The Minute Book
Monday, 8 December 2014

Feeding an Army 1903
Topic: Army Rations

The standard vehicle for the movement of ammunition, engineer stores, food, and fodder was the General Service Waggon.

Feeding an Army

The problem in the Manoeuvres at Aldershot
South African Lessons
Soldier Learned Quite a Lot in His Years of Actual Experience of Living in the Field

The Gazette, Montreal, 17 October, 1903
(Special Correspondent, London Telegraph)

There is an impression among some people that a British soldier can carry enough food with him to last a week; but, unfortunately, no ground exists for the belief, despite the progress which has been made in the art of compressing nourishment, both solid and liquid, into a minimum of space. Apart from the questions of strategy, tactics, and the individual training of the soldier to the conditions of field service, the army manoeuvres are expected to tFeeding an Army 1903each some valuable lessons regarding the supply of necessaries and transport, two considerations which enter so largely into every problem of war. It is a true saying that a "soldier marches upon his stomach," and his fighting power depends upon the prompt arrival of bread and meat, as well as ammunition, from his base of supply. A portion may travel by train, but the regimental transport by road is the service upon which he must usually rely when operating in an enemy's country. In the case of the First Army Corps, which has just taken the field, the base of supply is Aldershot, to which a force of nearly 20,000 men must now look for the supply of their daily wants, and it will be the duty of the Army Service Corps to see that every unit of that force is provisioned, no matter to what part of the manoeuvre area of 1,600 square miles the soldiers may be called or driven by the fortunes of war. It is possible in real war to "feed your troops on the country" or to billet them upon the population; but in this September campaign, Tommy Atkins must rely upon his friends at Aldershot and some miles of wagon transport.

The manoeuvre ration is fairly liberal. It consists of five big biscuits and 2 1/2 ounces of Canadian cheese, carried in the haversack. In addition to bread and meat of excellent quality, sent from Aldershot, the soldier is allowed the following quantities per day.—Tea, 1/3 ounce; coffee, 1/3 ounce; sugar, 2 ounces; pepper, 1/32 ounce; salt, 1/2 ounce; condensed milk (1 tin to 20 men), 4/5 ounce; jam, 4 ounces; or if procurable, potatoes or other fresh vegetables, 8 ounces; bacon or German sausage (breakfast), 4 ounces.

Daily Fuel Allowance

To cook the foregoing an allowance of two pounds of fuel wood per man is made daily, or on the alternative one pound of coal, with one pound of kindling wood to every twenty pounds of coal. No less than 240,000 rations, consisting of the above items, were ordered for the manoeuvres of the First Army Corps alone, based on the assumption that provisions for twelve days was to be made for 20,000 men. It is estimated that a large proportion of the sum of £200,000 which the manoeuvres of the two army corps are supposed to entail will be expenses on these supplies, and a still larger sum will be swallowed up by transport to the fighting line. There will be a considerable excess of rations packed up at Aldershot and ready for travel which will not be required, seeing that Sir John French's force is less than 20,000, and that the men will be back in barracks within ten days at the most. Apart from the expense of surplus packing, however, no loss will be sustained, and the authorities will recoup themselves for Tommy's grocery bill by the somewhat drastic measure of deducting 3 1/2 d per day from his wage!

Meat and bread for the soldier are issued from the butchers and bakers of the Army Service Corps at Aldershot, but the remaining items are supplied by civilian contractors. The latter commenced work some weeks ago in two small tents at the base, whence they removed as stores accumulated to a spacious drill hall. I had the advantage of seeing and tasting the groceries, and can guarantee that the samples were excellent. They were packed in brown paper parcels suitable for messes of five, ten, twenty, and fifty men, and these parcels were encased in strong wooden boxes, which will bear the jolting of the regimental waggon. Some boxes contained only 250 parcels, and other as many as 1,000, according to the requirements of the unit for which they are intended. Messrs. R. Dickenson & Co., the army contractors, describe the bacon as smoked rolled shoulders, and the cheese as best Canadian, while the jam has been specially prepared in scaled tins. Each cheese weighs 80 pounds, and, like bacon, biscuit, and jam, is distributed to the troops not in parcels, but "in bulk," according to requirements. A man-of-war's-man with such a daily ration would deem himself lapped in luxury, but the sailor is taken in hand by his country much earlier than the soldier, and consequently is trained to a diet when at sea which would rather stagger Mr. Atkins. In one respect, however, the bluejacket fares better; he has a daily allowance of one-eighth of a pint of rum, mixed with two-thirds of water. The soldier, except on active service, enjoys no such concession, though his is allowed to buy during the manoeuvres as much as two pints of beer per day.

The rations having been prepared, we come to the task of forwarding and distributing them. For this work the Army Service Corps, one of the few departments which emerged with credit from the war enquiry, has made special preparations. The troops under Sir John French left Aldershot with two days' supplies carried in the transport waggons, and later the "supply park," or magazine, left for the front with a reserve.

The Beginning of Manoeuvres

With the commencement of the manoeuvres the supply proceeds under army corps arrangements and comes under the direct orders of the general officer commanding. The "supply park"—a square formed of waggons—is the distributing centre for the troops, and is kept replenished by other waggons, which proceed either to and from the base at Aldershot or to the nearest railways station, where bread and meat, dispatched in special train by London and Southwestern railway, are received daily. In addition to the rations for the troops, supplies of ammunition for the guns and forage for the horses, distributed over a very large and scattered area, must be maintained every day, a feat which accounts for the employment of a small army of civilian drivers and a large number of subsidized horses. The maximum load of the general service waggon is 2,600 pounds and two horses will generally suffice. In South Africa our supply waggons often carried 7,000 pounds weight of goods, drawn by thirty or more oxen, and the pace barely exceeded two miles per hour. The waggons of the First Army Corps, travelling over the high roads of the middle southern counties with no dongas and rough country to interrupt their progress, do much better.

It must be confessed that the South African experience developed for making the soldier's capacity for making the most of his raw materials. The meat from Aldershot may be cooked, as usual, with the primitive appliances of a "field kitchen" and fire trench, but the bully-beef and biscuit exact more careful treatment. Mr. Atkins can improve both. He has a mess tin which serves alternately as a saucepan, frying pan, and teapot. The bully-beef is made quite tasty for a hungry soldier when stewed with a few vegetables, which can be found throughout the manoeuvring area, and the biscuits when boiled with the condensed milk and sugar take the place of pudding. Experiments are to be made with a new patent oven, of which great things are expected, also with a water sterilizer apparatus, which is to be tried for the first time. In South Africa the field service ovens often lost their way, but the soldier found that a large anthill when scooped hollow and an aperture made for draught, answered as well. I have eaten bread made of two parts flour and one of bran, cooked in such ingenious fashion, by the British soldier, which I prefer to the regimental biscuit, as more tasty and digestive. The regimental biscuit, to speak frankly, is often a tooth-destroying, temper-provoking diet, which may be tolerated on active service, but should only form the emergency diet at manoeuvre times. I have not tasted the biscuit of the First Army Corps, but am told it is vastly superior to that with which South African campaigners are familiar.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 7 December 2014

A French Tank Company at Dunkirk
Topic: The Field of Battle

A French Tank Company at Dunkirk

The Miracle of Dunkirk, Walter Lord, 1982

"I am counting on you to save everything that can be saved—and, above all, our honor!" [General Maxime] Weygand telegraphed [Admiral Jean] Abrial. "[General J.G.M.] Blanchard's troops, if doomed, must disappear with honor!" the General told Major Fauvelle. Weygand pictured an especially honorable role for the high command when the end finally came. Rather than retreat from Paris, the government should behave like the Senators of ancient Rome, who had awaited the barbarians sitting in their curule chairs.

This sort of talk, though possibly consoling at the top level, did not inspire the poilus in the field. They had had enough of antiquated guns, horse-drawn transport, wretched communications, inadequate armor, invisible air support, and fumbling leaders. Vast numbers of French soldiers were sitting around in ditches, resting and smoking, when the 58th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, passed by on May 28. As one of them explained to a French-speaking Tommy, the enemy was everywhere and there was no hope of getting through; so they were just going to sit down and wait for the Boches to come.

Yet there were always exceptions. A French tank company, separated from its regiment, joined the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers at Gorre and proved to be a magnificent addition. The crews bristled with discarded British, French, and German weapons and were literally festooned with clanking bottles of wine. They fought with tremendous élan, roaring with laughter and pausing to shake hands with one another after every good shot. When the Fusiliers were finally ordered to pull back, the tank company decided to stay and fight on. "Bon chance!" they called after the departing Fusiliers, and then went back to work.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Gun Carriage for Final Trip
Topic: Tradition

The gun carriage used in the funeral procession of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), on 28 October, 2014, in Hamilton, Ontario.

A Gun Carriage for Final Trip

Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph; 21 March 1967
By Patrick Nicholson

Many Ottawans lining the streets at the funeral of the late Governor General Vanier—and no doubt many more television viewers were intrigued by the transportation of the coffin.

Why, they wondered, was it not driven in the usual glass-walled Cadillac hearse?

Why was it drawn on an artillery carriage by men of the Royal Canadian Navy?

This is a tradition at state funerals. Many will remember the impressive phalanx of naval bluejackets which was so prominent at the funeral procession of Churchill.

But it is not old, as traditions go, dating only from the funeral of Queen Victoria on February 2, 1902.

Like many of the trappings of tradition prone navies, its English origin has been adopted by other countries; just as many navies copy the British sailor's uniform in adding three white stripes around the collar, commemorating the three great victories of history's most famous sailor, Nelson.

Bluejackets drawing the gun carriage in the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

Great White Queen

Queen Victoria died at her favourite home, Osborne House in the Isle of Wight, in the 82nd year of her life and the 64th year of her reign.

He body was brought by train to Windsor for the funeral service in that historic castle; from that point I will quote an eye-witness account, from the Times newspaper of London, of Feb. 4, 1901:

"After the Queen's remains had been transferred from the royal train and placed upon the gun carriage, the procession began to move up to the mournful roll of the muffled drums. Chopin's 'Marche Funebre' by the band, the funeral tolling of the Castle bells, and the salute fired by the 'Eagle' battery of the Royal Horse Artillery.

"At this moment an unfortunate incident marred, for a time, the progress of the cortege. The artillery horse, which for some reason had become rather restless, had only moved a few paces when one of them reared and plunged in an exceeding dangerous manner in front of the gun carriage, behind which the King, the German Emperor, and the Duke of Connaught were walking.

"All attempts to pacify the animal were altogether unavailing, and at last, as the procession was being seriously delayed, the entire team was removed and their places were taken by a large number of Bluejackets who formed the Naval guard of honour.

"With their ever ready handiness, they turned the traces and chains of the harness into draw ropes, fitted them to the gun carriage, and themselves drew it with its precious burden from the station to the chapel.

"The King later sent a message to the Naval Brigade, conveying his thanks for the timely aid which they had rendered and for the seamanlike manner in which they had carried out their unexpected duty."

Bluejackets drawing the gun carriage in the state funeral of King Edward VII.

A Tradition is Born

Still in the charming leisurely prose of that day, the Times commented editorially:

"Even at the awkward contretemps at Windsor, when the artillery horses refused to move and were quickly replaced by Bluejackets, is scarcely to be regretted, since it served to show once more the resourcefulness, the utility and the ubiquity of the Navy."

Ever since then at state funerals in England—and in some other countries—naval bluejackets have been accorded the honoured role of hauling from front, and restraining from the rear, the gun carriage bearing the coffin.

The officers in command of Queen Victoria's last naval guard of honour, who masterminded that improvised human team, were Lieut. A. Boyle of HMS Excellent, Sub-Lieut. Percy Noble of the Royal Naval College, and Midshipman Stanley Holbrook, of HMS Majestic.

Boyle, a son of the Earl of Shannon, rose to be Admiral and died in 1949. Stanley Holbrook also ended a distinguished career in the Royal Navy at the rank of Admiral, and now lives in retirement in England.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 5 December 2014

Canadian Women’s Army Corps
Topic: Canadian Army

Personnel of the Canadian Women's Army Corps at No. 3 CWAC (Basic) Training Centre. Kitchener, Ontario. April 6, 1944.

Here's How Jenny Gets Her Gun

Wide World Feature

Lewiston Evening Journal; Lewiston, Maine, 17 July 1942

Wondering what America's new women's army will be like?

You can learn a thing or two from Major Joan Kennedy, head of Canada's Women's army corps.

Major Kennedy made a recent visit to New York. When she and her staff assistant, Captain Phyllis Lee-Wright, passed through Grand Central Station they caused more craning of necks than a visiting movie queen. Every passing eye took in their natty, brass-buttoned khaki hued uniforms.

Major Joan Kennedy

What Major Kennedy said was of great interest too—especially to women who may soon be in army uniform themselves.

Good Soldiers

"Women have adapted themselves splendidly to military procedure and army life," she told me. "They get on well with the men. And the men have welcomed them, for they are glad to be freed of such jobs as cooking and clerking and get out on active service."

Then she gave a graphic picture of Canadian women's army life as her corps of 2,800 knows it. The one-time stenographers, waitresses, lawyers, and dieticians begin their recruit service with a 30-day training in squad drill, map reading, first aid, protection against gas, physical training, military procedure, and army discipline and law. That finished, they are given any special training required for their jobs and then stationed at any one of 200 army posts or training centers. They do stenographic work, cook in commissaries, wait table in mess hall, care for stores of uniforms and ammunition, drive staff cars and light trucks. They draw two-thirds of a soldier's pay and most of them live in army barracks. They are up at 6:15 reveille.

Officers may doff uniforms and don frills for an evening engagement, if they wish. But not the rank and file. When they have a date with the boyfriend, they go in uniform. Officers can wear silk stockings too, but the rank and file get there in lisle.

Drivers of No.3 Section, Motor Ambulance Convoy, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (R.C.A.S.C.), await the departure of a convoy, Farnborough, England. (L-R): Privates Mina Bray, Elda Austin, Olive Baguley, Mary McLennan, Elfreda Duggan, Roonie Sigurdson and Gladys Deneau. 12 January 1945. Photographer: Karen M. Hermiston.

Cap Angles

For a time Women's Army Corps caps were a matter of some concern. Some of the women wore them tilted at too exaggerated an angle. But now the caps are regulated to a tilt of 15 degrees to the right. The women are allowed a light makeup and may dress their hair as they please, provided the coiffure is neat and clears the collar. But colored nail polish and jewelry—except a watch and wedding ring—are taboo.

Major Kennedy, 38, blue-eyed and English-born, came to Canada with her family in 1911. They returned to England during the last war and then came back to Victoria, British Columbia. The girl who was to head Canada's first women's army took a business course, held a secretarial job for several years and in 1929 married Norman R. Kennedy, a Victoria engineer.

Major Kennedy says a lot of the members of her corps are married too. One of their husbands, who cannot join the army because he is needed in civil service, may have voiced the thought of more than one when he said: "It's a heck of a note when a man's best girl goes off to war and he has to stay behind and tend home fires."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 4 December 2014

Second Battalion to be Perpetuated
Topic: CEF

Old Fighting Unit, Second Battalion, To Be Perpetuated

Brilliant Ottawa Regiment, G.G.F.G., to Carry on Traditions of One of Outstanding Units of C.E.F.

Ottawa Citizen, 18 Dec 1931

Perpetuation of one of the most outstanding units of the old Canadian Corps has been granted to one of Canada's most brilliant regiments in the non-permanent active militia, the Governor General's Foot Guards, who will hereafter carry into militia history the name and achievements of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion. In doing so the Foot Guards become associated also with the Peterborough Rangers, sharing with that regiment the perpetuation of the Second. Efforts of the Foot Guards extending over two years have thus been crowned with success; while the announcement has been received with pleasure by the former personnel of the 2nd Battalion.

Soliciting the co-operation of the 2nd Battalion historical committee in the selection of battle honours for their new colors, the Foot Guards have had the following recommended to them as most representative of the active service of the 2nd Battalion; St. Julien; Festubert, 1915; Pozieres; Vimy; Arleaux (which includes the action at Fresnoy on May 3, 1915); Hill 70; Passchendaele; Amiens; Drocourt-Queant; and Canal du Nord.

Only ten battle honours [of the First World War] may be carried on the color of any militia regiment, the remainder being recorded in the militia list. The 2nd Canadian Battalion enjoys the distinction of more than twenty such honours.

Originally drawn from all over Ontario, parts of Quebec and northern New Brunswick, the 2nd Battalion was later re-established on territorial lines and formed one of the four units comprising the Eastern Ontario Regiment. The others were the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the 21st Battalion, and the 38th Battalion. The new distinction thus sees Ottawa regiments perpetuating two battalions of the Eastern Ontario regiment, since the thirty-eighth traditions are carried on by the Ottawa Highlanders.

Commanding Officers

The first commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion was the late Major General Sir David Watson, K.C.B., of Quebec, who assumed charge when the battalion was mobilized at Valcartier in 1914. He was later promoted to the command of the 4th Canadian Division, and was succeeded by Brigadier General E. Swift, D.S.O., and officer who advanced to a brigade of the 5th Division. When this formation was dispersed for reinforcing purposes, General Swift took command of Canadian infantry operations in Siberia.

Lieut.-Colonel W.M. Yates, a Westerner from Swift Current, Sask., held command for a brief period and was succeeded by Brigadier General R.P. Clark, C.B., D.S.O., M.C., of Vancouver, B.C., a former commanding officer of the 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion. The longest tenure, however, was that of Colonel L.T. McLachlin, C.M.G., D.S.O. (and two bars), of Bowmanville, Ont. This officer's administration continued from June, 1917, until demobilization in April, 1919.

The Adjutants

Adjutants of the 2nd Battalion were: Col. H. Willis O'Connor, D.S.O., Ottawa, Ont., the late Captain E.D. O'Flynn, Belleville, Ont., Major W.O. White, M.C., Toronto, Ont., Lieut-Col S.B. Pepler, Toronto, Major R. De W. Waller, M.C., Brandon, Man., and Captain W.W. Murray, M.C., Ottawa.

In Every Engagement

The 2nd Infantry Battalion participated in every engagement involving the 1st Canadian Division (the Old Red patch) during the war from the Second Battle of Ypres to the pursuit to Mons. It was the first Canadian unit to attack on the Somme in 1916, was specifically praised for its stubborn defence of Hill 70, made the deepest penetration of Canadian units in the two days of the Amiens fighting in August 1918, initiated the drive to Mons when it stormed across the Canal de la Sensee in October of that year and was the first organized unit of Canadian infantry to invade Germany, marching over the frontier at Poteau ay nine o'clock in the morning of December 4, 1918.

The battalion was demobilized at Kingston, Ont., on April 23, 1919, four years to the day from its "Bapteme de feu" at Ypres.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 3 December 2014

South Africa; by companies or a battalion
Topic: The RCR

Regimental Idea Still In Doubt

Further Officers of Contingent Named
Methods of Enrolment
Orders for Permanent Corps Wishing to Volunteer—Must Be Transferred From Headquarters

The Daily Mail and Empire; Toronto, 19 October 1899
Special to The Mail and Empire

Ottawa, Ont., Oct. 18.—Dr. Borden returned from Toronto this morning. He informed your correspondent that the department will continue to organize the South African contingent on the basis of eight company units. The Minster would not say whether there was any possibility of changing to the regimental idea, but said the whole question would be left to the War Office. Military men here take this to mean that the Canadian companies will therefore be attached to different British battalions.

elipsis graphic

Methods of Enrolment

Militiamen volunteering for South Africa will join in their uniform, which they will demand from captain of their company, giving a receipt for same.

Non-commissioned officers and men serving in the R.C.R.I. and R.C.A. (garrison division) who wish to volunteer for special services in South Africa will send their names to the officer commanding their company, who will have them medically inspected. The names of men passed as fit will be at once communicated by the officers commanding companies to Lieut.-Col. Otter, Toronto, who will allot them to the companies of the special service force according to his judgment.

The foregoing will not apply to No. 1 company, as the officer commanding No. 8 Military District has been ordered to allot volunteers to the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick companies of the special service force.

Volunteers from the permanent force will not be attested nor permitted to join the companies wo which they are allotted until their transfer has been ordered from headquarters.

A militia order issued this morning gives the schedule of officers' field kit, as authorized in the British service. The approximate weight of articles worn or carried on the person of mounted officers is 27 ¾ pounds, and of articles carried on the horse 71 ½ pounds. The approximate weight of articles worn, or carried on the person of dismounted officers is 34 ½ pounds.

Another order issued to-night states that a grant of $125 will be given to officers of the force towards defraying expenses of outfit. An advance of pay to the amount of $60 will also be allowed. Cheques for these amounts will be forwarded.

To ensure the proper fitting of clothing, headgear, and boots, officers commanding the companies will send in at once to the chief staff officer size rolls for the volunteers already enrolled and will send in size rolls daily for those further enrolled. These size rolls will give height of men, the measurement of breast and waist, and circumference of head and size of boots, according to the following instructions:—

1.     The height is to be in stocking feet.

2.     The breast measurement is to be taken by a measuring tape, over the undershirt and shirt only, and close to the arms. The waist measurement is to be taken over the trousers and down fairly tight.

3.     The height, breast and waist measurements are to be carefully made, so as to be as accurate as possible, as the garments will be made considerably looser than the measurement.

4.     For taking the head measurement for a helmet, a hat which fits the man should be measured, and not the man's head. Field service caps will be issued in sizes half an inch larger than helmets.

5.     The size of the boots generally worn is to be given. Demands will be met from a supply that will be in store at Quebec. Should it be found necessary in some cases to provide insoles, one pair will be issued with the boots.

The Officers

The complete list of officers for the contingent will not be ready until tomorrow. There has been a good deal of telegraphing to-day, and as the desire is to grant the commissions fairly the Minister hesitates before giving to the public what may be only a tentative list. As foreshadowed last night, however, certain arrangements were made to-day, which are well received in this city. Thus, Major Rogers, of the 43rd Battalion, to-day received his appointment as captain of the Eastern Ontario company. His subalterns will be Capt. W.T. Lawless, of the G.G.F.G., and two other officers, from the western part of the district.

British Columbia is just as enthusiastic as Ontario over the expedition. The representatives of the Pacific province will leave Vancouver on the 24th and reach Quebec on the 29th or 30th. Two officers from British Columbia have been given commissions. They are Capt Blanchard, of the 5th Artillery, Victoria, and Capt. A.E. Hodgins, of the Nelson Rifles Company, an 1882 graduate of the Royal Military College.

elipsis graphic

The enrolment of volunteers in Ottawa commenced to-day, within a few hours after Major Rogers had received his appointment. Col. Cotton, commanding the Ottawa brigade, put in an appearance at the Drill-hall early in the afternoon, and was astonished at the number of men seeking enrolment. It is certain that Ottawa could supply half the contingent, and if the enthusiasm shown here is a criterion of the public feeling in Canada 20,000 men could be sent to South Africa as readily as 1,000. To-night the drill-hall was again a scene of great activity, scores waiting to interview the captain of the company.

elipsis graphic

The medical staff of the Canadian Regiment will consist of Surgeon-Major Wilson, of the 3rd Montreal Field Battery; Surgeon-Major Osborne, of the 4th Hamilton Field Battery; Surgeon-Lieut. E. Fiset, of the 89th Temiscouata and Rimouski Battalion.

It is understood that four officers will be appointed to the staff of the Canadian contingent. It is settled that Col. Sam Hughes, M.P., will either be offered one of these positions or else a captaincy.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The “Royals” Sorel Day Parade 1941
Topic: Tradition

Left: The Second World War period Tudor-crowned (i.e., colloquially named King's crown) badge of the Royal Regiment of Canada. Right: The drumhead ceremony of the 2012 Sorrel Day parade of the Royal Regiment of Canada.

Ontario Regiment in U.K. Observes Annual Sorrel Day

Ottawa Citizen; 2 July 1941
By Ross Munro, Canadian press War Correspondent
Somewhere in England

July 1.—Even in the defensive areas with the overseas army, a central Ontario regiment remembered its annual Sorrel Day ceremony which has been traditional since 1917.

With a drumhead service in its camp here and regimental ceremonial which is infrequent in England, the regiment commemorated the 1916 victory at Mount Sorrel, near Ypres, of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion, one of the battalions which the present regiment perpetuates.

At Mount Sorrel, the 3rd Battalion won special mention but lost 16 officers and 412 men out of 650 engaged.

Since 1917, a sprig of wood-sorrel has been worn by all ranks on this day, except in 1940 when the battalion was en route to serve in Iceland before joining the Canadian corps in England. This year the tradition was followed as usual.

Brilliant color and stirring martial music was provided by the Royal Marines Band.

Presents Sorrel

Before the service and the march past, with Maj.-Gen. Victor Odlum, 2nd Division Commander taking the salute, Mrs. A.G.L. McNaughton, wife of the corps commander, presented boxes of sorrel to warrant officers, under R.S.M. Eric Gaiger of Toronto, to be distributed to the men, and personally gave each officer his sprig of this green, three-leaf plant.

All ranks wore the sorrel in the buckles of their steel helmets instead of on forage caps as in previous ceremonies. This was the first time since the last war that they observed the day in full battle kit.

A large number of senior Canadian officers attended and among the civilian visitors was Sir Eustace Fiennes, a British barrister who fought with the regiment at Batoche in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. He is 77.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 1 December 2014

Battle Honours Supplementary List 1929
Topic: CEF

First stand of Colours of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (1936-1967). (Source)

Princess Pats Win Big Award

Supplementary List Battle Honours Also Includes Other Ottawa Regiments

Ottawa Citizen, 11 October 1929

In the supplementary list of battle honours which militia regiments are entitled to emblazon on their colours and on colours of the Canadian Expeditionary Force which such regiments perpetuate, 160 battalions are disposed of, thus reducing the number still to be dealt with to a small one. The Department of National Defence today has caused the information regarding those battle awards to be published in district headquarters orders.

Heading the supplementary list is a the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry who, in their 1915 selection, carry the envied honour "Frezenburg." The Patricia's alone of the Canadian troops which operated in France are entitled to this particular award.

Three militia regiments, nine Canadian Corps infantry battalions, 136 reinforcing battalions of the C.E.F., four Canadian Corps machine gun battalions, and four machine gun units of the active militia, six pioneer battalions, one battalion of railway construction troops and four forestry units are dealt with in this second list. Additional to these are the 259th and 260th Battalions which receive the award "Siberia."

An analysis of the awards shows that all battalions of the Canadian Corps with the sole exception of the 7th British Columbia Battalion have now received their colour honours. It also discloses that only one infantry battalion has rejected all of the 1918 battles from its colour, including "Amiens," "Drocourt-Queant," and "Canal du Nord." This is the 2nd Battalion perpetuated by the Peterborough Rangers. The official list reveals that in their places those responsible for the selection have chosen the less definite "Hindenburg Line" to represent all the fighting wherein this unit participated in 1918. Every other battalion of the Canadian Corps has selected "Amiens," which, as Ludendorff said, was "the black day of the German army." In view of the fact that the 2nd Battalion fought through Amiens in on August 8 and 9, 1918, to the peak of the Canadian penetration and culminated their efforts by capturing Rouvroy en Santerre, which marked the limit of the Canadian advance on the second day of the battle, the rejection of "Amiens" as a colour honour is unique.

The Canadian Light Horse is the only cavalry regiment that has failed to accept "Amiens." In 1918, however, the C.L.H. were corps troops as distinguished from the regiments of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

Regimental and King's Colours of the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

Regimental and King's Colours of the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion. These Colours are displayed in the museum of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. (Source)

Among the units in Ottawa and district awarded additional battle honours for the Great War are:


Hull230th Canadian Infantry Battalion, C.E.F., perpetuated by Le Regiment de Hull

Brockville156th Canadian Infantry Battalion, C.E.F., perpetuated by the Brockville Rifles

Cornwall154th Canadian Infantry Battalion, C.E.F., perpetuated by the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders

Perth130th and 240th Canadian Infantry Battalions, C.E.F., perpetuated by the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
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 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


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

Newer | Latest | Older

The Regimental Rogue.

Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

« December 2014 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Army Rations
Battle Honours
British Army
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army
Canadian Militia
Cold Steel
Cold War
Drill and Training
European Armies
Forays in Fiction
Martial Music
Military Medical
Military Theory
Pay; the Queen's shilling
Sam Hughes
Soldier Slang
Soldiers' Load
Staff Duties
Stolen Valour
Taking Advantage
The Field of Battle
The RCR Museum
US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

You are not logged in. Log in
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile