The Minute Book
Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Halifax Explosion Averted (1905)
Topic: Halifax

Halifax Threatened by Fire on George's Island

One of the Buildings of Fort Charlotte Burned But the Great Quantities of Explosives are Dumped Into the Harbour by Bluejackets and Soldiers

One of the military officers told your correspondent that had the magazine blown up not a whole pane of glass would have been left in Halifax.

St. John Daily Sun; 28 October 1905
(Special to the Sun)

Halifax, N.S., Oct 27.—One of the strongest and oldest forts which protect Halifax harbor is Fort Charlotte, on St. George's Island, its frowning embrasures facing the seaward, commanding the approaches. It is the centre of the submarine mining operations which are carried on extensively in the surrounding waters. In the oil department of the main store building on this island fore broke out this evening and for two hours the flames licked the building, devoured a great deal of valuable property, and threatened the submarine mines building. In this building was a vast quantity of submarine mine supplies, officially estimated as worth a quarter of a million dollars. Had the wind been a few points more to the eastward, this building could not have escaped, but as things turned out, it was not perceptibly damaged. The main store building, where the fire originated, and where it burned itself out, was completely destroyed. In this building, which formerly was a barracks, which was located beside the oil department, the carpenter shop, the general mechanical department, the cook house, and a large space devoted to stores. The light, inflammable material furnished just the kind of stuff for a rapid spread of the fire and the flames licked their way along so quickly that in a few minutes after discovery they were rising in red forks and great sheets through the roof.

At first the men on duty on George's Island thought they could fight the fire alone, but they saw the futility of this, and assistance from the fleet and mainland was asked by submarine telephone. There was indeed cause for genuine alarm, for in the burning building was a large quantity of dynamite and some powder. But before the fire reached the dynamite section, sailors from the second cruiser squadron and soldiers from the Wellington barracks, who had responded to the call for help, had dumped the explosive into the harbor, where it can be recovered by divers. The gun cotton, of which there was enough to shake Halifax, a half mile distant, had it exploded, was lying loose, in which condition it burned harmlessly as if but so much paper.

The fire fighting appliances on George's Island at the disposal of the military were meagre and primitive, consisting of several hand engines which produced a very feeble stream, but, such as they were the soldiers and sailors worked them with vim and made the most of them. The bucket brigade was almost as effective as the hand engine men, passing water up from the harbor saturating the dry grass and adjoining buildings. Stray lots of powder blew up, but the magazine was some distance away, underground, and the tremendous disaster that would have followed its ignition and explosion was never more than a remote possibility.

One of the military officers told your correspondent that had the magazine blown up not a whole pane of glass would have been left in Halifax. The chief loss is the mechanical stores, one of the heaviest items in this being an immense quantity of platinum for electrical purposes. The submarine wire cables were also destroyed. When the sky was most lurid with the reflections of the burning buildings and people were fearful that a terrible explosion might occur at any moment, the towboats with appliances responded to a call and the powerful streams that were directed by them were so effective that by 9.30 o'clock all danger of further spread of the flames was past. The origin of the fire is a mystery and no one on the island could offer any explanation of its cause.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 29 November 2014

Canadian Infantry in Sicily
Topic: Canadian Army

Private D.B. MacDonald of The Royal Canadian Regiment, who carries a Bren light machine gun, near Campobasso, Italy, October 1943. Photographer: Jack H. Smith. FRom the Faces of War collection at Library and Archives Canada.

Canadian Infantry in Sicily Produced Goods

Ottawa Citizen, 1 September 1943
By Ross Munro

With the Canadians in Sicily, Aug. 31,—(CP)—Canada's P.B.I. (poor bloody infantry) came through with the goods in the Sicilian victory.

The nine infantry battalions in the 1st Canadian Division lived up to everything that was expected of them and more. In face of German machine guns, under mortar and artillery fire they were as brave as men could be.

They endured the blazing heat of the Mediterranean, the smothering dust of the roads and fields, days and nights of forced marches and fighting and they battled and beat some of the finest troops in the German army.

To Canada's gallant infantry in Sicily goes the lion's share of praise for the brilliant success of the Canadian advance from Pachino to the western slopes of Mount Etna.

Infantrymen themselves will say, however, that they could not have done it without the support of the Royal Canadian Artillery, Canadian tank units, mortar crews, machine gunners and reconnaissance troops which always backed them up.

Spectacular Exploit

The most spectacular infantry exploit was probably the storming of the Assoro cliffs by the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. This surprise attack was like a repeat of Wolfe at Quebec.

Ranking with it was the work of the Edmonton Regiment in the mountains northwest of Aderno. The Edmontons' assault on Hill 736 and on Mount Revisotto, while only carried out by comparatively small forces, was classed among the big successes.

To the Seaforth Highlanders goes great credit for fighting before Agira and the attack to the Simeto river valley in front of Aderno when the Highlanders teamed up with tanks and a reconnaissance squadron. The Seaforths also shared in the heavy fighting at Leonforte with the Edmontons and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Actions the Patricias will always recall are the final attack on Leonforte which led to the capture of the town and the successful breakthrough at Nissoria behind the heaviest artillery concentration in the Canadian campaign.

The Royal Canadian Regiment was engaged over a longer period than any unit, going into action shortly after landing, in skirmishes it captured the Pachino airdrome and cleaned out a strong Italian coast artillery position on a wooded hill northwest of Pachino. Its fiercest fight was at Nissoria on the bloody slopes east of the town.

The 48th Highlanders also rate Nissoria as its roughest battle but will remember Valguarnera and the Leonforte-Assoro ridge when they recall this campaign in their mess years from now.

While not in action as much as other infantry battalions the West Nova Scotias, the Royal 22nd and the Carleton and York fought skilfully in the battle before Enna and at Catenanuova when the bridgehead over the Dittaino river was gained. The daring night crossing by the Royal 22nd over the Simeto river in the final phase of the operation which broke the Etna line will live in that regiment's history.

Add Skirmishes

These are the highlights of the infantry engagements, but to them you add numerous skirmishes fought by platoons and companies which are almost forgotten in the heat of larger battles. There was the landing itself and while it was practically unopposed, it was a nerve-wracking business that tested the spirit of everyone. There were those long marches through hostile country whether the troops never knew when machine guns would open up from the next ridge or turn in the road.

There was the ambush at Grammichele where the Hastings handled themselves so creditably after the Germans had shot up their forward elements. Everywhere the "Red Patch Devils," as the Canucks became known to the enemy, proved themselves terrors in attack. Never during the whole campaign on the Canadian front did the Germans attempt a large scale counter-attack which indicated a hearty respect for their Canadian opponents.

These infantrymen have seen death and tumult of battle but they haven't changed much. Possibly they are a little sterner but they haven't forgotten the humor which helped them so much through four English winters with nothing to spur them on but hope for a campaign like this.

They have learned to soldier like their 8th Army comrades, know angles on bivouacking, on dodging mortar fire and shells, on digging slit trenches and living on all sorts of rations. They have learned to supplement army rations with Sicilian fruit and onions, tomatoes and the harsh "vino" of the country.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 28 November 2014

NCOs; not always the backbone (1895)
Topic: Discipline

Military Chit-Chat

The Metropolitan, Montreal, 20 April, 1895

Many company officers are complaining of the inefficiency of their non-coms. In our opinion, too much consideration altogether has been paid to them in several corps, so much so, indeed, that they are beginning to believe they can run things pretty much as they like. They have been told so often by some commanding officers, who have most unwisely thought it policy to indulge in indiscriminate flattery, that the non-coms are the backbone of a regiment, that they really begin to think they are the most important part of it. It is true that they do form a very important part, especially if they perform their duties well; but when they grow careless, inattentive, and evince a tendency to attend parades when it pleases them to do so, their usefulness is, to a great extent, gone, and instead of being a help to the regiment, they become a disturbing element, which should be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. What duties do the majority of them perform? Do they look after recruiting? Do they ever take the trouble to look up the men in their squads and get them to attend drill? Do they attend drill regularly themselves? Do they interest themselves overmuch in getting in uniforms from men who have left the city? In fact, are not their faults of omission great even than their faults of commission? Their knowledge of drill, too, is, as a rule, not very extensive, and, with a few exceptions, they show very little desire to increase it. Many of them are shooting men, who remain only in the force for the prizes they rake in at the ranges. In fact, looked at from every point of view, the ordinary no-commissioned officer in Montreal is a failure, and not worth his salt. There are, of course, exceptions in every regiment, but we are speaking of them as a body. Instead of being models to the men, they are often only bad examples. The remedy is in the hands of the commanding officers, and if he shows he is determined to enforce discipline at all hazards, there will soon be a remarkable change. They should remember that there are much better fish in the sea than ever came out of it; and if it should be necessary to get rid of some of their present staff, it would not be a very difficult thing to replace them. At least, they could not be much worse off.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 27 November 2014

CH of O Colours, 1936
Topic: Tradition


The first stand of Colours presented to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. (Source)

Presentation of Colours

Lord Tweedsmuir to Officiate on October 18 [1936]

The Montreal; Gazette; 8 October 1936
(Special to the Gazette.)

Ottawa, October 7.—New King's and Regimental colors are to be presented to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, October 18, on Parliament Hill by His Excellency the Governor General, on behalf of the 43rd D.C.O.R. Regimental Association. The Highlanders perpetuate the 43rd, which regiment flourished in Ottawa prior to the Great War. It is probably unique in Canadian military history for a former regiment, out of active existence for more than twenty years, to come forward and make a presentation of this sort to the perpetuating unit. It is anticipated that in the neighborhood of 400 former members of the 43rd will parade in mufti for the occasion. A color guard of five men will guard the new colors from the present repository to the Hill, at which place Col. Sir A. Percy Sherwood, Honorary Colonel of the Camerons, and honorary president of the 43rd association, will hand over to His Excellency the colors with the request that he present them to the Highland unit.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Battle Honours May Be Given Soon (1954)
Topic: Battle Honours

Battle Honours May Be Given Soon

The Ottawa Citizen; 10 June 1954
By The Canadian Press

The army said today it hopes that battle honors for the Second World War will be announced soon.

Battle honors, which are inscribed on regimental colors, are awarded by an international group at the British war office on which Canada is represented.

A lot of research is required. Records of various operations and battles have to be studied in detail, classified, and named. Much history work has to be done before deciding what units are entitled to battle honors. It was 1929 before First World War battle honors were awarded.

Canada's regular infantry regiments are already rich in battle honors. On their colors are inscribed such names as "Northwest Canada, 1885," "Paardeberg," "Vimy, 1917," "Passchendaele," "Pursuit to Mons," "France and Flanders, 1915-1918."

Some of the new crop of battle honors may include names like Dieppe, Ortona, Melfa River, Caen, Boulogne and The Scheldt.

Restricted Honor

Only infantry and cavalry carry colors, cavalry now being armored units. Thus only these two arms can carry battle honors denoting participation in notable engagements. Other arms claim nonchalantly that they took part in every battle.

The first battle honor was granted in 1768 to the 15th British Hussars for an action at Emsdorff in 1760. But the earliest battle commemorated by an honor is "Guinegatte, 1513" though it was not awarded until 1937—424 years later—to the Corps of Gentlemen-At-Arms, one of the sovereign's bodyguards.

The earliest battle honor awarded to a Canadian unit is "Eccles Hill," granted to the Victoria Rifles to commemorate an action against the Fenians on the Vermont border in 1870.

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment possesses some battle honors carried by no other Canadian unit, among them "Gallipoli."

One battalion of Canadian infantry, the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, has a unique distinction. Attached to the pike of its regimental color is a streamer representing the United States presidential citation granted to the unit in recognition of its heroic stand at Kapyong, Korea, in April, 1951.

Have Queen's Colors

Though the navy and air force do not have colors for individual ships or squadrons, they do possess Queen's colors. The navy received its color from King George VI in 1939. The RCAF was granted the Queen's (then King's) color and the color of the RCAF in 1950 in a ceremony on Parliament Hill. The senior and junior services, however, do not receive battle honours.

Some police forces also carry colors. A notable case is the RCMP, presented a guidon at Regina in 1935 by Lord Bessborough, then governor-general. The guidon, carried on a lance, bears four campaign honours, "Northwest Canada, 1885," "South Africa, 1900-02," "France and Flanders, 1918," and "Siberia, 1918-19"

Originally, the main purpose of colors was to provide a rallying point for a unit on the battlefield. They were last carried into action in 1881 by the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, at Laing's Nek in the Boer War.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Infantry's Tradition
Topic: Tradition


Detail from The Thin Red Line (The Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of Balaclava 1854), by Robert Gibb

The Infantry's Tradition

Excerpt from "Retrospect of Warfare in Three Elements"
The Glasgow Herald, 8 May 1945

In this country of all countries, the infantry has been the weapon par excellence. When we think of the British Army we think of the infantryman from the earliest times—the Saxon wall at Hastings, the bowmen at Crecy, the six regiments at Minden, the column at Fontenoy, the "diehards" at Albuera, the squares at Waterloo, the "thin red line" in the Crimea, the Second Corps at Le Cateau, the 15th Division at Loos, the long agony on the Somme and at Passchendaele, and in this war the retreat to Dunkirk, the battles at El Alamein, at Anzio, at Falaise, and on the Rhine.

This most modern of wars has not proved the tradition false. Moving along the long roads that led from distant shores to Berlin, roads on which, as has been said, the milestones were wooden crosses and the signposts the graves of his forefathers, the British infantryman by universal acknowledgement has been the strong buttress of battle. We should be ill advised to believe that it has been his splendid swan-song.


The Battle of Minden, by by Dawn Waring (Source)

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 24 November 2014

The Camel Charge
Topic: The Field of Battle

The Camel Charge

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence, 1926

My camel, the Sherari racer, Naama, stretched herself out, and hurled downhill with such might that awe soon out-distanced the others. The Turks fired a few shots, but most only shrieked and turned to run: the bullets they did send at us were not very harmful, for it took much to bring a charging camel down in a dead heap.

I had got among the first of them, and was shooting, with a pistol of course, for only an expert could use a rifle from such plunging beasts; when suddenly my camel tripped and went down emptily on her face, as though pole-axed. I was torn completely from the saddle, sailed grandly through the air a great distance, and landed with a crash which seemed to drrive all the power and the feeling out of me. I lay there, passively waiting for the Turks to kill me, continuing to hum over the verses of some long-forgotten poem, whose rhythm something, perhaps the prolonged stride of the camel, had brought back to my memory as we leaped down the hill-side:

For Lord I was free of all Thy flowers, but I chose the world's sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes are blind with sweat.

While another part of my mindthought what a squashed thing I should look when all that cataract of men and camels had poured over.

After a long time I finished my poem, and no Turks came, and no camel tread on me: a curtain seemed taken from my ears: there was agreat noise in front. I sat up and saw the battle over, and our men driving together and cutting down the last remnants of the enemy. My camel's body had lain behind me like a rock and divided the charge into two streams: and in the back of its skull was the heavy bullet of the fifth shot I had fired.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 23 November 2014

Everyone Hated Training
Topic: Drill and Training

Everyone Hated Training

Six War Years 1939-1945, Barry Broadfoot, 1974

Everyone in the forces hated training. It was intended, of course, to instill absolute discipline. Do this, soldier, or do that, sailor, and don't ask why. But so much of it was in the military term, chicken shit. Too much time was spent on parade square drills. Too much on the art of saluting. Too much in the correctness of walking-out dress. Too much on how to pack a haversack, stow a hammock, board an aircraft. Too much bayonet drill. Who would ever get close enough to a German to stick that thing in his gut?

But then came the realization of what it was all about. The almost automatic action of cleaning the rifle after firing could save your life because a jammed barrel could mean a blow-up. Those hours of digging silly slit trenches in the rain paid off when shells were bursting around you. All those hours and days and weeks of training, apparently meaning-less, all came together. The soldier, the sailor, the airman in combat had to ignore fear but still live with it - and it was the housekeeping lessons learned long ago in some Canadian training camp that helped him live with war.

But, oh God, like everyone who went through it, I remember the frustrations, the chicken shit, the rules and regulations, and the cocky corporals and the overbearing sergeants of those training camps, they were enough to break a man's spirit. But if they did, perhaps he was not much.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 22 November 2014

Laying Up Colours, 1898
Topic: Tradition

Surrender of Colours

Grenadiers Will Yield Their Flags Into the Hands of the Church

The Mail and Empire, Toronto, 10 November 1898

An interesting and impressive military ceremony will take place on Sunday afternoon, when the old and honoured colours of the Royal Grenadiers will be deposited in St. James' cathedral. The religious exercises appropriate to such an occasion will be conducted by Bishop Sullivan. Last year, it will be remembered, the ladies of Toronto presented the regiment with new colours, which will wave over the volunteers in future, while the old flags, which have been in use for thirty years, will hang on either side of the chancel in St. James'. The Grenadiers will assemble in the Armouries on Sunday afternoon, and a short semi-military service will be held. They will then march to the cathedral and give their colours into the hands of Bishop Sullivan.

This will be the first time that such a ceremony has taken place in Toronto, and the fourth occasion of the kind in the military history of Canada. Colours have previously been deposited in Halifax, Quebec, and Montreal, and great interest has always been shown in the proceedings.

The Royal Grenadiers; A Regimental History of the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada

By Captain Ernest J. Chambers (Corps of Guides), 1904

November 13th, 1898, is a date possessing special interest for the Royal Grenadiers, as the one upon which the regiment deposited their old colors with all due honor in St. James' Cathedral. The presence of his Lordship the Bishop of Toronto, the Rector, the Right Rev. Dr. Sullivan, and an array of Canons in their stately robes, the brilliant colors of the uniforms, the impressive formula, all tended to great solemnity; and when the treasured colors, their brilliancy dimmed by the battle and the breeze, were received at the chancel steps by His Lordship, the Bishop, while the organ played "Home, Sweet Home," emotion ran high and the tears were not far from the eyes of the staunchest soldier present. A touching reference by the Rector in his earnest address to the fallen heroes of the Northwest rebellion, drew many an eye to the brass tablet, wreathed in evergreen, and studded with white chrysanthemums, to the memory of Lieut. William Charles Fitch, "killed in action at Batoche," and to the one similarly wreathed, in token of remembrance, to Capt. Andrew Maxwell Irving.

As the clock pointed a quarter to four came a loud knock at the King street door of the church, and the rector, Bishop Sullivan, sent his churchwardens to ascertain who it was that demanded admittance. These officials proceeded to the door, and there learned from the officer standing thereat, who was Lieut. and Adjutant Wilkie, that he "desired speech with the rector." The wardens then closed the door, and returning to the rector, delivered the message, the right reverend gentleman, in reply, saying he would see the officer. Again the wardens proceeded to the door, and on their return once more to the chancel they were accompanied by Lieut. Wilkie, who, with drawn sword, halted at the foot of the chancel steps, and addressing Bishop Sullivan, said: "My Lord, I am commanded by Lieut.-Col. Mason, commanding the Royal Grenadiers, to inform you that he desires to place within this sacred building, for safe-keeping, the old colors of the regiment."

Bishop Sullivan gave his formal assent, and then Lieut. Wilkie returned to convey his answer to Col. Mason.

At the same time the Bishop, clergy, and wardens proceeded towards the King Street entrance, of which had been thrown open to admit the military. A procession was then formed as the doors follows:--- The churchwardens, the choir, the clergy, the bishops, the officers bearing the colors, and the escort, the latter at the shoulder with fixed bayonets. As the whole party advanced up the aisle the hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers" was sung, accompanied by the organ and the band of the regiment, the latter being posted in the transept to the right of the organ.

Lieut. -Col. Mason, followed by Major Bruce and Capt. Cameron, acting major, stepped to the front, and Col. Mason, addressing the rector, said: "My Lord, I have come here with the old colors of the Royal Grenadiers, that have been borne by the regiment for 33 years, with the hope and with the request, that the authorities of this cathedral church will permit these treasured and venerable emblems of loyalty, Christianity, and civilization to find permanent rest wilhin the walls of this sacred building, in the midst of a loyal and God-fearing population." Bishop Sullivan, in reply, said that the authorities would not only receive the colors and permit them to be place in the church, but would feel honored by the trust.

The colors, he intimated, would be sacred objects, and the church authorities would prize them as mong their most sacred treasures. The colors, being handed to the rector, he handed them to the Bishop of Toronto, who in turn laid them upon the altar, the escort presenting arms before the old colors were handed over by the majors.

The cathedral was crowded every part, few more impressive ceremonies being ever held within its walls. The Rector, Bishop Sullivan, preached a sermon of rare eloquence and well worthy the occasion. For many years worthily had these colors been borne by the regimemt, and now, with ceremony combined, they are given an honored resting place.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 21 November 2014

Parcels from Home; 1942
Topic: RCN

The original HMCS Niobe (Canadian service 1910-1920), after which the Second World War shore station of the Royal Canadian Navy at Greenock, Scotland, was named.

Parcels from Home Bring Unlimited Joy to Men of Canada's Navy

They Get Plenty to Eat, But It's Monotonous Fare When There's No Special Treat

The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario; 1 August 1942
By: Lieut. E.H. Bartlett, R.C.N.V.R.

HMCS NIOBE

HMCS Niobe was a RCN shore establishment at Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland. It operated between 1941 and 1946 as was the headquarters of the RCN in Britain. Niobe fulfilled a wide range of functions, including the provision of a hospital for wounded Canadian Servicemen, and a transit camp for RCN crewmen between postings in the UK. It also maintained listing of ship's crew and next of kin for all RCN personnel based in the UK. The base was was named after the first warship transferred from the RN to the RCN. (Source)

The parcels from home had arrived, and there was jubilation at Canada's naval base, "H.M.C.S. Niobe" in the United Kingdom.

The parcels, in the main, contained food and cigarets with, occasionally, articles of clothing. It was the food and cigarets which brought most joy.

Lest there be any chance of a misunderstanding, there is no shortage of food at this naval base, even as there is no shortage throughout Great Britain. There is a certain monotony and some restriction in the day-to-day menus, which luxuries from Canada relieves.

The parcels arrived on a day which had produced an unattractive series of meals. Breakfast had consisted of cereal and baked beans and bacon, with bread and butter and tea, Dinner (at mid-day) had been vegetable soup, haddock, peas and potatoes and tapioca pudding; tea; the inevitable bread, butter and jam, and tea; and supper had produced corned-beef hash, bread and jam.

The "treats" arrived at a most opportune time.

"Bread and Spread"

There's a good rule which the men overseas have paid down for their friends at home as guidance to what is best to send. "Anything which can be spread on bread," for in Great Britain there is no shortage of bread and "bread and spread" makes a good meal. The "spreads" run from meat pastes to jams, honey to peanut butter as well as tins of real butter.

But, to return to the parcels from home.

Tins of fruit made their appearance at most of the messes when the parcels were opened. There's a system to the issue of these "extra rations," a co-operative system whereby the majority of the food is shared at mess, and the donor of a tin of peaches one day is the sharer of a tin of pineapple the next.

It's a system bred of good fellowship; a naval trait.

For between meal snacks, chocolate bars are always welcome, especially the sugar-laden, delightfully sweet bars which Canada produces. Chocolate bars in the Old Country, at twopence halfpenny each are not really satisfying to the sweet-tooths of Canadians, As for chewing gum, a country which regarded its advent in the last war with rather horrified eyes is certainly not going to produce it in quantity in wartime, so the chewing gum in the parcels from Canada is treasured.

Parcel for Birthday

Highlight of "parcel day" was a party given by one officer in his cabin. It was a brother officer's birthday and the host's parcel from home had included two cans of corn on the cob. The menu was simple. Corn, with creamery butter from Ontario, bread and potted meat, and coffee made from the combined coffee-milk-sugar syrup which has come into its own again in this war.

The luxuries which the folks back home send over well repay the trouble of their sending.

But, it must be repeated, Canada's naval men overseas live well on their rations. They get their roast beef and their bacon, their steak and kidney pies and roast pork, and all the other meats to which they are accustomed. There is no shortage of vegetables and certainly none of bread. Apple pie is no stranger, and milk puddings are frequent. Tea and cocoa seem unlimited, although it is better not to talk about the coffee which sometimes appears. Four meals a day are still in order, with cocoa on tap for the men on night duty.

And, of course, there are "snacks" ashore.

The Canadian seamen early in their sojourn overseas discovered the best restaurants to fit their appetites and their pockets. A typical snack in one of these restaurants costs one and threepence (less that 30 cents) and includes a choice of fish, pork pie, sausage or scrambled eggs (made from powder) each with chipped potatoes, with cakes and tea or coffee. A good meal at a reasonable price.

Chicken Comes High

For high days and holidays, or for a celebration, it is still comparatively easy to get a chicken dinner … but not for one and threepence.

Cigarets are costly, hence the delight with which the cartons of cigarets from home are received. To buy them ashore takes a shilling for a small package of ten, and a seaman's pay does not really permit a great deal of smoking at that price. Especially when he is allotting part of this pay for the purchase of War Savings Certificates. Soft drinks, because of the sugar rationing, are almost unavailable. Beer, for those who want it, is costly … one and fourpence (about 30 cents) for a pint of draught ale the taste of which is not appreciated by the Canadian palate. Cinema shows cost the same as a pint of beer, and are more frequently patronized than are the public houses.

There is no need, however, for Canadian seamen to spend a great deal on entertainment. They have been taken, wholeheartedly, into the families of the center in which their base is situated. The entertainment may not be riotous, but there is much to be said for a quiet evening spent in an Old Country home, before a cheery fire with a cup of tea and some home-baking (the hospitable islanders insist on sharing their rations) for refreshments. And, in addition, the sewing on of buttons and the mending of socks for these boys from across the ocean.

Naval Men Popular

And, of course, if the family has a daughter, well, how much better can a seaman show his appreciation than by taking her to a show of a dance occasionally!

There is no doubt that Canada's naval men are popular. "The finest bunch of laddies we have ver had here," a city magistrate told the writer.

"Eh, but they're grand," said a bus conductress, "and it's a fair treat to see their politeness."

The feeling of goodwill is reciprocated.

"Since we've been here we haven't run into anyone who hasn't wanted to do everything for us," declared one of the lads whose tour of duty overseas has not been short. "They are a people worth fighting beside.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Barracks for Halifax 1902
Topic: Halifax

The Brunswick and Cogwell Streets area of Halifax, as shown on an 1894 map of the city.The Brunswick and Cogwell Streets area of Halifax, as shown on an 1894 map of the city.

New Barracks for Halifax

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 21 June 1902

The 1928 map of Halifax shows the changes in construction in the Glacis Barracks and Churchfield areas.

The 1928 map of Halifax shows the changes in construction in the Glacis Barracks and Churchfield areas.

The Imperial Government have decided to erect new barracks and construct other important works in and around Halifax this summer. A new brick barracks will be built also, married soldiers' barracks, these latter will be built on the site known as Churchfield which adjoins the Garrison chapel on Brunswick street.

The building will be built of solid brick, two stories in height and faced with stone. A gymnasium which will be one of the finest in Canada, will also be erected on the site of the present gymnasium on Cogswell street, opposite the Station hospital. The quarters at present occupied by the officers of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers will be razed and new and more commodious buildings erected. The new quarters will contain large mess rooms, parlors, reception rooms, library, servants' quarters, etc. The plans of a new fort are at present under way, and the proposed site is at Sambro. At present the defences of Halifax consist of the Citadel and the harbour forts.

The Citadel, which has only a few modern guns, was condemned some years ago, but is still capable of sheltering within its walls the greater portion of the population of Halifax.

Of the harbor forts York Redoubt is the greatest and most impregnable being armed with 12-inch quick-firing disappearing guns. McNab's Island is also well mounted with several disappearing guns of the most modern type.

Amongst the other harbor forts may be mentioned George's Island, which is strongly fortified, and which commands the entrance of the harbor, also Fort Clarence, Fort Ogilvie, Ives' Battery and Fort Cambridge.

These first are situated in different parts of the harbor and all are mounted with modern weapons of the latest type and manned by men of the Royal Garrison Artillery, who in tests with the Atlantic fleet have demonstrated the utter impossibility of any vessel, no matter of what tonnage, to enter harbor without being discovered and blown out of the water.

Beside the harbor forts, look out stations at Camperdown and the North West Arm and vessels are sighted and signalled fully twenty miles out to sea.

Modern range finders are on all the forts, and the men of the Royal Artillery take special courses each year in the manipulation of these instruments.

The barrack accommodation for the past ten years has always been a source of complaint and the proposed new changes will be hailed with delight by both officers and men alike.

The officers' quarters of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers were not at all up to the standard called for by a naval and military station of the importance of Halifax and their proposed improvement will be eagerly looked forward to.

The barracks accommodation for the men, especially the married ones, has been very inadequate, and the new married quarters will fill the long felt want.

At present there is stationed at Halifax the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, a company of the Royal Engineers, also detachments of the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Garrison Artillery and the Army Service Corps.


Churchfield Barracks, on Brunsick Street, Halifax, is the last remaining structure of the 1902-3 building program to improve barracks in this part of the City.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2014 12:02 AM EST
Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Soldier's Suicide; 1888
Topic: The RCR

Suicide

An Infantry School Soldier Ends His Life With a Revolver

The Capital, Fredericton, NB, Saturday, 26 May 1888

Michael Kelly, a private in the Royal School of Infantry, fired a shot on Sunday evening last, that caused his death the following morning at 4 o'clock. Kelly was addicted to drink, but for two years, up to a fortnight before his death, he did not touch it. Getting off to St. John, however, he broke out, and on his return home, last week, went into hospital, from which he was discharged Friday week in good health. On Sunday he was detailed for guard, and was to have gone on at 2 o'clock. He, however, got a substitute and spent the afternoon around town. As far as can be learned Kelly did not drink any that day. The sergeant of the guard says he was perfectly straight when he left him at 2 o'clock and it is believed at the barracks that he has not taken liquor since returning from St. John, and that the cause of his attempt in his life was nervous prostration, the result of the St. John experience.

The shooting occurred about nine o'clock in the evening. Kelly, who acted strangely on the veranda of the barracks, was taken to his room by Privates Purchase and Patterson, who left him with his shirt and pants on, lying on his bed. They had been gone from the room only a moment when the report of a revolver was heard, and on returning they found the unfortunate man on the floor weltering in blood, which flowed freely from a gaping bullet hole in his left breast.

Kelly was at once removed to the hospital. Surgeon Brown, Dr. Currie and Dr. Frank Brown were quickly at his side, and dressed the wound. The doctors found the bullet had entered the breast just at the upper edge of the heart which was perceptibly grazed, cut through the left lung and breaking a rib in the back embedded itself there. The bullet was extracted.

The poor fellow was conscious for an hour and a half after the shooting (recognizing the doctors, the officers of the corps, his aunt and Rev. Father McDevitt, who came to administer spiritual comfort) but did not utter a word. He died at 4 o'clock on Monday morning.

The unfortunate man belonged to Fredericton. His father, Jeremiah Kelly, died 21 years ago, and his mother 14 years ago. Before entering the infantry school when it was first started, he was a printer and worked in the Farmer and Gazette offices. He is about 25 years of age. The weapon from which the bullet was fired was a 32 calibre Smith & Wesson revolver. Only one chamber was emptied.

On Monday afternoon Coroner Currie held an inquest on the body in the hospital. The witnesses examined were: Hospital Sergeant Cochrane, Corp. Patterson, Pte. Purchase, Dr. Frank M. Brown, and Surgeon T. Clowes Brown. The main pointed elicited, in addition to the foregoing, are that Kelly returned from the street to the barracks at seven on Sunday night; that an hour later he had told Patterson and purchase, who occupied the same room with him, that he wanted to go out again, being then in his stocking feet. He comrades remonstrated with him and asked him to put on his shoes. Kelly replied that he would never need shoes again. Patterson would not allow the deceased to go out alone and he then said he would go to bed, but the men thinking his actions and his words were rather strange. Determined to take him to the hospital. This they did but Sergt. Cochrane was out and they brought Kelly back to his room. They then retired to the veranda to talk over what was best to do, leaving Kelly lying on his back in his cot.

Patterson, apprehensive of something, stepped to the window commanding a view of Kelly, and in less than a minute saw Kelly turn on his left side and raise his right arm. The report of a revolver rang out, and Kelly's career as closed by his own hand. Patterson and Purchase ran in, sounded the alarm, and the wounded man was borne to the hospital. The revolver was found behind the bed. He had deliberately bared his breasts and aimed at his heart. In the hospital, while yet conscious, he admitted to Dr. Brown that he fired the shot himself and enquired both of the doctor and Adjt. Young if there was any hope of saving his life. When asked his motive for the deed he only sadly shook his head.

Surgeon Brown made an autopsy of the body, and found the fatal bullet embedded in the muscles of the back, having pierced the lung and broken a back rib. The bullet was battered almost out of shape.

The evidence of all the witnesses confirmed the impression that Kelly was perfectly sober when he committed the deed, and that he was laboring under temporary insanity. The verdict of the jury was in accordance with the evidence.

The remains were interred Tuesday morning at 7:30 o'clock, with full military honours. The whole of the troops in Barracks, with firing party and band, marched to St. Dunstan's Church, where the service for the dad was celebrated by the Rev. Father McDevitt. The remains were interred in the Roman Catholic Cemetery. Kelly was 25 years old.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 19 November 2014 12:20 AM EST
Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Regimental Colours for Canadians (1943)
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Colours for Canadians

Fought in Dieppe Raid

The Glasgow Herald, 17 July 1943

The King, in the uniform of a Field-Marshal, presented their first colours to two famous Canadian regiments, the Royal Regiment of Canada and the South Saskatchewan Regiment, on a parade ground in the Southern Command yesterday.

Both regiments fought at Dieppe, and survivors of that famous raid were among those on parade.

The Queen stood at the King's side as he took the colours and handed them to kneeling officers of the two regiments.

The King said:—

"In olden days regimental colours were carried into action. They used to form the rallying point round which the battle raged, and they were more precious to all ranks than life."

"To-day colours are no longer carried on the battlefield, but they still remain the emblems and the inspiration of courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty, and they are guarded no less jealously and no less reverently than those of old.

Officers and n.c.o.s of the Scots Guards, who trained the Canadians for their ceremonial drill, watched their pupils with critical eye, but found their marching and drill faultless.

The King and Queen lunched in the officers' mess of the Saskatchewans. The menu was cold chopped ham, cold peas and diced carrots, followed by a tart.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 17 November 2014

Montreal Military Tournament; 1928
Topic: Canadian Army


Royal Canadian Dragoons Musical ride at the Canadian National Exhibition ca. 1920 (NLA)

War Panorama in Panoply of Peace

Second Night of Military Tournament Again Enthused Audience With Admiration

The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, 19 May 1928

With the complete panoply of peace, where the spectacular is rendered beautiful yet reminiscent of the still more strenuous days preceding the last decade, Montreal's non-permanent active militia, with permanent force units from Kingston and St Johns, was enabled last night to demonstrate part of the rigorous training necessary to become efficient "Soldiers of the King." No check marred the second day of the Naval and Military Tournament, which was evolved rapidly before the dancing eyes of a packed Forum to end in a glorious crescendo, both of sound and color, banked together at one end of the amphitheatre. Nine hundred men, with massed regimental bands in rear, presented a veritable magician's carpet of color on the drab tan bark.

No dull moment was to be experienced throughout the whole programme, a great tribute to the organization committee, and the enthusiastic spectators showed their approval in no uncertain manner. Precision in the various movements, military or gymnastic, captured the applause of the audience who were ever anxious for more.

It was only natural that there should be outstanding features, but this was through no lack of perfection with which the different items were performed by respective units, but rather the nature of the display. Gentlemen Cadets of the Royal Military College caught the greatest measure of admiration and received an ovation on their every entrance to the arena. Their wok, or play as it appeared, was almost mechanical, except in the individual gymnastic performances, the individual was given more scope to show degrees of merit. No circus troupe could outshine the apparatus work, and the riding display was put on without a dingle fall.

Used alike by raw recruit and proficient senior at the college, the horses did not show that degree of trained intelligence which stamps a Cossack animal, but this did not prevent the performance of spectacular displays. In fact, a little touch of humor was added to the programme when a horse proved refractory.

The arm drill of the Gentlemen cadets, performed with rifles, demonstrated the drill, efficiency and discipline imparted, each exercise bringing a round of applause from the Forum gathering. It seemed almost incredible that any body of men should appear so mechanical, moving as one.

Other units were none the less efficient. The Canadian Grenadier Guards, with fifes and drums, opening the programme with "retreat," an impressive display practised daily by British troops wherever the flag is flown. The R.C.N.V.R. staged an interesting show, bringing two field guns into action. Another attractive exhibition was that of guard mounting, put on by the Royal Montreal Regiment and the Royal Highlanders of Canada.

"A" Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, performed in a musical ride that was a spectacular item on the programme, perfect control of their fine mounts being shown at all times. This culminated in a charge with lowered lance and fluttering pennon. Under the leadership of Lieut. H.G. Jones, R.H. of C., selections were rendered by the massed bands. The musical drive of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Kingston, provided a rare treat, the whole being at the canter in a relatively small area with a four-gun battery. Under these circumstances it was remarkable how taut the traces were kept.

In addition to their arm drill, the R.M.C. cadets figured in three events, each of which was met with acclaim. The trench raid was staged last night by Les Carabiniers Mont-Royal, with the co-operation of detachments from other units.

The R.C.H.A. band played the incidental music throughout, but did not participate with the massed bands on account of the instruments being of different pitch.

Major-General J.H. MacBrien, C.B, C.M.G., D.S.O., late Chief of Staff, took the salute. He was accompanied in his box by Mayor George Hogg, of Westmount, and Mrs. Hogg, Brig.-General W.B.M. King, C.M.G., D.S.O., commanding Military District No. 4, and the Hon. Mrs. Shuttleworth King, Colonel W.H.P. Elkins, D.S.O., Colonel Commandant C.F. Constantine, D.S.O., commandant of the Royal Military College, and Mrs. Constantine, and Miss Currie.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 16 November 2014

Three Kinds of Integrity
Topic: Leadership

A Leader Needs Three Kinds of Integrity

Self-Care, Psychological Integrity, and Auftragstaktik, Faris R. Kirkland, Ph.D., LTC, USA-ret., 1996

To be fully effective, a leader needs three kinds of integrity: ethical, physical, and psychological. Each kind of integrity has an impact on the others, and all require self-care. Ethical integrity has to do with behaving in ways defined as good—telling the truth, taking care of one's troops, not ordering subordinates to do things one is not willing to do oneself. …

Physical integrity has to do with the physiological and bodily ability of a leader to function. The Army has held leaders responsible, in a punitive sense, for their own physical fitness for more than 30 years. But holding them responsible for getting enough food, water, and sleep for themselves is a new idea. During Desert Storm all soldiers were accountable for consuming adequate amounts of water to preserve their physical integrity. Some units organized sleep plans for continuous operations to assure that people on duty, particularly those in positions of leadership, would be capable of coherent thought. This was the operational birth of leader self-care. But it was not universal, and it was fortunate that the ground war only lasted four days. Self-care is still ethically suspect in the Army, and at the end of the ground war, a good many leaders were exhausted.

Psychological integrity is a new and possibly unwelcome concept. There is an emerging awareness that psychologically secure leaders perform more efficiently than those who are insecure. Military operations are fraught with uncertainty and danger, and those leaders who enter combat free of preexisting burdens of fear, anxiety, and doubt are best able to take the risks of trusting and empowering subordinates, bringing their initiative to bear to take decisive action, and making ethical judgments in the midst of the chaos of war. By preexisting burdens I do not mean neuroses that arose in childhood, but nonessential anxieties generated by maladaptive aspects of the psycho-social context of the Army—particularly the ways in which commanders treat their subordinates.

The most important factors supporting the psychological integrity of leaders are competence, knowledge of subordinates, and belief that their superiors are on their side. All of these factors can respond to policy. Competence is the product of military schools and training in units. Knowledge of subordinates is a function of policies that bear on the permanence of personnel in units. Belief that one's chief has an interest in one's welfare has not been the subject of policy initiatives to date, and it is the essential prerequisite for a leader to feel safe engaging in self-care. Such beliefs, and self-care by commanders, are not common in the US Army today. However there is a historical precedent, Auftragstaktik, that offers a framework for the policy initiatives to make them common.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 15 November 2014

“Royal Canadian Infantry” not a myth (1894)
Topic: The RCR

Royal Canadian Infantry

TThe Royal Canadian Regiment originated on 21 December 1883, when the 'Infantry School Corps' was authorized to be formed.
(For further details on the lineage of The RCR.)

The regiment originated on 10 August 1883, when the 'Regiment of Canadian Artillery' of the Permanent Active Militia was authorized to be formed. It was redesignated 'The Royal Canadian Artillery' on 24 May 1893.
(For further details on the lineage of the RRCA. Individual Artillery unit lineage documents may be found here.)

The Royal Canadian Dragoons originated in Quebec City, Quebec on 21 December 1883, when the 'Cavalry School Corps' was authorized to be formed. It was redesignated the 'Canadian Dragoons' on 14 May 1892.
(For further details on the lineage of the RCD.)

The Toronto Daily Mail, 8 December 1894

This letter was a response to this letter to the Editor.

To the Editor of The Mail:

Sir,—In a somewhat bitter letter that appeared in your columns recently, Lieut.-Col. O'Brien, 35th Battalion, makes a strong attack on the Royal Regiment Canadian Infantry with reference to the offer by our Government of that regiment in case of need. We will not stop here to reflect on the spirt of hostility to the permanent corps with which Col. O'Brien's letter abounds, though to any true soldier it is a most regrettable thing that men in high military and official positions should take such ground, but will deal with one or two statements which appear strongly in the foreground.

Col. O'Brien speaks of the "Royal Regiment Canadian Infantry," as a legal myth existing in the minds of the Dominion Government, and he further states that money is granted not for a royal regiment but for the maintenance of schools of instruction. Let us review the situation from the inception of these schools, and we will see that the Government is pursuing exactly the same policy as it did ten years ago. When these schools were established they were then, as now, in connection with a permanent body of men enlisted for continuous service under the Queen's Regulations, and even then were intended not only for instruction but as a nucleus for a force which should be better able to take the field at a moment's notice than the militia. These bodies of men were not, however, as Col. O'Brien would suggest, independent, unorganized companies. On the contrary, their title was that as the "Infantry School Corps," in which the permanent officers, whether at Fredericton or Toronto, held rank and precedence. A subaltern at St. John's or London was then a lieutenant in the Infantry School Corps, as he is to-day in the Royal Regiment Canadian Infantry, and the body of men who constituted the Royal School of Infantry at Toronto were then "C" Company, Infantry School Corps, as they now are No. 2 Company, R.R.C.I. In 1893 the name was changed to that of the Canadian Regiment of Infantry, the different companies, as before, constituting schools of instructions for the various districts, and shortly afterwards her Majesty was graciously pleased to allow them the title "Royal" and the imperial cypher, an act of no little significance. No doubt it is sad to think that no such regiment really exists, and that her Majesty had been deluded by a "legal fiction," but we will hope that she will not see Col. O'Brien's letter.

By the way, what about the Regiment of Royal Canadian Artillery and the Royal Canadian Dragoons? Do they not exist either? Col. O'Brien sneers at the idea of a comparatively few men presenting themselves as the Canadian contingent. I would call his attention to the fact that when, two years ago, a mere handful of officers and men from the permanent corps presented themselves in England they got a reception that could not be excelled; and if Canada did send men to the help of the Mother Country it would be as a regiment of not less than five hundred men. Yet the spirit that prompts, and not the number sent, is what counts. There are, indeed, in the militia, of which I have the honour to be a subaltern, many thousand men who would gladly respond to the call of the Mother Land for help, but obviously the ones first to go are those without responsibility as private citizens and who are also so perfect in drill, equipment, and clothing.

But, after all, Col. O'Brien might have spared himself the trouble, for second and more authentic reports are to the effect that the Canadian Government offered the R.R.C.I. to the Imperial Government to garrison Halifax citadel. This would have allowed the King's Liverpool Regiment, now quartered there, a start of at least six days over their comrades from England in their race to the Orient. Also, the R.R.C.I., could still have performed their duties of imparting military instruction while at Halifax.

One question more. The Government has made arrangements whereby officers may take a course of instruction at the citadel in Halifax with the King's Regiment. Does this arrangement invalidate the claim of the British troops there to be called a regiment?

Yours, etc. Infantry Officer Eastern Ontario, Dec 1

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 15 November 2014 12:08 AM EST
Friday, 14 November 2014

Guns for New Fort at Halifax (1901)
Topic: Halifax

Guns for New Fort at Halifax

The Daily Telegraph, Quebec, 22 May 1901

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, May 22.—Orders were received from England to-day to have Bellevue, the residence of the commander-in-chief of British North America, put in thorough repair with all possible speed. This is taken to indicate the appointment of a new commander-in-chief before the arrival in Canada of the Duke and Duchess of York. It has also developed to-day that the steamer Evangeline, now on her way from England, has a number of guns for the new fort, southwest of York Redoubt. They are two 9.2 and four 8-inch quick-firing guns.

York Redoubt is to have five new 9-inch and two 7-inch quick-firing guns.

The present strength of McNab's outside battery is two 6-inch breach-loaders and one ten-inch, all quick-firing guns. These will be augmented by two more 7-inch guns.

Fort Cambridge will be supplied with two new 6-inch and four 4.7-inch quick-firing guns, whiles Ives Point Battery will get two 9-inch and two 9.2. Some of these are expected by the Evangeline.

Fort Ogilvie's two 6-inch quick-firing guns will be augmented by two more of the same calibre. The casemate battery on McNab's Island will be reconstructed, and three guns now there will be condemned and replaced by quick-firing ones.

It is intended to extend the military wharves on the island in order to get a sufficient depth of water to allow ocean steamers to land armament, etc., there. Fort Clarence is being extended, and a number of men on it will be kept busy there for some time to come. The old guns will be replaced by quick-firing ones.

It is stated that in the defence improvements contemplated, Great Britain is only keeping on her old policy of keeping pace in fortress improvements with those in the fleets of the different nations. Up to within a few years the Halifax forts were thought to be able, with the assistance of the British ships on the station, to cope with the fleet which any attacking nation might send, but there have been great changes and improvements in fighting ships in recent years, and it is to keep pace with these improvements that the six years' work laid out is intended.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 13 November 2014

Canadian Army Training 1903
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canadian Army Training 1903

  the very fact that the soldier is now called upon to exercise "individuality" is just the very reason why he requires even more careful training than in the days when battle-drill and barrack-square drill were identical …

Blasts From the Trumpet
Quebec Saturday Budget, 28 March 1903

The Army and Navy Gazette says:

Signs are not wanting that Canada is seriously considering the question of reorganizing her military forces, so as to enable her to place trustworthy troops in the field at short notice. There seems, however, to lurk in her counsels one of the most dangerous heresies begotten of the late war—namely, that the modern soldiers requires less training than his ancestors. Accordingly, in the majority of cases, the very fact that the soldier is now called upon to exercise "individuality" is just the very reason why he requires even more careful training than in the days when battle-drill and barrack-square drill were identical, and the best-drilled troops were, other things being equal, superior to less perfectly-trained adversaries. Canada must not deceive herself. Her "back-woodsmen," indeed, may need but little training in order to render them very valuable troops indeed, but the citizens of her great towns have no greater claim to being "born soldiers" than the inhabitants of European cities. The latter depend for their efficiency entirely upon training, and, unlike the former, have nothing but whatever physical courage and stamina they may possess as the foundation of their military efficiency. The backwoodsman, like the Boer, is a natural soldier who needs only to learn how to work in harmony with his comrades as part of a tactical unit; but the townsman must learn everything. His initiative can only spring from acquired knowledge. He is an exotic as compared with the indigenous plant.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Medals Just Waiting For Their Owners
Topic: Medals

Medals Just Waiting For Their Owners

Ottawa Citizen, 12 November, 1958
By Fred Inglis, Citizen Staff Writer

A huge stack of medals—more than one third of the number earned by Canadians in the Second World War, remains unclaimed 13 years after the close of hostilities.

Of the 3,150,000 decorations minted, two million have been issued and a little over one million are stored in the Veterans' Affairs building, awaiting to be claimed by their rightful owners.

Reason for their non-delivery is the fact that DVA officials lack the veterans' present address.

The situation is much better the Canada than in New Zealand, where nearly three-quarters of the medals earns by that country's soldiers are unclaimed.

At the end of the war, 394,000 service medals were struck but only 105,000 have been issued. The remaining 289,000 remain unclaimed, to the embarrassment of New Zealand authorities.

Medals Boycotted

New Zealanders boycotted the medals because the government did not have them engraved and sent to recipients as was done after the First World War. Veterans there claim that a medal with no name on it is of no value. They also claim they should not have to apply for something that they have a right to receive.

"We'd like to issue our unclaimed medals," a DVA spokesman said, "but we just don't have the addresses of veterans we haven't heard from since they got their gratuity or re-establishment credit."

The department puts out stories from time to time, in an effort to interest veterans in claiming medals, and with some degree of success.

"We tried advertising a year ago in a concentrated area and pulled in a lot of applications," the DVA man said, "But this is too expensive to carry out all across Canada. It would have to be done in all daily and weekly newspapers to reach every veteran."

Exhibits of medals are displayed at Canadian Legion meetings and other events, in the hopes of impelling veterans to claim their medals.

1939-1945 Star Atlantic Star Air Crew Europe Star Africa Star Pacific Star Burma Star
Italy Star France and Germany Star Defence Medal Canadian Volunteer Service Medal 1939-1945 War Medal

Engraving Not Deterred

The fact that Canada's Second World War decorations are not engraved with the veteran's name has not deterred them from applying for medals, a DVA officer believed.

"Only three medals were issued in the First World War," he explained, "they were minted for us by the British and we distributed them. Only 640,000 Canadians were in service and only 420,000 of them went overseas.

"More than 1,080,000 Canadians served during the Second World War when eight [sic] medals were struck. Some got most of the eight. It would mean engraving five million medals. The job was just too big. Medals for the Korean action were engraved, however. But this was a much smaller job."

Canadian war service decorations have a price.

Any veteran who has lost a Second World War campaign star can get another one for only 75 cents.

Other medals, the round ones, which contain a more expensive nickel element [sic], cost $1.75 each.

But the Veterans' Affairs Department has more than one million medals it would like to give away, to their respective owners.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 11 November 2014

War's End; Cost and Achievements
Topic: CEF

War's End; Cost and Achievements

CANADA AT WAR; A Record of Heroism and Achievement; 1914-1918
By J. Castell Hopkins, F.S.S., F.R.G.S.

"In the last two years of strenuous fighting [the Canadian Corps] has never lost a gun, has never failed to take an objective and has never been driven from an inch of ground once consolidated, while its casualties among the rank and file bear the smallest percentage in proportion to its strength of all the British forces."

During this long struggle the total casualties of the Canadian Corps were 216,146, in which the deaths numbered 57,258 35,684 killed in action, 12,437 died of wounds and 4,057 died of disease, with 5,080 presumed dead or The total of the wounded was 155,830; finally missing. the troops who died in Canada and not included in the total casualties were 2,287. About 2,800 Canadians were taken most of them at St. Julien. prisoners during the War Half as many Canadians died in 1918 of the influenza epidemic as were killed at the Front by the Germans. As to the rest this great little army of the Empire distinguished itself in many ways apart from the courage and fighting skill which their Commander summed up in a cable to J.H. Woods, President of the Canadian Press Association: "In the last two years of strenuous fighting it has never lost a gun, has never failed to take an objective and has never been driven from an inch of ground once consolidated, while its casualties among the rank and file bear the smallest percentage in proportion to its strength of all the British forces." Their initiative was shown in directions which may be briefly summarized (from F.D.L. Smith, Toronto News 10 Sep, 1918) as follows:

(1)     They were the first to construct light railways behind the firing line, and means of transportation in conveying troops, to use this munitions and supplies to the trenches as well as in carrying wounded to the rear;

(2)     they were the first to lay down plank roads in order to carry heavy trucks and guns through the quagmires of Flanders and France;

(3)     they were the first to substitute temporary, lightly-constructed waggon roads in place of the permanent highways in favour with the other Allies;

(4)     they were the first to originate trench raids for the purpose of breaking the enemy's morale, and obtaining necessary information regarding any opposing enemy forces;

(5)     they were the first to organize machine-gun batteries and to use machine guns in indirect fire that is to say, against invisible objects;

(6)     they were the first to combat the disease known as trench-feet with any considerable success, and they invented the alkali bath to neutralize the poisonous effects of mustard gas;

(7)     they were the first of all the Allied armies to establish a Dental Corps and to introduce a delousing plant to rid the soldiers' clothing of insects.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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