The Minute Book
Saturday, 11 July 2015

An Officer and Gentleman
Topic: Officers

An Officer and Gentleman

Canada in Warpaint, Capt. Ralph W. Bell, 1917

He was a tall well-built chap, with big, blue eyes, set far apart, and dark wavy hair, which he kept too closely cropped to allow it to curl, as was meant by nature. He had a cheery smile and a joke for every one, and his men loved him. More than that, they respected him thoroughly, for he never tolerated slackness or lack of discipline for an instant, and the lips under the little bronze moustache could pull themselves into an uncompromisingly straight line when he was justly angry.

When he strafed the men, he did it directly, without sparing them or their failings, but he never sneered at them, and his direct hits were so patently honest that they realised it at once, and felt and looked rather like penitent little boys.

He never asked an N.C.O. or man to do anything he would not do himself, and he usually did it first. If there was a dangerous patrol, he led. If there was trying work to do, under fire, he stayed in the most dangerous position, and helped. He exacted instant obedience to orders, but never gave an order that the men could not understand without explaining the reason for it. He showed his N.C.O.'s that he had confidence in them, and did not need to ask for their confidence in him. He had it.

In the trenches he saw to his men's comfort first—his own was a secondary consideration. If a man was killed or wounded, he was generally on the spot before the stretcher-bearers, and, not once, but many times, he took a dying man's last messages, and faithfully wrote to his relations. A sacred duty, but one that wrung his withers. He went into action not only with his men, but at their head, and he fought like a young lion until the objective was attained. Then, he was one of the first to bind up a prisoner's wounds, and to check any severity towards unwounded prisoners. He went into a show with his revolver in one hand, a little cane in the other, a cigarette between his lips.

"You see," he would explain, "it comforts a fellow to smoke, and the stick is useful, and a good tonic for the men. Besides, it helps me try to kid myself I'm not scared—and I am, you know! As much as any one could be."

On parade he was undoubtedly the smartest officer in the regiment, and he worked like a Trojan to make his men smart also. At the same time he would devote three-quarters of any leisure he had to training his men in the essentials of modern warfare, his spare time being willingly sacrificed for their benefit.

No man was ever paraded before him with a genuine grievance that he did not endeavour to rectify. In some manner he would, nine times out of ten, turn a "hard case" into a good soldier. One of his greatest powers was his particularly winning smile. When his honest eyes were on you, when his lips curved and two faint dimples showed in his cheeks, it was impossible not to like him. Even those who envied him—and among his brother officers there were not a few—could not bring themselves to say anything against him.

If he had a failing it was a weakness for pretty women, but his manner towards an old peasant woman, even though she was dirty and hideous, was, if anything, more courteous than towards a woman of his own class. He could not bear to see them doing work for which he considered they were unfit. One day he carried a huge washing-basket full of clothes down the main street of a little village in Picardy, through a throng of soldiers, rather than see the poor old dame he had met staggering under her burden go a step farther unaided.

The Colonel happened to see him, and spoke to him rather sharply about it. His answer was characteristic: "I'm very sorry, sir. I forgot about what the men might think when I saw the poor old creature. In fact, sir, if you'll pardon my saying so, I would not mind much if they did make fun of it."

He loved children. He never had any loose coppers or small change long, and two of his comrades surprised him on one occasion slipping a five-franc note into the crinkled rosy palm of a very, very new baby. "He looked so jolly cute asleep," he explained simply.

Almost all his fellow-officers owed him money. He was a poor financier, and when he had a cent it belonged to whoever was in need of it at the time.

One morning at dawn, he led a little patrol to examine some new work in the German front line. He encountered an unsuspected enemy listening post, and he shot two of the three Germans, but the remaining German killed him before his men could prevent it. They brought his body back and he was given a soldier's grave between the trenches. There he lies with many another warrior, taking his rest, while his comrades mourn the loss of a fine soldier and gallant gentleman.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 10 July 2015

Craufurd's Discipline and Influence
Topic: Discipline

Craufurd's Discipline and Influence

The British Soldier; His Daily Life from Tudor to Modern Times, Colonel H. de Watteville, C.B.E., M.A. (OXON), P.S.C., 1954

The army of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, moreover, contained ruffians whose excesses in the field could best be repressed by the lash, if only to save them from the gallows; accordingly the cat was accepted by the troops almost as a necessary part of the hardships of war. So there comes to mind a vision of Robert Craufurd when, on the awful retreat to Corunna, three men were sentenced to be flogged. One was flogged by torchlight and the column moved on: there was no time to halt longer. Next morning it was believed the other two would be forgotten. Not so Craufurd! Through that fearful night he had trudged at the head of his starving, fainting, footsore Light Division. At dawn, haggard, and with hair, eyebrows, beard, all caked with ice, his first order was that the two remaining sentences were to be carried out—even though he finally remitted one. Truly a picture almost majestic by reason of its very grimness! It depicts the astonishing Craufurd to the life! And what a hold he exerted over his men's minds! It is told that his Light Division, marching back from his funeral near Badajoz in 1810, was faced by a stretch of flood water risen across their road. The leading men hesitated, looking for a way round. Then of a sudden they remembered their lost commander who had always insisted on his troops keeping straight ahead regardless of obstacles. As though paying homage to his memory the whole column without a word went straight through the water and the mud. They forgave all the iron discipline—all that rigid severity!

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 9 July 2015

Honours and Awards
Topic: Medals

Honours and Awards

Battle Dress, by Gun Buster

Later, I shall come to the incident itself in which Lieutenant Reginald Ellington of the 666th Field Regiment R.A. figured as hero.

Hero is the word understood of, and approved by thc general public. But it is not the term under which Reggie Ellington's comrades ever consider him. And, of course, it is the very last word he would dream of in connection with himself.

Upon this subject of gallant deeds and decorations there is a noteworthy difference of thought between the population of the Army itself and what may be called their civilian relatives—in other words, the outside public. It may be accepted as a truth beyond contradiction that the Army knows all there is to be known about decorations, their worth, their significance, and sometimes their insignificance. They have standards and appreciations that are not always identical with those held outside its ranks. The generous-minded, sentimental public love to have their heroes. They take them to their heart and glamourise them. But to the people within the Army there is no glamour about a medal. Even a V.C.—which takes a bit of winning—does not carry hero-worship with it. This, of course, must not be taken to mean that the Army does not care for decorations just as much as everybody else. The Army does But it is very reluctant to regard them as a badge of superhuman courage or ability, by which one man is to be for ever distinguished beyond his fellows. They like decorations in the Army, but they like them mainly as an indication that a job of work has been well done. The only possible exception to this is to be found in the case of the V.C. to win which a man must face almost certain death. It is recognised that here is something a bit more out of the way than a "job of work." It is also recognised that a man will do things in the heat of battle that in cold blood would make him sick merely to think about. So the soft-pedal comes down on the hero-worship, even with the V.C.

The Army nurtures no illusions about "gongs," their own expressive slang for medals. They know that the man disporting one is as likely to be no braver than the man without. They know that many factors have to fall just right for the winning of one. And they know that a principal factor is luck. All may be brave, but not all may be lucky enough to have their deeds noticed. A man may miss a V.C. merely because his gallant behaviour happens not to be seen by "someone in authority"—an essential condition. Opportunity is another potent factor. One man may go through a long campaign and never a chance of qualifying for a "gong" comes within a mile of him. Another has opportunities thrust upon him in his very first engagement. He simply cannot miss them. There still remains the mystery of the final adjudication—how one bit of work comes to be acknowledged by the powers that be as worth an M.C. or an M.M. while another, to all intents and purposes just as meritorious, goes unrewarded. Illustrative of this is the story of a gunner subaltern in the last war, who was recommended on four different occasions for the M.C. but never received more than a "mention in despatches." He was recommended a fifth time, and got it. Ultimate recognition came to him because in the middle of an action he had thrown a bucket of water over the hessian camouflage net covering a gun-pit, after it had been set on fire by the flash from one of the guns. The deed involved him in no particular danger. He happened to be standing near a bucket at the time, and acted with presence of mind. That was all. As a "gong-earner" the exploit could not be compared with any of the previous four that had not been considered worthy of the M.C. The subaltern knew it, and was always very shy of his belated ribbon. It is the complete understanding of these fortuitous factors governing decorations that gives the Army its very clear perspective on the subject.

The Army divides all D.S.O.'s, M.C.'s, M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s into two distinct classes. The first are known as "Immediate Awards," and they are given for gallantry or distinguished conduct in action. Your recommendation for one of these goes in from the Regiment to the Division directly the action is over. Sometimes this will be the same day. The C.O. may make it his last job that night. There is as little delay as possible. Hence the term: "Immediate Awards."

The second group are familiarly known in the Army as "Ration Honours," and though the "high ups" may be slightly- shocked by the irreverence of the phrase, nevertheless it very neatly sums up their character. They come along automatically, like rations, after an action in which a Division or more has been engaged. It may be one, two, or three months after. But they arrive. So many D.S.O.'s, so many M.C.'s, so many M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s for each Division. These in turn are cut up and allotted to each regiment that took part in the action. If, as often happens, there are no outstanding cases of gallantry still deserving recognition, the C.O. of the regiment or battalion holds a conference with the Majors to decide who shall receive them for general good work. Much like the distribution of good conduct medals at school.

Therefore, it will easily be understood that a D.S.O., M.C., M.M. or D.C.M. may mean many different things. If it be an "Immediate Award" it implies a good deal more than if it be a "Ration Honour." Generally speaking, "Immediate Awards" are individually earned honours. A Colonel or Major may get a D.S.O. simply because his battalion or regiment, or company or battery, has been doing well. They cannot get less, because the M.C. is not awarded to anyone over the rank of captain. On the other hand, a D.S.O. can be won by a subaltern and, speaking generally again, if a subaltern gets the D.S.O. you can bet your boots that it is worth far more than the majority of D.S.O.'s handed out to Colonels and Majors. A subaltern's D.S.O. is never a "Ration Honour." It's more likely to be a near-miss to a V.C.

Perhaps it is because the Army knows so much of the "inside story" of decorations that the subject is never a popular one for conversation among officers or men. If the topic does crop up it is mentioned in a very diffident manner, and the talk soon dies a natural death. The last man in the world to tell you how he won a "gong" is the wearer of the ribbon himself. (I am speaking, of course, as in the Army. Among his civilian friends he may feel less embarrassed.) Most of them wear their new ribbons almost apologetically. "You'd have done the same if you'd been in my position," sums up the whole medal attitude. They can also be very touchy on the subject amongst their comrades. I recall a young gunner subaltern who, after being evacuated from Dunkirk, went home on leave, and the morning after saw to his horror that the newspapers had made a headline story of his winning the M.C. He felt so embarrassed that when he rejoined the regiment six days later he still hadn't put up the ribbon.

"Why aren't you wearing it?" asked the Colonel.

"I'm very annoyed about the whole affair, sir" he replied. "I hope none of you think I had anything to do with that newspaper stuff."

"My dear fellow, we never dreamed for a moment that you had," said the Colonel. "Let me see you with that ribbon on to-morrow. That's an order."

Having seen a good many "gongs" cleaned up by the B.E.F. in Flanders and France I am able, without hesitation, to add my testimony to the bulk of evidence supporting the theory that there exists no specific "brave man" type. A lot of preconceived ideas about who would do well and who wouldn't went by the board as soon as men came under fire. Some of the frail looking rabbits did magnificently. Some of the great hefty fellows, real bruisers, turned out hopeless. And it was the same with temperament as with physique. Which only goes to show that human nature is as incalculable on the battlefield as it is elsewhere.

And this brings me back to Lieutenant Reggie Ellington, whose externals were not of the type usually associated with candidates for battlefield honours. Reggie had the pallor of a lily. He was frail, and somewhat drooping. If he represented any type at all, it was the youthful man-about-town, dandified, and a bit affected. Later on, we were to remember that if Reggie exhibited the paleness of the lily, he also possessed its coolness. We remembered occasions when he had talked to brass-hats as if he were doing them a favour. (Surprisingly enough, they'd take it from him.) Winning an M.C. would come as child's play to a youth who could do this, we realised. But this was only wisdom after the event. So was our realisation that his treatment of serious matters as a joke, and his apparent lack of any sense, of responsibility, had all the time been merely a pose. Before the war, Reggie had "been something" in his father's business in the City. He affected to find army life unendurable without his portable wireless set, and his cigar in the evening. Wherever he was, and whatever the critical conditions during the Retreat, he never missed his cigar. Whatever else had to be jettisoned, he clung to his cigar box and wireless set to the grim end. And it was grim enough, in all conscience. Dunkirk beach, strewn with its dead and dying, a pall of smoke blotting out the sky, the promenade one sheet of flame, the German shells bursting among the dunes, the dive-bombers distributing their final dose of death and destruction before nightfall. And in the middle of the horrors, Reggie Ellington seated calmly on the sand in front of his crooning wireless, smoking his very last cigar. Just one man of many who, in the hectic days of the preceding three weeks, had done a good job of work.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Unknown Warrior
Topic: Remembrance

The Unknown Warrior

Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, Edward Fraser and John Gibbons, 1925

THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR: The bringing "home" of the body of an "Unknown Warrior"—soldier, sailor, or airman, whichever it might chance to be—from one of the Fronts and re-interring it in Westminster Abbey as representative of the British Forces in the War was first proposed in 1919, but the idea was rejected by the Cabinet. A year later the Dean and Chapter of the Abbey laid the proposal directly before the King, who desired the Cabinet to reconsider it, expressing his own approval. The Cabinet thereupon took up the idea and arrangements were made. A number of bodies were disinterred at random in various cemeteries on the Western Front, and one taken, again at random. Removed to Boulogne with every honour the French could show, Marshall Foch personally representing the French Army, and escorted by British and French destroyers to Dover, thence, again with every honour, the body was brought to Victoria and to the Cenotaph on November 11th, 1920, the day the permanent Cenotaph was unveiled. Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals, and a guard of honour of V.C.'s escorted the coffin, with the Padre's Flag (q.v.) over it for pall. At the Cenotaph the King, as Chief Mourner, representing the Empire, laid a wreath on it. Borne then into the Abbey, and laid in the grave in the nave, the King in the course of the funeral service strewed earth from a Flanders battlefield upon the coffin. The grave was kept open for a week, and over a million people in a queue, it was calculated, filed past it. France, Belgium, Italy and America followed suit, France laying her "Unknown Warrior" beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Orders and Morale
Topic: Leadership

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves.

Orders and Morale

"Morale," by Lieut.-Colonel J.G. Shillington, D.S.O., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCV, February to November, 1950

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves. All leaders from the lowest to the highest should consider the effect their orders will have on those who have to carry them out. In this connection the following principles are applicable:—

(a)     Never give an order which cannot be obeyed, and be prepared to represent your subordinate's case to your superior if such an order comes from above.

(b)     Always ensure that an order once given is obeyed. Give ample time for it to be carried out, but make sure that in due course you see for yourself with your own eyes that you have been obeyed, i.e., practise "the eye of the Master" Do not suspect disobedience or irregularities, but always exercise normal supervision and be prepared to help, i.e., "act as a watchdog not a bloodhound."

(c)     Never put your men into battle without adequate support, and let them know this. It will be remembered that Field-Marshal Montgomery stressed this particularly when he made his many addresses to the 21st Army Group before the invasion of Normandy.

(d)     Ensure that your men know the object of everything they are called on to do, be it in peace or war. A man will carry out orders more willingly, however irksome they may be, if he knows why they are given. If there is not a good reason an order should not be given.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 July 2015 12:11 AM EDT
Monday, 6 July 2015

Regimental Tradition
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Tradition

… the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique…

"Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

The value of regimental tradition also appears in its effects upon leadership. Here again the commander of the more technical arms has an advantage; the most important part of his task is the application of principles, scientifically established and agreed upon, to a given situation which may indeed be affected by the fact that it occurs in time of war but is not radically altered thereby. Thus, in peace or war, it takes very little time for a seaman with any experience at all to sum up a new Captain: simply by observing the way he shapes he will very soon gain confidence that his commander is among those who can claim with truth, "I never run a ship ashore." Similarly it is very soon clear whether a commander of artillery or engineers is technically competent. But the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique: it consists of the application of principles, it is true, but these principles are profoundly modified by the individual commander's view of the way to apply them, in fact, by his personal character. Thus a thrusting Irishman may attack with three companies up, while a cautious Scot may prefer to commit only one company at the outset: both may succeed admirably, but it is probable that neither will have much success at all unless he has somehow gained the confidence of his men before the battle, so that every soldier will go "all out" without anxious fears of something going wrong. Such confidence is based on knowledge, and knowledge is more easily and quickly acquired if both leader and led are on the same metaphorical "wavelength" as the result of a common military culture and upbringing based on shared traditions. A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2015 12:04 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 July 2015

If You Don't Stand Behind Our Troops
Topic: Commentary

If You Don't Stand Behind Our Troops…

The messaging of the image above, whether in a facebook feed, on a bumper sticker, or plastered somewhere else has always raised my hackles. It's in keeping with the rhetoric that comes of veteran outrage syndrome and the trend that continues to propagate the same sense of entitlement is well described in this article; The Death of the Quiet Professional.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

Really? If you've ever spouted this, did you actually pause and think about what it's actually saying? No, I didn't think so?

I'm sure some soldiers and veterans, and supporters of same, picture this (if they picture it at all) in the context of an armed force in all-round protection. Soldiers in a tight circle (proportional to the force size, of course, for the pedants out there), all facing outwards, sheltering a select deserving few inside, and everything outside defined as potential targets, where everything in front of the muzzle is the enemy. But life's never really that simple, is it?

First off, it's not the soldier's choice who might be under his (yes, or her) protection. That decision falls to the political masters, the ones who decided if we'd be at war, and with whom. And the soldier certainly doesn't get to decide that someone no longer deserves protection. The mere thought of that undermines the whole context of being a soldier in a democratic society. Soldiers can't claim to be defending the rights and freedoms of our country's populace, if they don't accept and allow them having an contrary or adversarial opinion. That, quite specifically, is one of those rights and freedoms.

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication… – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom

That freedom includes being able to disagree with how the elected officials running the country decide to employ the military. even if they, directly or indirectly, benefit from the military's existence in some other way. Those citizens are still entitled to express their opinion. We should be glad that they are, for they maintain that right even as some soldiers evolve from ardent supporters of their employer, the Government, to ardent veteran critics of every thing that same Government does in support (or perceived lack thereof) of soldiers and veterans.

Soldiers protect, both persons and materiel, and defend the rights and freedoms of their society, in ways chosen by the Government (that's part of the deal, the Government chooses the missions), and they protect individuals, very directly, when they happen to be inside one of those protective circles soldiers form on operations. No serving soldier on an operational mission would turn to a sheltered civilian (of any status) and declare that they no longer deserved protection. No soldier who dutifully embraces their responsibilities would cast a civilian from that protective circle.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

You cannot hide behind suggested contexts and declare that the lack of a physical intent to cast someone out excuses the thought. The declaration itself offers to withdraw the protection that it is a duty of a serving soldier to provide. The soldier does not have the authority to withdraw it, because that authority has not, and never will be, delegated. To make such an declaration doesn't display a strong validation of one's support of soldiers and mission, it antagonistically shows a careless disregard for duty and loyalty to the nation's rights and freedoms. It doesn't reinforce the support it attempts to proclaim, it undermines it.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

It's not simply a cute rhetorical quotation, it's an offer of violence, directly or indirectly. Parsed by the military mind, it says to the receivers that if they doesn't wholly support the soldier and his purpose (or support the soldier separate from mission, as some angry veterans might allow), than the receiver is welcome to walk into the danger zone. The citizen who does not agree with the Government's use of the military does not deserve to be sent into the crossfire. That citizen's opinions are just as valuable, and just as worthy to be expressed, in a democratic society. If anything, their right to express that opinion deserves to be openly recognized, and protected, from those who might try to muzzle it.

Soldiers like the analogy of sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. Soldiers are the sheepdogs, protecting the populace (the sheep) from the bad guys (the wolves). The sheep can rest peacefully, because the sheepdogs remain awake, alert, and ready to counter the wolves. But the analogy always leaves out one important player … the shepherd … the Government. The sheepdog obeys the shepherd, and no true sheepdog abandons a sheep to the wolves, no matter how recalcitrant that sheep might be. It's not the sheepdog's choice, to do so is counter to the sheepdog's duty.

"If you don't stand behind our troops,
feel free to stand in front of them!"

It's time for this facile expression to die and disappear. Those who express it are certainly entitled to their opinion, but perhaps they need to think a little harder about that opinion first and how it can be interpreted. It's not just a reprehensible expression, it's directly in contradiction to the soldier's duty.

In its place, I offer this quote, which thoughtful soldiers have seldom hesitated to express:

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." – Voltaire

Pro Patria


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2015 8:42 PM EDT
Saturday, 4 July 2015

Discipline as Combat Motivation
Topic: Discipline

Discipline as Combat Motivation

Soldiers in Revolt; The American Military Today, David Cortright, 1975

Our first task is to probe the justifications for the traditionally accepted mode of military discipline. The basic explanation seems simple, at least on the surface: The organizational efficiency required on the battlefield demands total compliance with command decisions. It is assumed that men will not advance under fire without the impetus of inflexible authority, which must be instilled through rigid indoctrination and the threat of punishment. Colonel Heinl fervently argued this point in a recent attack on reform of military law: "Nothing save deeply inculcated discipline can drive soldiers or Marines to cross a fire-swept beach, storm a pill-box, or advance into the next house in street-fighting." In a similar vein, retired Army General Hamilton Howze argued in Army magazine in 1971 that traditional discipline must be maintained as the backbone of military efficiency: "In the last analysis it is the authority of the commander which gets the job done …". General Westmoreland repeated the same argument in describing the primary purpose of military justice: "Discipline is an attitude of respect for authority which is developed by leadership, precept and training … which leads to a willingness to obey an order no matter how unpleasant or dangerous.…"

Despite such claims, the available evidence casts considerable doubt on the value of military discipline. A number of scholarly studies suggest that men are not motivated in combat by command authority or training, but by simple personal concerns such as the desire to retum home safely, mutual bonds with a buddy, and the basic drive of self-preservation. During World War II, Samuel Stouffer and a team of social scientists conducted a pioneering survey of the attitudes and experiences of enlisted men and officers, later published in the two-volume report The American Soldier. Concentrating on a veteran infantry unit that had fought through two Mediterranean campaigns, the scientists asked the men what motivated them under fire. They found a marked difference between officers and enlisted men in the value attached to military authority. When asked to select the factor "most important to you in making you want to keep going," enlisted men identified "leadership and discipline" least of all the incentives listed; only 1 per cent considered it their primary motivation. When officers were asked to name what they thought was most important to the troops, however, discipline was selected most frequently, by 19 per cent. The GIs were concerned not with military authority but with returning home safely and protecting their buddies. The research also indicated that the threat of punishment under military law had little impact on the battlefield, that men in the infantry were generally unmoved by potential disciplinary sanctions. Less thorough but similarly directed studies were conducted during Korea and Vietnam, with results confirming the seeming irrelevance of military discipline. Sociologist Roger Little observed Army units in Korea and concluded that solidarity among small groups was the most important factor in explaining the behavior of enlisted men in combat. Charles Moskos, studying GIs in Vietnam, saw combat troops as concerned only with their own personal survival. None of these studies found military discipline or authority important to combat motivation. The basic drive to return home safely and the intimacy of buddy groups seem sufficient to convince soldiers to co-operate and to sustain them under fire. There is no evidence that the strictures of military discipline contribute to combat effectiveness.

The Senior Subaltern


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

The Most Essential Condition of Service is Danger
Topic: The Field of Battle

The Most Essential Condition of Service is Danger

Bayonets of the Republic: Motivation and tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791-94, John A. Lynn, 1996

American troops in World War II definitely felt that their efforts were appreciated. Of 3,754 troops who were surveyed in the European theater, 82 percent answered that one half or more of the American people appreciated the soldiers' efforts. The last word has yet to be written concerning the American experience in Vietnam, but it is clear that the young men who fought in its jungles and rice paddies felt no such confidence in the folks back home. Some of the troops even went so far as to express their disillusionment by chalking "UUUU" on their helmets, that is "the unwilling led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful." There are indications that the young American in Vietnam was no less patriotic, tough, and capable than was his father in World War II. The great difference was that by the late 1960s a profoundly divided America could not applaud the soldier's actions. War resistance may have affected combat troops not so much by winning them over as political converts but by telling them that their suffering, endurance, and bravery would go unappreciated and unrewarded. The soldier could be left with the conviction that no one cared about him. He was a victim or sucker, fighting the war no one wanted.

Another aspect of wartime opinion is the status awarded to the wartime soldier. A nation that holds the peacetime soldier in contempt may glorify him at war. Perhaps it is only because an army swelled to wartime proportions contains a broad cross-section of society, so to look down on men in uniform is to look down on your own neighbors and sons. A last element of wartime opinion worth mention is the respect and aid given to soldiers' families. The knowledge that those at home are being honored and cared for not only frees a soldier's mind, but also tells him that he is respected and valued.

Reactions to conditions of service include opinions and feelings generated by the realities of the soldier's daily life. Some observers go so far as to say that good food, sufficient rest, efficient equipment, proper medical care, and frequent mail guarantee high morale. Experience does not always bear out this view, but such conditions are unquestionably important. Without doubt, good weapons give troops confidence while poor weapons sap it. Conditions of service also include less tangible, but very important elements, such as the character of discipline, the concern shown by company grade officers, and the competence of commanders. The momentum of victory or defeat is also a determinant of morale. An army marching from success to success has fewer morale problems than does the army it is defeating. Ultimately, troop reactions to all the elements of what will be called the military system become part of morale.

For the combat soldier, the most essential condition of service is danger and the fear it engenders. This point cannot be overstressed. Experience—time on the line—can teach a man to learn how to fight effectively, how to depend on his fellows, and how to deal with fear. Yet at the same time studies have demonstrated that courage has its season; men can only bear the burden of fear for a given amount of time before they collapse under its weight.' But fear is not the only condition that undermines morale after long periods at the front; boredom, too, takes its toll.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 8:26 PM EDT
Company and Platoon Commanders
Topic: Officers

Company and Platoon Commanders

Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 28, July 1943

1.     Do you want to know what one high Commander in a theatre of war thinks the most vital things for his junior officers to know ?

2.     Here they are:—

(a)     Speedy decision and aggressive action. Automatic decision and action without waiting to be told, without wasting time, waiting for orders from the next higher commander.

(b)     Manoeuvre—how to put on a quick flanking attack when it is needed how not to throw troops away by pounding straight ahead against well organized resistance.

(c)     Map reading—especially foreign maps that may be the only ones available in that particular theatre of operations.

(d)     Handling your command at night—the approach march-marching to the assembly and forming up positions-night attacks-keeping direction-accurate use of the compass-the silent approach and the bayonet attack.

(e)     Re-organization—replenishment of ammunition, food and water, when you have captured your objective.

3.     Are any of these new? Are any of these special? Are not they the common sense of battle-the things in the book-the things every small unit commander with any common sense and imagination knows are going to be vital later on?

4.     Are there any of these things that any Commander of any rank does not recognize as of utmost importance in training?

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 June 2015 6:08 PM EDT
Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Mainguy Report: Canadian Traditions
Topic: RCN

"The Mainguy Report"

Absence of Canadian Traditions in Navy

Report on certain "Incidents" which occurred on board H.M.C. Ships ATHABASKAN, CRESCENT and MAGNIFICENT and on other matters concerning THE Royal Canadian Navy (i.e., "The Mainguy Report"), Ottawa, October 1949.

The following note on the perceived absence of uniquely Canadian traditions in the Royal Canadian navy was recorded in the Mainguy Report:

As collateral to the complaints referred to in the above paragraph, there was a general insistence also on the necessity of building up whenever possible Canadian traditions. Stephen Leacock once said, "Leave the Ukrainians alone, and in ten years they will think that they won the Battle of Trafalgar". Unfortunately this genial prophecy has not been fulfilled, and however regrettable it may seem to some people, an opinion is widely held amongst many ratings and some officers that the "Nelson tradition" is overdone, and there is still too great an attempt to make the Canadian navy a pallid imitation and reflection of the British Navy. This is in no sense a criticism of the magnificent traditions of the Royal Navy, but it is natural outcome of the growth of a healthy Canadian national consciousness. A few suggestions in the matter will be found amongst our recommendations.

Although Canadian traditions for the Navy were not separately addressed in the Report's recommendations, these remarks are to be found throughout the recommendations section:

We would like to see a greater emphasis placed, in the training given on the traditions of Naval Service, the customs of the Navy and the Navy's place as a weapon of democratic defences. There are so many things in Naval history to interest young men, and on the lips or pen of a skilled narrator their recital could hold the fascinated attention of new entries. Even in the matter of general education, we were not impressed by the literature prescribed for reading and examination. There is a fine literature of the sea which might very well be drawn upon for the instruction and enjoyment of new recruits. It would be far better for the new entries to read one or two great sea stories like "Moby Dick" or "The Ship" than to busy themselves as they now do with a string of unrelated "snippets" by a variety of authors.

We feel, too, that a far greater effort should be made to develop in the recruit an understanding of his own importance to the Navy, however humble his task may be. He should be made to understand what patriotism and service to one's country means.

elipsis graphic

We are most anxious also to encourage in the new recruit, and in fact throughout the Service, a greater appreciation, not only of the short but glorious history of the Canadian Navy, but also of Naval customs still surviving, of the picturesque Naval terms and their meaning, and of the conditions under which men live at sea. A booklet should be published in addition to the Seamanship manual, which is usually available to new trainees.

The United States Navy, with its usual thoroughness and desire to "Americanize" the men of many racial strains who compose its personnel, has issued a publication entitled "Your Navy". Its manner and matter would not suit our Canadian character, but it does appear to us that a publication dealing with the great traditions of bravery and chivalry at sea that belong to all seagoing peoples, would suit our Canadian pattern.

Our men also belong to many races. Very many of them are of the class and type and sometimes referred to as "New Canadians". They may not all respond to the inspiration of memories such as this:—

"The spirit of your fathers
Shall start from every wave
The deck it was their field of fame
And ocean was their grave.
Where Blake and mighty Nelson fell,
Your manly hearts shall glow
As ye sweep through the deep
While the stormy winds do blow."

but they would all be interested in the recorded traditions of the British Navy, the American Navy, the French Navy, the Dutch Navy and, in fact, of any Navy in which the deeds of the brave have been immortalized. Our own annals may be short and not as rich as those of other nations, but the history of the Canadian Navy in the last war is something to make young men proud, especially if it is interwoven with a recital of the stark deeds at sea which, in the words of Mr. Churchill, "warm the cockles of men's hearts".

elipsis graphic

It is also obvious that the improved training of men in seamanship, in conditions of life at sea, and not least, in Naval history and traditions, is of equal importance. No country has available for its service a finer, stronger young manhood than Canada. In order that part of it may be welded together in a happy and efficient Naval community of officers and men, we wish to repeat the discipline is the most important element in the whole fabric. Perhaps we may use here a sentence which we have included at an earlier stage in this report: The only discipline which in the final analysis is worth while is one that is based upon pride in a great service, a belief in essential justice, and the willing obedience that is given to superior character, skill, education and knowledge. Any other form of discipline is bound to break down under stress.

elipsis graphic

We have also sought to interpret the wishes of the great majority of men by stressing the need to "Canadianize" our navy. In so doing, we wish to record that in common with most thoughtful Canadians, we have an abiding admiration and respect for the grand traditions and institutions of the Royal Navy and for their continuing beneficient and steadying force wherever British and Canadian ships may sail. We hope that all that is good in these shared traditions will remain with us and that only what is inefficient and inconsistent with our national need, character, dignity and special conditions will disappear from the Navy of Canada.

The Senior Subaltern


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

Company and Platoon Commanders
Topic: Officers

Company and Platoon Commanders

Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 28, July 1943

1.     Do you want to know what one high Commander in a theatre of war thinks the most vital things for his junior officers to know ?

2.     Here they are:—

(a)     Speedy decision and aggressive action. Automatic decision and action without waiting to be told, without wasting time, waiting for orders from the next higher commander.

(b)     Manoeuvre—how to put on a quick flanking attack when it is needed how not to throw troops away by pounding straight ahead against well organized resistance.

(c)     Map reading—especially foreign maps that may be the only ones available in that particular theatre of operations.

(d)     Handling your command at night—the approach march-marching to the assembly and forming up positions-night attacks-keeping direction-accurate use of the compass-the silent approach and the bayonet attack.

(e)     Re-organization—replenishment of ammunition, food and water, when you have captured your objective.

3.     Are any of these new? Are any of these special? Are not they the common sense of battle-the things in the book-the things every small unit commander with any common sense and imagination knows are going to be vital later on?

4.     Are there any of these things that any Commander of any rank does not recognize as of utmost importance in training?

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:12 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Marching
Topic: Marching

A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men.

Marching

The Last Full Measure; The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers, Richard Moe, 1993

After a series of false starts, the First Minnesota began its march back down the Peninsula on 16 August. An account of just how tedious the trek was came from a member of Company B, who sent the following description of the march to the Stillwater Messenger under the pen name "Saint Croix." It could have described almost any march any time:

Our first orders came to be ready to move in light marching order on Monday, August 11, but owing to change of programme, or some other cause, we were kept in camp constantly on the qui vive until Saturday the 16th, when we finally got under way and dragged our slow length along out of the fortifications and over about four miles of road, and encampt for the night within a mile or two of Charles City Court House. In civil life we do not regard a walk of ten or twenty miles in one day as anything very arduous. A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men. The reveille will sound at half past two in the morning, and every man must get his coffee and gird on his armor. One hour later the bugles sound "attention" and the men fall in, all strapped up and loaded down. Here they wait under arms right in their tracks one hour and a half—this a moderate statement—when the welcome "forward" is sounded, and your regiment marches off promptly for ten or twenty rods and halts to let by a long column of cavalry, or infantry, or a wagon train. This occupies from fifteen minutes to three hours, according to the brilliancy and magnitude of the movement. By this time the sun is high and the heat is great. Dust ditto. Finally the regiment will get out of sight of camp, and it is time to take a lunch. No sooner has the whole corps got stretched out on the road, than the hateful, but inevitable order comes to "closeup," and the poor devils toward the rear are compelled to take up a sort of double quick step until some obstruction delays the head of the column, and they come slap up against their file leaders. Then a long halt and another weary stand-up ensues, to be followed by another double quick to make up for the accumulated time and distance lost by all the men and trains in front. And thus we march and stand. No matter how great the heat, how thick the dust, or how heavy the loads on our shoulders … By this style of marching, when five miles are made, the men are very much fatigued, while a march of ten or twelve miles is a serious affair.'

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:16 PM EDT
Monday, 29 June 2015

Of Rice And Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Of Rice And Leadership;
Orde Wingate Trains His Cbindits

Men at War; True Stories of Heroism and Honor, Robert Barr Smith, 1997

Brigadier Mike Calvert was a Chindit, fabulous commander of one of the British long-range penetration brigades inserted deep behind Japanese lines in Burma and supplied entirely by air. He was also a disciple of Orde Wingate, the charismatic leader whose brainchild the Chindits were.

Wingate insisted on using ordinary British and Indian battalions in his Chindit units; he wanted no elite forces because he believed these rank-and-file soldiers, properly trained and led, could beat the Japanese in their own jungle. Wingate was right, as his Chindits proved, but implementing his ideas sometimes took some doing. Here is one such case, just as Mike Calvert told it to me one pleasant day in London:

The Indian companies were based around the cooking pot. They carried a huge cooking pot, which would take two and a half hours to cook the rice. So sometime midday everything had to stop while they cooked this rice. I'd seen this on the retreat from Burma. And I told Wingate this, and so he had us…we had the 3/2 Gurkhas with us, and they were pretty junior. In my column I only had one Gurkha officer who was over the age of twenty-two. I remember meeting them, and they were all twenty-one, nineteen, eighteen, so on.

And so Wingate called the battalion around, young Gurkhas sitting around the bottom, then the older Gurkhas, then the British officers were around the sides. They were shaking their heads; they didn't think Wingate could teach them anything. And Wingate took some dried sticks from out of his pack. And he showed us…this was Boy Scout stuff…after you made a fire you picked up a sufficient number of sticks for the next fire. He was ready.

And he put these sticks on the ground and he lit them with a match. He measured out some water in a normal can, waited till the water boiled, and then he took a sock out of his pocket, measured out some rice and put it in. Then he set his alarm clock for twenty minutes and he just sat there on his haunches and everybody else watched in absolute silence and then after twenty minutes he took it off and showed it to them, and then sifted it and put some salt on it.

And he took a spoon and…I was looking at the Gurkhas' faces…and he got a spoonful of rice and munched it, and a terrific smile spread across his face, and they all smiled and then he handed the can around. According to their religious customs they're not supposed to do that kind of thing, but they all took a bite. And it was all right.

So in less than an hour he had converted the whole battalion to how to move and then of course you cook your own rice and that makes all the difference in your movement and maneuver-ability. You couldn't send out small parties before. It converted the whole battalion so they could be self-reliant.

And that is what good officers call leadership.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rations on the Western Front
Topic: CEF

Rations on the Western Front

Trench Life; Canada's Part in the Present War; Empire Day, May 23rd, Ontario Department of Education, 1918

"An army marches on its stomach," said Napoleon; he might have added with even more truth that it also fights on its stomach. Put a soldier in the front line, cold, wet, covered in mud, his stomach empty, and he becomes indifferent—nay, he even "looks for" a wound which will take him to "Blighty." But if the same soldier has a warm feeling in the region of his stomach, and has to let out a couple holes in his belt, he feels that the people at home can't be blamed for the mud and the wet, and it is his business to give Fritz "what is coming to him." Hence he "carries on" to the last ounce of his strength and the last drop of his blood.

The rationing of the British army is practically perfect, and rarely or never breaks down. Every twenty-four hours the Army Service Corps brings up rations to the brigade quartermaster. This officer divides them into lots, according to the numerical strength of the units to which they will be issued. By a further process of division, the supplies reach the company or battery stores. In each platoon a non-commissioned officer, usually a corporal, is detailed to draw and issue the rations for his platoon. Such supplies as fresh meats, tea, coffee, and flour are turned over to the company cooks by the quartermaster-sergeants, the individual soldiers handling only "dry rations" like bread, canned goods, jam, biscuits, and pickles. Tommy spends much spare time cooking, and, for originality if not for delicacy, his dishes would put a French chef to shame.

Here is a favourite recipe: Cut fine a half a pound of cheese, mix with a tin of canned beef, add bread crumbs and all the bacon grease available. Fry over a candle in a mess-tin and eat quickly, because, if the odour spreads, a crowd will gather, and you will either be lynched or forced to divide, according to the humour of the spectators.

Fearful and wonderful puddings are made from "plum and apple" jam, bread crumbs, and tea, and any other ingredients which come handy. Hot tea is usually the solvent for shaving soap. It may be a trifle sticky, but it has a wonderful softening effect on the stiffest whiskers, and is said to be a most beneficial demulcent.

When a soldier is in the front line, his menu will "take a tumble," because great difficulty will be experienced in bringing up hot food, especially if the Germans are bombarding. Under cover of darkness, usually about nine o'clock, the company transport—fifty men with mules and limbers—brings the rations to the entrances of the communication trenches. Here they are turned over to the company-sergeant-major, and through his distribution to the individual men. Each soldier carries what is called emergency, or "iron," rations, not to be used "except in dire necessity." These consist of a tin of corned beef, four hardtacks, oxo cubes, dry tea, and a little sugar. All fire and smoke must be very carefully screened, so as to not draw enemy artillery fire.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Ranger Creed

Ranger Creed

Ranger Handbook, Ranger Training Brigade, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, February 2011

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 June 2015

The VC Centenary
Topic: Medals

The VC Centenary

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 10, No 4, Oct 1956
Written Specially for the Journal by Captain J. H. Golding, Public Relations Officer, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London, England

Early in the Crimean War, Queen Victoria wrote: "I regret exceedingly not to be a man and be able to fight." On January 29, 1856, Queen Victoria approved a warrant for a new decoration to be called the Victoria Cross—which could only be won by conspicuous bravery or devotion to the country in the presence of the enemy. From that day, the decoration became the most sought-after and it took precedence over all other orders and decorations. It ranks before the Order of the Garter which is some 600 years old. In Hyde Park, London, on June 26, 1856, the first presentation of the new medal was made when a representative parade of 9000 of the Armed Services, 7000 guests and hundreds of thousands of onlookers paid tribute while the Queen presented 61 Victoria Crosses. She was dressed as a Field Marshal and leaned from her horse to pin each medal on the left breast of the 61 heroes. One hundred years later, her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, reviewed 300 living holders of the Victoria Cross from many parts of the world. There were 36 from Canada, the oldest being 85-year-old Lieut.-General Sir Richard Turner, VC, KCB, KCMG, DSO, VD, of Quebec, leader of the Canadian VC party, who won his medal in the Boer War. A total of 1347 Victoria Crosses has been awarded since 1856: 118 to the Royal Navy, 867 to the Army, 31 to the RAF and 331 to the Commonwealth and Colonies. Today, anyone serving with the Commonwealth Forces, regardless of nationality, and whether a civilian or a member of the services, is eligible for the award. A VC has never been awarded to a woman. The Victoria Cross is fashioned from the bronze barrels of Russian guns captured at Sevastapol during the Crimean War. Supplies of the Russian bronze are unlikely to run out, since the award is rarely bestowed and scores of the massive guns are in museums. VC's are collectors' items, and it is said that while winning one is difficult, forfeiting one is impossible. Before the reign of George V, eight VC winners lost their medals for various contraventions of the law. But George V ruled that it was never to be taken from a winner—in fact, he could wear it on the gallows. A London publication noted: "The VC has been won by an American in The Canadian Army (Metcalfe), a Russian-born Canadian soldier (Konowal), a Dane serving with The Black Watch of Canada (Dinesen) and a German serving with the British in The Crimean War." Three men have won the Victoria Cross twice. Only one is living. He is Captain Upham of the New Zealand Military Forces. The other two were Captain Martin-Leake and Captain Chevasse of the Royal Army Medical Corps. While five padres wore VC's during the centenary celebrations, two assumed Holy Orders after the War, so that one of the three who won the medal as a chaplain was Major John Weir Foote, Minister of Reform Institutions, Ontario Government, Toronto.

Medal for Valour

In the Hyde Park parade of June 26, 1956, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and other members of The Royal Family stood on a canopied dais from which Her Majesty took the salute of the gallant 300 who marched as though they had been marching regularly. Those who could not walk were wheeled past the reviewing stand by soldiers of their own corps. There were 36 VC's from Canada and 98 wives and representatives of dead VC's. Australia produced 39 VC's and 111 relatives. From New Zealand came 12 VC's and 120 relatives. India was represented by 11 VC's, South Africa by six, Pakistan by two. There were three Ghurkas and others from Tanganyika, Cyprus and Fiji. The largest contingent, consisting of nearly 200 VC's and more than 700 relatives, naturally, came from The United Kingdom. Lord Freyberg, VC, commanded the parade. The Department of Veterans Affairs organized the Canadian VC party and after six months of arduous work had various groups from many parts of Canada ready to sail or fly to Britain. On the United Kingdom side of the Atlantic, Mr. Fred Jacques, Ottawa, conducting official of the main group, was assisted by the DVA Chief in London, Lieut.-Colonel Allan Chambers, Major Fred Clarke, also of DVA, and Captain Dugal Martin, Canadian Provost Corps, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London. A generous programme had been arranged by Whitehall and was executed with typical British thoroughness and that extraordinary flair the English have for dignified pageantry.

At 3 p.m. on June 25 there was a Service of Commemoration in Westminster Abbey when His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered an address. It was the quintessence of solemnity and launched a week of tribute to those recognized as the bravest servicemen in the Commonwealth. Following the Abbey service a tea party was given at the House of Commons by Sir Alfred Bossom, Bt., MP, on behalf of The Royal Society of St. George at which the VC's met members of the British Cabinet and members of Parliament. The big day, however, was Tuesday, June 26, when the grand review was held in Hyde Park. The VC's gathered in the forecourt of Wellington Barracks opposite Buckingham Palace. It was a glorious day with sun washing the newly-painted buildings which momentarily house The 1st Battalion, The Scots Guards. Asiatics came in uniform and national dress. The British wore uniform and bowlers—to a man. Canadians wore western-style summer clothing with the occasional ten-gallon hat offering contrast to the conservative bowler. They formed a colourful group. Hyde Park was a magnificent sight with the services on parade and the royal dais regally filled. Thousands of official guests sat in stands and the perimeter of the park, within sight, was jammed with eager Londoners and tourists. The sun was broiling but not a VC faltered—even the men who were wheeled past the Queen. The bands played. Hymns were sung. The radiant young Queen was most moving in her remarks, and she spoke to many of the heroes. After Her Majesty had moved off, the bands broke the noon air with martial music and the parade marched off the greensward with verve. Queen Victoria would have been extremely proud. That afternoon The Queen Mother was hostess at a garden party in the grounds of Marlborough House, former home of Queen Mary, to which the entire group of VC's and relatives was invited. The Queen Mother, accompanied by The Princess Royal and The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, moved among the guests with grace and warmth. Among those in her entourage were Earl, The Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and Countess Mountbatten, Anthony Head, the Minister for War, and General Sir Gerald Templar, Chief of The Imperial General Staff. The following day the VC party was taken to Windsor Castle to visit the State Apartments, followed by tea in St. George's Hall. That evening they were guests of The Lord Mayor of London when Aldermen and host were in ceremonial robes and moved among the guests to welcome them to London officially.

On Thursday, June 28, there was a Solemn High Mass in Westminster Cathedral at which His Eminence, Cardinal Griffin, presided. In the afternoon, The High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Norman A. Robertson, held a reception in Canada House on Trafalgar Square. Among the distinguished guests was Prime Minister St. Laurent, in London attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and Minister for External Affairs, the Honourable Lester B. Pearson. The same evening the British Empire Service League held a reception for the VC party at Church House.

On Friday, June 29, the VC's were guests of the Canadian joint Staff at the London Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Defence Research. The host for the occasion was Air Vice Marshal D. M. Smith, Chairman, Canadian joint Staff. Assisting him were Captain Ralph Hennessey, RCN, representing Commodore J. V. Brock, Naval Member; Brigadier J. E. C. Pangman, Army Member, Air Commodore Dwight Ross, Air Member, and Mr. E. L. Davies, Chief of Defence Research, and their officers. On July 1, Canada Day, the Canadian VC party went to Brookwood Cemetery near Woking to attend the annual memorial service for the several thousand Canadian dead buried there. On July 2, 24 of the VC's were special guests at a dinner of the Canada Club at the Savoy Hotel. Brigadier the Honourable Milton Gregg, VC, Minister of Labour in the Canadian Government, was guest of honour and he spoke optimistically of Canada and her future. So ended, officially, a strenuous whirl of official engagements which formed the salute to The Centenary of the Victoria Cross. Britain had done handsomely by her gallant guests. It was the first time that living VC holders had met together in one place.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 June 2015

Trench Warfare
Topic: CEF

Trench Warfare

Soldier Writes That Sometimes Months Pass Without Seeing Enemy

The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, 17 September 1916

In this trench warfare perhaps months pass without our men seeing one of the enemy. Their artillery bombards our trenches daily (we call it our ration) and rifles' and machine guns' fire goes on in a desultory fashion; every day brings its quota of casualties, and the communiques say that "everything is quiet on the western front."

That sounds most uninteresting. It simply means that no big action has taken place, but for those who are there it has been lively enough, with the constant toll of digging and repairing trenches, the carrying up of stores and rations, etc., all under enemy fire, writes William J. Adie in National Magazine. In these "quiet" times all the work is done under cover of darkness. During the day, if you could overlook the opposing lines of trenches, you would see not a sign of life—all you would see would be a few lines of earth all jumbled up and nothing would suggest war or danger to you. For everyone is underground, and no living thing could move above ground safely.

On approaching the trenches, sometimes when still over a mile away, you enter a communications trench which twists its way up to the front, passing through lines after line of support trenches until you reach the front trench, which may be only 30 yards from the enemy. Here you may move about freely unseen and perfectly safe, except when the enemy sends over his shells and rifle grenades and trench mortar bombs and other unpleasant things, in hope of hitting someone by chance.

elipsis graphic

To get under ground in this way means much labor. Someone with a fondness for figures has calculated that, considering that each side has about five lines of trenches stretching from Switzerland to the sea, that the trenches are of a certain width and depth, etc., more earth has been moved by soldiers with pick and shovel than was moved to make the Panama Canal.

And it is not as if trenches once made were permanent; shell and frost and rain combine to destroy them, and the labor of keeping them in repair never ceases. The fight against water and mud is another that never ceases. Neglect a trench for 24 hours, and in this awful land of Flanders you are up to your waist in water, so that draining and pumping work goes on all the time.

I have said that in the daytime no one moves above ground, but as soon as night falls the whole countryside swarms with men. Rations must be carried up and stores and ammunition.

elipsis graphic

All relief of troops are done at night, and at night the severely wounded are brought down, for the trenches are too narrow for a stretcher, so that the night time is my busiest time, as well as everybody else's. It is a weird business, stumbling about in the dark without lights, with odd shells and stray bullets constantly reminding you of the danger which is ever-present.

It is interesting to see th careless way in which all ranks go about their work without, you would think, any thought of the enemy or his bullets. A few months out here has one of two effects' either a man's nerves go to pieces and he is sent home for a rest, or he settles down to the work and takes everything as it comes without turning a hair.

On the whole, this regiment has been fortunate in keeping out of bad places, although we have been in some fairly big actions, and have experienced most of the horrors of war, including poison gas. At present we are well protected against gas and no one fears it, although it is very likely that the Germans will use it again.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Predicting the Next World War
Topic: Military Theory

Predicting the Next World War

An extract from War, Gwynne Dyer, 1985

We normally count only the two great wars of our own century as "world wars," but what this phrase means in practice is a war in which all the great powers of the time are involved. By that criterion, there have been six world wars in modern history: the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, the War of the Spanish Succession 1702-1714, the Seven Years War of 1756-63, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1791-1814 and the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

This is not a catalogue of random disasters. The list has an alarmingly cyclical character. Apart from the long nineteenth-century gap, the great powers have all gone to war with each other about every fifty years throughout modern history. Even the "long peace" of the last century is deceptive. Right on schedule, between 1854 and 1870, practically every great power fought one or several others. …

So why do the great powers all go to war about every fifty years? It is almost certainly because the most important international facts in any interwar period are determined by the peace treaty that ended the last war.

… At the instant it is signed, the peace settlement is generally an exact description of the true power relationships in the world. … [Once these relationships change] some frustrated power whose allotted role in the international system is too confining, or some frightened nation in decline that sees its power slipping away, kicks over the apple cart and initiates the next reshuffle of the deck. … It is easy to list the key changes that would violate or undermine the 1945 settlement in dangerous ways: the reunification of Germany, the rearmament of Japan to a level commensurate with its economic strength, or the relative economic decline of the Soviet Union to the point where it could no longer credibly sustain its role as a superpower and a guardian of the status quo.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 June 2015

"At No Expense to the Public"
Topic: Canadian Militia

"At No Expense to the Public"

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

… powerful arguments … played their part in causing the government to provide the N.P.A.M. with an additional million dollars, bringing the available funds for 1931-32 to $2,600,000. Even so, the reserve militia had no more than about $15 to spend on each man of its authorized strength.

Militia life under such conditions was hard and it was earnest. The Canadian Scottish Regiment's experience was typical. "Am having a bit of difficulty with the Department at Ottawa," one of its officers wrote privately in September 1932. "They refuse to take over our Courtenay [B.C.] drill hall, and as a matter of fact refuse to consider any other obligation even though it is only $20 a month. The Agricultural Society there refuse to come down in their price, so I am between the devil and the sea. We cannot afford to eliminate 'C' Company and cannot afford to carry on with the rent." In the event the officers paid the rent themselves. [Quoted in R.H. Roy, Ready for the Fray: The History of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, 1920-1958, 1958] What they got for it was another matter. "I find that it is nearly impossible for us to carry on with our Parades owing to the condition of the … building," another officer wrote to its owners in January 1933. "Windows broken from the outside, doors broken off hinges and the front doors being opened allowing children to play there, leaving it in a filthy condition which necessitates our cleaning it up before using it on drill nights." [Ibid.]

There being no heat, one of the officers gave his lectures on "Tactics and Section-leading" in the dining room of his own home. Trainees were introduced to short-wave radio, but "at no expense to the public"—a phrase, the Regiment's historian records, "so common in the 1930's that it was frequently referred to as the motto of N.D.H.Q." [Ibid.]

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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