Topic: Canadian Militia
Gen Gascoigne's Bombshells (Halifax, 1897)
Startle Two of the Halifax Battalions
The Sixty-Third Rifles Censured for Slovenly Drill—The Sixty-Sixth Has Too Many Army Reserve Men—Capt. Heckler Ordered to take Off His German Medals—The Officers Determined to Make the General Retract
Daily Mail and Empire, Toronto, 17 November 1897
Halifax, N.S., Nov. 16.—(Special.)—General Gascoigne has been in Halifax for the past week, and has availed himself of the opportunity to inspect the Canadian militia here, and give the force a regular overhauling. He held a levee on Saturday; and one of the officers who called on him was Captain Heckler, of the 63rd Rifles, whose breast was adorned with medals gained in the Franco-Prussian war. General Gascoigne asked him if he had permission to wear them, and, being answered in the negative, the order was, "Take them off till permission is received."
Last night the 63rd Rifles were inspected. The regiment was severely censured for the slipshod way in which the officers gave their orders, and in which the men carried them out.
To-night General Gascoigne inspected the 66th, P.L.F. [Princess Louise Fusiliers], and he caused a new sensation in delivering the following speech:—"I have a great deal of pleasure in meeting you for the first time. But the regiment I came to Halifax to see was a regiment of the Canadian militia. What do I find? I find that one-half or more, probably two-thirds, are [British] army reserve men. This is not what I expected to see. A regiment of Canadian militia is what I anticipated seeing. A man cannot lawfully draw pay from two sources—the pay of the army army reserve and of the Canadian militia. How would the 66th P.L.F. look if all the army reserve men were called back to the colours? I like to see a mixing of the ranks, but it is not the intention that there should be a mixing of the kind that I see before me in the 66th P.L.F. to-night. I regret my introduction to this sort of regiment. Of course, it is smart; how could it be otherwise, when the majority of the men belong to the army reserve? The drill is good, the turnout is clean, the work of the officers is excellent. I would be perfectly satisfied with the battalion if it were composed of the men intended that it should contain—a regiment of Canadian militia. But, under the circumstances, as I find them, I cannot call the inspection satisfactory. It is indeed not satisfactory for this cause. I feel the utmost has been done, the men have drilled well, and turned out clean. I would be only too willing to praise if I could, but this is impossible, for the fact remains that the battalion is not what it pretends to be. This must not occur again. It must cease from to-night."
The 66th officers are confident they will make General Gascoigne retract. They say that they can prove instead of two-thirds of the regiment being army reserve men, the battalion contains, out of an establishment of 600 men, only 32 army reserve men. Three of the companies have none, two of them only two, and the band none. It is openly stated that General Gascoigne has made the mistake of confounding ex-soldiers free of the army in every respect with the army reserve, and the determination is expressed to make him retract.