevered strongly in the piping times of peace remain, some of them amalgamated with others, it is true, but still with enough preserved in their new name to identify them with their former lustre.
The last thing to complete the reorganization was the finding of a name for the amalgamated Royal Grenadiers of Toronto and the Toronto Regiment.
A compromise was established in re-naming the new unit "The Royal Regiment of Toronto Grenadiers." This was an 11th hour adjustment which the minister made.
System is Drastic
So far as units are concerned, the Mackenzie system is drastic, and has been in process of organization for a year. Reorganization of the non-permanent active forces was the one big problem which confronted the minister when he assumed office last year, and since then the entire department has been working to effect the adjustments now announced by Mr. Mackenzie.
The new militia is reduced from 36 cavalry regiments to 20, of which four are armored car regiments.
The 135 infantry regiments are whittled to 91. These are made up of 59 rifle battalions, 20 machine gun battalions and six tank battalions.
Artillery is increased by 52 new units. Field artillery batteries wil henceforth number 110, and increase of 41; medium batteries are increased from 25 to 31. The heavy batteries remain as at present, two, while the coast brigades are unaltered at two. However, anti-aircraft units are increased from one, plus two sections, to six, plus two sections, an increase of five.
In his statement announcing the reorganization, the minister said:
"In effecting reorganization of the non-permanent active militia the following principles were followed:
"1. Reduction of the establishment to dimensions consistent with what could be mobilized and maintained, having regard to population and financial ability.
"2. Adoption of forms of organization appropriate to modern mechanized equipment.
"3. Distribution of units (as to strength and character of service) in proportion to density of population and the dominant occupational characteristics in the various areas.
"4. Desirability of limiting to a minimum the disturbance of existing units; efficient units surplus to future requirements being permitted to convert to other and necessary types.
"5. Preservation in new and amalgamated units of the battle honors, traditions, and, part at least, of the names of former units.
"6. Full consultation with the military districts and local militia officers."
According to Districts
On the last point the minister explained headquarters had allotted to each military district the number and types of various arms and services appropriate to that district. Responsibility for detailed proposals as to the best utilizations of the approved organization within the district devolved upon the district officer commanding.
Results were attained by consultations for the district officer commanding with the officers of the units affected. Final decisions were approved by headquarters. In almost every case it was found possible to arrive at results by agreements, he added.
"In only one or two instances, where agreement could not be attained, was it considered necessary to make a decision at National Defence Headquarters," said the minister, "I am confident, however, that the decisions reached will now be loyally accepted and carried out in a spirit of good will.
The statement contained an account of the following steps leading up to the reorganizations and an analysis of the changes effected:
Immediately after the war, establishment of the Canadian militia was set at 11 divisions and four cavalry divisions.
In 1931 an international disarmament conference was summoned to meet at Geneva on Feb. 8, 1932. Canada, faced with the necessity of filing data at this conference, notified the secretariat that in future her land forces would be limited to six divisions, one cavalry division and certain fortress and ancillary troops.
Although this decision was made by the government in 1931, no instructions to put it into effect were issued up to the time when the present minister too office on Oct, 23, 1935.
On Dec. 4, 1935, a report was laid before the minister, containing a suggested scheme for reorganization. The minister thereupon gave instructions to proceed.
A Few Units Disbanded
The reorganization is now completed. A few inactive units have been disbanded. Thirty-six cavalry regiments have been reduced to 16 cavalry regiments and four armoured car regiments.
A total of 135 infantry and machine gun battalions have been reduced to 59 rifle battalions, 26 machine gun battalions, and six tank battalion.
By conversion of cavalry and infantry units, the Royal Canadian Artillery has been increased by 41 field batteries, six medium batteries, and five anti-aircraft batteries.
Some new batteries have not yet been organized. These will be set up only as conditions in the districts require them.
Authority has been given for establishment of the Royal Canadian Engineers to 26 additional companies.
R.C.C. of Signals
On complete reorganization the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals consists of one cavalry signals, six divisional signals (two of which are distributed among several districts), two corps signals and several smaller types of units.
On reorganization each divisional army service corps is to consist of one ammunition company, one petrol company, one supply column (maintenance companies are no longer required).
In the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps 13 surplus units, most of them inactive, have been disbanded. Officers are being reposted to remaining units.
The following other branches of the services have been reorganized. The Royal Canadian Army Ordnance Corps, the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, and the Canadian Postal Corps.