The Minute Book
Saturday, 27 July 2013

Wolseley Barracks, 1998
Topic: Wolseley Barracks
Wolseley Barracks, 1998 aerial photo (smaller version)

(Click to see a larger version without the overlaid letters.)

Wolseley Barracks, 1998

Thanks to aerial photos provided at the website for the City of London, Ontario, we can see what Wolseley Barracks looked like in 1998. Six years after the departure of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, striking changes have been taking place as the Department of National Defence removes the unused buildings at the Barracks. Although buildings have been removed, the 1998 air photos still shows the locations of each structure.

The parade square at "A," has been surrounded by the barracks (on the north, east and south), the Battalion Quartermaster's Stores (to the north) and the Combat Support Company offices and platoon stores, (on the south side).

At location "B," we see the scars left by the removal of the Base/Battalion headquarters (to the north), the Junior ranks (i.e., Soldier's) Mess (to the east) and the Base Guardroom (to the west).

"C" marks the original location of the Regimental Memorial of The Royal Canadian Regiment, first dedicated at that location in 1959 by His Royal Highness Prince Philip. In this photo the Memorial has been moved to the northwest corner of the base, immediately north of the "U"-shaped Wolseley Hall. It was moved again in 2012, being placed between the ends of the wings of Wolseley Hall, where it can be seen today by any visitors to The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum.

To the east and west of "C" are the locations of the Roman Catholic and Protestant base chapels.

"D" was the location of the Battalion Maintenance Section, today it is the parking area for the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre (the recycled Base Gymnasium).

Surrounding "E" was the Canadian Forces Base London Transport and Maintenance Sections. This area of the base is now a major grocery store.

The kitchen building at "F" is yet to be torn down, and a new Supply, Maintenance and medical facility, the McNeil Building, will eventually be built between marks "E" and "F," which can now be ween along Oxford Street.

The 1950s Barrack Block, the McKenzie Building, at "G" will become the new headquarters for the base and for 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

As the demolition of buildings was completed, the Base was reduced in size. The north-east corner, as stated, is now a supermarket, and the southern portion of the base, between the remaining buildings at the centre of the image and the ones at the lower edge, is occupied by a housing development of 125 new homes built in the past decade.

See Also:

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 July 2013 12:05 AM EDT
Friday, 26 July 2013

Schools of Instruction; 1910
Topic: Canadian Militia

Extract from the King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, approved by His Excellency the Governor General, 24th January, 1910.


Royal Schools of Instruction

612.     Schools of military instruction are established in connection with units of the Permanent Force for the purpose of giving course of instruction and training to officers, N.C.Os. and buglers of the Active Militia.

613.      Officers, N.C.Os. and buglers attached for instruction are to be given every facility to acquire the standard of military training required to qualify for promotion.

614.     Permanent Schools of Instruction are maintained at the undermentioned stations:—

CavalryRoyal Canadian Dragoons, St Jean, Toronto
Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), Winnipeg
Field ArtilleryRoyal Canadian Horse Artillery, Kingston, Ont.
Garrison ArtilleryRoyal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Halifax, Quebec, Esquimalt
EngineersRoyal Canadian Engineers, Halifax
InfantryRoyal Canadian Regiment, Halifax, Fredericton, Quebec, Toronto, London
Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), Winnipeg
Army Service CorpsArmy Service Corps, Halifax
MusketryThe School of Musketry, Ottawa
Army Medical CorpsPermanent Army Medical Corps, Halifax
Canadian Ordnance CorpsGun Wharf, Halifax

Courses of Instruction

615.     The following are the courses at the Schools of Instruction:—

(a)     Special Course.
(b)     Short Course.
(c)     Long Course.
(d)     Equitation.
(e)     Veterinary Course.
(f)     Musketry.
(g)     Artillery Staff Course.

(a)     The Special Course is for a period not less than seven days.

(b)     The Short Course is for a period of three months and commences on the 1st of January, April and September.

(c)     The Long Course is for a period pf six months in the cavalry and infantry, and nine months in the artillery. Three months of the Long Course are given at the R.M.C., and artillery officers in addition attend the Artillery Staff Course at the R.S.A., Quebec.

(d)     Equitation Courses will be given at all schools with mounted units at any time. The duration of an equitation course is not to exceed 28 days, but candidates will be examined as soon as they are prepared to undergo the examination. An officer may be examined in Equitation without having attended an Equitation Course.

(e)     A Veterinary Course is for a period of fifteen days' instruction at a permanent school with mounted units.

(f)     Courses of officers and non-commissioned officers are held at the School of Musketry during the months of July, August, September and October. The duration and dates of commencement of courses will be notified from time to time, in Militia Orders.

For syllabuses see Appendix VI.

General Instructions.

616.     The number of officers, N.C.Os. and buglers who may be attached for any course is limited to the accommodations at the schools and the grant of money available for that purpose. But Officers Commanding Schools of Instruction may permit additional officers and N.C.Os. who desire to reside out of barracks, to attend the courses of instruction without expense to the public.

617.     Applications for courses of instruction are to be forwarded through the usual channel to the District Officer Commanding who will, if vacancies exist, approve of the application. Applications on behalf of N.C.Os. and buglers will be made on M.F.–B. 362.

618.     If any officer, N.C.O. or bugler applies to join a school other than the authorized for his district, reference will be made to Militia headquarters.

619.     At the beginning of each course, Officers Commanding Schools of Instruction will forward for the information of their District Officer Commanding a list:—

(a)     Of the applicants who have reported.
(b)     Of those who have failed to do so.

620.     It is to be understood that a fair proportion by regiments of officers, N.C.Os. and buglers are to be admitted to these schools of instruction.

621.     Officers commanding corps are requested to exercise care and judgment in the selection and recommendation of the non-commissioned officers they are desirous of sending for a course of instruction; they should in all cases be able to read and write fairly. Those who cannot do so lack the requisite qualification for non-commissioned officers, and, therefore, should not be sent for instruction.

622.     These schools are instructional in military subjects, not educational in the sense of teaching persons to read and write. A primary object is that those instructed may become the instructors of others when they return in their several corps. It will thus be seen how necessary it is to send only persons to the schools who possess physical and mental capacity for the acquirement of instructional ability.

623.     Not only must officers commanding corps exercise great care in selecting or recommending applicants for courses of instruction, but they must also ascertain that, besides physical fitness, these men possess more than an average degree of intelligence, that they gave fair educational attainments, and that they possess aptitude for imparting the instruction they may receive, to others.

624.     Non-commissioned officers recommended must have completed at least twelve months' service in the corps to which they belong, and must have attended the last annual training of their Corps, except in special cases, when the Commanding Officer will be required to add to his recommendation his reasons for wishing to send individuals who have not complied with the above conditions.

625.     Applications for courses at the School of Musketry must be submitted to Militia Headquarters. Officers and non-commissioned officers will be permitted to take only one course.

Officers applying for permission to take the course must be qualified for substantive rank in the branch of the service to which they belong.

In the case of non-commissioned officers, each application must be accompanied by a certificate from the applicant's Commanding Officer that he is proficient in the firing exercise.

626.     Commanding Officers are not to appoint members of their corps non-commissioned officers merely to give them rank in order to join a School of Instruction. They should see, moreover, that all persons sent to the school are provided with proper uniforms.

Commanding Officers neglecting to comply with these instructions will incur a very serious responsibility for which they will be held strictly to account.

627.      Officers Commanding Schools of Instruction will not only see that these rules are complied with, but they will so arrange that, by the constant supervision of an officer detailed for the purpose, attached non-commissioned officer who from lack of intelligence or education are not likely to become efficient non-commissioned officers, are immediately returned to their corps and that their cases are immediately reported to Militia Headquarters.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 July 2013 12:04 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 July 2013

Regimental History is a Continuum
Topic: The RCR

Colonel W.J. (Joe) Aitchison, OMM, CD, served as a Regular Force officer of The Royal Canadian Regiment from 1963 until 1996, including being the Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The RCR, Commandant of the Royal Canadian School of Infantry and Base Commander of CFB London, ON. On 25 Feb 2012, Colonel Aitchison was appointed Colonel of the Regiment of The RCR. In the following article he discusses regimental history as a continuum based upon the people you meet within the Regiment and encompassing their experiences as an indirect extension of your own. Within that continuum we carry not only our experiences, but a common responsibility to share the stories of others we have served with or met. "Colonel Joe" is part of my own continuum of service in The RCR, and I am pleased to have his permission to share his comments through The Minute Book.

My predecessors will attest to the statement that the life of the Colonel of The Regiment is filled with "events", one of which I recently wrote about.

There have been several other "events" in the past couple of months that knit together to provide an historical context that I think is important and that I would like to share with you.

Those (selected) events, roughly in chronological order, were:

Let me deal with these in an order other than that in which I have listed them, but first let me provide some context - Indulge me. I have spoken to the Regimental Officers' Indoctrination Course for each of the last two years on the theme of The Regiment as a continuum. My thesis is that each of us lives a piece of regimental history, but acquires a far wider understanding of and connection to regimental history through the vicarious experience of rubbing shoulders with others who lived a larger, or at least a different, piece of that history. Let me illustrate.

When I was a newly-commissioned officer, the annual Paardeberg Ball was a major event. There were, in fact, three Balls - one for each of the officers, senior NCOs and junior ranks of (in my own experience) 2 RCR. The gymnasium at Gloucester Hall in Wolseley Barracks was dressed to the nines in a South African theme and there was revelry and camaraderie for three consecutive nights as each of the celebrating groups recognized that most famous battle - then 60-odd years in the past. A major feature at the Paardeberg Ball in, for instance, 1964 (my first Paardeberg) was the presence of one or two famous regimental personages. They were Dr ASA McCormick and Mr Austin Chisholm. These two gentlemen were veterans of the battle at Paardeberg Drift on 27 February 1900. It was only well after the fact of meeting them that I grasped the significance of having done so, and it was much later than that again that I developed my thesis of the continuum of the history of The Regiment. I am (as are many others) a witness to that most significant event in the history of The RCR by virtue of having rubbed shoulders with two participants in, and thereby become vicariously a party to, a battle that occurred over 40 years before I was born.

Similarly, a great character who visited the Home Station from time to time in the early and mid 60s was a man called "Pinky" Dean. Pinky, when in residence at Wolseley Barracks, made the Sergeants' Mess his home and adopted a post at the left-hand corner of the bar from which he held court. Pinky was a veteran of the First World War and connected those with whom he conversed with the horrors and triumphs of that conflict. Several years later I had the great honour on several occasions to meet, converse and dine with Brigadier Milton F. Gregg, who held the Victoria Cross and two Military Crosses earned in WWI and from whom, once again, I acquired vicarious understanding of my forebears' contributions to our rich history.

Let me "Fast Forward" to the events I listed at the opening of this piece and speak about each of them - again, not in the order I listed them.

Many of you who are reading this have met Sherry Atkinson, and many of you are familiar with his story. As I write, Sherry is in Sicily with Operation Husky 2013, revisiting the area over which he fought in 1943. Sherry, now almost 92, is likely the last surviving officer of The Regiment to have landed at Pachino and also likely one of the last living Canadians to have done so. His story has been shared many times, but is always worthy of another perusal. Sherry provides my, and our, vicarious connection to that most significant event in the history of The Regiment. Sherry is very generous of his time and has been a regular attendee at ROIC and Regimental Birthday dinners, particularly, latterly, in London. He is always willing to share his stories – take the time to listen.

Ed Hollyer died just shy of the age of 91.

His "context" is that he was the Platoon Commander of 7 Platoon of Charlie Company of 3 RCR the night of 2-3 May 1953 - just over 60 years ago. It was Ed and the very brave men of his platoon who faced the Chinese assault on Hill 187, who held their ground well beyond being "able" to do so, who withdrew only when they were no longer capable of doing so, and who wrote a most important chapter of our regimental history in doing what they did. Ed, too, was very generous of his time and was a regular visitor to 3rd Battalion for many years, most recently in 2012 when he visited the unit in Petawawa as part of 3 RCR's Hill 187 Day competitions. Ed was a proud Royal Canadian who never forgot his roots in The Regiment.

David Greenslade was a member of Callsign 22B, which section also included Sgt Don Lucas, MCpl Chris Stannix, Cpls Aaron Williams and Brent Poland and Pte Kevin Kennedy, all of whom were killed by an IED on 8 April, 2007 in Afghanistan. I never met any one of these men, but was privileged to be present when the park named after Greenslade and which features memorials to all six men, was dedicated in Saint John. The deaths in 22 Bravo represented the highest number of fatalities from a single incident during Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. When the history of operations in Afghanistan is written, and certainly when a future volume of The Regiment's history is written, Easter Sunday of 2007 will have a special place in those documents.

What's my point?

I suppose it is that in my 50 years since I was commissioned as a junior officer in our Regiment, I have had the honour to meet serving and former members of The Regiment who lived its history for more than 113 of its 130 years' existence. Some of them were "heroes" in every accepted sense of that over-worked word, and some of them were just damned good soldiers who wore the helmet plate or the eight-point star with pride and did their best for their mates and The Regiment. Some of their experiences pre-dated my own, and some occurred after I had left full-time service. Every one of you can say something similar, and many of you will likely surpass the 113 years that I count as (vicariously) my own.

I've only related to the four events I listed at the beginning of this piece, and that only because they occurred in the last couple of months. My thesis can be expanded to include all of the Cold War, peace-keeping and peace-making years and Afghanistan and every operation in all of the theatres to which we have deployed soldiers of The Regiment over our long history. That wasn't my aim - I don't have the gifts to describe all of them and will leave it to others more capable to do so. Just remember - it is a continuum, and every one of us is directly and indirectly a part of it. Tell your story and listen to others tell theirs.

Pro Patria

Colonel Joe


The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 July 2013 12:47 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Glyn Llanwarne – The Australian "Medal Rescuer"
Topic: Medals

In Australian there is a gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Glyn Llanwarne, OAM, who is also a "medal rescuer." LtCol Llanwarne's commendable approach to this activity is best describe in his own words:

"Since 2000 I have been acquiring, researching and then returning lost medals to veterans or their families. I started out purchasing medals, however, now I am supported through donations of found medals. I now use all my resources for research and trying to locate families. I do this free of any charge or fee. Over the last few years many people have asked me to set up a forum or have a method of asking questions so that the information can be shared. I think that this is the easiest way. My web site will remain the prime method of advertising the current list of medals I am researching. You can contact me at llanwarne80 at hotmail dot com"

Notably, LtCol Llanwarne started out using his own funds to purchase medals he felt had a good chance of being reurned to families. More recently, his endeavours are supported by donations, but are not built on the expectation that the potential recipient family being expected to pay for the medals.

In May 2012, LtCol Llanwarne was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2012 Australia Day Honours.

"For service to veterans and their families through the recovery of military insignia."

Lost Medals Australia

Latest count - Reunited 1079 medals to families and relatives

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 11:55 PM EDT
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Harry Cock's “Tin Lid”
Topic: The RCR Museum

While assisting in The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, I discovered in the basement an uncatalogued collection of items related to Harry Tredennick Cock. Cock was a consummate regimental officer who served in the Canadian Army from 1912 (with prior British Army service) until the 1950s, retiring as a Colonel.

Along the way Cock was a notable regimental personage in The RCR, leaving his mark in many areas. In 1917, while serving overseas with the Regiment, he wrote a regimental history pamphlet that was used as a basis for instruction of new recruits in the Regiment. In the 1930s he contributed to the first volume of the regiment's history with his extensive collection of regimental information; even the published plate of badges in the volume are his own collection.

Notes on HT Cock in The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933

Regimental Service: 1912 - still serving [1936]
Rank attained in the Regiment [to that date]: Major

(GW) Wounded. 1914-15 Star, British War medal, Victory medal, Despatches. M.C. Staff Captain, England, 1917. Instructor Tactics, R.N.C., 1923. G.S.O., M.D. 13, 1925. G.S.O. 2 (temp) M.D. 6, 1934. D.A.A. & Q.M.G., M.D. 2, 1935.

Among the Harry Cock items discovered in the Museum were his medals, Commissioning Scrolls and award documents, his First World War binoculars with case, the drafting set he purchased in 1902 as a junior officer (probably for map sketching work), and his First World War helmet.

Harry Cock's helmet was no common "tin lid."

The first clue was the surviving canvas cover, a tailor-made fitted cover no less. Second was the two-piece bronze cap badge affixed to the cover.

Having seen this much I flipped the helmet over to verify its age as a First World War helmet and set it aside to discuss with the Curator. On the leather headband, not only had Cock inscribed his name and the Regiment's name, but also the date "1917."

I smiled as I displayed the box of artifacts, and especially the helmet to the Curator. "As a regimental collector," I told her, "I would sell a kidney to acquire this helmet."

She recognized the immediacy of cataloging the Cock artifacts and soon I was again looking at the helmet in the Curator's office. To add to my earlier observations, I identified the following:

  • It was an early pattern helmet with a bare metal edge, not a rolled edge.
  • The canvas cover was fitted, professionally tailored for the purpose, and included a leather trim piece around the perimeter, on the bottom side, where it would wear on the helmet edge.
  • The badge on the cover was a pre-War two-piece cast bronze Officer Service Dress badge (example). It's method of fastening was two tangs which were pushed through the canvas and bent over.
  • The lining, rather than the issue sort, was a patent model marked with "Hawke's Patent Self-Fitting & Ventilating Lining" with British, Canadian, Indian and American patents identified.
  • The inner harness as also marked: "Hawke's & Co. 1 Savile Row, London" (British and US patents).


Finally, the piece de resistance came as I was inspecting the helmet lining. Supporting the outer shell, I identified something under the cover. Removing the cover, I discovered another badge, a second guelphic crown pattern RCR badge that had been brazed onto the helmet shell itself. The cover had been placed on such that the badges did not align, thus protecting the underlying badge from the scraping of the tangs of the outer badge.

Having identified all of this, I had to correct my earlier level of commitment. I told the Curator I would have given up both kidneys to acquire it, short-lived though my enjoyment might have been.

The post-renovation state of the Museum is challenging, and, depending on a number of factors, who knows what other surprises await is. Regardless, any day I get to handle an artifact as important as Harry Cock's medals, or his very unique Great War helmet, is a good day in the Regiment.

And here is Harry wearing his helmet:



More on badged helmets.

Pro Patria

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 12:37 AM EDT
Monday, 22 July 2013

Abbreviations used in Service Files
Topic: LAC

Once someone has acquired the service record of a Canadian soldier, sailor or airman of the First World War or the Second World War from Library and Archives Canada, there remains the challenge to decipher the contents. That the military has a cryptic and steadily changing system of abbreviations for unit titles, personnel statuses and training establishments probably surprises none, but the bewildering variety can be a daunting hurdle for any genealogical researcher to untangle as they try to figure out where Uncle Albert trained and with what units he served.

But, no need to be downhearted as one stares at page after page of cryptic notations, for others have trod this path and dug solid trench-lines through the layers of hen scratching left by staff officers and clerks. To start with, the Library and Archives Canada maintains a page of abbreviations that they have compiled to assist us:

In addition to the LAC list of abbreviations, various other reference lists can also be found on line throgh searching for your mystery abbreviation. A few of the available resources are:

If all else fails, whether you are unravelling the story of a soldier of the Great War or the Second World War, or of a set of medals or other artifact, posing your questions on an appropriate military history message board may help when the compiled lists fail to answer your question.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 June 2013 5:06 PM EDT
Sunday, 21 July 2013

1914 Infantry Training - Six Months' Syllabus for Recruits
Topic: Drill and Training

Infantry Training, 1914

Appendix II – Syllabus for a Six Months' Course of Instruction or Recruit Training

1.     The following syllabus of recruit training is gven as a guide to officers charged with the training of recruits. It is not intended that it should be followed regidly.

2.     Special Reserve recruits perform the first four months on the course.

Syllabus of training.

(The first, fourth and seventh fortnights are shown, to see the entire syllabus as provided in the 1914 edition of Infantry Training, click here, or on the image at right.)

First FortnightPhysical Training10For the first week under qualified instructors (See "Manual of Physical Training")
Squad drill without arms17For the first week it is recommanded that all squad drill should be with intervals and in slow time only.
Fourth FortnightPhysical Training10Physical training under qualified instructors.

Running training under squad instructors in accordance with the pronciples explained in "Manual of Physical Training," Section IX.

Running training
Squad drill10 
Extended order drill5 
Marching order1 
Night work2 
Seventh FortnightPhysical Training10Physical training under qualified instructors.
Squad, platoon, and company drill8 
Field work, including instruction in night operations12 
Guards and sentries2 
Route marching5Marching order, without packs (See Sec. 112)
Entrenching2Recruits should first be taught to construct cover for themselves with the entrenching inplement and then to improve to gradually with the entrenching tools.

Eleventh and twelfth fortnights as for tenth fortnight.

2.     Lectures to recruits.

1.     Lectures should frequently be delivered by officers; with a view to retaining the attention of recruits they should not as a rule exceed half an hour in length, should take place at suitable hours, and should be made as attractive as possible

2.     The lectures at the commencement of the recruit course of training should be mainly on elementary interior economy, sanitation, discipline, regimental distinctions, the meaning and importance of a military spirit; subsequently they may also be on the work of the period, and should then if possible be illustrated by incidents taken from actual warfare, which should emphasize the value of a military spirit in war.

3.     The following are some of the subjects suggested as suitable for lectures to infantry recruits:—

  • Barrack room duties.
  • Cleanliness and smartness expected from the soldier.
  • Dress and clothing.
  • Local orders.
  • Good name of regiment and army.
  • Conduct when out of camp or barracks.
  • Position of provost, and duty to obey and support him.
  • Duty when ordered as escort.
  • Names, ranks, and position of officer.
  • Regimental colours.
  • Saluting.
  • Manner of making a complaint.
  • Reporting sick and hospital rules.
  • General conduct while in the army.
  • Immediate physical and material advantages of moderation and sobriety.
  • The advantages of physical fitness.
  • Prospects of civil employment in after life affected by conduct while in the army.
  • Registration for employment dependent of good character on discharge, preference being given to exemplary or very good characters. For police and post office employment as additional certificate of absolute sobriety is necessary.
  • Fitting equipment.
  • laying down kits.
  • Marching order.
  • Hints on marching; boots, socks, clean feet, treatment of blisters. Drinking on the march.
  • Falling out. Instances of long marching and endurance.
  • Sanitation and hygiene.
  • The rifle and elementary theoretical instruction in musketry.
  • Duties on guard.
  • Movements in extended order and use of the rifle.
  • Co-operation, comradeship, disregard of self and their importance in war.
  • Observation and the use of the ears and eyes by day and night.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 July 2013 12:15 AM EDT
Saturday, 20 July 2013

High Seas in a Melmac Cup
Topic: Commentary

Rank badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Source: Their Glory Cannot Fade, a souvenir pamphlet published by the Canadian Pacific Railway, Christmas, 1918.
Click on thumbnail images for full size. Images cross-posted from here.

The battle lines are drawing themselves over an issue in the Canadian Army that seems to be self-propagating contentious views. Sadly, its not over the loss of buildings in places like Wolseley Barracks, but rather over the planned change to officers' rank insignia.

It's not worth one's time to trawl through the comments on news media sites, even the CBC, because those discussions seldom don't turn into raving political diatribes. Better to look at internet forums where we find congregated people of similar interests who will discuss issues from a common understanding, even if not common agreement.

Take the British & Commonwealth Military Badge Forum, for example, where in a thread titled "Pips and Crowns re-instated" we find the admission by member servicepub that it was indeed a lobby group that precipitated the Government decision to change Army officers' rank badges. It is most likely that if this had actually been a Canadian Army agenda item, its execution would have swiftly followed, if not preceded, the change to Naval officers' rank insignia in 2010. Granted, the Army has had other priorities for some time now.

The members on the Badge Forum show strong support for the change, but they are a group of collectors, reveling in the intricate design and workmanship of badges. And for many military badges, the finest workmanship and levels of detail are not in basic accoutrements such as officers rank stripes, it is in the older badges like intricate metal crowns and stars (pips is a colloquialism). This is a group that celebrates the past, and works diligently to preserve and honour it. They like the idea of returning to more ornate rank badge styles, and readily agree with the connections this gives to the historical Canadian Armies of the World Wars. But, notably, few of them will be found among the officers subject to any new uniform changes.

In comparison, we can read the exchanges on the forums at (a.k.a., where a group comprised, in large proportion, of serving members of the CF generate a very different tone.

In the recent pages of a lengthy discussion thread titled "Re-Royalization" (RCN, RCAF & RCEME), renaming, CF to CAF, old badges, and "new" Army Divisions". (Start about page 111 of the thread.) Here the conversation circles less around support for or against the change per se, but more on the timing of such a decision in declared times of austerity. Small change one might argue, but the principle remains. The costs of changing rank insignia could have been the money to give buildings at Wolseley Barracks a few year's reprieve.

The troops at also, quite deservedly, feel affronted by the claim that this change somehow restores honour lost at Unification. If that is so, someone hasn't been keeping the military of the past few decades informed that they should be maintaining a sense of lost honour. Instead, they've been in places like the former Yugoslavia, Africa, and Afghanistan forging honour with good steel and lost blood.

But some will ignore the achievements of today's Army because they are too rigidly focused on slights, real and imagined, of the past. Like the British with the retreat from Kabul, Isandlwana, and the Somme in 1916, some Canadians also love to treasure a good tragedy, especially when we can find someone to blame in the distant past and try to fix it in the modern era. Like War of 1812 Battle Honours, Unification of the CF, or the attempts to resurrect the Arrow, there's never a shortage of lobby groups to attack an issue, and when they can convince the Government can use Defence dollars to achieve their dreams, all the better.

There's a certain irony that the sides drawn in this battle don't really exist, or at least aren't mutually opposing. One side declares the change is a "good thing," and having convinced the government to do it, find themselves mystified that the rank and file aren't marching proudly to their victory over Unification. The rank and file, on the other hand, are saying "meh." For them, it just another change to uniforms (and not everyone's anyway). The ones who have a few decades service remember that no-one made any furor over the re-introduction of the coloured "jam label" regimental shoulder titles and brass locket belt buckles on the Garrison Dress in the 1980s. Those also copied badges worn in Italy and North West Europe in the Second World War, and they came and went without a whimper from the 'save our heritage' crowd.

The garrison dress shoulder flash.  The embroidery of the blue and the wide black border with heavy hem stitchery make it distinctive from earlier patterns. Photo by Capt M. O'Leary (Private Collection)

The garrison dress shoulder flash of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

"Change the uniforms?" the troops say, "ok, but don't tell us what we're supposed to think about it."

Today's Army, the one that maintained an incredible pace of operational tempo to meet Canada's expectations in Afghanistan lacks no honour. To imply they do, and that it will be restored by new pips and crowns on officers' shoulders, is a laughable argument. They're not against the change, they're protesting the window dressing of hot air accompanying it and all that it implies about them. They're questioning, among themselves, the contradiction between warnings of austerity measures and an unexpected expense on non-essentials. Regardless, none of them are going to resign their commissions in protest over this one. They'll work through the change and be just as effective afterwards, probably without spending forty years bemoaning it.

Bring on the stars and crowns.

Next, the Canadian Forces, and the Canadian Army, will have a chance to examine the task, devise the insignia (hopefully with appropriate and distinctive Canadian iconography), contract their production, and coordinate their issue. The lobbyists may have sold the plan to Ottawa, but the Army still needs to do the detailed staff work on what will actually be approved and worn, otherwise we might have to ask who's steering this ship.

To anyone who's still reading, can we put this issue to bed now? Let the Directorate of History and Heritage (including the Dress and Ceremonial officer) do their jobs. After that, let the Supply folks do theirs, and then the tailors can get to work.

If you happen to be a big fan of the change, for whatever reason, just don't be surprised when a young officer wearing freshly minted pips doesn't gleefully join you in a good round of damning Hellyer, he probably won't know who that is. Or care. But if your next project is getting the troops good boots, you may find a willing audience.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 July 2013 12:07 AM EDT
Friday, 19 July 2013

Art of Leadership (JADEX)
Topic: Leadership

Extracted from The Art of Leadership, from the Chief of Defence Staff, General J.A. Dextraze, CBE, CMM, DSO, CD; June 1973

Leadership is self-perpetuating—at least is should be. This means that you, as a leader, have a solmn responsibility to develop leadership in your subordinates. Remember that all of them sooner or later will have to lead others. The best way for you to teach them, of course, is by example, hopefully by good example. 

elipsis graphic

Let me now list some of the basic rules of leadership that I have found useful in my career, and which I commend to you. The list is not all-inclusive, and it is random, but when considered together with the four principles [Loyalty, Knowledge, Integrity, Courage] mentioned earlier it summarizes my approach to good leadership.

• Don't coax subordinates into obeying orders. On the other hand, do not club them into it.

• Don't flatter your subordinates. It is unnecessary and tends to degrade you in their eyes.

• Don't be sarcastic towards subordinates.

• Display confidence and pride in those under your command.

• Always support your superiors, and make it clear to your subordinates that you do.

• Accept full responsibility in the eyes of your superiors for the mistakes and failures of your subordinates. If they fail, it is your fault, and your job to make whatever corrections are necessary. Don't try to shift the blame downwards.

• Never end an order with a threat. Your rank carries with it all the power, explicit or implicit, that you need.

• If a reprimand becomes necessary, administer it privately unless there is some compelling reason to do it publicly.

• Always be concerned for the well-being of your subordinates, and let them know that you are.

• Never take things for granted. Check and double-check.

• Don't abuse the privileges of your rank. be austere in the granting and accepting of privileges.

• Work hard and don't waste time.

• Be meticulous and correct about your conduct, bearing, dress and personal relationships.

• Recognize that leadership and popularity are not synonymous.

elipsis graphic

The important thing is that you adopt a leadership style that matches your own innate personality. Don't become artificial in an attempt to copy a style that doesn't suit you. Be yourself, and conduct yourself according to the guidelines given here, and you will find that leadership comes naturally. But you must work at it.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 18 July 2013

Changes at Wolseley Barracks
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

It only took about two weeks after the construction fencing surrounded three buildings at Wolseley Barracks for the eagle-eyed sleuths of the local media to pick up on the fact that things were about to change.

On Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, the headline news story for the London Free Press, accompanied by leading news on local radio stations, was the impending destruction of eight buildings in three stages. The three buildings now in contractors' hands constitute Phase I of the operations. Phases II and III will occur, as military planners say "on order."

16 Jul 2013 - Eight buildings at Wolseley Barracks to be demolished, The Free Press has learned

18 Jul 2013 - The London North Centre Conservative MP learned of her party’s plan to demolish much of Wolseley Barracks by reading Free Press article

In summary, the three groups of buildings on the chopping block (current and planned) are:

Phase I, in RED:

  • A – The Officer's Quarters: Most recently used as temporary quarters for base personnel.
  • B – The Warrant Officer's and Sergeant's Quarters: Most recently used as housing for visiting groups and for courses run by 31 Canadian Brigade Group, replacement resources for these will have to be funded from the respective budgets where applicable, in the latter case either to rent quarters, or to transport personnel to other DND locations where quarters are available and conduct training there.
  • C – The Glacis Building: Last employed as the Headquarters for 31 Service Battalion, which moved into the Base HQ building when the ASU London command cell was dismantled.

Phase II, in YELLOW:

(The rumoured plan is that the Drill Hall will be reconfigured/reconstructed to hold new versions of each Mess.)

Phase III, in BLUE:

  • G – "P" Block: Used as a Unit Transport Section storage and work area for units in the garrison.
  • H – "O" Block, The Royal School Building: Used as a training facility for all units, this structure also houses the 31 Canadian Brigade Group Battle School which conducts training courses throughout the year.

Unfortunately, while Wolseley Hall itself is protected as a National Historic Site, the next oldest building on base, the Royal School Building is only designated as a "Recognized Federal Heritage Building" which is insufficient at this time to preserve it from the developing plan.

While the buildings may be disappearing, each of them supports functions that will have to be moved elsewhere within the base, and possibly reduced in scale to achieve that. With the predicted demise of the Royal School Building and the possible re-allocation of much or all of the Drill Hall, London may be the only Reserve Garrison in Southwestern Ontario without a drill floor large enough for any unit to hold a ceremonial parade indoors. That is a big change from the days when the Canadian Fusiliers paraded in the Dundas Street Armoury or, more recently, when the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment held a recent change of command parade in the current Drill Hall. Interesting times are ahead for Wolseley Barracks. Bullets may need to be bitten, but the prospect of doing so is seldom looked forward to with eager anticipation.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013 8:17 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Harry Cock's Medals
Topic: The RCR Museum

Lately, I've been helping out in the regimental museum; The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Our new curator, a welcome expert on many facets of museum administration, readily accepts that she is still developing a detailed knowledge of the Regiment's history (and is absorbing it at the usual Army firehose feeding rate). This has led to her enlisting the aid of in a few volunteers who have focussed personal research on various aspects of the Regiment's history.

Which brings me to this week. As the appointed volunteer to scour the chaos of boxes, shelves and racks in the Museum's basement, I have been turning up a variety of things. Some will help populate new galleries being opened in September (come see the Museum during Doors Open London on 27/28 September 2013), and others have been surprising, to say the least. Among the latter, today I opened a box to find donated artifacts which had belonged to a consummate regimental officer, Harry Tredennick Cock, M.C.

Shown above, and with the privately engraved back of his Military Cross shown below, how these medals had escaped being catalogued and placed on display, along with the rest of Harry's gear in appropriate galleries, will forever mystify me.

Cock's medals include:

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 12:50 AM EDT
Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Tiddley Rig (Second World War, RCN)
Topic: RCN

Once Upon a Navy

By: Master Warrant Officer J.L.Wilson.
Published in the Canadian Armed Forces publication, Sentinel, 1973/5, volume 9, number 5

We swung, although the word wasn't in vogue yet.

For most of us were young and adventure beckoned. Never mind what the veterans of the Iceland escort stops muttered at us with a headshake.

So, in the beginning, and until we learned, it was a skylark.

If you were a deck-ape you bought a Green River knife and fashioned your own sheath for it. But this, whether you were a simple seaman, clinker-knocker or whatever, came after getting a wedge put in your trousers to swell the bell-bottoms.

And after that you saved for a tailor-made tiddley with gold badges to replace the pusser issue uniform with its red badges, tied a Newfoundland nickel or a three penny bit in the bow of your HMCS cap tally, bought a colorfully lined port and starboard cap, a Burberry and a white scarf. WelIington shoes or boots (kept always glossily polished), some hand-sewn Mediterranean-blue collars with lightly stitched tapes. and some dicky fronts to replace the issued flannel vests and the coarse-blue sea jersey. Some even went so far as to line their jumper cuffs green in the starboard sleeve and red in the port, and then folded them back when at rest in a pub.

Cap flat-aback, of course. for we thought ourselves special and were proud.

There were many other things. too. The extra-long tapes to hold the bight in the silk at the bottom of the V in the jumper, and a zipper in the jumper side for easy dressing, sword-matting in the nettles of the hammock, and blue-trimmed summer whites instead of the issued ducks for the real Jack-ashore.

But memory has bIurred most of it, or taken it away completely.

The learning started for many in the ubiquitous corvettes.

Others began it in minesweepers, destroyers and frigates and a host of other craft, or else served as gunners in the plodding and gallant merchantmen, and wherever the war could lead them.

And then in HMCS Royalmount we reached perhaps the limit of affectations. Most of us wore a single gold ear-ring in the right ear. But only because the captain, Lt.-Cmdr. Jim Davis. wore a silver one. and we upped our grade in imitation and out of profound respect for this bearded, hard-bitten and excellent captain who had previously commanded fairmiles and the corvette La Malbaie.

Although by then a lot of us had learned in southern waters and elsewhere, and in going down the beautiful Foyle or out through the narrow gap at St. John's and into the weather and wet and hives and monotony, the ice, fog and sleeplessness and the other handshakes with the filthy North Atlantic.

And we were changed, felt older than we looked. wore our caps squared off, had largely given up the nonsense and had learned how to milk enjoyment out of the few days at either end of the mid-ocean escort run which broke the pattern for a while.

Or until other patterns were broken completely. as they were for friends in ships whose names will sail for so long as memory lasts.

But all of this was a long time ago, although it sometimes seems as near as yesterday.

As near, in fact. as when we were young swung and there was an RCNVR, RCNR, and RCN.

See also:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 15 July 2013

Calvary 1907 – Command and Leading of Cavalry
Topic: Officers

Cavalry Training; 1907

S. 142. – The Command and Leading of Cavalry

With cavalry, the personality of the commander is the most important factor in success.

The resolute offensive, which is the essence of cavalry action, and the rapidity of movement, which is the characteristic of the arm, allow only the shortest amount of time for consideration. Rapid decisions may therefore have to be made under the most unfavourable conditions. In many cases it will be impossible for the commander of a mass of cavalry to take in correctly the strength and dispositions of the enemy, or to gauge with even approximate accuracy the strength of his adversary from the preliminary resistance he encounters.

Orders must, therefore, be based on a general consideration of the circumstances. Once his squadrons have been launched, the commander can only rely on his intact reserve for influencing the combat.

Only the most strenuous training of the force, combined with high executive talent in the leaders down to the most junior, can compensate for all these difficulties.

A high standard of training, not only in collective action, but also in detached duties, is essential to efficiency in war. All ranks must be trained to manoeuvre swiftly and with precision, to charge in close or open order, and to act dismounted. Whether acting strategically, or in tactical co-operation with other arms, the functions of cavalry comprise both fighting and reconnaissance. Every cavalry soldier must therefore be trained to ride well and be a good horsemaster, to use his intelligence in carrying out reconnoitring duties, to be efficient with the sword or lance, and to supplement these with the rifle when the situation is favourable to its use.

In addition to being efficient in the above subjects, cavalry officers must possess resolution and prompt decision, and have a knowledge of the principles which govern the movements of other arms in the field. The seniors, in order that they might better direct their men; the juniors in order that they might better interpret the movements of the enemy.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Assault on Kiska
Topic: The RCR

When regiments amalgamate, the shared knowledge of some threads of history are easily lost when the new regiment's name and badge follows one tradition and not another, or isn't replaced by a completely new name and badge. The loss comes when the telling of history, in classrooms and messes, and in printed works, focuses on a single line of the amalgamated regiment's past to the detriment or complete exclusion of other parts of the regiment's now shared history.

One of the regiments amalgamated with The Royal Canadian Regiment in the 1950s was The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (M.G.). The Fusiliers brought into this amalgamation a rich history of their own. Kiska is part of that story.



Excerpted from The Canadian Army; 1939-1945; An Official Historical Summary, by Colonel C.P. Stacey, OBE, AM, Ph., Director, Historical Section, General Staff (pp. 304 – 307)

As we have already seen, the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in June 1942, opening the offensive with air attacks on the American base at Dutch Harbor on 3 and 4 June. They landed on both Kiska and Attu on the 7th of the month and proceeded to set up defences and establishments there. The force in the islands was gradually increased until in May 1943 there were 2500 troops on Attu and about 5400 on Kiska.

Even though. Kiska is nearly 3000 miles from Vancouver, this enemy incursion into the North American zone was necessarily a source of grave anxiety to Canada as well as the United States. The Americans immediately took counter-measures, launching heavy air attacks against the Japanese garrisons and operating against their communications with naval forces. United States troops occupied the island of Adak in August 1942 and Amchitka in the following January, thus obtaining advanced air bases close to their targets. We have now to review the assistance given by Canada to the United States in the action taken against the Japanese invaders.

At the time of the attacks on Dutch Harbor, one squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force was already serving on Alaskan soil, at Annette Island in the southern tip of the Alaska panhandle—a position important to the defence of the Canadian port of Prince Rupert—and the despatch of further units to Alaska had been arranged with the U.S. authorities; two squadrons indeed were actually in transit. These were sent forward to Anchorage, and subsequently on to Umnak and Amchitka, and played their part in the attacks on the Japanese in the Aleutians. In addition, small forces of the Canadian Army served in Southern Alaska as a result of R.C.A.F. activity there. This was arranged by General Stuart, who arrived on the Pacific Coast on 30 May 1942. On 1 June the first detachment of Canadian anti-aircraft gunners reached Annette Island. The force there was ultimately built up to a light anti-aircraft battery, a heavy anti-aircraft troop, and an aerodrome defence company. Canadian soldiers remained on the island until 27 November 1943, by which time the Japanese had been cleared from the Aleutians and the threat to Alaska no longer existed.


Bombing and blockade having proved inadequate means for evicting the Japanese from Attu and Kiska, the Americans in the spring of 1943 set about recovering the islands by ground assault. On 12 May United States troops landed on Attu, and one of the fiercest and nastiest battles of the war began. It ended in the complete annihilation of the Japanese defenders, who made their final Banzai charge on 28 May. They had numbered, as we have said, about 2500. The Americans took eleven prisoners; all the rest were killed in action or committed suicide. With Attu in Allied hands, the larger garrison in the more easterly island of Kiska was now in an extremely dangerous situation.

The possibility of the Canadian Army's helping in the Aleutian campaign was first discussed between Lieutenant-General J.L. De Witt, Commanding General of the U.S. Western Defence Command and Fourth Army, and Major-General G.R. Pearkes, V.C., G.O.C.-in-C. Pacific Command, in April 1943. When it was more formally discussed between Ottawa and Washington next month the American authorities welcomed the idea; definite proposals were formulated and approved, and on 3 June the Chief of the General. Staff telegraphed Pacific Command authorizing the organization of a brigade group to take part in the intended attack on Kiska. An experienced overseas brigade commander, Brigadier H.W. Foster, was brought back from England to take command.

The Canadian force was composed of the Headquarters of the 13th Infantry Brigade, with four infantry battalions: the Canadian Fusiliers, the Winnipeg Grenadiers (re-formed after the destruction of the active battalion at Hong Kong), the Rocky Mountain Rangers and Le Régiment de Hull. The 24th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, and some smaller units and service detachments, completed the order of battle. All the units contained large numbers of "Home Defence" troops called up for compulsory service under the National Resources Mobilization Act; and a special order-in-council, dated 18 June 1943, authorized the employment of such troops in the Aleutians. The force was organized on American lines, with Le Régiment de Hull taking the place of a battalion of Combat Engineers which was provided in each parallel American formation. The headquarters of the Brigade was reorganized on the U.S. staff system, and the units were given a considerable amount of American equipment, all transport vehicles, in particular, being of U.S. pattern. In general, Canadian weapons were used.

The Canadian force, numbering exactly 4800 officers and men, sailed from Vancouver Island ports on 12 July in four U.S. transports. On the 21st the troops disembarked at Adak, the American base in the western Aleutians where they were to undergo specialized training. After three strenuous weeks of hardening training and combined exercises, the force re-embarked and the whole expedition sailed for Kiska on 13 August. The military force for the attack on the island amounted, including the Canadians, to over 34,000 men. It was commanded by Major-General C. H. Corlett, U.S. Army.

D Day for the Kiska assault was 15 August. The first troops ashore were to be those of the First Special Service Force, with its Canadian component. When the Special Service men landed, however, they met no resistance; nor did the Canadian brigade when it went ashore next day, nor any other element of the force. Although it was some time before the attackers were wholly certain of the fact, and the island (it is 25 miles long) was carefully searched, the Japanese were gone. They had evacuated Kiska over a fortnight before; the Allied blow had struck only the air. LINK FOR IMAGE -

We now know that orders for the evacuation had been issued in Tokyo on 21 May, while the fighting on Attu was still in progress. For months past, the United States blockade of Kiska had prevented contact with the garrison by surface ship, and it was ordered that the withdrawal should be carried out by submarine; but after several submarines had been lost this attempt was abandoned and a force of light cruisers and destroyers was dispatched to do the work. It waited a considerable time for suitable weather, but on 28 July, under cover of fog, and favoured by the fact that the American blockaders had withdrawn to refuel, it dashed in to Kiska and in an incredibly short space of time (one Japanese account says forty-five minutes, another two hours) embarked the 5100 men still on the island and got safely away. During the period between the withdrawal and the Allied landings American warships repeatedly bombarded Kiska without bringing any reply from the shore guns, but their silence was interpreted as possibly the result of reluctance to give away their positions before an actual assault began.

The Canadian Brigade remained on Kiska (a station rendered disagreeable by fog, rain and savage wind) for more than three months. It was then withdrawn to British Columbia. The last Canadian troops left the island on 12 January 1944. So ended an enterprise which might have produced very bloody fighting, but which the enemy's discreet withdrawal turned into one of the great anti-climaxes of the war.


ATTU (notes from Wikipedia)

  • Battle of Attu: 11-30 May 1943
  • Relative strengths: 15000 US vs 2900 Japanese
  • Casualties:
    • US: 549 killed, 1148 wounded, 2100 evac for sickness/disease/eviro injuries
    • Japanese: 2850+ killed; 29 POW
  • Casualty rates
    • US (killed, wounded, sick) – 25%
    • Japanese – 100%

KISKA (notes from Wikipedia)

  • Landing at Kiska: 15 Aug 1943
  • Relative strengths:
    • Allied forces: 34,426, including 5300 Canadians
    • The Japanese garrison had been 5200 strong
  • Assuming similar casualty rates to ATTU, KISKA casualties could have been:
    • Allied – 25% – 8600 killed, wounded, sick; including 1300 Canadians
    • Japanese – 100% – 5200

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 July 2013 12:03 AM EDT
Saturday, 13 July 2013

Pips and Crowns and Politics
Topic: Commentary

Rank badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Source: Their Glory Cannot Fade, a souvenir pamphlet published by the Canadian Pacific Railway, Christmas, 1918.
Click on thumbnail images for full size. Images cross-posted from here.

What do the War of 1812 and Canadian Army rank insignia have in common? They have both (or will, in one degree or another) changed the way the Army is perceived by Canadians, yet neither was an Army initiative. The Army doesn't get to lead its own heritage and historical representations, that is now apparently done by third-party lobby groups who manage to convince the Government that change in the Army is "good for the troops."

Frankly, I will bet there was no cheering in any Army Mess over this announcement. Find a cynical enough Corporal and he'll tell you the officers should change rank insignia, preferably to colour-coded top hats so they can be seen from afar and efficiently avoided.


So what's the Army to do? The background manoevring on such issues is politically motivated, sold to the Government by lobby groups, and then delivered to the Army as a decree. The Army, however, is in the business of carrying out the Government's wishes. That's what armies in democratic nations do. And so the Army soldiers on.

The Army soldiers on, says "Yes Sir," and is left not only to execute the task, but also to create the explanations for why such changes are a good thing. This messaging has to be delivered not only internally, but also externally to all Canadians, and, indirectly, to an international audience of interested military minded news watchers who sit and wonder why other militaries do the things they do.

The last change to Army officer's rank insignia in the Canadian Army was with Unification, that much maligned (and in many respects deservedly so) plan to economize the structure of the Canadian Forces. And here we are, 40 years later, watching our current Government work at undoing the vestiges of that era, including remaining ones that have no impact on current operational efficiencies or professionalism.

The Army has had uniforms come and go (some had mercifully short tenures), moved rank between sleeves, shoulders and centre of chest, and taken each change in stride. This is just one more dress change that will require extensive preparations for the tailoring of thousands of uniforms, and those affected will wait and turn in their tunics on order and pick up new insignia in turn. Hopefully they'll be better made than that War of 1812 pin they issued to the troops.

The aggravating aspect comes with the worldly predictions of how this is all received. Frankly, this will have no material effect on the "morale of the Army." In an era of declared austerity, its an inexplicable expense, however small in the "big picture" it may be. If you want to raise morale, gear up another mission so that those who joined the Army to see the world and serve their country can look forward to their next tour (but perhaps not with the pace Afghanistan inflicted upon the Army). Want a smaller change? Give Commanding Officers the authority to issue a rum ration again, rather then needing a verified Ice Age and a General's signature to do it on a winter exercise.

Frankly, I will bet there was no cheering in any Army Mess over this announcement. Find a cynical enough Corporal and he'll tell you the officers should change rank insignia, preferably to colour-coded top hats so they can be seen from afar and efficiently avoided. The average junior officer is more worried, as she should be, about when Cpl Bloggin's boots are going to come through Supply, or how to organize transport to next week's ranges. The old retired guys in the Officers' Messes are chuckling over the change, because they know how much administration comes with such things, to be dumped on the serving officers' desks without anything being taken away in balance.

And proclaiming the historical significance and "regaining lost honour" to bolster troops morale? Bull-shit! The Army has not been some pathetic Gollum, skulking in the shadows waiting for the return of its Precious in the form of pips and crowns to be redeemed in its own eyes. And the pride shown by Canadians in the Army's achievements over the past decade needs no qualification. The fact of the matter is that while most soldiers (serving and retired) are very proud of the histories of their regiments and corps, and proud of the Army's achievements, they just aren't that interested in the details outside their own periods of service. Walk into any unit and start asking detailed questions about their history. You'll get shuffled around a few offices until you meet the one or two in-house history geeks that know the answers … because they have personally dedicated time to the research.

Changing the rank insignia? All well and good, the Army will soldier on. But lets not try to sell ourselves with a smoke and mirrors act that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. And in a few years, it will all be normal again and the in-house history geeks will be the ones explaining the "old" rank stripes to visitors.

I may be one of those history geeks, and I can tell you that while change may be an unavoidable constant, bitching about having to change is an inalienable soldier's right, especially when the explanations fall flat.

Bring on the stars (pips is a colloquialism) and crowns, but let's make sure they are well made. And for the Supply types who will be managing the production contracts, remember that officers will wear these in groups numbering up to six at a time, and need them for multiple uniforms. Every time you find a "cheaper" contract and flood the Clothing Stores with bags of new stars and crowns, it's going to get harder to make up matching sets. So don't complain when a newly promoted officer wants all new ones so that he looks correct in the rank insignia the Government has magnanimously restored.

I'd like to tell you to watch this space for developing news, but it may be some months before the final plan is developed by the Army. Changes ordered by Government announcements can be lacking in the details needed for execution. But I'm sure some newly motivated staff officer is already working extra hours to figure this one out. And feel free to watch this space anyway.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 July 2013 1:36 PM EDT
Friday, 12 July 2013

1914 Infantry Training; Training of Recruits
Topic: Drill and Training

Infantry Training, 1914

Chapter II – Squad Drill

10.     Method of instructing recruits.

1.     The instructor should be clear, firm, concise, and patient; he must make allowance for the different capacities of the men, and avoid discouraging nervous recruits; he must remember that much may be taught by personal example, and that careful individual instruction is the best means of developing the intelligence.

2.     The instructor will teach as much as possible by demonstration, performing the movements himself or making a smart recruit perform them. the detail for each movement as given in this manual is for the information of the instructor, who must avoid repeating it word for word because such a method is wearisome and monotonous and would not be understood by some recruits.

The instructor will explain the reason for every movement and formation, and its application in the field.

3.     Drills will be short and frequent to avoid the exhaustion of the instructor and recruit.

4.     Recruits will be advanced progressively from one exercise to another, men of inferior quality being out back to a less advanced squad.

5.     At first the recruit will be placed in a position by the instructor; afterwards he should not be touched, but made to correct his own position when faults are pointed out.

11.     Words of Command

1.     Commands will be pronounced distinctly, and sufficiently loud to be heard by all concerned.

2.     Commands which consist of one word will be preceded by a caution. The caution or cautionary part of a command, will be given deliberately and distinctly; the last or executive part, which, as a rule, should consist of only one word or syllable, will be given sharply: Bat-ta-lion—HALT; Right—FORM; Right hand—SALUTE. A pause will be made between the caution and the executive word of command.

3.     When the formation is moving, executive words will be completed as the men begin the pace which will bring them to the spot on which the command is to be executed. The caution must be commenced accordingly.

4.     Young officers and non-commissioned officers will be frequently practiced in giving words of command.

5.     Indistinct and slovenly words of command beget slovenly movements and must be avoided.

6.     The cautions and commands in this manual are, as a rule, given with regard to one flank only, but the same principle applies equally to movements to the other flank, which will also be practiced.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 11 July 2013

Before the Osprey was the Dynavert
Topic: RCAF

Artist's rendering of the three RCAF/CAF Dynaverts in formation. From the Sentinel April 1969.


Over a decade before the origins of the V-22 Osprey, Canada experimented with its own VSTOL aircraft, the CX-84 Dynavert. Featured in the pages of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) publication, Sentinel, in 1969, this experimental VSTOL (vertical and short take-off and landing) aircraft went into limited production for trials by Canada's military.

Three of the four Canadair CL-84 Dynaverts that were produced were used for flight testing and demonstration. The CAF evaluated the aircraft with the intention of trialing them in a variety of operational roles. Planned mission types for the aircraft included resue and evacuation, visial, electronic and photo reconnassance and armed escort. It was also considered for shipboard operation in the Navy and all types of tactical airmobility tasks.

The CL-84-1 prototype, in the hands of 18 pilots, "accumulated 405 operating hours, including 145 flight hours in 305 flights." Following this success, the three operational aircaft totaled over 700 flights at the hands of pilots from Canada, the UK and the US.

Following the success of the prototype, In February 1968, the RCAF ordered three aircraft for evaluation in various military roles. Initially designated CX-84 and numbered 8401, 8402 and 8403, the creation of the CAF through Unification resulted in their designations changing to CX-131, with the aircraft serialized 13101 to 13103. Although delivered in CAF markings, the CAF designation and serials were never applied, instead the RCAF designation and serials were shown and were continued to be used. Despite the Dynavert's performance, no production orders resulted from its trials.

Rollout of the first RCAF/CAF Dynavert, From the Sentinel, July-Auguat, 1969.


Two remaining CL-84s can be seen at:

  • CX8402 at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
  • CX8403 at the Western Canada Aviation Museum. Never flown, this aircraft has never been restored and only the fuselage and portions of the wing are on display.

More on the Dynavert:

Artist's rendering of a RCAF/CAF Dynavert. From the Sentinel April 1969.


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 17 June 2013 2:54 PM EDT
Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Signalling Equipment (1903)
Topic: The RCR

Passing timely and accurate messages on the battlefield has always been a continuing challenge for armies, with emphasis on employing the newest technological innovations. The following General Order, published in the Canada Gazette, details the signalling equipment issued for training purpses to the Depots of The Royal Canadian Regiment in 1903. before the advent of radio, the latest technologies included semaphore flags, heliographs, and telegraph keys for Morse code. The news article at right, from the Timaru Herald (1886), decribes the use of the "limelight" signalling apparatus.

Army Signalling by Night.

Timaru Herald, Volume XLIII,
Issue 3613, 30 April 1886, Page 3

General Orders, 1903
Headquarters, Ottawa
1st February, 1903

General Order No. 16
Signalling Equipment

The following details of signalling equipment are authorized for issue to the permanent units, as mentioned below.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons, the Royal Canadian Field Artillery, the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, the Canadian Mounted Rifle and each Regimental Depot of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

(3)     Each Regimental Depot Royal Canadian Regiment.

Oxygen mixture104*
Methylated spirits50*
Scissors, lamp4
Apparatus, limelightbagsgas4
bottles, cleansing gas2
can, tin2
cylinders, lime pencils2
pencils (doz)2*
retorts, mark III4
Cans, oil, feeding, army signalling1
Cases, message book2
Cotton, waste (lbs)3
Flags, signal, armyblue3 feet square4
2 feet square12
white with stripe3 feet square4
2 feet square12
poles5 feet 6 inches10
3 feet 6 inches26
Heliographs, 3 inch (with stand) mark III2
Lamps, bull's-eye, signal (with stand)4
Panniers, signalling, No. 12
Panniers, signalling, No. 22
Stands, telescope, signalling2
Telescope, signalling2
Tubing, india rubber (yards)10*
Wheels, cypher2
Key, dummy, signallers2
Binoculars, case2
Cards, test50
Books, Manual of Instruction4
Message forms600
Oil, Colza (pints)10
Wick, common (lbs)2*
Wick, round, 1 ½ inch (yards)10

* Twelve months supply.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 June 2013 8:06 AM EDT
Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Lewis Gun Section (1925)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Cover and Title page from Corporal to Field Officer (1925)

A Lewis Gunner of The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1919.

The Canadian Army finished the First World War with the Lewis firmly entrenched as the principle source of firepower within the infantry platoon. This would not change until the introduction of the Bren Gun in 1939. The following extracts, from a 1925 guide for officers and non-commissioned officers of the Canadian Militia, describes the Lewis Gun and its Section.

Corporal to Field Officer (Infantry)

An Aid to Qualification for Officers and N.C.O.'s
In the Non-Permanent Active Militia of Canada

By: Capt H.P.E. Phillips, and Lieut.-Col. R.J.S. Langford

Infantry in Battle

Lewis Gun

There are two Lewis Gun Sections per Platoon. Each Section has one Lewis Gun and consists of 1 N.C.O. and 7 Privates. There are 2 Lewis Guns in the Headquarters Wing of each Infantry Battalion for Anti-Aircraft work. Total Lewis-Guns per Battalion, 34. The characteristics of the Lewis Gun:—

(a)     Rapid production of great volume of fire which can be turned instantly in any direction.

(b)     No fixed tripod , therefore less accurate than the Vickers and cannot be used for indirect fire.

(c)     Air cooled therefore not capable of sustained fire.

(d)     Delicate mechanism and openness to mud and sand render it liable to stoppages.

(e)     Easily concealed.

(f)     Cone of fire is long and narrow, therefore suited to deep targets or enfilade.

(g)     Range 2,800 yards. Rate of fire 8 rounds per second. Weight 26 lbs.

(h)     Ammunition is loaded in magazines holding 47 rounds. Loaded magazines weigh 4 lbs. 6 ozs. Empty magazines 1 1/2 lbs. Magazines can be changed in 2 seconds and loaded in 75 seconds. 20 magazines per Lewis gun.

(i)     Mobi1ity of Lewis Gun Section slightly less than Rifle Section.

(j)     Fire of Lewis Guns fitted with Anti-Aircraft sights and mountings is dangerous to planes under 3,000 feet.

The normal number of magazines carried by the Section in warfare is 20 (940 rounds), but in case of necessity an additional 18 can be carried.

Lewis Gun Sections operate with their Platoons and should only be separated from them in exceptional circumstances.

Lewis Guns use up ammunition very rapidly. Their fire should therefore not be used for targets at long range. Fire should be reserved for covering the advance of rifle sections, for surprise, or for specially good targets. The Lewis Gun will always fire in short bursts, except when used in anti-aircraft defence. In attack when the advance can no longer be continued without opening fire Lewis Guns can:

(a)     Be used to beat down enemy fire while the rifle sections work around the flanks of the enemy centre of resistance to within assaulting distance.

(b)     Be used to effect surprise and enfilade by working round the flanks while the rifle sections pin the enemy to the ground.

(c)     Be pushed forward so that the remainder can advance covered by the fire.

In the platoon it will often be advisable to hold one Lewis Gun Section in reserve to meet any unexpected event.

Lewis Guns in Defence

In the defence Lewis Guns should be sited with a view to oblique fire and to cover any ground where natural or artificial features will cause the enemy to bunch.

In position warfare the lines of fire of the Lewis Gun must be co-ordinated with those of the Machine Guns to ensure that all ground is adequately covered.

Lewis Gun Sections

1 N.C.O. and 6 Privates. Each section carrying into action:

  • Lewis Gun with spare parts – 1
  • Magazines – 20
  • Pouches – 19
  • Carriers – 2
  • Rifles – 5
  • Bayonets – 5
  • Cutters, wire – 1
  • Periscope – 1
  • Small Arms Ammunition, .303
    •     Rifle; 50 x 5 – 250
    •     L.G., 27 x 20 – 940
  • Revolvers – 2
  • .455 Ammunition, 36 x 2 – 72


(War Establishment lays down the strength of sections as 1 N.C.O. and 7 Privates, but for demonstrations the strength will be 1 N.C.O. and 6 Privates.)

Distribution of Weapons, Ammunition and Equipment

 Sec. ComdrNo. 1No. 2No. 3No. 4No. 5No. 6
Lewis Gun 1     
Sapre Parts  1    
Pouches1 24444
Carriers  11   
Rifles1  1111
Bayonets1  1111
Cutters, wire1      
Revolvers 11    
.303 Rifle50  50505050
.303 in Mags474794188188188188
.455 Rev Ball 3636    

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 12 June 2013 5:41 PM EDT
Monday, 8 July 2013

Official Histories at DHH
Topic: DND - DHH

The Directorate of History and Heritage at the Canadian Department of National Defence has made available a number of out-of print official histories for download. Subjects range from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 through Canadian Naval Aviation, 1918-1962 to The War Policies of Canada, 1939-1945.

Go to the Official Histories

 The full list of available histories is:

  • Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 (1964)
  • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol I Six Years of War (1955)
  • Official history of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol II The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 (1956)
  • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol III The Victory Campaign: The Operations in Northwest Europe, 1944-45 (1960)
  • Arms, Men and Governments: The War Policies of Canada, 1939-1945 (1970)
  • The Canadian Army, 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary (1948)
  • Official History of the Canadian Army in Korea: Strange Battleground (1966)
  • A History of Canadian Naval Aviation, 1918-1962 (1965)
  • Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters, 1950-1955 (1965)
  • Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War, 1914-1919, Vol I Part 1 (1938)
  • Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War, 1914-1919, Vol I Part 2 (1938)
  • The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History. Vol 1, Origins and Early Years. (1962)
  • The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History. Vol 2, Activities on Shore During the Second World War. (1952)
  • The C.A.M.C. with the Canadian Corps during the Last Hundred Days of the Great War. (1924)
  • Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War: The Medical Services (1925)
  • Official History of the Canadian Medical Services, 1939-1945, Vol 1 Organization and Campaigns (1956)
  • Official History of the Canadian Medical Services, 1939-1945, Vol 2 Clinical Subjects (1953)
  • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 1: The First Four Years (1944)
  • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 2: The Fifth Year (1945)
  • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 3: The Sixth Year. (1949)
  • Report of the Ministry Overseas Military Forces of Canada, 1918 (1919)

Go to the Official Histories

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 July 2013 12:29 AM EDT

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