The Minute Book
Saturday, 8 June 2013

Thomas McKenzie - My Life as a Soldier
Topic: The RCR

Many members of The Royal Canadian Regiment can name Thomas McKenzie as the Regiment's first recruit in 1884. Those first enlistments taking place in the new year after the Regiment was authorized as the Infantry School Corps on 21 Dec 1883. But few can relate many details of Thomas McKenzie's military career.

An ex-British Army regular, with campaign experience in the Indian Mutiny and the Fenian Raids, McKenzie had been serving continuously in uniform since joining as a boy drummer in 1841 at the age of eleven. Late in his career, at age 53, McKenzie would join the new Canadian Permanent Force.

The following is excerpted from the chapter of his autobiography which describes his service with The Permanent Force: My Life as a Soldier (J&A McMillan, 1898), which is available on the Internet Archive for reading in a variety of formats.


In 1883 the government established infantry military schools, three in number, to be formed by January, 1884.

I was the man first enlisted on 7th January, 1884, in the military school permanent corps at Fredericton, and remained that in capacity until 22nd July, 1895, the eleven years and six months, when I was discharged from the corps, or rather transferred to Sussex to take charge of the government camp ground I imagine that the reason I was sent to Sussex was in consideration of long and continuous service in the militia since 1862.

I will give a brief statement regarding this school corps. Previous to the opening, and while I was at Pictou, N. S., I, epecting the Adjutancy of the school, had lectured to the men in camp, and explained fully to them all about the school; or, in other well as words, the duties of the men who would join, as well as the pay, etc., they would receive. Consequently, shortly after the 7th January, several men joined; and in a few months nearly the one hundred men required had enlisted, and the work of drilling, etc., had commenced. We had among them a few others who formerly belonged to Her Majesty's service, who gave very good assistance in teaching the men their barrack-room work. From among these present only two, Color-Sergeant W. A. Daniel and Sergeant J. Wilson, canteen steward, who joined during first month, a few days after the school was formed. There are also among those who joined with me on 7th January, Hospital-Sergeant R. Cochran and Private W. Leek. Others joined at the end of January, one of whom is A.J. Fowlie, who succeeded me in July, 1895, as sergeant-major of the school. This position he is well qualified to fill, and I believe gives full satisfaction to all concerned.

"The RCR March" was composed by Band Corporal George Offen in the period 1905 to 1907.

I may also here mention the sergeants and corporals who were in the school when I left in July, 1895, viz.: Sergeant-Bugler G. Offen, who teaches the band in the corps, whose father was formerly band-sergeant in Her Majesty's 22ud Regiment, and Corporal J. M. Torrance, who teaches the buglers attending the school from other corps. The other non-cornrnissioned officers are Sergeants Nauffts, Bingham, Sheldon, and Paschke, and Corporals Shaw, Hagans, Ross, and Bayers. These perform their various duties satisfactorily, and hold qualifying certificates from the commandant.

Orderly room clerk, Sergeant G. Moore, was lately appointed district clerk, which position he is well quali- and performs his duty very satisfactorily. The present orderly room clerk, Sergeant T. Burke, who came from the military school London, Ontario, is the right man in the right place, for he has his duties at his finger ends. The master tailor, Sergeant George Harris, in an excellent workman. He imports from England all materials, cloth, gold lace, and other trimmings required, from which he supplies and makes the uniforms for officers and non-commissioned officers requiring the same, not only in the Fredericton military school, but to others of the militia corps in different parts of the Dominion.

As I had seen many crimes committed in the service through drink, I shortly after the school was formed organized a temperance club in the corps, and had over eighty to join it in less than three months; which the commandant, Colonel Maunsell, considered a good scheme for the prevention of crime. This club was kept up in the corps for a few years. Then we formed ourselves into a division of the Sons of Temperance, under the Grand Division of New Brunswick, with Major Gordon as our worthy patriarch, and myself as deputy grand worthy patriarch and treasurer of the division. The citizens of Fredericton considered a temperance division among our Canadian soldiers a great benefit. Of course, as the Queen's Regulations allow a canteen for the corps, there were some who violated their pledge but on the whole; men saved in more ways than one by it, and the good character of the corps maintained. While at camps of instruction with other corps of the district, or in barracks, and when at camps, our men were an example for the other corps to follow, in carrying out discipline and obeying orders as soldiers.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 8 June 2013 12:42 AM EDT
Friday, 7 June 2013

Lynx reconnaissance vehicle
Topic: Cold War

The Lynx reconnaissance vehicle was a US-built tracked armoured fighting vehicle employed by the armed forces of the Netherlands and Canada. Offically designated as the M113½ Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle (M113 C&R), the Lynx in Canadian service replaced the Ferret Scout car and is not to be confused with the Ford Lynx Scout Car which was modelled after the Austalian Dingo.

Derived from the M113 armoured personnel carrier, the M113½ LYNX, with its cut down hull, rear-positioned engine and lighter weight, was a speedy and highly manoeuverable recce varuiant of its big brother. The high degree of parts compatibility with the M113 also meant that the logistic burden to maintain the vehicles did not require a fully separate set of spares.

The Canadianized variant of the M113½ placed the observer behind the driver and located the Commander's staion to the right of the center line. The vehicle was armed with a medium machine gun for the observeer and a pintle mounted .50-cal machine gun for the crew commander.

Canada purchased 174 of these vehicles starting in 1968 for the Regular Force. They were issued to the Recce Squadrons of the Army's armoured regiments and to the infantry battalion Recce Platoons. The Lynx was withdrawn from Canadian service in 1993, replaced by the Coyote recce vehicle.

A few dozen Lynx remain as gate guards, and another half dozen running examples are known. A listing of these can be found on Wikipedia.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 6 June 2013

Vilify Not the Collector
Topic: Medals

Recently I displayed part of my own collection of medals in public. One observer felt it appropriate to state how dismayed he was to see dealers at the event profiting from the buying and selling of medals. But at the same time, my type of collection was "all right" because I researched the soldiers and displayed their stories along with the medals. So, which is it? Is it okay to collect, research and display medals, but not to buy and sell them? How, exactly, does one accomplish the former without engaging in the latter?

As a dedicated collector to a very narrow theme (medals to soldiers of a single regiment with a main focus on one war), I simply don't have time to be available in multiple places in case a family member brings a medal in for sale, or to watch dozens of militaria shows and auctions, or to advertise my specific desires in hopes that I can find matching first order sellers. Instead, I must rely upon, and I welcome the participation of, dealers who do all of those things. They deal in medals with a generalist intent, resorting the items they gather and enabling me to pick and choose the single items that match my theme, as they similarly provide for the collecting desires of hundreds or thousands of other theme based collectors. Without the great support of dealers, some of who become friends and will contact specific collectors directly when they receive something they know fits a unique collection, I, for one, could never have amassed the modest collection I have and display. The dealers, those so-called "profiteers," are an essential part of this collective endeavour called medal collecting that leads to the preservation and research of individual medals by collectors.

There always seems to be someone ready to denigrate the collector of military medals. "Profiting off their honour," they'll say, or "dishonouring the heroes." Sometimes, it's snide remarks inferring that the medals held by collectors must have been received via nefarious means, either stolen from families or swindled from poor widows. Collectors have even been called the "scum of the earth" by a Canadian Member of Parliament. With no open debate to counter his one-sided views, he even extended this opinion to the repetitive introduction of a Private Member's Bill to outlaw the sale of medals entirely. All of this is blatantly wrong in fact and tone; but held with such conviction that it openly displays the speaker's ignorance and offers little opportunity for rational debate. Once a critic has linked medal collecting to some sort of "sinful" profiteering, it is apparently a small leap to accuse any collector of somehow dishonouring the memory of those recipient soldiers, sailors, and airmen. This too, is one of those arguments they can never quite develop into a rational and complete argument when asked to do so. How exactly, they might be asked, does a collector spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to acquire, preserve and research the recipient of a medal group constitute dishonouring that recipient? The collector will often spend further time and money to remount the group for display, acquire research material and bring together the recipient's story (often for the first time), and go out of their way to find opportunities to share their work with others. That research is time and money spent that cannot be recovered and does not increase the value of the group. Significantly, it is work done at a level by very few Museums or other institutions which acquire medals, and exceedingly rarely done by institutions for "common soldiers."

"No family would ever give up such valuable treasures, surely they've been stolen before being sold into the market." Have medals ever been stolen and sold to unknowing dealers or collectors? Most certainly. Have collectors ever discovered stolen items in their collection and had to give them up as evidence without recompense? Yes, that has happened too. Does this mean that any significant portion of the medals in collectors hands were stolen. Certainly not! Watching medal sales on ebay will occasionally reveal an auction where that seller admits that the medals they are selling were their father's or grandfather's, in which they have no interest.

Just because someone treasures their own grandfather's medals and would never give them up is no grounds to assume that anyone else will, or that everyone else should, hold their own ancestors' medals in the same regard. Any number of things might motivate an heir to sell medals, whether that be a simple preference for the monetary return, disinterest in what they stand for, feeling no personal connection to the relative that had received them, etc. The medals might only be one more thing handed to the auctioneer when Aunt Mabel's apartment is cleared out after her death. If someone has no personal interest in the medals, they are unlikely to expend any time or effort to send them to an appropriate museum. And if there are bills to pay for a funeral, a thousand-dollar medal group may be one of the few artifacts in Aunt Mabel's apartment that will help cover that cost. Alternatively, if the sale of medals were banned, and an auctioneer stated they were unsellable, how many would then land in a dumpster with the rest of the rejected items as that heir worked with only the desire to be rid of everything in mind. In any case, there's no collector standing there ushering those medals into an auctioneer's or a dealer's hands. That decision nearly always starts with the last family member to hold them.

"Ban the sale of medals!" is an occasionally heard rally cry, one sometimes taken up by politicians seeking favour with constituents who might support such a measure. But this argument also is seldom fully developed; emotional cries for change seldom are. Should medals cease to be personal property, returned to the Crown on the death of the recipient? Would that not also prevent them passing to direct descendants? Or should families be required to register and retain them, releasing them only back to the Government to be held in an approved repository like a museum? How would we track such things, with a medal registry? What would we do with current collectors, seize their collections or grandfather them without allowance to resell ever?

Consider the likely outcomes of such a restriction. What would happen if we only allowed medals to be passed to museums? Consider the Canadian War Museum. That institution probably has thousands of medal groups in its holdings, but a tour of the Museum's galleries shows that mere dozens are on display, and almost every set is of a significant valour award recipient or has other notable historical connections within the particular gallery where it resides. So, if your grandfather won the Victoria Cross, your grandchildren might be able to visit the Museum that receives it and see his medals. If, on the other hand, he was awarded the standard First World War pair of medals for service in the Canadian Forestry Corps, rest assured they will be cataloged and placed carefully in a drawer along with many other pairs just like his. And it is unlikely they will ever see the light of day again, or have anyone dedicate hours or days to researching his story.

So,where does this leave us? Currently, it leaves us all depending upon the collecting community to value, preserve and research the bulk of surviving medals which are no longer in family hands. Medals to soldiers of the 25th Canadian Infantry Battalion will often find themselves in the hands of a collector who concentrates on that unit, perhaps because it was his own grandfather's unit. Is he not family, to all the soldiers of that unit? Does he not have a keen awareness of exactly what those medals stand for? Certainly he does, and much more so than the descendant of the recipient who found no personal desire to retain them.

While some collectors may hoard and keep secret their collections and the research they have gathered, often it is because they have found that tactic protects them from the very accusations identified above. But in this increasingly connected world, more collectors are speaking out and sharing the knowledge they have about individual recipients, about the units and battles they have researched, and about the techniques they use both to find information and to preserve and display their collections. Collectors build and share knowledge, among themselves, with inquirers about the soldiers and units they research, and with the public, increasingly through on-line forums and personal websites. Counter-intuitively to their detractors, and unlike some holders of family medals who have Grandfather's group proudly framed on the dining room wall (if not still hidden in the attic) and know no more than the shared stock of family stories, collectors add value through their own sense of community.

Vilify not the collector, for one of them might be preserving those family medals you are seeking, and which might no longer exist if collectors did not value these medals when heirs within the recipients' families did not.

As we approach the centenary of the First World War, we can expect a sudden increase in interest in ancestors who served, their medals and their stories. For those who plan to research an ancestor who served in the Great War, odds are that at some point you will be corresponding with a collector, or reading a book written by one.

Scum of the earth? Not exactly, Mr Stoffer, but given the origin of that phrase, perhaps we should take it as a compliment, for the men it orginally applied to were also vilified by public and politicians, up to the moment when their actions were recognized as achieving the greatest feats a nation could ask of them. But we collectors, Mr Stoffer, are not scum, and you sir, are no Arthur Wellesley.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 5:11 PM EST
Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Officers, Plain Clothes, and Saluting
Topic: Humour

Following the First World War, many tried their hands at literary pursuits, from the well-known war poets to others who wrote the stories of their service. Following these better known examples, there were also some who tried to fill in every imaginable niche, penning works of interest for those with a lingering interest in understanding the late war and its soldiers. One of these was John Hay, with his volume "Humour in the Army" (pub. by Hazell, Warson & Viney, Ltd., 1931).

From "Humour in the Army" we get this advice on identifying officers out of uniform in order to salute them:

The order that a soldier should salute all officers whom he knows to be such, whether in uniform or plain clothes, is one that gives a good deal of trouble to the ordinary soldier. Unfortunately, unless he has a good memory for faces, he is very liable to omit to salute Captain Ironbrace, who has come out in a dirty flannel suit, while on the other hand he may give a seven-horsepower salute to a smartly dressed individual who turns out to be the colonel's batman on leave or the assistant in the regimental barber's shop.

For those who suffer from this difficulty in recognizing people there are a few well-established rules for their guidance:

(1)     If you see a monocle in barracks it usually has an officer behind it. Salute.

(2)     If the individual approaching you has an "I can do no wrong" air, that's either a junior officer or a sergeant major. In both cases be on the right side and salute.

(3)     If you see anything habited in freak clothes, that's usually an officer, Salute.

(4)     If, in a gentlemen's outfitter's shop, you you see a very young gentlemen buying crimson braces, magenta socks, and pink shirts, that's probably a young officer. Salute.

(5)     If you meet an elderly gentleman who prefaces everything with "Eh, what?" that's probably a senor officer. Salute.

(6)     If you discover an individual ramming his unpaid bills into the fire, that's sure to be an officer. Salute.

(7)     If you meet a militant-looking young gentleman who speaks of "damned civilians," that's probably a newly commissioned Territorial officer. Salute twice.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 June 2013 10:15 AM EDT
Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Trench Warfare; Bombs and Grenades
Topic: CEF

Excerpted from "Trench Warfare; A Manual for Officers and Men," by J.S. Smith, Second Lieutenant with the British Expeditionary Force, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917.

Keeping His Hand In; Private Smith, the company bomber, formerly

Keeping His Hand In; Private Smith, the company bomber, formerly "Shinio," the popular juggler, frequently causes considerable anxiety in the platoon. A cartoon by Capt Bruce Bairnsfather, from Fragments From France, published by The Bystander.
(Click for full image.)


There are three kinds of bombs: (1) percussion; (2) ignition; and (3) mechanical. It is not possible to describe every bomb in use under these three headings, but the most typical are selected for description, although it does not follow that they are all in use at the present time, but will give a fairly good idea of what is required.


  1. Hand Grenade No. 1.
  2. Hand Grenade No. 2, formerly known as Mexican Hand Grenade.
  3. Rifle grenade No. 3, formerly known as Hale's Rifle Grenade.
Hand Grenade No. 1

Hand Grenade No. 1
(Click for larger image.)

Hand Grenade No. 1 consists of a brass case screwed on to a block of wood, to which is fixed a small cane handle about half way up the case. Outside it is a cast iron ring serrated into 16 parts. The upper end is covered by a moveable cap with a striker pin in the center. On the cap are the words "Remove," "Travel," and "Fire" in duplicate. These are marked in red and can be made to correspond with red pointers painted on case. To prepare a bomb, turn cap so that pointer is at "Remove," take off cap, insert detonator in hole and turn it to the left until the spring on the flange is released and goes into position under the pin; replace cap and turn to "Travel," which is a safety position. When the bomb is to be thrown, turn cap to "Fire" and then remove safety pin. This bomb explodes on impact, and to insure its falling on the head, streamers are attached. Care should be taken that streamers do not get entangled. The bomb must be thrown well into the air.

Hand Grenade No. 2 is similar to the above, except that a special detonator is screwed in from the head, and that the striker pin, in this case, is at the bottom. The detonator having been inserted in the bomb is ready for throwing a soon as the safety pin has been drawn.

Rifle Grenade No. 3, more commonly known as Bale's Rifle Grenade, consists of a serrated steel case filled with T.N.T. and a composite explosive. At the bottom of the case is a brass ring fitted with wind vanes, which keeps in place two small steel retaining plugs, securing the striker. In order to prepare this grenade for firing, the steel rod. attached must be put down the bore of the rifle. The safety pin is then withdrawn, the collar pulled down and the wind vane given a slight turn. The rifle is then loaded with a special cartridge containing 43 strands of cordite. When charging the rifle the bolt must be well pushed home. When the rifle is fired, the explosion of the cartridge speeds the grenade on its way and the air passing through wind vanes causes the ring mentioned above to unscrew, and the two retaining plugs to fall out. The striker is now free, and when the grenade reaches its destination and comes in contact with the ground the shock compresses the creep spring and the needle of the striker is forced into the detonator, exploding the grenade.

Special screw-in detonators are supplied with this grenade, as well as in Grenade No. 2, and care should be taken not to mix the two detonators, as the Rifle Grenade Detonator is slightly longer, and if fixed in the wrong greBnade will cause premature explosion and much sadness. These grenades have an accurate range of from 250 to 350 yards.


The following bombs come under this heading:

  • Hand Grenade No. 6. Grenade light friction pattern.
  • Hand Grenade No. 7 Grenade heavy friction pattern.
  • Hand Grenade No. 8 Formerly known as double-cylinder light pattern.
  • Hand Grenade No. 9. Formerly known as double-cylinder heavy pattern.
  • Battye Hand Grenade.
  • Pitcher Hand Grenade.
  • Oval Hand Grenade.
  • Ball Hand Grenade.
Hand Grenade No. 7

Hand Grenade No. 7
(Click for larger image.)

Hand Grenades Nos. 6 and 7 consist of metal cases filled with T.N.T. and a composite explosive and are exactly alike, except that No. 7 contains shrapnel bullets or scrap iron, while No. 6 contains only explosive. At the top of each case is a place to fix the friction igniter, which is supplied separately. When these bombs are to be used, detonator fuse and igniter are put in and firmly fixed. Before throwing the becket on, head of igniter should be pulled smartly off.

Hand Grenades Nos. 8 and 9 are similar to the above, except that the fuse is lighted by a Nobel Patent Lighter. The Battye Grenade consists of a grooved cast iron cylinder filled with explosive. The top is closed by a wooden plug pierced centrally for insertion of detonator and fire.

The Pitcher Hand Grenade is very similar to the Battye, only different in that it is slightly heavier and having a different patent lighter. This lighter is somewhat complicated and special instructions should be given before the grenade is used.

The Nobel lighter consists of two cardboard tubes, one fitting over the other. Inside the top end of the outer tube there is a layer of friction composition; fixed to the top end of the inner tube is a forked brass friction head, which is held in position by a safety pin fastened through both tubes. Inside the other end of the inner tube is a small copper band, into which the fuse is fitted. At the joint of the two tubes there is a narrow tape band with a loose end. To light the fuse, pull off tape and safety pin, then press down outer tube and turn slightly. This lighter has a five-second fuse attached.

The Oval Hand Grenade is an egg-shaped cast iron receptacle filled with ammonal. One egg has a steel plug and the other a flanged brass plug bored centrally, to which a hollow copper tube is fixed to take the detonator. This grenade is set off by a Brock fuse and lighter.

Ball Hand Grenade

Ball Hand Grenade
(Click for larger image.)

The Ball Hand Grenade consists of a cast iron sphere, 3 inches in diameter, filled with ammonal and closed by a screwed steel plug which has attached to it a covered tube to take detonator in the center of grenade. It is also lighted by a Brock lighter.

JAM-POT BOMBS. In the early stages of the war it was found necessary to make bombs on the spot. The material used was generally a jam tin filled with shrapnel bullets, scrap iron, powdered glass and grass, etc. This was exploded by 2 one-ounce primers, two ounces gelignite, blastene or ammonal, and detonated by a No. 6 or 7 detonator, to which was attached a five-second fuse. The time could be regulated by length of fuse.

The Brock lighter consists of a match-head and fuse combined. The head consists of a small cardboard cup filled with friction composition and covered with waterproof paper. With this type of lighter an armlet covered with match composition is worn by the bomber on the left forearm. To ignite fuse, first pull off waterproof paper and then strike head against armlet. Time of fuse 5 seconds.


Hand Grenade No. 5

Hand Grenade No. 5
(Mills Bomb)

(Click for larger image.)

Hand Grenade No. 5, known as Mills' Hand Grenade. Mills' Hand Grenade No. 5 weighs about one and one-half pounds and is in constant and steady use at the front, being the best known of all grenades. It consists of an oval cast iron case, containing explosives and serrated to provide numerous missiles on detonation. In the center is a spring striking pin, kept back by a lever or handle, which, in its turn, is held in position by a safety pin.

Detonators and percussion caps connected by a short length of fuse are supplied with these bombs. When the bomb is to be used the bottom is unscrewed and the combined detonator and percussion cap is inserted in the space provided for it, the percussion cap being placed in the boring under the striking pin. When this is done the bottom is screwed on again as tightly as possible, using the special spanner provided for this in each box. Before throwing, the safety pin is removed and the bomb held with the lever in the palm of the hand. When the bomb is actually thrown the lever or handle is released; this releases the spring, which forces striker down on to the percussion cap, ignites fuse, sets off detonator and explodes bomb.

See also the Great War Forum, thread with images: Mills Bomb

Joseph Shuter Smith

Joseph Shuter Smith was an American author born in Philadelphia in 1893. He spent his childhood in Alaska during the Gold Rush and spent his years before the Great War as a lumberjack, miner, surveyor and cowboy. In 1914, continuing his adventurous streak, he went to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, declaring his birthplace to be Port Hope, Ontario (with next of kin in Oakland, California). Smith enlisted with the 29th Canadian Infantry Battalion at Vancouver. He served in France and Belgium as a soldier in the CEF and, after being commissioned in August, 1916, as an officer of the British Army with The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). He resigned his Imperial commission after a year to return to the US and enlist in the American Army. Joseph Smith also wrote the memoir: Over There and Back in Three Uniforms; Being the Experiences of an American Boy in the Canadian, British and American Armies at the Front and through No Man's Land.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 3 June 2013

The Infantry Section
Topic: Drill and Training

During the First World War, infantry tactics evolved from a system of riflemen in line advancing towards an enemy (doctrinally, in short rushes by company or platoon), ultimately to meet him with a bayonet charge, to a system of fire and manoeuvre and far fewer bayonets in the final moments of assault. As it is well recognized, the former system died hard in the face of well sited machine guns that were ideal for the defensive advantages of trench warfare. Those who continue to portray the war in the overly simplistic terms of "lions led by donkeys" and endless repetition of failing tactics, as easily deny the complex and continuous evolution of infantry weapons and tactics throughout the War.

In the latter system of attack, supporting fire from light machine guns suppressed enemy locations while riflemen and bombers moved to within assaulting distance without unnecessary exposure to the defenders' fire. As the techniques and technology evolved, this saw platoons armed with the Lewis Gun, a "light" machine gun, supported by ammunition carriers. The Lewis Gun sections supported the advance of riflemen and bombers who defeated the assigned enemy trench or bunkers in detail. The assignment of so many men to firing and supporting the platoon's machine guns, and the allocation of bombers, combined with the more fluid system of movement, severely undermined the ability to execute, or likelihood, of concerted bayonet charges in the later years of the war.

Infantry tactics at the end of the First World War established the basis of the way our modern infantry platoons and sections fight; combining fire and manoeuvre to suppress, approach and destroy an enemy. Peace time constraints led to smaller battalions and, therefore, smaller platoon. The Lewis Gun was replaced by the Bren Gun, then the FN C2, and now by the C9 Light Machine Gun (LMG).

Within the Canadian rifle platoon, the use of Lewis Gun sections supporting rifle and bomber sections evolved to a pair of FN C2 LMGs in each rifle section supporting an assault group of riflemen. The principle of distinct integral support and manoeuvre elements remained. Until the late 1980s. In the 1980s, the Canadian Army traded it's FN C1 service rifle and FN C2 LMG for the C7 (a design evolved from the American M16) and the C-9 LMG (a Canadian variant of the FN MINIMI light machine gun). At the same time a new section organization was adopted and a new tactical system evolved that removed both the distinct support and assault organization as well as the training methodologies that accompanied them. The advantages to this wholesale exchange of both weapons and doctrine was debatable.

In examining the evolution of the section attack in Canadian doctrine and training, I completed the following papers:

In 2009, I was approached by the Canadian Army Directorate of Land Requirements to again examine the infantry section. The original question posed was to develop the most effective section organization for projected new vehicles, the program for which was advancing toward a selection stage. A deceptively simple question, the project evolved from attempting a singular determination to a somewhat broader examination of the principles which should be taken into account to design an infantry section based on doctrine, tactics, weapons, and command and control considerations. The result, wwith introductory and concluding material prepared by Major Vic Sattler, and reviewed and amended by DLR staff, was published in the Canadian Army Journal, Volume 13, Issue number 3 (Autumn 2010). Despite the issue date, this volume of the CAJ was not finally published and distributed until the first months of 2012.

Organizing Modern Infantry: An Analysis of Section Fighting Power (pdf)
By: Major V. Sattler, CD, and Captain M. O'Leary, CD

The capturing of evolving doctrine and equipments in a digestible format is always a challenge. Throughout the past two decades, the Royal Canadian School of Infantry has begun a number of projects to update the Army's tactical manual for the Infantry Section and Platoon. A draft compiled by the latest project team was available for review by all infantry units in 2012 for which I was able to contribute remarks. As of this writing, I have head of no projected date of issue for the updated manual.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 24 May 2014 7:14 PM EDT
Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Edmundston Lancaster
Topic: RCAF

Tucked behind a thin wood-line that almost hides it from the Trans-Canada Highway is a Canadian aviation treasure that few are aware of, or take the time to visit. One of the last surviving Lancaster bombers of the Second World War, in its last configuration as Royal Canadian Air Force photo reconnaissance aircraft, sits outside the Edmundston Airport in northern New Brunswick.View Google map.

The plaque erected at the site states:

AVRO Lancaster KB 882 Type 10 A.R.

Flew with RAF Bomber Command No. 6 Group, 428 Squadron, a Canadian formation on World War II. This aircraft flew eleven successful missions over enemy territory.

Kept in storage from 1945 until 1952, it was then used as a photo reconnaissance aircraft with the 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe, Ontario, until 1964. The KB 882 was flown to Edmundston on July 14, 1964, where it remains one of only three aircraft of this type in existence.

This monument was erected in September 1985 by 251 Madawaska Wing RCAFA in recognition for services rendered by the RCAF and its airmen during the two world wars.

From the Wikipedia article on surviving Lancasters, comes the following information:

Lancaster Mk 10P KB882 was built by Victory Aircraft in 1945 and delivered to Britain, the aircraft joined No. 428 Squadron RCAF in March of that year. Flown on six operational sorties over Germany, the aircraft was returned to Canada in June 1945 and entered storage. In 1952, the aircraft was modified to Mk 10P configuration and flew with No. 408 Squadron RCAF. In 1964, the aircraft was purchased by the City of Edmundston, New Brunswick and has since been on outside display at the Municipal Airport.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 17 June 2013 2:55 PM EDT
Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Dozen Military Epigrams (1901)
Topic: Officers

A Dozen Military Epigrams (1901)

"By the Editor"
Published in the United Service magazine, Vol. XXIII [New Series], April 1901 to September 1901, 1901 (Reprinted from the Army and nacy gazette of April 13th, 1901).

1.    Strategy is the science of handling troops in the theatre of war so that they shall as often as possible be where the enemy least desires or expects them.

2.     Tactics is the art of handling troops on the battlefield so that they shall incur the minimum loss compatible with inflicting the maximum upon their opponents.

3.    Strategic mobility is the product of organization and endurance.

4.    Tactical mobility is the product of "battle-drill" and personal courage. For its results it depends upon the general proficiency of units and the skill or instinct of individuals.

5.    The Art of war is the application of common sense to the "use of ground;" upon the principle that ground enables us to conceal our weakness and to use our strength.

6.     Fitness for command is displayed by those who having military brains of their own know also how to utilize those of others.

7.     Councils of war are usually the offspring of incompetence and heralds of disaster.

8.     A "Strong-man" is one whom anyone can convince but whom nobody can persuader. Councils of war may sometimes assist such men; but to the obstinate they are useless and to the weak dangerous.

9.     The Right thing to do is the most efficient compromise between the ideal and the practicable.

10.     Consistency is better than brilliancy—an inferior plan well executed is preferable to a good one hindered by vacillation.

11.     Good fortune is better than brains. The possession of both is rare, but where it is found the combination is invincible—while it lasts.

12.     Greatness, in the eyes of contemporaries, is measured by success. Posterity sometimes pays due homage to merit.

Hannibal was ruined at Zama, Napoleon at Waterloo, yet posterity almost forgets the victors in its admiration for the greater careers of the vanquished. perhaps at the "Warrior's Club" in Elysium, Hannibal and Napoleon stand on the hearth-rug, whilst Scipio, Wellington and Blucher listen reverently to expositions on the art of war! So, also a number of our generals may some day sit at the feet of De Wet.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:22 AM EDT
Friday, 31 May 2013

Officers' Dress, First World War
Topic: CEF

The following kit list was written by Captain Harry T. Cock, The Royal Canadian Regiment, while serving as Officer Commanding "A" Company, 17th Reserve Battalion. From a typewritten version found in an album in the collection of The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum.

While soldiers enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force were issued uniforms, officers were expected to provide their own uniforms and equipment.

Officers Dress

Usual Kit Required:—

  • 1 Cap
  • 2 Jackets
  • 1 pr. breaches
  • 1 pr. trousers
  • 3 Suits Underwear
  • 3 Shirts
  • 6 Handkerchiefs
  • 6 Socks
  • 2 pr. boots
  • 2 pr. puttees
  • 2 Ties
  • 1 British Warm
  • 1 Trench Coat
  • 1 pr. gloves
  • 1 Regimental Cane
  • 1 pr gum or Field boots
  • 1 Wolseley or other valise
  • 1 Kapok or other Sleeping bag or blanket
  • Canvas bucket
  • Canvas bath

Orders for Dress:—


  • Silver and gilt Cap badge
  • Bronze collar badges
  • Bright shoulder badges

Badges of rank worn on sleeve


  • Sam Browne belt, two braces
  • All carried hooked or looped on belt of Sam Browne:—
    • Revolver (Webley recommended) carried on left side.
    • Field glasses on right side.
    • Compass.
    • Flashlight (Steward's pattern).
    • Water bottle in detachable cover and carrier on right side.
  • Haversack carried on left side
  • Pack, if carried, on support straps.
  • Great coat or Waterproof carried shoulders snapped on the "D" on the braces of the Sam Browne belt.

Web equipment is not worn.

Places recommended for purchase:—

  • Caps: Hawkes & Co., 1 Savile Row.
  • Jackets: Thompson & Sons, 14 Dover Street.
  • Breeches: Hammond & Co. or Tautz of Oxford St.
  • Swagger Stick: Brigg, St James St.
  • Badges: Hawkes & Co., 1 Savile Row.
  • Great coat: Hawkes & Co., 1 Savile Row.
  • Leggings: Mazwell, Dover St.
  • Camp Kit, etc.: Army and Navy Stores Ltd., Victoria St. Westminster.
  • Visiting Cards, Regimental Stationery, etc.: Army and Navy Stores Ltd., Victoria St. Westminster.

H.T. Cock, Capt
The R.C.R.
OC "C" Coy, 17th Res Bn.

It should be noted that although officers in the front lines in France were dressing to appear indistinguishable from soldiers at a distance (through a German sniper's rifle for example), in the Reserve Battalions in Britain the clear distinction in dress was maintained.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 30 May 2013

Officers' Mess Fines, circa 1810s
Topic: Officers

From: The journal of The Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. XII, No. 45, Spring, 1933

Army Manners and Customs (vol. xi. 170.) In the Officers' Mess of the East Norfolk Militia, a "Bet and Presentation Book" was kept. Extracts from it, commencing on 1 April 1810, when the regiment was in quarters at Sheerness, and covering a period of ten years are given.

Images taken from a set of silk cigarette cards of Canadian Militia uniforms (early 20th century).

Images taken from a set of silk cigarette cards of Canadian Militia uniforms (early 20th century).

The following are long established Fines at the Mess and are to be strictly enforced.

  1. Having a Drawn Sword in the Mess.
  2. Speaking three words of Latin.
  3. Throwing [? anything] across the table.
  4. Taking the Newspaper or Books belonging to the Regiment out of the Mess.
  5. Tearing or other wise defacing the Mess Books or Newspapers.
  6. Indecent conversations at dinner during the time servants are in the room.

[Fines were always paid in one or more bottles of wine. Various offences, for which fines were inflicted and paid, are here set forth, the fine always being ONE bottle of wine, except when otherwise specified.]

  • Half a dozen of wine for having lent many numbers of Cobbett's Register without the permission of the Mess.
  • For pulling his coat off in the Mess Room.
  • For drinking wine and water at dinner, when strangers were in the Mess.
  • For reading without leave of the President.
  • Half a dozen of wine for putting the President and members of a Regimental Court Martial in close confinement by locking the door of the court wherein they were sitting.
  • For buying a pennyworth of orange at the Mess Table.
  • For selling the above pennyworth.
  • For an irregularity for putting a piece of apple peel in Mr. ____'s wine glass.
  • For twice drinking from the black bottle, moreover out of his turn.
  • For throwing a wine glass across the table.
  • For reading at the Mess Table (without leave) a certain publication entitled the "Military Magazine."
  • For an irregularity during dinner in calling Captain _____ "a nincompoop."
  • For indecent conversation during dinner.
  • For an irregularity in filling the President's glass.
  • For a Mess irregularity in having left their glasses full on quitting the table, the above a mistake.
  • For coming into the Mess Room in slippers.
  • For dining in dirty boots.
  • For undressing himself in the Mess.
  • For helping from a dish from which Captain _____ was helping at the same time.
  • For locking the Mess Room door after the retreat Drums were off while Captains _____ and _____ were in the room.
  • For calling the Vice-President "a Newks."
  • For coming to the Mess with dirty hands.
  • For coming into the Mess Room with shoes without strings.
  • For whistling in the Mess Room during dinner.
  • For forcing a sword through the middle of its scabbard in the Mess Room.
  • For throwing the decanter across the table.
  • For abruptly leaving the Mess table before the cloth was withdrawn without permission.
  • For making a bargain at the Mess table in buying three letters from Mr. _____ for three farthings.
  • For making a bargain in selling three letters as above.
  • For talking on his fingers at Mess.
  • For speaking three words of Latin. "Oh, Bolus, Bolus." [Several instances of this offence occur, the words as spoken, being "A Fac Simile," "Non Te Intelligo," "Non, Non, Non," "Tria juncta in," "Aries Taurus Gemini," "Quid pro quo," and "Et caetera, et caetera." One instance is given of "et, is, et, is," with the remark "No fine proved but two words," meaning apparently, that the word "is" is not Latin, and that therefore only two Latin words were used. … Why should the use of three Latin words be considered a fineable offence?

For some more modern Officers' Mess guidance for junior officers:—

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 30 May 2013 7:52 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 May 2013

HMCS Niobe; Welcome Address (21 October 1910)
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe arrived at Halifax on October 21, 1910, becoming the first large warship of the Royal Canadian Navy. A cruiser, Niobe was armed with a main battery of 16 six inch guns. She and the light cruiser HMS Rainbow formed part of the new Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

At the start of the First World War, Niobe sailed on her first wartime operational mission to escort the transport Canada, carrying The Royal Canadian Regiment to garrison duty in Bermuda.

After boiler repairs on returning to Halifax, Niobe joined the Royal Navy's 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station, logging 30,000 miles as she engaged in intercepting German ships along the American coast, spending 16 days at a time on station.

In September 1915, Niobe became a depot ship in Halifax for the training of cadets. On 6 December, 1917, the Niobe was only 700 yards from the explosion of the munitions ship Mont Blanc. The damaged sustained in the Halifax Explosion was extensive, she was repaired and contunued service as a depot ship until 1920. Niobe was scrapped in the 1920s.

Address of Welcome to Officers and Ship's Company of


on arrival at Halifax, N.S., on the 21st October, 1910.

By the Hon. L.P. Brodeur, K.C., LL.D., Minister of the Naval Service

Canada's Welcome

Captain, Officers and Men of the "Niobe":

I have much gratification in extending to you a most cordial welcome to our Canadian waters, and in greeting in you the first personnel of our Canadian Navy. We are very happy to see that this ship is under the command of a young and brilliant officer, born in our country, with other officers of Canadian birth and association. We are grateful to you for accepting service in the "Niobe" our first training ship, thereby exhibiting your willingness to help toward the formation and organization of our local naval service.

The arrival in Canada of this, the first Canadian cruiser, is an event of historical importance. To-day the first training ship of our navy ploughs Canadian waters. Occasions such as this are few in the story of any country, and especially of a young nation like Canada. They are like golden milestones set at intervals along the pathways of our progress and development. As we look back upon the way we have traveled since the days of Confederation we can count with pride these landmarks, and point to them as examples and models for the coming generations.

This event tels the story of a dawning epoch of self reliance. It proclaims to the whole British Empire that Canada is willing and proud to provide, as rapidly as circumstances will permit, for her local naval defence, and to safeguard her share in the commerce and trade of the Empire. We have a vast Dominion, and a vast future daily opens out wider and wider before us.

This is a land of unmeasured proportion and resources, boundless liberties; the fringes of the Atlantic wash our Eastern shores, the mirror waters of the Pacific reflect the shadows of our Western hills; from ocean to ocean our Ports and our Provinces are being bound together by three great lines of our railway. All parts of Canada, interior as well as on our seaboards, are interested in the safety of our commerce, in the free circulation of the life blood of our trade through the great arteries of our railways, canals, and mights rivers. Consequently this event appeals to all classes, conditions, political hues and racial origins. The appearance of this splendid vessel in our ports betokens a mighty stride made by our young Dominion along the avenue of our future destiny.

In welcoming our first cruiser and training ship in the name of the Government and people of Canada, I must not omit to point out how important this initial step in our great project of self defence is to the Empire of which we form such an important part, in the glory and security of which we seethe future stability and strength of our own Dominion. To you, captain, officers and men, we look with confidence that your assistance will be given, in the lines and following the traditions of the great service under which you were trained, to insure the success of our venture. For this noble purpose I am giving my son, who will join you tomorrow. Great Britain has given us an absolute freedom of action as far as our internal affairs are concerned and the management of them. Equally has the Mother Country consented to be guided by our desires in all international relations that affect our own country, and she has authorized us to negotiate our own commercial treaties. This is certainly the acme of political liberty, it is the finest example of national autonomy that the world can present today. But this freedom brings with it new powers for us to exercise, and these bring fresh responsibilities.

Without the powers necessary for the exercise of that autonomy it would become a mere fiction; and powers, without responsibilities in accord with them, would be dangerous and, in many cases, useless weapons for a country to hold. We are prepared to shoulder the responsibilities, and the "Niobe" is today the first and most striking evidence that we are so disposed.

Then we must consider that our interests are so interwoven with those of Great Britain that her supremacy on the sea and her perpetual command of the great commerce of the world appeal to us and awaken a responsive echo in our country, an echo that springs from gratitude as well as from self-interest. her rule has been a blessing to civilization and freedom the world over. Her flag has been the protection of the oppressed, has led in the vanguard of civilization, and has shield ed millions from the fate which barbarism and ignorance twine around the less fortunate people. If then we can assist, even in a small way, but in proportion to our strength and resources, in the solidifying of her power, the maintenance of her influence, and the safeguarding of her supremacy, it becomes our duty to do so. And in this establishment of a Canadian navy for the protection of our commence and the defence of our coasts, we are displaying to the world our readiness to do our fair share in the upbuilding of the Empire to which we are proud to belong.

Let us rise to the height that the event demands, and give our hearts and souls to the celebration of the arrival of the first vessel that is to begin the work that we have before us. Like the advent of the discoverer's ship in a new land, the "Niobe" comes to plant the standard of progress and true Canadian national greatness upon the verdant slopes of a glorious future that unrolls its splendid proportions before out vision today. Welcome, then, and a thousand welcomes, in the name of the Canadian Government, in that of every loyal and truly patriotic citizen of Canada, in that of the rising generation and finally in that of the Empire in whose world girdling belt Canada is the bright and precious buckle.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Medal Collecting; To Clean or Not to Clean
Topic: Medals

The First World War trio of medals awarded to 477858 Private Joseph Smith of The Royal Canadian Regiment. With faded and fraying ribbons, the group remains in the condition it was in when Smith likely last wore them.

To clean or not to clean ... that is often the question that arises between medal collectors, and there's no single "right" answer. Some collectors take a hard line to one extreme or the other. They may be in the camp that says each medal or group should look like the soldier was about to wear it on parade. To them, taking pride in the medals to the same degree as the soldier would have is honouring their memory. Those with a diametrically opposing view feel justified in keeping the medals frozen in the moment and condition at which they were acquired. For them, the condition of medals is also part of their story, and they desire to protect that historical edge and honour the full history of the medals and the man.

Some medals are found in pristine condition, untouched and still in their mailing packets, never worn by a soldier who, if not deceased, could never bring himself to mount and wear them for his own very personal reasons. Others might be clean, well-mounted yet still in an "as worn" condition, showing the signs of respect from long years of prideful wear. They might have been remounted as ribbons wore out, and in many cases, an old soldier's polishing habit may have worn the finer details from the face and reverse of each disc and star.

Just as each soldier found his own reasons for the level of care he gave his medals, so each collector has to decide where they fall on the spectrum between "to clean" or "not to clean."

At one end of that spectrum you will find the "no clean" collectors proudly showing their collections with medals mounted "as [last] worn" by the original owners. You may find tattered ribbons, worn and faded from decades of wear at memorial occasions, even mismatched ribbons when remounted by inexpert hands, medals crowded on a too-small bar, or those which have been polished nearly smooth. From the 1960s we find examples where soldiers knew they were wearing down their medals from much polishing, and they might have decided to have their medals treated by the new electro-plating technologies that became available for individual items. This process might change the appearance of the medals from an as-issued state, but they remain as the soldier chose to wear them. For these collectors, cleaning solely to remove obviously out of place dirt, or damaging verdigris, become the extent of their treatment before adding them to their collection mounts.

At the opposite end of the spectrum you will find the "clean" camp. For some of these collectors, every medal deserves to be carefully restored as closely as possible to an as new condition. This might include new ribbons (preferably original silk … only original silks for some) and mounted exactly as the soldier would have worn them on parade in accordance with regulations.

In both camps, the two extremes actually being a poor representation of the broad spectrum of possibilities, you will find those who choose only silk ribbons over replacement polyester, and members considerd to be in either group might choose to mount medals in court mountings, carefully securing each medal in place, rather than the risks of additional edge-knock wearing when medals are mounted in traditional swing mounting (i.e., loose and dangling). Every combination of cleaning, ribbons, mounting, etc., is possible and each collector chooses their path … and sometimes change their usual routine to present specific examples in the best manner to tell part of the recipient's story.

Even when the decision is made to clean and shine medals, a collector needs to be careful, the approach that a soldier may have taken while serving (or after) may not be the best approach to clean and/or shine medals in a collection. Soldiers learn to use abrasive polishes like Brasso and Silvo which, while excellent at their tasks, are truly abrasive and this will show over the long run as medal surfaces are slowly worn down. Luckily for the modern collector, the least invasive method to shine medals is the use of a jeweler's dip to preserve the shine and minimize future requirements for handling or polishing. This, of course should be done while the medals are off their ribbons during a remounting operation.

A comparison of the discs of the Military Medals awarded to 477040 Sergeant Harry James Barlow, M.M. (rank of Private on medal) and 261628 Private Arthur Frederick Littlewood.

While well polished medals certainly provide evidence of a soldier who wore his medals often and with pride, the truly poignant ones are those that are in such good condition that they appear to have never been polished for wear. They can, perhaps, hide a story just as important but perhaps forever hidden from our research efforts. (Barlow transferred from The RCR to the RAF near the end of the War. Littlewood was medically released, having lost one arm and much of the use of the other, he lived until 1945.)

For Those Who Choose to Clean:

The Canadian Conservation Institute provides guidance on the care and cleaning of medals and other artifacts:

Basic Care

Basic information for the care and conservation of metal objects.

CCI Notes

CCI Notes deal with topics of interest to those who care for cultural objects. Intended for a broad audience, CCI Notes offer practical advice about issues and questions related to the care, handling, and storage of cultural objects. Many CCI Notes are illustrated, and provide bibliographies.

View all CCI Notes.

CCI Technical Bulletins and Other Print Publications

Technical Bulletins provide detailed information of a specialized technical nature about selected conservation and care-of-collections topics, current techniques and principles of conservation of use to curators and conservators of cultural artifacts.

Browse or buy other CCI Publications.

Other heritage or conservation institutions also offer useful advice or helpful information that may be relevant to the care and conservation of metal objects. These sites are external to CCI.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 May 2013 12:30 AM EDT
Monday, 27 May 2013

Military Tradition: Moustaches
Topic: Tradition

(An Excerpt From) Some Military Customs and Survivals

By Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.H.Hist.S.
Published in The Army Quarterly, Volume XXXIX, October 1939 and January 1940


This may seem an odd subject to have any association with military matters, but, nevertheless, the growing or otherwise of moustaches by officers and soldiers had a definite relation to military fitness.

For purposes of personal hygiene all European armies usually removed as much hair as possible from their persons—heads were closely cropped and the face clean-shaven, thus rendering it impossible for disease-carrying vermin to get a footing. In the eighteenth century, however, we are told that the Austrians permitted their already blood-thirsty hussars to wear moustaches to give them a terrifying appearance. Apropos of this, Baron de Marbot, the well-known French military writer, records that the French General Macard used to say, "Look here!, I'm going to dress like a beast," and forthwith stripped off as much clothing as possible and went into action showing a shaggy head, face and body. Marbot also tells us that when he was a hussar in the 1790's the order was for all French hussars to wear moustaches for smartness and to give them a manly appearance. Those who could not grow moustaches had them painted on with blacking, which proved very unpleasant in hot weather, when the scorching sun in drying the blacking drew the skin up in a painful manner.

In The Times of the 21st of September, 1837, will be found the account of a young man who complained to a magistrate that he had been treated roughly by his workmates because he grew a moustache. Asked why he did so, he replied: "The reason vy I vears it is 'cos it's fashionable and makes me look like a man of some courage." (sic)

The practice of wearing moustaches in the British Army was fairly general after the Waterloo campaign, but in 1830 an order was issued prohibiting the wearing of moustaches in the cavalry, except the Household Cavalry and Hussar regiments. With the coming of the Crimean War another change took place, which was notified in a Memorandum from the Horse Guards dated the 21st of July, 1854, part of which ran:—"A large part of the Army being employed in Turkey, where it has been found beneficial to keep the upper lip unshaven and allow the moustache to grow, the General Commanding in Chief is pleased to authorize the practice in the army generally" subject to certain regulations; "the wearing of the moustache is to be optional with all ranks." After the Crimean War moustaches were no longer optional, but were ordered to be worn.

During the Great War the wearing of moustaches was optional, as it is at present. [British Army 1939/40]

The 1918 Standing Orders (for Officers) published by "A" Company, The Royal Canadian Regiment, included this insruction regarding moustaches:—

"R.C.R. Officers will not shave the upper lip."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 26 May 2013

CEF: Scale of Clothing and Necessaries
Topic: CEF

Instructions Governing
Organization and Administration of CEF Units


Appendix VI

Scale of Clothing and Necessaries

The following is a detail of issue of clothing and necessaries, authorized for each Warrant Officer, N.C.O., and man approved and enlisted for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Militia Orders 164 and 241, 1915).


Mounted Men

Dismounted Men

Boots, ankle, prs



Caps, forage, drab







Jackets, drab



Pantaloons, drab or B.C., prs


Pantaloons, service, prs


Puttees, drab, prs



Shirts, service



Shoes, canvas, prs



Trousers, drab 


Trousers, service 


Winter Clothing
Caps, balaclava



Gloves, woollen, prs



Sweater jackets







Collar, prs





Canada, prs



Initials, sets



Numerals, sets



Bootlaces, prs



Boot, dressing (grease) 2 oz. tins



Braces, prs
















Combs, hair



Drawers, woollen, prs



Forks, table









Identity discs, metal



Knives, clasp



Knives, table



Lanyards, clasp knife






Shirts, flannel, grey



Shirts, under, woollen



Socks, prs



Spoons, table



Towels, hand



Bags, Kit



Scale of Arms, Equipment, etc.

The scale of arms, equipment, etc., is laid down in a pamphlet issued with Militia Order No. 534, 1915. As, however, this is subject to amendment from time to time, it is not included here. Officers Commanding units should obtain information as to this scale from Divisional Headquarters.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 May 2013

Colours; The Soul of a Regiment
Topic: Militaria

A Presentation to the Annual Conference of the Organization of Military Museums of Canada (OMMC)

On 24 May 2013, I was invited to speak to the Annual Conference of the Organization of Military Museums of Canada. The topic I was asked to speak on was Regimental Colours, following a short presentation I made a few months ago to members of the congregation of St Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario, about the many Colours that hang in the Cathedral.

Although the original plan was to speak to conference attendees at the Cathedral, it turned out that I would speak to them at their conference base of operations; the Delta Armouries (a fitting site as it was long the home of the 7th Fusiliers/Canadian Fusiliers and the Reserve Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment before its current reconstruction as a hotel. The change of venue also required that a presentation set of slides be developed to replace the anticipated visual accompaniment of the Colours actually hanging in the Cathedral.

In response to a number of requests for the slide package, it is advantageous to post the file link here. The challenge to those who wished for the presentation is that there are no accompanying speaking notes. For those who find it useful, please feel free to rebuild it to your specific purposes. In return I would appreciate a brief glimpe of the final slide be shown to your audiences. (The PPT file is 11 Mb in size and may be slow to download.)


As the primary official reference for Colours was not immediately known by all conference attendees, I have included a link to a pdf copy (6.8 Mb):

A-AD-200-000/AG-000, The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces

The other reference mentioned in the presentation is Old Colours Never Die by Francis J. Dunbar and Joseph H. Harper. This out of print volume will soon be available as a reprint by Service Publications. The publisher is collecting e-mail addresses of those who wish to be notified of publication at this page.


Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 May 2013 12:05 AM EDT
Friday, 24 May 2013

Carry On; The Toronto Scottish Regiment
Topic: Officers

Carry On: A few anecdotes from Captain (retired) Arthur (Sparky) McLean of the Toronto Scottish Regiment.

A custom that was still in place (just barely) in the Toronto Scottish Officers' Mess when I joined was the Subalterns' Scribe. This was a means for the junior officers to poke fun at (and gently chide) the more senior members of the Mess and Regimental goings-on. The Scribe was a ghostly apparition that appeared relatively early in the dinner program (after the haggis, before dessert), as I recall at the foot of the table (near the empty place setting for the Absent Friend) in an obsolete form of dress. He could only speak in questions, which he in turn answered. After a minute or two of this, he then disappeared, re-donned his mess kit and returned to dinner. The one time I played the role I ditched my jacket, waistcoat and tie and threw a WWII leather jerkin over my shirt. An example: our CO of the time was trying to increase trained soldier retention (always a challenge in the Reserves) by putting one particular Captain in charge of many of the trained junior NCOs and giving him free rein to organize adventure-style training. This was called Dirk Platoon; for whatever reasons, it never seemed to work very well and the fancy training didn't happen very often. The Scribe's sphinx-like query? "What do you call a pile of 31 knives? A Dirk Platoon." Sad to say, the Scribe has fallen out of custom since the early 1980s. I suspect I may have been the last Subalterns' Scribe in the TorScots; yet another obscure entry on my CV.

Some customs, of course, are very time-and-place specific. The CO of the Scottish when I joined was a height-challenged, flame-haired Glaswegian, Jim Parker. Indeed, at Toronto Garrison functions when all the COs were introduced, his least-loved of all phrases was "Stand up, Colonel!" Within his own Mess, of course, such comments were never heard. However, whenever the head table was piped into a Mess dinner in the TorScots Officers' Mess he would find a fat Toronto telephone book on his chair as a booster. He took this with reasonable grace, but clearly he had tired of the jibe. So one dinner, he decided to pre-empt this joke.

The Saturday afternoon of the dinner he arrived two hours early. As CO of a Reserve unit he had access to the Battalion key press. He used his access and confiscated every phone book in the Battalion lines. He scooped the books from the Fort York Armoury phone booth. He went into the Mess and seized the Mess phone book. These were all locked in his office. He changed into his Mess Dress in his office and then waited for the bar to open. Life proceeded normally thereafter, though a localized shortage of phone books was noted by all. At five or so minutes to dinner, as you can expect, diners finished their drinks, left the anteroom and made their ways to their places. The head table was lined up in the hall before its entrance and the piper was tuned and ready to go. As we were all standing there, dinner minus sixty seconds, suddenly the CO ran into the dining room, went straight to his place at the centre of the head table and found – of course – a phone book on his chair. He grabbed it, ran the half-dozen steps to the balcony window and with a brief scream flung the phone book out towards the Fleet Street streetcar tracks, never to be seen again. He then turned to us, standing behind our seats, and emphatically ordered us all, "Get out! Get out!" Somewhat startled, we all moved back into the anteroom as the CO watched. When he was the only person left in the room, he shouted, "Piper, start up!" and told the rest of us we could come back in. He ran out the back door of the Mess to fall in with the rest of the head table. We ordinary diners returned to our places just as the head table marched in. Padre said grace, we all pulled our chairs out to be seated – and the CO found another phone book on his chair.

Confession is good for the soul; the last phone book was on *my* chair until dinner minus twenty seconds. When Colonel Parker ran out to rejoin the head table party I ran into the Mess ahead of the rest, scooped the book on my chair, took three steps, tossed it gently under the table onto his chair and made it to my seat just before he got back in. Prior planning prevents poor performance.

When Colonel Parker stepped down as CO, as a parting gift we had a star named for him in the International Star Registry. Of course it was a red dwarf. He put up with a lot from us.And when one of my fellow subs became CO of the Scottish twenty or so years later, at his dining-in he had to explain to the 32 Brigade Commander why there was a phone book on his chair when the head table marched in.

I remember a particular Subaltern's Court session from the early 1980s, when I was a young sub in the Toronto Scottish Regment.

It was well-known in the Officers' Mess that I was teetotal (I just don't like alcohol – it all smells and tastes like jet fuel to me). After a Mess dinner a court was convened and, after a couple of other pieces of business, I was arraigned and charged with excessive sobriety. With due dispatch I was found guilty (as if I could argue?) and was sentenced to consume two ounces of single-malt scotch, neat. The instrument of my punishment swiftly was obtained by a court member from the bar and all awaited my first public drink (and, I assume, my first intoxication or first sick-up). I stood at attention in my Mess kit at the foot of the table and clarified that I was to consume the scotch, down the throat and to the stomach. This indeed was the case, I was told.

I lifted my chin, pulled the collar of my shirt out from my Adam's apple and poured two ounces of expensive scotch down the front of my neck, across my hairy chest and onto my tum. Having successfully soaked the waist of my kilt and my shirt-tails with somebody else's single-malt, I put the empty glass on the table, smiled sweetly, turned about and marched out. My kilt smelled like a distillery for some time after. I thought the court members all were going to cry.


AHE (Sparky) McLean CD pmsc
Captain (retired)
Late, the Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Own)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 May 2013

Trench Warfare - How to Fire a Machine Gun in case of Emergency
Topic: CEF

Excerpted from "Trench Warfare; A Manual for Officers and Men," by J.S. Smith, Second Lieutenant with the British Expeditionary Force, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917.

How to Fire a Machine Gun in case of Emergency

A Maxim Maxim; Fire should always be withheld till a favourable target presents itself. A cartoon by Capt Bruce Bairnsfather, from Fragments From France, published by The Bystander.

A Maxim Maxim; Fire should always be withheld till a favourable target presents itself. A cartoon by Capt Bruce Bairnsfather, from Fragments From France, published by The Bystander.

As a machine gun textbook is very dry, and it is difficult for a man who is not of a mechanical turn of mind to obtain the most elementary knowledge of the action from a book, officers should lose no time in getting in touch with a machine gun officer and learn from actual experience, how to load, fire and rectify simple stoppage.

LEWIS GUN. To load, put a full magazine on the magazine post with the cocking handle forward.

Pull back cocking handle to its fullest extent, and raise tangent sight unless the target is within 200 yards.

To fire, press the trigger and the gun will continue to fire as long as pressure on the trigger is maintained. It will only stop when (a) the magazine is emptied; (b) stoppage is set up. To remedy this (1) take off empty magazine and put on full one, reload relay and fire; (2) cocking handle stops in one of three positions. To remedy this one must have a thorough knowledge of remedying of stoppages.

VICKER'S AUTOMATIC. To load, pass the brass tack of belt through feed plug (right to left), pull back crank handle and pull belt to the left; release handle and belt ; repeat this process and the gun is loaded. Vertical adjustment for sighting is obtained by moving elevating wheel on quadrant of tripod, horizontal adjustment by tapping the rear cross-piece. The clamping handle is in front of the cross-band of the tripod. To fire, raise safety catch with first or second finger (the safety catch is a strip of steel which is under the thumb-piece or double button) and press the thumb-piece. The gun will now fire until pressure is released or until a stoppage occurs.

STOPPAGES. There are four common stoppages, distinguished by the position of the crank handle. Remedy: (1) Pull crank handle back and belt to the left, let go crank handle; (2) open rear cover, take out lock, remove bent cartridge from face of lock; (3) hit crank handle down. If it will not go, lift it a little, pull belt and hit again; (4) raise crank handle, pull belt, let go of crank. If not effective, then put in the spare lock, but unload first. To disable gun, remove lock and fuse from fire belt through the breech casing.


Joseph Shuter Smith

Joseph Shuter Smith was an American author born in Philadelphia in 1893. He spent his childhood in Alaska during the Gold Rush and spent his years before the Great War as a lumberjack, miner, surveyor and cowboy. In 1914, continuing his adventurous streak, he went to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, declaring his birthplace to be Port Hope, Ontario (with next of kin in Oakland, California). Smith enlisted with the 29th Canadian Infantry Battalion at Vancouver. He served in France and Belgium as a soldier in the CEF and, after being commissioned in August, 1916, as an officer of the British Army with The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). He resigned his Imperial commission after a year to return to the US and enlist in the American Army. Joseph Smith also wrote the memoir: Over There and Back in Three Uniforms; Being the Experiences of an American Boy in the Canadian, British and American Armies at the Front and through No Man's Land.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Soldier's Load – Germany – 1900-1914
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The book that the following extract is taken from was originally published in France (1902) as Comparative Studies of Field Equipment of the Foor Soldier of France and Foreign Armies details the soldier's kit carried by the armies of Europe up to the start of the First World War. Having first been published in 1902, the publishers of the translated edition added the British Web Equipment 1908, since Britain was the only country to change it's soldier's equipment before 1914.

Field Equipment of the European Soldier 1900-1914

By Commandant Emile Charles Lavisse, of the French Army; Translated by Edward P Lawton
Published by The Battery pres, in association with The Imperial War Museum & Articles of War, Ltd., Skokie. Originally published 1902, English translation published 1994.

A German lookout in a Waterproof Trench.

A German lookout in a Waterproof Trench.


Nomenclature and weights of the effects and objects composing the field equipment of the foot soldier.

1.     The Knapsack and its Load.












Overcoat straps


Small articles of clothing:



Socks or foot linen


Easy shoes




Knife and spoon


Soldiers' handbook and book of canticles




Sewing and brush case


Camp equipment:

Individual camp kettle and straps


Shelter tent and accessories



Cleaning cord for rifle



Cartridges (30)



Reserve (3 days)


Tobacco and cigars






2.     On the Man.






Cloth trousers



Helmet and ornaments


Helmet cover



Two cartridge boxes


Belt and plate


Small articles of equipment:



Suspenders (trousers)




Socks or foot linen










Aluminum drinking cup






Camp equipment:



Contents of canteen








Cartridges (90)



The day's


First Aid Package


Identification card




Grand Total


(a)     The weight of the load mounts up, when tools are carried as follows:



With the spade (100 per company, weight 0.890)


With the pickax (10 per company, weight 1.480)


With the ax (5 per company, weight 1.080)


Other nations included in Field Equipment of the European Soldier 1900-1914 are:

  • France
  • England
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Norway
  • Holland
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Billets and Batmen
Topic: Humour

"Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it." A cartoon by Capt Bruce Bairnsfather, from Fragments From France, published by The Bystander.

Billets and Batmen; Being a Few Reminiscences of the Lighter Side of War (Excerpts)

By "Nobby"

Published in the Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. XI, No. 1, October, 1933

…it was not until I went to France that I was taken charge of by Bill. He was an time-expired R.E. who was homesteading in Canada when the war started, and although well over fifty, he had lied his way back into the Army. But though the spirit was willing, his feet let him down and so he became a bright particular star in the Corps of Batmen. He was a fine, upstanding old chap of over six feet, with a complexion that was the co-operative achievement of Indian suns and British beer, and the typical huge drooping moustache of the old army.

So long as I was on this cushy job Bill was quite content to remain in billets, but if I had a re reconnaissance to make or some front line wire to put up, he would contrive to get my runner, who was quite a youngster, out of the way when I wanted him, and would turn up himself with a rifle slung over his shoulder.

"Where's Tompkins," I would enquire.

"I sent 'im down for rations" (or something else) "sir, so I'll come along myself."

During the following summer, we had just come out of the line for the usual alleged rest, when a full parade was ordered, as the G.O.C. in C. was coming to look us over. It happened that by reason of leave and casualties, I was acting as second-in-command of the company and therefore in charge of the mounted section. So I went into conference with Bill …

"I'll have to look pretty posh tomorrow, Bill, because the G.O.C. is going to inspect us."

"All right, Sir, you just leave it to me," said he, "I'll 'ave yer lookin' like a bleedin' rainbow."

And so he did. I positively glittered. I learned later that he had taken my charge from the lines the night before and kept it in his billet with him until the parade the next day. the mare' coat was something to admire, Bill having spent most of the night polishing her up with by best, and only, silk handkerchief, while in place of the steel bit and stirrups, these were nickel plated, borrowed (?) from some Artillery lines a mile or so away.

It was Bill's habit, when we moved out to rest, to make a reconnaissance of the village. In the evening he would come to me, ostensibly to see if my billet was to my liking.

"Got a spare water bottle, Sir?" he would ask.

"What for, Bill?"

"Well, Sir, I've 'eard as 'ow there's a good drop of beer to be 'ad in this 'ere village, and I thogh p'raps you'd like to try it."

"All right, Bill, how much?"

"Well, Sir, wot about ten francs?"

Now ten francs would buy nearly all the beer in the village, but I guess that was what Bill had in mind.

Anyway, presently he would depart with several water bottles slung around him, to return later in a cheerful frame of mind, but he would never forget to deliver my beer to me.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 May 2013

Customs: Trooping the Colour (1925)
Topic: Tradition

Trooping of the Queen's and Regimental Colours of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment; Harris Park, London, Ontario, 4 October 2008. Photo by Bryan Nelson.

Old Military Customs Still Extant

By: Major C..T. Tomes, D.S.O., M.C.
Published in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXX, February to November, 1925

Trooping the Colour

The Practice of Trooping the Colour was originally an old guard-mounting ceremony, in which the King's Colour is the symbol of the Sovereign and the Regimental Colour the emblem of the soul of the regiment. For this reason it is right that they are marched round the battalion from time to time, so that every man may pay them all due honour. Colours are never usually touched or carried except by an officer, but this ceremony starts with the emblem in charge of a sergeant with two sentries. Similarity, each "guard" is formed into line without its officers. The sergeants commanding the guards then assemble together with the officers on the saluting base, a relic of the days when they were so collected in order to draw lots for their guard, receive the "parole" and such orders as might be given them. the drums beat the "Assembly," meaning that it is time for officers and N.C.Os. to take up their posts. They recover arms and move by the stately slow march to take over their command.

The first honour is next paid to the Colour by the slow and quick marches played by the band and drums. This is only a preliminary to the reception of the Colour into the ranks of the Battalion. In the old days the grenadier company always found the escort and invariably took the right of the parade; nowadays the right guard still performs this duty, the right having been the post of honour from the time of the Roman Legionaries, since they carried the shield on the left arm.

The "Drummer's Call" is the signal for the captain of the escort to hand over hos command to the lieutenant; a curious bit of symbolism. the band and drums then play "The British grenadiers" and the escort moves across the front of the parade to the Colour. The Sergeant-Major, representing the men, takes it from the sergeant in whose charge it is, and hands it to an officer. the Colour is next received by the escort with full honours. Arms are presented and the band plays the salute, if it is the King's Colour, this is "God Save the King"; if it be the Regimental Colour, the Regimental Slow March is played. The Sergeant-Major salutes with his sword, the only occasion on which he does so. The escort stands with its arms at the "present," while the sergeants on the flanks of each rank face outward and port their arms as if to repel any intruder who may attempt to disturb this solemn moment. The escort with the Colour moves back in slow time to the music of the "Grenadiers' Slow March" to the right of the line; they file through the ranks of the battalion, arms are presented and every man can see the Colour and show it honour. The ceremony finishes with a march past in quick and slow time.

Coldstream Guards Trooping Their Colour; The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (Youtube)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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