The Minute Book
Monday, 6 October 2014

The Indispensable Infantry
Topic: Military Theory

The Indispensable Infantry

The Indispensable Infantry, Lecture to 2nd Division Officers' Class, 1932, Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, reprinted in The Good Soldier, 1948

Before dealing with the attempts to modernise our infantry … it seems important to decide what the true role of the infantry is. Here are some that have been suggested in various quarters:—

  • To act merely as scavengers to the artillery, and as jackals to the tanks, to do the work of moppers-up and hangers-on.
  • To hold bases or "pivots" for armoured forces.
  • To act as armed policemen to keep the peace within the Empire.
  • To act as light infantry in rough and enclosed country, in mountains and forests.

The first is the solution that the French seem to have adopted, with their short-service army and limited problem; and it is presumably the solution of those who believe that the machine-gun has completely paralysed movement on the battle-field.

The second is the solution of the mechanical warfare enthusiasts.

The third has always been, in practice, one of the principal roles of the British infantry; and demands incidentally a higher standard of training, common sense, and discipline than probably any other role.

The fourth role is a kind of compromise which would divide theatres of war into "tank" country and "infantry" country, tank enthusiasts having somewhat grudgingly recognised that the Almighty in his inscrutable wisdom has created some country unsuitable for Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

My own view is that infantry properly trained, and there is no excuse for our long-service infantry not being properly trained, can carry out any of the above roles, as occasion demands.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 October 2014

Pioneers (1914)
Topic: Canadian Army

Pioneers (1914)

The Guide: A manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry), Ninth Edition -- Revised 1914; Major-General Sir William D. Otter, K.C.B., C.V.O.

The pioneers are a small section of regimental artificers, competent to repair barracks, furniture, utensils, etc., or do minor mechanical work in barracks or camp, and if need be, instruct others in the same. They should be selected mainly on account of proficiency in their trades, and good character; they may also be employed in the Quarter-Master's store or other duty pertaining to that department.

Each company should have one pioneer, and the distribution of trades in a Battalion of eight companies be as follows: two carpenters; two Bricklayers (one able to plaster, the other to slate); one Smith (able to shoe horses); one Stonemason; one painter and Glazier; one Plumber and Gas Fitter.

A proper outfit of tools, such as picks, spades, shovels, axes, augers, a saw, chisel, crowbar, etc., should be in their possession.

A Sergeant (a carpenter if possible) should have immediate charge, the whole section being under the direction of the Quarter-Master.

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In 2002, the Canadian Army removed the Pioneer and Mortar Platoons from the organization of the infantry battalion. The underlying cause of this decision was a need to reduce the manpower allocation to the infantry, as the alloted number of positions (which were not tied to rank and trade in reallocation) were needed for higher priority tasks within the Canadian Armed Forces. In balance, it was declared that the Engineers would assume the tasks previously undertaken by the Infantry Pioneers, a weak argument since there are never enough engineers for identified tasks in the first place. Similarly, the Artillery would take over the firing tasks of the infantry Mortar Platoons; the weapons, without addidtional crew position, were transfered to the Royal Canadian Artillery.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 5 October 2014 12:24 AM EDT
Saturday, 4 October 2014

Canadian Army Cooking (1956)
Topic: Army Rations

Canadian Armed Forces recruiting banner image for the Cook trade.

No More Ulcers?

Time was when cooks were recruited from the army's odds and sods. If you were a manic-depressive, looked like a camel on the parade square, and otherwise showed no visible talent for the military life they made you a cook.

Montreal Gazette, 9 July 1956

(Vancouver province) — Canadian army cooks, fabled in song and story, are nowadays rising to the giddy eminence of career men with finishing courses at the British Army cooking school at Caterham, England.

Time was when cooks were recruited from the army's odds and sods. If you were a manic-depressive, looked like a camel on the parade square, and otherwise showed no visible talent for the military life they made you a cook.

Now you must be able to read, and find your way around in English recipe books, which calls for even more concentration than ordinary military manuals. Not that there is any danger of cooks going intellectual. Any incipient tendencies of that sort would be taken care of at Caterham.

There is to be a certain professional polish in the Canadian army cuisine henceforth, no doubt affording such intriguing items as "Boeuf de Bully aux Brisquet" and "Garlina-Anacauna Spaghetti" and stuff like that.

But will the British army standards really reduce the incidence of peptic ulcers in the Canadian army?

Inj the last war Canadian army cooking and the Canadian ration were dismaying, but British army cooking was enough to shatter one's faith in the Empire.

elipsis graphic

The state of Culinary Arts in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) today:

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 3 October 2014

District Military Stores (1897)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Carling's Brewery, Ann Street, London, Ontario.
Built 1873-75, and rebuilt in 1879 after fire destroyed the building.

District Military Stores (1897)

The Sarnia Observer; 12 Novemnber 1897
From the London Advertiser

There are thousands of useless knapsacks, some of which have never been in service. There is also a large quantity of old smooth-bore, shot and shell, 9, 24 and 32 pounder, which is decidedly out of date.

As a result of the visit to London of Col. MacDonald, director-general of stores for the Dominion of Canada, there will likely be many changes in the stores department in this city in a very short time. Col. MacDonald spent two days here inspecting the stores, kept at the old building formerly used as Carling's brewery. He was not well pleased with the gun sheds, which are leaky and cold. The colonel thoroughly examined all the stores, and will recommend that a great amount of the material be sold or burned. In one shed there is a pile of useless gun carriages and wheels, which have been laying around the country one place or another ever since the Crimean war. Several off the marquee tents used here at camp time will be sold, with 150 of the smaller tents. There are thousands of useless knapsacks, some of which have never been in service. There is also a large quantity of old smooth-bore, shot and shell, 9, 24 and 32 pounder, which is decidedly out of date. This will be returned to Ottawa, and other shot and shell of more modern manufacture will replace it. Of the old blankets only 280 remain to be sold or sent to the Indians. A few weeks ago 600 of these old blankets were shipped to the Windsor, N.S., fire sufferers. Within the last few days nearly 600,000 rounds of steel Lee-Enfield rifle cartridges have been received, together with a large quantity of diaphragm shells of various descriptions. Besides these there are about 38,000 rounds of Martini cartridges, 52,000 Snider rifles cartridges. The Snider rifles, returned by the Seventh Fusiliers, have all been thoroughly cleaned, and as good as new. The long triangular bayonets, which have been superceded by the short sword-bayonet, lie in small piles at convenient places. They are very unlike the old rusty arms returned a few days ago, having all been polished, and they glisten equally as brightly as the new arms. These bayonets and rifles will be boxed up and returned in a few days to the militia department at Ottawa. One hundred and eight Martini-Metford rifles will also go back.

Sergt. Henry Pratt, an old soldier, who entered the service in 1866, and has been for the last 28 years in the stores department, in in charge of the place, and the cleanliness and order seen there reflect great credit upon him.

When the orders are issued for the artillery, they will be very different from those sent out last year. Two weeks ago two nine-pounders field guns were received from Hamilton, thus making the London Field Battery six guns instead of four. This of course will necessitate the enlistment of one-third more men than the battery has heretofore numbered. The guns and accoutrements are in charge of Sergt.-Major Taylor, who keeps everything in a very creditable condition.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 2 October 2014

The RCR Museum (1977)
Topic: The RCR Museum

Invincible Wall Holding Back Museum Work

Ottawa Citizen; 29 June 1977
By Nick Martin, for the Canadian Press

London, Ont.—Five wars have never produced an obstacle that has taken The Royal Canadian Regiment longer to overcome than the washroom wall in its own A-block building.

The invincible wall hides an antiquated washroom that blocks a much-needed expansion of the regimental museum at Wolseley Barracks.

Capt. Ray Britton, museum curator and regimental adjutant, explained that before any structural changes can be made in the museum, the ministry of national defence has to give its approval.

A request to demolish the wall has been meandering through the chain of command for the last year.

The museum has more than enough artifacts for the additional space and enough visitors to justify exhibiting as much material as possible, Britton said.

"By 1983 we hope the museum will encompass a mini-theatre to show historical films and a proper archives," he said, "The museum is becoming more popular, especially to American visitors to the city."

Ironically, more Americans than local residents seem to be aware of the museum's existence, said Cpl. Ed Duffney, one of the forces personnel assigned to the museum. "A lot of people in London don't realize it's here."

Museum Located in Barracks

Located on the second floor of the original barracks building erected in 1886, the museum crams much history into a few square feet.

London children frequently visit it in school or club and scout tours and word is working back to their parents.

Displays of histrical material in area shopping centres, part of a new community program that may be resumed in the fall, should also spread the word about the museum, Britton said.

Since its formation in 1883, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Canada's oldest [regular force infantry regiment], has distinguished itself in the Northwest Rebellion, Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War and in its recent peacekeeping role in Cyprus.

The museum is arranged chronologically, but the proposed expansion would allow it to devote individual rooms to chronological displays of uniforms, weapons, medals and equipment.

"The weapons display is quite an attraction," Master Cpl. Jim Wellhauser said, adding that the Boer War exhibit of old uniforms, equipment and photographs is a close second.

Many Medals Donated to Museum

Medals remain the museum's pride and joy.

"A lot of people donate their medals to the museum," Duffney said, But because medals are so important to those to whom they were aware, those awarded during the Second World War and Korea are generally kept by their owners.

In 1979, Milton Gregg's medals were stolen from The RCR Museum. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

London Free Press, 10 Nov 2012 - Hunt on for storied vet's ripped-off Victoria Cross

London Free Press, 1 Nov 2013 - Milton Gregg’s rare medal was stolen in 1979 from Wolseley Barracks

Britton says he craves a Victoria Cross, but it is a difficult commodity to procure, Former regiment member Brig. Milton Gregg won a Victoria Cross in 1917 at Vimy Ridge Cambrai, but he retains it at his home in Fredericton.

Gregg, a spry 84, visited London recently to take the salute at the regiment's trooping the color ceremony.

Any medal awarded in 1918 or earlier is almost certain to be in the museum's collection. American medals of every nature are also at Wolseley, including the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Not every artifact reflects the spit and polish of the regiment. Many are grim reminders of battles that added names to the roll of honor in the museum's chapel; German shell casings, Nazi flags, Boer bayonets, Russian machine-guns.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014 2:21 PM EDT
Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Canadian Army Recuiting; 1949
Topic: Canadian Army

Canadian Army Recuiting; 1949

Not Just a Job

Published in McLean's magazine on 1 October 1949, this Canadian Army recruiting advertisement seeks recruits for the Canadian Army in the Regular or Reserve Force.

RCAF recuiting advertisement; 1949
Click image for larger version.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pension Scale for Canadian Soldiers (1915)
Topic: CEF

Pension Scale for Canadian Soldiers

Premier Borden Presents Government Proposals to the House of Commons

Comprehensive Plan

Dependents of Killed of Crippled Fighters Carefully Provided For

The Toronto Sunday World; 25 March 1915

The Right Honourable Sir Robert Borden, G.C.M.G., P.C., K.C.
8th Prime Minister of Canada
Oct 1911 – Jul 1920

Ottawa, March 24.—Premiere Borden today laid upon the table of the house of commons the pension regulations for Canadian soldiers, stating that the new regulations were made under the authority of the war measures act but that the pensions would not go into force until parliament gave its approval.

The order-in-council provides that the following rates of pension would be granted militiamen wounded or disabled on active service, during drill, training, or on other military duty, provided the disability was not due to his own fault or negligence.

  • Rank and file: First degree, $264; second degree, $192; third degree, $132; fourth degree, $75.
  • Sergeant: First degree, $336; second degree, $252; third degree, $168; fourth degree, $100.
  • Squadron, Battery or Company Sergeant-Major or Quartermaster-Sergeant: First degree, $372; second degree, $282; third degree, $186; fourth degree, $108. The foregoing also applies to Color Sergeants and Staff Sergeants.
  • Regimental Sergt.-Major and Master Gunner (not W.O.), and Regimental Quartermaster Sergt.: First degree, $432; second degree, $324; third degree, $216; fourth degree, $132.
  • Warrant Officer: First degree, $480; second degree, $360; third degree, $240; fourth degree, $144.
  • Lieutenant: First degree, $480; second degree, $360; third degree, $240; fourth degree, $144.
  • Captain: First degree, $720; second degree, $540; third degree, $360; fourth degree, $216.
  • Major: First degree, $960; second degree, $720; third degree, $480; fourth degree, $288.
  • Lieut.-Colonel: First degree, $1,200; second degree, $900; third degree, $600; fourth degree, $360.
  • Colonel: First degree, $1,440; second degree, $1,080; third degree, $720; fourth degree, $456.
  • Brigadier General: First degree, $2,100; second degree, $1,620; third degree, $1,050; fourth degree, $636.
  • The Classifications

    The first degree shall be applicable to those who are rendered totally incapable of earning a livelihood, as the result of wounds or injuries, or illness contracted in action or in presence of the enemy.

    The second degree shall be applicable to those who are rendered incapable of earning a livelihood as the result of injuries received or illness contracted on active service during drill or training, or on other duty, or are rendered materially incapable as a result of wounds or injuries received or illness contracted in action or in the presence of the enemy.

    The third degree shall be applicable to those who are rendered materially incapable of earning a livelihood as the result of injuries received, or illness contracted on active service, during drill or training, or on other duty, or rendered in a small degree incapable as a result of wounds or injuries received or illness contracted in action, or in the presence of the enemy.

    The fourth degree shall be applicable to those who are rendered in a small degree incapable of earning a livelihood as the result of injuries received, or illness contracted on active service, during drill or training, or on other duty.

Pension Increases

Where the injury is great enough to require the constant services of an attendant, such as the loss of both legs, or both arms, or the loss of sight by both eyes, or where the use of both legs, or both arms, has been permanently lost the first or second degree of pension will be increased by one-third.

In addition to the above rates, a married officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or man, totally incapacitated may draw for his wife half the rate provided under the Pension Act for the widow, and the full rate for the children, of officer, etc., of his rank subject to the limitation respecting the age of the children. After the death of the officer, etc., the widow may then draw the full rate now provided for widows and children.

The mother-widow of a totally disabled soldier may be granted a pension at half the rate fixed for a widow provided the soldier is her sole support and unmarried. In the event of the soldier's decease she may draw the full rate.

Pensions may be paid to the widows and children of those who have been killed in action or who have died from injuries received or illness contracted in active service, during drill or training, or on other military duty at the following rates, provided the soldier's death was not due to his own fault or negligence: rank held by husband, son or father at time of death.

Scale Provided

  • Rank and file—$22 month for widow and $5 a month for each child.
  • Sergeant—$28 a month for widow and $5 a month for each child.
  • Squadron, Battery or Company Sergeant-Major or Quartermaster-Sergeant—$30 a month for widow and $5 a month for each child.
  • Regimental Sergt.-Major (not W.O.)—$30 a month for widow and $5 a month for each child. The same for master gunner and regimental quartermaster-sergeant.
  • Warrant Officer—$32 a month for widow and $5 a month for each child.
  • Lieutenant—$37 a month for widow and $6 a month for each child.
  • Captain—$45 a month for widow and $7 a month for each child.
  • Major—$50 a month for widow and $8 a month for each child.
  • Colonel—$60 a month for widow and $10 a month for each child.
  • Brigadier General—$100 a month for widow and $10 a month for each child.

(A)     A widowed mother, whose only son was her sole support, and unmarried, shall be eligible for pension as a widow without children and subject to the same conditions as hereafter set forth.

(B)     In the case of orphans, the rates shown above for children may be doubled and the pension paid to legally appointed guardians.

No Delays

Pensions to widows and children shall take effect from the day following that on which the death of the husband, etc., occurred, and a gratuity equivalent to two months' pension shall be paid for the first month in addition to the pension.

The pension of a widow, a widowed mother or child may be withheld or discontinued should such widow, etc., be or subsequently proved unworthy or it, or should she be, or become, wealthy. The decision of the minister as to whether a pension should be so withheld or discontinued shall be final.

The pension to a widow or widowed mother shall cease upon her remarriage, but she will be eligible for a gratuity of two years' pension immediately after her marriage.

Neither gratuity nor pension shall be paid on account of a child or orphan over fifteen years of age, if a boy, or over seventeen years of age, if a girl, unless owing to mental or physical infirmity the child or orphan is incapable of earning a livelihood, in which case the pension may be continued wheen the child or orphan is 21 years of age, but no pension will be paid to a child or orphan after marriage.

Individual cases for which the regulations do not provide, or sufficiently provide, will be specially considered by the governor-in-council. Pensions may be paid monthly in advance.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014 1:34 PM EDT
Monday, 29 September 2014

Trooper to Major in One Promotion
Topic: Officers

British Officer, Cashiered for Hitting Nazis, Promoted


Lieutenant Colonel Royal Tank Regiment, British Army. Awarded Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) and Military Cross (M.C.)

Burial:Greytown Cemetery , Kwazulu Natal; uMzinyathi District Municipality; KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Source: Find a Grave

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 21 February 1942

Camp Borden, Ont., Feb. 20—(AP)—G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, brigadier who was court martialed out of the British Army for striking two German prisoners, has risen from ordinary tank trooper to major in the Canadian army in little more than a month.

Anxious to get into the fight again under the colors of the empire, Drake-Brockman enlisted as a Canadian trooper Jan. 9, scrubbing floors, carrying coal and standing sentry duty.

His promotion in a single step to the rank of major, which has just come through, left him "dumbfounded" with pleasant surprise. "Great Country, this Canada," he declared enthusiastically.

The incident which resulted in his dismissal came shortly after Dunkirk while he was commanding a tank brigade at an English coastal station.

He struck two German airmen who were brought before him after Spitfires shot down their bomber, he explained:

"The spat on the floor, spat on my shoes, then spat on me and called me a bloody English swine—I don't know who could stand this spitting and insulting, this arrogance and beastliness, but I could not."

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British Army Career Notes from London Gazette and Army List

  • LG 4 Aug 1914 — The Border Regiment, Guy Percy Lumsden Drake-Brockman.
  • The Border Regiment, the undermentioned Second Lieutenants to be Lieutenants:— Dated 29th October, 1914. — G.P.L. Drake-Brockman.
  • LG 29 June 1915 — The Border Regiment. — Awarded the Military Cross. — Lieutenant G.P.L. Drake-Brockman.
  • The Border Regiment. — Lieutenant Guy P. L. Drake-Brockman to be temporary Captain. Dated 17th December, 1915.
  • Bord. R.—The undermentioned Lts. to Capts.: — 1st Jan. 1917. — G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C., and to remain secd.
  • The undermentioned appts. are made: — G.S.O. 3rd Grade.—Capt. F. J. Harington, D.S.O., W. York. R., and to be seed., vice Lt. (temp. Capt.) G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C., Bord. R., 28th May 1917.
  • ATTD. TO HD.-QR. UNITS. — 6th Mar. 1918.; Capt. R. H. E. Bennett, M.C., Som. L.I., vice Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C., Bord. R.
  • The undermentioned temp, appts. are made:— G.S.O. 3rd Grade.—Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C., Bord. R.- 13th Jan. 1920.
  • "Restd. To the establishment": Bord. R.—11th Jan. 1920. — Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C.
  • War Office, 3rd February 1920. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned awards, on the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding-in-chief, Allied Forces, for distinguished service in connection with Military Operations in Murmansk, North,Russia. Dated 11th November 1919 :— Awarded the Distinguished Service Order. — Capt. Guy Percy Lumsden Drake-Brockman, M.C., Bord. R.
  • TEMP. APPT. — The 'undermentioned temp, appts are made: — G.S.O., 3rd Grade.—Capt. C. I. Curteis, M.C., R.A., vice Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, M.C., Bord. R. 1st June 1920.
  • Border R. —Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., to be Adjt. 7th Sept. 1920.
  • Border R. —Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.D., is restd. to the estabt. 8th Aug. 1921.
  • Border R.—Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., is secd, for service on the Staff. 28th Mar. 1922.
  • Border R.—Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.O., is secd, for service on the Staff. 1st Mar. 1922. (Substituted for the notification in the Gazette of 21st Apr. 1922.)
  • TANK CORPS. — The undermentioned to be Capts., 29th Sept. 1923, with seniority as stated:— Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., from Border R., 1st Jan. 1917, with precedence next above W. B. Gray, D.S.O., M.C., and to retain his present appt.
  • ROYAL TANK COBPS. — Capt. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., to be Maj. 16th Oct. 1927
  • ROYAL TANK CORPS. — The undermentioned are secd.:— Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., whilst a student at the Staff College, 21st Jan. 1928.
  • ROYAL TANK CORPS. — Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., is secd, for serv. on the Staff in India. — 1st Mar. 1932.
  • The undermentioned appts. have been made in India:—G.S.O's., 2nd Grade—Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., R.T.C., 1st Mar. 1932.
  • Appointed Brigade Major in India; 28 June 1933 — Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., R. Tank Corps, 28th June 1933
  • Bde. Maj.—Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., R.T.C., 20th June 1935.
  • ROYAL TANK CORPS. — Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., is restd. to the estabt. 20th June 1935.
  • ROYAL TANK CORPS. — Maj. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., to be Lt.-Col. 1st Apr. 1937.
  • Army List 1940 — Drake-Brockman, Guy Percy Lumsden, D.S.O., M.C., p.s.c.
    • Born 25/10/94. Border R. 2-Lt. 8/8/14. Lt. 29/10/14 (temp. Capt. 17/12115 to 31/12/16). Capt. 1/1/17. Adjt. 7/9/20 to 7/8/21. R. Tank Corps. Capt. 29/9/23. Maj. 16/10/27. R.T.R. Lt.-Col. 1/4/37. (actg. Brig. 2/9/39 to 1/3/40 ; temp. Brig. 2/3/40).
    • G.S.O.3 France 12/6/16 to 27/5/17. Brig. Maj., France 28/5/17 to 5/3/18. Brig. Maj., Milford Haven Garr. 3/3/18 to -/9/18. Brig. Maj. British Mil. Mission to Russia -/9/18 to 25/10/19. G.S.O.3 Irish Comd. (temp.) 13/1/20 to 31/5/20. G.S.O.3 1/3/22 to 31/3/22. Staff Capt. R. Tank Corps Centre 1/4/22 to 20/10/23. G.S.O.2 India 1/3/32 to 27/6/33. Brig. Maj. India 28/6/33 to 19/6/35.
    • 1914-21. France & Belgium 24/11/14 to 30/3/15 and 18/11/15 to -/2/18. Russia -/11/18 to 9/10/19. Despatches L.G. 22/6/15, 11/12/17 and 3/2/20. 1914-15 S. B.W.M. V.M. D.S.O. M.C.
  • ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS.; R.T.R. — Lt.-Col. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C., on completion of period of serv. in comd. remains on full pay (super-numerary), ist Apr. 1940.
  • ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS.; R.T.R. — Lt.-Col. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, D.S.O., M.C. (5336), is dismissed the Service by sentence of a Gen. Court-Martial, 13th Nov. 1940

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 29 September 2014 12:02 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 September 2014

The 1936 Re-organization of the Militia
Topic: Canadian Army

Local Regiments Remaining Intact

Rifles, Black Watch and Guards Are Unaffected by Militia Changes

Others Amalgamated

Royal Montreal and Chateauguay Regiments Established as Machine Gun Battalions

The Montreal Gazette; 17 December 1936

Ottawa, December 16.—(CP)—Examination of the reorganization schedules of the Canadian Non-Permanent Active Militia discloses a drastic whittling in both infantry and cavalry, innumerable conversions of other units from one arm to another, and amalgamations which few regiments have escaped. The cavalry is reduced from 35 regiments to 15 and the infantry from 119 to 69.

The 69 regiments are distributed in 43 infantry rifle battalions and 26 infantry machine gun battalions. Some have disappeared altogether, having been "inactive" and existing only on paper; others will have to re-learn soldiering from a gunner's standpoint, being converted into artillery, Tank and armoured car units swallowed up a few.

As indicated, the mounted arm has been shaved down to 15 regiments, with mounted brigades reduced from nine to four.

Henceforth cavalry brigade headquarters will be located as follows: 1st, Toronto; 2nd, Pincher Creek, Alta.; 3rd, Montreal; and 4th Winnipeg.

The regiments which escape disbandment or conversion, but practically all of them amalgamated with some other unit, follow:

The 1st Hussars, London, Ont,; the Governor General's Horse Guards, Toronto; 2nd 10th Dragoons, Hamilton; 4th princess Louise Dragoon Guards, Ottawa; 17th Hussars, Montreal; 7th 11th Hussars, Bury, Que.; Prince Edward Island Light Horse, Charlottetown; 8th Princess Louise's New Brunswick Hussars, Sussex, N.B.; Fort Garry Horse, Winnipeg; 12th Manitoba Dragoons, Virden; 14th Canadian Light Horse, Climax, Sask.; 16th Saskatchewan Horse, Yorkton; 15th Alberta Light Horse, Calgary; 19th Alberta Dragoons, Edmonton, and the British Columbia Dragoons, Vernon, B.C.

Three cavalry units are mechanized into armored car regiments. These are the 6th Royal Canadian Hussars of Montreal, amalgamated with the 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade; the King's Canadian Hussars of Kentville, N.S., which takes over "C" Company of the Colchester and Hants Regiment (infantry) and "B" Company of the 6th Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps and the British Columbia Hussars of Vancouver, which absorbs Headquarters and "B" Company of the 11th Battalion, C.M.G.C.

A new unit designated the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment, with headquarters at Winnipeg, is formed out of the 2nd Motor Machine Gun Brigade and the 1st Machine Gun Squadron, C.M.G.C.

With regard to infantry, four inactive regiments have been disbanded. These are the Irish Canadian Rangers, Montreal; Les Chasseurs Canadiens, St. Anne de la Perade; the Manitoba Regiment, Winnipeg and the North Alberta Regiment, Ponoka, Alta.

Two companies of the Frontenac Regiment of Napanee, Ont., have been disbanded.

Infantry brigades which have come under the axe are the 3rd, Windsor, Ont.; the 7th, Belleville; the 21st Saskatoon, and the 29th, Edmonton.

Formed by amalgamations of various sorts, 26 infantry machine gun regiments have been established as follows:

  • Ontario: Canadian Fusiliers, London; the Kent Regiment, Chatham; the Perth Regiment, Stratford; the Queen's York Rangers, the Toronto Scottish and the Irish Regiment of Canada, all of Toronto; the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Hamilton; the Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury Regiment, Sault Ste. Marie; the Princess of Wales Own Regiment, Kingston; the Prince of Wales Rangers, Peterborough; and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.
  • Quebec: The Royal Montreal Regiment; Le Regiment de Chateauguay, St. Lambert; The Sherbrooke Regiment; Le Regiment de Quebec, and Le Regiment de la Chaudiere, Ste. Claire.
  • Nova Scotia: The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, Amherst, and the princess Louise Fusiliers, Halifax.
  • New Brunswick: The Saint John Fusiliers.
  • Manitoba: The Winnipeg Light Infantry and The Winnipeg Grenadiers.
  • Saskatchewan: The Saskatoon Light Infantry, and the King's Own Rifles of Canada, Moose jaw.
  • Alberta: The Edmonton Fusiliers.
  • British Columbia: The 2nd Battalion Canadian Scottish, Victoria; and The Westminster Regiment, New Westminster.

Infantry regiments converted into artillery are:

  • Ontario: The Wellington Regiment, Guelph; The Bruce Regiment, Walkerton; The Norfolk Regiment, Simcoe; a portion of the Wentworth Regiment, Dundas; The Victoria and Haliburton Regiment, Lindsay; The Grenville Regiment, Kemptville; The Frontenac Regiment, Napanee; and The Kenora Light Infantry, Kenora.
  • Manitoba: The Manitoba Rangers, Brandon.
  • Saskatchewan: The Assiniboine Regiment, Moosomin; and The Yorkton Regiment, Yorkton.
  • British Columbia: The Kootenay Regiment, Cranbrook; and The North British Columbia Regiment, Prince Rupert.

Four infantry tank battalions have been established from the Essex Regiment, Windsor; The Ontario Regiment, Oshawa; The Three Rivers Regiment, and the Calgary Regiment.

43 Regiments Unaffected

Unaffected by the reorganization, and continuing presumably as infantry rifle battalions are 43 regiments:

  • Ontario: The Oxford Rifles, Woodstock; the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, Galt; the Scots Fusiliers of Canada, Kitchener; the Essex Scottish Highlanders, Windsor; the Elgin Regiment, St. Thomas; the 48th Highlanders, Toronto; the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish, Perth; the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, Cornwall; the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, Trenton; the Governor General's Foot Guards, Ottawa; the Brockville Rifles.
  • Quebec: Le Regiment de Hull; the Victoria Rifles of Canada, Montreal; the Black Watch, Montreal; the Canadian Grenadier Guards, Montreal; le Regiment de St. Hyacinth; les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke; les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, Montreal; le Regiment de Joliette; le Regiment de Mainssoneuve; le Regiment de Montmagny; les Fusiliers de St. Laurent, Rimouski; the Royal Rifles of Canada, Quebec; les Voltiguers de Quebec; les Frace Tireurs du Saguenay, Chicoutimi, and les Regiment de Levis.
  • Nova Scotia: The Halifax Rifles, the Pictou Highlanders; and the Cape Breton Highlanders, Sydney, N.S.
  • Prince Edward Island: The P.E.I. Highlanders, Charlottetown.
  • New Brunswick: The North Shore (N.B.) Regiment, Chatham, and the New Brunswick Rangers, Sussex.
  • Manitoba: The Winnipeg Rifles, and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, Winnipeg.
  • Saskatchewan: All Saskatchewan infantry units are amalgamated or converted. Three are rifle regiments—the Prince Albert and Battleford Volunteers, the South Saskatchewan Regiment, and the Regina Rifle Regiment.
  • Alberta: The Calgary Highlanders and the Edmonton Regiment.
  • British Columbia: The British Columbia Regiment, Vancouver; the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, Vancouver; and the Rocky Mountain Rangers, of Kamloops. The Irish Fusiliers of Canada are merged with the Vancouver Regiment, into an infantry rifle battalion.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Cost of War
Topic: CEF

The Cost of War

The Granby Leader-Mail, 5 November 1936

Carleton Place, Ont.—The Canadian War memorial at Vimy Ridge which was recently unveiled by His Majesty, King Edward, bears the names of 11,285 Canadians who were killed in action in France, but whose resting places are unknown.

More than five times that number of Canadians were killed during the Great War. The actual number was 59,544. There were 138,166 wounded and 34,784 non-fatally injured, making a total of 232,494 casualties.

That was a heavy price to pay in manpower for a country of so small a population as Canada. Now does it tell the whole story. There was the aftermath of sickness and death, agony and wretchedness. During the period of hostilities, however, every second man who crossed the English Channel to France was killed, wounded or injured. The chance that he would not come back to Canada physically fit was fifty-fifty.

The financial cost is another side. In 1930 it was estimated that the total increase in the national debt of two billions between 1914 and 1930 was attributed entirely due to the war. Under the heading “war and demobilization” Canada spent 51,696,000,000 and in the fiscal year 1936 alone, the amount of money required for war pensions amounted to eleven per cent of the Dominion revenues while the care of returned soldiers took another three per cent. The two items together required one-seventh of the total monies received in the year by the Dominion.

elipsis graphic

Updated casualty figures posted online by Veterans Affairs Canada are as follows:

The armistice of November 11, 1918, brought relief to the whole world. Never before had there been such a conflict. For a nation of eight million people Canada's war effort was remarkable. 620,000 men and women served — 66,655 gave their lives and another 172,950 were wounded. It was this immense sacrifice that lead to Canada's separate signature on the Peace Treaty. No longer viewed as just a colony of England, Canada had truly achieved nation status. This nationhood was purchased by the gallant men who stood fast at Ypres, stormed Regina Trench, climbed the heights of Vimy Ridge, captured Passchendaele, and entered Mons on November 11, 1918.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 September 2014

The Bayonet--Spirit Weapon
Topic: Tradition

The Bayonet—Spirit Weapon

We all know that the bayonet is seldom used to kill an enemy.* Combat experiences of World Wars I and II have pointed up this fact. It is difficult to find a man who has actually killed with cold steel. Bullets are better; no soldier in his right senses will engage in a bayonet duel while he still has a loaded rifle. Bullets are surer, easier.

[US Army] Infantry School Quarterly, Vol 37, No 2, October, 1950
By Major Schiller F. Shore, Infantry

Editor's Note: This article represents the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of The Infantry School.

We all know that the bayonet is seldom used to kill an enemy.* Combat experiences of World Wars I and II have pointed up this fact. It is difficult to find a man who has actually killed with cold steel. Bullets are better; no soldier in his right senses will engage in a bayonet duel while he still has a loaded rifle. Bullets are surer, easier.

For these reasons the bayonet and bayonet training have fallen into a period of what is known as "deemphasis." This is a long and nebulous word for "forget it; you won't need it."

It is easy to see the logic behind "deemphasis" of the bayonet. If we're not going to use it, let's cut out the hours spent on bayonet training and put them to use on training we do need.

This has been done. The hoarse-voiced bayonet instructors have disappeared. And bayonet training is now con sidered as merely the excellent physical conditioner that it is.

The writer maintains that this is excellent logic but poor psychology.

We have already discussed the logic of deemphasis, and few of us will find fault with it. But let us now look at the psychology of it.

Our infantrymen are taught to "close with and capture or destroy the enemy." This is the ultimate goal of all training. In the final phase of an assault our infantrymen come within--for want of a better word--spitting distance of the enemy. Or, if you prefer, close combat.

Well, what weapon in all our armament is symbolic of close combat?

I think it is the bayonet and what goes with it--the spirit of the bayonet, offensive-mindedness, and the will to kill.

All these things are tied in, in some intangible way, with the bayonet on the end of the rifle. I believe it belongs there, that it looks good there, that even though it seldom explores an enemy gut (bullets being better), the sight of cold steel brings fear to the defender and an extra bit of courage and confidence to the man who knows how to use it if he has to.

By "deemphasizing" the bayonet and the spirit of the bayonet as we used to teach it, this writer believes that we subtract in some measure from the spirit of the offensive and the will to close with the enemy. We strip ourselves of a "spirit" weapon that cannot be replaced by a pistol, a knife, a flamethrower, or any other lethal device. The bayonet is a tradition that we should not discard. Let us "reemphasize" the bayonet. Bring back the old time bayonet sergeants (though modifying their enthusiastic opinion that the bayonet is the only weapon). Let us reinstate cold steel as the symbol of final assault, even though bullets rightly do most of the killing.

*NOTE: A recent and notable exception is the case of Major John Cook, late of The Infantry School in the Korean War. Surrounded by infiltrating Communists, Cook emptied his pistol into the charging Reds, picked up a rifle, shot several of the enemy, and then, his ammunition gone, used his bayonet for a final kill before he himself was killed. He was awarded the DSC.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 September 2014

They Are Returning
Topic: Remembrance

They Are Returning

E.J. Pratt

On 15 June 1945 McLean's magazine commisioned and published this poem by E.J. Pratt, a leading Canadian poet and three-time recipient of the Governor General's Award for poetry.

RCAF recuiting advertisement; 1949
Click image for larger version.

RCAF recuiting advertisement; 1949
Click image for larger version.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Colours in Action
Topic: Tradition

The Colours in Action

From "Military Matters"
The Toronto Daily Mail; 6 May 1882

"The last occasion on which colours were carried into action was on 26 January 1881, during the Boer War in South Africa. the occasion was at Laing's Nek and the regiment concenred was the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. A year later, an order was published that owing to the altered form of attack and the increased range of musketry, Colours would not be carried in action."

The Excellence In You, by Dr. Giriraj Shah

Orders were given some time ago by the War Office that colours were no longer to be carried into action. A change so decidedly at variance with the history and traditions of the army, and so humiliating, say the Army and Navy Gazette, could hardly be made the subject of a general order without raising a storm of angry remonstrance.

The London Globe, in referring to this matter, says that "our troops may, at some future time, encounter those of a nation that has not acknowledged that it is afraid to trust its colours to the valour and discipline of its soldiers. If we should capture some of their colours (and this, of course, might happen) we ought to return them as soon as possible, as under such circumstances we could not fairly keep them. When the colours of a regiment, or rather of a "Line battalion," are stowed away to save them from the risk of being captured, a pair of white flags might be served out instead, and precise instructions given as to the correct mode of offering to surrender, or of asking for quarter. Defeat instead of victory is the probably result of a battle for which our reformers are anxious to provide; and some of out latest encounters seem to justify their opinion."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Making Canada's Militia Real Army (1913)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Making Canada's Militia Real Army

Scheme Now on Tapis to Send Whole Brigade to English Manoeuvres

Col. Hughes to Command

Four Battalions and One Composite Corps of Cavalry and Artillery to Compose its Make-Up

The Montreal Gazette; 5 August 1913
(Special to the Gazette.)

Ottawa, August 4.—A unique military proposition is at present being urged upon the Hon. Sam Hughes, minister of militia and defence, from different parts of the Dominion that Canada should send over in 1914 a Canadian brigade to the English divisional and army manoeuvres. Since the present minister took control of the military affairs of the Dominion there has been greater co-operations with the English authorities in military matters than ever before, and this scheme has been suggested to him as a forward step in still further modelling the Canadian militia on the liones of the English soldiers in tactical matters.

The scheme, as suggested, is that the brigade should be composed of four battalions and one composite corps composed of cavalry, artillery, etc. The brigade would be as follows:

One battalion of Highlanders composed of representatives of the different Highland regiments from all parts of the Dominion.

One battalion of Fusiliers and Guards, chosen from the different Fusiliers and Guards regiments of the Dominion. This battalion would be known as the "Bearskin Battalion."

Once battalion composed of the representatives from the different rifle regiments of the Dominion.

One battalion composed of representatives of other infantry regiments to be known as the "Scarlet Regiment."

One corps made up of the other arms of the service—Cavalry, artillery, Army Service Corps, and other units.

A Representative Brigade

The brigade would thus be representative of all the different arms of the Canadian service and those to be taken would be chosen on the recommendation of the officers of the regiment. The officers to be taken would depend upon the recommendation of the officer commanding their district and would depend upon the interest they had taken in their regiments.

It is also proposed that in order that the brigade should be ready to go in for hard work on its arrival in England that it should undergo a weeks' training in Quebec before sailing. The time required for the whole operations would not take more than from four to five weeks.

A most interesting feature of the English manoeuvres in 1914 would thus be to observe the results of the experiment of a Canadian brigade taking part in manoeuvres with the English troops. This would be the first time that a Canadian brigade had been sent to England, but not the first time that a full Canadian Regiment had gone across, as Sir Henry Pellat, at his own expense, took the Queen's Own Rifles, Toronto, with him to the English manoeuvres a couple of years ago. That experiment had splendid results.

It is likely that the Canadian brigade would be commanded by the Minister of Militia and Defence himself and a staff composed of distinguished Canadian officers.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 22 September 2014

Soldier fed On 31 Cents a Day
Topic: Army Rations

Unidentified airwomen preparing food in the test kitchen, No.1 Nutritional Laboratory, R.C.A.F., Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 3 April 1944. Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Date: April 3, 1944. Photographer: Unknown. Mikan Number: 3583196 Visit the virtual exhibition Faces of War.

Maj.-Gen. E.J.C. Schmidlin, Quartermaster-General

Edward James Carson Schmidlin, born in Brantford, Ontario, in August 1884. Attended Royal Military College, Kingston, where he won the Sword of Honour and the Governor-General's Gold medal.

On graduation from RMC, received a commission in the Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenent in 1908. Schmidlin was appointed to a commission in the canadoan Permanent Force as a Lieutenant iin the Canadian Enigneers in 1910.

In Nov, 1914, Schmidlin was appointed Adjutant of the 2nd Cdn. Div Engineers at the rank of Captain. He arrived in France in Sep, 1915, and served in that appointment until July, 1917, having received the Military Cross in the 1917 New Year's Honours List. In July, 1917, he was appointed to command No. 12 Fiedl Company, C.E., he ended the war as Commanding officer of the 8th battalion, C.E.

Between the wars Schmidlin continued to serve with the Canadian Engineers. Appointed professor of miltary engineering, Jul 1919; professor of enginering Oct 1921; senior professor and professor of engineering, Sep 1926; director of engineering services at NDHQ, Jan 1934; ann appointed acting quartermaster-general, Apr, 1940. Schmidlin was named quartermaster-general, with the rank of Major-General in July 1940.

Canadian Soldier gets Good Food At Cost of Only 31 Cents a Day

Army Cooks Receive Careful Instruction On How to Avoid waste—Nothing That Can Be Used in Cooking Goes Into Garbage Can

Montreal Gazette, 30 Jun 1941

Ottawa, June 29.—(CP)—The Canadian housewife who strives for economical, tasty meals should have a fellow-feeling for the Canadian army cook, for whom avoidance of waste and preparation of good tea and coffee as matters of instruction instead of choice.

National Defence Headquarters said last night that regulations for army cooks come under the control of the quartermaster-general, Maj.-General E.J.C. Schmidlin, and the director of supply and transport, Col. H.O. Lawson. Through these regulations it has been possible to feed the Canadian soldier well for 31 cents a day, compared with an estimated 50 cents a day in the United States and from 24 to 40 cents for Canadian troops in the first Great War.

In comparison with 1914-18, the Canadian soldier's diet has been greatly improved, officers said, but an important fact in keeping costs down has been the specific regulations respecting avoidance of waste.

The army cook has constantly before him instructions such as the following:

  • Potatoes and vegetables are to be prepared only immediately before cooking to prevent waste of food values.
  • All suitable meat bones should be placed in the soup cauldrons or stock pots before being discarded.
  • Fresh fish should not be thawed in water, as food values are lost, use only the heat of the kitchen to thaw.
  • Fats should be saved for cooking purposes, and any surplus is put into containers for salvage sale.
  • Nothing which can be used in cooking, or disposed of by sale, should go into the swill barrel or garbage container.

The army cook is required especially to see that the tea and coffee he serves is good.

The cook must be careful about the cloths used in his work. The regulation provides:

"Ample supplies of dry cloths should be available for use on alternate days. After being dried and boiled, they must be hung in the fresh air dry or wet. This keeps the cloths fresh, and also preserves them."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cannon Girt Halifax
Topic: Halifax

Cannon Girt Halifax

A City Dominated by the Military

The Remarkable Strength of the Harbour's Defences—America the Nation at Which All Guns Point

(Extracts from an American visitor's description of his visit to Halifax.)

Boston Evening Transcript; Wednesday, 14 August, 1901
(Mark Sullivan — Special Correspondent of the Transcript.)

This map, from the Parks Canada History and Archaeology publication #46, Defending Halifax: Ordnance, 1825-1906 (Parks Canada, 1981), shows the locations of gun batteries surrounding Halifax Harbour in 1905.

Halifax, N.S., Aug 12.

"I wonder," said a fine old Roman Catholic priest, a chance companion of the voyage, who stood beside me on the forward deck as we rounded Sambro Light and faced the fort-lined sides of Halifax harbour, "I wonder if England ever stops to decide in her own mind just what her purpose is in spending a half million yearly on new fortifications for this harbour" Or does she keep it up like her court customs and her legal fictions, just because she began it a hundred and fifty years ago, and it would be a violation of precedent to stop."

"And I wonder, too"—here the priest pointed to the new redoubt on the left, built after the style of Gibraltar, where a dozen cannon mouths peer from holes in the solid rock like watchful giants in their caves taking a twilight look for lurking enemies before they go to bed—"I wonder, when an imaginative young lieutenant sights those guns in practice and aims them at the harbour mouth, what nation's flag he has in his mind's eye as a target? If he's learned anything at all at Sandhurst, more than how to keep his shoulders straight and carry his sword correctly, he must know that in the modern system of naval warfare, Germany and Russia and France, with their coal supply three thousand miles away, can't disturb him here."

"No, my friend," and the priest became very earnest, "if ever those guns are fired in anger, your country and mine will feel the wound. It's not nice, I know, in these days of Anglo-American billing and cooing to point out that while John Bull is squeezing out maiden fingers with one hand, he's getting a tighter grip on his sword with the other. And how futile it all is, after all; how Chinese to point guns at the inevitable, just like beating a drum to keep away thunder. It's a sure as fate you'll see the day, my friend—I won't for I am old; it will come either through trade of war or natural fellowship—when an American fleet will single-file down this harbor, and the American flag will fly on every fort from York Redoubt to the Citadel."

How soon or late Canada may seek, or accept under pressure, a union with the republic is a subject on which the priest and you and I and Canada may have each his own opinion (though it may be said in passing that one sanguine American's opinion has been changed by a recent trip through Canada); but of the enormous strength of the defences with which the empire is surrounding her "Warden of the North" there can be no manner of doubt.

At the Halifax Club they tell the story of an American naval officer who, shortly after the Venezuelan incident, visited the club as a guest of a fellow-countryman living in Halifax, and embarrassed his host and tested the urbanity of the British officers present by saying that when the incident began to look threatening he was in London, and cabled to Washington for permission to capture Halifax, adding that he had a plan by which he could do it without the loss of a ship.

Maybe he could; one does not know what plans and checks and counter-moves may lie in the drawers of locked cabinets in the Naval Department in Washington; but to the civilian tourist the regular indentations of the fortifications look like nothing as much as angry teeth, and Halifax harbor suggest the open mouth of a prostrate lion, sleeping now, but ready to crush and grind with those iron teeth when time hay serve. You are quite ready to believe what you are told a dozen times before you have been in Halifax a day, that on any one square foot of the harbour 200 guns can be trained at a moment's notice. When you know in addition that a man can sit at a keyboard in a room beneath twenty feet of stone and concrete on George's Island and manipulate wires which cover the bottom of the harbor like a piece of lace, then you wonder whether a spider on a chip could float down that harbor in safety. An attacking admiral would literally have

"Cannon to the right of him,
Cannon to the left of him,
Cannon in front of him."

After he had passed McNab's Island, if ever he got so far, he would have cannon back of him, to say nothing of the sunken mines and the two low, vicious little torpedo boats which hide in the coves and inlets and come darting out and scooting across the water like enormous insects, and at night point their search-lights about the harbor like watchful ogres.

And there are more fortifications than the casual tourist can see from the harbor. I had been in Halifax for a day and was driving through Point Pleasant Park, revelling comfortably in the mingled odors of wild roses and spruce and fir, as far as well could be from any thought of war, when we rounded a clump of trees and came plump upon a group of forty sweating Tommies tugging and straining to get a thirteen-inch gun with the paint of Woolwich fresh upon it into position in a new three-gun battery.

"Heavens," I exclaimed. "Another battery away up here. Why, you can't see this from the harbour."

Cabby was immensely tickled at his American fare's astonishment. "Of course you can't see it from the harbor," he said, "that's the reason it's here, and there's four more like it up here in the woods behind the hill." Then he added with a delightful grin, "Oh, I guess that man Dewey of yours won't come up this harbor very soon."

elipsis graphic

For a hundred and fifty years Halifax has been a scene of martial activity. War has always been kind to her. As I drove along the road to Bedford, cabby pointed to a handsome residence behind some maples: "one o' the richest families in Halifax," he said.

"Indeed," I replied; "How was the fortune made?"

"Privateerin', I think," said cabby.

On inquiry of better sources than cabby I learned that many of the older fortunes in Halifax, on which second and third generations now live in retired comfort date back to the early part of the century when the local merchants fitted out privateers to prey on the commerce of England's enemies. Still other fortunes rose from the enormous profits made on the captured prizes which the British men-of-war brought to Halifax to sell. Still later, during our Civil War, this garrison city was a hotbed of Southern sentiment and a rendezvous for hundreds of blockade runners; and many a retired Haligonian captain in slippered comfort sips rare wine today as the prize of four years of adventurous and profitable activity in eluding American men-of-war.

elipsis graphic

A garrison of two thousand soldiers, with more than a hundred officers, with the commander of his majesty's forces always a distinguished general and often a member of the royal family, with several score officers from visiting warships always in port, naturally the garrison dominates the social life of the city. It extends through all grades of society. While Lieutenant Trevelyan sings "Danny Dever" to my lady's accompaniment, Private Thomas Atkins dances for Jane below, and if, as Kipling assures us,

"The colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady
Are sisters, under their skins."

why, probably the tender nothings above stairs and below are much the same. Every time a regiment is ordered off for duty in South Africa or India or elsewhere, there are two results in the families of well-to-do Halifax; much sighing among the daughters and much searching for new maids and cooks among the mothers."

elipsis graphic

Truly, 't is "the army and navy forever" at Halifax. From morning till night the bugles keep the echoes flying about Chebucto head. In the morning you are wakened by the heavy clanking tread of a squad of the engineers' corps going from Citadel barracks to work on the new fortifications at Herring Cove. At breakfast you are startled by the booming of the cannon in the harbor; and the waiter tell you that a French man-of-war has just come in, and is giving two salutes—one to the military commander of the garrison, and one to Admiral Bedford of the British North Atlantic Squadron, whose flagship, the Crescent, spends the summer in Halifax, and the winter at Bermuda. Later on, a British officer, every detail of dress and manner the perfection of good form, gloved and booted and spurred, drops with clanking sword into the seat beside you on the street car. You take the ferry to Dartmouth, and pass H.M.S. Quail at the King's Dock, with a score of barefooted sailors washing down her decks; a little further up you see a line of dirty sailors carrying baskets of coal to the bunkers of the Indefatigable; out in the stream, a squad of marines are having sword drill on the Crescent, their sabres flashing rhythmically in the sun. At twelve o'clock you set your watch by the boom of cannon. After supper, "tea" it is in Halifax—you sit on the hotel porch and watch two thousand Tommies stroll by in all his varieties of uniform, but always with the same absurd little cane, his day's duties over, now mostly a-wooing bent.

As the twilight dies away you make up your mind to take a lonely row up the Northwest Arm in the moonlight. As you push out into the harbor you see the black bulk of the flagship lit up with colored lights. A little later you hear the ship's band strike up the "Marseillaise," in honor of the visiting Frenchman. There is an interval of silence, and then the "Blue Danube" floats out across the water, and you realize that the officers of the fleet are giving a ball on the flagship; so you draw your boat close up under the shadow of the ship and listen to the music and the voices, and watch the gay uniforms and dresses.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 20 September 2014

How Front-Line Rations Arrive (1917)
Topic: CEF

The General Service Wagon

How Front-Line Rations Arrive

Nerve-Racking Work of the Canadian Army Service Corps
Germans Have Range
Food and Mail Must Be Brought Up Under Direct Fire

Toronto World, 8 July 1917

Paris.—"Give the word to limber up, sergeant-major. And you might tell my groom that I shan't walk my horse this evening. I'll walk instead."

"Very good, sir," says the sergeant-major as he salutes and goes out.

There arises a clattering on the cobbles of the farmyard; voices call out orders; the watercarts are filled; horses are harnessed to their limbers; the mail and the rations are piled on their wagons; and ten minutes later the whole column is standing ready in the dusk, the transport man mounted, the quartermaster, the transport officer, and a sergeant on foot.

The sound of a whistle, a straining of horses, the cracking of a whip, and the transport rumbles and jolts out of the farmyard gate on its way towards the trenches.

Away ahead the first star-shells shoot up and sink slowly in the brilliance to the earth again. All the way along the horizon little sudden pricks of flame come from the enemy's guns, the soft "pop" of bursting shrapnel sounds thru the darkness—for it would be folly to set out before night hid you from German observers, and the "heavies" away on the right crash and rumble and then crash again as they burst among the broken houses. The road—a narrow strip of pave with bottomless, clinging mud on either side of it—is thronged with limbers of other regiments, with cookers, ambulances, A.S.C. lorries laden with tools and trench stores and piles of sandbags, orderlies on bicycles, wounded men on their way back to the field ambulance, and men from hospital on the way back to their units. And thru or with this stream winds the transport officer at the head of his column.

Now and then there is a sudden halt—the enemy are shelling the road a little further up and there is nothing to do but wait. The transport officer fumes to and fro, for he has under his command a dozen men, more horses, and six or seven limbers, all packed tightly together on a narrow road with the Germans shelling in front and an interminable line of transport waiting behind. If the Boche gunners lengthen their range by a hundred yards of so—

"Lead on," comes the word from further up, and the whole road is movement again. The laden limbers crawl along over the pave till they reach a battered old building that looms up thru the night—the dumping ground where the supplies have to be left for the men in the trenches. Privates tramp to and fro with picks and shovels and ammunition; a sergeant is there to see that the rations for the different companies are placed in different piles; a post-corporal hurries hither and thither in search of "D" Company's letters, which have been mislaid, and the transport officer and quartermaster supervise and control everything—always in the most impenetrable darkness, save when a star-shell lights up the white faces, the sweating horses, the gleaming mud.

The transport officer gives the word, and the empty limbers jolt out of the yard on to the road again to join in the stream that flows back towards the billets and sleep.

Night after night there is the same slow crawl along the road pitted with shell-holes, and same halts, the same dead horse and broken limber in the ditch and the same knowledge that, in a moment or so, your own horses may be struggling in their death agony, your own limbers splintered and smashed, your own men lying dead and wounded.

And when the wagons are once more ranged in line against the wall of the farms, when the last of the men has climbed up to the hayloft where he sleeps, the transport officer sighs with relief as he drags off his muddy boots. "Thanks heaven that's over till tomorrow night," he mutters.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 19 September 2014

Weird Camp Assembly Line
Topic: Canadian Army

Personnel of the Canadian Army Show loading equipment into a truck, Guildford, England, 21 June 1945. (L-R): Captain Maurice Burke of The British Columbia Dragoons, the Show's liaison officer; Private Daphne Marshall; driver Luther Daniels. Photographer: Harold D. Robinson, Location: Guildford, England. Date: June 21, 1945. MIKAN Number: 3596554

Weird Camp Assembly Line

(Special to the Maple Leaf)

The Maple Leaf, 30 June 1945

Ever been to an army camp where, if you didn't step lively, you're liable to be trampled underfoot by hurrying, burly sergeants-major complete with lipstick and rouge? Or maybe your idea of a properly conducted military establishment doesn't include having OR's out in an open field tooting away on saxophones and clarinets.

Just outside Guildford is one of the strangest army camps. It is operated by Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit (Army Shows) and is the spot where the troops shows are put together, hammered into smooth shape and put on the road.

At the moment, the organization has eight entertainment units in the field, five small groups touring hospitals, another five shows in rehearsal and talent for three more on the way over from Canada. A brand new show every week is being turned out by this show factory. That sort of activity needs plenty of talent and the army shows right now could use at least another 135 service performers. It's a mighty swell chance for anyone in khaki and with a bent for any department of the show business to acquire some valuable experience.

Greater Need

All the hectic activity on the entertainment front reflects recognition of the fact that, with active operations over, there is a greater need for good entertainment to take up the serviceman's time. The Army Shows these days are particularly pointing their talents toward entertaining the occupational forces and the lads who are getting ready to go home.

Canadian service personnel, of course, have been providing entertainment for their fellows ever since the early days of the war, principally through such groups as the Tin Hats, Forage Caps and Bandoliers—some of whose personnel are still in khaki shows. However, the present set-up did not really get going until around Christmas, 1943, when the big Army Show in Canada was broken up into five separate units and came overseas.

The whole organization at the time amounted to 135 people; total strength now is 864. Always the trend has been toward bigger and more elaborate shows. The early units went out with a piano, accordion and drums; now each once had at least a nine-piece band while three units boast a 16-piece orchestra. Biggest and best production to date has been "Apres le Guerre," which has 45 in it. This show was prepared strictly from scratch, made ready for the road in only three weeks and hjas just started on a Continental jaunt. All the army shows are being shot over to the continent as soon as they are ready, the boys there getting top priority in this high-grade Canadian brand of entertainment.

Each unit is completely self-contained, does its own cooking, hauling and fatigues and after the show is over all performers pitch in to move the scenery. All the necessary equipment is taken along with the show, including the power supply—each unit being equipped with a portable Diesel generator which is capable of supplying enough power to light up at least two miles of city street.

Quick, easy movement is a prime necessity for these units because during their three-month Continental sojourns they play up to 150 shows. When the war was on they very often moved up the line with fighting troops and played 500 yards from the enemy. A month after D-Day a unit under CSM Jimmy Shields and CSM Jimmy Hosack, both of Toronto, went to France and played from Arromanches right up to near Nijmegen. In eight days these entertainers put on 22 shows for the 3rd Div. with their theatre being a cleared out cave at Fontaine-Henri.

Getting these swiftly-paced shows together is a highly detailed job and their excellence is a tribute to the talent and technical efficiency of the whole Army Show organization. Biggest share of credit belongs to Major Rai Purdy, CO of the outfit, who used to run his own radio production set-up in Toronto.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 18 September 2014

Guelph Armoury
Topic: Armouries

Guelph Armoury

Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario

The data tabled below comes from forms maintained by the District Engineers of Military District No. 1 (which covered southwestern Ontario) on the Armouries and facilities in their district. The data on the transcribed forms was recorded in the 1940s and reflects the state and use of the buildings in that era. Some of the Armouries in use at that time continue to be the homes of local Reserve Force units, some have been repurposed, and others are long gone, the sites now home to other buildings. The area controlled by Military District No. 1 in the 1940s is now in the area of responsibility of 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

Guelph Armoury.

The Drill Hall.

The brickwork and stone crenellations.

Historic guns at the Guelph Armoury.

The Soldiers' Obligation, wall plaque in the armoury Drill Hall.

NameGuelph Armoury
Military DistrictM.D. No. 1
Electoral DistrictWellington, S.R.
H.Q. FileL. 13-8-26
1.Building Ownership.Department of National Defence
2.If purchased, date, conditions, cost, etc., and value. 
3.If constructed, date and cost and what Department and value.Built in 1909 by Department of Public Works at a cost of $132,000.
(a)Drainage, sewer and water connection. To be shown on site plan. 
(b)Foundation.Stone and concrete.
(c)Walls.Bick and cut stone.
(d)Roof framing.Wood truss timber 10 x 10 with 1 1/4" turnbuckle and anchor rods supporting and binding the truss.
(e)Roof covering (Type and date).Composition paper, waterproofing coated.
(f)Floor, main hall.Composition paper, waterproofing coated.
(g)Other floors.Department of National Defence
(h)Partitions.Brick patitions and metal lath and plaster.
5.Miniature rifle range—Description.Miniature range – 4 target.
6.Bowling alleys, badminton courts, indoor baseball or other facilities for games.Two bowling alleys in basement..
7.Heating system— 
(a)General Description.Good hot water circulation system throughout entire building.
(b)Make and size heating apprs.Two Stoker fired Taylor Forbes Boilers.
(c)Fuel per annum.60 tons approx.
(d)Engineer and fireman specially employed.No.
8.Lighting system—General description.Building rewired 1945.
9.Fire protection. Show position of standpipes in building, on site or on street Fire Department, one stand pipe and fire extinguishers.
(a)Military or Civilian.Civilian (two).
(b)Quartered in Armoury.One quartered in Armoury.
(c)Does he tend heating apprs.Yes.
11.Units in occupation. 
12.General condition (Adequate space or not).Adequate
Clothing, Equipment, fixtures (adequate or not). 
13.Any special remarks not included above.Adequate
(a)Ownership.Department of National Defence
(b)How acquired, date, cost and present value.Purchase, assessed at $5,000.
(c)Who holds deed.District Enginering Officer, M.D. No. 1, London, Ontario
(d)Size and area.3.003 acres
(e)Name of street and number of lot.Corner of Huskisson and Farquahar Streets,
(f)Fences, walks, and roadways on site.Steel fence with concrete posts.
(g)Surface—whether grass and whether kept in condition, and by whom.Grass kept in condition by caretaker.
(h)Is any part of site used for other than military purpose. Give details.No.
(i)Are there any other structures on site. If so give details.No.
(j)State nature of surface of roads, also sidewalks on adjoining street.Paved street in front and concete walks.
(k)Any remarks on site not included above. 

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

RCAF Recruiting, 1949
Topic: RCAF

RCAF Recuiting; 1949

Men With a Purpose

Published in McLean's magazine on 1 March 1949, this Royal Canadian Air Force recruiting advertisement seeks to inspire men to join the RCAF as Flying Officers.

Offering a monthly pay of $284 after completion of basic training, requirements for applicants were:

  • Age 18 to 24.
  • Unmarried.
  • Junior Matriculation or better—a University degree is an advantage.
  • Junior Matriculants are eligible for a short service commission of 6 years duration—University graduates for a permanent commission.
  • A selected number of personnel holding short service commissions are granted permanent commissions on a competitive basis. The remainder receive a substantial gratuity on the termination of their engagement.

RCAF recuiting advertisement; 1949
Click image for larger version.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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