The Minute Book
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The 1914-1915 Star
Topic: Medals

The first medal that many Canadian soldiers might have been eligible to receive for their First World War service was the 1914-15 Star. Eligibility for the 1914-15 Star was achieved if the soldier served in a theatre of war before the end of 1915. In the Western Europe theatre of war, for operations in France and Belgium, the specific dates of eligibility were from midnight of 22-23 November 1914 until 31 Dec 1915.

Over two million 1914-15 Stars were awarded to soldiers of the British Empire, and of these, 71,150 went to Canadian soldiers of the Great War (There is also a 1914 Star for those who reached a theatre of war before the end of 1914, of which only 160 were awarded to Canadians.) each 1914-15 Star is impressed (stamped) on the reverse with the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit. Officers medals do not include a service number because officers did not have service numbers during the First World War.

Any soldier who was eligible for the 1914-15 Star also received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, these three forming the colloquially named First World War "trio."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 12 March 2013

If you went to Hospital, You were Going to Get the Blues
Topic: CEF

The photo above shows an unidentified soldier of The Royal Canadian Regiment with a friend. Both men are wearing the standard dress for convalescing soldiers — Hospital Blues

During the First World War, many soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force found themselves spending time in hospital. Diseases and injuries that today might be healed relatively quickly with batteries of antibiotics and other medicines to help the body combat infection could mean a hospital stay of week, or months, longer than we might envision under modern health care. Wounded and sick soldiers, depending on available facilities could find themselves recuperating not only in Hospital in France, but also throughout the United Kingdom. Especially, for the many which crossed the Channel as stretcher cases, their units administratively transferring them to holding units in the UK, there was not effective system (nor could there be one efficiently) that ensured a soldier would awake to find his own clean uniform to wear while convalescing.

Instead, we find that widespread service was made of the British Amy's existing solution for clothing recuperating solders, the "hospital blues." Blue linen suits, lined in white and nattily accessorized with a bright red tie. What self-respecting soldier wouldn't find that outfit stylish and debonair for "walking out" during his convalescence, especially since they came in a range of few sizes fitting few soldiers well. Although originally cut to be buttoned to the neck, turning down the collar of the jacket added the benefit of bright white lapels to the hospital blues' appeal.

There was, however, one saving grace. Each soldier kept and wore his service cap and regimental badge with the hospital blues. This ensured they retained their regimental affiliations, and with discerning eye, could identify members of their own unit, or of ones they had fought with.

Soldiers might find themselves in "blues" for months at a time. The outfit also ensured that locals recognized the recovering soldier as such, and not mistaking him for someone they thought deserving of a white feather for ducking military service. The hospital suit garnered the respect due a man fighting for nation and Empire, even if the cause of his lengthy hospital stay might have been due to catching something his mother and minister would highly disprove of.

The greatest advantage of the blues was that while required to wear them, a soldier knew he was going to be sleeping in a warm bed, eating three square meals a day, and that his duty comprised getting fit enough to return to the fight.

More on Hospital Blues:

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2016 2:45 PM EST
Monday, 11 March 2013

Perpetuation and Coming Commemorations – Follow the Lineage
Topic: Perpetuation

(Or: "How One Regiment Could be Fighting in Three Places at Once")

The following regiments of the Canadian Army perpetuate more than one fighting unit of the infantry or machine gun corps of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In many significant battles of the First World War, which these regiment's forebears won battlefield honours, they (and, hopefully, the organizers of commemorative events) will have to trace the actions of each perpetuated unit to fully develop an understanding the the roles of the soldiers they now honour in perpetuation. This may lead to some modern units standing in representation of more than one unit of the CEF during the Great War centennial years.

Notably, in each case, the various perpetuations are spread between Brigades and Division of the Corps, and the individual unit actions may, in some cases, be well separated in location and time. This can produce the appearance of inconsistencies when the detailed background is not well understood. For example, The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR), which itself reached France in November 1915, could find itself at events celebrating the battle of the summer of 1915. This is because it also perpetuates the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, a unit of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division that did reach the battlefields in early 1915 and won honours there now carried by The RCR in their memory.

First, some nomenclature:

  • Cdn Inf Bn – Canadian Infantry Battalion
  • Cdn Inf Bde – Canadian Infantry Battalion
  • Cdn Inf Div – Canadian Infantry Division
  • CMGC – Canadian Machine Gun Corps

Regiments with Multiple Perpetuations of CEF Combat Units

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

The Royal Canadian Regiment

The Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highland Regiment)

The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's)

The North Saskatchewan Regiment

The Nova Scotia Highlanders

The Victoria Rifles of Canada (reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle on 5 Mar 1965)

  • 24th Cdn Inf Bn / 5th Cdn Inf Bde / 2nd Cdn Inf Div
  • 60th Cdn Inf Bn / 9th Cdn Inf Bde / 3rd Cdn Inf Div

Why are the Division identifiers in different Colours? In the First World War, the soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force wore distinctive shoulder flashes that, to a practiced eye, identified the soldier by his division, brigade and battalion. See this post for a brief explanation of the shoulder flash system.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 27 April 2014 5:48 PM EDT
Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pay for the Canadian MIlitia (1914)
Topic: Pay; the Queen's shilling

The Guide: A Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry)

Compiled by Major-General Sir William D. Otter, K.C.B., C.V.O. (Retired List) Ninth Edition—Revised 1914

Pay

The daily pay for the several ranks and appointments in the Active Militia (Infantry) are as under (the rates of pay for the Permanent Force are somewhat different):

(A third column has been added to the table to show annual salaries.)

RankDaily Rate of PayAnnual Pay
Lieutenant- Colonel$5.00$1825
Major$4.00$1460
Paymaster$3.00$1095
Adjutant (in addition to pay of rank)$0.50 
Musketry Instructor (in addition to pay of rank)$0.50 
Quarter-Master$3.00$1095
Chaplain (rank of Major)$4.00$1460
Chaplain (rank of Captain)$3.00$1095
Captain$3.00$1095
Lieutenant$2.00$730
Lieutenant (provisional)$1.50$547.50
Sergeant-Major (if a Warrant Officer)$1.75$638.75
Sergeant-Major (not a Warrant Officer)$1.50$547.50
Band Master (if a Warrant Officer)$1.75$638.75
Band Master (if acting)$1.50$547.50
Quarter-Master Sergeant$1.25$456.25
Paymaster Sergeant$1.15$419.75
Orderly Room Sergeant$1.15$419.75
Colour Sergeant$1.10$401.50
Sergeant$1.00$365
Sergeant Drummer, etc.$1.00$365
Sergeant Pioneer$1.00$365
Machine Gun Sergeant$1.00$365
Stretcher Bearer Sergeant$1.00$365
Corporal$0.85$310.25
Private or Bugler$0.75$273.75

Comparative Civilian Wages

For comparison, average annual salaries of other professions in the same era were:

Supervisory and office employees (1910) LINK $994
Teachers in English Canada (Ontario, 1910) LINK$485
Annual earnings in manufacturing industries, production and other workers (1910) LINK$417
Farm Workers (Ontario, 1914, including board) LINK$297

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 17 June 2013 2:58 PM EDT
Saturday, 9 March 2013

An RCR Pioneer Jug Band, circa 1955
Topic: The RCR

The above United Press photo featuring Pioneers of the Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) was discovered in a chance survey of offerings on ebay. The attached caption sheet reads:—

"Berlin:— This is good old mountain music, but nothing is the way one would expect it to be. First of all, these boys aren't in the Ozarks or the Appalachians—they're in Germany. Not only that, they never were in the Ozarks—they're all Canadians. They're specially -privileged, too—all winners in the beard-growing competition held by the three Pioneer Platoons of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, they may wear their beards until their return to Canada. All members of the Pioneer Platoon of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, serving in Germany, they are, left to right, front row: Sgt Joe York, Toronto, with a jug that's good when full and good for bass noted when empty; Pte Al Selig, Hantsport, Nova Scotia, with musical saw; and L/Cpl John Karmasinuk of Winnipeg, with accordion. In back row, left to right, are: Pte Ken Durant of Montreal, violin; Pte Allan Crane of Belle Isle, Newfoundland, harmonica; and Pte Don Johnson, Mimico, Ontario, with guitar." (United Press Photo; 28 Oct 1955)

Pioneers of the Regiment didn't get so much media attention until the viral appearance of the Lumberjack Commandos on the Internet:

One member of the jug band, however, has been seen by many members of the Regiment over past decades. Al Selig's photo, allegedly brought back from a professional photographer's window display in Cyprus by regimental members on a later tour after it was replaced, was to be found in the entrance to The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum:

Sadly, with the disbanding of the PIoneer Platoons in Canadian infantry battalions in 2002, no more will such glorious facial hair be seen on the parade grounds of the Regiment.

Pro Patria

 

Badges of The Royal Canadian Regiment


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 9 March 2013 10:57 AM EST
Friday, 8 March 2013

The Soldiers' Load – The RCR at Vimy Ridge
Topic: Soldiers' Load

From the War Diary of The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR), we have a very clear description of what the soldiers of the Regiment were carrying as they assaulted the slopes of Vimy Ridge on the morning of 9 April, 1917. The following is taken from an appendix to the April, 1917, portion of the War Diary, entitled "Summary of Operations of The Royal Canadian Regiment".

Equipment

The battalion attacked wearing battle order, i.e., ammunition pouches with Haversacks on shoulder straps. Leather jerkins were worn and waterproof sheets carried. Rifle Grenadiers carried in addition 20 No. 23 Mills Rifle Grenades, 4 Smoke Bombs with attachments for firing from Rifle, cup attachment for firing grenades, 50 rounds blank ammunition. Bomber carried 20 No. 5 Mills Bombs and 2 Smoke bombs.

Riflemen carried two Mills Bombs in Haversack, 170 rounds of ammunition, pair of wire cutters, pair of hedging gloves and 4 riflemen per platoon carried Turnover wire cutters for attachment to Rifles.

Each man carried a ground flare for Aeroplane contact and a VERY light (large or small) and S.O.S. rockets were distributed among all ranks proportionally.

Stores Carried

The first wave (attacking platoons) carried only their fighting equipment.

Each man of the two remaining platoons per Co. carried either a shovel or pick (350 shovels, and 50 picks were taken across).

In addition, these two platoons per Co. carried 20 rolls of barb wire or its equivalent of concertina or French wire each and 35 large screw stakes.

Rations and Water

Each man carried two Iron rations and one days rations.

Each man went over with a full water bottle.

A hot meal was issued at the latest possible moment before the attack and Rum ration issued within hour of jumping off.

Even within these few short paragraphs, we can see that the battle these troops were trained to fight was very different from the stereotypical media portrayal of First World War attacks with static waves of infantry sweeping forward. The assaulting platoons have rifle grenadiers and bombers, to force entry into enemy trenches with high explosives and to deal with dugouts and bunkers. Flares and rockets, in the absence of radios and not trusting wire to remain intact, provide a basic means of communicating with over-watching aircraft and protective artillery batteries. Tools to cut enemy wire, and then supplies to establish new obstacles at the point of consolidation are brought by the immediately following troops. And also the necessary picks and shovels to dig in where the attack ends, ready to defend the ground taken and to keep it against the inevitable German counter-attacks.

"The Battalion went over, the leading two companies in waves at 20 paces distance and three paces interval, the two rear companies following at 50 paces distance in Artillery formation in file."

An officer of the Regiment, in diary notes, described the tasks assigned to The RCR:

"The task allotted to the regiment was the capture of two objectives, the first a line of trenches about 800 yards forward, the second the Ecole Commune, the chateau and western edge of La Folie Wood some 400 yards further on. The frontage was approximately 250 yards with 4th Cdn Mtd Rifles on the right and P.P.C.L.I. on the left. Assisting were four guns of 7th Cdn M.G. Co., two guns 7th Cdn Trench Mortar Battery (Stokes guns), a party of 7th Field Co. Cdn Engineers with the Brigade wiring party, and two platoons of 49th Cdn Battn (Edmonton Regt) which acted as "moppers up"."

See his notes for a description of the day's fighting. Section "C" OBSERVATIONS of the "Summary of Operations" provides a detailed description of what preparations were most effective and which, due to the thorough artillery preparations of the battlefield, were not needed as much as they might have been.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 8 March 2013 12:38 AM EST
Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Master Butcher (1914)
Topic: Army Rations

Canadian Army Service Corps Training, 1914

The master butcher is responsible for the custody of the cattle, that they are properly slaughtered, that the meat is properly cut up for issue to the troops, that a roster is kept to insure that each unit gets the right change each day, and that an account of all issues and receipts is kept.

He is responsible that the slaughter house and equipment atre throroughly clean, free from smell and disinfected.

He will be responsible for the routine, discipline, and cleanliness of the butchers, and that they do not unduly destroy hides of material, and that all offal is either buried, burnt or taken away.

A squad of butchers consists of six men, viz., one "Foreman," one "First hand," two "Second hands," and two "Third hands."

For killing and dressing cattle, they are divided into two sub-divisions:—

(a)Foreman(b)First hand
Second handSecond hand
Third handThird hand

The squad should kill and dress two bullocks in forty-five minutes.

For killing and dressing sheep, they are divided as follows:—

(a)Foreman(b)First hand(c)Second hand
Third handThird handSecond hand

The squad should kill and dress three sheep in twelve minutes.

Thus in a day of eight working hours a squad of butchers will kill and dress twenty bullocks, or 120 sheep.

Roughly one butcher is required for every 1,000 troops.


 

 


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 7 March 2013 12:22 AM EST
Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Great War Centennial and Researching CEF Soldiers

With the centennial of the First World War approaching, we can expect a series of commemorative initiatives by the Government of Canada, led by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), and supported by the Department of National Defence (DND). If planners are careful, they'll match the many units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) with existing Canadian Army units, ensuring that those which now perpetuate honours are identified and made available to represent their forebears at each commemorative ceremony. See this post to see what units would parade for each infantry division of the CEF

We can also most likely expect to see the recurrence of another trend that has followed major commemorations of Canada's wars overseas, a tendency for many Canadians to be reminded that they too had family members who fought and, for some, family members who did not return home. Some will begin a journey of discovery to see what can be learned of those grandfathers, great-uncles, and other relatives, many of whom left little to the family history but the gaps their loss or silence created.

Luckily for all Canadians, today there is a growing wealth of information for those who search for information on soldiers of the First World War. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) provides a database of Soldiers of the First World War at which Attestation papers may be viewed and service records ordered, also the War Diaries of most units of the CEF have been scanned and made available, allowing the tracing of units and their actions.

The wealth of research treasures of the LAC comes with a price, the complexity of their website is daunting to a newcomer. The following pages offer a guide to introduce new researchers to some of the LAC's resources. Each part of the series of pages introduces available resources, LAC and others, and offers added information to assist a family researcher in beginning the discovery of the Great War soldiers in their family history.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 March 2013 12:14 AM EST
Tuesday, 5 March 2013

"Time spent on recce..."
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.)

Chapter VIII

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.

(5)     Co-operation

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.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 5 March 2013 1:46 PM EST
Monday, 4 March 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage - The Five Liners
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

As described in the July 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage handbook and the book "The Epic of Vimy" published after the trip, the organization of the Vimy Pilgrimage for the trip overseas was described as follows:

1.     Organization. The pilgrimage is divided into five parties – one for each of the five passenger liners used. Each party is, in turn, divided into companies, numbering from 8 to 11 per ship and comprising from 120 to 135 pilgrims each. The staff in charge of every party consists of 1 Party Leader, 1 Assistant Party Leader, 1 Staff Clerk, and 1 Company Leader as designated for each company.

The parties are designated as:

The Launch Itinerary

Thursday, July 16— "K," "L," "M," and "O" Parties will sail from Montreal on the steamers "Montcalm" and "Montrose" of the Canadian Pacific Steamship, Ltd., and the "Antonia" and "Ascania," of the Cunard-White Star Line.

Friday, July 17— "Y" sails from Montreal in the Canadian Pacific liner "Duchess of Bedford."

The Vimy Pilgrimage, organized for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial by King Edward VIII on 26 July, 1936, saw 6200 pilgrims cross the Atlantic on the five liners. Another 1365 Canadians in Europe joined the Pilgrimage. It is estimated that there were 8000 people at the unveiling of the Memorial.

Each pilgrim that made the Atlantic crossing paid the sum of $160 to cover the costs of Ocean Fare ($119.60), Land Tour ($36.00) and Pilgrimage Equipment ($4.40). The Pilgrimage Equipment consisted of Beret, Haversack, Official Medal, Company Badge, Official Guide Book, and Health and Accident Coverage.

 

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 22 February 2013 2:18 PM EST
Sunday, 3 March 2013

Battle Honours - Theatre, Battle, Action, Engagement
Topic: Battle Honours

Not all Battle Honours are equal in terms of the scale of action for which they were awarded. Some cover vast expanses of terrain and months or years of warfare, while others are defined by single dates and very restrictive geographical boundaries. When we look at the list of honours awarded to a regiment we may find Battle Honours that range from Theatre Honours to Separate Actions or Engagements.

The Conditions of Award of Battle Honours for The Great War 1914-1919 present Battle Honours with the following hierarchy:

  • Theatre (e.g., FRANCE AND FLANDERS)
  • Then, with each theatre there are Operations, consisting of:
  • Battles (e.g., BATTLE OF HILL 70)
  • Tactical Incidents Included (within named battles) (e.g., CAPTURE OF REGINA TRENCH)
  • Actions (e.g., CAPTURE OF MONS)

The Conditions governing the award of Battle Honours to regiments of the Canadian Army for Second World War Battle Honours sets out Battle Honours by the following system:

  • Theatre (e.g., NORTHWEST EUROPE)
  • Battle (e.g., LANDING IN SICILY)
    • Included Action (e.g., FALAISE ROAD)
    • Included Engagement (e.g., CARPIQUET)
  • Separate Action (e.g., ORTONA)
  • Separate Engagement (e.g., APELDOORN)

Both Theatre and Battle Honours may include year dates. In the case of theatre honours, these will be the year or years during which the unit fought within that theatre, these dates will be hyphenated to indicate a continuous period of operations. In the case of Battle Honours, where the Battle Honour name recurs on different years, the year dates will indicate each year the unit received that named Battle Honour, these dates will be separated by commas, indicating multiple awards. For example, the Battle Honours of The Royal Canadian Regiment are:

"Detroit, Niagara, Defence of Canada – 1812-1815, Saskatchewan, North West Canada 1885, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1900, Ypres, 1915, '17, Gravenstafel, St Julien, Festubert, 1915, Mount Sorrel, Somme, 1916, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette, Ancre Heights, Arras, 1917, '18, Vimy, 1917, Arleux, Scarpe, 1917, '18, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Drocourt-Queant, Hindenburg Line, Canal Du Nord, Cambrai 1918, Pursuit To Mons, France and Flanders, 1915-18, Landing In Sicily, Valguarnera, Agira, Adrano, Regalbuto, Sicily, 1943, Landing at Reggio, Motta Montecorvino, Campobasso, Torella, San Leonardo, The Gully, Ortona, Cassino II, Gustav Line, Liri Valley, Hitler Line, Gothic Line, Lamone Crossing, Misano Ridge, Rimini Line, San Martino - San Lorenzo, Pisciatello, Fosso Vecchio, Italy 1943-45, Apeldoorn, North-West Europe, 1945, Korea, 1951-1953"

This regimental list of Battle Honours includes:

  • 9 Theatre Honours
  • 33 Battles
  • 3 Included Actions
  • 1 Included Engagements
  • 8 Separate Actions
  • 6 Separate Engagements

The majority of the Actions and Engagements (both Separate and Included) come from the Regiment's Second World War Honours, a trend which reflects the more open battlefields of that war and the higher potential for limited engagements compared to the First World War.

Examples of the multi-year theatre Battle Honours shown are:

  • SOUTH AFRICA, 1899-1900; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1899 to 1900.
  • FRANCE AND FLANDERS, 1915-18; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1915 to 1918.
  • ITALY, 1943-45; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1943 to 1945.

Examples of multiple awards of Battle Honours with the same location name are:

  • YPRES. 1915, '17; for award of the two Battle Honours, YPRES, 1915, and YPRES, 1917.
  • ARRAS, 1917, '18; for award of the two Battle Honours, ARRAS, 1917, and ARRAS, 1918.
  • SCARPE, 1917, '18; for award of the two Battle Honours, SCARPE, 1917, and SCARPE, 1918.

When we consider that Battles, Actions, and Engagements are inclusive to the applicable Theatre Honours, and that a regiment may have received honours for both a Battle as well as included Actions and/or Engagements, we start to see that a list of regimental honours is not a simple chronology of places and dates for combat actions. Within that seemingly simplistic list, there is a layering of periods of combat, some with their own designations for honours and many without, that still need to be unraveled to fully understand the roles and contributions of that regiment and its soldiers.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2013 2:09 PM EST
Saturday, 2 March 2013

Wolseley Hall and The RCR Museum
Topic: The RCR Museum

Constructed between 1886 and 1888, Wolseley Hall in London, Ontario, is the first piece of military architecture contracted and completed by the Canadian Government to house a unit of the Permanent Force. Other elements of the growing Permanent Force had taken over quarters previously occupied by British garrisons.

Begun in 1886, after the Militia Department traded the downtown Victoria Park location for the Carling heights property on which the current base sits, the building was first occupied by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. Wolseley Hall has been in use by the Canadian Army since its construction, and some element of The Royal Canadian Regiment (which began as the Infantry School Corps) has always resided within its walls.

At present, the regimental occupants of Wolseley Hall are the Regiment's Reserve battalion, the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Remaining space within the building is occupied by the Reserve Armoured Reconnaissance unit, the 1st Hussars, and a variety of other Department of National Defence residents supported by the base.

Wolseley Hall, like so may older edifices, suffers from the fact that for many London residents, it has fallen into the unnoticed background for those who travel past it on Oxford Street. Similarly, The RCR Museum, arguably one of the best military museums in Canada has been missed by many of the Canadians who live in, or within easy reach of, London; perhaps too often postponed until "another time" for a future visit due to its proximity, a future visit that seldom happens.

While those who travel on Oxford Street may occasionally notice the building, and even the Museum's sign, it is that smaller group of travelers that pass on Elizabeth Street that see the remarkable architecture of the east face of the building, and the carriageway which leads to the parade square that the building encloses on three sides.

The carriage-way began as the principal entrance to Wolseley Barracks, overtaken by other base perimeter gates as the base expanded over the decades, and new roads were needed to accept vehicles that would no longer pass through the archway, or had need to stop at Wolseley Hall.

Most recently, the archway has been rebuilt and re-purposed. No longer an open passageway to the parade square where generations of soldiers from London and surrounding counties prepared to serve the nation in war and peace, it is now enclosed as the new main entrance to The RCR Museum. Reconstruction of the Museum has significantly increased gallery space, and expanded the bottom floor space, which used to be just that area to the north of the archway, to now include all of the lower floor of the eastern wing of Wolseley Hall.

If you are in London, or passing by, it is worthwhile to take the time to visit this Museum, now to see the extent of changes being wrought, and in future months as new gallery spaces are populated to show Canadian military history through the story of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Visit The RCR Museum on facebook.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 2 March 2013 9:55 AM EST
Friday, 1 March 2013

Corporal Harry Miner, VC, and The RCR
Topic: The RCR

During the First World War, Lieutenant Milton Fowler Gregg of The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions near Cambrai on 28 September 1918. Forty years later, in 1958, the Regimental Senate of The RCR formally declared that their Regiment would honour all perpetuations of the amalgamated Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and The Oxford Rifles. This final stage of amalgamation brought a second Victoria Cross into the regimental lineage of The RCR: Captain Frederick William Campbell of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion received the Victoria Cross for actions at Givenchy on 15 June 1915.

But what few know about is The RCR's connection to a third Canadian Victoria Cross recipient.

In addition to the perpetuation of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, The RCR also perpetuates five other battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. These are the 33rd, 71st, 142nd and 168th Canadian Infantry Battalions and the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. The 142nd Battalion was raised in London, Ontario. One of its recruits was a young farmer from Chatham, Ontario (born in Cedar Springs, ON), named Harry Garnet Bedford Miner.

Harry Miner started with the 142nd Battalion, but transferred to the 161st Battalion before going overseas. Recruited by the 142nd Battalion on 1 December, 1915, Miner was transferred to the 161st battalion on 22 March 1916. Once in France he joined the 58th Canadian Infantry Battalion and while serving in the field with that unit, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Miner also received the French Croix de Guerre. Harry Miner's Victoria Cross citation for his award was published in the London Gazette on 26 October 1918:

"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack, when despite severe wounds he refused to withdraw. He rushed an enemy machine-gun post single-handed, killed the entire crew and turned the gun on the enemy. Later, with two others, he attacked another enemy machine-gun post, and succeeded in putting the gun out of action. Cpl. Miner then rushed single-handed an enemy bombing post, bayoneting two of the garrison and putting the remainder to flight. He was mortally wounded in the performance of this gallant deed."

Sadly, Harry Miner did not survive the Great War, he Died of Wounds at No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station on 8 August 1918. The Circumstances of Death record held by Library and Archives Canada provides the following details:

"On the morning of August 8th, 1918, he went forward with his Company East of Amiens near Demuin. Soon after he encountered an enemy machine gun and as he was trying to capture it, he was severely wounded. He was taken to the nearest dressing station, from there evacuated to No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed."

Harry Garnet Bedford Miner is buried in Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-sur-Somme, in the Somme region of France.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 March 2013 3:25 PM EST
Thursday, 28 February 2013

Feeding the Troops, 1914
Topic: Army Rations

The Guide: A Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry); Compiled by Major-General Sir William D. Otter, K.C.B., C.V.O. (retired List) – Ninth Edition—Revised 1914

Rations, Fuel and Light

All ranks of a battalion on continuous or permanent service are entitled to free issue of rations, fuel and light, or equivalent.

The daily scale of rations for each individual is as named below, those of fuel and light are not given here, but are sufficient for the proper cooking of food, the warmth and lighting of the quarters that may be provided:

  • Bread … 1 lb.
  • Meat … 1 lb.
  • Potatoes … 1 lb.
  • Bacon … 2 oz.
  • Beans … 2 oz.
  • Jam … 2 oz.
  • Butter … 2 oz.
  • Cheese … 1 oz.
  • Split Peas … 1/2 oz.
  • Sugar … 2 oz.
  • Salt … 1/2 oz.
  • Tea … 1/4 oz.
  • Coffee … 1/3 oz.
  • Pepper … 1/36 oz.
  • Vegetables (fresh) in season … 6 oz.

The manual for Canadian Army Service Corps Training (1914) provided the following additional guidance to supplement this listing:

  • In camps of instruction and on active service one and one-quarter pounds of bread or one pound of biscuit is allowed, also the following equivalents:
    • In lieu of beans: Two ounces of oatmeal, flour or rice.
    • In lieu of jam: Two ounces of dried prunes
    • Two rations of teas or two rations of coffee in lieu of one ration of each.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Before Vimy, there was Paardeberg
Topic: Paardeberg

Before Vimy, there was Paardeberg

"Where is the Canadian who does not thrill with pride at the mention of Paardeberg? Where is the Canadian who does not know the whole story; who does not see plainly, in imagination, the whole picture in all its glorious tints, with background of loyalty and colouring of blood?"

"Every schoolboy knows the tale and longs for manhood; every school-girl, with blanching cheek but kindling eye, has heard how the raw, undisciplined sons of Canada led the way and forced the victory."

Thus reads the opening paragraphs of the chapter covering the battle of Paardeberg in Russell C. Hubley's small book "G" Company; Everyday Life of the R.C.R. (Witness printing House, 1902). And yet, the Battle of Paardeberg is almost unknown to Canadians outside those who still celebrate it annually.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge has often been described as a formative moment for young Canada, but the same sentiments and heightened nationalism was also felt after the victory of British forces over Boer General Piet Cronje, the first major victory of the South African War (the Boer War). What few realize is that Canadians, the first Canadian unit to fight on foreign shores, were in the forefront of that battle, and on its concluding day were in the leading charge to force the Boer surrender.

On the 27th of February, 1900, the following telegram from Sir Alfred Milner, Governor of Cape Colony, was read to the House of Commons by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier at the start of that day's session:

"Cape Town, Feb 27, 1900 – Cronje surrendered at daylight. Congratulate you on noble share taken by troops from your colony."

During the day, the following was also received and read, from correspondence from Mr Chamberlain to Lord Minto:

"Her Majesty the Queen desires you to express to people of Dominion her admiration of gallant conduct of her Canadian troops in late engagement and her sorrow at loss of so many brave men."

Paardeberg was recognized across the Empire as a Canadian feat of arms. The battalion raised by Canada for the South African War was the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR). A unit of over 1000 soldiers, but how was it raised from a Regiment that totaled no more than 400 at the time?

The 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment was raised from across Canada. From "A" Company in British Columbia and Manitoba to "H" Company raised in Nova Scotia. There were 1158 all ranks. Of 55 officers (including Nurses), only 8 were originally from The RCR. Of the 1103 non-commissioned officers and soldiers, 76 were originally of The RCR, and of those, 58 were Corporals and Privates.

The remainder? Over 90% of the unit were Militia soldiers and officers. These soldiers of the Militia came from 120 different original units and corps, including 82 different Militia infantry units. They also came from 6 cavalry, 15 artillery, 1 engineer and 2 medical units.

For actions in South Africa and the Battle of Paardeberg, The Royal Canadian Regiment would receive the theatre battle Honour "SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1900", and the Battle Honour "PAARDEBERG." In addition, twenty-six regiments of the Canadian Militia would be awarded the Battle Honour "SOUTH AFRICA" because of the size of their contribution to the Canadian contingents in South Africa.

Focus for a moment on those Canadian soldiers who served in South Africa. It is important to realize that the soldiers of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, were mostly soldiers of the Canadian Militia, and that they came from every province across our great nation. The pan-Canadian make-up of that unit is the same mix of Canadian origins that would be so well hailed after the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the next war.

Vimy Ridge was certainly an important milestone in Canadian history, as much for the act as for the evolving historiography surrounding it in the century since. But before Vimy, there was Paardeberg.

Every year, The Royal Canadian Regiment continues to celebrate the Canadian role in the victory at Paardeberg.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:28 PM EST
Tuesday, 26 February 2013

RCR Buttons - The Canadian Infantry School Corps
Topic: Militaria


 

Few badges produced for The Royal Canadian Regiment were marked by the manufacturing companies. In contrast, however, most of the buttons produced for the Regiment over the past 130 years are marked by their makers. This includes the first pattern of buttons made for the Canadian Infantry School Corps, which became The Royal Canadian Regiment.

E. Stillwell & Sons, London

Unlike some other early manufacturers of militaria, Stillwell & Sons is no longer active. But we can rely on the intelligence gathering efforts of both button collectors and genealogists to provide some background on this early contractor to the Regiment.

Diana's Buttons - British Button Backmarks

  • E. Stillwell & Sons, London, Little Britain & Barbican. (Circa 1900)

Stilwell Genealogy – Interesting Facts

  • Stillwell & Son, also known as Edward Stillwell & Son.
  • Edward Stillwell started business about 1825, and it became Stillwell & Son in about 1852. They ceased trading about 1957. An 1881 directory listed them as: "Edward Stillwell & Son, gold & silver lacemen & embroiderers, army & navy outfitters, cork helmet manufacturers & sword cutlers, Manchester & woollen warehousemen, & every description of Masonic clothing, jewels, furniture & fittings, tinsel, lace & trimmings, prize medal 1862 for good execution,25 & 26 Barbican, London EC; 6 Little Britain, London EC; & 29 Savile Row, Regent Street, London W."
  • Edward was born in Southwark and his widowed mother had enough money to apprentice him to a Daniel Atherley in 1802, a member of the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers' Company. He started his own business in St Giles (near the present Barbican in London) and was a successful businessman as he died in 1864 in Lewisham, London, a wealthy man. Items produced by this company include uniform buttons, regalia (particularly Masonic) and ceremonial weapons such as cavalry swords. Some of these - particularly the buttons - often come up for sale on eBay.

Badges of The Royal Canadian Regiment


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 18 March 2013 4:46 PM EDT
Monday, 25 February 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage and the XIth Olympiad
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

This advertisement, for the 1936 Olympic Games to be held at Berlin, Germany, can be found in the Handbook provided to veterans and family members attending the Vimy Pilgrimage. Twenty years after those veterans saw Germany in defeat at the end of the Great War, the Canadian Legion saw German advertising helping to subsidize their printing efforts in support of the Pilgrmage. Little did they realize that within the following decade, another generation of Canadian soldiers would be fighting their way back into Germany with a highly skeptical view of the "traditional hospitality of the land of Wanderlust and Gemütlichkeit."

  • Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.
  • Gemütlichkeit means a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 24 February 2013

"Bend the knee; Shoot the foot"
Topic: Drill and Training

With stereotypical military attention to detail, the 1951 Canadian Army Manual of Training for Drill for all arms details the two fundamental physical movements which will comprise much of a drill instructor's attention and verbal repertoire when teaching new recruits:

Squad Drill at the Halt — Without Arms

Throughout this manual two distinct movements of the foot are referred to constantly. These are:—

(a) "Bend the … knee" – used when the body has to remain still or come to rest; and

(b) "Sheet the … foot" – used to move the body forward from rest.

They are the basic movements of foot drill.

To bend the … knee — the leg that is on the ground is kept braced back with the foot firm and flat on the ground. The opposite knee is bent by raising it in front of the body so that the toe hangs directly below the knee and the foot is at a natural angle at least six inches from the ground. The leg is then straightened sharply so that when the foot reaches the ground the knee is braced back and the flat of the foot is firmly on the ground and in the required position.

To shoot the … foot forward — the opposite leg is braced back but allowed to flex at the ankle and toe while the detailed foot is shot forward with knee braced and ready to carry the weight of the body forward on to that foot.

In all movements of foot drill, the following must be avoided:—

  • Scraping the foot on the ground.
  • Rising on the toes and clicking the heels.
  • Hopping or leaving the ground with both feet at once.

It is important that these movements (and faults) are demonstrated at the start and impressed on all recruits so that movements taught later are correctly done.


Perhaps we can say that, in Army Physics, a body will remain in motion until a knee is bent, and a body will remain at rest until the foot is shot.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 23 February 2013

Advice to Officers and the Queen's Commission
Topic: Officers

"Good officers are made through the exercise of discipline upon themselves and those under them, courtesy, tact, and, above all, experience in the handling of men. This means hard work, but the respect of men, so necessary to a successful officer, cannot be gained by social charm and good birth credentials." - Customs of the Service (Advise to those newly commissioned) by A.H.S., 1939

Advice to Officers, offered in pithy one-liners or longer tomes, both tongue-in-cheek and serious in nature, has never been in short supply. Often, for the new officer, the challenge is sifting through the plethora of advice for those snippets of wisdom that actually apply to any given situation.

"Every officer is expected to obey certain unwritten laws. There are no regulations or written instructions to assist the newly commissioned officer in most of these matters." - Customs of the Service (Advise to those newly commissioned) by A.H.S., 1939

In addition to the many examples of written advice to officers, the expectations of behaviour and performance can remain a virtual minefield as the specific expectations of any superior may vary, slightly or widely, from that set forth in the guidance.

"To possess authority over one's fellow man is no mean thing. The Queen's commission can make an officer but it cannot make a Gentleman." - 1RCR Guide for Young Officers, March 1972

But one foundation document is always available to the newly commissioned officer, their Commissioning Scroll, which sets forth, in solemn tones, the importance of the responsibilities placed upon each Officer; The Queen's Commission.

THE QUEEN'S COMMISSION
(The following text is taken from a Scroll presented in 1983.)

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

To .................

HEREBY appointed an Officer in Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces With Seniority of the .... day of .............

WE reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and Integrity do by these Presents Constitute and Appoint you to be an Officer in our Canadian Armed Forces. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of .............. or in such other Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote or appoint you to, and you are in such manner and on such occasions as may be prescribed by Us to exercise and well discipline both the Inferior Officers and Men serving under you and use your best endeavour to keep them in good Order and Discipline. And We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their Superior Officer, and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us, or any your Superior Officer according to Law, in pursuance of the Trust hereby Reposed in you.

IN WITNESS Whereof our Governor General of Canada hath hereunto set his hand and Seal at Our Government House in the City of Ottawa this .... day of .......... in the Year of our Lord One THousand Nine Hundred and ................... and in the .... Year of Our Reign.

By Command of His Excellency the Governor General

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 22 February 2013

A Regimental Table Lighter
Topic: The RCR

Twenty years ago, the Canadian Army, following Government direction, stopped smoking indoors. It may seem strange to many today who are too young to remember those days, but smoking was such an ingrained part of Canadian culture at the time that every office, every barrack room and every table in the messes featured an ashtray. Even for those who didn't smoke, the ready access to an ashtray needed to be provided for the many who did and expected the courtesy. Few items were more iconic than the ubiquitous round ashtrays in brown glass that were provided through the Canadian Forces Supply System, often seen overflowing with butts on the desks of heavy smokers.

The prevalence of smokers offered an easy target for regimental coffers through the production of regimental lighters, and no lighter brand was more common than Zippo before the disposable Bic lighter overtook that market. Many regiments found places among Kit Shop stocks for lighters (as many still do) but it was the smoking culture of the 1950s and 1960s that saw the placement of a table lighter on a desk or side table as a courtesy to visitors in one's office or home.

The photo below shows a Canadian Army dining hall table in the 1980s. Note the ashtrays along the table and the cigarete held by the man on the right.

The Ubiquitous Brown Glass Ashtray


 

 


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2013 2:05 PM EST

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