The Minute Book
Friday, 7 August 2015

Tactical Instructions (1917)
Topic: CEF

Tactical Instructions

Instructions of the Conduct of Small Units, Translated from the French Edition of 1916, Edited at the Army War College, Washington, D.C., May, 1917

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

The private soldier must be trained to assume leadership and responsibility.

(Translators' Notice.) A comparison of the tactical instructions contained herein with the tactics in vogue at the outbreak of war, and with the Tactical Study of Laffargue, published to the French Army between the Battle of Neuville St. Vaast, May, 1915, and the Battle of Champagne, September, 1915, reveals a steady development of certain features of the attack. The Battle of Verdun brought into relief certain features of the defense which have likewise undergone great development. Among the more important, developments that should interest American students of modern tactics the following may be mentioned:

(a)     The resort to intrenchments and their accessories to an extent never before imagined.

(b)     The absolute necessity of perfect team work and efficient liaison between infantry and artillery in general and between indi­vidual units of each.

(c)     The extent to which the initiative in the liaison between infantry and artillery has been given to infantry commanders.

(d)     The use of material and personnel of liaison between all grades of commanders and their subordinates. (This latter was a feature of French training before the war, but the present instructions show considerable development. This subject has received practically no attention in the United States Army.)

(e)     The section of 50 to 60 men is the fighting unit, and its leaders, subalterns, or warrant officers must actually lead in action but not disclose their identity to the enemy.

(f)     The private soldier must be trained to assume leadership and responsibility.

(g)     The machine gun is a powerful weapon of attack, support, and defense and must go wherever infantry goes; it must be used in larger numbers than ever before (French infantry brigades now have 84 machine guns to 6,000 men); it must fight to the end; and it must be used to economize infantry.

(h)     The formation of infantry units, within range of artillery must in no case be in columns of fours. Depth is insisted on for purposes of control. Mingling of units is apparently inevitable. The use of successive lines of attack with distinct objectives, with each line in in turn in a succession of waves seems to be required.

(i)     Modern intrenchments can not be taken by infantry unless the attack is thoroughly prepared by artillery.

(j)     Grenades are a regular infantry weapon and grenadiers are a part of every company.

(k)     The advance under infantry fire is by section in good control of the leaders. The practice of filtering forward by individuals or in small groups is condemned, except where good cover or covered pathways may be used; but this formation can not be used in the open on account of loss of control.

(l)     The "nettoyage" is the work of searching out the captured fieldworks for lurking enemy who, coming out from their hiding places, have in many instances caused serious losses to the attacking troops who have swept over and beyond them.

(m)     It is to be noted that the assault by small units discussed in these instructions is entirely dependent upon accurate information concerning the enemy's trenches. This information in modern warfare is almost entirely obtained by aeroplane reconnaissance accompanied by aeroplane photographs, which are afterwards plotted on trench maps. Unless we are prepared to furnish such information no attack by units, large or small, can be properly planned.

(n)     Any successful attack is dependent upon a well-trained and properly organized and directed general staff, which can coordinate and harmonize all tactical dispositions.

Note.— lt is suggested that the development of machine guns, grenades, smoke and suffocating bombs, the "aeroplane de bom­bardment," etc., might well be applied to quelling troubles with our savage and semisavage dependents, with a great economy of infantry and cavalry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Unfashionable Study of War
Topic: Officers

The Unfashionable Study of War

The Memoirs of Field-Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., 1958

The battalion left Peshawar at the end of 1910 and moved to Bombay for the last two years of its foreign service tour. I had now begun to work hard and seriously. Looking back, I would put this period as the time when it was becoming apparent to me that to succeed one must master one's profession. It was clear that the senior regimental officers were not able to give any help in the matter since their knowledge was confined almost entirely to what went on at battalion level; they had little or no knowledge of other matters.

When the battalion arrived at a new station the first question the C.O. would ask was: "How does the General like the attack done?"

And the attack was carried out in that way; whatever might be the conditions of ground, enemy, or any other factor.

At this time there did seem to me to be something lacking in the whole business, but I was not able to analyse the problem and decide what exactly was wrong; nor did I bother unduly about it. I was happy in the battalion and I had become devoted to the British soldier. As for the officers, it was not fashionable to study war and we were not allowed to talk about our profession in the Officers' Mess.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 5 August 2015

RCH Military Tournament (1894)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Royal Canadian Hussars Military Tournament

Military Men and Matters, The Montreal Gazette, 24 February 1894

Permission arrived from Ottawa yesterday for troop "A" Duke of Connaught Royal Canadian Hussars to hold a military tournament in the Drill Hall on Saturday, March 10th. Of course, all the local force know that the principal feature of the tournament will be the contest between Sergeant-Major Morgans, of the Royal Military College, Kingston, champion all-round fencer of America, and Sergeant Instructor Hawker, Duke of Connaught Hussars, for the championship of America. The contest will be the best three of out five bouts as follows:— Foil vs. foil; sword vs. sword; bayonet vs. sword; and sword vs. bayonet. This will not be all by any means, for the programme is an extensive one, and in many respects there are decided novelties. The best part of the contest will be the opening at 8 o'clock sharp, when Sergeant-Major Morgans will show his dexterity with the sword in a number of cutting feats as follows:— 1. Sheets of writing paper and newspaper; 2. handkerchiefs and ribbons; 3. potatoes on hand and neck; 4. sticks resting on two glasses of water without spilling the water; 5. sticks resting on two loops of paper held on the edge of two razors without cutting the paper; 6. potatoes in a linen handkerchief without cutting the linen; 7. potatoes suspended by a thread by first cutting the thread and afterwards the potatoe before it touches the floor; 8. the above repeated with sword in hand under the leg; 9. triangular bar of lead measuring two inches in one cut; 10. a carcass of a sheep in one cut. Besides what is mentioned above there will be sword and lance contests, dismounted, between four members each of the Field Battery and Hussars; wrestling on horseback by eight members of both corps; the Balaclava melee mounted; and the midnight alarm by the Hussars and Artillerymen. All of the above are for prizes, while during the interlude the Highland cadets will give an exhibitions, so that take it all in all the show will be well worth going to see.

elipsis graphic

Sergt.-Major Morgans Wins the Military Tournament

Military Men and Matters, The Montreal Gazette, 12 March 1894

The clashing of steel blades, the tramping of horses, the nervous shrieks of ladies at some dangerous point and the roars of applause were the predominating sounds of the grand military tournament at the Drill Hall on Saturday evening.

The affair was not all show by any means, for both victors and vanquished suffered from hard knocks they received while competing in the different events that went to make up the entertainment, and more than one had to retire on account of injuries before the contest was over. The most noticeable instances of this was Sergeant Arthur Hawker, Sergeant-Major Morgans' opponent, who had his forehead cut in four places, and Sergeant W. Porteous, of the Field Battery, who was thrown with his horse clean over the ropes in the wrestling match on horseback. Then there were other accidents, but this did not deter any of the competitors, except those mentioned, from helping to finish up the programme, which was the best one ever offered in this city as a military tournament and deserved the patronage that the people gave it, some 3,000 being present, as the receipts of tickets at the doors showed when the count came up.

elipsis graphic

When Sergeant-Major Morgans came on the 24-foot square platform in the centre of the hall to do his sword feats he was received with roars of applause. Feat after feat was executed with precision and dexterity that can only be acquired after years of practice. All those on the programme, such as cutting a sheep in two with one cut of the sword, that of cutting potatoes in half while they lay on the neck, face, head and hands of his assistants, Trooper Keyworth and Sergt Boutillier, and which brought forth shrieks from the ladies.

elipsis graphic

Then came the opening bout, what all had come to see, and as captain Clark stepped on the stage and announced that Morgans and Hawker would open the contest for the all round championship of America the first bout being foil versus foil, he was received with cheers, which were redoubled when the two contestants stepped on the stage followed by the referee, Staff-Sergeant Boutillier, "B" Battery Royal Canadian Artillery, and Trooper Arthur Fanteux, judge for Hawker, and Mr. Arthur Horsey, judge for Morgans. Both men were dressed almost alike except that Hawker wore red hose and Morgans blue, and thus they were easy to distinguish. Both are physically fine men although Morgans had considerably the best of it in weight over his opponent, 182 pounds to Hawker's 160.

elipsis graphic

Foil vs. Foil

From the opening Hawker was a surprise to his friends and a decided one to his opponent … his lunges, as a rule, being low, while Morgans generally made for the head …Morgans got the first point … Hawker soon got the second … Morgans followed with the third, Hawker 4th, Morgans 4th, and Hawker 6th … Morgans got the next point, but then Hawker wound up the bout by taking the next two in succession and was declared the winner at foils by five points to four, and, amid cheers, they left the platform.

elipsis graphic

Sword vs. Sword

Morgans and hawker came out of the dressing rooms ready for the bout, sword against sword. Before the men had been in action half a minute the sword was seen to fall out of Morgans' hand, and it was thought that Hawker has disarmed him. This was almost made a certainty when the referee called a point for Hawker. But the next moment Hawker was seen to take his mask off, and from his forehead a stream of blood was coming. This was the result of the point of Morgans' sword entering the mask and inflicting a perpendicular cut in the centre of the forehead. Time was called, and as the flow of blood would not stop, both retired, and Hawker's wound was dressed by Dr. Spier, the regimental surgeon.

elipsis graphic

The Bout Resumed

Morgans and Hawker then came out again and although Hawker was very pale he stood firm. The referee announced that they were holding the contest under London, Eng., Agricultural Hall rules and the bout would have to be commenced again. This bout was a fierce one, It opened with Morgans gaining the first point at his old place, the head, then there was a counter and Hawker gained the next on Morgans' head, having changed his mode of attack. This seemed to bother Morgans, for then there was an exchange of counters after which Morgans scored again and Hawker took off his mask, having been cut again this time by the wire pressing his forehead. The bout being resumed, after Hawker's bandage was adjusted, he scored the next point and then Morgans scored two, disarming Hawker once, the score being 5 to 3 according to the referee's decision, although those who were keeping count made it 6 to 2. This left the total score Morgans 9 and Hawker 8, which only increased the interest, as Hawker's strong point was supposed to be with the bayonet and bayonet versus sword, which were to come.

elipsis graphic

Bayonet vs. Bayonet

Morgans and Hawker then came out for their third bout. This time it was bayonet versus bayonet. After a sharp counter Hawker scored the first point and Morgans the next two, making all or most of his lunges for the head. Hawker next scored, but Morgans got the next three, winning the bout by 5 points to 2, and as he drove the wires against hawker's head again when he went to the dressing room he was found to have two more cuts close to where the others were. Although he wanted to continue the match when the time came for the next bout, his friends would not let him do so, in which they were right, and the contest was given to Morgans by 14 points to 10.

To make up for the other bouts of the Morgans-Hawker contest being omitted, Staff-Sergt. Boutillier, the referee, with the bayonet had a spirited bout with Sergt.-Major Morgans with the sword.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Topic: Militaria

25-Pounder Field Gun-Howitzer

Artillery in the Desert, Prepared by Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, 25 November 1942.

Fire from the British 25-pounder (3.45 inch) field gun-howitzer, the basic field piece for the British Army, has been extremely effective for two reasons:

(1)     the 25-pounder is an excellent field gun, and

(2)     British artillery was well-trained before the outbreak of the war.

German tanks when struck by 25-pounder armor-piercing shell at ranges less than 1,000 yards have sometimes been knocked out; some have had turrets completely blown off, and others have been set afire. Indirect 25-pounder fire is. However, not effective for stopping tank attacks, but it can cause tanks to "button up" their hatches. Reports of indirect fire's stopping tank attacks are believed to be erroneous interpretations of the repulse of reconnaissance in force.

The 25-pounder has been replacing both the 18-pounder and the 4.5-inch howitzer of the last war. The tube has a removable liner which can be changed in the field. The gun can be placed in firing order on its platform in 1 minute. The firing platform is in the form of a wheel which is either carried under the trail or on the back of the prime mover. To place the piece in action, the platform is lowered to the ground and the carriage is either manhandled or tractor-drawn over it and coupled to its center. To permit easy maneuvering of the trail, the spade has been embedded in a "box" commonly called a "banana," which functions very effectively and prevents the trail from digging in. The muzzle velocities with its three normal charges are 650, 975, and 1,470 feet per second, and with supercharge 1,700 feet per second.

  • Nature of weapon: field gun-howitzer.
  • Weight: 3,968 pounds.
  • Length: 25 feet, 11 inches, including trailer (barrel, 92.5 inches).
  • Traverse: 360° on firing platform, 8° without platform.
  • Elevation: –5° to +40°.
  • Maximum range: 12,500 yards.
  • Ammunition: projectiles: armor-piercing (20 pounds), HE (25 pounds), and smoke (base-ejection type, 21.8 pounds); charges: three and a supercharge for HE.
  • Rate of fire: 8 rounds per minute (rapid) and 3 rounds per minute for prolonged firing.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 3 August 2015

Assault Training (1917)
Topic: Drill and Training

Assault Training (1917)


British Tactical Notes, Edited and Prepared at the War College, Washington, December, 1917

Principles of Training

1.     Concentration.

To teach the soldier to apply on the battle field the lessons he has learned on the training ground is the essence and aim of all training.

It is by continued concentration only that any form of train­ ing can be so impressed as to become second nature.

If such training has been adequate, the soldier in moments of excitement and tension will automatically apply what he has learned.

2.     Vitality.

Vitality of mind and body is essential to prevent staleness and monotony. Without vitality training is of little value.

All work should be done in short, sharp bursts and be as intense as possible.

3.     The Offensive Spirit.

Every form of battle training must be founded on the offensive spirit.

The chief duty and thought of all should be to kill as many of the enemy as possible, and during periods of training the aggressive spirit and the desire to kill should be impressed on all ranks.

No pains should be spared by instructors to cultivate this spirit and to emphasize its importance in a vivid manner.

All training devices, such as dummy figures or targets for bullets, bomb, or bayonet, should be regarded as representing a real enemy whom it is the soldier's duty to kill in as expeditious a manner as possible with the weapon most suited to the purpose.

4.     Bullet and Bayonet.

The bullet and the bayonet belong to the same parent, the rifle, which is still the deciding factor on the battle field. One must work with the other.

It is the spirit of the bayonet that captures the position, and of the bullet that holds it.

The bullet also shatters the counter attack and kills outside bayonet distance.

Bayonet training and musketry training are therefore comple­mentary to one another and must be taught as one subject.

The bomb is valuable for clearing small lengths of trench and for close fighting after a trench has been stormed. It is, however, a weapon quite secondary to the rifle and the bayonet.

5.     Fire and Movement.

Fire and movement are inseparable in the attack. Ground is gained by a body of troops advancing while supported by the fire of another body of troops.

This principle of fire and movement should be known to all ranks, and the one object of every advance, namely, to close with the enemy, shoujd be emphasized on all occasions.

6.     Assault Training.

Assault training may be divided into three stages:

First stage.— The training of the individual soldier in the combination of rifle fire and bayonet work-in the assault and countercharge.

Second stage.— The training of the individual soldier in bullet, bayonet, and bomb with the idea of teaching him to use the weapon appropriate to the situation in which he may find him self.

Third stage.— The collective training of the platoon or company in the employment of all infantry weapons by means of a tactical exercise.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 3 August 2015 12:08 AM EDT
Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Military Execution
Topic: Discipline

A Military Execution

Cadet to Colonel, Vol II, Major-General Sir Thomas Seaton, K.C.B., 1866

Of all the solemn scenes enacted in the world, I think a military execution is by far the most solemn, the most impressive, the most terrible. Every regiment and detachment, every officer and man who can be spared from duty, is assembled at the appointed pot and drawn up on three sides of a square, the fourth side being reserved for the execution. The prisoner is marched from his cell under a guard, and when he turns the right flank of the troops, the last scene of his earthly career bursts on his view. There are his regiment and companions in arms, to hundreds of whom he is well known, and with whom he has gone through many a hard-fought day. Close to him are the band of his regiment, the firing party, the escort, and the coffin, all ready for the solemn procession. He is taken to his place behind the coffin, and the sentence of the court and the order for his execution are read aloud; then, after a momentary silence, there is a slight movement in the band, the coffin is raised from the ground, arms are reversed by the escort, and at the word "march," with a deep boom of the drum, the sad procession starts to the solemn strains of the "Dead March," and the prisoner paces onwards, each step bringing him nearer to his death and to eternity. As the procession marches along the front of the troops, he passes his own regiment and company. He looks up, sees the well-known faces of his companions in arms, and perhaps catches the pitying eye of his captain, of his own comrade, or of some loving friend. Deep as may be the internal feeling by which he is moved, yet as his comrades are looking on, with a desperate effort he controls his emotions, and passes on.

But the [soldier] had no friend or comrade to sympathize with him, and there were but few pitying eyes for the traitor who had turned and fought against us. He was a fine man, in full health and vigor, and it was terrible to think, traitor though he was, that in a few moments he would be a lifeless, dishonoured corpse.As he passed me, I noticed that his face, though pale and shrunken, was tolerably calm. His eyes were cast down, and he seemed unable to raise them. Large beads of perspiration stood on his forehead, yet his step was firm and he never faltered, but marched on steadily toward the fatal spot. To see a fellow-creature led forth to die, to know that in a few seconds his spirit will be in the presence of his Judge, is terrible to those who reflect on it; but in a military execution this awful fact is most awfully impressed on the minds of all who witness it. The slow funereal tread of the soldiers, the muffled drums, the soul-inspiring strains of the "Dead March" move the most callous heart to its inmost depths, and suggest the question, "Whither is that soul about to go?"

The calm and still afternoon, the spring-like and beautiful weather, the bright and clear sunshine, and the intensely blue sky, all made for peace and happiness only, contrasted painfully with the tragedy that was about to be enacted; and as the prisoner passed us, the feelings of all were so moved, that I could hear a gasp or two from the officers and men near me. Although there was not one of them who did not fully acknowledge the justice of the traitor?s doom, not one would have bent his finger to save him, yet the scene was intensely painful to all, and there were probably few among the spectators who did not feel some pity for the unfortunate though guilty man upon whom all eyes were fixed.

When at last the condemned criminal reached the appointed place, the music of the band ceased, his eyes were bandaged, the escort withdrew, and he stood alone to face the firing party. The silence and stillness at that moment were awful, not a soul drawing a breath, and I could have shouted out, "Be quick," the suspense was so unbearable. Meanwhile the men made ready, fired when the signal was given, and the [soldier] fell dead. It was a positive relief to all when the melancholy business was completed.

The troops then broke into open column and marched past the body.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 1 August 2015

Ration Tips
Topic: Army Rations

Ration Tips

Army Talks, Vol. III, No. 1, 13 January 1945

Here's a "B" rations tip that claims to make powdered eggs taste like other than powdered eggs. Take the egg powder and add a little water and milk, plus baking powder if you can get any. Grind up your scrap meat and add onions, either dehydrated or regular. Cook in patties like pancakes. The onions kill the eggs, the eggs kill the onions and the meat gives body.

When two men are eating "K" rations, take the cheese from the dinner box and the meat from the supper box. Slice both in half and put the cheese an top of the Meat. Put a quarter inch of water. in a mess kit, plop the patties in, clamp lid down, and steam until water has boiled for sevens) minutes. The cheese melts down over the meat, making hot cheeseburgers; and the wafer becomes a delicious broth.

US Army Rations; World War II

US Army Soldier Systems Center and Horel Foods; Associated Press article, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Apr 2002

The government fed 8 million personnel with 1 billion individual rations. The "Ration, Combat, Individual," or "C" ration — weighing 7 pounds — was first used with 11 different meat and vegetables components and bread, sugar and coffee, but the ration is mostly remembered for its beans because five of the 11 entrees contained beans. It was designed to provide several meals. The "B" Ration was developed to feed 100 soldiers. The raion included Spam, partlly accounting for maker Hormel Foods' shipment of 100 million pounds of Spam overseas by April 1945. The "K" ration, weighing 2 ½ pounds, was developed for paratroopers, provuding a days' worth of food that could be carried in a pocket.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 31 July 2015

Life in the Trenches
Topic: CEF

Life in the Trenches

The British Soldier: His Courage and Humour, Rev. E.J. Hardy, M.A., 1915

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

A Scottish Borderer described life in the trenches in the following extract from a letter: "To kill time we played banker with cigarette cards. We become rather like schoolboys over food. One of our mess had a small tin of biscuits sent through the post yesterday we all crowed over it just like youngsters. One's joys are of the primitive type; when, like our ancestors, we turn to live in the fields and woods again. A padre turned up yesterday, and at night (it was not safe to begin earlier) we held a service at which a great number of our men attended. We are a light-hearted lot and so are our officers. We dug out for them a kind of a subterranean mess-room where they took their meals. One fellow decorated it with a few cigarette cards and some pictures he had cut out of a French paper. Their grub was not exactly what they would get at the Cecil. A jollier and kinder lot of officers you would not meet in a day's march. One officer who was well stocked with cigarettes divided them among his men, and we were able to repay him for his kindness by digging him out from his mess-room. A number of shells tore up the turf, and the roof and sides collapsed like a castle built of cards, burying him and two others. They were in a nice pickle, but we got them out safe and sound. There are apple trees over our trench, and we have to wait till the Germans knock them down for us. You ought to see us scramble down our holes when we hear a shell coming."

The experience of ten days in the trenches was thus described:

"We dig ourselves deeper and deeper into the earth, till we are completely sheltered from above, coming out now and then, when things are quiet, to cook and eat, making any moves that may be necessary under cover of darkness. Ammunition, food, and drinking water are brought in by night; the wounded are sent away to the hospital.

We do not wash, we do not change our clothes we sleep at odd intervals whenever we can get the chance, and daily we get more accustomed to our lot. It is rather an odd existence. Little holes dug beneath the parapet just big enough to sit in are our homes, with straw and perhaps a sack or two for warmth. The cold is intense at night, and those good ladies who have made us woollen caps and comforters have earned our thanks; also, we are getting used to it. The coldest moments are those when there is an alarm of a night attack, and we spring from our sleep to stand shivering behind the parapet peering over the wall to see our enemies, and firing at the flashes of their rifles. It is exciting. Every time you put as much as your little finger over a trench there is a hail of bullets."

A regiment was in trenches under fire and returning it. Two privates noticed that the French interpreter was placed at a spot where the trench was not wide enough to enable him to make proper use of his rifle. "The Frenchman isn't comfortable," said one, and both left the trench, spade in hand, knowing well that they were serving the enemy as targets, dug out the trench in front of their French comrade, and returned with unbroken calm to their own places and their rifles.

There was a humorous attempt to be homelike. A sergeant-major by the name of Kenilworth put outside his bivouac "Kenilworth Lodge. Trades-men's entrance at the back. Beware of the dog." The dog was picked up at Rouen.

Other shelters were named Hotel Cecil, Ritz Hotel, Billet Doux, Villa De Dug Out, etc. Soldiers called the ordinary trenches, "Little wet homes in a sewer."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Mainguy Report: Canadian Identification
Topic: RCN

"The Mainguy Report"

Absence of Canadian Identification 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 identification for seamen of the Royal Canadian Navy was recorded in the Mainguy Report:

There was amongst the men a very real and almost universal opinion that the Canadian Navy was not sufficiently Canadian. The absence of identification on uniforms of Canadian ratings gave rise to many unpleasant international incidents in ports where American sailors were present. While the incident often resulted from ignorance, ill manners, and unfortunate national prejudices, there is no doubt that the relations between Canadian, American and British sailors were greatly impaired by the continual mistaking of Canadian ratings for British sailors. While in general the officers of the Canadian Navy were satisfied with their uniforms and lack of Canadian identification thereon, the men were vehement in their demands that they be identified as Canadians. With the demand we are unanimous in our sympathy, and shall have some further observations to make both in connection with uniforms and ships.

The Report included the following recommedation:

Canada Badges

We have already referred to the almost unanimous desire on the part of the men for some form of clear Canadian identification on their uniforms, at least when they are serving outside Canada. The desire is the natural outcome of pride in their identity as Canadian sailors and of a strong resentment against the recurrence of international incidents in which they are insulted by ignorant citizens or service men belonging to other peoples, who seem to rejoice jeering at those whom they believe to be British. Since we began to meet, the Naval authorities have approved the wearing of some badges in which maple leaves form part of the design. Even the most ignorant member of another race can probably read the word "Canada". A design of maple leaves, however artistic, means little or nothing to such an individual. We recommend that the words "Canada" or "Royal Canadian Navy" be used as shoulder flashes on the uniforms of all ranks. In the case of the Canadian army, the word "Canada" appears somewhere on all uniforms. In the case of the R.C.A.F. the wearing of Canada patches within Canada is a matter of choice. Outside of Canada the wearing of the patch is obligatory. The only other alternative to the decision which we recommend would appear to be the design issue, and wearing of a distinctive Canadian uniform. There are many objections to this change, which need not be detailed at this time. As collateral to the recommendation above, we wish to refer to the painting of maple leaves on the funnels of H.M.C. ships. During the war, Canadian ships were so distinguished. After the war, maple leaves were no longer painted on the funnels. The Board feels that this practice should be reinstituted and has recently learned that Naval Headquarters has so ordered.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 July 2015

8645 Pte Corbally
Topic: Humour

8645 Pte Corbally

"Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915-18, Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., 1937

General Headquarters decided that it was advisable to have pass-words for fighting troops, so every twenty-four hours a pass-word was issued from Brigade, who selected it. The new word commenced from the evening "Stand to," and our Brigade, the 73rd, chose the names of the officers commanding battalions at first—Greene, Mobbs, Murphy, etc. On the fifth and following nights, ordinary words such as "Rabbit," "Apple," etc., were introduced.

Some of the "old toughs," however, found some difficulty in remembering the absurd words which followed, and on one of the dark nights of this tour, seeing a man approaching me, I called out, "Halt, who goes there?" only to get the following unusual reply, "Begad, I was a rabbit last night, a spud the night afore, and I'm damned if I know what I'm meant to be at all to-night."

It was 8645 Pte. Corbally. He apologised profusely when he recognised me. I told him the pass-word, and went on my tour laughing. Corbally was a treasure.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Elements of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Essential Elements of Leadership

From the Basic Infantry Officer Course, Phase II, Pre-Course Study Package, October 1998

Modern research shows that there is no single trait which consistently differentiates leaders from followers, except perhaps intelligence, so how do you differentiate between leaders and followers? This trait concept is perhaps best summarized by Field-Marshall Earl Wavell. In his "Soldiers and Soldiering" he re-emphasises the essential elements of leadership which are:

a.     robustness;

b.     practical sense/common sense;

c.     energy and courage;

d.     flexibility;

e.     interest and knowledge of humanity;

f.     fighting spirit;

g.     spirit of adventure — touch of gambler — takes risks; and

h.     maintains discipline and inspires devotion through:

(1)     justice;

(2)     competence and concern for welfare of men; and

(3)     attention to administration.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 27 July 2015

Tank Characteristics and Limitations (1917)
Topic: CEF

Tank Characteristics and Limitations

Instructions for the Training of the Tank Corps in France, Reprint of a Pamphlet issued by Headquarters, Tank Corps, December 1, 1917, Bitish Army; [US] War Plans Division, July, 1918

General Characteristics and Limitations of the Weapon.

Tanks are mechanically propelled armored vehicles which are designed to accompany the infantry in the attack and to assist, by means of their fire, weight and moral effect, in destroying the enemy's strong points and overcoming his resistance. In defense they can be employed in counter attack either independently or in co-operation with infantry and can be used to cover the infantry in rearguard action.

As the speed of tanks is developed and their machinery perfected it is possible that their tactical employment may develop and that their r6le may become more independent.

At the present time, however, the role of tanks is to act in close co-operation with the infantry both in attack and defense and it is this role of tanks which is mainly considered in the following pages.

(i)     The main characteristics of fighting tanks are their mobility, the security which they afford to their crews and their offensive power.

Mobility. Tanks, according to the type to which they belong, can move on the flat at a pace of 5 to 8 miles an hour; across country at a rate of 3 ¼ to 4 ½ miles an hour and in the night at an average pace of 2 to 3 miles an hour.

Tanks can cross all forms of wire entanglements. They crush down two paths in their passage through the wire, each of which is passable for infantry in single file. They can span a trench of considerable width, surmount an obstacle five feet high and climb slopes of 1 in 2.

Security. Tanks are proof against all bullets, shrapnel and most splinters a direct hit from any field gun, however, will usually put them out of action.

Offensive Power. Tanks can develop their fire power when in motion and consequently they are able to cover the advance of the infantry by a continuous fire. Heavy tanks are divided into two types male and female. The male carries 2 six-pounder guns and 4 machine guns, the female 6 machine guns. The medium tank carries 4 machine guns. The crews are armed with revolvers.

(ii)     The Mark V. tank can travel for 18 miles and the medium "A" tank (Whippet) for 35 miles without taking in a further supply of petrol. This increase in the staying power of tanks materially adds to their fighting value, but their employment in active operations is still somewhat limited owing to the following reasons:

(a)     The physical endurance of the crews cannot be counted upon after 12 hours in action.

(b)     Tanks cannot cross swamps, streams or deep sunken roads, nor can they make their way through thick woods.

(c) The field of view from tanks is somewhat restricted. Objectives should, therefore, be easily recognizable and the routes to them straight- forward.

(d) Tanks cannot be depended upon to go over country which has been heavily shelled, but their capabilities in this respect are being I constantly improved.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 26 July 2015

Small Unit Operations, Vietnam, 1967
Topic: The Field of Battle

Small Unit Operations

Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned No. 61, 27 January 1967

The war in Vietnam is a small unit leader's war. Because of the large number of semi-independent platoon and company missions performed by units in Vietnam, the knowledge and skill of the small unit leader are more important than ever before. Some of the lessons learned by small unit commanders are discussed below.

(1)     A major problem is locating the enemy. One solution to this problem is to patrol from company bases. Consistent with communications capabilities, squads operate in areas for three days without resupply. For example, one company operating by squads in designated zones, separated but mutually supporting, can cover a large area with thoroughness and stealth. The mission of squads under these circumstances is to ambush at night, observe during daylight, and engage small enemy groups. When a squad locates a significant enemy force, the platoon/company consolidates on the squad to fix the enemy. The battalion (–), standing by as an immediate reaction force, is brought to bear on the enemy to destroy him. Once contact is made, the unit reacts rapidly with all available firepower and reinforcements without further regard to deception, stealth or surprise. Following the engagement with the enemy, the squads revert to semi-guerrilla tactics in a designated zone until a subsequent contact is made.

(2)     Another major problem of the commander in jungle terrain is control of his troops. The commander often is hindered by poor ground visibility and difficulty of communications. At times he can help his unit stay on course, spot targets and mark them, and in general have a much better feel for the operation if airborne by helicopter.

(3)     The commander needs a method of locating maneuver elements. When companies are moving by bounds, smoke placed at the flanks of the lead companies becomes a valuable reference on which to base maneuver of the trail (reserve) company.

(4)     To locate small VC units the best results are obtained from separate company and platoon size operations as compared to larger organizations which are detected more easily by the enemy. The separate unit usually is successful in closing with the enemy. However, supporting fires must be planned in detail and a reserve reaction force must be available on short notice. Such operations require the highest caliber of leadership.

(5)     Most enemy contacts are made at distances of 15 to 30 meters. Once contact is made with an enemy employing automatic weapons, the contacted force often is pinned down in its position and it is difficult to use heavy supporting fires on the enemy front lines.

(a)     One technique used successfully by a brigade under these circumstances was to precede the main body by 100 to 200 meters during an approach march with approximately five fire teams of five men each. In this manner, the minimum force will be committed when contact is made, thus ena, ling maximum freedom for maneuver of the main body.

(b)     Because the fire fight upon contact may be short and violent, some automatic weapons should be placed near the point.

(6)     Certain lessons learned concerning contact with the enemy stand out in importance.

(a)     Once contact has been made, pressure on the enemy must be maintained to keep him off balance. The VC are well versed in the use of delaying tactics. Excessive time must not be lost in develop­ing the situation else it may allow the enemy main force to prepare an ambush, occupy a defensive position or escape.

(b)     The VC may choose not to break contact immediately. In this case he employs the "close embrace" or "bear hug" tactic to prevent friendly use of supporting fires. Friendly units must keep the VC at arm's length in order to use supporting weapons. Once a unit is involved in a "close embrace" with the VC, any attempt to withdraw prompts the enemy to follow the withdrawing forces. Extensive use of hand grenades and intensive small arms fire will assist in defeating the "close embrace" tactics.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 July 2015

Commando Rations 1942
Topic: Army Rations

Commando Rations 1942

British Commandos, Special Series, No. 1, Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, August 1942


A special ration, designed to give a man enough sustenance to enable him to operate under rigorous conditions, was developed at the Advanced Infantry Assault School by an officer who had had considerable experience in mountain operations in all climates. The ration was simple and light in weight; it was designed for individual cooking, and was easily handled in the field. A U.S. observer subsisted on this ration and reported that it proved to be sufficient for the period for which it was designed and that it was reasonably palatable.

Typical Ration.—

A typical ration follows:

Daily Requirements

Pemmican (dried meat, 60% lean, 40% fat)ounces3
Dried fruitounces5
Margarine or butterounces1/2
Tea or coffee (compressed)ounces1/4
Sugar (lump)ounces1 1/2
Total weightounces25 1/2

Diet Sheet

Dried fruitounces1
Midday Meal:
Dried fruitounces2
Evening Meal:
Dried fruitounces2
Margarine or butterounces1
Tea or coffeeounces1

Rations were carried in their packs by the soldiers. Food was prepared in mess tins, individually.

The soldiers were encouraged to use dandelion shoots, grass nettles, and other herbs in conjunction with pemmican and oatmeal for making a stew. Those herbs in the stew contributed to vitamin C. While the standard Army ration was used during the training, the concentrated ration was substituted during tactical operations because of its small bulk and light weight. It was impressed on the students that the ration was sufficient to maintain them in satisfactory physical condition during these short operations, and to enable them to perform their assigned duties without undue hunger and fatigue.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 24 July 2015

Chinese Strategic and Tactical Principles
Topic: Military Theory

General Strategic and Tactical Principles

Handbook of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Defence Intelligence Agency, November 1984

Inherent in Mao Zedong's military writings are numerous strategic and tactical principles, many having a strong emphasis on politics. These principles, although not adhered to as rigidly as they were before Mao's death, as generally used in both planning and operation.

The aim of war. War aims to destroy the effective strength of the enemy rather than to hold areas of cities.

Security. Conservation of the strength of one's own forces is essential to any military operation.

Mobility. Withdraw before the enemy's advance; pursue the enemy's withdrawal; disperse or concentrate one's own forces swiftly on a wide and flexible battlefield.

Local superiority. Concentrate overwhelming strength against an enemy's weaker points; accept a decisive engagement only with two to six times the enemy's strength.

Offensive action. Attack is the primary means of destroying the enemy; surround the enemy and attach from at least two directions.

Singleness of direction. Strategically, there must be only one main direction at a time; tactically, there must be a single objective.

Flexibility. Tactics must be ingenious and flexible, suited to the time, place, and the situation.

Surprise. One's own forces must be assembled in secrecy and must attack at the time and place which the enemy leasts expects.

Initiative. Always seize the initiative, preserve one's own freedom of action, and force the enemy to retreat.

Unity of command. Unified command is essential to success, particularly in the coordination of guerrilla and regular forces.

Preparation. Combat requires meticulous preparation to avoid entry into battle without assurance of success.

Confidence. Victory is determined by the confidence of commanders and troops in the inevitable triumph of their cause.

In addition to these principles, the Chinese place great emphasis on the maintenance of morale. Apart from the normal concerns for morale common to all armies, political commissars are found at all levels down to and including companies. They are responsible for the morale, motivation, and political education of all personnel.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 July 2015

85th Battalion Educational Scheme
Topic: CEF

85th Battalion Educational Scheme (1918)

From the War Diary of the 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion (now perpetuated by the Cape Breton Highlanders).

War Diary, Nov., 1918.

Educational Scheme

85th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Nova Scotia Highlanders

On Friday 30-11-18, at 10.45 hours a class was organised of those who could neither read or write, a teacher appointed and instruction begun.

This class for beginners was the start of a programme for Educational and Vocational training within the Battalion until demobilization.

The order to begin such work was sent to Company Commanders after nominal rolls of those requiring such instruction were prepared. L/Cpl Henderson of the Band, an ex school teacher of long standing was the Instructor appointed.

The following letter was sent to Company Commanders:—

"The following are the proposed subjects to give instruction in:—


  • Reading and Writing.
  • English Grammar and Composition.
  • Canadian and British History.
  • Geography.
  • Arithmetic.
  • Evening Lectures on Subjects of General Interest.
  • Agriculture
    • Farming
    • Gardening
    • Animal Husbandry
    • Field Husbandry
  • Mining.
  • Business Training.
  • Book Keeping.
  • Barbering.
  • Draughting.

Company Commanders will submit by noon tomorrow, Nominal Roll of Officers, N.C.O.s and men in their Company competent to teach any of these subjects."

This outline was a general guide and allowed for any further additional subjects requested.

elipsis graphic

The 85th Battalion in France and Flanders

On Sunday, November 24th, Protestant and Church parades were held as usual. A special feature, was that, at both services, the objects of the Society of the Holy Name were presented and the pledge of this Society was largely signed by officers and men against profanity and obscene language. In the afternoon there was a conference of the Company Commanders with a view to ascertaining the wishes of all ranks regarding the scheme of demobilization, as to whether, so far as the 85th was concerned, it should be classed according to occupations, or as a unit. The subsequent decision was in favor of demobilization as a unit. This was just what might be expected with the Esprit Corps of the 85th. The conference also considered an educational scheme for the Battalion and other means of profitably occupying the attention of the men. A census was taken showing the civil occupation of each man and what occupation he expected to follow in the future, as a guide to map out courses of instruction. A class was immediately formed in the important subjects of reading and writing and handed over to Lance-Corporal Henderson of the Band, who was an ex School Teacher. Also every officer and man in the Battalion, who was capable of teaching any particular subject, was taken into the service. (p. 226)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Topic: Officers

General Stilwell enjoys his Christmas dinner, 1943


Defeat Into Victory, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim (London, 1956)

I was struck, as I always was when I visited Stilwell's headquarters, how unnecessarily primitive all its arrangements were. There was, compared with my own or other headquarters, no shortage of transport or supplies, yet he delighted in an exhibition of rough living which, like his omission of rank badges and the rest, was designed to foster the idea of the tough, hard-bitten, plain, fighting general. Goodness knows he was tough and wiry enough to be recognized as such without the play acting, for it was as much a bit of stage management as Mountbatten's meticulous turn-out under any conditions, but it achieved its publicity purpose. Many people sneer at generals who wear quaint head-dress with too many or too few badges, carry odd sticks, affect articles of civilian attire in uniform, or indulge in all sorts of tricks to make themselves easily recognizable to their troops or to anybody else. These things have their value if there is a real man behind them, and, for the rest, his countrymen should forgive almost anything to a general who wins battles. His soldiers will. Stilwell, thank heaven, had a sense of humour, which some who practise these arts have not, and he could, and did, not infrequently laugh at himself.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Sabre
Topic: The Field of Battle

For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor.

The Sabre

Cold Steel: The Saber and the Union Cavalry, by Stephen Z. Starr, presented in Battles Lost & Won; essays from Civil War History, John T. Hubbell (Ed), 1975


For good or evil, the saber had one quality that set it apart from all other weapons. It had glamor. A cavalry officer of the Napoleonic Wars once remarked that the function of cavalry in warfare was to give tone to what overwise would be nothing but a vulgar brawl. And cavalry derived its distinctive tone from the saber and the saber charge. The long-range rifle, the breech-loading magazine carbine, and the rifled cannon had become instruments of mass slaughter, impersonal machines of destruction, and only the saber remained as a weapon of individual combat, man against man. Of course, given the self-consciously heroic atmosphere of the Civil War, such single combats sometimes occurred in ways not contemplated by the regulations, as when Captain Myrick of the 1st Maine and the colonel of another cavalry regiment settled a crossroads dispute as to which outfit had the right of way by fighting a saber duel on horseback. It may be taken for granted that neither the Confederate nor the Union War Department would have sanctioned the highly unorthodox but eminently sensible proceedings of a party of about one hundred Federal troopers and a contingent of roughly equal size of the 7th Tennessee, C.S.A., when they met by chance near Aberdeen, Mississippi. The commander of the Union detachment proposed, and the Confederates agreed, that rather than have a general engagement with its inevitable casualties each side should appoint a representative to fight a mounted saber duel. The Confederate champion was a "Polander; a German did battle for the honor of the Union. The two gladiators met between the lines, and (the story is told by a member of the Tennessee regiment) it was but an instant after they clashed the sword of the German went flying from his hands." The issue thus settled, the two groups parted "the best of old friends," with mutual expressions of esteem.


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 July 2015

Discipline; US Army, 1884
Topic: Discipline

Dress Parade at Fort Yates, 1880s

Military Discipline; US Army, 1884

Soldier's Handbook, for the use of the Enlisted Men of the Army, Washington, 1884

1.     All inferiors are required to obey strictly, and to execute with alacrity and good faith, the lawful orders of the superiors appointed over them.

2.     Military authority is to be exercised with firmness, but with kindness and justice to inferiors. Punishments shall be conformable to military law.

3.     Superiors of every grade are forbidden to injure those, under them by tyrannical or capricious conduct, or by abusive language.

4.     Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline; respect to superiors will not be confined to obedience on duty, but will be extended on all occasions.

5.     Deliberations or discussions among any class of military men having the object of conveying praise or censure, or any mark of approbation, toward their superiors or others in the military service, and all publications relative to transactions between officers of a private or personal nature, whether newspaper, pamphlet, or handbill, are strictly prohibited.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 July 2015

We Behaved Disgracefully
Topic: Officers

We Behaved Disgracefully

Tapestry of War; A Private View of Canadians in the Great War, Sandra Gwyn, 1992

"We have some daring ladies from The Sketch and illustrated weeklies pinned to the walls—one balanced on a diving board in a diminutive bathing suit of flaming red with black borders … another with piled-up yellow hair plucking feathers from Cupid for her hat. These ladies are often the subject of comment. We discuss their characters. They are attractive but disturbing and create restless wishes for home or Piccadilly."

As racy—perhaps even a bit unnerving to a Philadelphia belle—were Talbot's descriptions of the rough male camaraderie that characterized the trenches and sometimes erupted into wild horseplay as a way of letting off steam when the regiment was out of the line. "We live now in a sort of a hut," he explained in mid-August. "It is built of coloured canvas to deceive aviators. Eight of us live in each hut in two rows with a lane down the middle. Our sleeping bags are spread upon the uneven earth and we each have a soapbox to support a candle in a bottle and small articles. The 'Baron,' i.e., Captain Van Den Berg, lives opposite to me. Last night I was rolling off my puttees when the Baron, who is a pugnacious devil, suddenly swung round and batted me on the foot with his cane. I naturally went for his throat. We each secured a stranglehold and for several moments dust and clothes and legs and arms rose and fell in confusion. Eventually we arranged terms of peace. Later, for some reason which I cannot recall I fired five rounds of ammunition with accuracy against Barclay's candle, which was extinguished; Barclay then retaliated on my bottle with equal success.… We behaved disgracefully, I admit."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 July 2015 8:09 PM EDT

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