The Minute Book
Thursday, 21 February 2013

CEF Shoulder Flashes - 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade
Topic: CEF

The above image shows the Player's cigarette card featuring the shoulder flashes of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade worn during the First World War.

Cigarette cards have a long history of being used by tobacco companies as an incentive to buy their wares. Their imagery featuring many aspects of life at home and abroad, the cigarette companies readily drew on military themes both in peace and war for their series of cards. One such series, issued by the John Player & Sons, displayed the unit shoulder flashes of the infantry brigades of the Canadian Expeditionary Force of the First World War.

The shoulder flashes used to distinguish the infantry divisions, brigades and battalions on the battlefield, and in camps behind the lines, was based on a simple system of colours and shapes. The rectangular divisional patches identified the wearer's division by their colour, the evolution of colour choices is described in the excellent reference work "Distinguishing Patches", by Clive Law, once the system was finalized, the following colours were used:

  • 1st Canadian Infantry Division - RED
  • 2nd Canadian Infantry Division - BLUE
  • 3rd Canadian Infantry Division - FRENCH GREY
  • 4th Canadian Infantry Division - GREEN

Each rectangular divisional patch was surmounted by a geometrically shaped device to show the wearer's brigade and battalion. The colours for these devices were:

  • First brigade in the division - GREEN
  • Second brigade in the division - RED
  • Third brigade in the division - BLUE

Lastly, the shape of the device indicated which battalion within the brigade the soldier served with:

  • First battalion in the brigade – ● CIRCLE (1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • Second battalion in the brigade – ◒ HALF-CIRCLE (2 inches in diameter)
  • Third battalion in the brigade – ▲ TRIANGLE (2 inches on each side)
  • Fourth battalion in the brigade – ■ SQUARE ( 1 1/2 inches on each side)

This straightforward system worked well for the infantry units, but the many other units within each division departed from this and a more complex mixture of patches appeared although consistency of patterns remained between the divisions. For those who wish to delve deeper into the CEF system of shoulder flashes, and those of other periods of service in the Canadian Army, I highly recommend "Distinguishing Patches."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:09 AM EST
Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Romance versus Reality ("That Sword")
Topic: Humour

The following is a Bairnsfather comic from the Bystander's "Fragments from France." Captain Bruce Bairnsfather was one of the most famous British cartoonists of the First World War, capturing many aspects of trench life in his drawings of "Old Bill" and other stereotypical characters of the Great War.

Besides being featured in the "Fragments from France" booklets, Bairnsfather also wrote and illustrated two books reflecting on his service in the Great War: "From Mud to Mufti" and "Bullets and Billets."


 

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 12 April 2013 3:29 PM EDT
Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Battle Honours; Geographical and Chronological Limits
Topic: Battle Honours

Anyone who has spent time studying Canadian military history, or any of Canada's Army regiments has heard of Battle Honours. Defining and understanding Battle Honours, however, often takes a deeper examination than reading the many popular histories that are available, or even individual regimental histories. The general descriptions of Battle Honours as battle actions for which a regiment has been formally recognized and rewarded by receipt of the honour more often than not falls short of full understanding. Often named for a region (e.g., NORTHWEST EUROPE), an area of that region (e.g., THE RHINELAND), a specific location (e.g., ORTONA), or a tactical operation (e.g., BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE), we may have a general idea of the context of the battle based on readings and popular media but that popular conception doesn't always define the parameters for the awarded honours.

The greatest confusion may come about when a Battle Honour is named for a location, and this is particularly so for the First World War. For example, many units fought in and around the town of Cambrai in Northern France near the end of the First World War. From this, you might be able to assume that any such actions might contribute to eligibility for the Battle Honour "CAMBRAI, 1918." But this is not the case.

The Battle Honour "CAMBRAI, 1918," like many other such honours, has very specific restrictions on the dates during which a unit had to be engaged with the enemy, and specific geographical bounds within which that action had to take place for eligibility. These chronological and geographical bounds for the Battle Honour "CAMBRAI, 1918," encompass two days and about 580 square kilometres in a region approximately 15 by 40 Kms, and are as follows:

CAMBRAI, 1918

  • 8-9 Oct 1918
  • Road Fresnoy - Sequehart - Bellinglise - Bellicourt -Vendhuille - Villers-Guislain - Villers-Plouich - Graincourt - Bourlon - Oisy-le-Verger: thence the river Sensee

Using Google maps, we are able to plot these locations on a modern map images and capture it for a simple display of the geographical boundary.

Only if a unit was engaged with the enemy within this boundary, during the dates 8-9 October, 1918, and meeting the other terms of reference for Battle Honours, could it request the for the Battle Honour "CAMBRAI, 1918," after the War. To place this area in a different perspective, the operational area for the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division at Cambrai on 8/9 Oct 1918 spanned an area of only 10 square kilometers within this boundary. Within those 10 square kilometers, all twelve infantry battalions and the Machine Gun Battalion of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division earned the Battle Honour "CAMBRAI, 1918."

See the geographical and chronological limits for other Battle Honours of the First World War at The Regimental Rogue: Canadian Army Battle Honours

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2013 9:18 PM EST
Monday, 18 February 2013

Feeding the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Topic: Army Rations

During the First World War, school children in Canada were taught from booklets prepared by the National War Savings Committee to ensure they understood the demands being placed on the national economy to support the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (OMFC). Intended for brief periods of daily instruction, the booklets were meant to develop an understanding of the importance of War Savings and general economies. The last books were printed after the Armistice, but were equally applicable as it would still be months before the last troops returned to Canada,

The Requirements of an Army in the Field

Excerpted from The Canadian War Book, January 1919; prepared by the National War Savings Committee. Issued under the authority of the Department of Education of the Province of New Brunswick.

Perhaps many boys and girls do not realize what a great number of men half a million is. Just think: the Canadian Army Corps is equal to the whole population of Toronto; far more than all the people in Halifax and Hamilton and Winnipeg together. If all these men stood shoulder to shoulder they would make a line 140 miles long. Now, all these soldiers must be fed, clothed, supplied with guns and ammunition, and cared for when they are sick and wounded.

Remember, too, that everything our men use must be carried in ships to France or England. France can scarcely produce enough food for her own people and troops; England cannot produce nearly enough. Six French ports have been given over to the use of the British troops, three being devoted entirely to the Northern Army and three to the Southern Army. These ports are called base supply depots, and each port specializes in certain goods. One handles only forage for horses, frozen meat, and flour; another only munitions, and so on. From each port a system of broad-gauge railways runs inland, branching and re-branching to reach advanced supply depots. At these points the supplies are loaded on motor trucks or narrow-gauge railways and taken as close to the firing line as mechanical transport can go. Finally, the services of the horse and mule are called into action to furnish motive power for a divisional supply train, which consists of 455 men, 375 animals, and 198 wagons. From the divisional trains the food is taken over by brigades and then by the battalion quartermaster. He divides it into five parts, one for headquarters, and one for each of the four companies. Such supplies as fresh meats, tea, coffee, and flour are turned over to the company cooks, the individual soldier handling only “dry rations,” like bread, canned goods, jam, biscuits and pickles.

What do our soldiers get to eat? The very best and most substantial food and plenty of it. The first item is meat – fresh or frozen. Each soldier is entitled to one pound every day. In addition, he is given four ounces of bacon, usually for breakfast. Fish, too, much of it from Canada, sausages from government-owned factories, and pork and beans, are issued to supplement the meat rations. Bread is, perhaps, next in importance. Of this each soldier receives daily one pound, or ten ounces of biscuit, or an equivalent ration made up of the two. Bread for the Canadian army is made at the base bakeries at Boulogne. These turn our daily 220,000 two-pound loaves, made from Canadian flour of the same quality as in pre-war days. Other items in Private Jack Canuck's daily bill-of-fare are: ten ounces of rice, two ounces of butter served three times a week, three ounces of jam, five-eighths of an ounce of tea or coffee, two ounces of cheese, two ounces of oatmeal three times a week, three ounces of sugar, one ounce of condensed milk, an ounce of pickles three times a week, two ounces of potatoes, eight ounces of fresh vegetables when obtainable, or two ounces of dried vegetables.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2013 5:28 PM EST
Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Formation of the Infantry School Corps
Topic: The RCR
In December 1883, the Canadian Government authorized the creation of School Corps for the Infantry and Cavalry. The purpose of these schools was to maintain instructional cadres for the instruction of the Canadian Militia in a variety of skills. In time, the Cavalry School Corps would become the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the Infantry School Corps would become The Royal Canadian Regiment. The following is the text of the Canada Gazette entry for the assignment of the first officers of the Infantry Corps Schools and the locations for the first three Schools. A fourth Infantry School would be authorized in 1887 and formed in London, Ontario, the following year at Wolseley Barracks.
Canada Gazette

Headquarters Ottawa, 21st December, 1883

General Orders (26)

Infantry School Corps

The formation of three Schools of Infantry having been authorized, the requisite number of militiamen will be enrolled, and formed into one corps to be known as the "Infantry School Corps."

The following Officers are appointed to the Corps:

  • Lieutenant-Colonel George J. Maunsell, from Deputy Adjutant General, Military District No. 4.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Gustave D'O. d'Orsonnens, from Brigade Major 7th and 8th Brigade Divisions, Que.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel William Dillon Otter, from 2nd Battalion, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.
To be Captains:
  • Major William Dunlop Gordon, from 14th Battalion.
  • Major Beaufort Henry Vidal, from 12th Battalion.
  • Captain and Major Henry Smith, from Adjutant, 40th Battalion.
To be Lieutenants:
  • Captain Charles J. Coursol, from 65th Battalion.
  • Lieutenant Henry Cortlandt Freer, (R.M.C.) H.M.'s South Staffordshire Regiment.
  • Lieutenant James Walker Sears (R.M.C.) Lieutenant H.M.'s South Staffordshire Regiment.
  • Lieutenant David Douglas Young.
  • Lieutenant Thomas D.R. Hemming.
  • Lieutenant Robinson Lyndhurst Wadmore.

Memo.--Lieutenant Henry Cortlandt Freer takes rank on the Militia from the 30th June 1880, the date of his graduating R.M.C.

The Infantry Schools will be established as follows until further orders:

  • At Fredericton, N.B., for the Maritime Provinces, under Lieutenant-Colonel Maunsell, Commandant.
  • At St. John's, Que., for the Province of Quebec, under Lieutenant-Colonel d'Orsonnens, Commandant.
  • At Toronto, Ont., for the Province of Ontario, under Lieutenant-Colonel Otter, Commandant.

The Commandants will report direct to Head Quarters.

Badges of The Royal Canadian Regiment


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 18 February 2013 12:24 AM EST
Saturday, 16 February 2013

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Topic: Halifax

This aerial view of Halifax is from a postcard which was probably taken between the First and Second World Wars. Halifax was the Home Station of The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) from 1905, when the Regiment expanded with six new companies and a battalion headquarters to take over the garrison duties in the port city (after the withdrawal of the last British garrison units). It was from Halifax that The RCR went to Bermuda for a garrison duty for the first year of the First World War, and it was to Halifax the Regiment returned briefly before proceeding to European battlefields. The Regiment returned once again to Halifax after the Great War, but did not return to permanent garrison duties, by 1920, the Regiment was relocated to Company Stations in Fredericton, Toronto, London and Montreal.

Those familiar with the city will recognize the Citadel in the foreground, The last infantry garrison troops to occupy the fortress were of The RCR. In the centre middle ground is Camp Hill Hospital, with the Halifax Commons extending to the right of the image .In the distance is the Northwest Arm, an extension of the harbour which defines the Halifax Peninsula. The Arm appears closer than it is in reality because the angle of the photo hides the falling ground extending toward the water of the Northwest Arm. At the very top centre of the image lies the cove where Melville Island can be found. Melville Island was, for many years the military proison site at Halifax.

The image below shows much of the same area, as depicted on the 1918 topographical map published by the Geographical Section, General Staff, of the Department of National Defence. (Each grid square is 1000 yards (914 metres).)

Google maps shows that, although much of the city has been rebuilt, the area of the Citadel and the area behind the hill remain recogizable.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:42 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2013 12:47 AM EST
Friday, 15 February 2013

Perpetuating Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Topic: Perpetuation

Shoulder flashes of the 1st Canadian Infantry BrigadeAt the end of the First World War, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was disbanded, and many of its units faded into history, their memory and the heritage of their battlefield achievements transferring to units of the Canadian Militia, both Permanent Force (P.F. - now the Regular Force) and the Non-Permanent Active Militia (N.P.A.M.; now the Reserves). This transfer of history and heritage was made possible by the creation of a uniquely Canadian process labeled perpetuation.

As a result of perpetuation and the blending of unit histories through evolving oral narratives (because not everyone studies the detail of their unit histories) many Canadians, including many who have served in the Canadian Army, do not well understand the links between today's Regiments and the units of the CEF. With the rapidly approached centennial of the First World War, Canadians can expect to see commemorative events held both in Canada and abroad. When these events are to be linked to the actions of each of the Infantry Divisions of the CEF, it is essential to understand which modern regiments should be standing in place of the CEF battalions that fought on the battlefields of France and Flanders.

The following tables show the alignment of the divisional organizations of the CEF to today's perpetuating regiments.

The Perpetuating Units of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, CEF

1st Cdn Inf Bde
• 1st Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Canadian Regiment
• 2nd Cdn Inf BnThe Governor General's Foot Guards
• 3rd Cdn Inf BnThe Queen's Own Rifles of CanadaThe Royal Regiment of Canada.
• 4th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment)
2nd Cdn Inf Bde
• 5th Cdn Inf BnThe North Saskatchewan Regiment
• 7th Cdn Inf BnThe British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) (RCAC)
• 8th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Winnipeg Rifles
• 10th Cdn Inf BnThe Calgary HighlandersThe Royal Winnipeg Rifles.
3rd Cdn Inf Bde
• 13th Cdn Inf BnThe Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highland Regiment)
• 14th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Montreal Regiment
• 15th Cdn Inf Bn48th Highlanders of Canada.
• 16th Cdn Inf BnThe Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's)
1st Bn CMGCThe Irish Regiment of Canada

The Perpetuating Units of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, CEF

4th Cdn Inf Bde
• 18th Cdn Inf BnThe Essex and Kent Scottish.
• 19th Cdn Inf BnThe Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's)
• 20th Cdn Inf BnThe Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC)
• 21st Cdn Inf BnThe Princess of Wales' Own Regiment
5th Cdn Inf Bde
• 22nd Cdn Inf BnRoyal 22e Regiment
• 24th Cdn Inf BnNIL (was The Victoria Rifles of Canada.)
• 25th Cdn Inf BnThe Nova Scotia Highlanders
• 26th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal New Brunswick Regiment
6th Cdn Inf Bde
• 27th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Winnipeg Rifles
• 28th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Regina Rifles
• 29th Cdn Inf BnThe British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) (RCAC)
• 31st Cdn Inf BnThe South Alberta Light Horse
2nd Bn CMGCThe Royal Canadian Regiment

The Perpetuating Units of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, CEF

7th Cdn Inf Bde
• The RCRThe Royal Canadian Regiment
• PPCLIPrincess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
• 42nd Cdn Inf BnThe Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highland Regiment)
• 49th Cdn Inf BnThe Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Bn, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry)
8th Cdn Inf Bde
• 1st CMRThe North Saskatchewan Regiment
• 2nd CMRThe British Columbia Dragoons
• 4th CMRThe Governor General's Horse Guards
• 5th CMRThe Sherbrooke Hussars
9th Cdn Inf Bde
• 43rd Cdn Inf BnThe Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada
• 52nd Cdn Inf BnThe Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.
• 58th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Regiment of Canada.
• 60th Cdn Inf BnNIL (was The Victoria Rifles of Canada.)
• 116th Cdn Inf BnThe Ontario Regiment (RCAC)
3rd Bn CMGCThe Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's)

The Perpetuating Units of the 4th Canadian Infantry Division, CEF

10th Cdn Inf Bde
• 44th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Winnipeg Rifles
• 46th Cdn Inf BnThe Saskatchewan Dragoons
• 47th Cdn Inf BnThe Royal Westminster Regiment
• 50th Cdn Inf BnThe King's Own Calgary Regimant (RCAC)
11th Cdn Inf Bde
• 54th Cdn Inf BnNIL
• 75th Cdn Inf BnThe Toronto Scottish
• 87th Cdn Inf BnThe Canadian Grenadier Guards.
• 102nd Cdn Inf BnNIL (was Irish Fusiliers)
12th Cdn Inf Bde
• 38th Cdn Inf BnThe Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.
• 72nd Cdn Inf BnThe Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.
• 73rd Cdn Inf BnThe Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highland Regiment)
• 78th Cdn Inf BnNIL (was The Winnipeg Grenadiers)
• 85th Cdn Inf BnThe Nova Scotia Highlanders
4th Bn CMGC50th Field Artillery Regiment (The Prince of Wales Rangers), RCA

Corps Troops

1st Cdn M.M. Gun BdeThe Royal Canadian Hussars

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 1:47 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 April 2016 4:11 PM EDT
Regimental Order No. 304 of 1904 - Daily Routine
Topic: The RCR

The Royal Canadian Regiment
Regimental Order No. 304

Colonel the Right Honourable Matthew, Lord Aylmer,
Commanding Canadian Militia

Headquarters, Ottawa
September 24th, 1904

Daily Routine

The following timetable is to be put into effect at all depots from, and including, the 1st proximo:-

DutyTime
 SummerWinter (if different)
Reveille5.30 a.m.6.30 a.m.
Rations7.30 a.m.12.20 p.m.
Breakfast, 1st Bugle7.15 a.m.7.45 a.m.
Breakfast, 2nd Bugle7.30 a.m.8.00 a.m.
1st Parade, Dress8.40 a.m. 
1st Parade, “Fall In”9.00 a.m. 
Sick Parade9.15 a.m.(should be arranged locally with Medical Officer)
Duty Parade, Dress9.10 a.m. 
Duty Parade, “Fall In”9.30 a.m. 
Orderly Room10.00 a.m. 
2nd Drill Parade, Dress10.40 a.m. 
2nd Drill Parade, “Fall In”11.00 a.m. 
Dinner, 1st Bugle12.45 p.m. 
Dinner, 2nd Bugle1.00 p.m. 
Afternoon Parade, Dress1.40 p.m. 
Afternoon Parade, “Fall In”2.00 p.m. 
Tea, 1st Bugle4.45 p.m. 
Tea, 2nd Bugle5.00 p.m. 
Officers' Mess, 1st Bugle6.00 p.m. 
Officers' Mess, 2nd Bugle6.30 p.m. 
RetreatVariable 
First post9.30 p.m. 
Last post10.00 p.m. 
Lights out10.15 p.m. 

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:13 AM EST
Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Mons Medallion
Topic: The RCR

Many Canadian Army regiments carry the Battle Honour “PURSUIT TO MONS,” either from the presence of their own cap badge on that field of battle, or by the presence of one or more Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) units they now perpetuate (or both in some cases).

During those last days of the First World War, the Canadian Corps advanced toward Mons as the clock ran down to the Armistice. In the final act, the 3rd Division led, and of that formations units, it was The Royal Canadian Regiment that marched first into the city of Mons, the signature of Lieutenant William King in the Golden Book of Mons ensuring a definitive record of that accomplishment.

The War Diary of The R.C.R. for November 11, 1918 reads:

"MONS At about 09.00 hours a signal message as attached was received stating that all hostilities would cease at 11.00 hours etc. The news was sent to Companies and soon spread among the civil population as well. Thus for us the war ended in almost exactly the same ground that the British Army had made their first stand in 1914. Our men were in MONS. One platoon of "A" Company under Lieut. W.M. KING had been the first to reach the square in the morning and the platoon commander had inscribed his name in the "Golden Book of MONS". In the afternoon the Corps Commander made his official entry in to MONS, part of "A" Company contributed to the Guard of Honour. Battalion Headquarters moved to MONS in the evening."

After the Armistice, the City of Mons minted a small aluminum medallion, to be given to all soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, to mark their role in liberating their city. These medallions appear occasionally, many probably long discarded as soldiers' medals passed to heirs and the significance of the smaller medallions was perhaps overlooked. Small and innocuous perhaps, only 22 millimetres in diameter and 1 mm thick, the Mons Medallion represents the gratitude of a liberated City for the final actions of the Canadian Corps at the end of the First World War.

On the face of the medallion is the coat of arms of the City of Mons, with “VILLE de MONS .” On the reverse reads the following message:

LA VILLE DE MONS
AUX SOLDATS DE LA
3eme DIVISION CANADIENNE
11 9bre 1918

 

The Royal Canadian Regiment continues to remember the “Pursuit to Mons.” In the 2nd Battalions, it was also origin of the award given annually to the unit's best Platoon Commander – The Mons Box.

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 4:06 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 18 February 2013 12:26 AM EST
Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Paardeberg Compass
Topic: Paardeberg

The Paardeberg Compass

A soldier's medals are an interesting connection of the soldier to his (or her) period of service. Medals might be for a specific campaign, placing the soldier in time and place, they could be long service awards, for valour or meritorious service, or for commemorative purposes. Some medals show hard evidence of years of wear on parades, dutifully polished until finer details are removed, or even until most details are obliterated through that pride of service and a heavy polishing technique.

Medals, however, lack one connection to the service they represent. They are invariably issued after the fact, and could not have been with the soldier during the events that saw them earned. For that connection, we must seek other artifacts, ones we can be reasonably certain were in a soldiers backpack, or pockets, or even in hand on the field of battle or in an operational area. Such items can be difficult to attribute with confidence unless they are received from the soldier with provenance. But occasionally we do discover just such a piece of memorabilia.

One such is the pocket compass of 8077 Colour-Sergeant John David Fox Eustace.

Colour-Sergeant (now we would know him as a Company Sergeant Major) Eustace was a Militia soldier serving in Halifax with the 63rd Regiment, Halifax Rifles, at the outbreak of the South African War (Boer War). Eustace, like many of his country-men from coast to coast, volunteered to serve with a battalion of infantry raised as Canada's First Contingent to South Africa. This battalion was the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

While The Royal Canadian Regiment continued to garrison its four Company stations in Fredericton, St Jean, Toronto and London, it also provided 84 officers Non-Commissioned officers and soldiers for this new battalion. the remaining 921 members of the Battalion came, almost completely, from over 100 units of the Canadian Militia from across the country. John Eustace was one of those Militia soldiers, and he served as the Colour-Sergeant of “H” Company, which was raised in Nova Scotia.

Colour-Sergeant Eustace enlisted at Halifax on 20 Oct 1899 at the age of 30. An immigrant born in Dublin, Ireland, Eustace was serving in the 63rd Regiment (Halifax Rifles) at Halifax when he volunteered for service in South Africa. A single man, he was employed as a grocer in his civilian life. His service record describes him as five feet, six inches in height, 140 lb, with a 36-38 inch chest, fair complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was assessed as having good muscular development, good intelligence, a sanguine temperament. fair complexion, hearing and feet good and, finally, heart, lungs, hernia; all normal.

Eustace served with The Royal Canadian Regiment in South Africa until he was invalided to England on 13 Aug 1900. His discharge followed not long after, with his Certificate of Discharge dated 31 Aug 1900, reading:

This Certifies that No. 8077 Colour Sergt. J.D.F. Eustace of Halifax in the County of Halifax, Province of Nova Scotia, Dominion of Canada, aged 31 years, served continuously in H Coy, 2nd Battn., The R.C.R., S.S. Force of Active Militia of Canada, from the 20th day of October 1899 to the 31st day of August 1900 and is now discharged therefrom.”

Signed BH. Vidal, Lt. Col., D.O.C. 8.

Eustace was eligible for the Queen's South Africa Medal with two clasps: Cape Colony and Paardeberg. In late 1903, Eustace's medal was sent to the South African Constabulary, with which unit he was then serving, having returned to South Africa. (Eustace's QSA is known to have survived, location unconfirmed.)

John Eustace's company was in the front lines of the assault at the Battle of Paardeberg on 27 February 1900, the first major British victory over a Boer force. In this action, which saw the surrender of General Cronje, the contribution of the Canadians was celebrated throughout the Empire.

While we are certain John Eustace's medals could not have been at Paardeberg, we can be reasonably certain that he had his pocket compass with him.

So, how do we determine that a man who served many years before South Africa, and again afterwards, carried this compass at Paardeberg?

Eustace's compass is marked, stamped inside the brass cover, with the following details:

  • 8077
  • J. Eustace
  • H Co
  • RCRI

John Eustace only held the regimental number “8077” while he served with the 2nd (Special Service) battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment. Similarly, he was only in “H” Company of that unit for his service in South Africa. And the “RCRI”? For a brief period, between 1 April 1899 and 1 November 1901, The Royal Canadian Regiment was officially known as “ The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.”

Imagine, a Colour-Sergeant (Company Sergeant Major) on the open veldt of South Africa, as his company approaches occupied Boer trenches in the darkness before the dawn of 27 February 1900. Did he use this compass to help keep direction as the distance to the enemy closed? How many years afterwards did he carry it, a constant reminder of his service in South Africa as a Royal Canadian?


Posted by regimentalrogue at 8:55 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2018 9:32 PM EST
A Blog to Accompany The Regimental Rogue

Every once in while I come across an item that I'd like to share which doesn't quite deserve its own page on The Regimental Rogue. Similarly, opportunities to identify new connections with information already on that parent website can be missed without a means to share them. This blog, therefore, can meet those needs, and provides a place to share whatever else of interest that might cross my path.

The Minute Book. In the days before e-mail made the rapid dissemination of messages efficient (if not always effective), infantry battalions in The Royal Canadian Regiment had a method of ensuring that officers received messages on matters of dress, social responsibilities and matters of duty particular to that audience. That method was the maintenance, by the Adjutant (i.e., the Commanding Officer's principal staff officer), of the Officer's Minute Book. This Book, kept in the Adjutant's office, was attended by an expectation that every officer would check it regularly for new additions. While this blog may not provide items of any such import, I do encourage you to check in regularly to see what appears.

 

Michael O'Leary
The Regimental Rogue

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 6:07 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 18 February 2013 12:27 AM EST

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