The Minute Book
Monday, 15 February 2016

More "Practical Joking" Among Officers
Topic: Officers

More "Practical Joking" Among Officers

The Public Ledger, St. John's Newfoundland, 29 May 1855

Canterbury, April 23.—This morning, at our Guildhall, a charge was preferred before the magistrates against Cornets Edward Baumgarten and John Evans, both of the 6th Inniskillin Dragoons, for meeting to fight a duel. The hostile rencontre, thus fortunately prevented, arose out of a series of scandalous indignities to which, it is stated, the former officer (a quiet inoffensive young man) has been for some time subjected at the hands of his brother officers. According to reports current in the regiment some of these "jokes" have proceeded beyond the limits of common decency, and prohibit specific allusion. The following may be mentioned;— Cornet Baumgarten's sword was broken to pieces and the plume of his helmet destroyed. Two buckets of water thrown into his bed, and his clothes placed in the bath, while the chest containing his clean linen was filled with water. Six panes of glass in his window, and his looking glass smashed. The chamber utensils broken and placed in his bed, the door fastened, as well as the window, while he was in his room. His horse (which cost 80 guineas) has been deprived of its tail and topped. In consequence of this treatment Cornet Baumgarten sent Cornet Evans a challenge, as he imagined that he was the ringleader in the affair; and Saturday last was fixed for carrying it into execution. The parties met at the time appointed, accompanied by Adjutant Webster of the Depot, a surgeon of the town, and other gentlemen. It appeared however, that Sergeant Brodie, of the 1st Royal Dragoons, having suspicions of what was going on, had reached the spot before the officers, and on their arrival intimated to them that he should put a stop to what was proposed to take place. Adjutant Webster immediately ordered him to leave the ground, and to consider himself a prisoner. The adjutant then went off to the barracks for a file of the guard to arrest Sergeant Brodie. While he was gone the sergeant went up to Mr. Baumgarten, and said, "You shall not fight this Duel, sir; you shall shoot me first." Mr. Baumgarten tried to get away, but Brodie procured the assistance of some men working in an adjoining field, and ultimately Mr. Baumgarten was detained and taken into a farmhouse. The sergeant was returning to the barracks, when Adjutant Webster and Mr. Harloop came up with a file of men. The Adjutant told them to arrest the sergeant, and to "knock him down with the butt end of their carbines if he made any resistance." the sergeant was then taken away to the barracks. The above facts having been deposed to, and Mr. Austin solicitor, having addressed the bench for the defendants.

The mayor and magistrates, having consulted for a few moments, ordered the two defendants to enter into their own bonds of £100 each, and two sureties in £50 to keep the peace towards each other. The required bail was quickly found, and the officers left with their friends.

A memorandum has been issued from the Horse Guards in reference to a case of practical joking, in which reference was made in the Daily News of last week, and in which Ensigns Sanders and Neville, of the 30th Regiment, were the aggressors, and Ensign Falkner, 50th Regiment, the officer insulted. The memorandum, after giving a summary of the facts of the case, reprimands Brevet-Major Campbell, 30th Regiment, and Capt. Tilbrook, 50th Regiment, commanding depot companies of the respective regiments, for having unjustifiably, injudiciously, and irregularly compromised the affair by agreeing to accept an apology from the two ensigns, instead of making known the complain of Ensign Falkner of Colonel Passy, their commanding officer. Ensign Sanders and Neville, it is stated, may think themselves fortunate that by the "mistaken leniency" in question they have escaped the inevitable consequences of their ungentlemanlike conduct. A very severe admonition is then given to Ensign Neville, who, after apologizing to Ensign Falkner, had again insulted that officer. This opinion, expressing the "severest displeasure" of the Commander-in-Chief, is ordered to be read in the presence of all the officers of the depot battalion at Fermoy, with an assurance that on the recurrence of similar misconduct on the part of Ensign Neville, Viscount Hardinge will consider it his duty to recommend to the Queen that that officer's name should be erased from the list of the army. The conduct of Ensign Falkner is highly commendable for having reported, as he did, the unmerited insulted offered to him by Ensigns Sanders and Neville; and had he not done so, in accordance with the orders of the army, Viscount Hardinge would have deemed it imperative upon him to submit his name to her Majesty for removal.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 15 February 2016 12:04 AM EST
Sunday, 14 February 2016

Boxing Useful Training for Bayonet Fighting
Topic: Drill and Training

Boxing Useful Training for Bayonet Fighting

The Toronto World, 24 September 1918

Published articles to the effect that boxing does not give a useful training as a basis for bayonet fighting and that the two have no common relationship have been emphatically denied in a formal statement that has been issued by Dr. Joseph E. Raycroft, head of the athl;etic division of the war department commission on training camp activities, which directs the athletic activities in the military training camps throughout the country. The statement follows:—

"Several more or less uninformed critics have published articles to the effect that boxing does not give useful training as a basis for bayonet fighting. Such criticisms are based upon ignorance of both bayonet fighting and military boxing. The experience of the past year in the training camps shops that boxing has great value as a preparation for bayonet fighting, and in the development of those physical and spiritual qualities that are characteristic of the aggressive fighting man.

"The great majority of our young men who make up the army have had little or no experience in physical contact games that develop self-reliance, courage, quick thinking, and quick decisions under fire. Bayonet training at its best is a drill in which speed, endurance, and skill in handling the weapon are developed, but in the nature of things, there can be no practice contests with the bayonets. Boxing supplies this important contest factor and furnishes a means of training men to keep their heads and to carry out an effective plan of attack, even though they are being punished by their opponents. In this way, qualities needed in the makeup of a bayonet fighter are developed by practice in boxing to an extent and with a rapidity that is impossible in any other plan of training thus far tried.

"The commanding officers of the training camps in this country have almost universally testified to the value of boxing as a part of military training. In many of the principal camps it has been made a regular and definite part of the daily routine.

"The primary object of boxing, as taught in the army, is to make skillful, self-reliant, hard-hitting men, rather than expert boxers. An efficient soldier must not only be trained in the technique of offence and defence, but he must be charged with the proper fighting spirit. Experience in boxing develops that spirit. It develops a willingness and ability to fight at close quarters and to give and take punishment.

"Practice in boxing has an additional value, many of the blows and movements taught the men in boxing class have their close counterparts in bayonet fighting. For example, a left lead to the head is very similar to a long point to the throat; a right hook to the jaw or the body is like the blows with the butt of the rifle. Of course, there are thrusts and parries in bayonet fighting that are different from any lead, block or counter in boxing, but the principle is the same, and the sequence of action, the body balance, and the ability to take advantage of the openings in the opponent's defence developed in boxing are fundamentally important for the bayonet fighter.

"In the final analysis all physical training in the army must have a practical military significance; boxing possesses this significance to an unusual extent, so that particular stress has been laid upon the instruction of all the soldiers, rather than upon the development of a few experts."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 14 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Militia; a Military Tammany (1884)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Militia; a Military Tammany (1884)

Sherbrooke Weekly Examiner, 31 October 1884

Every competent staff officer has the same story to tell—rusty rifles condemned; not repaired, still in use; and the ball goes on, the delusion is kept at full swing, while the politico-military organization exists on the shadow of a name.

The United Services Magazine dubs the active militia of Canada, a kind of military Tammany. Under the present organization, it says, the force can never be efficient. "In each military district there are two staff officers who are on permanent duty. Once a year these staff officers inspect the different corps, their arms and accoutrements, and from their annual report we find enough to convince us that the active militia of Canada is perhaps the worst officered, the worst drilled, and the worst equipped militia force of any pretensions in the world.

As a satire on military organizations it is a grand success. In such a force it may be assumed that discipline is lax; in fact, there is no discipline at all. Officers and men resign just when it pleases them. The authorities never object. They absent themselves from drill or other duty and no one minds. Fines are never imposed and court-martials are unknown. There is a little stoppage of pay is a man does not attend drill regularly during the twelve days annual training, but that is all. There is no extra fine, and as for the court-martial, such a thing was hardly ever heard of. If they are late for drill—and they nearly always are—they fall in the ranks as is nothing had ever happened. But perhaps the condition of the men's rifles is the worst feature of the many bad ones in the condition of the "active militia" in Canada. Every competent staff officer has the same story to tell—rusty rifles condemned; not repaired, still in use; and the ball goes on, the delusion is kept at full swing, while the politico-military organization exists on the shadow of a name.

The authorities at Ottawa do not want to hear of the militia being unfavourably criticized. The men who compose the force are quietly used for political purposes, or at least the authorities pass over the blemishes of their friends and the first consideration is the triumph of the party, and for that the militia and everything else must be made subservient. Few of the many ex-officers of the British army who reside in Canada will, except in staff capacity, have anything to do with them. They look upon them as "something for mirth, yea, for laughter." And yet this force costs the people of Canada about $750,000 per annum. Compared with the American system, the Canadian militia is proportionally more numerous.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 12 February 2016

British Regiments Fight
Topic: British Army

British Regiments Fight—Two Men Seriously Injured

The Glasgow Herald, 17 October 1901
Press Association Telegram

Aldershot, October 16

The long-standing feud that had existed between the Durham Light Infantry and the Worcester Regiment came to a head last night at the North Camp, Aldershot, with a free fight, in which the bayonet was freely used and ball cartridge fired. Details of the Durham Light Infantry are quartered in Blenheim Barracks, and recently a company of Worcester Mounted Infantry were also sent to the barracks, pending embarkation on the 24th inst, for South Africa.

From what can be ascertained, a quarrel in the canteen was the forerunner of a determined attack after lights-out on one of the Durhams' barrack rooms by the Worcesters, who came armed with rifles, fixed bayonets and other weapons. Every window in the barracks was smashed, and for a time the fighting was severe, during which five of the Durhams were seriously injured.

Picquets were turned out from all parts, and the combatants were separated and confined to their barrack rooms, but the picquets and special squads of military police paraded all night. The injured men were taken to the Commaught Hospital, the most serious cses being those if Private Kelly, who received a bayonet wound in the stomach, and Private Hunter, wounds in the head. A Court of Inquiry is assembling to investigate the matter.

elipsis graphic

From late inquiries it transpires four men were admitted to hospital as a result of the riot. Kelly's condition is causing great anxiety. Private Gully, Worcester Regiment, is suffering from a bayonet stab in the back, and Lance-Corporal Berry and Private Hunter, both of the Durham Light Infantry, have serious wounds in the head caused either by bullets or stones. To-day the Worcesters were removed from Blenheim Barracks to another part of the camp.

elipsis graphic

The Aldershot Disturbance

The Glasgow Herald, 18 October 1901

From inquiries made by the representative of the Central news, it appears that the squabble in the North Camp, Aldershot, between the men of the Durham Light Infantry and the Worcestershire Regiment is grossly exaggerated by the earlier reports. The disturbance lasted only 20 minutes, and most of the damage was the result of stone-throwing at the barrack windows. It was not necessary to call out the extra picquets, and all the men in the two battalions concerned were in bed shortly after 10 o'clock. The officers in authority deny that there is any regimental feud between the Durham and Worcester men, and complain that a mere barrack squabble should have been exaggerated into a serious riot. The mere handful of military police at Farnborough easily restored order without thinking it necessary even to ask for assistance from the headquarters in Aldershot Camp. The military view of the importance of the affair is shown by the fact that the investigation is being conducted, not by the General Officer Commanding, but by a regimental Court of Inquiry. The injured men in hospital are progressing favourably.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 11 February 2016

Halifax Explosion Albert Medals
Topic: Medals

Halifax Explosion Albert Medals

Extract from the London Gazette, No. 31187, 18 February 1919

Admiralty, S.W., 18th February, 1919

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the posthumous award of the Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea to:—

Mr. Albert Charles Mattison, late Acting Boatswain, Royal Canadian Navy, and

Stoker Petty Officer Edward E. Beard, late Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve

The following is the account of the services in respect of which these decorations have been conferred:---

On the 6th December, 1917, the French steamer "Mont Blanc," with a cargo of high explosives, and the Norwegian steamer "Imo" were in collision in Halifax Harbour. Fire broke out on the "Mont Blanc" immediately after the collision, and the flames very quickly rose to a height of over 100 feet. The crew abandoned their ship and pulled towards the shore. The commanding officer of the H.M.C.S. "Niobe," which was lying in the harbour, on perceiving what had happened, sent away a steam boat to see what could be done. Mr. Mattison and six men of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve volunteered to form the crew of this boat, but just as the boat got alongside the "Mont Blanc" the ship blew up, and Mr. Mattison and the whole boat's crew lost their lives. The boats' crew were fully aware of the desperate nature of the work they were engaged on, and by their gallantry and devotion to duty they sacrificed their lives in the endeavour to save the lives of others.

elipsis graphic

From the details available in the databases of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, we can assemble the full list of the Niobe sailors lost on 6 Dec, 1917, that formed the crew of the steam launch:

All of these men are commemorated on the Halifax Memorial erected in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Wednesday, 10 February 2016

High Rate for Sword and Bayonet Wounds
Topic: Cold Steel

High Rate for Sword and Bayonet Wounds

Surgeon Spear Makes Notable Report on These Casualties in Russo-Japanese War

Boston Evening Transcript, 20 October 1906

Surgeon Raymond Spear, U.S.N., states that of the wounds received by the Russian troops in the late war about 1.75 per cent were inflicted with bayonets and sabres. "The Russian Cossacks," he adds, "were very adept in using their swords, also, according to the Russian officers, were more proficient than the Japanese in the use of their bayonets. That there should have been any such percentage of sword and bayonet wounds is a remarkable feature of the war. Both sides were armed with modern rifles, machine guns, field pieces, etc., all intended to render the approach of an enemy impossible; but, as a matter of fact, night, the character of the country, protecting fields of grain, and, not least, the courage and roused fighting spirits of both sides, made this character of fighting possible. Men were stabbed over and over again in these charges; many died. Stab wounds by the Japanese broad bayonet through the chest and abdomen were very fatal. The blade was large enough to sever the blood vessels. The narrower Russian blade, unless it reached a vital spot, comparatively did not do the same amount of damage, but nevertheless was a very efficient instrument of death. Most of the bayonet wounds treated were of the extremities, and usually healed without trouble, as bones were rarely involved. The sword wounds involved, as a rule, the upper extremities and the head. A number of the head cases presented fractures of the skull. If they were clean-cut and did not become infected they did well.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 9 February 2016

1894 Approval of PF Bands
Topic: Canadian Militia

1894 Approval of PF Bands

From the Orders-in-Council documents archives on line by Library and Archives Canada, we find this memorandum on the formation of military bands.

Privy Council, No. 785 C.

To His Excellency,

The Right Honorable Sir John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, Viscount Formortine, Baron Haddo, Methlic, Farves and Keltie in the Peerage of Scotland, Viscount Gordon of Aberdeen, County of Aberdeen, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, Baronet of Nova Scotia, etc., etc.

Governor General of Canada

Report of a Committee of the Privy Council on Matters of State referred for their consideration by your Excellency's command.


May it please your Excellency

The Committee on the recommendation of the Minister of Militia and Defence, advise that a Band shall form part of the Permanent Militia Force at each of the stations of that Force throughout the Dominion.

elipsis graphic

The memorandum was counter-signed in approval on 7 February 1894 by "Aberdeen"

John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair KT, GCMG, GCVO, PC (3 August 1847 – 7 March 1934), known as The Earl of Aberdeen, was the Governor General of Canada from 1893 until 1898.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 8 February 2016

Canadian Regiment Knows no "Attention"
Topic: Canadian Army

Canadian Regiment Knows no "Attention"

The Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, Delaware, 25 August 1940
By United Press

Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 24—Moving of the British Columbia Regiment, Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles, from historic Beatty street armories to new wartime quarters outside Vancouver has focused attention on some of the unusual customs of the unit.

Officers of the regiment wear no lapel [badges]. They carry green and black whistle cords asd a reminder of the uniforms of England's old Rifle Brigade. The regiment has no flags, battle honors being recorded on cap badges.

The commands "slope arms" and "fix bayonets" are unknown to men of the British Columbia regiment. They carry swords, and on command affix them to their long rifles. Nor will the men come to "attention." To get this stance, a B.C. regiment officer must command his men: "Stand to your front! Rifles!"

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 January 2016 7:54 PM EST
Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Playful Army
Topic: Humour

A Playful Army

Games at the Front
Sense of Humour the Secret of Courage

The Glasgow Herald, 18 September 1915
(From "The Glasgow Herald" and "The Daily Chronicle" Special Correspondent, Philip Gibbs.)

General Headquarters.

Heaven knows there is enough pain out here to make a little sport nor only permissible behind the fighting lines, but a necessity for the sanity and normal-mindedness of our soldiers. Our men's instinct for this will not be thwarted, and is rightly encouraged by their officers, who make a duty of stamping out incipient pessimism. So, very close to death in the war zone, one finds a spirit of playfulness and startling contrasts of suffering and gaiety separated by no more than a field or two. I remember, a long ago as last March, watching the edge of a battle which began with a concentrated bombardment and ended with an infantry attack on some enemy trenches. Men were undergoing a great ordeal of fire through that haze of smoke, and below the incessant flash of bursting shell, but amidst all the din of guns I heard the shouts and cheers of some Royal Scots in a field less than a mile away from where I stood, and a shrill whistle blowing. They were playing a game of football, careless of the deadly game so close to them.

An Australian officer out here saw the same contrast of comedy and tragedy in close juxtaposition only a few days ago, and in a speech to some troops who had been enjoying a concert behind the lines he praised them for the spirit revealed by such incidents. "Some people," he said "may think it callous that men should play while their comrades are being killed. But our here we know that those who do so are ready to finish their games and go into battle when the time comes, and fight as gallantly as those who went before. It's the game that keeps their spirit up." Some kind of game the British soldier must have, however near the risk of death may be, and he is ingenious in his devices to find a little sport. A week or two ago a regatta was organised on a canal which is justly regarded as a most "unhealthy" place for pleasure parties. Between the tug-of-war in boats, the swimming races, and water-tilts there was a scamper to the dug-outs, as the enemy's shells began their afternoon's "hate," but though the programme was interrupted it continued to the end.

A Good Tonic

The spirits of the men have been for a long spell in the trenches are wonderfully revived by the sports which are now organised in the camps, and a week or two ago when I went to one of these meetings it was a splendid thing to see the keenness and zest with which a body of London territorials competed in the various events. A band was playing, and there were refreshment tents under the cover of the woods, and for a little while the grim side of war was forgotten. Last night again I went into a camp where a field ambulance is established, and where in a barn lay a number of wounded men who were the victims of that daily list of casualties which are brought down from the trenches with horrible regularity, although there is "nothing doing" at the front. They lay here on their stretchers, very quiet under two blankets, and in another barn the men who had carried them down at the risk of their own lives were playing cards, laughing at the freaks of luck. Overhead came a British aeroplane promptly shells by German "Archibalds." In the field across the hedge was an enormous crater which had been scooped out by a 12-inch shell, whose base weighing 150 lbs., had hurtled backwards for 200 yards and burst very close to the wounded men. While I stood watching the card players some shrapnel shells were bursting over a neighbouring wood, but did not spoil the laughter over the game in the barn, nor the meditations of the literary corporal on a biscuit box who was editing the next week's number of "The Lead-Slinger" and composing his editorial notes.

"A future subscriber," he was writing, "hopes it will be a Hooge success." He explained that the title of the paper had nothing to do with plumbing, "although many of the staff had water on the brain, and are light-headed, and full of gas." There might be shells overhead, but the comic poet of the West Riding Field Ambulance was in a playful mood and not to be put off his parody of "There is a tavern in the town." His first lines were a good beginning.

"There is a cavern in the ground,
In the ground.
Where in the winter I am drowned,
I am drowned."

There are many of these literary publications in the trenches and behind the lines. One day perhaps many of them will find their way into the British Museum as historical relics of the great world war. If so posterity will acknowledge the sense of humour of those men who fought in 1915. It is a humour which jests at death and finds the spirit of mirth in the discomforts and dangers of the trenches and the dug-outs. It is this sense of humour which is the secret of courage. If it were not encouraged out men would lose their nerve or become dull and dazed and spiritless. Trench life has that effect, and a general to whom I was speaking yesterday told me that when his men come out of the trenches he insists upon a very punctilious discipline with regard to saluting a reporting small incidents of their sentry duty and other little tests of observation and intelligence. But the best stimulant of the brain and heart is the gift of laughter, and for this purpose theatricals and concerts are found to be most effective.

Dramatic Entertainments

Most divisions now have their dramatic entertainments, and draw upon the wealth of talent in their ranks. Some weeks ago I went to one of them only a few miles from the German lines. It was held in an old sugar factory, and I shall long remember the impressions of the place, with 700 or 800 men sitting in the gloom of that big, broken, barn-like building, where strange bits of machinery loomed through the darkness, and where through gashes in the walls stars twinkled. There was a smell of clay and moist sugar and tarpaulin and damp khaki, and chloride of lime, very pungent in one's nostrils, and when the "Follies" begun their performance the curtain went up on a well-fitted stage and the squalor of the place did not matter. What mattered was the enormous whimsicality of Bombardier Williams at the piano, and the outrageous comicality of a tousled-haired soldier with a red nose who described how he had run away from Mons "with the best of you," and the light-heartedness of a performance which could have gone straight to a London music hall and brought down the house with jokes and songs made up in dug-out and front-line trenches. From the great audience of soldiers there were yells of laughter, though the effect of shells arriving at unexpected moments in untoward circumstances was a favourite theme of the jesters. Many of the men there were going into the trenches that night again, and there would be no fun in the noise of the shells, but they went more gily and with stronger hearts, I am sure, because of the laughter which had roared through the old sugar factory.

And a night or two ago I went to another concert and heard the same gaiety of men who have been through a year of war. It was in an open field under a velvety sky studded with innumerable stars. Nearly 1000 soldiers trooped through the gates and massed before the little canvas theatre. In front a small crowd of Flemish children squatted on the grass, not understanding a word of the jokes, but laughing in shrill delight at the antics of the soldier-Pierrots. The corner-man was a funny fellow, and his by-play with a stout Flemish woman round the flap of the canvas screen, to whom he made amorous advances while his comrades were singing sentimental ballads, was truly comic. The hit of the evening was when an Australian behind the stage gave an unexpected imitation of a laughing jackass. There was something incredibly weird and wild and grotesque in that prolonged cry of cackling unnatural mirth. An Australian by my side said, "Well done! Exactly right!" and the Flemish children shrieked with joy, without understanding the meaning of the noise. Old, old songs belonging to the early Victorian age were given by soldiers who had great emotion and broke down sometimes in the middle of a verse. There were funny men dressed in the Mother Twankey style or in burlesque uniforms who were greeted with veils of laughter by their comrades. An Australian giant played some clever card tricks, and another Australian recited Kipling's "Gunga Din" with splendid fire. And between every "turn" the soldiers in the fiels roared out a chorus:—

"Jolly good song,
Jolly well sung,
If you can think of a better you're welcome to try,
But don't forget the singer is dry,
Give the poor beggar some beer!"

A touring company of mouth organ musicians is having a great success in the war zone. But apart from all these organised methods of mirth, there is a funny man in very billet who plays the part of the court jester, and shows it whatever the state of the weather or the risks of war. The British soldier will have his game of "House" or "Crown and Anchor" even on the edge of the shell storm, and his little bit of sport wherever there is room to stretch his legs. It is a playful army, and those who see it, as I am seeing, the daily tragedy of war, never ceasing, always adding to the sum of human suffering, are not likely to discourage that playfulness.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 6 February 2016

Impressions of Scots at the Front (1945)
Topic: British Army

Impressions of Scots at the Front (1945)

Battlefield Humour and Realism

The Glasgow Herald, 9 January 1945
From Our Own Correspondent in Holland

During a visit to the Western front in Holland and Belgium I have covered many hundreds of miles and encountered many Scottish soldiers. Here are some impressions.

In modern war only one per cent is excitement and the remaining 99 per cent is routine. The Scot at war does everything to defeat the inevitable boredom. He lives in the moment for the most part, with little thought of the passage of time, but sometimes looking back regretfully to the piping times of peace, with a particular thought for those he loves back at home.

On the whole, I did not find the ordinary "Jock" talkative on the subject of his return to civil life. Perhaps social insurance has eased his mind somewhat on that score, for his impression is that the Government intends at least to avoid making the mistakes of the last post-war period.

Men Well Cared For

Our soldiers are amazingly well cared for; no British Army has ever been served so well by its supply organizations. There are even cinemas operating regularly and showing recently released films within four miles of the Germans. I saw two comedies which were showing in London when I left it the week before.

There are inescapable hardships, long hours of standing-to in split trenched far out into no man's land, when the ground is either iron hard from frost or deep in clammy mud. But half a mile away the troops can be found in sheltered farmhouses in deep cellars, snug as the proverbial bug in a rug.

Their food is good and well-cooked, and they are remarkably fit. Disease and illness in this war have been cut near to the absolute minimum. Lice and bugs are rare indeed, and any man so infected is whisked off for treatment. Venereal disease is much rarer still; not a single case had been reported in one Glasgow regiment I visited. "Crime," most frequently absenteeism and drunkenness, is seldom reported.

Sense of Fun

The Scottish rank and file have an irrepressible sense of fun, which finds its outlet in strange ways. For instance, they will go to considerable trouble to paint up signs derogatory to the enemy—making a dummy of Hitler garbed in a German corporal's uniform.

There is an element of fantasy about driving through such a place as a ruined town and meeting a soldier nonchalantly strolling along with a gaily painted parasol poised above his steel helmet to shield him from the driving sleet. I once met a Cameronian leading a white goat by a piece of string. The animal, which had been found wandering, was following quite calmly at his heels, blissfully unaware of the fate awaiting it.

On another occasion an H.L.I. captain said he discovered that one of his men has "scrounged" a cow somewhere and brought it along to maintain the platoon's fresh milk.

But the humour of the rank and file is sometimes more brutally realistic. Thus, in the fields near the line one occasionally comes across such a notice as "Lousy with mines," Livestock does not browse over these fields any more, and here and there a horse blown into fragments or the carcass of a dead cow can be seen as graphic illustration of the hidden danger. Men who have stepped only inches off the road have done so with fatal results.

As a class, the junior officers are young and tough. I was particularly impressed by the tall, lean type of leader to be found in the West of Scotland units. These young men are almost frighteningly efficient. Only boys before the war, to-day they are men—and men of resource and initiative.

As for the ordinary soldier, in this mechanised, individualised war he has found himself. Officers and men seem never at a loss for the correct course of action to be taken.

A Warning Note

A typical case is that of a major deputy assistant quartermaster general of his brigade who was a law student in his first year at Glasgow University when he joined up. To-day he is the complete executive, and the only uncertainty in his mind appears to be whether he will return to the comparative placidity of a legal career or seek a more venturesome path when peace is won.

Officers as a class are thoughtful about their post-war plans, although many of them have not made up their minds fully. Like their men, they are so intent on the big job at present on hand that they cannot give complete concentration to post-war prospects. But I think that it is opportune to sound a warning note—that is Scotland cannot provide such men as these with the opportunities which their obvious abilities have earned, she will suffer a grevious loss.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 January 2016 7:16 PM EST
Friday, 5 February 2016

Pitch in Army Bands
Topic: Martial Music

Pitch in Army Bands

The Glasgow Herald, 19 August 1927

Though the musical public in general are probably unaware of it the question of pitch in Army bands has for long been a vexed one, and the majority of those interested had probably given up all hope of seeing the day when the bands would bring themselves into line with the other musical activities of the country by lowering their pitch. At last something is to be attempted, and all those who know the troubles and disadvantages of the existing situation will hope earnestly that something will also be done. Meantime it is interesting to note that we have learned of this now from Kneller Hall, the famous training school for all British Army bands, but from the "Ceylon Observer" of July 26 which gives a long and interesting account of the whole history of the matter, written by Major W.G. St. Clair. The author has fought long and zealously for this reform, and he, no doubt, penned the last of his sub-titles "The End in Sight," with a thrill of real pleasure.

Despite its supreme importance the question of a standard pitch for all music has only comparatively recently been solved. It is pretty clearly established by deduction that pitch in the early days of our music varied not only in different places but with different classes of music. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries the general pitch gradually fell. From the beginning of the eighteenth to the close of the last century it rose steadily. The cause of this rise was the increasing importance of wind instruments. They fix the pitch of orchestral compositions, and the growing demand for louder and more existing effects in music led the manufacturers to build for brilliance. The consequence was that singers were often required to face unnecessary difficulties, and the effect of music in general was falsified to a considerable extent. The importance of the question may be gauged from the instructions issued by the French Government in 1868 to a commission of inquiry: "The constant and increasing elevation of the pitch presents inconveniences by which the musical art, composers, artists, and the musical instrument makers all suffer, and the differences existing between the pitches of different countries, of different musical establishments, and of different manufacturing houses is a source of embarrassment in musical combinations and of differences in commercial relations." The pitch recommended as a standard (A-435.4 vibrations at 59 degrees Fahr.) is the one now adopted by all music-makers with one glaring exception—our British Army Bands.

The story of it all, as told by Major St. Clair, is not without its amusing side. It seems that; long ago, Queen's Army Regulations had decreed that the pitch of our Army Bands was to conform to that of the Philharmonic Society of London, which at that time was high. On November 6, 1896, the Society lowered the pitch to the accepted "diapason normale," but unfortunately, though, no doubt quite innocently, they omitted to tell the War Office that they had done so. Since 1896, therefore, the Army bands have been using a higher pitch than the Philharmonic Society in defiance of the regulations. Writing in 1899, Major St. Clair, with a touch of gentle satire, christened the high pitch to which the War Office so fondly clung, the "Kneller Hall Pitch." Two years later, copies of the Major's article found their way to Kneller Hall, the King's Regulations recognized the anomaly of the situation and ordained that "in order to ensure uniformity throughout the Bands of the Service the instruments are to be of the pitch known as the Kneller Hall Pitch." No one would accuse our War Office of a sense of humour, so we must suppose that the authorities thought they were doing well.

The turning point came with the appointment of Colonel J.G. Somerville as Commandant of Kneller Hall/ At the annual conference of the British Music Society in 1920, when a whole day's discussion was given to the question of a standard pitch, Colonel Somerville pledged himself to do all in his power to bring the Army bands down from their high pitch, and he is fulfilling his words in many ways. A letter of his to "The Times" attracted the attention of a "very influential person," and "as a direct consequence of this," he says in a recent letter to Major St. Clair, "an item was put into the Military Budget of a first instalment for the conversion of the pitch." There is no doubt, as he says, that this will be "axed" by Treasury, but he gets comfort from the thought that it will continue to be brought forward automatically year by year till actioned. Major St. Clair is not inclined to wait in patience "till the Greek Kalends of normally balanced Budgets and satiated Labour," and has already written to London. The difficulty is, of course, financial. Madame Patti recognized this by giving a cheque for £500 to provide the orchestra at Covent garden with low-pitched instruments, having previously told Sir Michael Costa "that she would neither rehearse nor perform unless the pitch was reduced to that of the Continental operas." The outlay necessary to recondition the Army bands will be much more than that, but it will still be a comparatively small item in the Army Estimates. It is depressing to think that if the change had been made at a proper time the process would have been very much cheaper.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 4 February 2016

Desired Leader Attributes for Joint Force 2020
Topic: US Armed Forces

Desired Leader Attributes for Joint Force 2020

Chairman Joint Chief of Staff - Memorandum for Joint Chiefs of the Military Services; Commanders of the Combatant Commands; Chief, National Guard Bureau; Directors of the Joint Staff Directories, 28 Jun 2013

One of my top priorities for developing Joint Force 2020 (JF2020) is to ensure that joint leader development is reinforced in military training and education programs and policies. … at my direction … the Military Education Coordination Council (MECC) conducted a review of joint education. Its objective was to ensure we are developing agile and adaptive leaders with the requisite values, strategic vision, and critical thinking skills to keep pace with the changing strategic environment. A primary focus of the review was to develop a set of Desired Leader Attributes (DLAs) required for the leaders of JF2020. After reviewing the MECC report's findings and recommendations, I approved a set of DLAs for adoption by the joint community as guideposts for junior officer leader development as we move forward in meeting my intent to institutionalize the essential knowledge, skills, attributes, and behaviors that define our profession.

The six officer DLAs are the abilities to:

(1)     understand the environment and the effect of all instruments of national power,

(2)     anticipate and adapt to surprise and uncertainty,

(3)     recognize change and lead transitions,

(4)     operate on intent through trust, empowerment, and understanding (Mission Command),

(5)     make ethical decisions based on the shared values of the Profession of Arms, and

(6)     think critically and strategically in applying joint warfighting principles and concepts to joint operations.

Martin E. Dempsey
General, U.S. Army

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 3 February 2016

An Inconvenience Lately Arisen
Topic: Canadian Militia

An Inconvenience Lately Arisen

Montreal, 3rd February, 1865

General Order No. 5

An inconvenience has lately arisen from soldiers of the Militia Force now called out for service in the Province, having been found at considerable distance from their station, without proper passes signed by their Commanding Officers, and as expense has likewise been incurred by their apprehension as Deserters by some of the look-out parties on out-post duty for the purpose of preventing Desertion, the Lieutenant-General Commanding, although believing that the absence of these men from their Corps or Detachment, without proper passes, doubtless arose from ignorance of the custom and usage of the Army, desires to caution in the most public manner he can, not only them, but the Militia Force generally, who are now called out for duty, as well as to warn their friends throughout the Province, who might from ignorance of the serious nature of the crime of absence without leave on the part of soldiers prevail upon them from mistaken friendship or kindness to absent themselves, and of the danger these men thereby run of being apprehended and tried by Court Martial for Desertion : The Lieutenant-General has been informed that some of these men who have been taken up, were not dressed in their proper uniform, therefore if the men who absent themselves from their Corps without leave and who are taken up thus improperly dressed, were they tried by Court Martial for desertion, there is little doubt they would be convicted.

The Lieutenant-General Commanding in issuing this General Order, in not only most anxious that the men should be cautioned against absenting themselves in an irregular manner from their Regiment or Detachment, but that likewise if they do so, they should at the same time not be ignorant of the risk of the penalty they incur.

By Command of His Excellency the Right Honorable the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief.

A. Salaberry, Lt.-Colonel,
Deputy-Adjutant Genl. Of Militia,
Lower Canada.

Walker Powell, Lt.-Colonel,
Deputy-Adjutant Genl. Of Militia,
Upper Canada.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 January 2016 7:15 PM EST
Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Principles of Military Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Principles of Military Leadership

FM22-10, Department of the Army Field Manual; Leadership, March 1951

1.     Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

2.     Be tactically and technically proficient.

3.     Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

4.     Set the example.

5.     Know your people and look out for their welfare.

6.     Keep your people informed.

7.     Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.

8.     Develop a sense of responsibility among your people.

9.     Train your people as a team.

10.     Make sound and timely decisions.

11.     Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 1 February 2016

Handling the Swagger Stick Requires Art
Topic: Militaria

Handling the Swagger Stick Requires Art

Dashing Captain at Chateau Theirry as Model Exponent

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 26 March 1919

"It sure is an art to carry a swagger stick and get away with it, gracefully," The speaker was a lithe, tanned individual in a lieutenant's uniform, standing on Grand avenue, watching the promenade of people with the swagger sticks bought as souvenirs of the war exposition.

"The women do it more gracefully than the men," he opined, "I wonder why." here they came in a steady procession, with the little thing, too bulky for a toothpick, and too futile for a walking stick, some holding it like an overgrown cigarette, and some like a murderous "billy," and all more or less self-consciously.

"At Chateau Thierry we had a captain who carried one better than anyone I ever saw," he continued. "Just before the 'zero hour,' he sat there smoking a cigarette and tapping his boot. Occasionally he would glance at his wrist watch. Gosh, it it had been anyone but the captain his actions would have looked sissified, but with him it was pure art. All at once he tossed away his cigarette, waved his swagger stick, and we followed him over the top. He went just ten feet when they dropped him. He was dying, but he raised up on his elbow, waved that little stick, and yelled, 'Give 'em hell, boys!' and take it from me we did."

Swagger Sticks

The Milwaukee Journal, 22 September 1917

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Barry passed a wise ruling at Camp Grant when he ordered all soldiers to conform to the army regulations governing wearing apparel, and expressly forbade the men from carrying swagger sticks.

The swagger stick does not inspire in the public the confidence that the public should feel for an officer or soldier. It indicates lack of seriousness or purpose, a desire to make upon small boys, giddy youths and a susceptible populace an impression of self-importance. It tends to arouse a suspicion that the soldier is more intent of a dashing appearance than on the serious business of beating Germany. Its very name suggests boastfulness, immaturity, playing to the grand stand. A cane is an old man's support, and a young man's pride. A swagger stick is a soldier's foppery.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 31 January 2016

Synopsis of Militia Act (1873)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Synopsis of Militia Act (1873)

The Victoria Daily Standard, 31 January 1873

  • The Militia consists of all the male inhabitants of Canada from 18 to 60.
    • 1st Class—Unmarried men and widowers without children, from 18 to 30.
    • 2nd Class—Ditto, from 30 to 45.
    • 3rd Class—Married men and widowers without children, from 18-45.
    • 4th Class—All men from 45 to 60.
  • The above is in the order in which they may be called to serve.
  • The Militia is divided into Active and Reserve.
    • The Active consists of Volunteer, Regular and Marine.
      • The Volunteer Militia is composed of Corps raised by voluntary enlistment.
      • The Regular, of men who volunteer for the same, or of men balloted to serve, or of both.
      • The Marine, of seamen, sailors, and persons whose occupation is on any craft navigating Dominion waters.
  • The period of service in the Volunteer Militia is three years.
  • Six month's notice to a Commanding Officer is required before a member can be permitted to retire in time of peace, and any man requiring to leave Canada must return all public clothing and property, and obtain a written discharge from his Commanding Officer. If he leave with any such in his possession he is guilty of embezzlement, and may be prosecuted at any future time.
  • The period of service in the Regular Militia is two years, and thence until relieved.
  • The Reserve consists of all who are not serving in the Active Militia of the time being.
  • A Military District is divided into Regimental Divisions. These into Company Divisions.
  • A Lieutenant-Colonel, and two Majors of Reserve, appointed to each Regimental Division. The senior officer controls the enrolment.
  • A Captain, Lieutenant and Ensign in each Company District make the roll. The Captain is responsible, collects the roll in duplicate, keeps one copy and forwards the other to the Lieut.-Colonel.
  • Enrolment renders all men liable for service.
  • False information, or refusal of information, involves a penalty of $20.00 for each name refused, concealed, or falsely stated.
  • Exemptions from service are Judges, Clergy, Professors in College, Teachers in religious orders, Wardens, keepers, and Guards of Penitentiaries, and Officers, &c., of Lunatic Asylums, persons disabled by bodily infirmities, and the only son of a widow, being her only support.
  • Also, (except in war or insurrection), Half-Pay and Retired Officers, sea-faring men in actual employ, pilots and apprentices during navigation, masters of Public Schools, actually teaching.
  • Further—Quakers, Mennonites and Tunkers and others whose religious doctrines forbid their bearing arms.
  • There is a simple oath of allegiance, sworn before a Justice of the Peace by the Commanding Officer, and by him administered to others.
  • When a Company Division furnishes more men than its quota, it is not again called upon until others have been equalized.
  • Men called upon to serve may be exempt by paying $30 to the Captain of the Company Division, which shall be paid by him to an approved willing substitute.
  • Active Militia Corps are liable to be called out in aid of the Civil Power. They then become special constables; but are to act only as a military body, and by order of their commanding officer, who will obey the lawful instructions of the magistrates.
    • The pay on such occasions is $1.00 per diem. Officers as in H.M. service, with addition of of $2.00 to mounted officers and $1.00 for each horse use by non-commissioned officers and privates.
  • Arms, accoutrements and clothing are supplied to non-commissioned officers and privates, but are not to be worn or carried except on duty.
  • The period of drill is not les than eight or more than sixteen days. The day may consist of three hours actual drill. Pay fifty cents, with seventy-five cents horse allowance.
  • Competent persons may be appointed to instruct and drill, with pay as may be ordered.
  • Officers Commanding Corps may order assembly at other times than the annual drill, of such members of corpse as reside within two miles of place appointed.
  • Her Majesty may, by order, dispense with an resume any drill or training of Active Militia.
  • Military schools are established, and no person shall be appointed an officer of Active Militia, except provisionally, until he has obtained a certificate from a School or a Board of Officers, and no officer, whose rank is provisional only, shall, under any circumstances, command an officer of the same grade, whose rank is substantive.
  • Active Militia on duty are subject to the Queen's Regulations, and articles of war. As are also Cadets of the Schools.
  • Passed Cadets may be ordered into a Camp of Instruction.
  • Her Majesty may sanction Rifle Associations and Drill Associations, but such are not provided with uniforms; also independent companies composed of Professors, Masters and Pupils of Universities, Schools and Public Institutions. Arms and accoutrements in such cases provided.
  • Active Militia Corps are subject to inspections as ordered.
  • Government aid may be granted towards the construction by local authorities of drill sheds and armouries.
  • Officers commanding a District or Corps, may, on emergency, call out the whole or any part of the force under his command until Her majesty's pleasure is known, and all ranks must obey and march wherever directed.
  • Her Majesty may call out Militia at any time on emergency of war, invasion, or insurrection—men, in such cases to serve one year, or longer if necessary.
  • In time of war no man shall be required to serve in the field continuously more than one year, except in emergency, when he may be called on for six months more.
  • Officers' pat on active service the same as in the [Imperial] army.
  • Militia men who, when on active service, absents himself from his corps for seven days, may be tried by court martial as a deserter.
  • Provision is guaranteed for wives and families of men killed, or who die from wounds, or disease contracted on service.
  • Also compensation for permanent disability from injuries or illness, on report of a medical board.
  • Persons lawfully required to furnish conveyance of any kind, for troops on active service, incur a penalty, in case of refusal or neglect, of not more than four hundred dollars.
  • No troops to be quartered or billeted on premises of any religious order of females.
  • Her majesty may convene Courts of Enquiry, and courts martial; but no officer of Her Majesty's regular army on full pay, shall sit on any militia court martial.
  • Certain penalties are enacted for failures in duty on the part of officers or men—such as refusal or neglect to make enrolments, to take oaths, to afford information, etc., and for false personation, neglect of orders to attend drills, etc., allowing arms, etc., to be out of order, or deficient, or disposing of, or removing arms, etc., or refusal or neglect to turn out, or obey orders, or resist a draft, or council, or aid any one to do so,—$100 or six months, or both.
  • Penalties under the Act, recoverable with costs, by summary conviction, on evidence of one witness, before one Justice.
  • Commanding officers' orders sufficiently notified by insertion in one newspaper in a regimental division, or if there be none, by posting a copy on the door of every place of public worship, or of some other public place, in each company division.
  • Gazette notices under the Act have the force of law, and the Governor-in-Council may make regulations, and by such, impose fines not exceeding $20, and imprisonment in default, for carrying the Act into effect.
  • Only one son of the same family residing in the same house, may be be drawn by ballot, unles the number on the roll be insufficient.

elipsis graphic

Editor Standard: In conversation a few days since with a gentleman from the country, it was mentioned that many persons in the district from which he came, appeared to entertain exaggerated ideas on the onerous nature of the duties which might be imposed upon them, by the initiation of militia organization.

As such fears, though very natural, have but little foundation, I have thought that among the many who derive information from your extensive circulation, not a few would probably be glad to know what the provisions of the Militia Act really are. I have, therefore, should you consider it worth a place in your columns, attempted a precis, or synopsis of such parts of the Act as embody the duties and liabilities of the citizen under it.

It may be worthy of mention, in explanation, that the necessity of enrolment need excite no consternation. It is simply a military census, and of itself involves no service in time of peace. The officers of the reserve, whose duty it is to carry it out, have nothing to do with the service required from the active force.

This latter has hitherto been raised by pure volunteering, and in Canada (old) involves in effect, simply sixteen days' drill, of little more than one per cent. of the population. It is possible that the ballot may be resorted to this year, and it is probable that then proportion will be a little heavier on this small population. Still that will not prevent the acceptance of such volunteers as may come forward as part of the quota, which will, in itself, be probably small at first.

It may be borne in mind also that the nature of the drill may be modified by general orders. For instance, the authorities may not insist on its being carried out in camp, or in such manner as to occupy the whole time of the citizen for days together.

It may also be remembered that although the Act insists on the vital principle of every man's liability to serve, if called on, the authorities have always studiously consulted the convenience of the people, and evinced the strongest desire to render the duty of service as little burdensome as is at all compatible with the maintenance of a national force, which is now acknowledged by all who have studied it, to be a splendid success, and the first organization of its kind in the world.

I am, etc.,
January 24th, 1873.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 30 January 2016

Military Surgery Mean Treating of Infected Wounds
Topic: Military Medical

Military Surgery Mean Treating of Infected Wounds

American Doctor Home from Berlin Tells of Hospital with 1,000 Sufferers

Ludington Daily News, Ludington, Michigan, 24 August 1916

Military Surgery No. 2 …

Berlin, Germany, Aug. 24.—(via Amsterdam.)—Dr. Jacob R. Buchbinder of Chicago has just passed through Berlin on his way to Norway, whence he will return to the United States early in September after six months of surgical practice at Naumburg, in the military hospital taken over by a number of American physicians. Dr. Buchbinder says he is glad he is going home, though his experience has been highly valuable to him.

Verdun Patients Seriously Wounded

"Military surgery," he said to me before leaving Berlin, "is different from civil surgery. It is like doing railroad or stockyard work on a large scale. Most of the wounded when the reached us were infected, which makes the practice totally different. We had 1,000 beds under our charge and all were filled when I left, many cases from the Somme and Verdun. The last transports were from the east front. The Verdun patients were nearly all suffering from shell wounds of grave character, while those from the Somme were wounded almost entirely by bullets from machine guns. Many had been wounded more than once.

"These were the first bullet wounds we had seen in months, for during ordinary trench fighting most of the wounded are injured by shrapnel, shells, bombs or grenades. The soldiers were all confident that the west front would hold out, but said the fighting had ceased being war and had become butchery. No, I did not see any bayonet wounds. As a matter of fact I have never seen one and I was never able to hear of one, though I inquired often. Most of the soldiers injured in hand to hand fighting are wounded by hand grenades. I did not see any dumdum bullets.

"We were kindly treated even during the days of the American crisis. Everywhere there was a desire to cooperate with us. We were always supported by the German surgical corps and the war ministry. We were promised serious cases and the promise was kept to the letter. I came to Germany fearing that I would find a general prejudice against Americans, which would make it difficult to live here. I had no trouble personally of any sort. Two of our party were spoken to on trains for talking English, but obviously it was by some one who had been embittered against the English because of special losses."

Dr Buchbinder said the German sanitary service filled him with admiration and he believed that it sis all that could be done under the exceptional difficulties. The care for details was really astonishing.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2016 3:42 PM EST
Friday, 29 January 2016

Canada's Militia; Thoroughly Demoralized
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canada's Militia; Thoroughly Demoralized

The Service in a Thoroughly Demoralized Condition
The Result of Departmental Mismanagement
What Militia officers Say Borne out by a Chicago Critic

The Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial Gazette, 29 January 1890

Some five or six weeks ago there appeared in the local columns of The Herald several articles, the substance of interviews with militia officers, pointing out the demoralized condition of the militia service, the unpreparedness of the men for active service at short notice, the unserviceableness of their equipment, including their rifles, and the consequent general waste of money spent by the Militia Department. No one has undertaken to call the statements made in question, simply because they were true, as many of our most public-spirited officers are quite ready to admit. A clipping bearing on this question, and which was published in a Chicago paper ten years ago, is appended. It is somewhat overdrawn, but, making allowance for exaggeration, it fully bears out the statements made in this paper referred to above. The clipping is as follows:—

"The Canadian Militia [circa 1880] is divided into two parts, the active and what is called the reserve. The total number of the active militia is about 42,000 men. Of this number about one half drill for twelve days each year, for which each militiaman receives $6. the corps are made up of city and country battalions, and as the authorities think the city corps are the most useful, they always give them the preference, and all the city corps are allowed to put in their annual drill. These corps, in round numbers, muster about 10,000 men, and thus the remaining 11,000 who are entitled to drill are selected by rotation, year after year. No country corps drill two years in succession, and many of them have been three, or even four years without having a muster. In the cities some of the corps are fairly efficient in drill. The men are clean, well dressed, obedient and willing. No one can find a reasonable fault with the rank and file of the Canadian militia, and in physique they stand comparison with any troops in the world. The climate makes them hardy, and more than once they have proved themselves of use to the State. But here it ends. Of internal economy the majority of the corps know nothing. There is not a semblance of a commissariat in the whole Dominion. There are simply 21,000 good men in uniform provided each year, put through a few evolutions, and there is the beginning and end of it. The officers make heroic sacrifices the keep their corps efficient; the State makes political capital out of the service, and so it goes on from one year to the other. There is not an ambulance wagon in Canada, and the medical staff is a fiction. In the principal city in the Dominion the militia are without a drill-shed, and the men are obliged to drill in places which, in your country, would only be regarded as fit for hen-roosts. With all this there are some good corps—the Queen's Own, of Toronto, undoubtedly coming first; then there is the Montreal brigade, the Eighth Quebec, the Governor-general's Guards and a couple of other troops in Ontario. But still these 21,000 are, all things considered, fairly efficient. Now, as for the country corps in general, they are, in most cases, men in uniform—nothing more and nothing less. The money spent on them is too often money thrown away. They meet, they love, and they are parted, knowing no more of their duties than could be gathered by two days' drill under the hands of an experienced instructor. This is no assertion of mine. It is almost word for word what the General in command (Luard) told a country corps near Quebec a few days ago. But they are there, and they are ready, and if required could soon be equipped into shape, but at present they count for little and they show for less. The officers are miserably deficient in their duties, the arms are in bad order, the equipment is far from serviceable and none of the troops are supplied with the Martini-Henry rifle. But let us grant that there are 42,— fairly equipped men. If put to the test no doubt these men would respond with alacrity and would submit to the discipline necessary to get them into shape with resignation. But here is the beginning and the end of the Canadian militia. As for reserve, there is none. When I say none, I mean none—not one mother's son. The reserve of the Dominion is a delusion, and it has no more existence than the man in the moon. But in order to impose on themselves, or the outside world, I know not which, a number of colonels, majors, captains and others appear in the army list as belonging to the reserve militia, while of that militia there is not, I venture to say, a muster-roll in the country. It does not exist even on paper, except that the officers are duly gazetted. These officers never had a uniform on their backs, never saw the men they are supposed to command, and they laugh at the thing as a huge joke. Marshal Saxe once said that it was legs, not arms, that won campaigns, but the Canadian militia reserve has neither legs nor arms. A stranger to the country who takes up the army list and counts 250 men for each Lieutenant Colonel on the reserve militia might, I suppose, count 400,000 or 500,000 men, but if a militia reserve can be manufactured by simply placing a certain number of names on the army list, then good-bye statistics for ever. Here is the condition of the Canadian militia. There are 42,000 men, all told. If these 42,000 there are about 21,000 fairly efficient, while the remaining 21,000 drill, on an average, six days in two or say three years. But to put it in round numbers, we call out 42,000 men, and good men too, but that is the strength, stock, lock, and barrel of the service, and it is to that that the 600,000 vanish like a dream."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 28 January 2016

War Honours Report (1956)
Topic: Battle Honours

War Honours Report (1956)

Issue of Battle Lists

The Glasgow Herald, 28 January 1956
From our Military Correspondent

Ten years and more after fighting has ceased a War Office Committee with the fine-sounding title of "Battle Nomenclature Committee" have presented their report and recommendations on the numbers and names of battle in the Second World War.

In old-time wars these were easy to define; when war was global—and in the last war it stretched from East to West, from the Sea of Japan through Hong Kong, Burma, Mesopotamia, Ethiopia, North Africa, and Italy to Normandy and to the Elbe, not forgetting our own islands where the casualties exceeded those of many of our famous fights—it is not so easy.

Baffling Question

How to distinguish the phases of a long battle is a matter for grave discussion. There was a Battle of Normandy certainly; was there a Battle of Caen and a Battle of Falaise?

At the time it mattered little what one called them; they could not be mentioned then in any case because there was a censor who bore intense dislike of that very nomenclature which has occupied the committee. But is matters considerably now, for on exactitude in the matter depends the award of battle honours.

The battle honours concern the colours, and the colours are important things. Only the cavalry, now nearly all mechanised, carry colours, the guidons of the regiments, and the infantry. The other corps have no colours; to the gunners the gun itself is the colour, and as they would all say that, so far as the last war was concerned, there was not a single engagement at which at least one of their members failed to put in an honourable appearance, there would be no room in any colours they had for the emblazonment of all their battle honours.

First Award

A battle honour at the beginning did not necessarily concern the colours. It was awarded to a regiment for a particular feat, and the first was awarded as late as 1760 to the old 15th Hussars for their conduct at Elmsdorf; officers and men wore it on their headdress, very much as the Black watch wear the red hackle.

Later, when battles had passed into history, there were general awards; and the names of earlier battles were emblazoned on the guidons of the cavalry and on the Queen's Colours of the infantry.

The earliest, borne only by the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards, by the Royal Scots and the Queen's, and by the 1st Royal Dragoons, was for "Tangier."

Staking Claim

With the publication of the Second World War list it is now the task of the regiments to make their claim to the right to be awarded a battle honour for this action or that. The claims are made through the Colonel of the Regiment; they will be examined and those admitted will be promulgated in due course. No more than 10 "Honours" may be emblazoned.

The field of selection is extremely wide. The committee lists 19 operations, or, as the older generations would have said, campaigns. When the list is extended to include campaigns in which Australian and New Zealand units were primarily concerned it will contain some 1100 names of "battles, actions, and engagements."

Thus the short Norwegian campaign lists no battle but nine separate engagements. The long campaign in North-West Europe in 1944-45 lists 11 battles, 8 separate actions, and 67 separate engagements. Famous names are sometimes included in a general battle title; thus Arnhem is an action included in the Lower Rhine Battle but El Alamein stands as a battle by itself.

Dunkirk Position

It is for the regiment to decide; to some a single action or even an engagement will be more important, more deserving of remembrance, than an inclusive battle title. That is true of Arnhem; it is certainly true of Walcheren and of others besides.

The committee table nothing here except geographical and military historical particulars. They anticipate no regimental claims. They list no Battle of Dunkirk in 1940, but list the action of Dunkirk. It is not customary to grant a battle honour for a defeat, and some of our famous fights for that reason do not appear on the colours. Was Dunkirk a defeat or a victory? Does a great deliverance fulfil the conditions of an honour? It will be interesting to see if "Dunkirk" is claimed; there are few names with greater entitlement to be honoured.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Regimental Records in Hands of the Boers
Topic: The RCR

Regimental Records in Hands of the Boers

Colonel Otter Reports Loss While Being Taken From Bloemfontein
Some Remarkable Marching Done
First Contingent Achieved 1,000 Miles' Continuous Progress

Daily Mail and Empire, Toronto, Ont., 6 October 1900
Special to the Mail and Empire

Ottawa, Oct. 5.—The South African mail, which arrived to-day, brought several reports to the Militia Department. Lieut.-Col. Otter, in his report for the week ending 24th August, from Krugersdorp, says:— "In connection with the past month's service it may interest you to know that the battalion has so far completed 1,000 miles of straight marching since its arrival in this country, and that during the last two weeks we have not had a man fall out on the march, although our average was 17 miles a day. The battalion when it reached Krugersdorp, August 22, was very weak, under 400, all ranks, but was certainly in first class marching trim. General Hart, on our leaving Krugersdorp, took occasion to express his gratification with the conduct of the battalion, and his regret at parting with it, and wished it every good fortune. This expression from an officer of general Hart's stamp I consider a great compliment. During our recent marches I have tried the experiment of organized singing, and found this to work admirably.

"I am very glad to be able to report that Capt. MacDonnell has rejoined the battalion from being a prisoner in the enemy's hands since June 7th last. He has appeared before the usual board of officers (Imperial) and has been exonerated from all blame. He is looking very well, and gives a very interesting account of his experience in the enemy's hands. Although well treated, he still underwent a good deal of priva and physical hardship while being hurried across the country with Gen. De Wet's commando."

Regimental Records Lost

Col. Otter reports with regret the loss of the following regimental records:—

  • Order books from date of debarkation to February 11;
  • Record officers' services,
  • Regimental defaulters' books,
  • Court-martial,
  • Boards of officers,
  • Courts of enquiry,
  • Files of important regimental papers,
  • of reference, and
  • Medical sheets.

These records were left at Bloemfontein in charge of a non-commissioned officer for safe-keeping, but when Capt. MacDonnell came along he undertook to transport them to the regiment, and they were lost when he fell into the enemy's hands at Roodeval on the 7th June. The matter will be enquired into.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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