The Minute Book
Friday, 20 November 2015

Reconnaissance Tips of the Trade
Topic: Drill and Training

Reconnaissance Tips of the Trade

Combat Recon Manual, Republic of Vietnam; 1970
Prepared by Project (B-52) Delta, H.Q. NhaTrang
Detachment B-52; 5th Special Forces Group (Abn), 1st Special Forces

1.     While on a mission, minimize fatigue because tired men become careless.

2.     If you show confidence, your team will have confidence

3.     If the team leader loses his temper it will affect his judgment. Keep cool. Think ahead, always keeping an alternate plan in mind. Don't be afraid to take advice from your team members.

4.     Teamwork, the key to success, only comes through constant practice and training. Realism must be injected into all phases of training such as zeroing of weapons at targets In the jungle, use of live training aids for PW snatch or ambush practice, etc.

5.     Teams that have a good physical training program have fewer health problems.

6.     Make sure that personnel take salt tablets as a preventative measure rather then waiting until collapse is imminent. One tablet in a canteen of water is a good way to take salt, especially on very hot and humid days. Only take extra salt when plenty of water is available.

7.     If your mission calls for emplacing a mine in a road ensure that an extra fuse is taken along just in case one is lost.

8.     All personnel should wear loose fitting and untailored clothing on field operations. Tight fitting clothing often tears or rips allowing easy access to exposed parts of the body for mosquitoes or leeches.

9.     Each team leader should have a pre-mission and post-mission checklist to ensure that nothing is left behind.

10.     Use tact when reprimanding your personnel, especially indigenous team members. If possible, take the men aside to criticize him. This enables him to reason positively to the criticism since he will not feel ridiculed and lose self confidence.

11.     Do not hang clothing or bandanas on green bamboo if you plan on wearing it afterwards. The fuzz on the bamboo is just like Itching powder.

12.     Conduct English classes for your Indigenous personnel, especially interpreters. Conduct classes for your U.S. Personnel on your indigenous team member's dialect.

13.     Pre-set frequencies on the PRC-25 so that a quick turn of the dials will put you on the desired frequency. This is especially helpful at night when you want to avoid a light.

14.     Carry CS powder in plastic insect repellent or lube oil bottles. It is difficult to put CS powder in them but it is definitely worth the effort. Sprinkle CS powder in and on empty "C" ration cans and food containers. This will prevent animals from digging them up once you have buried them.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dress (QOR, 1924)
Topic: Discipline

The public are very apt to form an opinion of a regiment's smartness, which perhaps they have never seen on parade, by the appearance and conduct of just one man whom they may chance to see on the street.


A Guide to Riflemen of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, by Lieut.-Col. Reg. Pellatt, 1924

The public are very apt to form an opinion of a regiment's smartness, which perhaps they have never seen on parade, by the appearance and conduct of just one man whom they may chance to see on the street.

The importance of always, at all times when in uniform, whether on parade or walking on the street, being neat, tidy, and with jacket always buttoned up, puttees neatly put on, brass of the belt shined, boots polished, face cleanly shaved, etc., cannot be impressed too strongly upon every Rifleman if the reputation of the Regiment is to remain of the highest.

Untidy appearance and slouching along the street always brings discredit to any regiment.

In uniform, watch-chains and trinkets are not to be worn in such a manner as to be seen.

The unauthorized wearing of a uniform is prohibited.

After obtaining a uniform all Riflemen must be very careful to wear it as a soldier should. It is Government property and, while in their possession, they are responsible for its safe keeping, and return when required of them. Lost articles must be padd for.

All ranks are cautioned against wearing caps or clothing other than the authorized regimental pattern.

Only non-commissioned officers of the rank of sergeant and above are permitted to wear side-arms when walking out.

For the Honour of the Regiment it is expected that all Riflemen will turn themselves out, and con- duct themselves in such a manner that it will not be necessary for people on the street to look at the badge before saying, "He is a Rifleman of the Queen's Own."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Careful in the Use of the Liquor
Topic: Humour

Careful in the Use of the Liquor

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

King [the regimental sutler] also provided liquor for the officers, a service that understandably rankled many of the enlisted men. One night several of them decided to liberate a keg of whiskey from King's tent. Without detection they carried it to a nearby field, where it was tapped, half emptied—into the men's canteens—it is not recorded how much disappeared on its way from the keg to the canteen—and then buried for future retrieval. The theft was soon discovered, and the lieutenant of the guard was dispatched to apprehend the guilty parties. Alarmed, the perpetrators sought the help of their sergeant, who had not been part of the plot. He reproved them for the act, but he was not about to let them down. He observed that the lieutenant was making his way down the row of tents, determining the number of occupants in each, and then calling for that number of canteens.

Returning to his own tent, the sergeant discovered that only two canteens besides his own were empty, so he had to think fast. According to Lochren, the lieutenant "soon approached and called for him. 'Sergeant, how many men have you?' 'Fourteen.' 'Pass out their canteens.' With a peremptory order from the sergeant to the men to pass up their canteens rapidly, an empty canteen was passed to the officer, smelled of, and dropped at his feet as a second one was handed him, while a man, lying down where he could reach safely in the darkness, passed the dropped canteen back to the sergeant, to be presented to the officer again, and thus the three canteens were each examined five times and nothing found. The culprits were never discovered, although the experience "frightened the boys, and made them careful in the use of the liquor."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 18 November 2015 12:07 AM EST
Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Battle Honours; 1866 and 1885
Topic: Battle Honours

Battle Honours; 1866 and 1885

From the archived correspondence of the Governor-General of Canada, held by Library and Archives Canada.

In 1912, correspondence was exchanged between the office of the Governor-General of Canada and that of the Under Secretary of State, Colonial Office, regarding the possibility of awarding Battle Honours for the the Fenian Raid of 1866 and the North West Rebellion (Canada) 1885.

Initiated by a letter from the Deputy Minister for Militia and Defence on 11 June 1912, the following request was forwarded to the Military Secretary to H.R.H. The Governor-General:


I have the honour, by direction, to state that, in connection with the Fenian Raid of 1866 and the North West Rebellion (Canada) 1885, certain regiments of the Canadian Militia furnished companies and detachments for service.

2.     It is understood that the Honours and Distinctions Committee at the War Office have had under considerations certain proposals in this connection.

3.     I have the honour, therefore, to request that His Royal Highness The Governor General may be moved to enquire of the Imperial Authorities what decision, if any, has been arrived at by the Army Council relative to the same, in order that it may be determined whether any of the units which furnished detachments for active service as above are entitled to have "Fenian Raid 1866" and "North West 1885" inserted in the Canadian Militia List after the name of the regiment.

This query was duly forwarded to the Imperial Authorities at Downing Street and on 8 August the reply of the War Office (itself dated 30 July) was returned to Canada.


I am commanded by the Army Council to acknowledge receipt of your letter No. 19791, dated the 10th July 1912, on the subject of certain regiments of the Canadian Militia being entitled to "Fenian Raid 1866" and "North West 1885" as honorary distinctions. In reply I am to say with reference to the Fenian Raid of 1966 that the Council are of the opinion that the operations were not of such a character as to merit the distinction of being recorded in Army Lists, or on colors or appointments, as a battle honour; at least that would certainly be their view in the case of a unit of the Home Army.

2.     With reference to the North West Rebellion in 1885, I am to invite your attention to the correspondence with this office in 1905, commencing with your No. 5994, dated the 15th March, in which it was agreed, as a very special case which was not to be quoted as a precedent, to award "North West Canada 1885" to the Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment. You will observe that in War Office letter No. 058/2889, dated the 25th September 1905 of the correspondence referred to, it was stated that according to custom a unit must have had its Headquarters and 50% of its strength present in order to qualify for the grant of an honorary distinction (for operations in its own country). In the case of the units referred to in your letter now under reply, it would appear that detachments only were present.

This exchange in 1912 was not the final resolution of the inquiry into new honorary distinctions and battle honours, as shown by this reply from the War Office, dated 30 April, 1913:


I am commanded by the Army Council to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, No. 11583, dated the 14th April, 1913, forwarding an application by the Officer Commanding the 12th Regiment "York Rangers" for authority to have "Fenian Raid, 1866" and "North West Rebellion, 1885" inscribed on the Regimental colours of the Regiment.

2.     In reply I am to state with reference to the Fenian Raid of 1866, that the Council can see no reason for departing from the opinion that expressed in paragraph 1 of War Office letter No. 058/3553 (A.G.1.) dated 30th July 1912.

3.     The Army Council are at present considering an application from the 90th Regiment "Winnipeg Rifles" for recognition of their services at the actions of Batoche and Fish Creek, during the operations in the North West of Canada in 1885, and it would be desirable to consider the claims of all units engaged in these operations at the same time. I am, therefore, to suggest, for the consideration of Mr. Secretary Harcourt, that the Officer administering the Government of Canada should be requested to forward the claims of all units which, in his opinion, fulfilled the conditions qualifying for the grant of an honorary distinction by having had Headquarters and 50 per cent of the strength of the regiment present during the operations, so that the claims of all units may be considered by the Army Council at the same time.

4.     As it is necessary that full information be available to enable a decision to be arrived at, a statement is required for the 12th Regiment "York Rangers" and for any other unit considered to have a claim for an honour for the 1885 operations, showing:—

(a)     The part taken by it in operations.

(b)     Whether it served during the whole period of the campaign, or, if not, for what portion.

(c)     The casualties incurred.

(d)     The total strength of the regiment at the time of the operations, and the numbers actually engaged therein, showing Headquarters, Officers and other ranks separately.

(a) and (d) have already been supplied for the 90th Regiment "Winnipeg Rifles" with your letter No. 36993 dated 28th November, 1912.

5.     The honours already granted for the operation in question are "North West Canada, 1885" and "Saskatchewan", the former for the operations as a whole and the latter to cover the actions at Fish Creek, Cut Knife and Batoche, and unless there are strong reasons to the contrary, the Army Council think it would be inadvisable to introduce any additional honour for the campaign.

elipsis graphic

The approaches and inquiries regarding battle honours for the Fenian Raids gained no traction and no such awards were granted. It is apparent, however, that the requests for consideration of battle honours for the North West Rebellion in 1885 in 1912-13 were not supported and none were granted at that time.

But the matter did not end there. Inquiries into the possibility of awards of battle honours for 1885 were once again initiated in 1929. As a result, in 1929 and 1930, the battle honours "Fish Creek", "Batoche", "North West Canada, 1885" (singly or in combination) were awarded to nineteen regiments of the Canadian Militia.


Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 November 2015 12:02 AM EST
Monday, 16 November 2015

Anti-Gas Precautions
Topic: The Field of Battle

Anti-Gas Precautions

How I Won the War; the memoirs of a heavily armed civilian by Lieut Ernest Goodbody (as told to), Patrick Ryan, 1963

This was too grave a matter to be dealt with on the line of march. We would have to have a kit inspection on the objective.

'Sergeant Transom,' I said. 'We're not observing proper anti-gas precautions. The leading man has no litmus paper on his bayonet.'

He looked down at the thick, white dust puffing over our boots.

'Nor he hasn't, sir,' he said in surprise. 'And this is a dead likely place to meet mustard gas, and all. I'll see to it right away.'

He moved forward and spiked a sheet of paper on Private Drogue's bayonet.

'What we do now,' asked the gas sentry. 'Flag day?'

The litmus paper did not look of standard size to me and so I went up to inspect. It was a square of toilet paper. Quite useless, I assure you, for detecting mustard gas deposits. I was about to remonstrate with the sergeant when I noticed that no one in the platoon but myself still had a gas mask. They'd all thrown them away. This was too grave a matter to be dealt with on the line of march. We would have to have a kit inspection on the objective.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 15 November 2015

Patton's Fighting Principles
Topic: Leadership

Patton's Fighting Principles

Leadership Principles for the new ADP 6-22; A Monograph by Major Gregory W. McLean, US Army, SAMS, AY 2012-001

"Patton's Fighting Principles" taken from his letter of instruction issued to his Army before D-Day, on 6 March 1944:

  • Everyone was to "lead a person."
  • A commander who failed to reach his objectives and who was not dead or severely wounded has not done his full duty.
  • Visit the front daily – to observe, not to meddle.
  • Praise is more valuable than blame.
  • Your primary mission as a leader is to see with your own eyes and be seen by your troops while engaged in personal reconnaissance.
  • Persons who did not rest will not last.
  • Plans had to be simple and flexible.
  • Information is like eggs: the fresher the better.
  • Orders are to be short to tell what to do not how.
  • Tell the troops what they are going to do and what they have done.
  • Visit the wounded personally and frequently. Award decorations promptly.
  • If you do not enforce and maintain discipline, you are a potential murderer.
  • Men in condition do not tire.
  • Courage, don’t make counsel of your fears.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Autumnal Wreath of Maple Leaves
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Autumnal Wreath of Maple Leaves

From the archived correspondence of the Governor-General of Canada, held by Library and Archives Canada.

In 1926, a question regarding the design of Standards, Guidons and Colours for units of the Canadian Militia was brought forward. The following excerpt comes from a letter, dated 6 May 1926, from the Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to the office of the Governor General:

"I have the honour to state that in considering the specifications for standards, guidons and colours for the Canadian Militia, the Department of National Defence is desirous of including as a Canadian emblem a wreath of autumnal tinted maple leaves in place of the union wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks are present provided for, and requests that the proposal should be forwarded for consideration by Imperial authorities."

The reply from Downing Street, dated 13 October, 1926, read:

"With reference to the Deputy Governor General's despatch No. 244 of the 11th May I have the honour to request Your Excellency to inform your Ministers that His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve the proposal that a wreath of autumnal tinted maple leaves shaould be included as a Canadian emblem in place of the union wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks at present provided for in the standards, guidon and colours of the Canadian Militia."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 13 November 2015

Erasmus' Twenty-two Principles
Topic: Military Theory

Erasmus' Twenty-two Principles

Appendix A, On Combat, Lt. Col., Dave Grossman, 2004

Erasmus' Twenty-two Principles on How to be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World

From the Enchridion, Militus Christiani: A Guide for the Righteous Protector, by Erasmus, 1503, extracted by Sergeant Chris Pascoe, Michigan State Police

First Rule
Increase Your Faith
Even if the entire world appears mad.

Second Rule
Act Upon Your Faith.
Even if you must undergo the loss of everything.

Third Rule
Analyze Your Fears.
You will find that things are not as bad as they appear.

Fourth Rule
Make Virtue The Only Goal Of Your Life.
Dedicate all your enthusiasm, all your effort, your leisure, as well as your business.

Fifth Rule
Turn Away from Material Things.
If you are greatly concerned with money you will be weak of spirit.

Sixth Rule
Train Your Mind To Distinguish Good And Evil.
Let your rule of government be determined by the common good.

Seventh Rule
Never Let Any Setback Stop You In Your Quest.
We are not perfect—this only means we should try harder.

Eighth Rule
If You Have Frequent Temptations, Do Not Worry.
Begin to worry when you do not have temptation, because that is a sure sign that you cannot distinguish good from evil.

Ninth Rule
Always Be Prepared for an Attack.
Careful generals set guards even in times of peace.

Tenth Rule
Spit, As It Were, In The Face Of Danger.
Keep a stirring quotation with you for encouragement.

Eleventh Rule
There Are Two Dangers:
One Is Giving Up, The Other Is Pride.

After you have performed some worthy task, give all the credit to someone else.

Twelfth Rule
Turn Your Weakness Into Virtue.
If you are inclined to be selfish, make a deliberate effort to be giving.

Thirteenth Rule
Treat Each Battle As Though It Were Your Last.
And you will finish, in the end, victorious!

Fourteenth Rule
Don't Assume That Doing Good Allows You To Keep A Few Vices.
The enemy you ignore the most is the one who conquers you.

Fifteenth Rule
Weigh Your Alternatives Carefully.
The wrong way will often seem easier than the right way.

Sixteenth Rule
Never Admit Defeat Even If You Have Been Wounded.
The good soldier's painful wounds spur him to gather his strength.

Seventeenth Rule
Always Have A Plan Of Action.
So when the time comes for battle, you will know what to do.

Eighteenth Rule
Calm Your Passions By Seeing How Little There Is To Gain.
We often worry and scheme about trifling matters of no real importance.

Nineteenth Rule
Speak With Yourself This Way:
If I do what I am considering, would I want my family to know about it?

Twentieth Rule
Virtue Has Its Own Reward
Once a person has it, they would not exchange it for anything.

Twenty-first Rule
Life Can Be Sad, Difficult, And Quick:
Make It Count For Something!

Since we do not know when death will come, act honorably everyday.

Twenty-second Rule
Repent Your Wrongs
Those who do not admit their faults have the most to fear.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 12 November 2015

Stand Up and March
Topic: Drill and Training

Stand Up and March

'Worthy'; A Biography of Major-General F.F. Worthington, C.B., M.C., M.M., Larry Worthington, 1961

A small-scale manoeuvre took place at Bramshott in which the Battalion attacked machine-gun positions, each represented by a drummer hidden in a clump of bushes. Worthy, an acting lance-corporal, was in charge of a few men and approached the objective—capturing the machine-gun post—in what to him was a perfectly logical manner. Taking advantage of cover, he and his men stalked the drummer, creeping up from behind and capturing him, thus putting the "gun" out of action.

They were the only ones to make any headway. All the rest of the Battalion were declared casualties once within range of the drums. But with Worthy's coup, the exercise on that immediate front came to an abrupt halt and the lance-corporal, feeling pretty proud of himself, prepared for what he considered justifiable commendation as he saw a mounted staff officer galloping towards them. But the officer came, not to praise, but to blast.

"Who's in charge here?" he roared

"I am, sir," said Worthy.

"You are, eh! Well, you're a disgrace to your regiment. What do you think you're doing? No British soldier crawls into battle on his belly! There's only one way to go after an enemy post. Stand up and march briskly forward!"

In the years that followed Worthy saw many brave men do just that.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Private Irving, KIA
Topic: Remembrance

Private Irving, KIA

This story of one "Private Irving" comes from "The Official Story of the Canadian Expeditionary Force," by Sir Max Aitken, M.P., 1916.

Now we come to the story of Private Irving, one of General Turner's subordinate staff, who went out to do as brave a deed as a man might endeavour, but never returned. Irving had been up for forty-eight hours helping to feed the wounded as they were brought into Brigade Headquarters, which had been turned into a temporary dressing station, when he heard that a huge poplar tree had fallen across the road and was holding up the ambulance wagons.

Though utterly weary, he at once offered to go out and cut the tree in pieces and drag it from the path at the tail of an ambulance wagon.

Irving set forth with the ambulance, but, on nearing the place of which he was in search, left it, and went forward on foot along the road, which was being swept by heavy artillery fire and a cross rifle fire. And then, even as, axe in hand, he tramped up this road, with shells bursting all around him and bullets whistling past him, he disappeared as completely as though the night had swallowed him up! General Turner, who appreciated the gallant work Irving had set out to do, himself had all the lists of the field force checked over to see if he had been brought in wounded. But Irving was never traced. He is missing to this day—a strange and brave little mystery of this great war.

Identifying Irving from this brief description seemed like a daunting task, but checks of Ted Wigney's "CEF Roll of Honour," and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial quickly limited the possibilities to one soldier.

Private William Adam Irving died on the 24th of April, 1915. He was a soldier of the 15th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

Born in Little Current, Ontario, Irving's family was living in Sudbury when he attested for overseas service at Valcartier on 18 September, 1914. William Irving was a 21-year-old Deputy Sheriff, with 4 years prior experience in the "97th Rifles, Volunteers," now The Algonquin Regiment.

Confirmation that William Irving was the man in the excerpt above came from his Circumstances of Death record, which can be viewed among the resources on line at the Library and Archives Canada. This document reads:

"Previously reported Missing, now for official purposes presumed to have Died"

"On the night of April 23/24th, 1915, word was received at Brigade Headquarters that a tree had fallen across the road near Fortuin, thereby preventing the ambulances going up for the wounded. Pte. Irving who was nearby volunteered to go and cut the tree. He took an axe, climbed into one of the ambulances, and started for Fortuin. Shortly afterwards the ambulances were hit by shell fire, and the drivers taken prisoners, but no information has since been received concerning Private Irving."

Private William Adam Irving is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Belgium.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 18 October 2015 3:00 PM EDT
Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The United States Marine Corps
Topic: US Armed Forces

The United States Marine Corps

The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer; Backbone of the Armed Forces, 2014

Marines are different. They have their own air arm, and they deploy on land and at sea. They have a hymn, not a song. Marines are different because of their ethos. Chapter 1 of Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 6-11, Leading Marines, is titled "Our Ethos." The introduction to that publication captures the essence of the Marine Corps ethos:

Being a Marine comes from the eagle, globe, and anchor that is tattooed on the soul of every one of us who wears the Marine Corps uniform. … Unlike physical or psychological scars, which over time, tend to heal and fade in intensity, the eagle, globe, and anchor only grow more defined—more intense—the longer you are a Marine. "Once a Marine, always a Marine." (Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 6-11, Leading Marines (Washington, DC: Headquarters United States Marine Corps, 1995))

That tattoo reflects a selfless spirit of being one of the few. Ask any Marine what he or she does, and the answer will be "I'm a Marine." What is most important to a Marine is being a Marine, not what rank or military occupational specialty he or she holds. It is the culture of the Marine Corps that makes it different not only from society as a whole, but also from the other Services. The Marine Corps is determined to be different—in military appearance, obedience to orders, disciplined behavior, adherence to traditions, and most important, the unyielding conviction that the Corps exists to fight. It has a deep appreciation for its rich history and traditions, which instills pride and responsibility in every Marine down to the lowest levels. Older Marines pass the traditions of the Corps to younger ones, ensuring they understand that the successes and sacrifices of the past set the path for the future. Since the first two battalions of Marines were raised by an act of the Continental Congress in 1775, many recruited from Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the Corps has distinguished itself in every conflict in our nation's history. What follows are some of the more important characteristics that have shaped Marine Corps culture not only in the past, but also today.

Every Marine Is a Rifleman. In fact, every Marine, officer or enlisted, is trained first to be a rifleman before being trained in any other specialty. It is this bedrock premise and the training that goes with it that set all Marines on a common foundation. Leaders are molded with the same training given to those they will lead, building empathy and understanding unattainable in the other Services. Every facet of the Marine Corps exists to support the rifleman, and every Marine understands that.

Taking Care of Our Own. The characteristic that best defines Marines is selflessness—a spirit that places the self-interest of the individual after that of the institution and the team, all working toward a common goal. It is important that the unit succeed, not the individual. It is common to hear Marines speak of their leaders based on how well they take care of subordinates. "Take care of your people" and "take care of each other" are imbued in Marines from their first day in the Corps. Officers and NCOs eat last. They inspect the chow hall by eating in it. They know how their troops live in the barracks because they go there, and in the field they never have more creature comforts than their troops do. The only privilege of rank is that of ensuring that your subordinates are cared for. This culture defines what the Marine Corps is and who Marines are: men and women who exhibit extraordinary leadership and courage, both physical and moral, shaped by their dedication to the institution and each other.

Combined Arms Expeditionary Forces in Readiness. Operationally, there are four generally accepted characteristics that define and describe the Marine Corps. First, although capable of deploying and employing by various means, the Marine specialty is amphibiousness: the Corps comes from the sea, thus Marines think of themselves as "Soldiers of the Sea." Therefore, the Service focuses primarily on the coastal or littoral regions of the world. Second, the Marine Corps trains and operates as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, a combined-arms, air-ground team, logistically self-sustainable for short periods of time. Third, as a force-in-readiness, the Marine Corps is a national "swing force"—forward deployed and expeditionary by nature—ready to respond rapidly to crises. Fourth, the Marine Corps considers itself a light-to-medium force, packing a quick and lethal punch. Although prepared to operate across the full spectrum of conflict, the Corps is more at home and most effective as a light-to-medium force that can be on scene quickly with enough firepower and sustainability to conduct operations as an "enabling force" until heavier units arrive.

The Marine Corps Is Small. As part of its expeditionary nature, the operating forces of the Marine Corps live on "camps," not forts or bases, and maintain a high tooth-to-tail ratio, relying on the other Services for a large portion of logistics, transportation, education, and combat service support. Many Marines receive specialized training at the other Service schools. There are no Marine doctors, nurses, dentists, field medical corpsmen, or chaplains—all of these are provided by the Navy. The Air Force and Navy get the Marines to the fight, with the Army assisting toward sustainment if Marines are forward deployed for extended periods.

Most Active-duty Marine forces are in the operating forces, with the bulk of those forces in the Fleet Marine Forces. These operating forces provide the combat power that is immediately available to the combatant commanders for employment.

To Marines, expeditionary means more than just getting there quickly. The Marines in the operating forces—most living in a Spartan-like "temporary-residence" mindset when not deployed— are eager members of the combined-arms team. This team is tailored toward a maneuver warfare approach to combat, where power from the sea is projected across the littoral, ideally maximizing the combined effect of its resources at a critical seam of the enemy's defense.

In 1957, the Commandant of the Marine Corps asked Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, "Why does the United States need a Marine Corps?" Five days later, General Krulak replied:

Essentially, as a result of the unfailing conduct of our Corps over the years, they (our nation's citizens) believe three things about Marines. First they believe when trouble comes to our country there will be Marines—somewhere—who, through hard work, have made and kept themselves ready to do something useful about it, and do it at once.

Second, they believe that when the Marines go to war they invariably turn in a performance that is dramatically and decisively successful—not most of the time, but always. Their faith and their convictions in this regard are almost mystical.

The third thing they believe about Marines is that our Corps is downright good for … our country; that the Marines are masters of a form of unfailing alchemy which converts unoriented youths into proud, self-reliant stable citizens—citizens into whose hands the nation's affairs may safely be entrusted.

Krulak concluded:

I believe the burden of all this can be summarized by saying that, while the functions which we discharge must always be done by someone, and while an organization such as ours is the correct one to do it, still, in terms of cold mechanical logic, the United States does not need a Marine Corps. However, for good reasons which completely transcend logic, the United States wants a Marine Corps. Those reasons are strong; they are honest, they are deep rooted and they are above question or criticism. So long as they exist—so long as the people are convinced that we can really do the three things I mentioned—we are going to have a Marine Corps… . And, likewise, should the people ever lose that conviction—as a result of our failure to meet their high—almost spiritual standards—the Marine Corps will then quickly disappear. (Victor H. Krulak, First to Fight: An Inside View of the United States Marine Corps (New York: Pocket Books, 1984))

In 1935, Gunnery Sergeant Walter Holzworth was asked how the Marine Corps came by its reputation as one of the world's greatest fighting formations. He replied, "Well, they started right out telling everybody how great they were. Pretty soon they got to believing it themselves. And they have been busy ever since proving they were right."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 9 November 2015

Topic: CEF


Trench Warfare; A Manual for Officers and Men,, J.S. Smith, Second Lieutenant with the British Expeditionary Force, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917.

When fire trenches are to be occupied for any length of time it is necessary to revet them. By that I mean the walls, and especially front walls, have to be faced or strengthened by sand bags, boards, corrugated iron or other material that is needed. This work to be of any use at all must have solid foundations and be thorough from top to bottom. Careless revetment work is of no use and a source of endless labor and trouble. All such work should be supervised by officers or N. C. O.'s who have a thorough understanding of such things, and they will be amply repaid if they take an active part in the work with their own hands. There are several forms of revetment, according to the materials available and the conditions of the walls to be revetted, but the usual materials are the sandbags, corrugated iron, stakes, boards, wire netting, etc., and these can be used either separately or in a combination. All these materials are generally kept in engineer dumps, some little way behind the firing line. Requisitions are made during the day by the officer commanding the sector of trench which requires revetting, and at night the men are detailed in carrying parties to go down to the engineer dumps and carry these things up for work the next day.


Sandbags are usually available in large quantities, but it is well to remember that generally only half the number indented for reach the indentor. The rest gengo around the men's feet and legs to keep them warm at night, and very often are used as a sort of mattress in the dugouts. This should not be allowed as it creates a tremendous wastage. The sandbags should only be about three-quarters filled, thus allowing for the choke or neck end, after tied, being turned under the back when laid in position. This also gives something to catch hold of when laying and brings the weight to something manageable, about sixty pounds.

A bag three-quarters filled measures approximately 20" x 10" x 5". Laid sand bags are called headers, when laid with bottom of the bag facing the center of the trench, and ptretchers, if laid with the side facing the trench as per sketch. The neck end should always be tucked well in the bag in the case of the stretcher; the side seam, which is a weak spot in the sand bag, should be kept from exposure, that is, should be turned from the center of the trench.

When the front wall of a trench is to be revetted and only sandbags are available, the wall should first be cut to a slope of from 10 to 15 degrees from the perpendicular, and the loose soil obtained, if dry, placed in the sandbags. When there is an unrevetted fire platform, this should be also cut away and put, if dry, in the sand bags. A bed should then be dug about 6 inches into the solid bottom of the trench (disregarding the soft mud which for foundation purposes is of no use) and sloping down into the parapet at right angles to the slope of the front wall. Into this bed place a row of headers. On this row place a double row of stretchers. Joints must always be the same manner as brick-laying that is, care taken that the joint where the ends of the stretchers meet does not come immediately over the joint between the headers and the lower row. Sand bags should now be beaten down flat, generally with a wooden mallet provided for this purpose; then alternate rows of headers and stretchers laid; each layer being flattened out with the mallet until the top of the parapet is reached. The top layer should always come out as headers.

Twenty-five headers or twelve stretchers, or sixteen mixed, is the average required for revetting every superficial yard of trench.

The slope of a front trench wall, even when from 10 to 15 degrees from perpendicular, is apt gradually to assume the perpendicular, and then fall in, owing to the sinking of the trench bottom or the actual thrust of the earth in front. This can, however, be checked by using 6' to 8' stakes driven well into the front wall foundation, and at the same angle as the front wall. Then, wiring the head of these stakes to what is known as an anchor-stake driven about 10' into the ground in front of the trench.

Sandbars come in bales of 250, which are again divided into bundles of 50 each. On a carrying party it is an average rule that each man carry 100 sand bags.

Corrugated Iron

Generally, when lengths of corrugated iron and plenty of floor boards and stakes are available, this material is used for revetting the lower half of a trench wall, as it removes a great many difficulties, such as looking over substantial foundations for sandbag revetments. It makes it unnecessary to fill sandbags, etc., thus saving a great amount of time and labor. In revetting with corrugated iron and stakes or hurdles, cut the slope or wall from 10 to 15 degrees from the perpendicular, putting the soil in the sandbags and leaving it in some handy place for any future use. Then, drive 6' to 8' stakes well into the trench foundation and approximately 4' apart, thus giving adequate protection to each piece of corrugated, having the stakes at an angle of 15 degrees at least, from the perpendicular, and 6" or 8" away from the trench wall. Then, slide the corrugated, hurdles, or boards on their sides down behind the stakes, overlapping slightly the ends ,and ramming them well down into the mud or soil in the bottom, and filling in the space behind with soil.

The bottom third or half of the front wall is thus substantially, easily and quickly revetted, and the upper half or remainder is generally revetted with the sandbags, a bed being dug so that the first layer of headers is about half its depth below the top of the corrugated. If stakes shorter than 6' or 8' have been used in the revetting, half should be cut off to where the sandbag revetting commences and wired to anchor stakes, driven into the parapet end of the bed, and not wired over the top of the parapet, as it tends to gradually pull them upwards. Then cover this wiring with your first layer of headers. "When hurdles or floorboards are used instead of corrugated iron, empty sandbags or similar material must be hung behind them to prevent the soil crumbling through and thus

weakening the foundation of the sandbag revetments. Corrugated should not be used for revetting the front wall higher than 2', which is the width of one sheet, as the supply is generally limited and can be put to more valuable use as dealt with later. Corrugated iron comes in bundles of about 24 sheets to the bundle, averaging 6' by 3'. Two sheets is the average load for any one man in a carrying party.

A front wall constructed in the manner shown, if prompt and immediate attention always be given to repair if damage is done, will give very little bother. It is the usual custom to construct your fire platform after this revetting work has been done.

A trench should be dug no deeper than will afford protection to the firer, a deeper passageway necessitating a fire platform, a subsequent work, and by first revetting the whole front wall from bottom to top then adding the fire platform, each gets the benefit of the foundation of the other. Until this fire platform is constructed, emergency methods may be used and improvised in a moment with ammunition boxes, loose sandbags and the various other junk which accumulates in a trench.

Fire Platforms

Now that the front wall has been revetted, either with corrugated or sandbags, the construction of the fire platform should be at once started. To start this, short stakes should be driven well into the trench bottom about 36" from the front wall and parallel to the slope of the front wall, averaging from 2' to 3' apart and generally as substantial as the large revetment stakes, although this is not of absolute necessity.

When brushwood is procurable, it should be used as a foundation, putting it in after the short stakes are driven and ramming it down behind them. This gives you as nearly as possible a dry and compact foundation for your first row of headers. Then this may be covered with another lot of brushwood, and that again by a row of headers, and from then the layer should be alternate headers and stretchers. Sand bags do not offer a good platform after a heavy rain, as they become wet and slippery and the material quickly rots, then they break open and the top of your fire platform is gone. To avoid this, it is necessary to use whatever material may be at hand in the covering of the top layer.

One good way of providing this top covering when the material is procurable, is a wire netting used in a double thickness. It should be placed behind and up against the stakes before the foundation is laid. Then when the fire platform is built to its proper height, bend the wire from the top of the fire platform and fasten it down on the sides by whatever means are handy. Using this double wire netting makes it possible to use brick and all sorts of general trash in the construction of the fire platform and gives a very good dry footing. When doing that the face of your platform should be either corrugated sheets or boards.

Very often what are known as sentry-boards, or small floor boards about 36" square and with additional cross pieces underneath, giving them a height of about a foot, thus raising them well out of the mud, are used, and are very handy before a fire platform is made, and in some cases have to be used for small men after the fire platform is made.

Joseph Shuter Smith

Joseph Shuter Smith was an American author born in Philadelphia in 1893. He spent his childhood in Alaska during the Gold Rush and spent his years before the Great War as a lumberjack, miner, surveyor and cowboy. In 1914, continuing his adventurous streak, he went to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, declaring his birthplace to be Port Hope, Ontario (with next of kin in Oakland, California). Smith enlisted with the 29th Canadian Infantry Battalion at Vancouver. He served in France and Belgium as a soldier in the CEF and, after being commissioned in August, 1916, as an officer of the British Army with The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). He resigned his Imperial commission after a year to return to the US and enlist in the American Army. Joseph Smith also wrote the memoir: Over There and Back in Three Uniforms; Being the Experiences of an American Boy in the Canadian, British and American Armies at the Front and through No Man's Land.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Tercentenary Marchpast
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Tercentenary Marchpast

The Canadian General Sir William Otter, Desmond Morton, 1974

[Tercentenary celebration of the founding of Quebec take place on the Plains of Abraham.]

By the time Otter reached the plains the early morning mists were being burned off by the sun, the last troops were in place and the stands were packed. Colonel Lessard trotted up to hand over the parade state: 12,422 men, 2,134 horses, 26 guns, with an additional 2,400 sailors and marines from the visiting warships. At 10.00 a.m., the royal party arrived; the bearded Prince in a general's uniform, Lord Roberts in the full dress of a field marshal. Next came the inspection, with Otter leading the party down the long ranks of troops. To his delight he picked out the medical orderlies, standing idly behind the ranks: despite the heat, that meant that few, if any, of his men had collapsed. At the reviewing stand the Prince of Wales dismounted to present Laurier with a cheque for $450,000, the amount so far collected for the battlefield memorial. Now the march-past could begin.

It took an hour and a half for the long line of sailors, marines, gunners, cavalrymen and infantry to pass the reviewing stand. The crowd burst into special applause for the sailors, the little unit of Royal Military College cadets, the Mounted Police and the newest permanent force unit, Lord Strathcona's Horse. Twice Lord Roberts trotted out to lead troops past the Prince of Wales - first the artillery, then Otter's old regiment, the Queen's Own. He was colonel- in-chief of both. Gradually, as the lines passed before him, Otter could relax. There would be no mishap, no humiliating confusion. He could spare a thought for the rural battalions, marvelling at their transformation during his militia years. At the end of the column came the Royal Canadian Regiment. To the Prince, puzzled that regular troops should march in the junior position, Otter explained: "I wanted the tail to be equal to the head."

When the parade had passed, two batteries of permanent force artillery, the newly redesignated Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, formed up at one end of the field. At a command, whips cracked and the two batteries suddenly raced across the field, harness jingling, limbers and guns leaping over the uneven ground. At the far end, the teams twisted and, in a cloud of dust, came hurtling back. The crowd leaped to its feet, shouting itself hoarse with excitement. The review was over. Otter urged his horse forward, riding out to meet his troops. As he moved toward the huge mass of scarlet, rifle green and navy blue, the significance of the parade state figures struck him: he commanded more men than the armies of Wolfe and Montcalm combined.'

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

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

Topic: Military Theory


The Lonely Leader; Monty, 1944-1945, Alistaire Horne, 1994

In Britain, Monty's own training programme was reaching a new pitch of intensity, but what substitute could there be for the actual battlefield, with all its brutality, surprises and lessons? He became the first British commander to develop close tactical support with the air force, something which the Germans had already raised to a high state of perfection by 1940. In close conjunction with Brooke, he saw to it that each of the new British armoured divisions contained at least one lorry-borne infantry brigade—as had the Germans when they crossed the Meuse in 1940. He studied successful Soviet techniques of carrying infantry into the attack on the backs of tanks. (Meanwhile, in Russia, the Germans were now bringing up their infantry close behind the Panzers in cross-country armoured troop-carriers.) He developed the lessons he had gained in the First World War, the need for flexibility in regrouping—what later came to be closely linked with the key Monty formula of 'balance'—and the need to operate, on the offensive, by means of one or more concen-trated attacks on relatively narrow fronts, instead of mass efforts against a wide front. 'Concentration—control—simplicity' was the secret formula he dinned into his officers. Above all, he was crystallizing his philosophy of leadership. The leader, as he developed the theme in his memoirs, has to see his objective clearly and let everyone else know what he wants; he must begin with a very firm 'grip' on his military machine; he must never bring his subordinates back to confer with him, he must go forward (a view that would cause much conflict with the Americans from Normandy onwards); he himself must live in tranquillity, removed from all the exhaustion imposed by detail; he must be able to exercise 'direct and personal' command, to which end would follow his famous system, like his hero Wellington's, of fast-moving young liaison officers.

The Senior Subaltern

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

Developing the Soldierly Spirit
Topic: Drill and Training

Developing the Soldierly Spirit

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

The objects in view in developing a soldierly spirit are to help the soldier:—

  • to bear fatigue, privation, and danger cheerfully;
  • to imbue him with a sense of honour;
  • to give him confidence in his superiors and comrades;
  • to increase his powers of initiative, of self-confidence, and of self-restraint;
  • to train him to obey orders, or
  • to act in the absence of orders for the advantage of his regiment under all conditions;
  • to produce such a high degree of courage and disregard of self, that in the stress of battle he will use his brains and his weapons coolly and to the best advantage is to impress upon him that, so long as he is physically capable of fighting, surrender to the enemy is a disgraceful act; and finally,
  • to teach him how to act in combination with his comrades in order to defeat the enemy.

As soon as the recruit joins he should be brought under influences which will tend to produce and increase such a spirit, and it is the duty of all officers and non-commissioned officers to assist in the attainment of this object by their conversation and example.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 5 November 2015

Officers and Study (1850s)
Topic: Officers

It was not enough to read these works, the author said; the officer should make extracts and comments.

Officers and Study (1850s)

Gallant Gentlemen; a portrait of the British Officer 1600-1956, E.S. Turner, 1956

Early in the 1850s an anonymous military tutor wrote a book, The Pattern Military Officer, designed to help officer candidates to pass their entrance examination. Among the requirements of the examiners, he said, was that the candidate should be able to translate any passage in Livy's History of Rome (Books 21-25 inclusive), and any portion of the Aeneid (Books 1 to 3), with parsing and prosody. Non-classical scholars were to translate a given passage in French or German. All candidates had to know the names of the European capitals, and be able to trace in the presence of the examiners a front fortification according to Vauban's First System, and the profile of a rampart and a parapet.

This military tutor recommended an officer to equip himself with:—

[and] various works on military fortification and strategy and a technological dictionary.

It was not enough to read these works, the author said; the officer should make extracts and comments.

The Senior Subaltern

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

Constructing Wolseley Hall
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Constructing Wolseley Hall

Wolseley Hall, located in London, Ontario, was the first construction project funded by a Canadian Government in support of the needs of the Dominion's new Permanent Force (now known as the Regular Force). Where all previously existing units of the Permanent Force occupied refitted buildings taken over after the departure of British Army units, the establishment of a new company of the Infantry School Corps in London required new accommodation.

The new infantry barracks was located on Carling Heights, a property acquired from John Carling in a trade with the city for the downtown Victoria Park property that had been the original garrison location. Wolseley Hall was located on the edge of town in 1886, and has since been enveloped by the city's expansion over the past century. The military property was formally titled "Wolseley Barracks" in 1894, after Viscount Lord Wolseley. Originally bounded by Elizabeth, Oxford, and Sterling streets, and by the railway right of way on the south boundary, the property saw a series of building programs over the decades to meet Canada's military needs for the garrison. Retitled Canadian Forces base London and Area Support Unit London, the official Canadian Armed Forces name of the property is again "Wolseley Barracks."

From the Government's Orders-in-Council that can be accessed through the Library and Archives Canada website, we can find the following approval for the original tendering of construction:

Infantry School, London, Ontario – Minister of Public Works recommends accepting tender of Hook and Toll at $76,430 for building (9 April 1886).

On a memorandum dated 9th April 1886, the Minister of Public Works, representing that tenders were invited by public notice for the erection of an Infantry School Building at London, Ont:— the tenders to state separate prices for building the exterior walls of which would be a brick and a half thick according to the plans and specifications, and for one with exterior walls two bricks in thickness with two inch space between—and that in answer to such notice, nineteen tenders have been received, ranging as follows:—

For a building with exterior walls 1 ½ bricks thick, from $73,333 to $133,500 and, for a building with exterior walls 2 bricks thick, from $76,430 to $138,100.

The Minister further represents that the lowest tender in the latter case is that of Messrs Joseph Hook and Peter Toll, of London, who have deposited the required security.

The Minister recommends that authority be granted to accept the tender of Messrs Hook and Toll.

The Committee advise that the requisite authority be granted accordingly."

This memorandum was signed by A. Campbell, and counter-signed with approval by "Lansdowne," The Governor-General, on 13 April, 1886.

But the construction of Wolseley Hall, as with many Government contracts, was not to be completed within the originally allocated budget.

Infantry School London – Minister of Public Works recommends Special Warrant to cover over expenditure (10 January 1887):

"On a memorandum dated 10th January 1887, from the Minister of Public Works representing that Parliament at its last session voted for the fiscal year 1886-87 the sum of $30,000 towards the infantry school in course of erection at London, Ontario, and that the unexpended balance, viz: $16,733.36 of the vote for 1885-86 was carried over for expenditure in 1886-87 and that, thus, the amount rendered available for the present fiscal year, was $46,733.36.

The Minister further represents that the work was proceeded with by the Contractors more expeditiously than was expected, and that a total expenditure of $50,704.35 has been incurred and that over-expenditure has therefore been made to the extent of $3,970.99, or say, $4000.00.

The Minister recommends on the report of his Chief Architect that the further sum of $10,000 is now required to carry on the work, pending a further vote by Parliament, and $4,000 to cover the above mentioned over expenditure, as the necessity is urgent and the Minister of Finance having reported that there is no Parliamentary appropriation from which the same can be defrayed that a Special Warrant of His Excellency the Governor General be issued for the sum of Fourteen thousand dollars ($14,000) a like amount to be placed in the Supplementary estimates to be laid before Parliament at its next session.

The Committee submit the above recommendation for your Excellency's approval."

This request for an advance of further funds to complete Wolseley Hall was signed by Hector-Louis Langevin, and counter-signed for approval by the Governor-General on 12 January 1887.

Wolseley Hall would take a further year to complete construction, opening to house "D" Company of the Infantry School Corps in 1888.

The Infantry School Corps continues to exists today, having evolved to become The Royal Canadian Regiment. Wolseley Hall remains the home of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (a unit of the Canadian Army's Reserve Force), the Regimental Museum of The Royal Canadian Regiment, and other Canadian Armed Forces units and elements at Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Hall was designated a National Historic Site in 1963.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

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

Compensation; circa 1880
Topic: Canadian Militia

Compensation; circa 1880

From the Orders-in-Council documents archived on line by Library and Archives Canada, we find this memorandum on the payment of compensation in regards to the death of a soldier following a training accident. (17 May 1880)

Various online calculators place the value of $300 in 1880 at about $7000 in 2015. (1) (2) (3)

$300 in 1880 was, however, 600 days (1 yr, 7 mos, 3 wks) pay at a soldier's rate of 50 cents per day.

"On a report dated 17th May 1880 from the Honorable the Minister of Militia and Defence, stating that Trumpeter Harry Leslie, late of "B" Battery, while employed at mortar practice at St. Helen's Island on the 23rd July 1875 (sic), was accidentally wounded in the leg by a fragment of a shell, that in consequence of this wound, his leg had to be amputated and that he died subsequently from the effects of the injury thus received in the discharge of his duty.

"The Minister, therefore, recommends that the compensation to which Trumpeter Leslie would have been entitled, had he lived, be now granted to his mother who depended on him for support and that a sum of three hundred dollars ($300) be paid her in full of all claims against the Government in this case.

"The Committee submit the above recommendation for Your Excellency's approval."

Signed by the Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, the memorandum was approved and counter-signed by the Governor-General, the Marquess of Lorne.

elipsis graphic

Accident Notice

Montreal Daily Witness; 31 July 1875

"A soldier by the name of Harry Leslie, while engaged at shell practice yesterday afternoon, received a severe injury on the knee from the explosion of one of the shells, a fragment of which bounded from a stone, inflicting the wound. He was conveyed to the Montreal General Hospital."

elipsis graphic

Obituary Notice

Montreal Daily Witness; 28 December 1875

"Leslie—[Died 27 December 1875] At the Montreal General Hospital from a wound received at mortar practice on St. Helen's Island, July 30th. Trumpeter Harry Leslie, B Battery, Canadian Artillery, aged 23 years and 10 months."

Harry Leslie is buried in Montreal's Mount Royal Cemetery.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 November 2015 12:04 AM EST
Monday, 2 November 2015

Rations at the Beginning of the 19th Century
Topic: Army Rations

Rations at the Beginning of the 19th Century

Inside the Regiment; The Officers and Men of the 30th Regiment During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Carole Divall, 2011

Not only was the soldier clothed by the army; he could also rely on being fed by the army, except under the most severe campaigning conditions or when the commissariat failed. These two difficulties came together during the final days of the retreat from Burgos when the supplies took the wrong route. No wonder men of the third and fourth divisions resorted to shooting pigs while others scrambled for acorns as their only hope of sustenance. Nor was this an isolated incident. The commissary attached to the third division during the Waterloo campaign also failed in his duty. As a result, on Wellington's order, 'Mr Deputy Assistant Commissary General Spencer [was] removed from the Commissariat for quitting the 3d Division to which he was attached, without leave during the important operations recently carrying on.'

The official daily ration was one and a half pounds of bread, a pound of meat (half a pound if it was pork), a quarter of a pint of pease, an ounce of butter or cheese, and an ounce of rice. Since not all of these were always available, considerable variations in this restricted diet are recorded. In addition, some battalions encouraged officers to supply their men with vegetables. Bread and meat were the most predictable items, but although the quantity remained the same the quality varied greatly. There were many horror stories of adulterated food, particularly bread. As for meat, a pound might be more bone than flesh.

Inspecting generals in the two-battalion period often commented approvingly on the quality of the meat supplied. In November 1813, while the second battalion was stationed in Jersey, it was reported that 'The meat and bread are furnished by contract, of a good quality', while sixth months later, in Flanders, the men's messing is well attended to, & the meat and bread issued is generally good.' In Vaumorel's inspection at Cannanore, we read that 'The men's messing [is] strictly attended to, and good as the supplies on the Malabar Coast will possibly admit of.'

On campaign, the meat was likely to be on the hoof until shortly before it found its way into the men's camp kettles, or alternatively it might be salted. As in so many aspects of military life which related to the comfort of the soldier, the French organised things rather better for their conscript army, so it is no wonder that the chance to eat what the French had left behind in the course of a hurried departure was eagerly accepted. This was the good fortune of the 2/30th along with the 2/94th, when they crossed the river into Sabugal in 1811, and broke into the recently vacated castle.

The daily drink allowance was five pints of small beer, which on campaign would be converted into whatever happened to be the local drink. The Portuguese wondered at the British soldiers' capacity for drinking the rough red wine which they themselves were reluctant to touch; while in India the native arrack was the cause of much indiscipline. There is evidence to suggest that some soldiers would willingly have starved themselves in order to have more money for drink, but for the system of messing which put men into groups who cooked and shared the food in rotation. This made it impossible for the individual soldier to forgo his food Furthermore, the officer of the day, as part of his duties, was required to inspect kettles at the hour appointed for cooking, while supervising messing arrangements was one of the general duties of all company officers.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 10 October 2015 7:08 PM EDT
Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Militia Way of Life; Training (1980s)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Militia Way of Life; Training (1980s)

Canada's Militia; A Heritage at Risk, T.C. Willey, 1987 (Originally published under the title "A Heritage at Risk: The Canadian Militia as a Social Institution")

…it led me to wonder about the effectiveness of an artillery battery commander after a few days of this kind of life because I had always been taught that an officer should have more important things to do than look after himself.

On a Friday evening in May, the armory at Calgary, Alberta, was the center of a mighty thunderstorm, and the men and women of the Militia district were arriving after their day's work to load up for an exercise at the Suffield training area some two hundred miles away. The elements of an infantry battalion and an artillery battery were to defend a position against a live enemy provided by the armored regiment. The infantry was actually an under-strength company of about fifty, and the battery had about thirteen officers and other ranks for a total strength of about thirty, also, it was without any of its guns. The armored enemy were, like all their kind in 1980, borne in jeeps and numbered about thirty. The proceedings were timed to begin in the exercise area at midnight, but by this time only a few vehicles had arrived, and news came that the storm had delayed the main body's departure, so hurried plans were made to provide sleeping cover for the troops overnight, and the exercise was postponed until Saturday morning. By 0800 no breakfast rations had arrived, so there was a wait until the troops were fed, and it was nearing midday on Saturday before a cheerful group of officers was assembled for orders from the district commander, whose duties as a provincial court judge ended late the previous afternoon. He had spent the night with the rest, sleeping on the floor of a vehicle shed, but seemed none the worse for it, he described an invasion by "Fantasians" (who seemed to have connections with the USSR) that his troops would try to delay from positions to be dug into the bare hills five or six miles out in the plain.

And so about eight hours after the exercise had been planned to begin, the troops set off in bright sunshine for the plain. I accompanied my battery of six nonexistent guns to its first position where each was sited with proper care but in an unfortunate line with most of the vehicles, such that they would have been an attractive target for hostile aircraft. But no one seemed to worry about this because there was no "air situation" on this exercise, something that I found rather surprising. Despite the absence of guns, everyone took their jobs seriously, including the sentries who were posted over one hundred meters from the position ' to look out for infiltrating enemy.

It was late afternoon and things were happening very slowly; there was time to heat up the canned food, and just as it was ready a note of warlike realism was struck-an order to withdraw to new positions that were sought after we passed through the infantry who were digging slit trenches with fervor to await an expected assault during the night. I joined them with the battery commander, who was driving his own jeep and working his own radio set; for the last four hours of daylight, he had been planning fire support with the infantry while I walked round the troops noting their mood. With faces blacked and plenty of mud on their persons, they seemed to be enjoying the situation and were in what inspecting officers since time immemorial have called "good heart." Their CO, a lieutenant colonel who was normally a business executive, was taking the whole affair as real despite the handful of troops to defend a front of about four hundred meters, and I was reminded of the scene in so many other Militia situations across Canada where there is a senior officer handling a command that would usually be the lot of either a subaltern or, at most, a captain. But, as he said, "That's all I've got, and that has to be it."

I left them in their trenches with my battery commander, an environmental scientist in civilian life, and walked back about a mile to the new gun position that like its predecessor, awaited air attack and annihilation with equanimity because it was again pointed out that there is no air situation this time." More tinned food came and then the rain, which fell in torrents from dusk onward and a gale-force wind to boot. Because nothing was happening, I sought shelter in the back of a truck while the troops huddled in a tent that looked, and was, precarious. Much had been organized by a brisk and good-looking young woman sergeant, who, with the others, was much concerned for the comfort of the professor;' whose vulnerability to the storm was apparently taken to be great. So I was given the back of the truck despite my protests that I could sleep underneath; "what, and be crushed if the truck sinks in the mud" was the sage advice with which I did not argue. About midnight or later I heard my battery commander arriving, and I saw a solitary figure looking round in the rain for somewhere to put his bedroll. I wondered about the hot drink, food, and place to sleep with which I was provided by my team of driver and batman when I was in a like situation many years before. Again, I was reminded of a frequent Militia scene: the officers at all regimental levels doing for themselves just as their soldiers had to and so extolling the virtues of living as a democratic Army. As before, it led me to wonder about the effectiveness of an artillery battery commander after a few days of this kind of life because I had always been taught that an officer should have more important things to do than look after himself.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

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