The Minute Book
Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Lanyards and the Artillery
Topic: Tradition

Lanyards and the Artillery

Brigadier KA Timbers, Royal Artillery Institution; as posted on the Great War Forum

There has long been a tale about Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns. Of course, this story is nothing more than a piece of leg pulling; the information that follows is historical facts.

Lanyards associated with dress came into use in the late 19th Century, when field guns such as the 12 and 15 pounders used ammunition which had fuses set with a fuse key. The key was a simple device, and every man had one, attached to a lanyard worn aroundhis neck. The key itself was kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was simply a piece of strong cord, but it was gradually turned into something more decorative, smartened up with 'Blanco', and braided, taking its present form. Prior to the South African War, Gunners were issued with steel folding hoof picks, carried on the saddle or in the jacket. In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced by jack-knifes, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the service dress attached to a lanyard over the left shoulder.

In the war years that followed, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard forthose guns which had a trigger mechanism, allowing the gunner to stand clear of the gun's recoil.

The question of which shoulder bore the lanyard depends on the date. There is no certainty about this, but the change from the left shoulder to the right probably took place at the time of the Great War, when the bandolier was introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change, when the sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.

Eventually, in 1933, the end of lanyard was simply tucked into the breast pocket without the jack-knife, though many may remember that it was often kept in place with the soldiers pay book! On the demise of Battledress, the lanyard disappeared for a short tie, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment Of Artillery in 1973. It may surprise some readers that this particular piece of leg pulling is repeated in various forms. The Gold stripes in the Gunners stable belt stem — like the blue scarlet — the colours of the uniform at the same time the stable belt was introduced.

It was not a question, as the jokers would have it, of yellow stripes for cowardice! Equally silly is the suggestion that the Gunners grenade has seven flames as opposed to the sappers nine because we lost 2 guns at the same point in history! For those still plagued by jokers, the simplest answer to this kind of leg pulling is to invite the joker to present his evidence. No change to any of the army's dress regulations can take place without a formal order, and let us be realistic! it is ludicrous to suppose that the Army Board in its wisdom would countenance the idea of a 'Badge of shame' to be worn by any branch of the service. It would guarantee that no one would ever join it! And since no such evidence exists, the joker's story falls flat on its face. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyards — they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 April 2015 9:37 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Letters from our Soldier Boys – Lester Thompson
Topic: CEF

Letters from our Soldier Boys

The Leader-Mail, Granby, 11 October 1918

From Sergt. Lester Thompson

Somewhere, Sept. 15th, 1918

Dear Miss Coupland:—

No. I "aint" dead yet. I received several letters from people in Canada saying I was "Missing, Believed Dead," after heavy fighting, but not much.

Am enclosing a postcard snap shot of myself, which looks pretty tough but I was looking kind of thin then, lot of heavy marches and my leg still bothered me some, and had to set a good example to the draftees (conscripts) that we were just out on camping-out picnics.

It is three years to-day since I came to France and two years ago the anniversary of the Battle of Courcelette, and a little later the hard fighting for Regina Trench. I have had two leaves to England of ten days and I am looking the fourth winter in the face, but it cannot be much worse than the first when it rained or snowed 30 out of 31 days in January.

I have not been in much of the recent fighting as on the second day of the big push the sergeant detailed for a Course at a Military School was missing, and I was sent instead. Heard since he got a nice Blighty and was in England. I saw one of the sergeants of my Company lying dead in front of a row of 8-inch guns that they had taken, but he would take no more.

Things are looking a lot brighter now, a lot different from this spring.

Well, I must quit now. Yours ever,

Lester Thompson.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 April 2015

Milton Gregg, V.C., Sergeant at Arms
Topic: The RCR

Sergeant-at-Arms Gallant Record

The Montreal Gazette, 1 March 1934

He brings to his new duties a genuine wish to fill the post of sergeant-at-arms in a manner wholly in keeping with the finest traditions of the public service. There is no doubt, too, that his appointment meets with the acclaim of all his comrades of the Great War who realize that his selection is a tribute to the entire Canadian corps, living and dead.

Captain William Q. Ketchum writes, in the Calgary Daily Herald of the gallant record of Major M.F. Gregg, V.C.

An important symbol of British parliamentary tradition, the post of sergeant-at-arms of the Canadian House of Commons, calls for unusual qualities, he says.

These particular qualities are possessed to a marked degree by Major Milton Fowler Gregg, V.C., M.C. and Bar, who has been selected from a host of applicants including a number of officers of senior rank. A remarkable feature of the appointment is that Major Gregg, until a recent meeting with Mr. Bennett in Ottawa, was personally unknown to him and, in fact, it is understood, had not even applied for the position.

The new sergeant-at-arms, who succeeds Col. H.J. Coghill, is president of the Vimy Branch of the Canadian Legion in Halifax. Among returned soldiers from coast to coast the appointment is construed, and perhaps rightly so, as an indication that Canada continues to regard the best of her citizenry soldiery as worthy of the highest in her gift to confer.

Of United Empire Loyalist Descent

Major Gregg, who is 41 years of age, was born in Mountain Dale, New Brunswick, the son of George L. Gregg, a prosperous farmer. Through his mother, Elizabeth Myles, Major Gregg is the descendant of United Empire Loyalists, who came from the Thirteen Colonies to Parr Town, now Saint John, New Brunswick, with the "Spring Fleet," in 1783.

He was educated at the Provincial Normal School, Fredericton, and was graduated from Acadia with the degree of M.A. For a time he taught school in Carleton County, New Brunswick.

At the age of 20 he enlisted with the 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada, and is still partial to the kilt by reason of this association. Wearing the famous Black Watch tartan he was wounded at Festubert in 1915 and was convalesced at Edmonton, a hospital in the suburbs of London. Obviously Major Gregg had qualities which singled him out for early promotion even in the picked Montreal battalion, and it occasioned no surprise to his friends when he was recommended for a commission before he became a casualty.

After recovering from the effects of his wound he qualified for the rank of lieutenant at the officers' training course at Cambridge, and was gazetted to that rank in the territorials of the Imperial Army, with the King's Own Lancasters. He remained for two months only with this unit and on the eve of going to France was sent to Canadian headquarters in Argyle House. At this time it was decided to divide the Canadian territorially and as a Maritimer, Major Gregg was sent to the Nova Scotia Regiment at Bramshott, and afterwards transferred to The Royal Canadian Regiment, remaining with this infantry battalion until the end of the war.

He was wounded three times, in 1915, 1917, and 1918.

Major Gregg won his first decoration, the Military Cross, after leading a successful night trench raid at Vimy, June 9, 1917. The Canadian had introduced the practice of making raids on enemy sectors to secure prisoners and documents to ascertain the disposition of enemy troops, and to identify units. Following a three-minute artillery barrage, Lieut. Gregg and a handful of resolute companions went through the wire into the shell-pocked No Man's Land until the German front line was reached. This was cleared out and the second line penetrated where a number of prisoners were captured in a deep dug-out. The raid was highly successful and the intrepid young New Brunswick officers received the white-bordered blue-centred Military Cross. He gained the bar to this distinction at Monchy during the Arras show and the Victoria Cross at Cambrai.

Winning the Victoria Cross

Few winners of the Victoria Cross survive the sacrifice of their heroism. Major Gregg, however, has done so and his friends and official records have supplied the details.

Many Canadian soldiers will remember the Hindenburg Line with its deep dugouts. It was in the Marcoing Line, a section of this system with its deep tunnels, and strong points hitherto considered impregnable that he won the coveted bronze decoration for valor instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856.

Lieut.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O., officer commanding The Royal Canadian Regiment, was wounded, the adjutant was killed and the gallant regiment, suffering numerous casualties found its advance obstructed by a heavily defended position. Nothing was visible but bands of uncut wire.

Lieut. Gregg saw no possibility of going forward, but after a quick survey discovered an opening in the wire to the left. Through this gap he crawled on hands and knees, revolver in hand and pockets bulging with Mills bombs. He reached the German line, landed in a shallow trench which he followed to a strong point from which a German machine gun crew of three were pouring murderous fire into khaki-clad Canadians held up by the wire. The R.C.R. officer killed one German with his revolver, wounded the other and the argument of his business-like weapon proved too overwhelming for the third, who surrendered. He advanced to a second menacing strong point where the sight of a Mills bomb with the pin out induced fifteen Germans at the entrance to a deep dugout to throw up their hands.

Their morale restored somewhat when they saw themselves opposed by only one lone figure, the Germans, not knowing how to reach the Canadian lines, wandered off toward a nearby strong point, but Gregg seized a German rifle, picked one or two off and the others capitulated.

In the meantime, inspired by Gregg's gallant conduct, several members of the regiment had followed in his footsteps, so that the position was consolidated.

On that fateful day Lieut.-Col. C.B. Topp, D.S.O., took over The Royal Canadian Regiment for a short time and his personal knowledge of the resourcefulness, courage and initiative shown by Major Gregg, coupled with five other recommendations, won for the young officer the Victoria Cross.

Major Gregg, who is the exemplification of modesty, expresses scepticism over statements that there are men who are never frightened when confronted by the bright eyes of danger, he thinks that what has buoyed up good soldiers in tight situations in the old British tradition of conveying the impression that fear is an alien quality in their make-up. In other words, the theory is to make the other chap feel you are not frightened to stiffen him up. There is a pardonable vanity behind it all, too, in his opinion.

Major Gregg returned to Canada as adjutant of The Royal Canadian Regiment and for a time he held the rank of captain in the Governor-General's Foot Guards.

He has been connected with the New Brunswick Rangers and is brigade major of the 16th Infantry Brigade. His military qualifications are of a high order and include a pass in the militia staff course. He was among the Canadian winners of the Victoria Cross who attended the last reunion in London, England, at which the Prince of Wales took a leading part.

A pre-war romance which had its inception in old Acadia days culminated following the conflict when he parried an old classmate, Miss Amy Dorothy Alward.

He brings to his new duties a genuine wish to fill the post of sergeant-at-arms in a manner wholly in keeping with the finest traditions of the public service. There is no doubt, too, that his appointment meets with the acclaim of all his comrades of the Great War who realize that his selection is a tribute to the entire Canadian corps, living and dead.

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 April 2015

Signalling Corps Is to Be Reorganized (1905)
Topic: Canadian Militia

News of the Militia

Signalling Corps Is to Be Reorganized on a New Basis

The Gazette, Montreal, 21 June 1905

The re-organization of the Signalling Corps as the Canadian Signal Corps has just been authorized by the Department of Militia and Defence and six companies one for each military division and seven troops, one to each mounted brigade, have been decided upon as the establishment. The re-organization will take immediate effect in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th divisions. In the 4th division in which Montreal is situated and the 5th division, the existing sections of the Signalling Corps will be disbanded and following this disbandment re-organization will take place as in the other divisions.

The existing Signalling Corps which was made up of thirteen sections has not proven satisfactory, and the re-organization now pending is expected to place it on a thoroughly efficient basis. The change will necessitate certain alternations in the establishment. Instead of the thirteen sections there will be six companies of the Canadian Signal Corps, and seven troops. It will be organized by companies and troops and each company will be allotted to a division and each troops to a mounted brigade. A service of communication will this be established on a basis in conformity with the organization of the militia generally, and render that service more effective for field work.

The signal companies will be organized in four sections, one section being allotted to the headquarters of each division and one to each infantry brigade. There will be one troop to each mounted brigade. A division signalling officer will be attached to the staff of each division, and will command a signal company when assembled for training. He will also supervise the training of the regimental signallers. The re-organization is made conditional on sufficient funds being available for the necessary increase in the training establishment.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Human Factor
Topic: Leadership

If you tell the soldier what you want, and you launch him properly into battle, he will always do his part—he has never let the side down. The British soldier is easy to lead; he is very willing to be led; and he responds at once to leadership.

The Human Factor

The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Montgomery, 1958

But the key to success in battle is not merely to provide tanks, and guns, and other equipment. Of course we want good tanks, and good guns; but what really matters is the man inside the tank, and the man behind the gun. It is 'the man' that counts, and not only the machine. The tank, and the men inside it, are a team; the best tank in the world is useless unless the crew inside it are well trained and have stout hearts. One of the chief factors for success in battle is the human factor. A commander has at his disposal certain human material; what he can make of it will depend entirely on himself If you have got men who are mentally alert, who are tough and hard, who are trained to fight and kill, who are enthusiastic, and who have that infectious optimism and offensive eagerness that comes from physical well-being, and you then give these men the proper weapons and equipment--there is nothing you cannot do.

There are two essential conditions.

First—such men must have faith in God and they must think rightly on the moral issues involved.

Second—you must have mutual confidence between the commander and the troops; any steps you take to establish this confidence will pay a very good dividend; and once you have gained the confidence of your men, you have a pearl of very great price.

A sure method of gaining the confidence of soldiers is success. And I suppose the methods you adopt to obtain success are a life study. I suggest that a study of the military disasters that have overtaken us in our history will reveal that they have been due, basically, to:

  • faulty command or
  • bad staff work or
  • neglect of the human factor,

and sometimes possibly to all three.

If you tell the soldier what you want, and you launch him properly into battle, he will always do his part—he has never let the side down. The British soldier is easy to lead; he is very willing to be led; and he responds at once to leadership.

Once you gain his confidence he will never fail you.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 3 April 2015

The South African Medal
Topic: Medals

The South African Medal

Canadian Infantry to Get Four Clasps

The Sherbrooke Examiner; 17 April 1901

In connection with the army order issued by the War Office on April 2, confirming the order of her late Majesty, that a medal be struck commemorating the military operations in South Africa. General order have dealt pretty fully with the detail; according to the regulations, Canadian infantry will receive four clasps:

  • "Cape Colony",
  • "Paardeberg",
  • "Driefontein," and
  • "Johannesburg."

"D" Battery men will receive three clasps:

  • "Cape Colony",
  • "Orange Free State," and
  • "Belfast."

The mounted infantry and Royal Canadian Dragoons will receive clasps for:

  • "Johannesburg",
  • "Diamond Hill",
  • "Cape Colony", and
  • "Orange Free State."

The Royal Canadian Dragoons will receive their "Belfast" clasp.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 April 2015 12:04 AM EDT
Thursday, 2 April 2015

Royal Engineers Flag and March (1948)
Topic: Tradition

The Royal Engineers Flag and March (1948)

Royal Engineers Training Memorandum, No. 25, November, 1948

The RE flag as shown in the original 1948 article.


A modern colours chart for the camp flag and colours of the Canadian Militiary Engineers.

R.E. Flag

It has been noticed that several units have been flying the RE flag in an unauthorized manner.

The following extract from a meeting of the RE Corps Committee, held on 11th December 1930, gives details regarding the size and design of the flag.

Flags will be of the same colour and design as the sealed pattern of the Corps ribbon. The size of the flag is optional, but the strips will be in proportion to those on the Corps ribbon, and flown horizontally. Units may, if they wish, add a distinguishing figure or cypher, the colour of which is optional.

In conformity with this specification the colours in relation to the width of the flag should be:—

  • Red—four thirty-seconds;
  • Blue—five thirty-seconds:
  • Red—fourteen thirty-seconds:
  • Blue—five thirty-seconds:
  • Red—four thirty-seconds.

The Regimental March of the Royal Engineers

Prior to 1870 there was no authorized march for the Corps of Royal Engineers but various Companies had their own. In 1841, the 7th Company, Royal Sappers and Miners, at Woolwich, had "Love Not, Ye Hapless Sons of Clay" for their quick march, this was in the days of the Bugle Band. Another quick march was "I'm Ninety-Five, I'm Ninety-Five", an old 95th or Rifle Brigade March.

"Wings" was adopted in 1870 being selected by the Band Committee under the Direction of Lieut-General Sir T.L.J. Gallway (then Commandant SME), it was scored by Bandmaster W.J. Newstead, RE, and was composed of a combination of "The Path Across the Hills", a tune of unknown German origin, and "Wings" by Delores (Miss Dickson).

In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief, HRH, The Duke of Cambridge, ordered that it should be replaced by the "British Grenadiers", which, he asserted, was the only authorized march for the Corps in common with the Royal Artillery and Grenadier Guards.

At the end of l902 the Commander-in-Chief ordered that "Wings" be restored as Regimental March (vide WO letter 61030/3218d 14/10/02). Since then "Wings" has remained the RE March, and is always played at March Pasts.

These words are sung to the trio:—

Wings to bear me over mountain and vale away;
Wings to bathe my spirit in morning's sunny ray;
Wings that I may hover at morn above the sea;
Wings through life, to bear me, and death triumphantly.

Wings like youth's fleet moments which swiftly o'er me passed;
Wings like my early visions, too bright, to fair to last;
Wings that I might recall them, the loved, the lost, the dead;
Wings that I might fly after the past, long vanquished.

Wings to lift me upward, soaring with eagle flight;
Wings to waft me heav'nward to bask in realms of light;
Wings to be no more wearied, lulled in eternal rest;
Wings to be sweetly folded where faith and love are blessed.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Poor Tank Shooting 1985
Topic: Canadian Army

Canadian Gunners Deserve No Tanks for This

Ottawa Citizen, 26 June 1985

London (CP) —Canadian Forces have posted the worst performance of all NATO countries taking part in the gunnery competition for the Canadian Army Trophy in West Germany.

Twenty tank platoons from six NATO countries competed in the tank shoot out held every two years and considered a measure of the ability of tank crews,.

Points were scored for number of hits, speed of engagement and economy of ammunition use, said Jane's Defence Weekly in its issue published Tuesday.

Two Canadian platoons, both from the Royal Canadian Dragoons based at Lahr, West Germany, faced tanks from the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany. The Canadians came last and 18th out of 20 in the competition, which ended earlier this month in Bergen-Hohne.

The miserable Canadian performance also cost NATO's Central Army Group, to which Canada is assigned, the overall competition with the Northern Army Group.

The Canadians, all professional soldiers, were also bested by tanks crewed by conscripts.

The best overall performance came from a West German platoon using advanced Leopard 2 tanks followed by a Dutch platoon also equipped with Leopard 2s. But the most consistently high scoring came from the new U.S. M1 Abrams tanks.

British tank crews were hampered by the outdated Chieftain tanks but still outshot the Canadians.

Although the Canadian army is equipped with Leopard 1s, which are inferior to both the Leopard 2 and the Abrams, the Royal Canadian Dragoons were also beaten by both Belgian and West German platoons using Leopard 1s.

"Leopard 1 proved to still be a formidable performer in the hands of a skilled crew," said Jane's in its report on the competition.

The magazine called the shoot "a comparative test of NATO' front-line tank platoons." It also quoted Gen. Leopold Chalupa, NATO's commander in chief of allied forces in Central Europe, as saying at the end of the competition: "What we have here is a fair representation of the standards across the board."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Method of instructing recruits
Topic: Drill and Training

Squad Drill.

Method of instructing recruits.

Infantry Training (4 - Company Organization), London, 1914

1.     The instructor should be clear, firm, concise, and patient; he must make allowance for the different capacities of the men, and avoid discouraging nervous recruits; he must remember that much may be taught by personal example, and that careful individual instruction is the best means of developing the intelligence.

2.     The instructor will teach as much as possible by demonstration, performing the movements himself or making a smart recruit perform them. The detail for each movement as given in this manual is for the information of instructors, who must avoid repeating it word for word, because such a method is wearisome and monotonous and would not be understood by some recruits. Thc instructor will explain the reason for every movement and formation, and its application in the field.

3.     Drills will be short and frequent to avoid the exhaustion of the instructor and recruits.

4.     Recruits will be advanced progressively from one exercise to another, men of inferior capacity being put back to a less advanced squad.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 30 March 2015

How the Militia Service May be Made Attractive
Topic: Canadian Militia

How the Militia Service May be Made Attractive

Continuous Instruction —Camps for the City Corps —Rifle Practice Under Service Conditions —A Better System of Examinations

Harbor Grace Standard, 4 November 1905
(Editor of "The Standard.")

The class of officers and men now in the militia fairly represents the manhood of the country in all its various elements, and this very feature tends to its popularity; but more practical, intelligent, and thoughtful attention must be given to it to remedy its defects and put it on a serviceable basis.

Sir, —The statement is made that service in the active militia is unpopular, and that young men are not attracted to its ranks in sufficient numbers. I do not believe the first part of this statement to be true, or that the latter assertion is more serious than could be made of a volunteer system in any country where the demands of business are so all-important as they are here.

The ratio of the force to the population is large, approximately one to one hundred and fifty, while in the United States it is one to over six hundred. There will naturally be difficulty at times in keeping the ranks full, even with an ideally organized and administered militia, but I am convinced, after close observation, that service in the militia is looked upon more favorably in Canada than in any other country.

Continuous Instruction

The Canadian militia is not an ideal force, however; and as honest criticism is often beneficial, I want to make a few suggestions.

The principal defect lies in the small amount and superficial character of the instruction given. The system in the city corps of short drill seasons and long periods of idleness is not the one best adapted to the needs of the militia.

Continuous instruction throughout the year would be of much greater benefit in every way, would be found perfectly feasible, and no more onerous than the present method. Some regiments under the present system are brought to a very capable condition in show and parade movements; but it is at the expense of the more practical and important work.

Camps for the City Corps

All city corps should be put into camp for at least a week every year, as only in that way can the conditions of active service be learned.

The rural regiments are at present very imperfectly instructed, and few of them would be of much practical use in the field without two or three months' of continuous training.

The present method of appointing officers provisionally does not give good results. A reasonable test of ability should be made on first appointment, and commissions should be issued at once, practical qualifying examinations being required for promotions. In a country like this, an regiment which cannot educate in its own ranks enough men for commissions, must have a very poor "personnel" of be in a low state of efficiency.

Uniforms are Too Costly and Varied

To fill the vacancies among the corps of officers with those best fitted from a military standpoint, it will be necessary to restrict by orders the variety and cost of officers' uniforms and equipment, a wise measure in any case.

The present forcing system of provisional schools should be greatly modified and candidates required to prepare themselves on designated lines, examinations being held several times during the year, and at regimental headquarters.

The existing method, whereby regiments have sergeant instruction from the permanent corps, ought to be considered a reproach by the officers of any active militia regiment, especially those in cities. There should be enough competent officers in any regiment to properly instruct their non-commissioned officers and men.

The militia is not inspected often or thoroughly enough. As it is a well-known fact that most of the drills will be devoted to preparation for the expected requirements of inspectors, a great chance for the improvement of the force in general efficiency lies in the power of those officers.

Rifle Practice Under Service Conditions

The course of instruction in rifle practice should include work under service conditions, at unknown ranges.

The militia is not at present properly clothed or equipped for active service, Especially is this true with regard to uniforms.

Very few militia regiments are in a satisfactory state of discipline. Lord Dundonald rightly says that "Inadequate discipline is the besetting weakness of citizen forces." Experience, however, proves that such a condition is not inherent in a volunteer militia, good discipline being perfectly feasible with proper instruction and example, and with officers whom the men respect because of their superior knowledge and ability.

The companies are altogether too small for effective instruction, and would be swamped with the necessary number of recruits to bring them up to war strength.

The class of officers and men now in the militia fairly represents the manhood of the country in all its various elements, and this very feature tends to its popularity; but more practical, intelligent, and thoughtful attention must be given to it to remedy its defects and put it on a serviceable basis.


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Canadian Garrison for Halifax; 1905
Topic: Halifax

The Garrison for Halifax

One Thousand Canadians to Assemble

St John Daily Sun, 27 November 1905
(Special to the Sun)

A militia order issues yesterday states that barrack accommodations being now available at Halifax, the following troops will proceed there on or about the fourth of December:

Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Nos. 1 and 2 companies, as strong as possible.
Royal Canadian Regiment, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 companies, as strong as possible.

The following will proceed with the troops:

Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery —Lt. Col. T. Benson, on command.
No. 1 Co. —Capt. A.T. Ogilvie, Lieut. G.P. Loggie, Lt. T.W.S. Coburn, Lt. S.G. Bacon.
No. 2 Co. —Lt. E. Clairmonte, Lt. W.G. Beeman, Lt. L.S. Vien, Lt. A.H. Harris.

Royal Canadian Regiment
No. 1 Co. —Major A.E. Carpenter.
No. 2 Co. —Capt. J.H. Kaye.
No. 3 Co. —Capt. J.D. Doull, Lt. R.F.C. Horetsky.
No. 5 Co. —Capt. F.F. Uniacke, Lt. F. du Domaine.

The officers commanding the Western Ontario and Quebec commands are to inspect these details prior to their departure for Halifax.

A special inspection report is to be forwarded to headquarters for the information of the minister in militia council. The necessary transport arrangements will be made by the quartermaster general and duly communicated to all concerned. Wives and families upon the married establishment will either proceed with or follow the troops. A careful medical examination is to be made of the several detachments, and in the event of any non-commissioned officer or man being found medically unfit for service a medical board will be assembled with a view to his discharge.

The amount of baggage is limited to that fixed by regulations.

The officer commanding maritime provinces with the officer commanding H.M. regular forces is to arrange barrack accommodation for these troops and other necessary details.

As a result of this movement of the permanent force 1,000 Canadian soldiers will have been drafted to Halifax from Toronto, Kingston, and Quebec. Of this number 700 will be infantry men, nearly 200 will be artillery and the remainder will consist of details for the other branches of the service, engineers, army service corps, ordnance corps, pay staff, hospital corps, etc.

All are to be in Halifax before December 15th, when the forces will then be of the same strength as the imperial forces have been for some time, and in all the corps will be numbers of men which have served with the imperial forces on the station. The Canadian engineers, it is said, will be the only corps that will not be complete by the time mentioned, and the Royal Engineers will therefore probably remain for some months longer.

Officers of the Royal Artillery are posted as follows:

R.C.H.A. —Lt. A.W. Jamieson to B Battery, Lt. H.E. Beak to A Battery.

To No. 1 company —Lt. G.P. Loggie, Lt. T.W.S. Cockburn, Lt. S.G. Bacon.
To No. 2 company —Lt. And Bvt. Capt. C.S. Wilkie, Lt. L.S. Vien, Lt. A.E. Harris.
To No. 3 company —Lt. J.E. Mills, Lt. A.S. Wtight, Lt. E.B. Irving, Lt. De la C. Irwin.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 28 March 2015

Clearing Mines; General Rules
Topic: Drill and Training

Clearing Mines; General Rules

How to Clear Mines and Booby Traps, All Arms, March 1943

1.     Handle all mines, igniters, and switches with care at All Times.

2.     It takes only one man to work on a mine — others keep off.

3.     Look carefully all round a mine before sating to work on it.

4.     Look out for Booby traps. Do not lift Anti-Tank Mines. Pull clear with 50 yards of signal cable or cord.

5.     Take cover before you pull a mine and do not come out for at least 10 seconds after you have pulled it. There may be a delay fuse.

6.     Never use force. If a thing will not come undone gently by hand, leave it.

7.     If you have to leave a mine or trap unlifted, mark it obviously.

8.     Never cut a taut wire, never pull a slack one. Look at both ends of a wire before you touch it.

9.     Safety pin anti-personnel mines before you pull them.

10.     Mines which have been subject to blast from Artillery or aerial bombardment are apt to be dangerously sensitive, and should be destroyed in situ by Engineers.

11.     If in doubt ask the Sappers.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 27 March 2015

"D" Company, Infantry School Corps

Our Permanent Troops

"D" Company, Infantry School Corps, London, Ont.

The Dominion Illustrated, 28th February, 1891

This Company was the last formed of the corps, or regiment, known as the Infantry School Corps; therefore, all the history related of the other companies belongs to it also, more especially as all its present combatant officers, with one exception have served with the other companies.

In the 1st of July, 1886, Sir Adolphe P. Caron laid the foundation stone of the Infantry baracks at London, Ontario. The building is of white brick, with red stone facings. The site is on the ground purchased by the City from the Hon. John Carling, and is sutuated north-east of the town, about two miles from the post office.

A great deal of time and money was lost by the discovery that the sub-soil was of shifting sand, and the boiler house, which was built for heating the buildings throughout, was sunk 30 feet before anything like a solid foundation was found.

The exterior of the barracks, as will be seen from the illustrations, has not a very military appearance, nor are the internal arrangements as appropriate as might have been expected when new barracks were being built.

On the 19th of July, 1887, Major Smith, commanding "C" Company at Toronto, was detached from "C" Company, and was appointed Commandant of the Royal School of Infantry at London, with the rank of Lieut.-Colonel in the Infantry School Corps. It was not, however, until the 24th December of that year that recruiting commenced, owing to the delay in completing the barracks; but from this date till the 5th April, 1888. Lieut.-Colonel Smith was alone with no officer to assist him; and no one who has not had the experience of starting a new regular corps in a new barrack, can have any idea of the amount of work he had to do; luckily, he had as Sergt.-Major, Sergt.-Major Munro, late of "C" Company. On the 5th April, Lieut. Wadmore, also of "C" Company, was sent up to assist him. These two officers, who had been together since the inception of the corps in 1883, carried on all company and school work till the end of June, when Lieuts. Denison and Evans were gazetted to the corps and posted to "D" Company, which had not yet, however, a captain. In August, 1888, Capt. Frere, a captain in the army, but not in the Corps, and Adjutant of "B" Company, was sent up to command it, which he did until the 21st December, 1888, when he left to rejoin his regiment, "The South Staffordshire," much to the regret of the officers, N.C. officers and men, to whom he had much enared himself by his generous heart and kindly manner.

It was not until Match, 1889, that the captain of "D" Company was gazetted, when Lieut. D.D. Young, adjutant of "A" Company, and senior subaltern of the regiment obtained his promotion.

The surgeon was appointed in September, 1888, namely, Surgeon Hanavan, formerly of the 28th., Stratford—Surgeon Fraser, of the 7th Batt., having in the meantime looked after the medical examination of recruits and attended the hospital, which is at present a portion of the barracks used for that purpose; a proper detached hospital, drill shed, married quarters and stables being needed to make them complete.

On the 12th April, 1889, Lieut. and Captain Cartwright was transferred from "C" Company to "D"; and Lieut. Evans sent from "D" to "C" Company in his place. The officers, at the present date, with "D" Company are as follows:—

  • Lieut.-Col. Smith, Commandant.
  • Captain D.D. Young.
  • Lieut. and Capt. R.L. Wadmore.
  • Lieut. and Capt. R. Catwright.
  • Lieut. S.A. Denison.
  • Surgeon M.J. Hanavan.

Lieut.-Col. Smith is also D.A.G., or officer commanding Military District No. 1.

The various illustrations speak for themselves. The physical training is done entirely to music, no single word of command being used when the men are fully trained. The fire picquet and the men in barracks turned out as if for a fire; the men drill at the reels as if they were field guns. On one occasion this picquet, without previous warning, turned out and had water playing on the building in 45 seconds from the first sound of the bugle.

The rifle team are the picked men of the best shooting company of the whole permanent corps. The cup shown is one given by the Hon. J. Carling, to be shot for by the Royal School of Infantry at London and the 7th Batt., and is to be kept by the team winning it three times running. The 7th Batt. won it in 1889, the R.S.I. in 1890.

It would be well, before completing this short account, to pint out the common mistake that is made with regard to our permanent infantry. It is the practice to call them "A," "B," "C" and "D" Schools, when in reality and according to the official militia list, they are "A," "B," "C" and "D" Companies of the Regiment called the Infantry School Corps. This error has no doubt arisen from the fact that each of the companies at present forms school of instruction for the training of officers, N.C. officers and men of the militia, who during their course are attached to these companies respectively. It is curious to observe that the public have never fallen into the same error with the permanent artillery, the units of which are always designated "A," "B" and "C" Batteries, and not "A," "B" and "C" Schools.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 26 March 2015

Gas War for Local Militia (1938)
Topic: Drill and Training

Gas War Enacted for Local Militia

Regular Army Men Demonstrate Methods and Equipment Used for protection
Masks made in Canada
Four Types of gases to Be Combated—Senior Military Officers Attend Demonstration

Montreal Gazette, 15 February, 1938

One of the figures from: Unidentified soldiers modelling various Canadian Army uniforms, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1942. [gas uniform, with coat, helmet and respirator]

Photographer: Unknown. MIKAN Number: 3589879

Veterans of the regular army shows beardless members of the non-permanent militia forces last night how a soldier of modern times saves himself from death or serious injury in a gas attack by the enemy. The demonstrations were the inauguration of a course the militia of the district will take in anti-gas methods, and were the first given in the Montreal area.

A senior staff officer revealed to the Gazette last night, in connection with the demonstrations, that gas masks are being manufactured on a large scale in Canada. The officer said he did not know of any civilian anti-gas training course similar to Great Britain's. It is hoped, he said however, that enough masks will be available to provide the militia with enough for training purposes.

The main demonstration was given in the armory of the combined Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps units, and a brief show was put on at the Armory of the 4th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S. The "guinea pigs" were member of The Royal Canadian Regiment and of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, stationed at St. Jean's Que., under the company of Company Sergeant Major A.C. McKenzie, of the R.C.R.

Four Types of Gases

C.S.M. McKenzie, in a lecture prior to the actual demonstration, pointed out that the four serious types of gases generally used in modern warfare were: chlorine and phosgene, which he identified as choking gases; mustard and lewisite, or blister gases; D.M., a toxic smoke gas; and K.C.C. and C.A.P., or tear gases. The modern soldier, he pointed out, must be prepared to meet any or each of these types of gases.

During the Great War gas was far from being developed to the deadly state it is in today, and protection was much easier. Further, today those in the line of a gas attack must protect their whole bodies, as against only their lungs during the earlier part of the war.

A feature of interest to Canada was pointed out by the instructor when he said that mustard gas freezes at 57 degrees Fahrenheit. It would thus be useless during much of the year in Canada.

The early part of the demonstration showed an anti-aircraft patrol hit by a gas attack. The men, upon receiving the warning from a scout, quickly put on their grotesque masks and covered their necks, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies with a grease which is supposed to keep out the gas.

A squad fully protected against gas, and men charged with "cleaning up" after a gas attack, probed the most effective charade for the non-permanent soldiers present.

Appearance Ghoul-Like

Garbed almost completely in black oilskins and high rubber boots, the demonstrators presented a ghoul-like appearance. Their gas masks, of the most modern type available in this country, and far superior to those used in the Great War, made each man look like a large-scale Mickey Mouse.

The speed with which the machine gun crew, this time expecting a gas attack, slipped themselves into their "gas proof" clothing, amazed the onlookers, few of whom had ever taken part in actual warfare. Completely garbed in steel-gray "tin hats", black rubber rain-cape-appearing cloaks and high rubber boots, the demonstrators offered a gruesome picture.

The "clean-up" men, who in actual warfare scout about the gas area finding out if it is safe for troops to occupy the ground, had spiked sticks much like those used by litter-collectors in parks. On the end of each stick, however, was but one piece of paper, impregnated with a chemical which would tell by turning color, if gas were still present. The clean-up men, heavily burdened with protective clothing, are not expected to fight, the instructor claimed.

Demonstrations will be carried out before other units of the non-permanent active militia later in the season.

Brigadier R.O. Alexander, D.S.O., district officer commanding, headed a large group of headquarters and other officers who attended the demonstrations, illustrating the importance which they are given in local military training.

Among the other officers present were: Lt.-Col. A.E. Lundon, D.D., M.D., Lt.-Col. A.E. Thompson, Lt.-Col. St. John Macdonald, Lt.-Col. A.P. Plante, 20th Field Ambulance; Lt.-Col. Gorssline, D.S.O., District Medical Officer; and Major C. Sanford.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Story Without a Moral
Topic: Humour

A Story Without a Moral

The B.E.F. Times; with which are incorporated the Wipers Times, the "New Church" Times, The Kemmel times & The Somme-Times, No 5. Vol 1., Tuesday, April 10th, 1917

  • A.A. & Q.M.G. – Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General
  • C.R.O. – Corps Routine Orders
  • D.A. Q.M.G. – Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General
  • D.A.A. Q.M.G. – Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General

And it came to pass that upon a certain day the General Officer Commanding a Division said unto his A.A. and Q.M.G.: "Oh, A.A. and Q.M.G., tender unto me by the first day of next month a Return showing the names of the number of men of this Division who have even refused to undergo the hardships of INOCULATION, in order that I may send forward this Return unto Corps., in accordance with C.R.O. 758."

And it came to pass that the A.A. and Q.M.C. said certain things unto his D.A.A. and Q.M.G. and unto his D.A. Q.M.G., the result of which was a Return of names to the number of fifty of men of the Division who had refused to be INOCULATED.

And it came to pass that the Return aforementioned was in due course sent forward unto Corps, in which place it became labelled with the mystic sign "P.A.," which, being interpreted, means "put aside."

And it came to pass that upon a much later date this same General Officer Commanding a Division said unto his A.A., and Q.M.G.: "Oh, A.A. and Q.M.G. render unto me by the first day of next month a Return showing the names of the number of men of this Division who have done deeds such as are worthy of reward in the form of the Medal Military, in order that I may send forward this return unto Corps., in accordance with C.R.O. 869."

And it came to pass that this Return also was duly obtained, and in due course sent forward unto Corps. in which place it became labelled with the mystic sign "P.A.," which, being interpreted, means "put aside."

And it came to pass that in due course those men who had refused to be INOCULATED were duly awarded with the MILITARY MEDAL.

Oh! great is the Corps.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Petawawa, 1905
Topic: Canadian Militia

The New Training Ground for the Canadian Militia

A Description of the Petawawa Camp

Harbor Brace Standard, 4 November 1905

The following are the impressions of a Canadian artillery officer with respect to the new camp grounds at Petawawa, as given to the "Canadian Military Gazette": —

I have just returned from the new camp grounds at Petawawa, just west of Pembroke on the C.P.R. and can not speak too highly of this new place as a camp. Or the treatment extended to me there, my only regret being that I could not remain there longer, although it was cold. I profited by the careful and friendly instruction given willingly by the officers in charge, as well as by the N.C.O.'s. I will confess that I learned more and got a better idea of real soldiering than I have obtained in several camps, and have taken more hard knocks from tree branches in a few days than I ever took in my life.

elipsis graphic

The country is of a most interesting nature, hills, valleys, and rivers, with very few 'billiard table parade grounds.' This does away with ceremonial work and permits the targets being so placed that it requires keen sight to pick them out and keep them in sight, thus training the eyes. It also makes the correct observations of rounds more than ever necessary, and which, by the way, is not by any means an easy task at the Petawawa ranges, even with a good field glass, as the trees and sandy soil sometimes swallowed the projectile, seemingly without a sputter, so that hot a few rounds must be marked doubtful and acted upon accordingly.

elipsis graphic

The woods, although not of heavy timber, are thick, and the necessity of keeping the waggon line (400 yards in rear) correctly in touch with the guns, has been more clearly demonstrated. It is not so easily done, as has been proved in our other camps, and my sympathies are with the captain if he does get lost, waggons and all, as happened more than once. The placing of guns in action under real (not imaginary) cover, and the use of aiming posts, was the feature of the war game this year, and it certainly was the most interesting procedure, the real importance of which cannot be over-estimated, as exposure to enemy's fire and heavy casualties reduce efficiency and may mean loss of guns or position. Apart from this advantage, it enables the battery to come into action quietly and without unnecessary hurry or exceitment, thus saving the men and gun layers, and enabling them to move perfectly and at the same time carry out their work correctly.

elipsis graphic

The actual shooting scores of the competing batteries from all accounts do not seem to be brilliant, but the work has been gone through and mistakes and difficulties pointed out or explained will no doubt pave the way for excellent work next year on these hard and yet unknown ranges.

The first day was occupied by the visiting battery teams in qualifying the gun layers, the second being instructional day, in which firing was done and general matters thoroughly explained. The third day there were the firing competition, but in some cases where the weather was bad the instructional part took place in the morning and the competitions were carried out in the afternoon, making a fairly heavy day of it.

The drawbacks to Petawawa as a camp seem to be those particularly affecting the N.C.O.'s and men. The place does not suffer from any over-supply of visitors —in fact, it is lonely. Reading matter is scarce, and the darkness comes down early, so that it is a case of all work (and hard work, too) and no play. Perhaps this may be remedied next year. I think a good big tent (not a little marquee for 150 men), well lighted, where the men could have some sport of listen to 'their bands,' would be a perfect boon, and more than appreciated by one and all.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 March 2015 7:27 PM EDT
Monday, 23 March 2015

An Avoidable Death, South Africa
Topic: The Field of Battle

An Avoidable Death, South Africa

With the Royal Canadians, Stanley McKeown Brown, 1900

For the first time the seriousness of the actual campaign broke on the Canadian regiment, and again the next day as a sad and impressive funeral cortege wended its way out over the sandy veldt, …

Two nights sufficed for the Canadians at Orange River, during the first of which a very sad shooting accident occurred in the Shropshire regiment, which was lying side by side with our men and which battalion was at a future date to form part of the now famous 19th Brigade along with the Royal Canadians.

The country around for miles was strongly patrolled at night and every precaution was taken to keep the Boers from taking our little garrison by surprise.

Out into the dark night the Shropshires sent a heavy picket with instructions to the men to be very careful to challenge every person who might come in or out of camp. At the foot of a kopje one of the men of the Shropshires stood on sentry, another private of the same regiment was returning to camp. The sentry promptly challenged, "Halt! who comes there?" and failing to call "Friend," the returning soldier said, "Oh, to you know me." These were fatal words, for no sooner had they been spoken when three ringing shots sounded through the Orange River garrison, three steady shots from the sentry's rifle, and his companion-in-arms fell, never to rise to life again. It was an unfortunate occurrence which cast gloom over the whole camp, but it shows that the rigidity of military discipline should not be trifled with.

For the first time the seriousness of the actual campaign broke on the Canadian regiment, and again the next day as a sad and impressive funeral cortege wended its way out over the sandy veldt, the men from our Dominion saw in reality a dark side which to them was new, and attended with a solemnity which was doubly solemn on the sands of Africa.

To slow music with bayonets fixed and arms reversed the creeping kharki procession passed by the lines of the Royal Canadians, and a hush came on the camp. Then it was that many a man shuddered as he thought of a burial in South Africa, thousands of miles from where any of his friends could ever see his grave or ever plant a flower on his last resting place.

There are times at war when one is pensive and reflective, that is when one sees a comrade buried with all the impressive ceremony of a military funeral. When the muffled drums resound but to a slow dirge; when the gun carriage with its gloomy coffin load, wrapped in a Union Jack death pall, lumbers along to a waiting grave, unsympathetically jolting the soldier on the way to his last lone bed. Sorrow is written on the faces of every rugged and sunburnt man of arms, as with reluctant steps he nears the burial place of his lost companion. The funeral notes of the mournful music have the effect of striking into a living man's soul a deep hatred of death in a foreign clime. The sand or limestone "six feet of earth," on a South African field, seems but a mean mockery of a proper grave; the shallow bed seems too short for that last long sleep, too narrow for a quiet rest of such duration as it is bound to be. The sewn-up blanket in which the soldier is shrouded makes at times but a poor, scanty apology for the sound coffin one is used to seeing on such occasions in peace time. The spades of earth thrown in on the human form as it bulges in the blanket seems a scarce sepulchre; the volleys from the muzzles of the rifles over the grave are like empty messages to the dead, and the quivering "last post," which the bugles blast over the silent mound after the burial service, are but a brazen farewell to the soldier as he lies free from the care of campaign, "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."

Then, according to military custom, the burial party starts from the lonely spot, and, where they before had come marching to slow music, the band at once strikes up a quickstep, and as if tired of the tedium of the service, swing with a dashing air back to the camp, till Death's hand beckons another fighter home, and the dead marches are again called into requisition.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 22 March 2015

Saluting in the Field
Topic: Discipline

Saluting in the Field

Gen. Chris Vokes sees strength in saluting gesture with the Canadians in Italy

Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 36, March 1944

1.     In a "message from the G.O.C." in the army newspaper Red Patch, Major-Gen. Christopher Vokes of Ottawa told the men of his Canadian division that "to command-incomparable fighting men such as yourselves is an honour which does not sit lightly on my shoulders."

2.     His message was directed at saluting. The salute, he said, is the "hallmark" of a soldier's training.

3.     The Commander said that he had been in the army since the age of 17 and that there is nothing he would rather be than a soldier.


(a)     "The basis of all our training is good discipline," he went on. "This makes us steady in battle and receptive to the wills of our commanders. Our discipline aims at a mutual respect and understanding between officers, NCOs and men and a deep all-consuming pride in one's self, one's comrades and one's unit. This must always remain the core of our existence as a fighting force.

(b)     "An indispensable part of our discipline is that the soldier (officer or man) should recognize his superior at all times. Custom decrees that this recognition be normally achieved by a form of greeting known as a salute. The junior salutes, the senior. returns the salute. Even generals salute each other.

(c)     "In civil life one raised one's hat or touched one's cap to one's father, one's father's friends or others whom one wished to greet in a respectful way and smilingly said, 'Hello, Dad' or 'Good morning, Mr. Brown.' I was brought up by my parents to do so. My own son and your sons are being brought up in this fashion.

(d)     "So in the army so long as we remain part of it let us not forget these courtesies. When we salute our superiors in rank, let us smile and pass the time of day. Let it be a cheerful and comradely gesture. We are all comrades in arms in the Allied armies. That is part of our strength which will help defeat the Hun as surely as our shells and bullets."

5.     He concluded the message "Nothing can keep us from Victory. Nothing will."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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

elipsis graphic

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

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