Topic: Drill and Training
We often hear catchphrases but we can never quite be certain where they originated. Infantry officers training in the Canadian Army have long head one which goes "Time spent on recce (i.e, reconnaissance) is never wasted" … intending to teach the new officer that even if he or she thinks they understand a situation completely, a thorough reconnaissance (time permitting) is invaluable, if for no other reason to confirm what is known. Inevitably, in training and service afterwards, reconnaissance often identified factors that were previously not known to the officer and which materially affect the plan evolving in their mind. failing to heed this adage can have serious consequences.
Corporal to Field Officer (Infantry) in the Non-Permanent Active Militia of Canada, 1925
by Capt H.P.E. Phillips, M.C.; The Royal Canadian Regiment and Lieut. Col. R.J.S. Langford; The Royal Canadian Regiment.
(French Edition by Lieut. P.E. Poirier, M.M.; Royal 22nd Regiment.)
Infantry in Attack
The principles governing the attack are the same whatever the size or organization of the force engaged may be; the same problems on a smaller scale will ave to be met and overcome by the Company Commander and even the Platoon Commander who is conducting an attack, as would have to be faced by the G.O.C. of a larger formation. These principles are briefly as follows:—
(1) A Sound Tactical Plan
To start off blindly without any pre-arranged idea of what you are going to do is courting disaster. In order to make your plans it is essential that you have some information. The Commander of a large formation would obtain the necessary information in various ways: Aeroplane Photographs, Spies, etc.; with smaller formations it comes down to making a personal reconnaissance.
TIME SPENT ON RECONNAISSANCE IS SELDOM WASTED.
(2) Secrecy in Preparation
It stands to reason that if the enemy is aware beforehand of what you are going to do, your chances of success are greatly diminished.
(3) Surprise in Execution
A most important point … it necessarily depends greatly in secrecy beforehand, but it is not much avail if after having prepared your plans with secrecy you give everything away at the last moment and fail to surprise your enemy in the end.
(4) Skill and Vigour in Execution
The best laid plans will go amiss unless subordinate commanders have sufficient skill t put them into execution, hence the necessity of training and study. Once your plans are made, carry them out with vigour, half-hearted measures will never succeed, make up your mind what you are going to do and do it. hesitation and doubt on your part means Demoralization on your men's part. A poor plan carried out with vigour stands more chance of success than a good plan carried out in a half-hearted manner.
Co-operation between all arms of the Service and of all individuals is essential to success. All must help each other towards the common goal to defeat the enemy. Good team work is the thing which brings success.
Time spent on recce is never wasted. This may not be the earliest use of the phrase, or even the earliest documentation of it, but it is the earliest one I've found to date.
Time spent on recce is never wasted. A solid piece of advice well understood by many in the Army. Some learned it the hard way, others took it at face value and proved to themselves its usefulness. Of the ones who learn things the hard way, there is a corollary adage which they too may ave discovered under less than pleasant training conditions: Time wasted on recce is never recovered.
It is not without reason that the modern steps of Battle Procedure taught to young officers and NCOs in the Canadian Army include the step to make a Recce Plan before launching out to see the world of their impending operation.
- Capt H.P.E. Phillips, M.C.; The Royal Canadian Regiment
- Captain Harold Preston Evans Phillips, M.C., enlisted as a soldier in The RCR on 7 Nov 1908 (after three years in the Engineers). he rose to the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major from December 1914 to March 1916, after which he was commissioned in the Regiment. During the First World War, Phillips was Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry twice and received the Military Cross and Bar (a second award of the Military Cross).
- Lieut. Col. R.J.S. Langford; The Royal Canadian Regiment
- Lieutenant-Colonel Robert John Spinluff served with The Royal Canadian Regiment from 1907 to 1935, commanding the Regiment from 1929 to 1935. he served overseas during the First World War as the Brigade Major of the 15th Canadian Infantry Brigade, and then of the 206th (Imperial) Brigade, before being appointed the Commandant Canadian Concentration Camp in 1918. He continued to serve for another 20 years after the Great War in both regimental and staff appointments.
- Lieut. P.E. Poirier, M.M.; Royal 22nd Regiment.