The Minute Book
Saturday, 21 March 2015

Work and Pay in "A" and "B" Batteries (1882)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Military Matters

The Work and Pay in "A" and "B" Batteries
Some Very Mistaken Notions Answered

The Toronto Daily Mail, 11 March 1882

To the Military Editor of The Mail.

Sir.—I read with much interest a letter signed "Ex-Cadet" in The Mail a couple of weeks since. The writer complained of the high-handed way in which military matters had been conducted at the Royal Military College, Kingston, resulting in the removal of Major Ridout and the wigging of other officers. I admire the frank and honest outspoken words "Ex-Cadet," and as a Canadian fully concur in his remarks. I believe an investigation into these matters will likely take place in the House at Ottawa, when we will get more definite information respecting the occurrences alleged to have taken place. Till then I would wait before offering any more remarks on the subject.

There is a question, however, which I would ask. Could you or any of your readers explain what it is causes so many desertions from A and B Batteries at Quebec and Kingston? Are the men properly treated in respect of food, clothing, lodging, and medical treatment, and are they not overworked in respect to drill and fatigues" I think from what I have personally seen that they are both poorly clad and overworked, whilst the pay is not sufficient in this country of good wages and plentiful work to induce respectable young men to join and remain in these batteries. I have seen then drilled and marched out in heavy rains. They seem to grow dissatisfied, and so desert in far too many instances, and so old men, some grey-headed ones, and army life pensioners are brought in, who would be unable to undergo the hard work of active service if called upon tomorrow. I remember a soldier of one of these batteries in conversation with a friend and myself some time ago complaining of the incessant fatigue he had, in particular of cutting so much wood for staff-sergeants. Does the government pay these staff-sergeants or not sufficiently to enable them to pay for their own wood being cut, and thus to enable soldiers to learn their drill instead of cutting wood? The uniform this soldiers was wearing was not of good quality, and he had often to pay for extras from his small pay—this is another complaint that should be seen to at once by someone. Treat men as men, and not as schoolboys, and desertion would stop at once, and in a short time we would have a force upon which we could rely, and so be independent of deserters from the British and American services. Such men are never to be depended upon in seasons of real peril and danger. Make the service worth and steady respectable young man joining, and then we can dispense with the riff-raff we are often obligated to take in the ranks of our two schools of gunnery, I speak from personal observation, and as I am a taxpayer, I have a personal interest in the matter; we pay for an article, and we naturally expect our money's worth in that article. There has been far too much desertion already, and it is high time it was stopped.

Yours, &c.
A Canadian

March 7, 1882

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From the Editor, Military Column,

If our correspondent knew more about the management of "A" and "B" Batteries he would not be make assertions like those contained in his letter. Both batteries are well conducted and governed, and if a man occasionally deserts it is not the fault of the management. A good soldier has nothing to complain of; it is only the shiftless fellows who expect that a couple hours' drill each day embraces every duty of a soldier. They entirely overlook the fact that wood has to be cut for cooking and heating purposes, the barracks cleaned, the platforms in Fort Henry and the different towers traversed and cleaned occasionally, together with guard duty and a score of other things. In reference to cutting wood for the staff-sergeants, it is only defaulters who have this task to perform. The clothing is the same as that issued to the artillery in England, and every man on joining gets a full kit. (For particulars see para. 817, R. and O., 1879.) Marching men out in wet, sloppy weather is a very rare occurrence in either battery, and does them no harm, as they are generally allowed a half-holiday afterwards to give their kits a thorough overhauling. What is required, however, is better pay, which, of course, would induce a better class of men to present themselves and give the commanding officer a chance to secure good men, The plan adopted in the United States army of increasing the pay in each rank according to length of service is a good one, and might be adopted with advantage in these corps.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 7 March 2015 2:58 PM EST
Friday, 20 March 2015

Officer Retention
Topic: Officers

Officer Retention

[US Army] Chief of Staff of the Army's Leadership Survey, Command and General Staff College Survey of 760 mid-career Students (Majors with a Few LTCs), 2000

Good units with good leaders retain more soldiers. The same is true for the officer corps. When junior officers have strong, positive leadership, they are more inclined to stay in the Army.

Reference Officer Retention. Instead of looking for outside influences, the Army needs to look inward. Good units with good leaders retain more soldiers. The same is true for the officer corps. When junior officers have strong, positive leadership, they are more inclined to stay in the Army. When presented with bad leadership, they want out. Talking with peers, most notably in the past 6 months, there seems to be an alarming number of bad leaders out there. Leaders who sugar coat things to higher; leaders who lie; leaders who are immoral; leaders who won't think twice about killing a career over an honest mistake or a difference of opinion; leaders who lead by fear and intimidation; leaders who care more about themselves than their soldiers/officers; leaders who look away at transgressions of others "for the good of the Army". Who wants to work under conditions where they are exposed to bad leadership? Who wants to be in an Army where the people who succeed do not fit the mold of the person you want to be? Who wants to be in a unit where the leadership would not think twice about overworking you or exposing you to unnecessary hardship and/or risk? Who wants to serve in an organization where they are disgraced by the acts of a few? While I can't voice the percentage of bad leaders, what number of examples would indicate that there are too many? I would argue that in the profession of arms, one would be too many. If in an officer's first couple of years in the Army he exposed to bad leaders without any examples/exposure to good leaders, you can bet he will leave. If exposed to an even mix of good and bad, the severity of each and/or the sequence relative to the time of the decision to stay in the army is made, will effect the decision. If exposed to only good leaders, there will still be some who elect to leave the service but at a much lower rate.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 19 March 2015

Topic: The Field of Battle

Massacre At Ulundi, by James E. McConnell


The Washing of the Spears; The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, Donald R. Morris, 1965

The outline of the square was perfectly marked on the rise by the thick windrows of expended cartridges; the troops had fired over 35,000 rounds.

[Following the battle of Ulundi,] Chelmsford finally ordered the guns to limber up, broke the square and marched the men to the banks of the Mbilane, where the force rested and dined on the contents of its haversacks. A surprising number of officers had packed a bottle or two of champagne into their kits for just this occasion, and they toasted the victory in the warm and gassy wine. A few working details were still busy on the knoll; the engineers were gathering equipment, and the dressing station was preparing the wounded for the trip back to the laager. The outline of the square was perfectly marked on the rise by the thick windrows of expended cartridges; the troops had fired over 35,000 rounds. The surgeons made their report. Wyatt-Edgell was dead and Lieutenant George Astell Pardoe of the 1st/13th had been shot through both thighs. Eighteen other officers had been wounded more or less seriously, including four of the mounted staff officers. Chelmsford's aide, the naval lieutenant Milne who had climbed a tree to observe the camp at Isandhlwana, had been grazed by a bullet. Ten men had been killed and 69 wounded. There was no accurate count of the Zulu dead, and not even an estimate of their wounded, but over a thousand bodies lay on the slopes and in the path of the mounted pursuit.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Military Vocabulary (1942)
Topic: Drill and Training

Application of Fire
Visual Training

Canadian Army Training Pamphlet No. 1; A General Instructional Background for the Young Soldier, 1942

Military Vocabulary

Men will be familiarized with all terms applied to features of ground, colours, shapes and military objects, so that their powers of description and recognition may be improved. A specimen military vocabulary is appended; it is intended to be a guide to instructors. The terms should be introduced as opportunity offers, during the soldier's service. It should be increased by teaching the local equivalent for, or additional terms appropriate to, the station in which the unit is serving, for example (in Canada, and respective of region) the added or dissimilar artificial features such as "silos," "elevator" (grain), "power dam," "snake fence"; the term equivalents: "trail" for ride or path, "gully" for ravine, "muskeg" for marsh, "rapids" for shallows; the sometimes necessary subdivision of conifers into the many local tree variants of the type, "balsam," hemlock," etc.; "scrub" or (perhaps) "sugar-bush" for copse, "prairie" for moor or common, "semaphore" for railway-signal, "turn-pike" for metalled road, "creek" for watercourse, etc.

i.    Features, artificial:—

TrackPost and rail fencesFerry
FootpathWire fencesFord
Ride RoadsIron fencesWindmill
TarredHurdle fencesRailway signals
MetalledSign postChurch tower
Fenced and unfencedViaductCrane
Cross roadsCulvertGasometer
Sunken roadsCuttingGable-end
Telegaph PoleEmbankmentQuarry

ii.    Colours:—


iii.    Features, natural:—

Fir (trees)CopsePlough
Poplar (trees)GorseRoot field
Bushy-topped (trees)Corn fieldStubble

iv.    Topographical:—

RidgeKnollMiddle distance
FoldSlopes, forwardDead ground
DefileSlopes, reverseCliff
Crest-lineSlopes, concaveGorge
HorizonSlopes, convexRavine

v.    Field Engineering:—

TrenchBarricadeRight angle
ParadosDefended postTriangle
FirestepDefended localityCircular
RevetmentObservation postVertical

vi.    Fire,—types of:—


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Torpedo Boats at Halifax; 1901
Topic: Halifax

Torpedo Boats at Halifax; 1901

While the many ships of the line have well recorded histories and available photos. Often the smaller vessels of navies have been overlooked in the same respect. The image used in the postcard displayed above shows two unnamed (un-numbered?) torpedo boats at Halifax. The posting of a copy of the original photo on the image sharing site fickr dates the image to 1901.

The presence of Royal Navy torpedo boats at Halifax can be confirmed in a selection of news items during the period of the photo.

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Torpedo Boats for Halifax

Daily Mail and Empire, 25 January 1896

It is stated in naval circles that two first-class torpedo boats will be sent to Halifax in the spring. They will be larger and more powerful than those now there. The torpedo boats will be accompanied to Halifax by one of the transports.

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War Vessels' Novel Race

Torpedo Boat, With Ten Miles Start, Will Be Chased by Destroyer

The Evening News (San Jose, California), 26 August 1899

"HMS Quail at Halifax LAC 3332863" by Notman Studio of Halifax - This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number PA-028440 and under the MIKAN ID number 3332863. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.Library and Archives Canada does not allow free use of its copyrighted works. See Category:Images from Library and Archives Canada.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It is learned that a notable speed test between the torpedo boat destroyer Quail and torpedo boat No. 61 is to be held off Halifax soon.

The proposed test will have two objects, says the New York Press, in that it will demonstrate how long it will take a torpedo boat destroyer of the Quail's class to overtake a torpedo boat of 22 knots when the torpedo boat has a ten mile stat, and also it will decide whether the torpedo boat in these days is of much importance to a fleet.

No. 61 will be given 30 minutes start to enable her to get ten miles out to sea. Then the Quail will stat in pursuit. In a run of 100 miles, it is said, she will overtake the torpedo boat on her way back, pass her, and anchor in the dockyard 50 minutes ahead.

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Naval Fight at Halifax

Torpedo Boat Attack on Fleet Planned by Admiral

The Montreal Gazette; 28 August 1901

Halifax, N.S., August 27.—Admiral Bedford has ordered a torpedo boat stack on the fleet on Thursday at midnight. During the day the ships will leave port and, during the night attempt to enter the harbour. An attack will be made on all the vessels by the torpedo boats. The manoeuvres will be the first of the kind attempted here.

All of the vessels of the fleet will be engaged by the attacking force, and it is the intention to bring very gun into use. The torpedo boats will be laying in wait in one of the coves for the fleet and will suddenly pounce upon the war vessels. The admiral and officers will have no previous knowledge as to the whereabouts of the torpedo boats. The torpedo boats destroyer Quail will act as an advance guard and she, with the assistance of the search lights on the cruisers, will endeavour to locate the enemy and when located the entire fleet will engage them.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 16 March 2015

British Artillery; Ammunition Considerations (1908)
Topic: Militaria

British Artillery; Ammunition Considerations (1908)

Military Engineering (Part 1), Field Defences, 1908

Horse and field artillery fire shrapnel shell of about 12 and 18 lbs. weight, with time and percussion fuzes. At short and medium ranges these light projectiles, owing to their high velocity, are easily deflected by very small parapets. At longer ranges, their penetration, before burst, is slight. Field gun shells therefore, used against troops behind earthworks, depend for their effect chiefly upon their searching power when burst in the air.

The principal use of common shell, which is used with a percussion fuze, is for ranging. It may also be used for the destruction of field magazines and earthworks, and for the attack of buildings. The small amount of bursting charge in the common shell of field guns reduces the possibility of good effect against earthworks, while as a man-killing projectile it is very inferior to shrapnel.

Percussion shrapnel is use for ranging, and against troops in buildings of behind cover such as walls. The fire of percussion shrapnel will be effective against troops defending any ordinary building.

Time shrapnel is employed against troops under all conditions other than the above. The present fuze is effective up to about 6,000 yds.

The angle of the cone of dispersion of the bullets (generally called the angle of opening) is about 20°. The angle increases slightly with the range, because the forward velocity of the shell decreases more rapidly than the velocity of rotation, so that the influence of the latter increases. In estimating the front covered by the spread of the bullets, it may be taken as from 35 to 40 per cent. of the distance at which the shell is burst short of the target.

The searching power of the bullet varies directly as the angle of its descent. To find approximately the greatest searching power of a shrapnel, half the angle of opening should be added to the slope of the descent of the shell. The slope of descent of the shell is:—

  • At 1500 yds, about 1 in 20.
  • At 2000 yds, about 1 in 13.
  • At 3000 yds, about 1 in 7.
  • At 4000 yds, about 1 in 4.

The splinters of common shell from guns, even of those high high explosive bursting charges, all go forward, whether burst in the air with time fuze, or on impact with percussion fuze. If burst in the air, their searching power is much greater than that of shrapnel, but it is very difficult, even under peace conditions, to burst the shell in exactly the right place over a trench.

Field gun shells are not intended to destroy earthwork. Against deep trenches with low, flat parapets, field artillery has but little effect. The tendency of the shell to glance on striking an earth parapet is specially marked in the cae where the latter is composed of sand and light soil. Such soil falls back into the craters formed, and thus little impression can be made on good earth at moderately long ranges.

The 60-pr. B.L. and 4.7-in. Q.F. are examples of heavy artillery guns. Their range is longer than that of field artillery, and their shrapnel bullets are heavier; their searching power is, however, little greater, and their shells are equally liable to be deflected by a very slight bank of earth,

These guns can best be employed against trenches or other earthworks by bringing an oblique or enfilade fire to bear. Their long range frequently enables them to sweep the enemy's position whilst keeping out of range of his rifle fire.

Field howitzers have been introduced into the British as well as into several foreign armies. They produce results otherwise unobtainable, since their high angle fire will search out troops behind cover which would render field artillery harmless. They are also used to attack closed works, overhead cover, villages, fire trenches, etc.

The 5-in. shell of 50-lbs. weight, with bursting charge of 9 lbs. 15 ozs. of high explosive, is especially effective against troops crowded together in such works as field redoubts, or in buildings or villages. Shrapnel shell with field howitzers can be used effectively at ranges up to about 5,000 yards; the angle of descent of the bullets may be anything up to 1/1.

Plate I gives an idea of the action of various kinds of projectiles. It will be observe that piratically the only one which has any backward effect after burst is the howitzer common shell, fired at high angle of elevation.

This question is one which should be carefully studied by all officers, since it is impossible to design field defences properly without a clear and accurate conception of the effects of artillery projectiles.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 15 March 2015

Marine Officer Training
Topic: Officers

Marine Officer Training

A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo, 1977

Basic School was a school in fact as well as in name, a halfway house between the campus and the real Marine Corps. Its purpose was to turn us into professional officers. Because of the Corps doctrine that every marine is a rifleman, the course emphasized infantry fundamentals—weapons-training and small-unit tactics. It was dry, technical stuff, taught in the how-to-do-it fashion of a trade school: how to take a hill by frontal assault or envelopment; how to defend it once you have taken it, how to deliver searching and traversing fire with an M-60 machine gun.

For me, the classroom work was mind-numbing. I wanted the romance of war, bayonet charges, and desperate battles against impossible odds. I wanted the sort of thing I had seen in Guadalcanal Diary and Retreat, Hell! and a score of other movies. Instead of the romance, I got the methodology of war, Clausewitz and his nine principles, lines and arrows on a map, abstract jargon, and a number of bewildering acronyms and abbreviations. To be in battle was to be "in a combat situation"; a helicopter assault was a "vertical envelopment"; an M-14 rifle a "hand-held, gas-operated, magazine-fed, semiautomatic shoulder weapon." I had read somewhere that Stendhal learned his simple, lucid style by studying Napoleon's battle orders. Literature should be grateful that Stendhal didn't live in the present; the battle orders we studied were written in language that made the Rosetta Stone look like a Dick-and-Jane reader.

"Enemy sit. Aggressor forces in div strength holding MLR Hill 820 complex gc AT 940713-951716 w/fwd elements est. bn strength junction at gc AT 948715 (See Annex A, COMPHIBPAC intell. summary period ending 25 June) … Mission: BLT 1/7 seize, hold and defend obj. A gc 948715 … Execution: BLT 1/7 land LZ X-RAY AT 946710 at H-Hour 310600 … A co. GSF estab. LZ security LZ X-RAY H minus 10 … B co. advance a~is BLUl~ H plus S estab. blocking pos. vic gs AT 948710 … A, C, D cos. maneuver element commence advance axis BROWN H plus 10 … Bn tacnet freq 52.9 … shackle code HAZTRCEGBD … div. tacair dir. air spt callsign PLAYBOY … Mark friendly pos w/air panels or green smoke. Mark tgt. w/WP."

I was not the only one to find this eye-glazing. During one particularly dull lecture, a classmate named Butterfield leaned over to me. "You know," he whispered, "the trouble with war is that there isn't any back-ground music."

Our Hollywood fantasies were given some outlet in the field exercises that took up about half the training schedule. These were supposed to simulate battlefield conditions, teach us to apply classroom lessons, and develop "the spirit of aggressiveness." The Corps prized elan in its troops. The offensive was the only tactic worthy of the name. We were taught the rudiments of defensive warfare, while retrograde movements were hardly mentioned, and only then in tones of contempt. The Army retreated, the Marines did not, although they had —at Chosin Reservoir in Korea. The essence of the offensive was the frontal assault: "Hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle." This was the supreme moment of infantry combat; no tricky flanking or encircling movements, just a line of determined men firing short bursts from the hip as they advanced on the en-emy at a stately walk.

It was easy to do in the bloodless make-believe of field problems, in which every operation went according to plan and the only danger was the remote one of falling and breaking an ankle. We took these stage — managed exercises seriously, thinking they resembled actual combat. We couldn't know then that they bore about as much similarity to the real thing as shadow-boxing does to street-fighting. Diligently we composed our five-paragraph attack orders. We huddled in pine — scented thickets, soberly playing the roles assigned to us — student platoon leader, student squad leader — and with our maps spread flat, planned the destruction of our fictitious enemy, the aggressor forces. We fought them throughout the spring and summer, enveloped them, went at them with squad rushes, and made frontal assaults against the sun-browned hills they defended, yelling battle cries as we charged through storms of blank cartridge fire.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 14 March 2015

"C" Company, Infantry School Corps
Topic: The RCR

Our Permanent Troops, III.

"C" Company, Infantry School Corps, Toronto.

The Dominion Illustrated, Vol. VI. No. 136; Montreal and Toronto, 7 January 1891

This well-known company was raised at the same time as "A" and "B" companies, under the following officers: Lieut.-Col. Otter, Commandant; Major Smith, Lieutenants Sears and Wadmore, Sr. Strange. Particulars of the recruiting and organization of the corps has already been fully given in this journal (Vol. v., p. 303. — Unfortunately, this edition is not in the accessible archive).

The detachment now under mention was stationed in Toronto, occupying the New Fort barracks. The buildings were erected in 1840-41, and were continuously occupied by Her majesty's troops until 1870, when all Imperial garrisons were withdrawn from British North America, with the exception of Halifax; the barracks are of a most substantial nature, replacing the ruinous sheds known as Old Fort, so long the only home of the garrison. On the memorable 27th March, 1885, when the news flashes through Canada of the armed rebellion in the North-West, and of the killing and wounding of many loyal volunteers by the rebel half-breeds, "C" Company was one of the first corps ordered out for active service. Its record there was an highly honorable one, and can best be summed up by a paragraph in one of General Middleton's reports:—

"C" School, owing to its comparative propinquity to the scene of the action, was the only one of the schools fortunate enough to go to the front in the late expedition. Its conduct during the severe and trying march through the gaps, and subsequently during the campaign, whether on the march or in the face of the enemy, was such as to deserve the highest praise, and redounds greatly to the credit of its commandant, Lieut.-Col. Otter, and his officers. Lieut.-Colonel Otter also did good service in command of a column.

Proportionately to the strength of the Company, it suffered severely throughout the campaign, having 11 casualties. It was engaged in the actions at Fish Creek, Cut Knife and Batoche, at which fight a detachment, under command of Major Smith, was on board of the steamer "Northcote," intended to operate in conjunction with the main body of the land forces under General Middleton. "C" Company remained on duty in the North-est until November, 1885, when it returned to Toronto, and since then has been of great service as the school for the military instruction of the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Ontario Militia, no less than 340 officers and 560 non-commissioned officers and men having been admitted within the last six years. The company is under the command of Lieut.-Col. Otter, who is also the Deputy Adjutant-General for Military District No. 2. A detailed sketch of the life and services of this talented officer will be found on page 342, volume V., of this journal (see below). Lieut.-Col. Otter is ably assisted by the following officers, portraits of whom will be found on another page of this issue, namely: Major Vidal, Capt. MacDougall, Lieuts. Evans and Laurie, and Dr. Strange, surgeon of the detachment.

We also present views of the officers quarters, barracks and other buildings used by the corps; they are beautifully situated on the shores of lake Ontario, and we sincerely hope that before long they and the other barracks occupied by the several companies of the Infantry School Corps will be tenanted by battalions instead of by companies, and that our Canadian Regular Infantry will thus form a brigade with the very moderate establishment of three thousand men. Such an increase would do wonders for the active militia at large by the ability of the permanent troops to then furnish adjutants and sergeants-major to every volunteer regiment in the Dominion, besides furnishing ample detachments to keep occupied and in repair the various forts and military buildings bequeathed to us by the Imperial authorities, and which are presently rapidly falling into decay and utter ruin. In case of war the very points, now neglected, would be of vital importance in the defence of Canada, and their preservation should be of deep interest to the people at large as on them might depend the security of our homes from an invader.

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Lieut.-Col. William Otter, D.A.G., Toronto.

The gallant soldier is a native on Ontario, having been born at Clinton, Huron County, on the 3rd of December, 1843. He received his education in part at the Grammar School, Goderich, and in part at Upper Canada College, Toronto. In October 1861, Mr. Otter joined the Victoria Rifles, Toronto, (Now "F" Company of the Queen's own Rifles) and in December, 1864, was promoted to a lieutenancy in the latter corps. He served as an officer of that rank in the 2nd Administrative Battalion on the Niagara frontier in the winter of 1864-65. In the following August, Lieutenant Otter was appointed adjutant, and in that capacity took part in the repulse of the Fenian raid of 1866, being present at the action of Limeridge. In June, 1869, he was advanced to the status of major, and went to England as second in command of the Wimbledon team in June, 1875. A year later he was made lieutenant-colonel by brevet, and in the summer following obtained command of the corps. During the unhappy riots in Toronto, towards the close of 1875, and in the Belleville G.T.R. strike riots of 1877, he had command of the regiment. In 1883 he commanded the Wimbledon Team, and later in the year was sent to Aldershot to acquire information in connection with the proposed formation of military schools. It was during the North-west rebellion of 1885 that Col. Otter especially distinguished himself. He had command, during the campaign, of the Battleford, or centre column, and made a forced march from the Saskatchewan across the prairie to Battleford (a distance of 190 miles) in five days and a half. He commanded the reconnaissance after Poundmaker, the rebel Indian chief, whose junction with Big Bear he prevented by the engagement at Knife Hill. Had those two chiefs effected a combination and been enabled to reach Riel, the issue of conflict would, at least for a time, have been different. Col. Otter also commanded the Turtle lake column sent out in pursuit of Big Bear at the close of the rising. In July, 1886, he was appointed to the command of Military District No. 2, which he held along with the charge of the Toronto Infantry School Corps ("C" Company) which had been assigned him on his return from England in 1883. Col. Otter is the compiler of a useful manual of military interior economy called "The Guide," which has been accepted as a text book in all our schools of military training. The Colonel, who is now Deputy Adjutant-General, has been married since October, 1865, his wife being a daughter of the late Rev. James Porter, Inspector of Public Schools, Toronto, and formerly Superintendent of Education for New Brunswick. By religious profession Col. Otter is a zealous member of the Church of England.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 February 2015 12:30 PM EST
Friday, 13 March 2015

The Orders of Lieut Bethune
Topic: The Field of Battle

The Orders of Lieutenant F.P Bethune

Fron a now-defunct version of the Australians at War website

On March 13, 1918, Lieutenant F.P. Bethune, commanding No. 1 Section of the 3rd Machine-Gun Company was instructed to post his guns at Spoil Bank. He considered this position to be suicidal and complained. Neverless, he lead his men there. Before he could get into position a runner reached him with new orders to move to Buff Bank. This was a good position, better than Spoil Bank, but without infantry nearby to cover them, the machine-guns were dangerously exposed. With the safety of that part of the line in his hands, Bethune decided his men should have written orders.

He therefore issued these orders:

1.     This position will be held, and the Section will remain here until relieved.

2.     The enemy cannot be allowed to interfere with this programme.

3.     If the Section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here.

4.     Should any man through shell-shock or other cause attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead.

5.     Should all guns be blown out, the Section will use Mills grenades and other novelties.

6.     Finally, the position, as stated, will be held.

F.P Bethune, Lieut.
O.C. NO.1 Section

Bethune and his squad survived the occupation of the post, holding it for 18 days. The position was held.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 February 2015 12:29 PM EST
Thursday, 12 March 2015

Notes on Training (1922)
Topic: Drill and Training

Notes on Training

Infantry Training, Vol. 1, Provisional, 1922

The aim of all training is to produce:—

i.     In the leaders:—

The ability to command—developed by actual practice in the command of men. The ability to command includes readiness of judgment, which can be acquired only as the result of sound military knowledge built up by study and practice until it has become an instinct. It includes the capacity for quick decisions and for giving clear orders, and the will-power to ensure that orders are carried out. It includes initiative, i.e., the ability to see when independent action is required, and the necessary self-confidence to take such action promptly and to assume responsibility for it. It includes the ability to execute an order through subordinate commanders without interference with their personal responsibility. Lastly, it includes tact and knowledge of men so that the best may be got out of them.

ii.     In the men:—

(a)     The moral attributes of a soldier; including patriotism, loyalty, pride of race and a high sense of honour.

(b)     The fighting spirit—resolution to close with the enemy, based on confidence in their own superiority.

(c)     Discipline—in ingrained habit of cheerful and unhesitating obedience which controls and directs the fighting spirit. Individually, self-respect and its outward marks, such as cleanliness and a smart bearing; collectively "team work" under the "captain of the team."

(d)     Esprit de corps—the pride in his unit which makes a man unwilling to bring discredit on it, and ready at need to sacrifice himself for its success.

(e)     Physical fitness—to stand the fatigue and nervous strain of marching and fighting.

(f)     Skill at arms—a thorough knowledge by every man of his weapons and their use, and thus absolute reliance upon them to kill the enemy.

These are the qualities which build up a soldier, and they can all be developed by the methods of training described in this manual.

The growth of the moral qualities will be fostered chiefly by environment and it is the duty of all tanks to assist in this object by their conversation and example.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Officers are Gentlemen
Topic: Officers

The guiding principles of personal conduct for an officer, as for any gentleman, are honor, dignity, and courtesy.

Officers are Gentlemen

Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 38, May 1944 (From the Fd Arty journal USA)

1.     A few incidents have recently come to my attention which indicate a lack of familiarity with the code of personal conduct required of an officer. I am writing this not in recrimination for any of these incidents but to re-emphasize to you the ethics of our profession.

2.     The Profession of Arms is an ancient and honorable one. The Homeric Warriors, the Knights of the Round Table, Jeanne d'Arc are part of our heritage.

3.     By virtue of our uniform, we, as officers, enjoy not only the privilege of commanding, but the prestige of rank as well. We have thereby the obligation of contributing to that tradition by our devotion to duty, and of enhancing that prestige by irreproachable personal conduct.

4.     The guiding principles of personal conduct for an officer, as for any gentleman, are honor, dignity, and courtesy.

5.     Integrity of deed and statement is an important part of honor. To misrepresent facts in written or oral statements, whether to military or civilian personnel, is infamous to the Uniform. The signature of an officer is tantamount to truth-whether it be in a departure book, on a leave request, on an application for ration coupons, or on a check.

6.     Dignity and courtesy must characterize our activities in public. In uniform our appearance and actions are subject to the closest scrutiny by enlisted men and by civilians. Vulgarity, intoxication, loudness, rudeness, unseemly familiarity, eccentric dancing in public places, all are detrimental to the esteem of an officer.

7.     The enlisted men who entrust us with their lives and the public who depend upon us for their security and happiness have reason to demand these qualities. By tradition and by our obligation to them, we are enjoined, to paraphrase Cyrano de Bergerac, to be in all things worthy.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Harass, Worry, and Bait Your Enemy
Topic: The Field of Battle

The Disaster at Koorn Spruit. the Royal Horse Artillery working their guns.
from: h. W. Wilson, With the Flag to Pretoria, 1902

Harass, Worry, and Bait Your Enemy

Ian Hamilton's March, 1900, as presented in Frontiers and Wars, Winston S. Churchill, 1962

Nevertheless, function or no function, it is war, and the way to win war. Harass, bait, and worry your enemy. Once he is more frightened of you than you are of him, all your enterprises will prosper.

Thus disturbed, I thought it might be worth while to walk up to the outpost line and see what was passing there. When I reached the two guns which were posted on the near ridge, the officers were in consultation. Away across the Sand River, near two little kopjes, was a goodly Boer commando. There were about 150 horsemen, with five ox-wagons and two guns. The horses were grazing, but not outsaddled. The men were lying or sitting on the ground. Evidently they thought themselves out of range. The subaltern commanding the guns was very anxious to fire — 'really think I could reach the brutes'; but he was afraid he would get into trouble if he fired his guns at any range greater than artillery custom approves. His range finders said '6,000'. Making allowances for the clear atmosphere, I should have thought it was more. At last he decided to have a shot. 'Sight for 5,600, and let's see how much we fall short.' The gun cocked its nose high in the air and flung its shell accordingly. To our astonishment the projectile passed far over the Boer commando, and burst nearly 500 yards beyond them: to our astonishment and to theirs. The burghers lost no time in changing their position. The men ran to their horses, and, mounting, galloped away in a dispersing cloud. Their guns whipped up and made for the further hills. The ox-wagons sought the shelter of a neighbouring donga. Meanwhile, the artillery subaltern, delighted at the success of his venture, pursued all these objects with his fire, and using both his guns threw at least a dozen shells among them. Material result: one horse killed. This sort of artillery fire is what we call waste of ammunition when we do it to others, and a confounded nuisance when they do it to us. Even as it was an opportunity was lost. We ought to have sneaked up six guns, a dozen if there were a dozen handy, all along the ridge, and let fly with the whole lot, at ranges varying from 5,000 to 6,000 yards with time shrapnel. Then there would have been a material as well as a moral effect. 'Pooh,' says the scientific artillerist, 'you would have used fifty shells, tired your men, and disturbed your horses, to hit a dozen scallawags and stampede 150. That is not the function of artillery. Nevertheless, function or no function, it is war, and the way to win war. Harass, bait, and worry your enemy. Once he is more frightened of you than you are of him, all your enterprises will prosper.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 9 March 2015

The Lewis Gun
Topic: Militaria

The Lewis Gun

Introduced during the First World War, the Lewis Gun proved its effectivemness as a light machine gun in the trenches of France and Flanders. Maintained in Commonwealth armies during the interwar period, Lewis Guns were deployed in home defence roles in Britain in the early years of the Second World War. The following images are taken from the National Defence Pocket Book, an aide memoire and notebook provided to soldiers on Home Defence duties.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 8 March 2015

War Secretary Gassed
Topic: Drill and Training

War Secretary Given Taste of Own Tear Gas

Toledo Blade, 23 Feb 1940

The Right Honourable Oliver Stanley, MC

Secretary of State for War
5 January 1940 – 11 May 1940

Aldershot, England, Feb. 23—(UP)—Canadian soldiers today accidentally fired a tear gas barrage at Oliver Stanley, war secretary, and their own staff officers, during an inspection of the Canadian troops.

A unit of the Canadian expeditionary force was being trained in the construction of trenches under a gas attack. The officer in charge, not noticing the arrival of the war secretary, fired off a tear gas bomb.

Stanley was not carrying a gas mask. The officers accompanying him did not have their at the ready. The war secretary and his escorts were caught in the gas.

They ran from the gas zone, their eyes streaming. None, however, was affected seriously.

After bathing their eyes, the official party resumed their inspection.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 7 March 2015

Canadian Politicians, Opinions of Soldiers, c.1930s
Topic: Canadian Army

Canadian Politicians, Opinions of Soldiers, c.1930s

In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, James Eayrs, 1964

The Great Depression sharpened the contrast between the situations of the permanent force officer and the unemployed citizen (or the citizen employed in one of the officers' relief camps at the rate of twenty cents a day). The General Staff was variously accused of being over-paid, over-manned, and preoccupied by trivia. "I was almost staggered," J.S. Woodsworth declared in February 1932, "when I compared the salaries received by people in the Department of National Defence … We have no fewer than one hundred and thirty-nine people receiving between $4,000 and $4,900; thirty people receiving between $5,000 and $5,900; fifteen people receiving between $6,000 and $6,900." [Canada, H.C. Debates, 1932, vol. I, p. 575] The salary of the Chief of the General Staff, which was $10,000 per annum, came under fire in the House of Commons on several occasions. It was not just that, in the eyes of the critics, these salaries were high; it was that their recipients did not earn them. "We have here," J. S. Woodsworth remarked, "an army of swivelchair generals." "I cannot think what these generals or colonels or whatever they are can be doing," Agnes Macphail stated a few days later. "It seems to me we have a general staff capable of handling an army of half a million men.'' [Ibid., p. 761] The initial exemption of Service officers from the Bennett Government's across-the-board 10 per cent reduction in the salaries of civil servants did not enhance their public reputation. "If there are people who do not earn their salaries," Martial Rhéaume, the Member for St. John-Iberville, stated in the House of Commons, "they are the army officers … I wonder what is their occupation. I suppose they are busy doing pretty much the same thing as those in my county: a little riding jolt of one or one hour and a half in the morning, and the day's work is over." [Ibid., p. 781] "I think perhaps the greatest close corporations we have in Ottawa," remarked F.G. Sanderson (South Perth), in March 1935, "is the staff down at the Woods Building … I go further. I say that the staff in the Woods Building is overmanned. You cannot get into the place; they are like an army of chocolate soldiers down there." [Ibid., 1935, vol. II, pp. 1546-9]

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 6 March 2015

Royal Artillery Park
Topic: Halifax

Royal Artillery Park

The postcard image above will be recognizable to anyone familiar with Halifax. With a cancellation stamp dated 31 July, 1937, the image dates from shortly before the Second World War. The Lord Nelson Hotel, shown in the lower left, was constructed in 1927, setting an earliest date for the image.

In the centre, middle ground, of the image can be seen Royal Artillery (RA) Park, a long standing defence establishment abuting the glacis slope of the Citadel and still occupied today by the Department of National Defence.

RA park today; Google maps image.

From The Evolution of the Halifax Fortress, 1749-1928 (Harry Peters, 1947), we can find some remarks on the evolution of RA Park:

The row of two barracks in Artillery Park was extended in 1812 by the building of a 1 ½-storey quarters for two captain and two subalterns of the Artillery. The western end of the park was enlarged in 1812 by shifting the location of whet is now Queen's Street, so that the street became curved for a distance of 310' between Artillery Place and Sackville Street. The land was obtained from J.G. Pyke for £823 by a jury award of 20 April, 1812, and the alteration of the highway was authorized by an act of the Assembly. This gave room for the erection between 1811 and the early summer of 1816 of the 110'-long, 1 ½-storey [Royal Artillery] Officers' Quarters and Mess Room.

A closer look at RA Park as shown in the c.1930 postcard above.

Peters also notes the result of "Inspectional Reports" for 1 July 1814, 31 July 1815 and 1 January 1816 which described:

This completes an east-west row of four buildings:

(a)     RA Commanding Officers' Quarters (1804-8)

(b)     Enlisted Mens' Barracks (1803-4)

(c)     Officers' Quarters (1812)

(d)     Officers' Quarters and Mess Room (1814-16)

elipsis graphic

Cambridge Library, on Queen Street, RA Park, was begun on 3 November 1885, the estimate cost having been £1,350.Besides the Library, the Park also gained a fine building for Artillery and Engineer Officers Quarters, erected between 8 May, 1901, and 26 March, 1903 at a cost of £7,105, and to the east, on what had been the Royal Engineers' Square, arose the long Brick Block (C) of the South Barracks(quarters for both single and married soldiers), built between 15 July, 1904, and 30 April, 1905, at a cost of £6,928.

Accompanying footnotes added:

Until 1929, this building (Artillery and Engineer Officers Quarters) served as District Headquarters. To make room for its north end, about two-thirds of the eastern part of the old wooden Officers' Quarters between the Mess and the Soldiers' Barracks had been demolished.

[Brick Block (C)'s] construction necessitated the removal of the former R.E. Officers' Quarters and of the ancient, diagonally placed, small wooden structure south of there which had once been the quarters of the Commandants of the Artillery and of Engineer.

elipsis graphic

A footnote on the last page of the text of Peters' work gives us one more glimpse of RA park:

Artillery Park (RA Park). In the autumn of 1946 the old red frame buildings (presumably those noted by Mr. Piers as built during the period 1800-15), having become completely unserviceable, were demolished, to the vast improvement of the appearance of the Park.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2015 2:29 PM EST
Thursday, 5 March 2015

Topic: Drill and Training


Infantry Training, Volume I; Infantry Platoon Weapons, Pamphlet No. 2; Fieldcraft (All Arms), 1954

When you stalk an enemy, you need to use all the knowledge and skill that you have learnt in weapon training and fieldcraft lessons.

Planning a Stalk

The first thing to do is make a plan:—

(a)     Find the enemy by observation, and memorize his position.

(b)     Chose your objective — the position from which you will kill the enemy — and your route, taking into consideration:—

(i)     Cover from fire and view, and dead ground.

(ii)     Bounds.

(iii)     Obstacles.

(iv)     Other enemy positions, known or probable.

(v)     Possible alternative routes, in case of need.

(vi)     How to keep direction.



Outwit the enemy by guile and cunning. Much depends on the circumstances, and how you react to an emergency, but you must always:…

(a)     Be alert; never relax.

(b)     Observe carefully at the end of each bound.

(c)     Think about possible fire positions, in case you are surprised.

(d)     Take advantage of noises, aircraft, gunfire, etc.

(e)     Try not to disturb animals or birds.

(f)     If you must take risks, take them early rather than late.

(g)     Remember that, if you finish up by missing with your shot, at the very best your time and effort will have been wasted.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Intrenching Tools 1908
Topic: Militaria

Intrenching Tools

Military Engineering (Part 1), Field Defences, 1908

Under the heading of intrenching tools are included pickaxes, shovels, spades and crowbars. The light intrenching tool will also be included as soon as it is issued to the army.

The latest pattern of pickaxe has a 4 ½ lb. Steel head, and a wooden helve with a steel ferrule to fit the head. The object of this ferrule is to strengthen the helve at the weakest point, and to make it easily detachable from the head.

A pickaxe with an 8 lb. Head can be obtained from Ordnance Stores if heavy work is expected.

The word "pickaxe" is usually abbreviated into "pick."

The R.E. shovel is a commercial pattern of shovel weighing about 5 lbs.

The G.S. shovel is a shovel similar to the above, but weighing only 3 ½ lbs., and having a much smaller blade.

Only a very small proportion of spades are carried, as they are of little use in the field. They are employed for cutting sods, for working in clay, and for digging generally when a pickaxe is not required.

Crowbars also are carried only in small numbers. They are of use for loosening rocks, making holes for pickets in hard ground, etc.

Use of Tools

Careful instruction and practice in the use of intrenching tools are essential to good and rapid work.

When using the full-sized tools, each digger is usually provided with a pick and a shovel. The shovel should be used only for shoveling up earth already loosened by the pick, except in particularly soft earth, where the pick may sometimes be dispensed with. Men should be practiced so as to shovel equally well with either the right or left-hand on the T-head. When throwing earth horizontally, the shovel should be brought smartly forward in the required direction until the hands are level with the shoulder, both hands retaining their hold of the tool, which should, however, be allowed to slide easily through the hand which grasps the helve. Anything in the nature of a jerk should be avoided. Earth thrown properly from a shovel should all fall in a compact mass. Beginners generally try to take up too much earth in the shovel. Navvies make great use of the thigh in thrusting the shovel under the loosened earth.

The pick is used for loosening the earth prior to shovelling. Too much earth should not be loosened at once, as it gets under the digger's feet, and is difficult to shovel. Men using the pick are not allowed under ordinary circumstances to work sideways in their task, but only to the front and rear, so as to avoid the risk of striking their neighbours. This risk becomes especially great in the dark.

The pointed end of the pick is for use in stony ground; the chisel end for cutting off the top sods, and, in soft soil, for loosening lager pieces. Men using the pick should always endeavour to get a vertical face to their work. Before striking the pick into the ground, it should be raised well above the digger's head by both hands. In bringing it down, the helve should slide through the hand nearest the head of the pick, and the weight of the tool should be employed to help in the work. Where picks are much used, a small forge should be at hand, to allow of their constantly being sharpened or re-steeled.

For work in clay, spades are better than shovels. Where possible, water should be provided to wet the blades.

Intrenching and cutting tools are caried by cavalry, artillery, engineers (field companies and field troops), and infantry. The detail of the tools carried is given in the Field Service Manuals of the various arms.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Most of them got the message
Topic: Officers

Most of them got the message.

A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, Francis Law, 1983

I impressed on them that heroics were 'out' except in the rarest circumstances. They were trained to lead their men in action and should be satisfied with that by no means simple duty. Any fool could die if he had a mind to, the Germans would be delighted to assist.

In due course, my wound nearly healed, I was sent to a convalescent hospital in Suffolk run by a friend of Lady Carnarvon's. It was a large and very pleasant place, and there were few restrictions. Before long I got myself before an Army Medical Board and was pronounced fit enough to return to duty with our reserve battalion.

I was promptly put in charge of young officers' training and given a free hand. This was fun, gave me plenty of scope, lots to do and I enjoyed it. Perhaps some of my pupils found the going hard, for no one was spared, their comfortable existence soon ended, yet there were no rebellions. I had all sorts to deal with, the indolent, the idle, the keen, even the adventurous. It was a grand job and had a sound practical purpose to it. This was to fit all these young officers — a few considerably older than I was — to command platoons in action, with luck to stay alive, and more important, help save the lives of their men. Oliver Baldwin was one of my trainees. I liked him because he amused me, was intelligent and unorthodox, facts which explained his unpopularity with our seniors, who failed to be impressed by unorthodoxy, especially in the young and inexperienced. All would soon find themselves in the front line. The more each knew about what lay in store and how to cope, the better for the men they were destined to lead. The class was put to hard physical work in digging trenches at night, and made to assault and defend them and to carry out patrols in darkness. Many pleasant evenings in London were forfeited, but in a good cause, for it was likely that quite a few lives would be saved. I impressed on them that heroics were 'out' except in the rarest circumstances. They were trained to lead their men in action and should be satisfied with that by no means simple duty. Any fool could die if he had a mind to, the Germans would be delighted to assist. Of what use was a dead officer to those he was supposed to lead, often at a time of great confusion when his leadership was all important? Most of them got the message.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 2 March 2015

The Days After Paardeberg
Topic: Paardeberg

The Days After Paardeberg

The Canadian General Sir William Otter, Desmond Morton, 1974

In immediate recognition of their feat [at Paardeberg], the Canadians were ordered to move forward to take possession of the Boer laager, a particularly nauseous honour since the shattered camp was "littered with dead animals, broken or burned waggons, trunks, mattresses, saddles, harness, tents and parts of household furniture &c., while the smell was fearful. "Personally I possess little of that sense but it was weeks before the horrible odour of the Laager left me." As Canadians scrambled for appropriate souvenirs, firm orders arrived that nothing was to be touched; instead, the battalion was to stand by for an inspection by Lord Roberts. Accordingly, they remained for most of the day under arms and ready, although it was after 4.00 p.m. when the elderly commander-in-chief appeared with his personal congratulations. Rather more appreciated were two bottles of champagne, a present from General Hector Macdonald for wiping out the shame of Majuba. They were not shared with the men who, instead, gorged themselves on pancakes made from supplies of cornmeal and flour found in some of the wrecked waggons." The effect of so much badly cooked and hastily eaten food was rather disastrous with a good many," McHarg recalled, "but they doubtless thought it was better to run the chance of a 'pain' than continue hungry."

After a disagreeable day and night in the laager, the R.C.R. marched with the rest of the army a few miles up the Modder to Kodoes Rand. For almost a week the army of 30,000 men bivouacked while its commanders sorted out the administrative chaos and considered their next move. The rainy season had firmly arrived and the troops, lacking tents or other shelter, were constantly cold and wet. While officers had tarpaulins pulled from waggons to make themselves makeshift tents, the men paired up to errect tiny shelters with their blankets and rubber sheets. The Canadians grumbled that their own blankets were cheap, thin, and inadequate when compared to those issued to the British soldier. Indeed, much of the equipment issued to the Canadians had turned out to be utterly unsuitable, beginning with the water bottle, which Otter had simply exchanged for the British issue, including the uniquely Canadian "Oliver" equipment which chafed under the arms and became brittle after constant wetting and drying, and the greatcoats which were too thin to provide adequate protection for the chill nights on the veldt. Worst of all were the canvas uniforms. According to A.S. McCormick, a veteran of the contingent, "they were so stiff that until they became pliable and softer after a week's wear they irritated and inflamed the groin. After being rained on several times they fell apart. Sleeves would fall off and sometimes the tunic below the belt." After three months of constant wear, most of the men were in rags and, with the British transport organization struggling to provide the army with half-rations, there was no possibility of getting extra clothing, blankets or even mail.

Dawn of Majuba, (surrender of Cronje), Morning After
R. Caton Woodville. London. 1900

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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