The Minute Book
Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Instructions for Officers on First Joining
Topic: Officers

Instructions for Officers on First Joining a Regiment or Depot,—Memorandum

The Public Ledger and Newfoundland General Advertiser, 13 October 1854

1.     The General Commanding-in-Chief had, in the course of last year, been twice under the necessity of expressing to every regiment, at6 home and abroad, his apprehensions that a few inconsiderate officers might bring their regiments to disrepute unless, in their social conduct towards each other at their mess-table and in their barrack rooms, their behaviour should be regulated by a higher standard of what is due to the honourable position in which they stand as the holders of commissions in her Majesty's army.

2.     The first case which required Viscount Hardinge to assemble a court-martial on any officer was that of the 50th Regiment, on which occasion four subalterns were tried for forcibly seizing a young ensign, taking him to a pump, and there pumping upon him.

Two of these officers were sentenced to be dismisses the service, and two were reprimanded.

The memorandum containing Viscount Hardinge's comments was dates 5th of July, 1853, and was read to the officers assembled of every regiment in the service. It is given in the appendix.

3.     The second instance occurred in the 62nd Regiment in October, 1854.

A captain in command of two companies had repeatedly annoyed and disturbed the subaltern of his own company, and, accompanied by other officers, had been in the habit of bursting into his room, and taking his bed to pieces, &c.

The lieutenant had the proper spirit to make his report to the regiment.

The officer commanding the regiment did his duty firmly; he supported the subaltern, and reported his case to the Horse Guards.

4.     A third instance has now occurred. It is that in the 46th Regiment. The case originated in a disgraceful scene of deep gambling in a barrack room at Windsor, between Lieutenant Greer and Lieutenant Perry, terminating in a violent assault, in the course of which the most disgusting language was applies by Lieutenant Greer to Lieutenant Perry.

5.     At the close of the trial of Lieutenant Greer a letter was handed to the President of the court-martial by Lieutenant Perry, charging his commanding officer, Colonel Garrett, with grave acts of injustice, and stating that he (Lieutenant Perry) had sent a letter to his commanding officer, threatening to appeal to the general officer of the district, &c. Colonel Garrett denied these acts of injustice imputed to him, and he denied that any such letter had ever been sent to him by Lieut. Perry.

6.     The General Commanding-in-Chief took the same course in this case as he had done in that of the 50th and for the same reasons viz., his determination not to consent to a compromise in any of these cases, but to eradicate the unmanly system. The charges made by Lieutenant Perry against Colonel Garrett were specific. They amounted to a breach of Her Majesty's regulations, and apparently were in defiance of the admonitions and orders circulated in July and December, 1853.

The General Commanding-in-Chief resolved, therefore, that the truth or falsehood of these charges should be investigated by a court-martial on oath.

7.     The result of that court-martial, as well as the two preceding trials in the 46th Regiment, is given in the appendix, in order that every young officer may have on his first joining his regiment, by means of these examples, a clear understanding of his own position.

He will carefully read the Articles of War, given in the Appendix, together with a letter of the Judge-Advocate-General of 1814, which was published to the army, with the Mutiny Act and Articles of War of that year.

If the ensign is firm, and has the proper spirit of an officer and gentleman, he can have no difficulty, without any loss of honour or of temper, in resisting coarse practical jokes.

But, if he submits to them on the plea that they are the customary probation of an officer entering the British army, he will justly submit himself to the charge of having tamely submitted to insult; and it is his duty, on every account, and especially for the purpose of insuring his military efficiency, which depends upon character, that he should not suffer any liberties to be taken calculated to expose him to the derision of his brother officers and the men under his command.

8.     These coarse irregularities, termed practical jokes, and the use of disgusting language have increased, it is said, since the introduction of those Articles of War in 1854, which more strictly prohibited dueling in the army.

Public feeling had, in the preceding year, been greatly shocked by two officers, who were brothers-in-law, having fought a duel, in which one was killed.

The better and truer reason, however, for the increased strictness of the articles prohibiting duelling was, that the tone of society had improved, and that all men were united in reprobating so barbarous a mode of settling a dispute.

A few men of coarse and ungenerous tempers, since the severer Articles of War have been published, may have sought to take advantage of the apparent impunity which the prohibition afforded, and have taken greater liberties with their brother officers than they did when under the apprehension of immediate personal consequences.

Such practices cannot be permitted; they must be repressed, for they are degrading to the character of an officer. They render him unfit to command his men, for they cannot feel for him the respect which is the basis of all enduring authority. They render him unfit to associate with his brother officers, who must now hold him in contempt, or have themselves unk so low as not to shrink from contact with men of such coarse vulgarity.

It can never be endured that the manners of the officers shall fall below the standard recognized by gentlemen.

As far as duels were permitted at all, they were suffered as means supposed to be conducive to the maintaining in the barracks and mess room the language and behavior of gentlemen.

But it would be a fatal mistake to infer, that because duelling had been prohibited, any lower standard of manners will be tolerated in the British army. The language and behaviour which formerly held to justify a challenge must now, therefore, be visited by the removal of the offender from the society of which he has shown himself to be an unworthy member.

9.     Every assistance and support are to be given to the young officer in his endeavours to avoid rendering himself liable to these consequences.

In May last, before the spring inspections, the general officers ands staff officers inspecting regiments were ordered to report whether any practical jokes have been carried on at the mess table or elsewhere, or any steps taken to prevent them.

The reports are satisfactory; few regiments, however, have been inspected, owing to the greater part of the regiments having previously embarked for foreign service.

10.     The captain of the company to which the ensign, on joining, is appointed, will give him advice and support.

The major intrusted by the commanding officer with this branch of the interior discipline of a regiment will do the same, and be held responsible that he does it effectually; and if any case should arise requiring interference or a reprimand, the terms of the reprimand and the record of the letters must be forthcoming, to be shown to the general officer, and sent up to the Horse Guards. The necessity is apparent after the recent trials in the 46th Regiment, and all serious cases will at once be reported to the Adjutant-General, for the decision of the General Commanding-in-Chief.

11.     No case of a practical joke appears to have occurred in the 46th Regiment since October, 1853, with the exception of the case of Lieutenant Dunscombe at Weedon, in 1854.

12.     General Viscount Hardinge confidently asserts that the regimental system of the British army, now so long established, has proved its efficiency as bing admirably adapted for all the varied duties of war and peace.

He trusts that the irregularities and mischievous tendencies resulting from practical jokes can and will be corrected, and disappear for ever.

A firm but temperate exercise of authority on the part of commanding officers of regiments will effect the object desired; they will find, by a faithful discharge of their duty, that they will obtain the respect and support of their officers, and the esteem of their fellow subjects.

By command of General Viscount Hardinge, General Commander-in-Chief.

G.A. Wetherall, Deputy Adjutant-General (From the London Times.)

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If there were any consonance between the professions and practice of the Horse Guards, Mr. Perry would at this moment have been acquitted, Mr. Greer have been summarily dismissed from the Queen's service, Lieut. Waldy by lying under an indictment for perjury, and Colonel Garrett be brought before a suitable tribunal to answer for his conduct since he has been in command of the 46th Regiment. Nothing can be more excellent than the spirit of Lord Hardinge's orders. Let young officers act as he recommends, and they will be creditable servants of the public. Let Lord Hardinge abide by them, and he will be a very good Commander-in-Chief. We subscribe most entirely to his theories, and can only wonder that the first man practically to set them at defiance has been the Commander-in-Chief himself. For the moment we will address ourselves rather to the general bearing of the case as effects the British army than to the individual instance of Mr. Perry. It is, however, right that Lord Hardinge should be told, and that his royal mistress should clearly understand, that the outrage perpetrated on this young officer in defiance of justice and common sense has had for effect upon the public mind to lower the character of every officer who holds the Queen's commission. There are not two opinions as to the scandalous method in which the second trial was conducted, nor as to the finding of the Court-martial in barefaced defiance of the evidence. As far even as the form of trial was concerned, it was obvious that even if Lord Hardinge had wished to test the validity of the charges against Colonel Garrett, a for of trial was selected which gave that person every advantage, and laid his accuser under every difficulty. It was only by an oppressive stretch of power that, under all the circumstances of the case, a second charge against Mr. Perry was fudged up at all. He had been made the subject of a scandalous outrage. The hand of every officer in his regiment was against him upon his first trial. He escaped by a miracle from their malevolence; and yet a second time he was sent to trial upon charges which he could, as the prosecution was managed, only make good by the testimony of those who regarded him with feelings of the bitterest hostility, and who were only required to 'forget' in order to secure his expulsion from the service. Still, despite of all this, and debarred as Mr. Perry was from the power of effectually cross-examining the miserable creatures who were brought in one after the other to say 'they had really forgotten,' he made out a defence which should, one would have imagined, have put it out of the power of fifteen reasonable men to assert their conviction that Mr. Perry maliciously and willfully lied when he asserted that Garrett had called him a fool, that he had threatened to complain to the General of the district, and that a man of the name of Nicholas in the regiment was a general bully. However, fifteen men were found for the work, and they did it. Lord Hardinge was also sufficiently courageous to sanction the finding, and to involve his royal mistress in the transaction, as approving of a decision which, as the Queen's name has been mixed up with it, we will not characterize by the term it deserves. Now, what is the set-off against all of this. A set of general orders, breathing a spirit of the purest morality and the most high-toned chivalry. The good folks at the Horse Guards manage their little affairs much in the style of Augustus Tomlinson, the sentimental villain of Bulwer's novel. They knock a man down with the butt end of a horse-pistol and, standing over the prostate body, declaim in swelling periods upon the advantages of humanity and justice. As we said before, we have no fault to find with the orders; the only pity is that Lord Hardinge should have set them at defiance and turned Mr. Perry out of the army for following his injunctions.

elipsis graphic

Sentence of Lieutenant Greer

This officer was tried upon a charge of having been guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the following instances:—

1.     For having, on or about the night of the 28th or morning of the 29th of June last, willfully struck and offered other personal violence to Lieutenant Edward James Perry, of the 46th Regiment.

2.     For having, at the same time and place, used provoking, insulting, and disgusting language to the said Lieutenant Perry, calling him a "swindler," "blackguard," and using other language of an offensive and insulting nature.

Acquitted, but ordered to sell out.

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Lieutenant Waldy was ordered to be severely reprimanded, in consequence of his conduct in connexion with the letter written by him to Lieutenant Perry and produced in court after denying its contents.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2016 2:56 PM EST
Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cronje's last Stand
Topic: Paardeberg

Cronje's last Stand

Boer Chief Asked For an Armistice to Bury His Dead
An Unconditional Surrender
Demanded by Lord Kitchener, and Crionje Replied That he Would Fight to the Death—British Casualties Now Exceed Twelve Thousand.

The Daily Star, Fredericksburg, Va., 23 February 1900

London, Feb. 23.—General Cronje is seemingly making his last stand. He is dying hard, hemmed in by British infantry, and with shells from 60 guns falling into his camp.

On the third day of the fight the Boer chief asked for an armistice to bury his dead. "Fight to a finish or surrender unconditionally," was Lord Kitchener's reply. General Cronje immediately sent back word that his request for a truce had been misunderstood, and that his determination then, as before, was a fight to the death.

The battle went on. This was the situation of General Cronje Tuesday evening, as sketched in the scanty telegrams that have emerged from the semi-silence of South Africa.

The war office has issued the following from lord Roberts, dated Paardeberg, Feb. 22: "Methuen reports from Kimberley that supplies of food and forage are being pushed on as fast as possible. There will be enough coal to start the De Beers mine in ten days. By this means great misery will be alleviated. Hospital arrangements there are reported perfect. He hopes Prieska and the adjoining country will soon be settled.

Officially Lord Roberts wires that he has scattered the advance commando and of the reinforcement that were striving to reach General Cronje. It is regarded as singular that Lord Roberts, wiring Wednesday, should not mention the appeal for an armistice on the previous day, and also that the war office should withhold good news, if it has any.

Without trying to reconcile the scant materials at hand, it seems plain that General Cronje is in a band, or even a desperate situation, and that the British are pressing their advantage.

While the attack on general Cronje proceeds there is a race for concentration between the Boers and the British. The engagement with general Cronje's 5,000 to 8,000 entranched men is likely to become an incident in a battle between the masses. The separated factions of the Boer power are rapidly drawing together to attack Lord Roberts.

Will General Cronje be able to hold out until the Boer masses appear, or if he does will they then be able to succor him? The British are facing the Boers on ground where the arms, tactics and training of the British are expected to give them the advantage.

General Buller, according to a despatch from Chieveley, dated Wednesday, finds the Boers in positions north of the Tegula largely reinforced. This seems strange.

The Cape Town correspondent of The Daily Telegraph says: "General Cronje's request for an armistice was am ere dodge to gain time to make trenches. Lord Kitchener refused, but gave him half an hour to consider whether he would surrender unconditionally or fight to the finish. The Boers having said that their intention had been misunderstood, and that they would fight to the end, the battle was resumed."

The Daily News has the following dispatch from Modder River fated Wednesday afternoon:

The Boer forces under General Cronje are estimated at 8,000 men. At 12 o'clock he asked an armistice of 24 hours, which was refused. Later he sent a messenger to say that he would surrender. The British sent a reply telling him to come into camp. Cronje refused, saying it had been a misunderstanding, and that he would fight to the death.

The bombardment was them reopened and out lyddite shells set fire to the Boer wagons. We continued shelling the laager through the night, and in the morning we resumed with Maxims and rifles, principally from the north side.

On Sunday there was much waste of life in attacking, and the same result will be achieved with it. During Monday night seven Boers made an attempt to break through our lines, but they were captured, and the leader was killed. Four were carrying letters. It is believed that there was one other, who got through.

Other prisoners say that General Cronje marched from Magersfontein here without outspanning, a distance of 33 miles. Had he succeeded in escaping it would have been one of the finest performances in the annals of war.

The Canadians made a gallant charge at the laager, but were driven back with loss.

General MacDonald and General Knox are only slightly wounded.

The war officer, for the first time, has given out an official compilation of the British losses. The total is 11,208 to Feb. 17. This does not include, therefore, Lord Roberts' recent losses, nor the Wiltshire prisoners, which will make the total considerably above 12,000.

The press association learns that the British losses at Koodoosrand were 700.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 22 February 2016

Are the Bayonet and Sabre Obsolete?
Topic: Cold Steel

Are the Bayonet and Sabre Obsolete?

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1878

General W.T. Sherman, commanding the United States Army, has submitted the above question to the Service he commands and the nation at large, in a manner characteristic of both; it is simple, straight-forward, and well calculated to effect the object in view. The fact that the Military and Naval authorities at home view with disfavour rather than encouragingly the free discussion in the Press of questions of the above nature, deprives our own Services of much valuable unofficial knowledge that could otherwise be available. The Royal United Services Institution certainly does much towards making good that defect, but officers cannot always come from distant home and foreign stations to London to make public their suggestions. The example of General Sherman will not, perhaps, be wholly lost on officials on this side of the Atlantic. He writes to the Army and Navy Journal, New York, as follows:—

"Sir, —With a view to full and free discussion of the subject through the columns of the Army and Navy Journal, the enclosed paper from the Chief of Ordnance is, with the sanction of the Secretary of War, transmitted for publication. The question is one of great importance, and it is hoped that this course will result in eliciting the opinions of all who are interested in the matter, both in the army and in civil life.

elipsis graphic

Ordnance Office, War Department
Washington, Jan. 30, 1878.

The Honourable the Secretary of State for War.—Sir,—I have the honour to invite your attention to the consideration of the question, whether or not the sabre and the bayonet should any longer form part of the arms of the cavalry and infantry soldier. So radical a proposition as this is may be startling, upsetting as it does the traditional ideas and practices of centuries, doing more or less violence to some of the romance of war, and discarding much of the language that gives brilliancy to battle descriptions; but an examination of the facts and figures, a consideration of what is forced upon us by the progress of invention, may show that taking the initiative at this time is not very premature, nor without great reason to uphold it. In the improvement of arms, the reduction of cost and weight, have even been some of the most important ends aimed at. Before the revolver and breech-loading carbine became weapons of the cavalry soldier, the sabre was a much recognized necessity for offence and defence, as much so as was the bayonet when the flint yielded to the percussion cap, but before the whole system of gun and cartridge was changed by the adoption of the breech-loader. But even anterior to the introduction of the breech-loader, or of the revolver, with metallic cartridge, the great war of the Rebellion was fought, both sides using the muzzle-loading rifle and the revolver with paper cartridge, requiring time and care in loading, and any great rapidity of fire unattainable. And yet in that great war—the bayonet and sabre still holding their high place as weapons to be used in the last resort, to snatch victory if need be from the jaws of defeat—what record have we of their practical use and effect? The enclosed letter from the Surgeon-General's office shows that out of a grand aggregate of 253,142 cases of wounds that have been analysed and recorded in that office, only 905 examples of sabre-cuts and bayonet-stabs have been reported during the war and of these only 52 resulted in death. This gives a percentage of one wound in every 279, and one death in every 4868. And of the sabre and bayonet wounds only one in every 17 resulted in death. It must be remembered that this was the result when the soldier was armed with muzzle-loading rifles and imperfect revolvers. The hand-to-hand conflict, the desperate bayonet charges, that constitute the most exciting portions of battle scenes and descriptions, were rare exceptions during the war, even with the armament of the soldier as it then was, so imperfect in its invention, so slow in its manipulation. How would it be with infantry armed as it is now with breech-loaders, or perhaps magazine guns, with a rapidity of fire and certainty of execution at all ranges undreamed of and unexpected when the bayonet was adopted as an admirable improvement on the pike? What could we expect of cavalry armed with the breech-loading carbine, or magazine gun, and the revolver as at present perfected, to load and fire with rapidity, as compared with the simple flint-lock pistol that was used when the sabre was the approved weapon of the cavalry soldier. Bayonet charges are hardly possible, when from ten to twenty shots can be delivered upon the charging party while running at a distance of 150 yards, and the records of recent wars seem to show that the most effective weapon in a cavalry melee is the revolver. The experience of the recent Franco-German war in Europe is similar to our own. The German medical Staff report that their losses in the whole war of 1870-71 amounted to a total of 65,160 killed and wounded, and of these only 218 were killed and wounded by the sabre and clubbed muskets. Of the cavalry, 138 were killed and wounded by the sabre out of a total of 2236, the total killed by the sabre being, all told, only six, the wounded 212; this is for the whole army. That is to say, the only deaths caused by 40,000 cavalry with the sabre, in six month's campaigning over almost half of France, amounted to six. While I admit that the cost of arming a soldier is of a secondary consideration in determining on his efficiency, still in this case the cost of weapons that seem to have been rendered obsolete by improvements and inventions may be fairly considered. The saving of the cost to the United States had the bayonet been discarded during the war of the Rebellion would have been over 6,000,000 dollars and the load of each infantry soldier would have been reduced about 1 lb. In the cavalry the non-use of the sabre would have saved the United States nearly 2,500,000 dollars, and the load of the cavalryman reduced about 4 ¾ lb. I am informed by cavalry officers that sabres are now seldom if ever used against the Indians. They are, as a rule, neatly packed up and stored in garrison. The cavalry soldier depends on his carbine and revolver, and even the hardy frontiersman that in the past depended upon his rifle and bowie-knife, has replaced the latter by the far superior weapon, the revolver. It is also a question whether the bayonet and sabre are not most frequently used upon disarmed and wounded men, thus adding to the terrors and cruelties of war. In all civilized warfare the tendency of the age is to mitigate as much as possible its horrors. The International Military Commission, which met at St. Petersburg in 1869, transmitted a protocol on the subject of interdicting the use of explosive projectiles under 400 grammes weight. The Board, to whom it was submitted, of which general Rodman was president, reported as follows:—

"The Board has carefully considered all the papers referred to by the Secretary of State, and is of the opinion that the object sought to be attained, through the protocol, is a humane one, and calls for the earnest co-operation of all civilized nations. The limit in weight of 400 grammes (14 oz,. Avoirdupois) as the smallest projectile that may be used explosively, or for incendiary purposes, is perhaps as appropriate a one as could be selected. The Board is also of the opinion that the mutual observance of the laws of humanity by belligerents cannot be injurious to the interests of either party, and would, therefore, suggest that the use of all projectiles which would unnecessarily aggravate the sufferings incident to a state of war, by either land or naval forces, out to be rigidly proscribed by all civilised Powers as barbarous."

The tearing of a man's body to shreds by an explosion, when the wound produced by the penetration of the bullet is amply sufficient to place him hors de combat, is an added cruelty and torture too repugnant to the civilised and christianised influences of these enlightened days to be tolerated. And a weapon like the sabre of the bayonet, in the hands of an excited or revengeful soldiery, in the midst of a conflict or even after a battle, is too convenient an instrument not to be sometimes used on the wounded and helpless. This whole matter deserves serious consideration. In my mind, there exists not a doubt that the days of the bayonet and sabre are numbered, and that the only question to be decided is, whether the time is not already at hand when they should be discarded. It appeals to our humanity, to our progress in the refinements of wounding and killing, and in the present condition of the national finances and national distress, to the interest of the economy.

Very respectfully, &c., S.M. Benet, Brigadier-General, Chief of Ordnance.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 21 February 2016

Canada's Citizen Soldiers
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canada's Citizen Soldiers

Report of the Minister of Militia and Defence of Last Year

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 28 March 1891

Ottawa, March 24.—The annual report of the Department of Militia has been published and distributed. A synopsis of the expenditure for the fiscal year ending June 30 last [i.e, 1890] is as follows:—

  • Salaries, district staff, $18,583.31,
  • Brigade Majors, $15,020.47,
  • Royal Military College, $83,677.23,
  • Ammunition, clothing and military stores, $198,553.31,
  • Public armories and care of arms, $60,526.20,
  • Drill pay and camp purposes, $265,330.54,
  • Drill instruction, $36,287.50,
  • Contingencies, $36, 731.97,
  • Dominion of Canada Rifle Association, $10,000,
  • Dominion of Canada Artillery Association, $2,000,
  • Drill sheds and rifle ranges and military properties, $26,210.80,
  • Construction and repairs, $70,631.60,
  • Permanent forces, Cavalry, "A," "B," and "C" Batteries, Mounted Infantry and Infantry schools, $463,081.18,
  • Improved rifle ordnance, $379,48,
  • North-West service (rebellion, 1885), $9,797.09,
  • Total, $1,296,810.68.

What Our Pensioners Cost

  • Pensions for wounds, etc., in the war of 1812 (Upper Canada), $3,240,
  • Pensions for wounds, etc., in the Fenian raids, $3,038,
  • Pensions for wounds, etc., in rebellion of 1885, N.W.T., $22,238.10,
  • Annual grant to all surviving veterans of 1812, $2,250,
  • Total pensions, $30,766.10.

Number of Pensioners, 1889-1890

  • Pensioners for wounds, etc., war of 1812 (Upper Canada), 39,
  • Pensioners for wounds, etc., Fenian raids, 23,
  • Pensioners for wounds, etc., rebellion of 1885, N.W.T., 121,
  • Surviving veterans of 1812, 41,
  • Total number of pensioners, 224.

Cost of Militia Since Confederation

The following statement shows the amount expended upon the Militia and defence of canada since Confederation:—

  • Total expenditure by Department of Militia and Defence, $29,742,085.92,
  • Total expenditure by Department of Public Works on military works and buildings, $1,352,619.31,
  • Total expenditure by Department of Public Works on repairs of the same, $328,025.33,
  • Total, $31,422,740.56.

"Taking into consideration the results obtained by the country at large," says Col. Panet in his report, "and the important services rendered by the Militia, the public are well repaid for the outlay. Large as this has been, however (averaging $1,366,206 per annum for the twenty three years, and including expenditures as above mentioned by the Public Works Department, for the fiscal year, ending 30th June last having reached $1,372,523), the amount now voted by Parliament barely suffices for the requirements of the service; and, in order to enable the department to provide for the development of the force correspondingly with the growth of the country, our estimates should be considerably increased."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 20 February 2016

Discipline for the Canadian Navy
Topic: Discipline

Discipline for the Canadian Navy

Disparaging remarks made in a mess concerning those in authority, whether officers or petty officers, are most subversive to discipline, and soon become known all over a ship.

From the Report of Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa, G.C.B., O.M., G.V.C.O., on Naval Mission to the Dominion of Canada (Nov-Dec 1919)

(These notes are part of a chapter on discipline under the referenced report, provided to assist in the re-establishment of the Canadian Navy following the First World War.)

The following recommendations are made on the general subject in the hope that they will be found useful in a young service:—

(a)     Lectures on discipline and its value should be given to:—

(i.)     Petty officers in the depot.
(ii.)     Boys in the training ship.
(iii.)     Stokers in the training ship.

(b)     Officers, and particularly the officers of divisions, must be taught that their first duty is the well-being of those under them. Tho this end they must take a great interest in the men's work and recreations, and get to know those under their orders. Kindness and courtesy should always be shown without familiarity or loss of respect being engendered. Men should be able to feel that the officer of their division is one to whom they can always appeal when in difficulty.

(c)     Officers must thoroughly realize that the more efficient they are at their work the easier it is to command men. They should not spare themselves, and it should be a proved fact that they never call on a man to perform any duty which they cannot do themselves. (This cannot in many cases apply to technical craftsmen.)

(d)     The attention of officers should be called to the necessity of not flaunting their advantages over the men. As an example in this direction, it is sometimes thoughtless for large numbers of officers to go on shore as soon as a ship anchors and long before any liberty men can land. Judgment should be exercised in these matters.

(e)     Senior officers should not, as a rule, correct individual men for mistakes made but should call the attention of the officer or petty officer in charge of the work to the mistake, in order that the latter might have it corrected.

(f)     Officers and petty officers should be taught to give words of command smartly. Slovenly methods of giving orders will never produce good results and smartness.

(g)     Officers should be most carefully instructed in the best methods of investigating the cases of men brought up before them charged with various offences. They must thoroughly understand that the "accused" is not an offender unless the charge is proved against him. They must exercise patience and restraint in dealing with all cases brought before the, constantly bearing in mind the fact that it must be clear to every one that they are certain of obtaining justice. The old service custom by which accused men take off their caps during the investigation of their cases is out of date, being now generally considered to be a humiliation to which a man who is under trial should not be subjected. I have recommended to the Admiralty that it should be discontinued.

(h)     All officers must set an example to their men by showing the greatest courtesy and respect towards their superior officers and consideration towards theuir juniors. Disparaging remarks made in a mess concerning those in authority, whether officers or petty officers, are most subversive to discipline, and soon become known all over a ship.

(i)     Having deputed an officer or man to carry out a task, he should, if circumstances admit, be given an opportunity of completing the work, as the act of taking it out of his hands I a humiliation which will give pain, particularly if undeserved. Here, again, judgment must be exercised, as many cases arise in which for efficiency's sake it is best to interfere. The above remarks must, however, be constantly borne in mind. Self-restraint will often need to be exercised in carrying them into effect.

(j)     Men should be taught correct deportment by drill.

Rifle exercises have an excellent result in this direction when properly carried out. These consist of:—

(i.)     Disciplinary rifle exercises.
(ii.)     Rifle exercises having a direct military purpose.

The distinction between these and the reason for each should be carefully explained to the men.

Men must be taught that when called to "Attention" they must rigidly maintain this attitude, and failure to do so should be regarded as an offence; they should, however, never be kept at "Attention" for longer periods than are necessary, as it then becomes impossible to maintain the correct attitude.

Officers in charge of instruction should drill their men before turning this duty over to an instructor. The officer should aim at being able to demonstrate that he can drill them better than the instructor.

Life on board ship brings people into very close contact, if not into collision, and every one must bear in mind the necessity for exercising tolerance toward others and endeavouring to "pull together" for the good of the ship and the Service; at the same time, smartness and efficiency must be the essentials for which every one is working.

The promotion of a strong sense of esprit de corps in a body of officers and men, whether belonging to a ship or any other unit, will prove to be of great assistance in the maintenance of discipline; consequently this should be aimed at.

Whilst endeavouring to instil a high sense of duty and good discipline in its best form into the personnel, everything possible should be done that will add to the comfort of the ships' companies. Great attention should be paid to the diet, as regards its composition and the method of its preparation.

Men's living quarters should also be made as comfortable as possible, and good facilities provided for reading and writing, amusements, playing games, washing, stowage of kits, etc.

Married men should, whenever possible, be given facilities for seeing their families.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 19 February 2016

Canadian Regiment [for South Africa]
Topic: Paardeberg

Canadian Regiment [for South Africa]

War Office Intimates That It Will be kept Intact
The various Companies Will Not Be Attached to Several British Regiments

Sherbrooke Daily Record, 17 October 1899

Ottawa, October 17.—An intimation was received from the War Office yesterday to the effect that instead of eight companies being attached to eight different British regiments, they will be kept intact as one regiment. Quebec will be the port of embarkation, and thither all supplies are being sent.

The Department of Militia does not appear to be stinting men in the matter of outfit, which, for each man will be as follows:—

  • One helmet
  • One field service cap
  • One tuque to wear on board ship
  • Two frocks of rifle green, unlined
  • Two pairs of trousers, rifle green
  • One great coat
  • One jacket and one pair of trousers of Khaki
  • One pair of leggings
  • Two pairs of ankle boots
  • Three grey flannel shirts
  • One pair of drawers
  • One undershirt of light woolen to wear on board ship
  • Two abdominal belts
  • One jersey
  • One pair of canvas shoes
  • Five brushes, respectively for the hair, clothing, polishing, blacking and shaving
  • One Razor
  • Spoons, knife and fork
  • Hold-all
  • Housewife
  • Two combs
  • Three pairs of bootlaces
  • claspknife
  • cakes of soap
  • pairs of socks
  • One tin of blacking

Together with a Lee-Enfield rifle, and Oliver equipment, complete with valises and kit bags.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 3:36 PM EST
Thursday, 18 February 2016

Leadership Traits
Topic: Leadership

Leadership Traits

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

a.     Alertness is vigilance, promptness, and wide-awakeness.

b.     Bearing denotes desirable physical appearance, dress, and deportment.

c.     Courage must be both physical and moral.

d.     Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions promptly when indicated and announce them authoritatively, concisely, and clearly.

e.     Dependability is the doing of one's duty with or without supervision.

f.     Endurance both mental and physical, is necessary to continue and complete any reasonable task.

g.     Enthusiasm is the positive zeal or interest in the task at hand. It is easily communicated to subordinates.

h.     Force is the ability to impose one's will upon another.

i.     Humility is freedom from arrogance and unjustifiable pride.

j.     Humor is the capacity to appreciate the many amusing or whimsical happenings of our everyday life, especially those which pertain to the leader himself.

k.     Initiative is the willingness to act in the absence of orders and to offer well considered recommendations for the improvement of the command.

1.     Integrity is the honesty and moral character of the leader that must be unquestioned.

m.     Intelligence is the intellect of the leader which must be adequate to master the problems presented by his level of command.

n.     Judgment is the power of the mind to weigh various factors and arrive at a wise decision.o. Justice is being equitable and impartial in bestowing favors and punishment.

p.     Loyalty must extend both up and down. A leader cannot expect loyalty from his subordinates unless he is conspicuously loyal to them and to his superiors.

q.     Sympathy is the capacity of sharing the feelings of those with whom one is associated.

r.     Tact is the ability to deal with subordinates and superiors in an appropriate manner without giving offense.

s.     Unselfishness is the studied avoidance of caring for or providing for one's own comfort or advantage at the expense of others.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 18 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Col. Sam Hughes is a Talker
Topic: Officers

Col. Sam Hughes is a Talker…

The Daily Sun, St. John, N.B., 15 July 1904

Col. Sam Hughes is a talker as well as a fighting globe trotter. His tongue is sharper than the crack of a Mauser rifle. Gunning after Hon. Sydney Fisher, for his interference with the formation of the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons in the Eastern Townships, the colonel let off the following volley:—

"I am informed that it has appeared in the newspapers that amongst the officers this gentlemen (Fisher) was instrumental in forcing on the Dragoons, two of them are no credit to anybody. One of them came into Laprairie camp with a pair of garters and a little spur screwed into the heel of the garter so that he could not ride, and he had two swords, one on his right and one on his left, and one splendid black eye. He remained in camp long enough to make an exhibition of himself and then he was sent home. I may be wrong, but I understand that these are the facts. Another of the minister of agriculture's officers for some offence was brought before the civil authorities and fines $20 or some other large sum for breach of the civil law. These are two of the men that the minister of agriculture held up the Scottish Light Dragoons to appoint, and as a result of which we have lost the best general officer commanding that ever stood on Canadian soil."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 16 February 2016

In the Firing Line (Paardeberg, 1900)
Topic: Paardeberg

In the Firing Line (Paardeberg, 1900)

Brave Father O'Leary Speaks of the Boer Campaign
The Chaplain Fell Asleep Amid the Hail of Bullets—Many Mistakes Made by the Intelligence Department—Father O'Leary Has Borne all the Hardships of the Forced Marches with the Canadians—Wears Two Medals

The Evening Telegram, St. John's Newfoundland, 13 November 1900

The Rev. Father O'Leary, of the First Contingent, stayed at the Place Viger Hotel last night, upon his way to Ottawa to see his brother, who is seriously ill, says the Montreal Gazette. In his khaki helmet and clerical coat, with the cross of the chaplain and the maple leaf of the Canadians upon the collar, and two shoulder straps, Father O'Leary looks admirably well. He wears two medal ribbons, one the official ribbon of the Imperial medal to be issued to all who took part in the war, the other the ribbon of a special medal, presented to him and a few others as a particular recognition of their services, by the authorities at Cape Town.

But numberless hardships fell to the worthy chaplain's share. He marched nearly all the way with the men, as far as Kroonstadt, for though he had a horse and a spring cart for a few days, the animals were so hard-worked that they succumbed, and he preferred to trudge his thirty miles on two biscuits day after day rather than be left behind. The worst want was the lack of water, but the number of spiders and insects that crawled about the tents at night were very trying, and it was particularly hard to submit to the inspections of a tarantula upon the face for fear of his deadly fangs. However, through it all Father O'Leary kept up, until enteric mastered him at Korrnstadt, and he was taken back to Bloemfontein.

Here he lay delirious and at death's door for ten days, and when he was sent further south he suffered a most trying relapse at Deilfontein, and after a stay at Wynberg was forced to go home. He states that, in his opinion, the hospitals were as good as they could be under the circumstances. Of course, at Bloemfontein, with its 5,000 sick, and its one line of rails, there was much suffering; but no one could help it, and Dr. Ryerson, the Canadian Red Cross commissioner, by his intelligence and activity, did much for the whole army.

At Deilfontein, the C.I.V. hospital, there were almost too many luxuries; the ordinary private even being supplied with champagne, and in England nothing could exceed the kindness of his reception when he arrived. Lady Dudley, a perfect stranger to him, wrote to offer accommodation free of cost at any hotel he might select on the Riviera, or in England, and everyone treated him most thoughtfully.

When the Contingent arrived in Africa things looked terrible blue. As they lay at Belmont the wounded from Magersfontein kept pouring back in a continuous stream in carts and trains, and the moral effect was terrible. No time was so bad on the nerves as the month they lay idle, with nothing to do but build railways, endure sand storms and keep watch among putrefying corpses upon a kopje. But when Lord Roberts arrived the whole aspect of things changed. The Contingent was brigaded with the Gordons, and at once struck up a warm friendship with them. The two regiments used to help each other in every way, pitching the tents or forwarding them after them every time there was a chance.

Yet it was the Gordons who, to their deep regret, bayoneted the Canadians at Paardeberg. The firing line of the Contingent had been ordered to advance, whilst the supports and the Highlanders threw up shelter. When the Boer fire was drawn the firing line were to retire, but when they did do the Gordons, believing that nothing could survive the murderous volleys of the enemy, took them for Boers and treated them accordingly.

Another great mistake at Paardeberg was made by the Intelligence Department. The Canadians had reached the crest of the outward slope of the river-bank. What ought to have been known, and was not, was that the river was as impossible to cross as a millrace, and that the top of the inward slope was not only a sheer drop of 15 feet, but was lined by 500 Boers, who had not yet fired a shot, and were waiting to fire at close quarters. The Contingent charged with the bayonet, but the Boers escaped under the edge of the declivity to the ford, whither they could not be pursued as they were covered by the fire of their friends on the opposite bank.

But is the Intelligence Department was defective, the practice of the artillery was magnificent. They did not bombard the Boer laager continuously, but only when a man was seen out of cover. On one occasion three or four of the enemy made a rush for an ammunition waggon. At once four shots from a howitzer battery were placed in a space not forty feet square, and neither enemy or waggon were seen again. If the Canadian attack had failed the whole force of the artillery would have been turned upon Cronje with shrapnel and nothing would have survived after the storm. Shrapnel was infinitely more effective than lyddite shells. The high trajectory of the howitzer batteries ensured the bursting of every shot fired while many of the lyddite shells from the 4.7 guns with their almost level course, never burst at all, and the much-talked of fumes, poisonous as they are on ship-board, in the open were quite innocuous.

Father O'Leary's own position at the great battle was right in the firing line. He had borne all the hardships of the forced march and the short rations with the men. At first under fire it was very trying to feel the top of the long grass in which he lay actually cut down by bullets, and he never got used to the spiteful sound of the pom-poms. But tired nature asserted itself and he fell asleep in the midst of it all, with a request to his neighbour to awaken him if anything important occurred.

The bursting on an English shell right over his head aroused him and he saw that the shelter he was sharing with a soldier was not sufficient for both. With the utmost courage Father O'Leary determined to make for a nearby ant heap and, regardless of the storm of bullets he drew, he raised himself on his hands and knees and managed to get safely behind it. Then came the famous charge and he was in the midst of it, picking up Colonel Alwarth as he fell. After the battle he went around with the stretcher-bearers, attended the wounded, comforted the dying, and burying the dead. Worn out with fatigue, he slept for an hour or so on the ground and resumed his mission of mercy, and it was not until the next day that he found his regiment again. As Father O'Leary tells his experiences as mere ordinary facts, it is easy to see why he was the most popular of all the men who left Canada for the front.

Father O'Leary's medals were sold at auction by Jeffrey Hoare Auctions Inc, in September, 1014. Although the pair of medals had an auction estimate of $600, the final hammer price was $3800 (with buyer's premium and sales tax, this was a final cost to the buyer af nearly $5000).

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 16 February 2016 12:04 AM EST
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

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