The Minute Book
Friday, 1 July 2016

Infantry Company Command (2016)
Topic: Leadership

Infantry Company Command

The following was written by an officer leaving company command in a Canadian regiment in 2016. Shared with the author's permission.

What follows are a few notes of what I felt were the salient points on rifle company command. These were things that I learned on the job—I may have applied them well throughout, or poorly at first and better and better as time went on. Some of these are things I grappled with right to the end, and may still not have the answer. Here they are:


1.     The Level of the Fight. A rifle company commander is a tactical leader, first and foremost. You are concerned with everything in a roughly 2km bubble. You take up about half of the bubble physically, (a good rule of thumb is that in open ground, a dismounted company fits in a grid square) and own the rest of it with the effects of your weapons. It was important to learn how to move in this bubble and I spent many days on a whiteboard with my leaders discussing how we would move as a company. It was important to visualize how to move a company to find, fix and strike an enemy platoon/company, either moving or dug in, as this is the fundamental task. Since a company commander operates at this level of the fight, you need to know it inside and out. A company commander should know crew served weapons thoroughly—refreshing oneself on the ranges and beaten zones of my machine guns and other weapons was essential. It is also valuable to go out and do drills with your soldiers on these weapons (I didn't do it as much as I should have, though).

2.     Aggregate/Disperse. As a platoon commander, you can't really disperse too much—everything is generally within line of sight except for patrols. As a company commander, it was critical to understand when to come together and when to disperse. This is related to point (1) above, but requires some thinking. Sending out scouting parties forward under a platoon commander, especially in close terrain, was an SOP to develop. So was massing the right elements in a company firebase. How much of your force to you bring together for an assault (evidence suggests not much) while how much to preserve to push past to infiltrate/disrupt is a balance to consider. This takes practice—if all you want to do as a company commander is line up with 2 up, 1 back, you are going to fail.

3.     Massing Fires. This is where the company commander earns his pay. He has (or should have) and OP Det with a FOO. He should control the employment of crew-served weapons (for the most part). We teach this to platoon commanders on phase training, but I think it is a bit unrealistic (although I recognize its training value) as I would never, as a company commander, have a platoon commander try to sit there and figure out when he needed arty shut off as that was my job as I launched him on to an objective. As well, in discussing fire plans and fire bases, I came to the realization that, while platoon commanders are busy with "gutful men" leading assaults, the company commander should be looking to move fire support elements—its a pipedream to think that supporting fires are from a single firebase on a hill that can support the entire fight. First off, if that hill exists, the enemy has a DF on it; second of all, the enemy has depth, and as the company commander, you need to think how to mass fires from different areas at different points of the battle.

4.     Know Your Commanders 2 Levels Down. As a platoon commander, I could know everyone in the platoon. I couldn't really do this as a company commander, and it took time to know all the faces in what was, for a time, a 100+ man rifle company (numbers ebbed and flowed). I read somewhere that a commander at any level should know his commanders two levels down; I think this is a good universal principle to strive for. So, as a company commander, I took the time to know my section commanders. I interviewed each of them, knew their family situations, their career histories and aspirations and got their thoughts on what they felt their section, platoon and company needed to work on. I found this was valuable.


5.     Routine Training. Company command is where the rubber meets the road for the training of soldiers. It taught me to look at training requirements as a "mileage book", like that book you get in a new car that tells you what maintenance is required at what intervals. Good organizations do routine things routinely (that's from a former CO), and I like to think I developed a good understanding of what "routinely" meant for different essential tasks. I used the analogy of athletes. A good baseball player isn't good because he did a course on batting, he's good because he practices batting every day. Even the great hockey players practice every day (it's part of what makes them great), and will shoot pucks at the net for hours. At first, when I designed training, I just kind of threw things up that sounded interesting ("well, we haven't done this in a while"). I learned that I needed to be more systematic than this, and that metrics should be set for performance—it's great if we go to the range or conduct medical refreshers, but what was the standard to achieve and did we achieve it? This "mileage book" concept is not something I had nailed down, but it would be very useful for a battalion to issue and guide company commanders in the training of their soldiers.

6.     Quarterly Training Plans. Based on the "mileage book", quarterly training plans were built for the company and posted. Although they were living documents, the company found them useful. Soldiers could plan their lives, and tasks were assigned to platoons and other leaders for specific training events that I tasked them to lead. A battalion lives year to year on its Operating Plan, while a company lives in three month blocks with training plans that it builds off the Operating Plan. The quarterly training plans also helped Bn HQ, as they saw what training we were intending to conduct and could start getting resources lined up—I found I often got what I wanted because I planned and requested stuff early on.

7.     Train to Failure. Train to failure is something I got from a previous Bde Comd. It's great to plan an exercise where everyone shoots up the targets, wins the battle and has beers back in the biv, but you learn more from failure. Have a defence overrun, or an attack stalled or just put enough friction into events that subordinates learn the hard way. One of the best training events I observed is where commanders failed during force-on-force training due to situating the estimate against a live enemy, who planned a simple delaying action. Those commanders learned more on that AAR than on anything else, because everything went pear shaped.

8.     Do it Twice or Don't Do it at All (and try to do it until you can't get it wrong). I always thought opportunities were missed when a range was conducted, then the soldiers sat in the AAR and heard what everyone could have done better only to then go back to the hide to get ready for something else. As I started to run more and more ranges, I endevoured to build the time around doing it twice whenever possible (sometimes, friction intervened, but you can't win them all). A successful section range had every section getting six iterations, and the progression showed. Yeah, the soldiers "know" what the scenario is after the first go around, but there is genuine value in watching them chalk talk the application of the lessons observed and turning them in to lessons learned. Same for force-on-force training. Attack a positions, figure out how to do it better and let them attack the same position again. This goes back to batting practice and a great saying a former CO of mine—don't do things until you get them right, do them until you can't get them wrong. When designing training, I'd argue that doing a short range three times is far better in terms of learning than doing one range that lasts six hours.

9.     NCOs and Whitespace. This was something to stay on top of throughout. I told my NCOs that they should never waste a chance to train their troops and doing an hour refresh on a radio or a compass is better than just going home at 1500 because there is nothing to do. All NCOs were tasked to have a lesson plan in their pocket and to be prepared to grab soldiers to lead routine training (the CSM followed up and managed this well). Soldiers sitting on the stairs is unacceptable, and this is in the hands of the Master Corporals and Sergeants. Yet, it was frustrating to see it happen from time to time. Part of it is that some NCOs were unsure of how/when to take the lead on designing training. They got better as Sergeants were tasked to take the lead in more training ("Sergeants X, Y and Z, you will lead the next urban ops training session. Tell me what you need"). Part of it is just that there are some weak NCOs. Some were great, and carried a lot of the weight, but some were not. I don't think we, as an Army, have as tight of a venturi on who gets a Leaf and I think it behooves the company commander to consider how to engage his NCOs, especially his weaker ones, and to make them get off their butts, get in front of their soldiers and train them. The CSM will be able to help drive this, but he is usually pretty busy as well, so it will take a team effort. It behooves you to take a personal interest in your NCOs, how good they are, and how they get better.


10.     Inspect, Inspect, Inspect. This is the only way you prevent those stupid foul ups from happening—a funny line I saw was that soldiers don't do what you expect, they do what you inspect. Inspect became an ugly word in our Army for some reason—I think it may be a bit of an Afghan War thing? There is too much "you good to go?" "yeah, we're good to go!" in the Army. I've seen weapons not function, batteries die, equipment missing and soldiers deploying without basic items because leaders didn't inspect. It was useful to schedule monthly inspections on the quarterly training calendar. It was also useful to announce what was being inspected and what the standard was so that soldiers could focus on preparing properly (I think "surprise inspections" may not be very useful). Vehicles were inspected monthly—it's amazing how much garbage piles up in vehicles but, after a few inspections, they were swept out and cleaned regularly. The company would be formed up in fighting order and every soldier's weapon and kit inspected by he company commander and CSM while the platoon commander and 2IC were taking notes (they'd be inspected first). Yeah, platoon and section leadership could do this (and I expected them to conduct their own inspections), but the boss has to be seen enforcing the standard. It is an obvious statement that the company commander also has to set and meet that standard with his gear as well, and it was important not to let up on the leadership either. Early on, after announcing an inspection of the weapons vault, all the troops worked hard so I knew their stuff would be clean. So we inspected the weapons of every Sergeant, Warrant Officer and Officer, and many of them weren't up to standard. After that, when weapons maintenance was conducted, leaders were vigilantly cleaning their stuff too. Inspections apply to the field as well, in the form of Pre-Combat Checks (PCCs). We laugh at that old "Section Battle Drill No 1—Form Up for Battle", but it is right (minus all the goofy yelling). I never got a standardized PCC card hammered into my leaders, which was my own failure. It should be a battalion SOP, and NCOs should live by it in the field. To me, inspections and the willingness of leaders at each level to embrace them are what separate real good infantry outfits from mediocre ones.

11.     PT—Lead by Example, From the Start. Our military has a fitness problem, straight up. I was lucky to be in a battalion with a fitness culture. However, some soldiers aren't very fit, and only leadership will move this yardstick forward. Company PT is good, and I'd try to lead it every Friday if possible (generally a forced march in fighting order or marching order) but it wasn't always possible. I'm a firm believer that PT is best executed at the platoon level as the group size is about right, but the Platoon Commanders need some support, especially if they have sub-par Platoon 2ICs or NCOs not pulling their weight—some times, young officers have trouble imposing their will on their leadership. I should have hopped in with Platoon PT more often, as it's actually pretty fun, as you can just be a troop and not have to lead anything and it's a great way to get a view of your soldiers. There seemed to be, in every company, a gaggle of soldiers that seemed to use their rank or their "time in" to scam out of PT. I'd see a young platoon commander take off with his soldiers and a few of his NCOs. The CSM and I would then walk the lines (before we went and did our PT) and sure enough, there are these "middle management" type guys, hanging around in the office. It was a problem in every company. A solution which seemed to help was to make PT a company activity, at least to start. Hold a PT parade in the morning and lead the entire company in a quick warm up (a real warm up, not just a silly calf stretch). The platoon commanders would then break off with their platoons and the CSM and I would get to see who wasn't going. Once we put the eye on the shirkers, things started to tighten up. PT is probably the most important thing we do in the day, as it prepares our bodies and minds for the physical and mental challenges of campaigning, so the company commander needs to take the lead in ensuring that time is used wisely and by all.

12.     Discipline in Public. Military justice is supposed to be public—thankfully I only conducted a couple of summary trials, but they were set up in the company lines and the entire company was there to observe. After the trial, I'd have a quick PD session with the company and talk about the military justice system, the nature of the offense, and why it is important to handle things the way we do. It was educational for the troops, and I felt it was a worthwhile way of doing things.

13.     Commander's Notebooks. A Platoon Commander will be better if he has a good commander's notebook. It means he's tracking his soldiers, their families, their careers, his platoon's equipment and his training plan. Provide guidance on what these needed to contain and inspect their notebooks. I think they were better commander's for it. My notebook was a little less focused on personnel (I kept files on section commanders and above) but I still had a series of documents on equipment, ORBAT, qualifications that allowed me to make timely decisions regarding the company. Very rarely, in meetings with the CO, did I have to say "I'll have to get back to you sir" because my notebook armed me with the right info.

14.     Make the Hard Decisions. This one is kind of a cliche, but it is important to be said and I never really started to feel it until assuming company command. The right decision is, in many cases, not the easy one, and at times it won't be the popular one, but you have to make it. Platoon commanders are young guys and gals, trying to figure stuff out and trying to be popular a lot of the times so you need to be vigilant with them. Make the decision to make training harder, to push it out during PT, to stay the extra time to get things done right, and to use the downtime to do something productive. Make the difficult decision to be hard on guys, even if they are "good guys", that aren't meeting the standard. I was too nice sometimes, and I regret this. There is a balance, and figuring out how to be hard without being an a**hole is an important skill, as it will separate those who are respected and those who are disliked—the weak, soft leaders are the ones who are despised. There is also balance on determining when "letting off the gas" is useful—you'll just break guys if you go 110% all the time. But never accept "this is good enough for now and we'll get it right next time" if the standard is not achieved. There were times, after making the hard decision, that I think that the soldiers hated me that day, but it was the right thing to do and I learned not to care about being liked (I found solace with the CSM, who was the ultimate sounding board). Company commanders have a lot of manoeuvre space and a lot of opportunities to take the easy road, but they will only fail their subordinates during the most critical time, the unforgiving minute, if they do that.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 30 June 2016

US Army Rations (1911)
Topic: Army Rations

US Army Rations (1911)

The emergency ration is composed of compressed food having among its ingredients beef, sugar, salt, beans, potatoes and wheat.

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 27 March 1911

The different classifications of rations given out to the regular army is another interesting point. In all there are some six specific rations, the principal ones being the haversack ration, the garrison rations, the travel ration and the emergency or iron ration. Until a few months ago there was a seventh, known as the field ration; but now the haversack and field have been combined. The haversack ration, such as dealt out to troops in the field, consists of meat, coffee, hard-tack, sugar, pepper and salt. The amount given out varies with conditions, and at times, when more of the so-called haversack article is doubtful, the emergency ration is supplied in addition.

The emergency ration is composed of compressed food having among its ingredients beef, sugar, salt, beans, potatoes and wheat. It preparation for eating is simple, but it is never used except in cases of extreme necessity. The soldiers are supposed to keep it in the sealed tins until express orders are given for its devouring. A small cake sufficient for a meal is broken into the regulation cup filled with boiling water, and in a short time there is a palatable mess ready. When the novice tried his first meal of the iron ration he thinks it is a pretty small matter, but shortly he has the opinion that after all it was a square meal. The other ration which is of interest just now, called the travel ration, is served out for troops travelling otherwise than marching and without cooking facilities. If kitchen cars may be attached to trains, or if kitchens may be had on transports, then conditions are different. The travel ration is liable to be more plentiful and in greater variety than the haversack article and as a rule sufficient for one day longer than the trip is scheduled to take. The idea, is that at the end of the journey the men will still have enough to keep them for an additional day and thus do away with an immediate and of many times difficult doling out of more food.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Issue of Battle Lists (1956)
Topic: Battle Honours

The battle honours concern the colours, and the colours are important things.

War Honours Report

Issue of Battle Lists (1956)

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 if battles in the Second World War.

In old-time wars were easy to define; when war is 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 Faliase?

At the time it mattered little what once 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 it 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 regiment, 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 Claims

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 list 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 "battle, 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 also 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 at 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? 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 EDT
Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Garrison Church Parade (1895)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Garrison Church Parade (1895)

Daily Mail and Empire, 9 November 1895

Toronto has every reason to be proud of the magnificent showing made by the garrison at last Sunday's divine service parade. The total number of men in line, 2,041, was larger than any such previous occasion. The marching and general appearance of the men was magnificent, and in this connection an extract from Major-General Gascoigne's letter to Lt.-Col. Buchan, which appeared in full in The Mail and Empire of Monday, is worthy of repetition:—

"Not only did the numbers present on parade exceed my expectations, but the general smartness and magnificent appearance of the troops, as well as their steadiness and evident knowledge of drill and training, gave me the highest gratification. I am proud to have the honour of commanding such troops."

It was noticeable that despite the immense crowds lining the streets on the route to and from Massey hall the men were in no way inconvenienced thereby. The efforts of the police in keeping the roadways clear were ably seconded by the public. In this respect it is interesting to compare the following from the Montreal Star of the 28th October in connection with the church parade on the 27th of the same month:—

"The church parade of the Montreal brigade of active militia yesterday afternoon resulted in the thronging of the city streets with the densest crowds that have gathered in Montreal for years. The Champ de Mars, where the brigade was formed up, was so densely packed with humanity that it was with the greatest difficulty that the General and his staff could pass from one corps to the other to conduct his inspection. The whole way along the lengthy line of march to St. George's church, the streets were so jammed with spectators that the troops barely had room to pass through, while the southern half of Dominion square was black with people. A fact which was emphasized by the parade was the incapacity of the police to handle big crowds or their lack of will to do so. Not the least attempt was made at keeping the Champ de Mars or the streets along the route clear. The ranks were squeezed in all the way along the route, and at cross streets electric cars and other vehicles were allowed to cross the line of march with impunity."

"The total number of men in line was 1,656, and again quoting from the Star, the distribution was as follows:—"

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 27 June 2016

RCAF Air Display (1934)
Topic: RCAF

RCAF Air Display (1934)

The following advertisement appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on 11 July, 1934.

Aircraft included in the display were:

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 26 June 2016

Posed as Winner of Victoria Cross (1918)
Topic: Stolen Valour

Posed as Winner of Victoria Cross (1918)

"Sergt. Boyd, V.C.," Arrested on Suspicion at Instance of Montreal Authorities
Was at Windsor Hotel
Gazette Reporter Who Interviewed Him Doubted Bonfides—Enquiries Led To Arrest at Buffalo

The Montreal Gazette, 23 March 1918

Major Phil. McKenzie, M.C., who was recently appointed assistant provost marshal here has just signalized his appointment by the arrest at Buffalo of a man who was posing as "Sergt. R.F. Boyd, V.C.," of the Princess Patricias, and who is suspected of being a fraud. "Boyd' posed at the Windsor Hotel as a hero who had won the Victoria Cross and other decorations while serving in France. He gave an interview to a military reporter of the Gazette, who doubted the man's bonafides, but did not allow his to guess the fact. Apparently the man was anxious to get a story in the Gazette for use in his career across the line, because he gave his future address, in order that copies of the paper with his interview might be forwarded to him there, giving an address at the Hotel Statler, Buffalo. This led to the arrest.

He left for the train the moment he had given the interview. He showed his medal strips and returned soldier's badge, and insisted on opening his grip to exhibit his uniform, which bore the insignia of the P.P.C.L.I., and had evidently seen hard service. In addition to this he exhibited an officer's silver wrist identification disk, engraved with his name and number, although he only claimed to be a sergeant.

Letter from Sir Sam

Finally, "Sergeant Boyd, V.C.," produced a letter purporting to be from Sir Sam Hughes warmly commending his work for the Red Cross, and recommending him for further similar work. The letter was signed, "Yours very sincerely, Sir Sam Hughes,' The Gazette reporter was an old friend of Sir Sam's, and doubted the signature, while, of course, the ex-Minister of Militia never signs himself as "Sir Sam Hughes."

Considering these things, the reporter communicated with the Provost Marshal, who finally located the man by telegraph at the Hotel Statler at Buffalo. Major McKenzie then wired a full description of the man, with evidence as to the story he had told here, to the military authorities at Toronto, and an officer from there was despatched by the first train to Buffalo, where he found "Boyd, V.C.,' still at the Hotel Statler.

Placed Under Arrest

Every assistance was given to the Canadian officer by the American authorities, and he promptly secured the arrest of "Boyd, V.C." when an examination of the prisoner's effects showed that he was still wearing the medal ribbons and his returned soldier's badge, and still had the complete sergeant's outfit in his kit with the P.P.C.L.I. badges. In the meantime the records had been searched, and the authorities found that there had been no such sergeant in the original Princess Patricias, nor had any soldier of the name he was travelling under ever won either the Victoria Cross or any of the other decorations he was sporting.

The man was brought over the border yesterday and put under arrest at Camp Niagara. His trial will take place at Toronto, in Military District No. 3.

"Sergt. Boyd, V.C.," told a graphic story here to The Gazette reporter, giving a particularly vivid account of how he saved 16 wounded men under heavy fire at Hooge, when he was finally badly wounded in the knee and shot through the left shoulder.

It was for this action that he claimed to have been awarded the Victoria Cross, and his story was somewhat borne out by a very male knee and a bullet mark on his ribs, which he insisted on showing the reporter. The "Sergeant" then gave an account of how he had been given the V.C. by the King, and how the Princess Mary had even kissed him. He declared this had occurred in France, and that he received his V.C. at the same time as Major Bishop. He also claimed to be going to the Southern States on an extended lecturing tour under the auspices of the American Red Cross. There have been instances in the States of men masquerading as heroes.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 June 2016 4:19 PM EDT
Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Forbidden Word
Topic: Humour

The n.c.o.s tried hard to be an example by not using the forbidden word, although some of them were hard put to find substitutes for it.

The Forbidden Word

Glasgow Herald, 16 April 1956
(An Editorial Diary)

In this new spirit of rapprochement with the older campaigners we now welcome the reminiscences of a colleague who was with the 52nd (Lowland) Division 40 years ago on the Gaza Strip, and whose memories are stirred when he reads such place-names as Khan Yunius and Deir el Belah.

He remembers the divisional pipe band standing near the boundary pillar at Rafa, playing the Scots into Palestine to the tune of "Blue Bonnets over the Border," and adds:—

"I tried with my entrenching tool to get a chip off the pillar as a memento, but I was rudely and officially told that looting was a crime."

In those days, it will be noticed, it was possible to be both rude and official, although even then, it appears, a hint of refinement was creeping into the Service. This is confirmed by his account of the occasion when the troops were rebuked for their language, particularly in the use of one word, which in variations could be noun, adjective, or verb. The superior critical authorities did not mention the word in orders, but decreed that the use of it was to stop, and an instruction to that effect was to be read on three successive parades.

Our colleague's company officer more than obeyed the instruction. He gave his men a short talk, using the word and its many variations as it was to be heard among the troops. He concluded by stating that the order had now been read on the first of three successive parades.

The instruction was given to dismiss, but not a man got away more than a yard when the command came, "Fall in." The order was read a second time, and again the sergeant-major dismissed the parade. However, some of the men, old-soldier-like, held their ground—and they were not disappointed—for "Fall in" bawled the sergeant-major. So the order was read for the third and last time.

This was contrary to practice. The official intention was that the troops, in between each parade, should have time to reflect on the terms of the order. But the company officer earned the gratitude of his company, every man of whom wanted to get back to the first round of a bridge tournament they were playing.

elipsis graphic

The n.c.o.s tried hard to be an example by not using the forbidden word, although some of them were hard put to find substitutes for it.

Then came a night march, which was to be undertaken in strict silence. Before the company moved off a sergeant insisted, "No talking."

Up spoke a voice, "Can we whistle, serg.?"

"No," he bawled.

"Can we smoke, serg.?"asked another.

"No," he commanded.

"Can we breath, serg.?"

The sergeant could not spot the speakers in the darkness, and he freely used the word. Then they marched off.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 June 2016 12:07 AM EDT
Friday, 24 June 2016

Japanese Soldier's Load (1910)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Japanese Soldier's Load (1910)

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 21 August 1910

In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity.

Interview of their experience in the Manchurian campaign the Japanese, like most of the other nations, have adopted a khaki field uniform made of cloth for winter gear and of linen for summer use. In general appearance it resembles our own service uniform, but the shade of color is slightly different. The material of the uniform is manufactured in Tokio, in a factory under control of the war department. Thus the Japanese follow the example of the European nations which generally desire to have all factories for making material for the army under government control.

The new equipment of the Japanese army, being the direct result of war experience by a nation of but little conservation or affection for old forms, is naturally of interest to armies in general. The knapsack is retained, which seems a little remarkable to us, who gave it up long ago in its old form. The new form of it resembles the French knapsack, and is of tanned hide, with the hairy side out, and weighs empty about 4.4 pounds. It contains a shirt, sewing material, brushes, etc., two days rations (composed of six small packages of rice, two cans of canned meat, together with the rations of sugar and tea), and 80 rounds of ammunition.

Blanket and Shelter Tent

Around the knapsack the blanket for field use is laid, and on either side a shoe. The overcoat, rolled in the shelter tent, is laid over the blanket. The intrenching implements are carried on the sides of the knapsack and on top of it. When the knapsack is taken off and laid aside temporarily the intrenching tools are carried like sabre scabbards on the belt. The large cooking utensil, made of aluminum, with a capacity of about two quarts, is carried packed on top of the knapsack. The latter, fully packed, including intrenching tools, weighs 30.8 pounds.

Besides the knapsack the soldier carries a canteen on aluminum and a haversack, containing an aluminum dish, a ration of hardtack, a toothbrush, tooth powder, a napkin, paper, a pipe, tobacco, etc., a first aid package, and two little wicker baskets, each containing one day's rations. In three little pouches on the belt 120 rounds of ammunition are carried.

Since the field equipment is very heavy the knapsack, whenever this is possible, is left behind, and transported as opportunity offers on wagons. The soldiers carries into action only the absolutely essential, rolled in a khaki-colored cotton bag, resembling a valise or holdall, called seolsukur. This bag or roll is carried from right to left and contains rations, ammunition, reserve parts and certain necessary materials like soap, etc. The large cooking utensil is hung to it, and the intrenching tools are fastened to the belt. The overcoat is carried on a roll from left to right. The soldier carries only a part of his intrenching tools, either the spade or the pickaxe or hatchet and the saw.

Wire Cutting Tools

The extended use of wire entanglements by the Russians indicated the necessity for carrying wire cutters (a fact which we had already experienced at Santiago), and in every company therefore about 30 men are provided with this implement. The importance of intrenching tools has been more and more emphasized by every campaign since the civil war, where our common soldiers first introduced the subject of their own volition and initiative, but particularly in the Manchurian campaign, Consequently they are generously provided for the Japanese army. The field train carries for each habitation 73 such tools, packed on two horses; every cavalry squadron carries packed on the horses, 12 to 16 hammer hatchets with saws; every engineer company has 215 intrenching tools; the company trains carries 148 such tools, the field battery 85.

The Japanese soldier carries the following weights:

  • In heavy marching order in winter, 69 pounds;
    • in summer, 66 pounds;
  • Without full ammunition supply, in winter, 65.9 pounds;
    • in summer, 62.5 pounds;
  • When the knapsack is laid aside, but with full ammunition supply, in winter, 55.5 pounds;
    • in summer, 52.3 pounds.

Large Cooking Outfits

All kitchen utensils and materials for cooking are carried on pack animals in the regimental train; every company has a field cooking arrangement and a meat pot holding 53 litres and weighting 34.5 pounds, every infantry battalion has five such cooking stoves, one for each company and one in reserve, packed on horses; every squadron and field battery has one packed on two pack animals. These cooking arrangements can also be loaded on wagons, every wagon carrying two.

In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity; consequently every new equipment adopted by the armies of the world is studied with much care by the military authorities everywhere, and that of Japan, a nation ready to break away from old forms and without sentiment for obsolete uniforms or methods, is particularly interesting to the rest of the world.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Pipe Band for Vimy (1936)
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

A Pipe Band for Vimy

Pipe Band From Canada Urged by Western Member
Two Pipers and One Drummer From Each of 18 Military Bands For Trip to Vimy

Ottawa Citizen, 2 April 1935

To form the military pipe band from Canada to participate in the Dominion Day ceremonies unveiling the Vimy Memorial in France on July 1, 1936, Thomas Reid, Liberal member for New Westminster and well known piper of Parliament, has suggested to Hon., Grote Stirling, minister of national defence, that two pipers and one drummer, who saw active service in the war, be selected from each of the 18 militia bands of the Dominion. The minister has indicated to Mr. Reid that the department will give his suggestion careful consideration.

Mr. Reid points out that no practical difficulties stand in the way of his suggestion being carried out. The different coloured tartans of such a band, Mr. Reid says, would put Canada in the front rank of the Vimy parade. Selection of one particular pipe band to represent Canada might cause considerable jealousy and if one band were selected, it might that it would embrace only very few men who saw overseas service, Mr. Reid added, suggested that such honours should be spread around as much as possible and pointing out that selection of two of its members for a composite band would pep up every militia pipe band in the Dominion.

elipsis graphic

Pipe Band Symbolic

Ottawa Citizen, 18 July 1936

"The pipe band which we have on board with us is rather symbolic of the whole pilgrimage, for they represent every regiment from Prince Edward Island to Victoria, British Columbia," said [Minister of Defence Ian] McKenzie.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Woods Recognition Cards; The Jacks
Topic: Cold War

The Woods Recognition Cards; The Jacks

Playing cards marked with silhouettes to practice recognition of armoured fighting vehicles and aircraft were a novelty given or sold to soldiers during the Cold War. A late edition of such cards was produced by Woods Manufacturing, of Ottawa, Ontario, (now Guthrie Woods).

The four jacks for this deck, pictured above, featured the following:


See also, the Jokers, the Aces, and the Kings.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Soldier's Rations
Topic: Army Rations

Soldier's Rations

The composition of the Russian emergency ration is a State secret.

The Sydney Mail, 23 December 1914


The British emergency ration, that is to say, a ration that each man carries in his knapsack and is supposed only to be eaten if he becomes detached from his comrades and is in danger of starvation, consisted of a compressed peas soup. It came into use first in 1878, when an enterprising Englishman supplied the British army during the Afghan war. When Roberts made his famous march to Khandahar his troops were fed almost exclusively upon this pea soup ration, which was so thoroughly concentrated that a single mule could carry a day's food for an entire battalion. It is generally conceded that peas are the best of all food, when the choice is limited to one variety. They are more nutritious than even lean meat, and are a "balanced" ration, that is to say, contain both fuel-producing elements and the protein that makes bone and muscle.

The British Army also uses a sort of dog biscuit, four inches square and weighing three ounces, and made of compressed whole wheat. Some time ago an effort was made to introduce the German emergency ration in the British Army, but the soldiers would not eat it. National tastes must be considered as well as the nutritive value of the food, and the British soldier certainly could not live and fight on rice as does the Japanese, nor on the "erbswurst," or pea sausage, that the German does his fighting on. The German ration is held to be largely responsible for the great marching of the armies in the war against France in 1870. It not only suits the German palate, but can be reduced to an extremely small bulk, and is so carefully prepared that it does not show any sign of deterioration years after its manufacture. The German Army also depends a good deal upon evaporised carrots, which are granulated to the size of small shot. This is not an emergency or so-called "iron" ration, but is used daily by the army cooks when fresh vegetables are not to be had.

The composition of the Russian emergency ration is a State secret, but it is said to taste like fresh bread after a piece of it has been placed in hot water. The French have a concentrated mixture of vegetables and meat, which is put up in 6 oz. boxes, each containing 21 tablets wrapped separately in paper. One of these, when dropped in hot water, yields a plate of delicious soup. The Belgian Army eats evaporated corn, and American army rations consist of lean dried meat, toasted cracked wheat, and chocolate. Bernard Shaw's comedy of "Arms and the Man," in which the soldier hero ate chocolates was not far from the truth, as all armies recognise the great value of chocolate.

Experts have long recognized the fact that soldiers who are in good spirits will fight better and march further and faster than soldiers who are conscious of deprivations. For that reason tobacco is a regular ration in all armies. An American lady in London who contributed £5000 to a British patriotic fund requested that the money be used to purchase smoking or chewing tobacco for the soldiers. The value of tobacco and some other stimulants or sedatives that have no sharp reaction is attested by the United States War Bureau, which reported not long ago that "under the influence of tea, coffee, or tobacco a man seems to be brought to a much higher pitch of efficiency than without them … A wise military leader will see to it that his men are not deprived of tobacco, or he will regret his carelessness."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 June 2016

Elmer Weber Gets Ten Years' Penal
Topic: CEF

Elmer Weber Gets Ten Years' Penal

Evaded Military Service Act—Sentence Commuted From Fifteen

The Toronto World, 6 February 1919

Elmer Joseph Weber, the young man of German descent, whose father is a reeve of the Village of Neustadt, near Owen Sound, was sentenced to 10 years' penal servitude as a defaulter under the Military Service Act, and the order was promulgated at Exhibition camp yesterday in the presence of the Canadian Garrison Regiment, drawn up in hollow square formation.

Captain R.A. Plato, regimental adjutant, read the sentence, and afterwards Weber was removed to detention barracks. He was taken to Kingston last evening.

The prisoner was tried before a general court-martial held in Toronto on Jan. 14, at which evidence was produced that showed him to have continually evaded military service ever since the passage of the act and therefore to have been a deserter. He is also alleged to have made unpatriotic remarks and to have said that he would shoot the first man who attempted to put him into the army. The findings of the court were forwarded to a committee of the Privy Council at Ottawa.

The committee officially stated that they had found that the trial had been conducted regularly and that the finding was properly made. The militia council was of the opinion that the sentence of the court, which was 15 years' penal servitude, should be confirmed. It was recommended, however, that the term of imprisonment should be reduced to 10 years, which was allowed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 June 2016

Military Band Music (1895)
Topic: Martial Music

Military Band Music (1895)

Daily Mail and Empire, 9 November 1895

Apropos of the Montreal garrison parade (Sunday 27 October 1895), the Canadian Military Gazette says:—

"The Brigade church parade at Montreal furnished an eloquent object lesson on the blissful disregard of the standard cadence by the regimental bands of the Canadian militia. There were no two brass bands of the six on parade that observed the same tempo, and there was almost as much diversity of opinion on the same vital subject among the bugle and fife and drum bands. The whole way to and from the church the greatest difficulty was observed in preserving the intervals between corps. Quick marching regiments would catch up to slower ones in a few minutes, and orders to mark time and to halt were rendered frequently necessary. Standard metronomes should be furnished to all of the regimental bands in the service, and the observance of the regulation tempos and length of space strictly insisted upon. A thorough musical inspection of regimental bands and a regulation of their repertoires of marches would appear to be very much needed. Our bands are given too much to playing florid American and European marches, frequently of very trashy style and generally destructive of steady and comfortable marching."

elipsis graphic

The total number of men in line was 1,656, and again quoting from the Star, the distribution was as follows:—

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 June 2016 12:02 AM EDT
Saturday, 18 June 2016

Battle Honours; Conditions of Awards (1922)
Topic: Battle Honours

Battle Honours — Conditions of Awards (1922)

The guiding principle in the selection and allotment of battle honours will be that headquarters and at least 50 per cent of the effective strength of a unit in a theatre of war must have been present at the engagement for which the honour is claimed.

The Glasgow Herald, 15 September 1922

His Majesty the King has approved of the award to regiments and corps of the battle honours won by them in the Great War. Regiments and corps will have awarded to them and recorded in the Army List, in addition to those already shown, the honours due to them for taking part in the battles enumerated in the report of the Battles Nomenclature Committee under the columns headed "operations" and "battles" ("name" and "tactical incidents" included).

Following the honours previously earned and at the head of the list of honours granted for the Great War to be recorded in the Army List will be placed "The Great War," and the number of battalions of the regiment taking part, thus—The Devonshire Regiment—"The Great War"—Mons, Marne, Aisne, etc. There will be only one honours list for a regiment or corps, and within the meaning of regiment and corps will be included cavalry and yeomanry regiments. An infantry regiment or corps will include the Regular, Militia (or Special Reserve), Territorial, and Service battalions of the regiments concerned.

Regiments of cavalry and yeomanry, battalions of infantry, Regular Militia (Special Reserve), and Territorial will have emblazoned on their standards, guidon and colours not more than 24 honours, of which not more than 10 will be "Great War" honours, to embrace the whole history of the regiment concerned from the date on which it was raised to the end of the Great War, such honours to be selected by regimental committees from the list of honours to be shown in the Army List. The honours emblazoned on the colours will be the same for all units comprising the regiment concerned and will be shown in the Army List in thicker type. The guiding principle in the selection and allotment of battle honours will be that headquarters and at least 50 per cent of the effective strength of a unit in a theatre of war (exclusive of drafts which, although in a theatre of war, had not actually joined the unit) must have been present at the engagement for which the honour is claimed.

Regimental committees, under the chairmanship of their regimental colonels or of representatives to be nominated by the regimental colonels, will be set up to select the particular honours for regimental colours. Detailed instructions have been issued to the colonels of regiments concerning the preparation and submission of claims for the award of battle honours.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 17 June 2016

Sailing Maggie Home
Topic: RCN

HMCS Magnificent

Sailing Maggie Home

The Montreal Gazette, 11 April 1957

The Royal Canadian Navy is sailing the carrier Magnificent home to Britain. The carrier, on loan from the Royal Navy since 1948, is to be replaced by the new Bonaventure this year [1957], a vessel which is wholly Canadian-owned. The Bonaventure was commissioned in January.

The story of the Magnificent is representative of Canada's military duties and emergencies during the cold war period. She was not Canada's first carrier, but her second, HMCS Warrior, commissioned in 1946, was operated by the RCN for 18 months. The Warrior, however, was not equipped for cold-weather operation and was returned to Britain when the "Maggie" became available early in 1948.

This was a time when the world was watching and listening to the "Battle of the Carriers" in the United States , where the American Air Force and Navy chiefs were fighting for the watered-down military appropriations of the time. There was some discussion in Canada along the same lines.

The issue was somewhat different in Canada. Here is was largely a discussion with the RCN itself, for Canada's single carrier required more than 10 percent of the RCN's manpower at the time and operating costs took some 19 percent of total appropriations.

It was quietly resolved that the Magnificent should continue in service. During the following years, her main function was training ship's crews and aircrews. Based in Halifax, she was sent to European waters during the Korean War. She engaged in many major NATO naval exercises and completed her service career as an emergency transport carrying Canadian equipment, supplies and troops to the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt in January of this year.

The "Maggie" fired no shots, launched no aircraft in anger, but the seamen and the airmen who will man the Bonaventure will remember her fondly as the floating home and training field where they learned their professions.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 June 2016

"Tommy Atkins's" Career (Part 3 of 3)
Topic: British Army

It has been well said that a soldier's best qualities are displayed in the field; his worst in quarters.

"Tommy Atkins's" Career

Part III - (Vide illustrations)

The Sydney Mail, New South Wales Advertiser, 25 March 1882
By P.L.M.

In India the soldier is drilled chiefly in the early morning, for the intense heat will not allow of military exercises during the day; and he not only escapes these, but is allowed a noon-day sleep. In illustration 12 we see him enjoying this, and we observe that his object now is to reduce his coverings to a minimum; doubtless he sighs for dear old England with its ice and snow, sludge and fogs. The barrack-room is rather more commodious than that of the old country, and it is ventilated by means of punkahs (wooden frames with curtains attached) one of which is slung over each bed, and they are kept in constant motion by native labourers, or "coolies." The temperature of the room has been further reduced by means of "latties" hung over the open apertures of the barrack-room on the windward side. These are lattice frames, filled in with a soft substance called kus-kus, which is constantly kept wet. Altogether Tommy's comforts are attended to upon a much more liberal scale than that which prevails in Europe "and still he is not happy."

It has been well said that a soldier's best qualities are displayed in the field; his worst in quarters. In a former picture we have seen him a drunken lout; an intoxicated ruffian, assaulting the police, and carried off to durance vile, like an insensate brute. In illustration 13 we see him as a hero; the impersonator and embodiment of the British bull-dog. War has broken out, and Tommy Atkins with a small party finds himself on some wild hill-side surrounded by a horde of howling gesticulating savages, as well versed in the use of the rifle as he is himself, and of dauntless courage. Private Atkins and his comrade are covering a wounded officer, who is prostrate upon the sward, but continuing to protect himself and assail the dusky foe with his six-shooter. Let us hope that Tommy and his friends will prove victorious. We wish that in all our recent galling little wars, he had always displayed himself as valourously; but, alas! The heights of Isandula, and other scenes of conflict are hard and stubborn facts to the contrary, and raise in the minds of military scientists grave doubts as to the policy of short service. In the days of Welling soldier enlisted for "unlimited service," in other words to be the slave of the pipe clay for the period of his natural life, or until shot, maimed, discharged worthless, or sent about his business with a penny-a-day pension, when unfit physically for further duty. Then afterwards he joined for 21 years, which practically amounted to nearly the same thing; for after a man has been so long a soldier, the meridian of his life is past, and it were useless for him to seek to turn to other employments, Now a days, a man may enlist for "short service," which means (in the infantry) six years with the colours, and six in the reserve, so that fresh blood is constantly being infused into the army; but the iron man of former days, the "hero of a hundred fights," the fellow who "soldiered" all over the world, the trustworthy, skilled, and experienced non-commissioned officer, where are they? The former almost extinct, the latter but little more numerous.

In illustration 14 we see Tommy Atkins in the pride of his manhood off to join the reserve, his six years' service having expired. In the stalwart, sturdy, moustached soldier of this picture is presented a marked contrast to the awkward lad first introduced to the reader, and it certainly seems a pity that his country should lose practically the benefit of his services just as they have become most valuable. The day may yet arise when the British Government will bitterly regret haiving infused into our army so large an element of young lads, untutored, and unswayed by association and the examples of veterans in their own ranks.

Having thus briefly sketched the career of the British private soldier as depicted by the artist, possibly a few words on the subject of the colonial "Tommy Atkins" may not prove unacceptable to our readers.

The only regular military force in this colony is that popularly, though erroneously, known as the "Permanent" Artillery; the proper designation of this corps being "The New South Wales Artillery," such being the title bestowed upon it in the various Government Gazettes under which the three batteries of which it is composed were raised. One battery of Artillery and two companies of Infantry were originally established under a statute known as the "Naval and Military Forces Act," of 1871. By this enactment authority was given to the Government to raise regular Naval and Military forces; and it was provided that the latter should be subject to the Imperial Mutiny Act and Articles of War for the time being, as well as the "Queen's Regulations" for the control of the army. When the Mutiny Act and Articles of War were superseded two years ago by the "Army Discipline Act," that also was adopted in the colony. Our little "army" is therefore in all respects a "regular" one, and in point of drill and efficiency, may challenge competition with any regiment in the Imperial Service. Indeed such distinguished officers as Sir William Jervais, R.A., Colonel Scratchley, R.A., Colonel Dounes, R.A., General Michel, R.A., and many others visiting the colony have expressed surprise at finding in this remote quarter of the globe, three batteries established upon a basis so perfectly akin to that of the Royal Artillery. The training of the men and the establishment of a system of interior economy conducive to this end, has been especially the object of the commanding officer, Colonel C.F. Roberts (late Major R.A.). The first officers appointed were Captains Airey and Spalding (both late R.M.). The first and only officers of the Infantry were Captain (Brevet Major) Fitzsimmons, Captain Heathcote, V.C., and Lieutenants Wilson, Strong, Underwood, and Chatfield. The two splendid companies of which this corps was comprised ceased to exist on December 31st, 1872, having been disbanded by Legislative action. The Artillery, however, were spared, and in 1876 a second battery was added; a third in 1877. At that strength the force has since remained.

The Colonial "Tommy Atkins" enlists for five years' service in almost exactly the same style as his Imperial prototype, save that it has not been found necessary to beat up for recruits with a recruiting-sergeant. He therefore applies to the adjutant at the brigade office, Dawes Battery, and if the responses to the questions addressed him prove satisfactory, he is sent to the medical officer (Surgeon-Major W.G. Redford) for examination touching his physical fitness. Care is taken to obtain none but men of good antecedents, and "sound wind and limb," and it is no exaggeration to state that half the candidates for the force are rejected by the adjutant, and two-thirds the remaining half by the medical officer. The limit of age is between 17 and 35, but exceptions are occasionally made in the case of old soldiers having good discharges. It may readily be conceived that with such precautions the forces comprises a fine stalwart body of young men; and indeed this is absolutely necessary, for our artillerymen have occasionally to "rough it" pretty considerably and perform some very hard work.

Having passed the ordeals alluded to, Tommy Atkins is regularly attested before an officer, and usually granted a 24 hours' pass to make his arrangements prior to joining. He is in many respects much better off than the Imperial soldier. His pay is 2s. 3d. per diem, or double that of the British mine-man; his rations include a liberal allowance of meat, bread, vegetables, tea, coffee, butter and groceries; and he receives "a free kit" comprising his uniforms, greatcoat, boots, and underclothing, besides such necessaries as brushes, knife, fork and spoon, haversack, hold-all, &c. In fact he receives everything that a soldier can require; and his tunic and trousers are composed of a cloth superior to that issued to the British private. In return for this, however, the scale of fines for drunkenness is exactly double that of the Imperial service; and stoppages for articles lost by neglect, &c., are made having the same consideration in view.

Space does not admit or our giving a detailed account of the general routine of an artillery soldier's life; to do that we might well issue a special number. Suffice to say that as soon as Gunner Atkins joins, his work begins. He first goes through the routine of squad and setting-up drill, manual and firing exercises, and guard-mounting; he then proceeds to learn gunnery, and he is not considered dismissed in this until he has acquired a fairly competent knowledge of the drills appertaining to the 10 inch, 9 inch, and 80 pound M.L.R. guns, the 40 pound B.L. Armstrong, and the field gun, besides repository drill, comprising the mounting and dismounting and shifting of ordnance, &c. It may readily be imagined that this involves some time, and so it does; for it is rare than an average gunner can be made under about 18 months even with assiduous training. Whilst his military education is going on, he is of course becoming indoctrinated into the interior economy of a soldier's life, and taught habits of order, cleanliness, and discipline. If he be fond of soldiering and attentive, his life is a happy one enough; he need never be in trouble if he choose to abide by the regulations, which are not needlessly stringent, and his duty will become a pleasure. The lazy, unprincipled, or insubordinate, or those given to excess in liquor, however, will find their lines by no means cast in pleasant places if they join the N.S.W. Artillery. For them remain the guard-room, the defaulter-drill (of which we have already seen an illustration), the cells, and the Provost prison; besides fines, stoppages of pay, and minor punishments ad libitum. By a very wise provision also the Governor has been empowered, upon the recommendation of the commanding officer, to dismiss summarily as "worthless and incorrigible characters," any black sheep whom it may be deem undesirable to retain in the force. By this means the "bad character men" may be said to have been extirpated; and serious misconduct is a thing of rare occurrence.

That our N.S.W. Artillerists are well versed in their profession, the harbour guns they have mounted, the military works they have executed, and their well-known proficiency in drill are the best witnesses. Certainly in point of physique, intelligence, and conduct, it may well be doubted whether there are any three Imperial batteries to equal them; and whilst it may be conceded that 300 odd men are withdrawn from industrial pursuits, it is equally true that many a young man has found himself immensely improved at the end of his five years' service; and incalculably better fitted for civil life. Many of those taking their discharges with good characters are received into the police, or become warders in gaol, tram-guards, &c.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 15 June 2016

"Tommy Atkins's" Career (Part 2 of 3)
Topic: British Army

"Tommy Atkins's" Career

Part II - (Vide illustrations)

The Sydney Mail, New South Wales Advertiser, 18 March 1882
By P.L.M.

Tommy Atkins's bedroom is rather estimable in point of commodiousness and simplicity, than noteworthy for any ostentatious elegance, either of design or garniture. In a barrack the rank and file are told off to various rooms, each of which is under the immediate charge of a non-commissioned officer; usually (in the infantry) a corporal, for that superior being the sergeant is allowed the dignity of a separate establishment. He enjoys the privilege of being a member of the Sergeant's Mess," where, by payment of a small monthly subscription, he obtains many little comforts; superior quality of food, spirituous and fermented liquors, recreation in the shape of games of chance and skill, newspapers, &c., besides the benefit of the exclusion from the vulgar herd of rank and file. He also usually has a diminutive apartment allotted to him for his own separate behoof as a bedroom.

Those, however, who have not attained a rank entitling them to these privileges, have to share the large barrack-rooms—there being generally from 15 to 20 men in one dormitory. This also has to serve as Tommy Atkins's dining-room. There is a row of trestle-tables running parallel with the lengthier walls; and benches or forms, similar to those used at schools, are ranged alongside them. The soldier's couch consists of an iron-bedstead capable of being turned up in the daytime, with palliase, bolster-pillow, coarse sheets, blankets and a sort of rug-counterpane. In this re reposes comfortably enough, and illustration 8 conveys a good idea of Tommy's "bedroom at home." It will be perceived that in view of the chilliness of the season he has converted his tunic into a feet-warmer; and we in Australia, at this time of year, are rather disposed to envy him the temperature which demands such a luxury. At reveille in the morning, which varies, according to the season, from 5.30 to 6.30 a.m. every man has to turn out, dress himself, and clear up the room generally, besides his own individual share of it, under the watchful superintendence of the non-commissioned officers. The bedding has to be neatly folded, and the bed irons doubled back. When this has been accomplished, the blankets, etc., are placed where in the picture the head of the sleeper is represented, and held together by a leather strap; and the rug is laid so as to cover the projecting portion of the bed irons, thus forming a seat for the soldier. Over his head, upon the shelf depicted, his uniforms are placed accurately folded; his rifle and accoutrements are upon large hooks fastened into the wall; and his box containing the smaller articles of his kit, his brushes, &c., is under the bed-irons. So that all Tommy Atkins possessions are stowed away together, compactly, neatly, and (above all), "according to regulation."

Not content with clothing, feeding, and disciplining our private soldiers, a paternal Government now-a-days refines their manners by the soothing influence of education. Every soldier who cannot read and write, and keep simple accounts has to go to school; and he is expected to obtain at least "a fourth class certificate," implying that he has grappled more or less successfully with the elementary rudiments of literature. Having obtained this he is at liberty to demand his emancipation from the pedagogic thrall. No doubt some of the recruits are pretty tough subjects; and illustration 9 represents the schoolmaster demonstrating to his class the subtleties of the proposition that "2 plus 2 = 4" with the assistance of blackboard and chalk. The scholar on the extreme right seems profoundly impressed, and those on the left somewhat inclined to levity. Probably they are all under the impression that it is rather late in the day for them to go to school; but there can be no doubt, that in thus affording education, however limited, to Tommy Atkins the Government is really acting paternally towards him. It is possible for a man to attain a very fair degree of education at these army schools if he chose to persevere and gain a first-class certificate; but very few do, and when we consider the tedious nature of the private soldier's duties, and the class from which as a rule he emanates, there can be little cause for wonder at this. Mr. Punch, as usual, contrives to evoke a good-humoured jest out of our military schools. He represents Private Atkins, brought a prisoner before his irate colonel, to whom he has had the cold-blooded audacity to write a letter—addressing an officer in writing being strictly forbidden. "What do you mean by this familiarity, sir?" demands the enraged commander, reading from the letter "My dear Colonel," "Please, sir," pleads the witness culprit, "I didn't write that letter at all, and I didn't do it out of no respect—" "here Sergeant-major," interrupts the disgusted colonel, "take this man away, and get him a fourth-class certificate."—i.e., capacity to read and write.

Tommy Atkins having passed his musketry course, is due for service abroad; and accordingly on morning we find him, knapsack on back, and rifle on shoulder, trudging along to inspiring strains of "The girl I left behind me" to the troop-ship which is to convey his humble fortunes to India; that gorgeous jewel of the Imperial diadem, wrested by guile, and maintained by blood. Troopships now-a-days are splendid roomy steamships, such as the "Crocodile," the "Serapis," &c. Illustration 10 represents the embarkation. The picture speaks for itself. The men are proceeding singly along the gangway, at the foot of which stands an officer, who is saluted by each as he passes. A number already on board are peering from the portholes; and a group of officers occupies the foreground. On the passage the men are divided into watches, which they keep with the sailors; and such drills, &c., are maintained as are compatible with ship discipline, including a general muster every morning. After Tommy Atkins has obtained his sea-legs, and his sea-stomach, he is not badly off; certainly not worse than the denizen of the average immigrant vessel.

Arrived in India he naturally proceeds to join his regiment. Illustration 11 represents him in the Barrack-square with his comrades of the new detachment, being inspected by the Commanding Officer and Adjutant. Very well drilled and proportionately sheepish most of the gallant fellows appear, for India is, of course, the them a terra incognita, and many a good story they will hear in the barrack-room during the first week or two of their sojourn. In the background a group of old soldiers may be observed "taking stock" of their comrades, with critical eyes, whilst on the right a syce, or native groom, is in attendance with the horse of one of the field officers.

(To be continued.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 14 June 2016

"Tommy Atkins's" Career (Part 1 of 3)
Topic: Canadian Army

But, alas for the depravity of human nature! The young soldier is, in the majority of cases, not long before he gets into trouble.

"Tommy Atkins's" Career

Part I - (Vide illustrations)

The Sydney Mail, New South Wales Advertiser, 11 March 1882
By P.L.M.

The designation "Tommy Atkins," familiarly applied by military men to the British private soldier, is of very old standing, having been in use long before the Duke of Wellington's time and probably extending back to the days of Dettingen and Fontenoy. It took its origin from the circumstance that at one time all military forms set forth by authority as precedents for use in the service were headed (for instance), "Attestation Sheet of Thomas (or Tommy) Atkins," "I, Thomas Atkins," and so forth. In this manner Private Thomas Atkins played the same conspicuous part as that mysterious pair Messr John Doe and Richard Roe used formerly to do in legal phraseology; and the sobriquet "Tommy Atkins" came into universal acceptance as the equivalent of the private soldier, just as "John Bull" has become accepted as the typical Englishman.

The recruiting sergeant has for very many years played a conspicuous part in the enrolment of embryo heroes for the British army, and has always been characterised by shrewdness, acumen, and a profound knowledge of that species of human nature which it is his province to encounter. Many witty dramatists and novelists of the last century, and not a few of the present, have furnished amusing sketches of his various artful contrivances for persuading unwary yokels to "accept the shilling." During the 18th century the process of recruiting was somewhat summary. Immediately the mystified, or inebriated, or deluded countryman had been cajoled into allowing the old coin within his palm, he virtually became a soldier, and was taken, directly he was in a fit state, before an officer or a justice of the peace to be attested, when he was at once hurried away to his regiment. In our days the process is somewhat more circumlocutory. The recruit, haiving received the "Queen's shilling," which constitutes enlistment, is furnished with a copy of the War Office form desiring him to appear before a certain justice of the peace, at a certain time, to be attested; i.e., to have an oath administered to him, the nature of which is that he will bear faithful allegiance to her Majesty, her heirs and successors; and to declare that he has never previously served in the army, navy, or militia, and that the information he has given the recruiting sergeant with regard to his birthplace, &c., is correct.

The attesting or swearing-in is ordered not to take place until 24 hours after the enlistment or reception of the shilling, nor until the recruit has been passed by a doctor as physically fit to serve. This 24 hours' grace gives the man the chance of changing his mind; he is still at liberty, when appearing for attestation, to pay back the enlisting shilling, with 20s. "smart money," and any other pay and allowances he may have received, and go free. This holds good for 96 hours from the time of enlisting. Failure to appear, however, he is liable to be punished as "a rogue and a vagabond."

It will thus be perceived that the recruit has many more chances nowadays than he was allowed by the regulations of our ancestors, who procured "food for powder" in a manner rather expeditious than formal. The recruiting sergeant is still, therefore, as of yore, selected from amongst the smartest non-commissioned officers in the regiment. He must be a man of pre-eminent address, of immense volubility, intense capacity for gasconading, and a ready wit, enabling him to solve all doubts that arise on the minds of those on whom his is plying his powers of persuasiveness, and respond to all their queries in a manner calculated to carry conviction to the most vacillating. The creed he enunciates if\s "Gory" in the military sense of the term; and of course his doctrine is that all civilian modes of gaining a living are despicable, and that the only ladder to distinction is that which bears the soldierly grades as its rungs.

Our illustration (No. 1) represents a group of recruiting sergeants assembled, probably, somewhere in the vicinity of Whitehall, and a "likely lad" in undergoing the process of being angled for. The treble-striped fraternity represent the three branches of the profession, "horse, foot, and artillery;" for they comprise a dashing lancer (who also has a candidate under surveillance), a gaudy horse-artilleryman, and a Highlander in the garb of old Gael; besides the bluff linesman in the foreground to whom the younger fellow with the pipe seems already half inclined to surrender. We can imagine the persuasions of this modern "Sergeant Kite." "Look at me," he seems to say; "observe my portly figure denoting ease and good living; remark my handsome and comfortable uniform! There's the life for you, my boys! Plenty to eat and drink, and money to spend, and her Majesty's uniform to wear, and nothing to do but amuse yourself, and pepper the blacks and foreign parts just for diversion. Join us, and it'll be the making of you; you'll be a colonel in a few years. What d'ye say? You will? There's a lad of spirit; put that shilling in your pocket, my boy, just to begin with."

It would be hard to surmise the origin of the lad he is addressing. Some indolent young citizen, apparently, who has made up his mind that commercial pursuits are not his vocation, and that a life where he has everything found and nothing to do will just suit him. In adopting a military career with the latter idea, however, he makes a terrible mistake, as he has yet to discover, when he runs the gauntlet of drill, fatigues, guards, picquets, barrack-room work, kit-cleaning, orderly duty, &c., &c. However, he enlists.

We presume that he has been duly passed "fit" by the medical authority, and that he has entirely exonerated himself from opprobrium as a "rogue and vagabond" by taking the attestation oath—for illustration No. 2 depicts him as brought before the commanding-officer and adjutant of his corps, under charge of the sergeant-major, by whom he has already been instructed to "stand to attention" in the dread presence. By the commanding-officer he is interrogated as to his name, age, trade, whether he is married, and whether he has ever served before, &c. If approved, he is measured, posted to a company, clothes, and receives "a free kit," or the outfit comprising such necessaries as a soldier is supposed to require. In the picture, the colonel, pince-nez­ duly mounted, is putting the requisite question; and the apartment is marked by that hardness and lack of convenience which seems to characterize orderly-rooms generally.

"Tommy Atkins," having been finally approved of, is sent to drill and illustration No. 3 represents him in the barrack-square undergoing the torments of "first steps" with other comrades of the "awkward squad." Such of our readers, as are or have been volunteers, will have a vivid recollection of the "goose-step," or (in the more dignified military phrase) "the balance step without gaining ground," followed by the "balance-step gaining ground," with the instructor's "One, two, three, four—one, two, three, four—one, two, three, four—Now, you've got it—Hang you, keep it," &c., &c. These are varied by "extension motions," for the purpose of expanding the chest and giving play to the muscles, in which the man has to touch his toes with the tips of his fingers, work his arms like the sails of a windmill and perform divers other refreshing exercises. The squad before us is certainly an angular one, and it may be safely predicted that the instructor who is drilling them, pace-stick in hand, has still a great deal of work before him. The object of the pace-stick is to measure off the length of the step, so that the recruit does not exceed the regulated number of inches, and this acquires at length the habit of invariably using the service pace of 30 inches in slow or quick time. In the distance may be observed another squad, who are being taught how to take up an accurate "dressing" in the ranks.

However, all things come to a termination; and this in illustration 4 we find Tommy and a comrade out for a walk. They have evidently proved apt pupils to the regimental teachers, for they are now well "set up," and have learned to wear their uniforms with the jaunty air of the soldier. The uniform is that of then line, and they are equipped in their regulation attire for the streets when not on duty—namely, tunic, waistbelt, Glengarry cap, and cloth trousers, whilst each one flourishes the light cane, which is all the regulation permits him to carry. Doubtless most recruits on finding themselves to duty, and fully clothed, feel not a little vain, and strut along the streets with no inconsiderable sense of their imposingness, especially in the feminine eye.

But, alas for the depravity of human nature! The young soldier is, in the majority of cases, not long before he gets into trouble. He falls into bad company, swallows and abnormal quantity of malt-liquor, and rapidly becomes ripe for "a row," yearning to display upon somebody his capacity for belligerent purposes. Neither is it long, usually, before he is accommodated. Illustration 5 represents him as engaged in a fight with the police.

The worthy civil custodian of las has seized the inebriated son of Mars with a tenacious grip upon the throat and left arm; while the soldier who has still his right at liberty, is giving the policeman a mauling with his belt. The waistbelt of the private soldier makes a most formidable weapon when used as depicted, and is one of which he is but too apt to avail himself if he gets into a disturbance. To such an extent is this carried on, that in many regiments there is an order prohibiting all except men of good character from wearing their belts when not on duty. The old soldier, however, seldom misuses his accoutrements in this manner. It is chiefly the raw material, such as represented in the picture.

The fighting soldier's comrade, who is very far gone in liquor, is clutching the rails to keep himself from falling; and on the left may be observed two disreputable civilians, who have, probably, in the origin had a good deal to do with the fracas.

Tommy Atkins is not, however, to be consigned to the station this time; for in illustration 6 we find that a picket of his regiment has arrived upon the scene, made him a prisoner, and are in the act of conducting him to the guardroom by a simple but most unpleasant expedient for compelling locomotion, entitled "The Frog's March." This consists simply in turning the rebel over on his face, when four men each take a leg or an arm, whilst a fifth sits on him if he attempts to rise; and thus he becomes perfectly helpless. The corpulent non-commissioned officer in command of the party is carrying the offender's Glengarry and belt.

After 24 hours of "suffering a recovery" in the seclusion of the guardroom, Tommy Atkins, having been paraded before the medical officer, and been by him marked "fit," is brought into the awful presence of his commanding officer, and hears the bead-roll of his iniquities duly recounted. As this is a flagrant case, he gets a term of "confinement to barracks," which involves "pack," or "defaulter-drill" (illustration 7). The defaulter, having to fulfill all ordinary duties, attend parades, &c., has to do not more than four nor less than two hours' "defaulter drill," administered an hour at a time, per diem. This is done in full accoutrements, belts, helmet, greatcoat, haversack, &c., in fact "heavy marching order." He has also to answer his name at intervals of hand-an-hour (when not actually on drill) all day long; thus it may truly be admitted that "taking one thing with another, a defaulter's life is not a happy one."

Our illustration depicts him with his brother delinquents performing their defaulter drill, under the auspices of a severe-looking sergeant.

(To be continued.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 13 June 2016

Advise on the Bayonet Question
Topic: Cold Steel

For turning flapjacks the trowel bayonet has no rival.

Advise on the Bayonet Question

The Corvallis Gazette, Corvallis, Oregon, 15 June 1883

We perceive in a Washington paper that there is some talk in military circles of introducing a new style of bayonet into the army. It is a painful thing to the soldier to have a new kind of bayonet introduced, particularly after he has be come accustomed to the triangular, or trowel bayonet heretofore in use. The short, broad, triangular bayonet has several advantages possessed by no other implement of death. After a hostile Indian, or any other foe of Uncle Sam's has been bayoneted with the trowel bayonet, he may not like it at first, but he never will use any other kind in his family. In case of necessity, the trowel is intended to be used as an intrenching tool. If a company of infantry, armed with the trowel bayonet, is about to be attacked in a large open prairie, the soldiers can, in a few moments throw up a breastwork almost as high as their heads. Instead of doing away with the trowel bayonet, other weapons that might serve two or three purposes should be furnished our gallant soldiers. For turning flapjacks the trowel bayonet has no rival. With the ordinary long, narrow bayonet the soldier cannot possibly turn his flapjack without making a mess of it. In digging up mesquite roots for fuel on the boundless prairies of the West, the trowel bayonet is a perfect terror, so the soldiers say. Excellent as the trowel bayonet is, it might be improved somewhat. We think a kind of combined battle axe and pitchfork bayonet might be invented. It should be somewhat after the style of those table knives made for one-armed men, with a fork on the back of the knife, with which to impale the chunks of beef-steak that have been cut into by the blade of the implement. A weapon of this kind in the hands of our soldiers would be very effective. It is also our opinion that a combined spade and revolver, a kind of revolving spade, might be invented, that would deliver a dozen shots a minute, and dig up a ten acre field while it is being reloaded. We have very little practical military experience, and merely call the attention of General Sherman to these suggestions in a casual off-hand sort of way. We do not wish to be understood as dictating to the military authorities.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 12 June 2016

Soldiers' Rations (1913)
Topic: Army Rations

Regarding the tobacco issued to the men who took part in the trial march, Lieutenant-Colonel Melville mentions that the majority of the men preferred private supplies.

Soldiers' Rations (1913)

Results of Experiments
New Scale Adopted

The Glasgow Herald, 17 December 1913

A Blue-book was issued last night containing a report on two experimental marches carried out under the orders of the Army Council in the autumns of 1909 and 1910 with a view to furnishing material for the purpose of deciding on a satisfactory scale of field service rations. In a preface to the document it is stated that in April, 1911, the Army Council appointed a committee to consider the reports on the two experimental marches. The committee recommended that:—

1.     The field service ration should be of 3 lb. weight and 4500 calories.

2.     The emergency ration should be abolished.

3.     Immediate steps should be taken to lighten the soldier's equipment.

4.     The water-bottle and mess tins should be made of aluminum.

5.     An iron ration should be adopted weighing 2 lb. 6 oz. to be packed regimentally in canvas wrappers constructed to hold two rations.

6.     The iron ration should be carried in the haversack or greatcoat or in waggons according to circumstances.

7.     One mincing machine per company should be issued.

The Council approve the proposed field service ration and abolished the emergency ration.

It was directed that experiments in lightening the equipment should be continued, but the proposal to use aluminum water bottles and mess tins was held over to ascertain the result of trials.

A further committee was appointed to consider the manner of carrying the iron ration, its composition, and the issue of mincing machines. This committee's recommendations as to the composition of the iron ration (namely, 1 lb. prepared meat, 6 biscuits, 3 oz. cheese, 1 grocery ration, and 2 cubes of meat extract), and the issue of various types of mincing machines for trial received the Council's approval. It was further decided that one iron ration should be carried on the soldier and that the second iron rations should usually be carried with the transport, and be transferred to the soldier to carry when likely to be required.

The reduction of the soldier's load by the transference of some ammunition from the man to transport waggons has also been approved.

Abolition of Potato Ration

In his report on experimental marches Lieutenant-Colonel Charles H. Melville, R.A.M.C., the superintending officer, explains that the energy value of the ration issued to the men on the first march was 3465 calories gross and the weight 3 lb. The Committee which carried out the experiments were of opinion that the amount of energy furnished under ordinary conditions of active service should be 4500 calories, and that there should be a certain elasticity about the scale permitting of an increase up to 5000 calories. They held that it was impossible to furnish as much as 4000 calories in a ration weighing only 3 lb. without introducing the defect of over-concentrating. The ration which they sketched admittedly contained this defect. It eliminated the potato ration, which possesses the least energy value of any of the constituents of the field service ration. Moreover, it is bulky and does not transport well. There is roughly 1000 calories of a deficiency between the energy standard of the old ration and the minimum proposed by the Committee. This deficiency, the Committee proposed, should be made up by substituting bacon and cheese for potatoes and doubling the jam ration. For a ration furnishing the energy of 4500 to 5000 calories without the defect of over-concentration the Committee consider that 3 ¾ lb. to 4 lb. was necessary.

Regarding the tobacco issued to the men who took part in the trial march, Lieutenant-Colonel Melville mentions that the majority of the men preferred private supplies. The brand issued, he says, was good but too strong. The men who used it complained of this. The taste of the class from which the men are drawn seems to have changed distinctly in this matter. Instead of the old-fashioned highly flavoured tobaccos they seem to prefer a lighter variety. A tobacco too strong for the taste of the individual using it is apt to cause digestive disturbances. No restrictions were placed on pipe smoking, but cigarettes were prohibited on the march and restricted to two or three times a day in camp.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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