The Minute Book
Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Change is Coming
Topic: Commentary

The Canadian Army; Strong, Proud, Ready

Change is Coming


"The Canadian Army has given itself a new look by introducing a new primary badge, visual identifier and tagline in order to pay homage to its rich heritage and values."

Dire warnings of a new age of austerity have been descending on the Canadian Army, along with the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Army has enjoyed years of fat; being the darling of the Government's overseas initiatives, increasingly well funded for equipment modernization, highly rated in the media and the eyes of the public, and busier than it has been since the 1950s. Those days are over.

The Government's direction has changed with the drawdown and end of the Afghanistan mission. There is a move towards a more economical approach to Government spending, and the Department of National Defence will be doing its share of saving. There is no new missions on the horizon for our soldiers. These things all spell a special kind of doom in the eyes of some soldiers. One of a sort that not many in the Army remember. But those with over 20 years of service do.

The Army's last age of austerity, sometimes called the "decade of darkness," was in the 1980s. Minimized budgets, rusting vehicle fleets, "train to need" concepts that saw courses run only to qualify the minimum required personnel. It's tough soldiering to strap on the boots every day for years on end in that environment, but many did, sustaining regimental esprit de corps and unit capabilities more by force of will than by having available resources to train the way they would have liked.

Those days, or ones much like them, it is now forecast, are coming back. How prepared everyone in the Army is for the change remains to be seen; and the likely metamorphosis of personnel that will occur is already beginning. An operational Army and a peacetime institutional Army take two different kinds of soldiers to sustain.

It's no surprise to anyone that has followed the ebb and flow of the Army's strength over the past century that the care and maintenance of the Army has never been a peacetime hobby of Canadian Governments, of any party. Even the most ardent opposition parties don't argue for a bigger or better funded army in peacetime. They all happily seek the "peace dividend" and look elsewhere to curry votes with dollars.

So what makes this evolution special? It is different, that's why. For the First and Second World Wars, Canada built large armies from a comparatively tiny base (counting both Regulars and Reserve units). At the end of each war, the departure of those who had only joined "for the duration" was a natural evolution that supported demobilization. Those that wanted to remain in uniform not only had recent experience but were more than enough to fill the intended post-war establishment. Even for Korea, new battalions were raised for that war, and then transitioned into an evolving establishment that included the opportunity for service in Germany, maintaining the interests of enough to sustain the need.

But for Afghanistan (and the Balkan missions before that), the Army didn't raise an expeditionary force to reinforce and complement the standing army. It met the need with the existing establishment, Regular units, extensively backed with Reserve augmentation as the need arose, filled the mission requirement time and again. Granted, the Army's attrition dropped significantly and unanticipated line-ups at Recruiting Centres meant lengthy wait times to join any trade, but these were still only to fill the existing establishment.

As a result, at the end of the Afghanistan campaign, many in the Army are still those who joined for the adventure and opportunity of service overseas. We cannot fault them that they didn't join to be garrison soldiers in peacetime, to work in headquarters and schools, to be recruiters, or to slowly watch their unit vehicles rust between annual exercises when there is no budget to replace them. (In truth, no-one actually joins the Army solely to do any of those things, but some are more ready than others to accept that the desire to serve in peacetime has its own price.)

They are the same soldiers who joined in 1914 and left in 1918, and who joined in 1939 and left in 1945. They have completed the service they joined to experience, and cannot be faulted for not desiring to serve in a static peacetime army for any length of time. Like their forebears, they have done Canada proud and fulfilled the duties they signed up for. But with no significant forces in Germany, or even a unit level mission in Cyprus these days, the opportunities for overseas adventures during peacetime are going to be even less than they were during the Cold War. Many of our Afghanistan veterans are no doubt assessing their options now.

The resultant challenge for the Army will be, and is already, managing that transition from an expeditionary army to an institutional army. Among those who may choose to leave, seeking new challenges, will be some who were superior soldiers, already being groomed for future promotions and prestigious appointments. Gaps will be created in lines of succession, and these will be filled by those ready to face a very different set of challenges, the challenges of maintaining the Army's kit and capabilities during the years of lean.

Unsung heroes. The soldiers who kept the lights on, and kept maintaining tactical and instructional skills, keeping abreast of developing technology and military advances even if they couldn't be acquired for themselves. These are the soldiers of 1914 and 1939 who laid the groundwork, however thin it may have been, for the unprecedented expansions that took place. These are the soldiers of the Cold War, up to and including the last decade of darkness, who sustained the foundational environment for the Army's recent advances with new equipment, new tactics and a strong wartime public profile.

In times of conflict the Canadian Army has always visibly done its nation proud.

In times of peace, Canada's soldiers have worked equally hard to be ready, often in the shadows of public awareness and without media coverage. Of them, we should be no less proud. They, too, will need our support to achieve their mission.

Strong, Proud, Ready.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 August 2013 11:38 AM EDT
Monday, 5 August 2013

Formation of the 7th Fusiliers (1866)
Topic: The RCR

The 7th Fusiliers, which became the Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (M.G.), was amalgamated with The Royal Canadian Regiment and The Oxford Rifles in the 1950s. The two Militia Regiments formed the Reserve Battalion of The RCR: 4RCR. The regimental lineage document prepared by the Department of National Defence (DND) Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) offers the following on the formation of the 7th Fusiliers:

Standing Orders of the 7th Battalion Fusiliers

The Standing Orders of the 7th Battalion Fusiliers, published in 1885, provided further details on the formation of that regiment:

Formation of the Battalion

In the year 1856, but two Volunteer Companies existed in London, No. 1 Rifles commanded by Capt. Hammond and No. 2 Highland Rifles commanded by apt. Moffat, who for many years afterwards occupied the position of Brigade Major of no. 1 District. No. 3 Rifle Company was not organized until March 24th, 1865. It was commanded by Capt. C.F. Goodhue, who was gazetted April 20th, 1865.

The "Trent" affair had caused considerable excitement in Canada in the early part of the American war, and in no part was there exhibited more patriotism than in London. Prominent citizens commenced a drill association, and rapidly perfected themselves in the use of arms. From it sprang Nos. 1 and 2 Infantry Companies, which were organized Dec. 26th 1862 and Jan 23rd, 1863. the former had for its officers:---John B. Taylor, Andrew Cleghorn, and George S. Burns. The latter: Hiram Chisholm, Arch. MacPherson and Alex M. Kirkland. The companies above named formed the nucleus from which the 7th or "Prince Arthur's Own," as it was first called, sprang. Early in the spring of 1866, a meeting of the officers was called in the old Drill Shed, which stood where the Collegiate Institute now stands, and at that meeting "The London Light Infantry" was organized, and Lieut.-Col. John R. Taylor, D.A.G. of the District placed in command. During the Fenian Raid of that year, one or two Companies were were stationed at Windsor for over three months, and the whole of the Regiment was placed under active service at Fort Erie during the scare, at the latter point they were under the command of Major McPherson, who proved himself a very efficient commanding officer, although not coming under fire. they endure trying forced marches and much fatigue. The annual service Militia list, contains the first complete list of officers gazetted, which is as follows:

Field Officers and Staff

  • Lieut.-Col. John B. Taylor, D.A.G.
  • Major Arch. McPherson
  • Major Robert Lewis
  • Pay-master; Duncan Macmillan
  • Adjutant; Thomas Green
  • Quarter-master; John B. Smythe
  • Asst.-Surgeon; Richard Payne, M.D.
No. 1 CompanyNo. 2 Company
Capt. Duncan C. MacDonald
Lieut. Henry Gorman
Ensign W. Hill Nash
Capt. Edward W. Griffith
Lieut. Edward MacKenzie
Ensign A.W. Porte
No. 3 CompanyNo. 4 Company
Capt. Thomas Miller
Lieut. Henry Bruce
Ensign William McAdams
Capt. W.H. Meredith
Lieut. Richard M. Meredith
Ensign Chris S. Corrigan
No. 5 CompanyNo. 6 Company
Capt. M.D. Dawson
Lieut. David A. Hannah
Ensign James Magee
Capt. William H. Code
Lieut. James A. Craig
Ensign Frank McIntosh
No. 7 CompanyNo. 8 Company
Capt. John MacBeth
Lieut. Emanuel Teale
Ensign Henry Hart Coyne
Capt. John Jackson
Lieut. Sextus Kent
Ensign Thomas Elliot

List of Honorary Members; 1st January, 1885

The 7th Fusiliers Standing Orders includes a list of Honorary Members who were to be "entitled to the privileges of the [Officers'] Mess and freedom of the Orderly Room." With a total of 74 names consisting of VIPs, military appointments and retired regimental officers, the list of notables heading the roll establishes how well connected the Militia regiments of the day were:

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 4 August 2013

First World War Identity Bracelet
Topic: CEF

Up until early 1914 the standard identification discs in service with the British Army and Commonwealth units was made of aluminum. A stamped red fibre version appeared in August 1914 to replace the aluminum tags, probably to conserve on the use of that metal. See this page for a variety of examples of Great War identity discs, and here for an example displayed by the Canadian War Museum.

To augment the issued identify discs, officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers might also purchase privately an identity bracelet. The silver identify bracelet shown here was worn by 477950 Sergeant Norman Percy Vroom.

Norman Percy Vroom, originally of Middleton, Ann. Co. Nova Scotia, enlisted in The Royal Canadian Regiment at Fredericton, New Brunswick, on 30 Jan 1903 at the age of 22 years, 6 months. He was assigned the regimental number 6703. Vroom was obviously less than committed to this first experience as a soldier and on 1 Apr 1904 he was recorded as discharged from The RCR as a deserter.

Ten years later, Vroom would reappear, and on 15 Oct 1914, he is noted as rejoining the Regiment "from desertion." Although he doesn't appear in the rolls for service in Bermuda during 1914-15, Vroom is among those Royal Canadians who attest for overseas service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) at Halifax during late August, 1915.

His attestation form described him as 5' 8 1/2" in height with a 33-inch chest, dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He had tattoo marks on his right arm which were not described in detail. His next of kin was identified as his father; William Vroom of Spa Springs, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.

But even once onverseas in England, Vroom's ability to conflict with the military justice system continued. Accordingly, on 26 Oct 1915 he is awarded a punishment of one days' pay for absence.

Vroom arrived in France with The RCR on 1 Nov 1915. He would be back in England on 28 Apr, 1916, having been wounded while in the tenches on the 17th of that month. Recovering from his wounds, Vroom would be in various hospitals until Jul 1916, when he joined the RCR & PPCLI Depot to await his return to the trenches. Unfortunately his medical problems would continue and after a few more trips though the hospital system (Aug 1916 to Mar 1917, and Feb-Mar 1918) and employment with Reserve Battalions and Depot appointments, Vroom would be returned to Canada and sent to the Casualty Company at District Depot No. 6 (Halifax) for discharge from the CEF.

Vroom was discharged from the CEF and the Permanent Force on 24 Jan 1919, his character being noted in the Regimental ledger as "V[ery] G[ood]. He was entitled to a War Service Gratuity of $420, which he was paid in six $70 installments between March and July of 1919.

Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 4 August 2013 1:06 AM EDT
Saturday, 3 August 2013

Raising a Second Battalion for South Africa; 1899
Topic: The RCR
General Orders, 1899

Ottawa, 1st November, 1899

G.O. 112 – Establishment, 2nd "Special Service" Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry

The following establishment for the 2nd "Special Service" Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, is approved:—

Lieutenant Colonel1
Second in Command1
Quarter Master1
Medical Officers2
Total Officers41
Regimental Sergeant Major1
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant1
Staff Sergeants8
Colour Sergeants8
Total Sergeants of Regimental Staff and Sergeants50
Drummers or Bugler16
Total rank and file912
Total all ranks1019

The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933

By: R.C. Fetherstonhaugh, 1936.

His Excellency [the Earl of Minto, Governor-General of Canada] cabled that the Canadian Government was prepared to provide 1,000 infantry on the conditions named, and on October 16 this offer was formally accepted. Anticipating acceptance, the Canadian Government announced on October 14 that eight independent companies, each 125 strong, would be raised forthwith and issued orders for recruiting to begin in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal, Quebec, Saint John, Halifax, and Charlottetown.

elipsis graphic

On October 18, [1899], when the independent companies were fast reaching their authorized strengths, His Excellency cabled to Great Britain asking if the companies would be acceptable in the form of a battalion of infantry, and on October 23 a reply was received accepting the proposed change, on the condition that only one lieutenant-colonel be appointed. No obstacle being presented by this stipulation, the Canadian Government brought into being a full battalion, named the "2nd (Special Service) Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment," under the command of Lieut.-Col. W. D. Otter, who, on September 28, had been succeeded by Lieut.-Col. L. Buchan as Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.

Meanwhile, on October 20, the companies had received the following designations:

  • "A" Coy.: Recruited in British Columbia and Manitoba
  • "B" Coy.: Recruited in London, Ontario.
  • "C" Coy.: Recruited in Toronto, Ontario.
  • "D" Coy.: Recruited in Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.
  • "E" Coy.: Recruited in Montreal, P.Q.
  • "F" Coy.: Recruited in Quebec, P.Q.
  • "G" Coy.: Recruited in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
  • "H" Coy.: Recruited in Nova Scotia.

The 2nd "Special Service" Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. would be made up of 118 Permanent Force soldiers, police and British Army members. Only 84 of these were serving member of the R.C.R.I. The remaining 921 members of the Battalion would be drawn from over 120 separate Militia units across the country.

Pro Patria

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 3 August 2013 12:05 AM EDT
Friday, 2 August 2013

Sebastopol Guns, Victoria Park, London, Ontario
Topic: Militaria

For those familiar with the names, we can find traces of pre-Confederation British military history throughout Canada. These traces are not limited to actions that took place within North America, but also the evidence of pride of service brought by immigrating soldiers and their families. In Ontario we can find the towns that were named for the Crimean War battles Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman.

But if you ask most residents of London, Ontario, where to find the Russian cannon from that war in their city, they're probably going to look at you like you're crazy. Even many who would recognize smooth-bore cannon for what they are would seldom inspect such artifacts closely enough to realize that these are certainly rare examples, and may even be unique, in Canada.

But there they are, sited on the west side of Victoria Park, ranged in an arc in front of the South African War Memorial. Three cannon barrels, two Russian and one British, that were used at the siege of Sebastopol in the Crimean War.

A plate on the central cannon, the British one, has tarnished as dark as the barrel it is mounted on. It reads:

"These cannon were used at the siege of Sebastopol, and were brought to this country after the capture of that city by the British in 1855. Sir John Carling was instrumental in procuring these three pieces for this city. This gun is a British piece. The other two are Russian. This tablet was erected by the London and Middlesex Historical Society. 1907. Restored 1987."

The age of the British cannon can be estimated from the Royal Cypher on the top of the barrel. It displays the cypher of King George III, who reigned from 1760-1820. That of the Russian barrels will need someone who can decipher the markings to estimate their period of manufacture.

Why Victoria Park for such monuments, you may ask. Victoria Park is the site of the original British garrison in London. After the British garrison was withdrawn in the 1860s it continued to serve the local Militia units. In the 1880s, the City arranged to trade the Victoria Park property for Carling Heights, the current location of Wolseley Barracks. IN the early 1900s, the local Militia units also moved, into the new Dundas Street Armoury.





Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 2 August 2013 12:28 AM EDT
Thursday, 1 August 2013

Wolseley Barracks 2012
Topic: Wolseley Barracks
Wolseley Barracks, 2012 aerial photo (smaller version)

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

Wolseley Barracks, 2012

Thanks to aerial photos provided at the website for the City of London, Ontario, we can see what Wolseley Barracks looked like in 2012. Now 20 years after the departure of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, the base area is at it's smallest since the property was acquired by the Militia Department (now the Department of National Defence) in 1886.

The scars of torn-down buildings visible in the 1998 air photo are all gone, replaced by new construction on both sides of the base perimeter.

The most striking change in the evolution of Wolseley Barracks from Canadian Forces Base London to the Area Support Unit London was the reduction in size. The pre-1994 perimeter is shown in the photo above in red, while the post-1994 perimeter is in blue.

The supermarket at the east side of the old property is now shown; the building is over four times the size of the Base Drill Hall in the south-east corner of the new boundary. The housing development has now completed construction, with the McMahen Street extension providing 125 new homes in central London.

At marker "A," we now see the Regimental Memorial of The Royal Canadian Regiment, in its newest location. It was moved in 2012, southward away from the traffic vibration of Oxford Street, and 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. The site immediately North has since been prepared for the display of vehicles as part of Museum.

At location "B", we see the new McNeil Building, containing quartermasters' stores, medical, maintenance and supply facilities.

As I write this (26 Jun 2012), construction fencing is going up around some of the Wolseley Barracks buildings, signalling the start of the next round of DND infrastructure reductions as a cost-saving initiative.

See Also:

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 1 August 2013 9:23 AM EDT
Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Precedence of WOs and NCOs; 1899

General Orders, 1899

Ottawa, 1st November, 1899

G.O. 111 – Precedence of Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers

The following will be the order of precedence of warrant officers and non-commissioned officers of the "Permanent Units" of the Active Militia of Canada, in accordance with Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Army, 1898, paragraphs 37 and 38.

The position of warrant officer is inferior to that of all commissioned officers, but superior to that of all non-commissioned officers.

Those bracketed together rank with one another according to ates of promotion or appointment; those to whose title an asterisk is prefixed are not entitled to assume any command on parade or duty, except of such warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, as may be specially placed under their orders. In matters of discipline, however, they will at all time exercise the full authority attached to their rank.

(1.) Warrant Officers

 Master Gunner
Sergeant Major
*Superintending Clerk

(2.) Non-Commissioned Officers

*Quartermaster-Sergeant Staff Clerk
Colour Sergeant
*Colour Sergeant Staff Clerk
*Orderly Room Sergeant (when ranking as a Colour Sergeant)
Drill Sergeants
Sergeant-Instructor in Gunnery
*Sergeant---Militia Medical Service
Squadron, Battery or Company Sergeant Major, but Senior (regimentally) to all Squadron, Battery or Company Quarter-master Sergeants, except for promotion.
Squadron, Battery or Company Quarter-master Sergeant
*Orderly-Room-Sergeant (when below the rank of Colour Sergeant)
Sergeant-Bugler, or Drummer
Sergeant Trumpeter
*Sergeant Staff Clerk
*Corporal Orderly-Room Clerk

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Rations; 1906
Topic: Army Rations

Canadian Militia

Regulations respecting Pay and Allowances, etc.

Ration Allowances.

156.     The allowance in lieu of a ration of food shall be as follows:—

  • At stations or places where rations are not issued $0.25 per diem.
  • At stations or places where rations are issued $0.20 per diem.


157.     Each officer, non-commissioned officer and man not in receipt of a consolidated rate of allowance shall be entitled to a daily rations of food, free of cost, consisting of:—

  • 1 pound bread.
  • 1 pound meat.
  • 3 ounces bacon.
  • 1 pound potatoes.
  • 2 ounces flour or 2 ounces beans.
  • 3 ounces jam or 3 ounces dried apples.
  • 2 ounces butter or 2 ounces cheese.
  • 1 ounce split peas.
  • 2 ounces white sugar.
  • ½ ounce salt.
  • ¼ ounce coffee.
  • 1/3 ounce tea.
  • 1/36 ounce pepper.
  • ½ ounce vegetables, evaporated.
  • ½ ounce onions.

together with barrack accommodation and fuel and light as per scale. (Para. 1035, R. & O., 1904.)

158.     When officers, non-commissioned officers or men of the married establishment of the permanent forces are detached from their stations on duty, their families will be permitted to retain their quarters and to draw their rations, fuel and light during the period of such absence. (Para. 1036, R. & O., 1904.)

159.     No individual or corps shall derive profit either from purchases or sales or articles for fuel and light. (Para. 1037, R. & O., 1904.)

160.     Rations not drawn, and those not used for the purposes for which drawn, belong to the public; therefore none of these articles shall be sold except upon order from the Department of Militia and Defence; in any case, the proceeds of the sale shall be deposited to the credit of the Receiver General. (Para. 1038, R. & O., 1904.)

161.     No receipts for articles required for fuel or light shall be given to contractors by commanding officers until the articles have been received into store and duly approved. (Para. 1039, R. & O., 1904.)

162.     An allowance of 20 cents per day in lieu of rations of bread, meat, groceries and vegetables, may be made to all warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the permanent forces for such periods as they are actually absent from their unit on leave of absence or furlough exceeding three days. (Para. 1034, R. & O., 1904.)

(a)     Soldier servants accompanying officers on leave of absence, may be granted the same allowance provided rations are not drawn. (Para. 1034, R. & O., 1904.)

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 July 2013 12:20 AM EDT
Monday, 29 July 2013

The Heller Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
Topic: Cold War

Canadian Army Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 4, Fall 1960

The Heller Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher was a 3.2 inch calibre rocket launcher. It was developed as a Canadian project to upgrade the original 2.36 inch Bazooka. The projectile rocket was inserted in the rear of the tube, and two wires were uncoiled from the rocket's tail section and connected to terminals to complete an electric firing circuit when the trigger was pulled.

The Heller was replaced by the U.S. 3.5 inch Rocket Launcher, which broke down into two sections and only required the flipping of a lever to engage the power source and projectile. This was eventually replaced in turn by the 84 mm Anti-Tank Gun, the "Carl Gustav."

From a now apparently defunct page published by the Defence Research Establishment Valcartier (DREV):

Heller : An Anti-Tank Rocket

In August 1950, at the height of the Korean War, the Army sought to accelerate the Heller project in order to equip its troops with an anti-tank rocket. The work of the Canadian Army Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) scientists led to the emergence of the first complete weapon, ammunition and fire control system to have been designed, developed and manufactured in Canada. In 1951, the Minister of National Defence, Brooke Claxton, announced a major rearmament program for the Canadian Armed Forces. For him, there was a real threat of general war, and it was imperative that the nation be rearmed as quickly as possible. This meant that most of the effort of CARDE's scientific wings was focussed on the Velvet Glove and Heller projects. In February 1952, Heller reached the engineering test final design stage. In April 1955, in a formal press release, the Department described it as "an anti-tank missile with a unique recoilless propulsion system utilizing a Canadian breakthrough in propulsion engineering and design."


These photos and stats are from the Canadian Army Manual of Training Infantry Platoon Weapons Launcher Rocket A-Tk 3.2inch CDN. 1956.

  • Launcher - 54 inches long (137.2cm)
  • Launcher with tripod - 28.5lbs (12.9kg)
  • Rangefinder Sight - 5lbs (2.3kg)
  • HE A tk rocket - penetrate 11 inches of homogeneous armour at 90 degrees and approximately 5 inches at 64 degrees
  • Maximum Range - 2860 yards (2615m)
  • Operating Range - 300 yards (274m)
  • Maximum Effective Range - 450 yards (411m)
  • Maximum Rate of Fire - 5 rounds/minute

In Memoriam

In January 1957, two soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment were killed in a training accident involving the Heller anti-tank rocket launcher. Privates J.I. Doucette and F.E. Duff, both of the 2nd Battalion, The RCR, were attached to the Royal Canadian School of Infantry at the rime of the acident. The following memorial notes were published in the regimental journal, The Connecting File, dated Summer, 1957:



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 July 2013 10:23 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 July 2013

RCAF Walking Out Dress
Topic: RCAF

From the 1974/3 edition of the Canadian Armed Forces journal Sentinel, Volume 10, number 3; which featured the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Remember when …

Remember when officers and WO1s strutted around in their tailormade baratheas and airmen were cursed with the heavy, fuzzy, melton uniform?

And you couldn't do much with the indestructible, canvas-lined "iron-suit." Unlike comfortable army battledress or natty navy tiddlys, the RCAF uniform of wartime and immediate post-war years defied improvement. It just "was." By the time you got the fuzzy nap worn off. the seams were splitting and you were issued with a new one.

But we tried.

We put a bash in our hat and sewed on Canada flashes every time we were off the base. The hat badge was "rounded" by poking it into a drainhole with a broomhandle. We soaped the inside of our trouser creases to sharpen them up.

Our Steve Canyon hero shows the slightly stooped posture caused from wearing the wide, no-elastic "Police" braces under his skin-tight tunic. Elastic must have been in short supply … the issue undershorts featured dainty string bows on each side to hold them temporarily in place.

Our hero has left behind his issue oil-cloth raincoat which, treated with some strange preservative, literally stunk to high heaven, especially when wet, especially when there were 50 men to a barrack-room.

But our dapper young airman is prepared for a happy weekend. He's wearing his "Spiffy" collar-stay to keep his soft collar in shape. No doubt it will spring loose just as he's making a pitch for some sweet young thing.

And he hasn't forgotten his buttonstick. Not that he's terribly keen about polishing but a high gloss on buttons and belt buckle reflected enough glare from oncoming headlights to prevent being run over on the highway.

Once in town he'll sew up his illegal "Canada" flashes and be ready for action and proceed to blow his fortnightly LAC's pay … about 35 bucks in 1949-50.

ln the early 50's he'll get the good news … smooth fabric Eisenhower jackets and pants will be issued. Then he'll get the bad news… you must wear out both old uniforms first.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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

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