The Minute Book
Monday, 1 August 2016

Amnesty Proclamation, Dodgers and Deserters
Topic: CEF

Amnesty Proclamation, Dodgers and Deserters, August 1918

The following proclamation was published in Canadian newspapers in August 1918. This image is taken from the 5 Aug 1918 edition of the Toronto World.

"A proclamation of conditional amnesty respecting men belonging to Class I under the Military Service Act, 1917, who have disobeyed our provcl;amation of 13th October, 1917, or their orders to report for duty, or are deserters or absent without leave from the Canadian Expeditionary Force."

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 31 July 2016

What Soldiers Have For Food (1914)
Topic: Army Rations

What Soldiers Have For Food (1914)

The Day, New London, Connecticut, 16 October 1914

The suffering from hunger said to have been experienced by great numbers of German soldiers during the present war is alleged in the news despatches to have been due largely to the fact that they were not provided with emergency rations. This, if true, is certainly surprising, inasmuch as the Kaiser's troops are ordinarily supplied with the best of all concentrated food, in the shape of "erbswurst," or pea sausage—a species of provender so sustaining, and furnishing so much nourishment in small bulk, that the Prussians 44 years ago declared that without it they could not have endured as they did the fatigues of the rapid campaign against the French.

If such value is this peas sausage as a war food that an effort was made to utilize it in the British army. But Tommy Atkins would have none of it—illustrating the fact that a ration found suitable for the fighting man of one nation is not necessarily acceptable to those of another. A war food must be not only wholesome and nutritious, but also palatable, and national tastes in matters gustatory differ. Some years ago an attempt was made to introduce in the German army a biscuit composed of meat and flour, but the soldiers refused to eat it.

An emergency or "iron" ration is not meant to be eaten under any ordinary circumstances, but only when the soldier finds himself separated from his command and cut off from the supply train. Then only is he permitted to utilize his small store of condensed provender, which he carries in his knapsack, in order to avoid starvation. For this purpose the German fighting man is provided with a one-pound can of preserved meat, a small quantity of hard bread, and a pea sausage. The same kind of sausage, however, is an important part of the regular ration. It is eight inches long, is wrapped in white cloth, bag-fashion (tied at one end with a string), looks somewhat like a fat firecracker, weighs eight ounces, and its contents emptied into a pot of boiling water, will make 12 plates of excellent porridge.

This kind of sausage owes its invention to a cook, whose rights to manufacture it were purchased by the German government for $25,000. It is composed of pea meal, fat and bacon, with a few other ingredients added for flavouring. The most important point, however, is the method of its preparation, by which it is rendered proof against decay or deterioration. Hard as a brickbat, it will keep perfectly good for years.

The Belgian emergency ration is a ten-ounce can of corned beef, put up in a liquor flavoured with vegetables. For the same purpose the British use a compressed pea soup. At the opening of the Afghan war, in 1878, an enterprising Englishman supplied the army with this product, in the form of a yellow soup, put up in four-ounce cans, bearing directions that the contents be mixed with a quart or so of water and then boiled to the proper thickness. When General "Bobs" made his famous march on Kandahar, his troops were fed almost wholly on this soup, which occupied such a small space that a single mule could carry a day's food for the whole battalion. Subsequently, in the Zulu and other campaigns it was largely utilized.

The popularity of peas as a war diet is attributable to the fact that they are the most nutritious of known foods, surpassing in this respect even lean meat. Another advantage they have over meat is that they afford what is called a "balanced ration," containing as they do both fuel stuff to keep the fighting machine going and "protein" to make muscle and blood. The army soup above described is made by steam-roasting the peas, grinding them fine, adding some beef extract for stock (with suitable seasoning), and reducing the mixture to the smallest possible bulk by elaboration and pressure.

The British army also uses a kind of hard bread which looks something like a dog biscuit, four inches square and weighing three ounces. It is of whole wheat, compressed—a sort of condensed loaf. For the Russian troops in the field is provided a "war bread," the ingredients of which, as well as the process for making it, are a government secret. When a piece of it is put into hot water or soup, it swells up like a sponge, and is said to taste much like fresh bread.

Vegetables are necessary to health. Accordingly, Whenever practicable they are supplied as part of the regular ration of an army. The French have a concentrated mixture of vegetables and meat, which comes in six ounce tin boxes, holding 21 tablets wrapped separately in red paper. One of these, dropped into a pint of boiling water yields a plate of delicious soup.

Onions and carrots are deemed especially valuable. The German army is supplied with carrots evaporated to absolute dryness and granulated to the size of snipe shot. Onions are provided in one pound tins, similarly desiccated. There is much water in onions, so that this quantity of the concentrated vegetable is equal to ten pounds of the fresh. One pound represents a day's ration for 48 men. Cabbages, prepared in the same way, come in four ounce tablets.

The old process of evaporation by heat is not used in the preparation of concentrated vegetables for use by the European armies now in the field, because it incidentally deprives the cabbages, onions, or what not of the volatile essential oils and ethers which have much to do with their flavours. A method of comparatively new invention is employed, the material being shredded, spread on shallow trays, and run on cars into a tunnel through which dry air of only moderate warmth is continually passing. The dry air sucks the moisture out of the vegetables, which, when out up in tine with screw tops, will keep indefinitely. When wanted for use, it is necessary merely to restore the water, incidentally to cooking. The taste like fresh vegetables. Soup greens preserved as a mixture in this fashion are particularly good.

The main standby of the Japanese troops now moving against the Germans in the far east is rice—not supplied in the raw state, be it understood, but cooked and there-upon made water free by evaporation and pressure. It is furnished to the soldiers in the shape of balls, one of which, dropped into a pot of boiling water in camp, affords a hearty meal for several men. Or if preferred, the balls may be cut into slices and roasted.

Another item of the British rations is desiccated beef, one ounce of which is equal to five ounces of ordinary meat. It is absolutely water-free, and so hard that the fighting man can hardly cut it with a jack-knife. He chops off a small hunk of it, puts it into a little machine resembling a coffee mill and grinds it up. It comes out in small shavings, which may be eaten on bread or used for soup stock. Two ounces of this beef will make soup for eight soldiers.

Mutton is supplied in the same way, in little rectangular blocks three inches long, two inches wide, and one inch thick. A manufacturer in England who puts up such concentrated food for army use says that he can compress the edible parts of ten sheep into the bulk of one cubic foot. Into the same space he can condense 3,000 eggs, rendered water-free by evaporation and reduced to the hardness of a brick by hydraulic pressure.

The news despatches a few days ago stated that the German crown prince had wired to Berlin for large supplies of tobacco, needed immediately for his troops. An American woman in London gave $20,000 to the British war fund, expressing a wish that the money be spent in the purchase of "chewing" and "smoking" for the soldiers of the expeditionary force now fighting in France. There is no doubt that the idea was an excellent one, judging from an opinion expressed on the subject not long ago by our own military authorities.

The bureau of subsistence of our war department, in an official report said: "Under the influence of tea, coffee or tobacco a man seems to be brought to a higher efficiency than without them. They keep up cheerfulness and enable soldiers to endure fatigue and privations, while deprivation of them may cause depression, homesickness, feebleness and indeed may lead to defeat in battle. Depressed troops do not fight well. A wise military leader will see to it that he men are not deprived of tobacco, or he will regret his carelessness.

The British soldiers now fighting in France, privates as well as officers, take their cup of tea regularly. It is a national habit which even battles can hardly interrupt. Also, the commissariat provides candy, which the men are encouraged to buy. In our own army candy (a highly concentrated kind of food) is supplied—not chocolate creams and bonbons, of course, because they too are perishable, but such sweets as lemon drops, hard gum drops and chocolate.

The enormous total quantity of provender required to supply armies that number millions of men may be judges from the fact that in 24 days a soldier consumes just about his own weight in food and water. Half the water he takes into his body is in the food, the other half is drink. The total dry matter in the food consumed daily is in round numbers one per cent of the weight of the body. Thus in 100 days a man weighing 150 pounds will absorb his own weight of dry matter—not reckoning, that is to say, the water his food contains.

Speaking of water, it is curious how many different solutions of the canteen problem have been found by various nations. The canteen carried by the British soldier is of glass, covered with canvas. That of the Italian fighting man is of wood, while the Spaniard's water vessel is a goatskin. The regulation canteen os the United States army is of tinned iron.

For emergency rations our own army formerly used a mixture of dried lean meat and toasted cracked wheat. This, deprived of moisture and pressed to the hardness of a brick, was put up in three packets, each containing also a tablet of chocolate—the whole representing one day's meals, to be carried in the knapsack.

Special machinery was required to put the stuff up, and the war department, in order to make it worth while for the manufacturer to produce it, was obliged to order it each year in large quantities. It had to be used up somehow and, to get rid of it, was fed out to the soldiers at army posts, who were thus obliged, however unwillingly, to consume emergency rations for their regular meals. As may well be imagined, there was much grumbling.

In 1910 a new kind of emergency ration was adopted. It was a mixture of chocolate, sugar, egg and malted milk, put up is such a shape as to look like ordinary commercial chocolate, in flat cakes wrapped in tinfoil. Three cakes, three meals. Weight, 12 ounces for the three, including the can containing them.

What has already been said will serve to show that the soldiers of the various armies now fighting in Europe are much better and more luxuriously fed than troops in any previous war in history. It costs money, but it pays; for, other things being equal, it is the well fed man that wins in battle, when opposed by an under-fed adversary.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 30 July 2016

German and British Armies (1882)
Topic: European Armies

The German and British Armies (1882)

A Military Organ Contrasts the Two Forces—A Pair of Blue Spectacles

Montreal Daily Witness, 19 July 1882

The Big Battalions of Bismarck are a perpetual source of discomfort and irritation to the little battalions of Britain. The Army and Navy Gazette indulges in the following:

"We see by the German papers, says the Army and Navy Gazette, that the German Army are to manoeuvre this autumn with eight Army Corps, that is, 250,000 men, if the corps are brought out at war strength. Even on the peace establishment over 200,000 men will take the field. Moreover, many thousands, of the Reserve are to be called out to drill. Per contre, The Imperial Army of Great Britain—better known as the harmonious and territorial whole of the modern Army reformer—are also to take the field of mimic war at Aldershot, and the Grand Army is, we are told, already with much trumpeting, to consist of 35,000 men. But the effect is much marred when we find that the number is made up from the militia and volunteer armies—our gallant auxiliary forces. We hope Germany may not become alarmed and double her armies; but we think she is more likely to send some sharp officers to take a careful look at the army of England, as it now appears on parade before the Queen and the world in general. When the Queen reviewed the divisions at Aldershot a few days ago, there were only 10,000 out of 14,000 men and boys on parade—nearly one-third, in fact, were casuals. As the reserves cannot be called out until national danger or great emergency is manufactured, they are comparatively useless for ordinary war, and therefore quite unreliable. Moreover, as the Government have never ventured to call them out for drill, they will forget their discipline and taste for soldiering; and, eventually, they will become impressed with the notion that they cannot be called out—except in case of invasion—like the auxiliary forces. After the army has been tinkered for twelve years, under the short service system and divers and numerous reorganizations, the results of their first performance in public will be watched with most critical eyes. The hard strain of a European war can alone test the merits of all these reorganizations; and if the new army turns out to be a complete failure, the country will demand a heavy reckoning."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 29 July 2016

Training a Citizen Army (1939)
Topic: Drill and Training

Training a Citizen Army (1939)

Recruit to Finished Soldier
The Militia Learns Its Job

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 1 November 1939
By a Special Correspondent

The Australian citizen soldier, who is now being trained in the military art in a score of camps throughout the Commonwealth, is undergoing a type of training which will produce materially different results from those which characterise the French, British and German armies which face each other in Europe.

The military training which is being accorded to the 80,000 members of the Militia, and the 20,000 men of the Second A.I.F., is not an ephemeral product of haphazard thinking, hastily applied to meet some nebulous or unexpected military situation. Australia's defence authorities, and the British Army experts who have advised them for more than 30 years, have tried to shape the training to meet specific Australian needs and problems, the chief of which is the problem of resisting an invasion from the sea.

Australia is an island continent. It is, of course, impossible to invade out shores in the manner in which the Germans invaded France in 1914, and Poland in 1939—by mobilising 1,000,000 men and vast quantities of artillery behind a land frontier, and suddenly giving them the order to march. No enemy forces can occupy Australia without first effecting a landing in boats, preferably at a number of points simultaneously, in order to divide the defenders. The prime need of the defending forces, taking naval action out of account, is, therefore, to meet the attacks wherever they may occur, and the availability of highly mobile reserves to reinforce the defenders wherever the pressure is greatest.

The Australian soldier need not expect to face an enemy massed in overwhelming numbers, since the size of an invading army would be strictly limited by the number of transports which could be assembled, nor would he expect to deal with anything like the concentration of heavy artillery and mechanised equipment employed in military operations in Europe. His superiority over such an enemy would rest with his prepared position, his power of concealment, his land (instead of sea) communications, and his intimate familiarity with the terrain. In all of these respects the enemy would be at a serious disadvantage.

Training to Timetable

It is with such factors as these in mind, that the Australian army training system has been devised. It aims at providing the militiaman with a complete all-round training system has been devised. It aims at providing the militiaman with a complete all-round training in four months, a tall order, it is true, but one from which there can be no escape in the immediate future.

The work is divided into sections, and it is performed to a time schedule. Thus the first month is devoted to elementary instruction in arms, musketry, close order dill, and a general shaking down to camp routine. The only team work accomplished in this month is restricted to company drill. In the second month, more complicated tasks are undertaken. The soldier may be introduced to bayonet practice, musketry instruction, moves from the short range to the longer rifle range, and from company drill the men graduate to battalion drill, undertaking field exercises on a miniature scale. At the same time all the work done in the first month is revised.

When the third month is reached the soldier moves on to more advanced work. In this period, brigade field exercises may have a place. Route marches may be undertaken now that muscles have become hardened, instructions may be given in trench digging and wiring, and simple tactical exercises may be practised under active service conditions. As before, there is a good deal of repetition of the second month's work on the principle that practice makes perfect.

In the fourth month, the earlier instruction is supplemented by divisional field exercises. The soldier at last rehearses complicated battle manoeuvres on a scale comparable with what might be expected in war. The route marches are now carried out in full service kit, there are exercises in which co-operation is lent by the Navy, artillery and Air Force, and the men learn the difference between manoeuvres carried out by day and under cover of night.

Field Manoeuvres

By now the soldier has made the acquaintance of the entire training manual, he is physically fit and seasoned, he understands the meaning of discipline, and he appreciates the value of individual resource. He knows what is expected of him, and if lacks the complete efficiency and versatility of the European soldier, trained to arms over a period of years, rather than months, the deficiency can be repaired by a few months of intensive training, if the need should arise. Or at any rate by an additional period of training in the second year.

The more advanced stage of militia training includes exercises for the repulse of beach landings. As a result of careful staff work, these exercises have attained a high degree of efficiency. They are usually carried out at night and involve the close co-operation of artillery, machine-guns, reconnaissance planes, Signal Corps, transport, and commissariat department.

Another exercise which is now a regular part of militia training involved the crossing of unbridged rivers at night. It is an infantry as distinct from an engineers' operation. The instrument used for effecting the crossing is a kapok bridge or pontoon, which is assembled a short distance from the river bank at about 3 a.m. the floats, carried up the communication lines by the men, are lashed together with lengths of decking, so that long before dawn the finished bridge lies on the bank ready for launching. The operation is carried out in complete darkness and silence to conceal the manoeuvre from the enemy.

At zero hour the bridge is launched and the infantry crosses the river with its machine-guns, taking the enemy by surprise. Rivers 80 ft wide have been crossed successfully in this way, the troops being equipped with full war kit, including gas masks. As a substitute for the kapok bridge recourse is sometimes made to collapsible pontoons, each holding eight men.

Practising Retreat

It is proposed this year to devote considerable attention to the operations involved in tactical withdrawal. This form of field exercise, possibly the most difficult of all, has been neglected in Australia, except on paper, although it is a necessary part of army training in every other country in the world. With the extension of camp periods from 18 days to four months, it will now be possible to devote some useful time to this important manoeuvre.

The practice of tactical withdrawal, or retreat, is difficult, not only because its component operations are in reverse movement, but also because its success depends on even more careful timing than is involved in an offensive action. The essence of the plan is to withdraw the defending force at such time, at such speed, and with such measure of concealment that the enemy is not aware of the manoeuvre until his forces have moved forward to the assault. It has its maximum effect when, at the moment the enemy has gathered himself to advance, he finds that the defenders have vanished, confronting him with the fresh and laborious task of locating them and preparing other plans for attacking new and unmapped positions.

Such a movement imposes considerable strain upon the retreating forces, and calls for a high degree of discipline and resource. Men who are unfamiliar with the manoeuvre, and who may be left behind to act as a covering force, with orders to increase their rate of fire to deceive the enemy, are apt to fire so so rapidly that the curiosity of the enemy is aroused and the whole stratagem is defeated. The withdrawal will be jeopardised, too, if one battalion delays its retirement, necessitating a modification of the manoeuvre while the unit is relieved and extricated.

The new camp training schedule is designed to give militiamen, and especially officers and non-commissioned officers, a clear understanding of the intricate operations involved in withdrawal and, at the same time, fill in a hitherto conspicuous gap in military practice in Australia.

School for Officers

The improved efficiency which may be expected from officers and N.C.O.'s as a result of the extension of the camp training period is, indeed, one of the hopeful aspects of the new training scheme. For the task is not merely to train 100,000 clerks, labourers, farmers, miners, professional men, and so on, and to become good soldiers, but to increase the competency of the young militia officers and N.C.O.'s who will be the Army leaders and instructors of to-morrow.

Great importance, therefore, attaches to the officers' training school which has ben established at Studley Park, Camden, under the revised Army system. Here the officers attached to militia units in the Eastern command, including subalterns, warrant officers, and senior non-commissioned officers, are receiving advanced training in arms and military tactics. Instruction in the three wings of the school, namely, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, is given by Staff Corps officers, assisted by sergeant-majors drawn from the Australian Instructional Corps. Each course of training lasts for two weeks, and the school is so busy that it is open continuously, one batch of officers going in as the other goes out.

The Studley Park establishment is an extremely valuable adjunct to the training scheme. It will quickly improve the capabilities of militia officers and inspire renewed confidence and enthusiasm in the ranks of the men whim they will lead.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Ineffective British Army (1903)
Topic: British Army

The Ineffective British Army (1903)

Boston Evening Transcript, 7 February 1903
By Jack J. Hart, Late of the Grenadier Guards

It is notable that reforms effected in the British naval and military services have always been the result of outside agitation. In England the war office and admiralty are only nominally the executive powers of the services of which they are at the head. The real executive in both cases is the voice of the country. Particularly of the war office it may be said that not until the press has been spoken in a voice so loud that it cannot be disregarded will it take action in anything more important than selecting the pattern on a soldier's button. Perhaps it is because the war office believes that a task which is now before it is peculiarly difficult of accomplishment that not even the voice of public opinion can move it; and that instead of beginning the work, it appears to be engaged in solving the, often for it, momentous problem: "how not to do it" by making various changes in ceremonial drill. When the improved weapons of warfare were—for the first time—put to test on South African battlefields, military experts were confounded and it was clearly proven to the world that in military tactics a new era had begun, numbers, discipline, and even generalship, took a second place, and individual intelligence of the soldier was proven to be of first importance.

There was a time when warfare was the clashing together and wrestling of great masses of men. But it has gone forever. By the invention of gunpowder the medieval art of war was changed into the modern. With the improvement of firearms, gradually individual intelligence of the combatants became more essential to their efficiency united; albeit commanders were very slow in recognizing the fact. On the advent of quick-firing guns, unknown to the doctrinaires who fought battles on paper, numbers, discipline, and even generalship, took a second place, but it was not until the highly organized regiments of Britain were led against South African farmers that the world realized the fact, then clearly demonstrated, that in the battle of the future the individual intelligence of the soldier would be first in insuring victory.

It might be expected that Great Britain, having learned the lessons of the South African War by experience and to her cost, would, for that reason, be the first to profit by them and to adapt herself to the new order of things. Such, however, is not the case. Although reforms have been mooted, her military system, in its constitution as in its government, is still wedded to conservatism and old traditions. Practically nothing has been done that would tend to develop the individual intelligence of the soldiers, and so render him capable of acting judiciously in dangerous situations on his own initiative. The slavish respect for his superiors which is inculcated into the British soldier in his daily life is not well calculated to teach him self-reliance; and the fact that British officers are drawn from the titled classes, which Englishmen almost worship, makes this slavish respect, in English regiments at least, particularly difficult of elimination. The officer is the ruling intelligence. His authority must never be questioned. His judgment is infallible. If a private soldier criticises him adversely, the private is guilty of, in the language of military law, "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." In the ranks of the old British army, blind obedience to superiors on all occasions is the erroneous principle that guides. Concatenation is the necessary consequence. The subordinate is dependent on his superior. He is slow, because unaccustomed to act without his superior's commands; and, in situations where quick and decisive action is of prime importance, he is easily outwitted by the versatility of a self-reliant opponent.

Concatenation and lack of self-reliance among the rank and file of the British army may be said to constitute its greatest weakness, inasmuch as both hamper its operations in the field. If the number of drilled troops in South Africa at the outbreak of the last war had been so many undisciplined rough-riders knowing no more of military tactics than how to "sight" a rifle and press the trigger, I do not hesitate to say, the long and bitter struggle which cost England dear in blood and money and turned a fertile country into a "howling wilderness" would (with all respect to the Boer as a fighter) have ended before three months in the defeat of the republican armies. The undisciplined rough-rider would have fought the Boer with the Boer's own weapons, and numbers would have prevailed. The instinct of self-preservation would have taught the undrilled soldier to take advantage of available cover on all occasions; and if he found himself standing before a fusillade so deadly that common sense told him it would be suicide to remain, he would not have waited the command of a superior to advance, or retreat. It might at first sight be thought that concatenation in an army is desirable inasmuch as it secures uniformity of action, for if each part of a whole is dependent on another part none will act alone and the strength of concerted action is the result. But modern warfare, especially that carried on in a hilly country, has become a game of hide-and-seek, developing fresh surprises at every turn, that quick, independent and decisive action, suiting itself to the exigencies of occasions; is, for the different units of a division and for individual composing them, a matter of paramount importance. Concerted attack, by which a force is directed against one point in an enemy's line, is a thing of the past.

The system of training followed in the British army does not contribute much to rendering it more efficient as a fighting machine under the conditions of modern warfare. The greater part of the soldier's time during the first three months of his service as a recruit is spent in useless ceremonial drill. Almost the entire time at the depot from which he derives any benefit is the daily hour spent in the gymnasium. Up to the time of joining his battalion, he has not once used his rifle at the target. A few months after leaving the depot he is exercised in a recruit's course of musketry, and is then called a trained soldier. After this, he is allowed forty-two rounds of ball ammunition annually, and by the practice thus afforded is expected to become a marksman. Rivalry, however, often exists between the different companies of a battalion, and this induces captains of companies to purchase ammunition at their own expense—in the hope that by extra practice their companies may become more proficient and win the shooting trophies that are so greatly prized.

During autumn manoeuvres, the soldier would learn much that would be of use to him were it not for the indifference of his officers. Hostile forces oppose each other and fight, day by day, among hills, woods and valleys; but ask a soldier what it all means and he will reply that he does not know. He only knows that he obeys orders. He cannot even tell whether the division to which he belongs is attacking or defending, advancing or retiring. His officers will not take the trouble to tell him; some of them do not know. Yet, if the whole plan of the manoeuvres were intelligently explained to the soldier and maps of the country placed in his hands, the benefits he would derive from this annual exercise are incalculable.

In its constitution, the British army has many defects; the principal being the paucity of numbers of the medical corps and the commissariat. Even in a country easy of transport as South Africa, the latter proved itself wholly incapable of performing the work that devolved on it. The medical corps would there have been a still greater failure were it not for the voluntary service by which it was supplemented. The regimental constitution is, in some of its effects, detrimental to the efficiency of the soldier. For from the private to the colonel, each must unquestionably obey the will of his superior and it will be admitted that there is little room for initiative, or development of intelligence in the ranks.

Of the war office, as the governing authority, little need be said. In England it has become a synonym of stupidity. Its actions are often incomprehensible. One instance will suffice: During the South African War Canada raised a regiment to garrison Halifax, and maintained it at the expense of the Dominion until after the declaration of peace. The Imperial Conference in London followed, and it was proposed that Canada should contribute to the maintenance of the British navy. The Dominion dissented, but offered to permanently garrison Halifax and Esquimalt, thus to relieve the Imperial Government of the expense of maintaining troops at those places. After the conference, Canada's policy was severely crticised in England, and the cry was again raised that she was unwilling to bear her fair share of the expense of imperial defence. Then the war office, instead of allowing the Dominion to maintain its own garrisons, caused the Royal Canadian Regiment at Halifax to be disbanded, and incurred the expense of sending troops from England and maintaining them in its place. Various pleas have been urged in defence of this action. Among them, that imperial troops in Canada constitute a visible tie between that country and England which it would be dangerous to sever; but this, on the face of it, is little short of an insult to the loyalty of the Canadian people.

Though last to be considered here, the morale of an army is hardly last in importance in estimating the probabilities of its success in the field. It is a fact, though some are slow to admit it, that professional soldiers are not, as a rule, patriots. To the civilian, the defence of his country is a sacred duty. To the professional soldier it is the ordinary humdrum business of everyday life. Composed of three distinct nationalities as the British army is, it is only natural that a common patriotism should not be its pervading spirit. Irishmen, Englishmen, and Scotchmen have not blended into one race in the past and the probabilities are that they never will. There are many Irishmen in the British army today who are hostile to the very name of England. The gallant charges of Irish regiments on South African battlefields prove nothing to the contrary. Irishmen—because it is in their nature—will fight hard when facing any foe, merely for the glory of a "scrap."

It is on account of this diversity of race that the regular army of Britain can never become a body animated by a common spirit. Whatever may have been the talisman, patriotism did not win its victories of the past. I would rather attribute them to the caution of the Scotchman, the dogged persistence of the Englishman, and the dashing bravery of the Irishman.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 27 July 2016

"Knew Their Trademark"
Topic: Humour

"Knew Their Trademark"

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 29 April 1915
From the Omaha World-Herald

A sentry was giving closest attention to his post in the neighborhood of a British army camp in England, challenging returning stragglers late after dark. The following is reported as an incident of his vigil:

"Who goes there?" called the sentry at the sound of approaching footsteps.

"Coldstream Guards!" was the response.

"Pass, Coldstream Guards!" rejoined the sentry.

"Who goes there?" again challenged the sentry.

"Forty-nine Highlanders!" returned the unseen pedestrian.

"Pass, Forty-nine Highlanders!"

"Who goes there?" sounded a third challenge.

"None of your damned business!" was the husky reply.

"Pass, Canadians!" acquiesced the sentry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Salutes Important Part of Discipline
Topic: Discipline

Salutes are Important Part of Their Discipline

Men of Army, Navy and National Guard Strict in Their Observance of This Requirement When Sometimes Otherwise Lax

The Day, New London, Connecticut, 25 July 1912

Colonel Rogers emphasized the importance not only of saluting but made it plain that it was just as serious an offence to fail to return a salute of a subordinate.

Adam, the man with the fig leaf uniform, is said to have been a lance corporal when the story about 75 cent epaulets was new. This story, which is alleged to be just off the griddle every time it is told, runs thus:

A young C.N.G. officer passing a rookie private, notices he does not salute. Calling the enlisted man to attention the young officer in sharp tones inquires: "You see these shoulder straps! Well, I paid 75 cents for them, and when you go by you salute them. Se11!'

Exactly when the 75 cent shoulder strap story broke into the Connecticut National Guard cannot be determined, but it used to be perpetuated at about all the Niantic camps to the discomfort of not only the poor privates involved, but the officers and enlisted men who had been to more than one camp. Once a rookie second lieutenant tried to tell of this funny method of instilling respect for superiors into enlisted men as he had exemplified it. An officer with a 15-year service medal grunted and promptly informed the narrator that the origin of the tale had been traced to one of the tours of duty of Eden.

Among the citizen soldiery of this state the importance of the military salute was not fully realized until the Spanish-American war. Each of the volunteer regiments was braced up by a regular officer entering it who had most of the whipping into shape to do. The New London regiment, the Third, had no less a martinet that the them Maj. Alexander Rodgers, who became a colonel of volunteers, and is now a colonel of cavalry. Colonel Rogers emphasized the importance not only of saluting but made it plain that it was just as serious an offence to fail to return a salute of a subordinate. Many a man of good intention scan testify to this. It was sandy, as he was affectionately referred to, when out of hearing, who used to look a man square in the eye and demand: "Put your heels together!' The victim would comply; salute again and wonder how in thunder the colonel could see that his heels were not clean together.

After Colonel Rodgers got through his whipping into shape, when the Third was mustered out, his legacy was a better understanding in the C.N.G. of what soldiering really was. Subsequent camps found it to be no uncommon state of affairs for the proprietor of a drug store, who happened for the week to be squeezed into the uniform of a hospital corps sergeant, to be gracefully saluting and be recognized by his $9 per week soda jerker, who more fortunately expanded his chest in the blouse of a second lieutenant. As many of the volunteers went back into the Third infantry as commissioned or non-commissioned officers, it has been passed on until the coast artillerymen, who transferred from that regiment, came to associate with the regulars at the island, when the necessity for the "walloping' promptly was not a novelty.

Regular soldiers have various terms for the act of saluting, though walloping is a favorite. It is such a matter of routine for them that they wondered why a civilian should be curious about the custom. The regular used to be loath to salute a National Guards officer and the sensitive guardsman got sore. Then along came the Dick bill that made the national Guards of the several states the reserve of the regular army and there was no room for doubt. It is rare that a National Guard officer passes a regular soldier and does not "get the wallop.'

It is provided in regulations that the enlisted men of the army and the enlisted men of the navy must salute the commissioned officers of the navy or army and that the salutes must be returned. Army records are said to show instances of court martials for officers who ignored the salutes of enlisted men.

A group of 15 men, mostly privates from a New York national guard regiment, showed their ignorance in first rate shape at State and Bank streets one afternoon last week. They lounged about in a most distressful manner, leaning against the building wall, hanging onto awning brackets, smoking and talking, while an ensign of the navy found it necessary to pass and repass them. Not a one of the guardsmen offered to indicate that he had any respect for the ensign's rank. The ensign did not seem to mind whether they noticed him or not.

A nattily dressed sailor on the curb crooked his elbow and touched his cap and the ensign reciprocated. The jackie looked disdainful at the New Yorkers and murmured, "Tryin' to make tin soldiers o' themselves.'

A negro sailor passing the Neptune building repeatedly saluted the clerk from the army recruiting office, who was attired in a white uniform and looked like an officer. The sailor evidently had a few salutes to spare.

In the navy it is the midshipman on the way down the scale who is the last man entitled to the salute. In the army the second lieutenant is the last.

The army claims to observe the rule of saluting most stringently, a condition due possibly to the fact that officers and men do not come into contact as frequently as in the navy. Aboard a torpedo boat destroyer where there is little room the officers usually require no saluting of men in continual passing back and forth. More than once an obliging officer has been known to say in the morning, "You need not salute me any more today.' The suspension of the rule saves time and physical effort without impairing discipline.

Officers in civilian clothes are very generally saluted, when it is known that they are officers by the men of their command or others. A regular colonel who wore his "cits,' raised a rumpus in the Crocker house one evening because some naval cadets did not salute him. He had strong reasons for thinking that the cadets knew who he was. At any rate they felt particularly well acquainted with him, when he got through with them.

A big sailor, who is classified as a coal passer, gave a brilliant example of his respect for superiors in bank street during the past week. To watch him coming up the sidewalk not one in a hundred would say he could undertake any more difficult task than taking a nap and getting away with it. He had "a big bundle,' which occupied pretty much all of his time. Down the street came an officer, eyeing him closely. Mr. Jack gathered himself together like a flash and swung his hand to his cap in neat style, while he braced his big bulky form as stiffly as if he hadn't had a drop to drink. The officer of the patrol evidently considered the coal passer able to take care of himself when he could do as good a job as that for he passed him by.

In civil life a man is considered ill-mannered who does not remove his cigar, cigarette or pipe from his mouth when saluting. It is considered bad manners in the army and navy. In fact it is regarded as such a breach of etiquette that a man who tried it would probably never forget the date. The soldier salutes with the elbow close to his side, the sailor with the elbow raised so that the upper arm is extended. Both are required to be snappy in the performance of the salute and usually pains are taken to see that they do nor become negligent and skip a few of the motions.

To the observing citizens the salute is impressive. Not a few men, who have been watching sailors and soldiers on the streets lately, express admiration at the way the most of them carry their most distant hand to their caps in respect to the uniforms of the officers they meet. Undoubtedly, most of them have heard the story of the 75 cent epaulets.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 25 July 2016

Vimy Pilgrimage is a Reminder
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Vimy Pilgrimage is a Reminder…

…To Young Canadians a Trust Passed On by Heroes of War

"Uncle Ray's Weekend Mail Bag," The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ont., 25 July 1935

The past couple of weeks we have been hearing and thinking a great deal about the peace Pilgrimage in Vimy Ridge for the unveiling of the Canadian memorial to those who gave their lives in the great World War. Perhaps some of Uncle Ray's nieces and nephews were down at the train or boat to wave good bye to daddies, uncles, grandfathers, mothers or aunts leaving for France. You wished them a pleasant journey. Though you felt you would miss them in the few weeks they would be away, already you were looking forward to the stories they would tell on their return.

It was very different with the boys and girls who saw the troops trains go in the years 1914-1918. Loved ones were going to face such terrible dangers it would seem a miracle if they returned. The honor roll of those who did not come back bears the names of nurses, girl ambulance drivers, voluntary aid workers as well as brave soldiers, chaplains, doctors. No doubt the thousands of ex-service folk who have crossed the ocean to do honor to fallen comrades are remembering that these died in the belief they were engaged in war to end war. To allow strife to come again would be to break faith with those who have gone. That is why so many veterans are so strongly opposed to the idea of war.

Why did daddies and uncles, big brothers, yes and grandfathers answer the call to serve between August 4th, 1914 and November 11th, 1918, knowing they would be obliged to endure great hardship and possibly suffering and death? To make Canada and the world free and safe for you. They were thinking of the young Canadians still to be born as well as beloved sons, daughters, nieces and nephews and little brothers and little sisters at home. Each of Uncle Ray's young Canadians has a share in the task of keeping faith with those who came back and the thousands whose names are engraved on the Vimy War Memorial. The best thank-you that you could give them would be to begin now and to continue all your lives to live and to work to keep your neighborhood, country and the world friendly and peaceful.

Uncle Ray.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 24 July 2016

Army Rations for One Day
Topic: Army Rations

Army Rations for One Day

What Soldiers of Various Countries Have While on March

Morning Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 2 December 1908
London Special to New York Times.

Herman Senn, the organizer of the Universal Cookery and Food Exhibition, which has just been opened here, has received, as one of the most interesting exhibits, specimens of the ideal army rations of the leading countries of the world. The exhibits present a day's rations for men on the march, and nearly every country is represented.

The Japanese dietary scale is the most frugal, and is as follows:

  • Rice – 5.64 oz.
  • Meat – 7.05 oz.
  • Fish (which may be had Instead of meat) – 3.50 oz.
  • Cabbage Or other vegetable – 5.29 oz.
  • Biscuit – 20.00 oz.
  • Tea. – .71 oz.

Great Britain's soldier gets in one day:

  • Fresh moat – 1 1/4 lb.
  • Or, preserved meat – 1 lb.
  • Bread – 1 1/4 lb.
  • Or biscuit or flour – 1 lb.
  • Tea – 5/8 oz.
  • Jam – 1/4 lb.
  • Sugar – 2 oz.
  • Salt – 1/2 oz.
  • Pepper – 1/36 oz.
  • Fresh vegetables – 1/2 lb.
  • Or dried vegetable – 2 ox.
  • Or preserved fruit – 4 oz.
  • Lime juice (with 1/2 oz. sugar on days when fresh vegetables are not issued) – 1/20 gill.
  • Rum – 1/4 gill.
  • Tobacco (per week), not exceeding – 2 oz.

The scale of Germany is as follows:

  • Bread – 26.60 oz.
  • Or biscuit – 17.00 oz.
  • Fresh or salt meat – 13.00 oz.
  • Or salted beef or mutton – 9.00 oz.
  • Or bacon – 5.70 oz.
  • Rice – 4.40 oz.
  • Barley or groats – 4.40 oz.
  • Or peas, beans or flour – 8.60 oz.
  • Potatoes – 52.80 oz.
  • Salt – .70 oz.
  • Coffee (roasted) 1.00 oz.

The French soldier on a march gets per day:

  • Meat without bone – 8.40 oz.
  • Bread – 35.30 oz.
  • Or biscuit – 26.50 oz.
  • Dried vegetables – 2.12 oz.
  • Salt – .50 oz.
  • Sugar – .70 oz.
  • Coffee – .60 oz.

The Belgian dietary scale includes concentrated bouillon. Prunes, tomatoes and apples are among the American soldier's rations, and the Dutch army's diet includes horseflesh.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2016 12:07 AM EDT
Saturday, 23 July 2016

Officers Mess Auction (1855)
Topic: Officers

Officers Mess Auction (1855)

With the rotation of British regiments in and out of garrisons throughout the Empire, or the reorganization of locally raised units, there were occasions which caused the Officers' Messes to dispense with property that could not economically be moved on to their next garrison location. The following newspaper notice, published in "The Public Ledger" of St. John's Newfoundland on 27 February, 1855, announces the auction sale of mess property at Fort Townshend. The funds raised would probably be used by the officers to establish their new mess wherever they were headed. The mess property list offers a glimpse of how well the officers lived once they had established and furnished their mess.

elipsis graphic

Major Edward D'Alton

Through the pages of the London Gazette, we can trace the career of Edward D'Alton:

  • Through the pages of the London Gazette, we can trace the career of Edward D'Alton:
  • 83rd Foot, Edward D'Alton, Gent. to be Ensign, without purchase, vice Keating, promoted in the 13th Foot. Dated 13th June 1830. – London Gazette, 11 Jun 1830
  • 83rd Foot, Ensign Edward D'Alton to be Lieutenant, by purchase, vice John James Edward Hamilton, who retires. Dated 2nd August 1833. – London Gazette, 2 Aug 1833
  • 83rd Foot, Ensign Edward D'Alton to be Captain, by purchase, vice Kelly, who retires. Dated 20th September, 1939. – London Gazette, 20 Sep 1839
  • 83rd Foot, Captain Samuel Burgess Lamb, from half-pay, Unattached, to be captain, vice Edward D'Alton, who exchanges. Dated 12th January 1848. – London Gazette, 12 Jan 1949.
  • Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment. Captain Edward D'Alton, from half-pay Unattached, to be Captain, vice Colman, who exchanged. Dated 14th October, 1851 – London Gazette, 14 Oct 1851.
  • To be Majors in the Army:—Edward D'Alton, Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment. – London Gazette, 11 Nov 1851.
  • Royal Newfoundland Companies. Brevet-Major Edward D'Alton, from half-pay Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, to be Captain, vice Osborne West, who exchanges. Dated 6th July, 1852. – London Gazette, 6 Jul 1852.
  • To be Ensigns, without purchase:—Royal Newfoundland Companies. Captain Malcolm MacGregor, from half pay Unattached, to be Captain, vice Brevet-Major Edward D'Alton, retired on full pay. Dated 14th September, 1856. – London Gazette, 14 Nov 1856.
  • Brevet-Major Edward D'Alton, retired full-pay Royal Newfoundland Companies, to be Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army, the rank being honorary only. Dated 19th September, 1856. – London Gazette, 19 Sep 1856.
  • The New Army List, and Militia List, No. LXV. 1st January, 1855.

    "Major D'Alton served in the 83rd during the suppression of the Insurrection in Lower Canada in 1837; also in repelling the attacks of the American Brigade who landed near Prescott, Upper Canada, in 1838."

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2016 12:27 AM EDT
    Friday, 22 July 2016

    "War is a Funny Game, Mother"
    Topic: Military Medical

    "War is a Funny Game, Mother"

    The Age, Melbourne , Australia, 31 January 1900

    The following extract is from the letter of an officer who was shot by a Boer at Elands Laagte while protecting another Boer who had surrendered. After describing how he was "knocked over" from behind, he says:—

    "I lay where I fell for about three-quarters of an hour, when a doctor came and out a field dressing on my wound, gave me some brandy, put my helmet under my head as a pillow, covered me with a Boer blanket which he had taken from a dead man, and then went to look after some other poor beggar. I shall never forget the horrors of that night as long as I live. In addition to the agony which my wound gave me, I had two sharp stones running into my back, I was soaked to the skin and bitterly cold, but had an awful thirst; the torrents of rain never stopped. On one side of me was a Gordon Highlander in raving delirium, and on the other a Boer who had had his leg shattered by a shell, and who gave vent to the most heart-rending cries and groans. War is a funny game, mother, and no one can realize what its grim horrors are till they see it in all its barbarous reality. I laid out in the rain the whole of the night, and at daybreak was put into a doolie by a doctor, and some natives carried me down to the station. The ground was awfully rough, and they dropped me twice; I fainted both times. I was sent down to Ladysmith in the hospital train; from the station I was conveyed to the chapel (officers' hospital) in a bullock cart, the jolting of which made me faint again. I was the last officer taken in. I was then put to bed, and my wound was dressed just 17 hours after I was hit. They gave me some beef tea, which was the first food I had had for 27 hours."

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Thursday, 21 July 2016

    Physical Training of British "Tommy"
    Topic: Drill and Training

    Physical Training of British "Tommy" Fits Him For Service

    The Deseret Times, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 December 1916

    New York, Dec. 29.—In an interesting address on "The Making and Remaking of a Fighting Man" delivered at the annual meeting pf the National College Athletic association here yesterday. R.Tait Mckenzie, professor of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania and late Major R.A.M.C. England, said, in part:

    "You do not need a watch to tell when it is 9 o'clock at the headquarters gymnasium at Aldershot. For 15 minutes or more groups of men in black trousers and jerseys, or officers in tennis kit, have been accumulating, and at 9 o'clock precisely a shrill whistle petrifies them in the position of 'attention.' There is a dead silence and the sharp command 'fall in' is succeeded by a scramble out of which emerge 20 classes of officers and men, each in a proportion of about 4 to 1, neatly arranged on the floor, each with a staff instructor in charge. At the command 'staff fall in' each instructor doubles to where the sergeant-major stands, and where they stand at attention to receive the day's orders. These given, they make a right turn, rise on the toes and scurry off to their respective classes. Another silence, and the sharp command 'carry on' is followed by a babel of orders as the various groups march out of the four doors to selected places in the 20-acre ground that surround the gymnasium. For the next hour and a half each class is put through the table of exercises for the day; each exercise detailed, repeated and corrected until officers and men have the proper speed and accuracy for which they strive.

    The Day's Work

    "At 10:30 the whistle breaks the classes up into groups for a brief rest. After 15 minutes the same proceeding is gone through again, but this time the men are paired off; No. 1 teaching the last hour's work to No. 2 and back again from 2 to 1, under the fire of the instructor's criticism. Again a short rest and the bayonets are fixed, and the position of 'on guard,' 'point,' and 'parry' are explained, shown and demonstrated. There is an interval for lunch and at 2:15 the classes reassemble, and now they are marched out, combined into one mass drill of exercises selected from the eight tables of the British gymnastic law. After this display the mass breaks into its component classes and the detiling of exercises, bayonet fighting and gymnastic games fills the time until 4 o'clock, when the day's work is over. Every month a new class replaces those who have gone out into the great training camps.

    "When the war broke out in August, 1914, the staff of gymnastic instructors, up to the inspector himself, dissolved overnight and rejoined their regiments, and after 10 days this department had no head. The new inspector was confronted by an urgent demand for instructors, with none to send, but he at once re-enlisted men who had gone into civil life (teachers in board and private schools), in fact anyone who had had training, and he reconstructed his staff from these veterans. Soon, however, their numbers were augmented in another way. Familiar faces reappeared (men from the trenches) one with a bullet through his shoulder blade, another with part of his foot gone from shrapnel. They were not fit for active service, but their experience as teachers was invaluable.

    "The new armies had tapped every stratum of English society; the ill-disciplined lordling, whose whim was his only law; the stripling just from school and college; lawyers, doctors, merchants, clerks (soft from a sedentary life); ironworkers, navies, laborers (slow of action and speech)—all had to be wielded into a homogenous body, quick and alert of actions, sure of eye and hand and, about all, capable of endurance; able to march and take care of themselves; ready to obliterate themselves before a hostile aeroplane by day or a star-shell at night; able to dig like badgers even after a hard day's march; steady with the rifle; quick, powerful and relentless with the bayonet.

    "The shooting and digging are taught elsewhere, but the headquarters gymnasium is the source of all knowledge on those fundamental exercises that train in accuracy, balance, and speed, without which the musketry instructor instructs in vain and the drill sergeant's shouts are futile. It is also the source from which has come the new practical methods of teaching the use of the bayonet. There is no hesitation or sparring for an opening or elaborate parrying; just a short jab, and on the next, the two simple parries taught being not for defence so much as to clear the way for attack, a subtle but important mental difference. This is the gist of the new bayonet fighting.

    Another Function

    "Physical training has, however, another function in the great armies that have already tasted the hardships and casualties of life at the front. The wounded man, treated first at the dressing station, then at the field station, sent back to the base hospital, and finally to a hospital at home, is frequently capable os being returned fit for active service if time and care can only be given to his treatment. From the general hospital all such cases are transferred to the convalescent camp or depot, and many are put under physical training at once, and return to their regiment within six weeks, but in the slower and more grave conditions a cure must be effected in months rather than weeks. It is these men who are sent to the command depots, after a 10 days' furlough, and they once again come under military discipline after their month or two of hospital life. From a standpoint of discipline, this month or two has produced great changes in most of them. Many of these cases of scarred and injured limbs, stiffened joints, and other painful wounds can begin only by the gentlest form of massage, given after the injured limb has been prepared by soothing baths of running water, or by the application of electricity or radiant heat. From this they go on to more active massage, regaining the strength and agility that have apparently left them.

    "The injuries from which men suffer so enormously vary in extent and gravity that it is not possible bring all men up to this state, and some, although unfit for active service in the full sense of the word, are still able enough for service on lines of communications, or for garrison duty either at home or abroad, while others are unable to do more than sedentary work at home, or when not even this improvement can be obtained, they may be discharged from the army as unfit for all military service.

    "By these means, however, at least half of these men who begin such a course of graduates treatment and exercises can be counted on as becoming effective members of the army once again, and the training which they have undergone, either at the beginning of their career, or after they have borne the burden and heat of the day, produces a lasting effect, and brings them to a higher level of physical efficiency and mental alertness than they could ever have hoped to reach without it."

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Wednesday, 20 July 2016

    Few Armies Are So Unlike
    Topic: European Armies

    Few Armies Are So Unlike as Those of France and Germany

    Soldiers of the Fatherland Form Force of Greater Strength and Strict Discipline—French Somewhat Lax, But Almost as Efficient

    The Milwaukee Journal, 18 October 1914
    By the Journal's Military Expert

    The world war undoubtedly is the most gigantic struggle in history. To understand the situation one must compare the armies. It would be difficult to find two armies more unlike in every detail than those of France and Germany. The German army is a force of great strength and strict discipline. In France the discipline is less strict. Officers and men are closer, but efficiency is almost as great.

    The largest military formation in Germany is an army corps, in time of peace about 22,000 men and in war about 45,000 men. Several army corps, generally four, form in time of peace an army inspection and in war time, a field army under a field marshal.

    Has 25 Army Corps

    The German army has twenty-five army corps. Each army corps has two or three divisions. The commanding general is a general of infantry, cavalry or artillery. A division commanded by a lieutenant general has two or three brigades of infantry, one brigade of cavalry and one brigade of artillery. A brigade is commanded by a major general and has two regiments, each regiment commanded by a colonel.

    A regiment of infantry consists of three battalions. In time of war each battalion is 1,000 strong and is commanded by a major. A battalion has four companies, commanded by captains. A company has in war time 250 men and consists of three platoons. Each platoon, under a lieutenant, has in time of war eighty men. A platoon has five sections, each sixteen men under a sergeant. Eight men form a squad under a corporal.

    A regiment of cavalry has five squadrons in time of peace, but only four during war. Each squadron is commanded by a captain and has two hundred men. A squadron has four platoons commanded by lieutenants.

    A regiment of artillery has two battalions, each having three batteries. A battery has four guns in peace, six in war. A battalion is in charge of a major, each battery commanded by a captain. Two guns are a platoon in charge of a lieutenant. Besides these troops, an army corps has one battalion of sharpshooters, one of engineers, a supply train, rapid fire gun detachment, signal corps, hospital corps, ammunition and special supply detachment, aeroplabe detachment, and automobile corps.

    Carry Full Knapsack

    What is the field equipment of the German infantry man?

    1.     In his knapsack each man has: One shirt, one suit or underwear, four pairs of socks, a pair of lace shoes, a clothes and hand brush, a bottle of oil, cord and waste for cleaning his rifle, three little poles for his tent, three tent cords, three poles with iron tops, a prayer book, thirty rounds of ammunition and the "iron portion," consisting of a box of canned meat, three boxes of coffee, a package of canned vegetables, a package of biscuits, and a slt and pepper box.

    2.     On the knapsack each man carries an overcoat (rolled), a tent folded (used also as a waterproof wrap) and a tin kettle with drinking cup.

    3.     In the belt a bayonet knife, two cartridge boxes with 90 rounds of ammunition, a small shovel or hatchet, or crow-bar, or scissors to cut wire, a waterproof bag for bread and thirty rounds of ammunition. Each squad has a large waterbag.

    4.     Inside of the coat, a small package or dressings and bandages, with a description how to use them.

    The entire outfit, including helmet and rifle, weighs seventy pounds. The uniform is made out of the best cloth. All material is stamped with the regimental, battalion and company number and has the name of the man inside. Every man has a metal shield for identification.

    Service Begins at 20

    The liability to serve begins at 17 and ends at 45. Actual service commences as 20. With the active army the term of service is seven years, two in the ranks and five in the reserve, for the infantry, five in the ranks and four in the reserve for the cavalry and horse artillery. The soldier is permanently attached to some corps and during his reserve service is twice summoned for training for eight weeks. From the active service the soldier passes into the landwehr. Landwehr I., five years for the infantry and three for mounted troops. Landwehr II., six to seven years for the infantry, eight and nine for mounted troops. The reserve is the landsturm, a force purely for home defence, in which the men remain until they have reached 45. Landsturm I is composed of all men between 17 and 39, who for any reason have received no military training. Landsturm II is composed of all men between 39 and 45.

    The French Field Army

    The French field army is composed of twenty army corps. Each army corps has two divisions, each division two brigades, and each brigade seven or eight battalions. Every division has a regiment of artillery of nine batteries of four guns each. The corps artillery directly under the command of the commanding general, includes nine field and three howitzer batteries, to which six reinforcing batteries are added upon mobilization.

    Furthermore an army corps in the field includes a cavalry brigade of two regiments, one chasseur (cavalry) battalion, engineers companies, sanitary and service troops, etc.

    The cavalry divisions are composed of three brigades of two regiments each, together with three batteries of horse artillery.

    Military Service Compulsory

    When mobilized the strength of an army corps is 33,000 men. The reserve army has two divisions, corresponding to the active army. Upon mobilization, the thirty-six reserve divisions contain virtually the same organization and strength as the troops of the first line. The territorial army has thirty-six divisions. Military service is compulsory from 20 to 48, the only exemptions being physical disability. After three years in the active army, the soldier passes to the reserve for eleven years, followed by seven years in the territorial army and seven in the territorial reserve. The troops stationed along the German fronteir are kept at a considerably higher strength than the others.

    Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Tuesday, 19 July 2016

    An Officers' Mess on Active Service
    Topic: Army Rations

    An Officers' Mess on Active Service

    The Age, Melbourne , Australia, 31 January 1900

    Mr. W.C. Hannah, a son of the Vicar of Brighton, went to Ladysmith to secure from officers of the Leicestershire Regiment details of the death of his brother, Lieutenant Hannah, who was the first officer killed at Dundee. Mr. Hannah, in the course of his letter, dated 3rd November, says:—

    "I dined with the Dundee column last night. I will give you a description of this dinner as showing how Burns's "gilded popinjays" fare when times are warlike. To begin with, there was no sign of furniture either in the mess-room or the ante-room. If you wanted to sit down you did so on the floor. We each got hold of a large tin mug, and dipped it into a large tin saucepan of soup and drank it, spoons not existing. A large lump of salt was passed round, and every one broke off a piece with his fingers. Next you clawed hold of a piece of bread and a chunk of tongue, and gnawed one and then the other—knives and forks there were none. This finished the dinner. Add to this two or three tallow candles stuck on a cocoa tin, and the fact that none of the officers had shaved, or had their clothes off for a week, and had walked some 45 miles through rivers and mud, and you will have some idea of how the officers' mess of one of the smartest of her Majesty's foot regiments do for themselves in times of war. Not a murmur of complaint was to be heard."

    elipsis graphic

    The "Gilded Popinjays" Reference

    John Burns, M.P., on Militarism

    The following extract from a speeh by Burns was published in The Herald of Peace and International Arbitration, Volumes 23-24, 1st February, 1895:

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Monday, 18 July 2016

    Soldiers to be Taught New Ways of Warfare (US Army, 1917)
    Topic: US Armed Forces

    Soldiers to be Taught New Ways of Warfare

    Trench Life Will be Lived by Men
    Artillery Training is Arduous Branch

    The Milwaukee Journal, 14 October 1917
    By Arthur D. Howden Smith (Staff Correspondent of The Milwaukee Journal and The New York Evening Post.)

    Washington.—The first stage of the training of the men of the national army will not be nearly so interesting as the later stages. This first stage will be devoted largely to making them physically capable of standing the driving routine of real soldier work. To march fifteen and twenty miles a day, with sixty-pound pack, ammunition, and rifle, requires a degree of fitness that few men in civil life possess. You must be hard. Every muscle in your body must be toughened and freed. There is no room for superfluous flesh on a man in hiking condition. It is excess baggage and has to be cast off.

    After a few weeks of Swedish drill, of twirling the army Springfield and marching and counter-marching, in close and extended order, the conscript should be prepared for higher instruction. By the time the companies have begun to achieve solidarity in maneuver and can even combine into battalions with some degree of order, the brigadiers will begin holding confidential sessions with the regimental commanders and surveying the countryside around the cantonments for good sites for mimic warfare. By this time, too, delegations of expert British and French exponents of the modern art of trench sighting should be on hand, and the advance-guard of the reserve officers , sent over-seas for instruction close to the fighting front, will be returning to lend the value of their experience to the partially trained men of the national army.

    A World Achievement

    Just when this time will come nobody can say. The regular officers in charge of training may have ideas of their own, but if they have any they are keeping the knowledge to themselves. And rightly. For the national army is the most ambitious experiment in constructing military forces that any country ever attempted. It presents innumerable problems to which there are no answers in the available textbooks. The general scheme for development of the drafted men will be something like this, however.:

    First phase, physical training and elementary military drill.
    Second phase, advanced military drill.
    Third phase, specialized warfare, as taught abroad.

    Naturally, the training will vary at different cantonments, according to the ideas of the commanding officers, climatic conditions, and the adaptability of the men. Also, physical training will continue throughout the entire period of development, but it will not be stressed in the later phases. It might be said that the physical benefit the average man derives from military routine is little short of astounding.

    Learning Trench Warfare

    Once the drafted men have been welded into coherent units, able to obey promptly and in unison the spoken word of command, they will have ceased to be rookies in the opprobrious sense of the word, and may be called soldiers. Before the present war scrapped pre-existing ideas of military tactics their training in essentials would have just begun. Ahead of them would have stretched a long series of lessons in out-post duty, guard duty, flank and rear-guard duty, and so forth. Trench warfare has simplified all of this, and, if regular army officers are to be believed, it is this simplification which makes possible the intensive training of utterly raw troops in the mass. Their training will embrace instructions in fighting from trenches and in attacking trenches. That sums it up.

    A tradition of the American Army that will be adhered to is target practice. Regular army officer hold that one of the secrets of the remarkable success British troops have always had when opposed to the Germans under anything like equal conditions has been the individually better marksmanship of their men.

    This war has shown a weird tendency to develop terrible new engines of destruction and to revive the use of primitive weapons. The theory of twenty years ago following the perfection of the magazine rifle and the machine gun, that close-order fighting would be barred has been thrown into the discard. The arme blanche, as the French call it, the cold steel of the Anglo-Saxons, still reigns supreme as close quarters.

    Thorough Bayonet Drill

    Bayonet-fighting, as developed on the western front, mainly through British initiative, has become almost a new science. The old-time rigmarole of the bayonet manual, with its elaborate parries, guards, cuts, and thrusts, has been almost entirely done away with. In its place has been substituted a murderously simple and effective set of movements. It is horrible, almost terrifying, to the uninitiated. For bayonet-fighting represents a complete relapse to the primitive. Many sensitive, tensely strung men cannot stand it. At the training camps for officers, several men were gien discharges because of the nausea that mastered them at the idea of knife-fighting—which is all the bayonet-fighting is.

    The men of the national army will receive thorough instruction in the use of this dreadful little tool. And the instruction will be as lifelike as ingenuity can make it. They will be taught to fight in every position—standing up, face to face; from the side, when caught off guard; thrusting downward, from the lip of a trench; upward, at an enemy climbing the parapet; on the run, as when a counter-attack meets a charge. The training will embrace the use of dummies and trenches and every conceivable kind of terrain. It requires good wind to end a quarter-mile sprint, loaded down with equipment, with enough energy to indulge in a bayonet duel.

    Bomb Work Important

    Perhaps the most important new tactics brought our during this war center around bomb-fighting. The grenadiers of the eighteenth century were what their name implies—men picked for their height and strength, and each carrying two bags of cast-iron grenades, which they ignited with a slow match and hurled at close quarters at the enemy. There was a grenadier company in each regiment of the old British line. But long before the Peninsular war the name had become almost meaningless. The improvement in field artillery made grenadiers useless, except for siege work. In recent wars grenades have been practically unknown, although the Japanese used some in the siege of Port Arthur.

    But the continuous close fighting on the western front, with the establishment of trench warfare, brought the grenade back into high favor again. At first the opposing troops manufactured their own grenades out of food tins. The effectiveness of these improvised weapons proved a revelation, and first the Germans, and then the French and British, undertook the production of several standardized types of hand-bombs. Now the bombers that accompany every attack form the first wave, and it is to them that is entrusted the task of cleaning out garrisons of dugouts and machine-gun nests.

    Bombing has developed into a separate department of military science. There are recognized ways of throwing the different bombs, and different types of bombs for different uses. The men of the national army will learn all about them in time. Bomb practice is dangerous, and has cost many lives in Great Britain and Canada.

    Work in the Trenches

    Instead of the open country maneuvers that used to be employed to accustom troops to actual warfare, the men of the national army will be taught the life of the trenches. On the hillsides and plains close to the training cantonments huge systems of field fortifications will be dug, complete to the last detail, with barbed wire entanglements, artillery and machine gun emplacements, bomb-proofs, dugouts, communication trenches, support trenches, listening posts, everything that the ingenuity of the battling nations has evolved from three years of fighting on a stupendous scale. They will be taught how to enter and leave a trench, how to repel attacks, how to make raids, how to attack by surprise under cover of the night and by day behind the protection of barrage fire.

    Of course, the instruction will not be identical for all men. This is an age of military specialization. The artilleryman has not the time to spend on infantry tactics, nor has the bomber leisure to acquire the tricks of the machine gun. It is understood that the new system of regimental organization adapted by our army from the French calls for companies of approximately 250 men. Each of these companies consists of four platoons. One platoon is made up of bombers or grenadiers, two are made up of magazine riflemen, and the fourth is armed with automatic rifles or machine guns. In addition, there is an extra machine gun battalion attached to every regiment and to every brigade and division headquarters. But all of these men will have to learn trench tactics, because all will fight from trenches.

    On the other hand men who elect the artillery will receive radically different training after they have emerged from the embryonic stage, where they are taught to stand and walk and the A B C of military ways. At each cantonment there will be a brigade of field artillery as a component part of the tactical division formed there. A field artillery brigade consists of three regiments, two of 3-inch batteries and one of heavier guns, 4.7 or 6-inch generally. When men report they are given the opportunity of selecting the arm they wish to serve in so far as is possible.

    Artillery training is probably the biggest of all the training camp problems. The biggest obstacle is equipment. The country was woefully short of field artillery equipment even for the regular army and national guard, when we entered the war.

    The men are first taught just what a modern field-piece is. They are shown how to take it apart and assemble it again, and they are drilled until they know every part of it by name and by feel. The mechanism of shells is illustrated practically and demonstrations are given in how and why a shell explodes. They are taught to ride and care for horses and the simpler elements of hippology. Range-finding and the plotting of targets is a much more difficult work, and yet perfectly tangible, once the guiding rules are comprehended. The use of the azimuth, the theory of indirect fire, triangulation and probably, too, the most modern development of all, co-operation between airplane observers and batteries, will form the bulk of the drafted artilleryman's studies. By the time he has finished such a course, he may not be quite ready for the battlefront, but at least he should be able to go to the finishing schools immediately behind the front.

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Updated: Monday, 18 July 2016 12:01 AM EDT
    Sunday, 17 July 2016

    Fancy Religions
    Topic: Humour

    Fancy Religions

    Ottawa Citizen, 19 April 1916

    The anxiety of Dr. J.W. Edwards, M.P., to learn officially the different varieties of church faith among the Canadian recruits would hardly be satisfactorily answered by the hard-bitten sergeant in the Submarine Miners. There were only two churches within marching distance of the camp: Anglican and Roman, and there seemed to be rather a large number of men with conscientious scruples about attending either. So when the squad paraded on Sunday morning, old Bob, the sergeant-major, exclaimed, "Catholics, one pace forward! Church of England, one pace to the rear! Fancy religions, fall out for fatigue."

    The Frontenac Times

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Updated: Friday, 17 June 2016 7:26 PM EDT
    Saturday, 16 July 2016

    Tommy Well Fed in the Field
    Topic: Army Rations

    Tommy Well Fed in the Field

    Army Rations Displayed for Inspection at the Front

    The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 4 April 1915
    (Correspondence of Associated Press)

    British General Headquarters in France, March 23.—A picture that will linger in the memory of the newspapermen who visited the front as guests of the British staff, was the sight of the army rations, in all their variety or lack of variety, laid out for inspection on a hotel table, and looking not unlike a study of the contents of a larder of a Dutch painter.

    There was beef and mutton, a pound of each (the fresh meat ration is one pound). There were large tins of pressed beef which vary the fresh meat or are taken when fresh meat can not be got. There was a two-pound loaf of excellent bread and the alternative ration of biscuit. The biscuits, according to the soldiers, are a vast improvement on the South African war biscuit. There are fresh vegetables, including onions; there was tea, sugar and jam, of which the English soldier in inordinately fond, and by way of luxuries 50 cigarettes and two ounces of tobacco. This quantity of cigarettes and tobacco is served out weekly.

    There is besides a ration of super-excellent bacon, cheese, butter, where possible, and a bottle of army rum. The rum ration is two ounces daily, a rather large wine glassful. Apart from the daily issue of rations, every man carries his "iron" or emergency ration, of beef and biscuit, which he must not touch till he has been 24 hours without food.

    Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Friday, 15 July 2016

    The Way They have It In the Army (1917)
    Topic: Drill and Training

    The Way They have It In the Army (1917)

    The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 1917
    (Angus and Robertson.)

    One does not as a rule look for literary excellence in a military manual, but there is some uncommonly good writing in "Citizen to Subaltern," by Captain A.W. Hutchin, of the Australian General Staff. In the old professional armies commissioned rank was usually the preserve of a class if not of a caste. But in the new national armies there is an open career for talent; In the Australian army in particular every "marmalade" has a Field Marshal's baton concealed somewhere in his dungarees; officers are now chosen for ability shown in the ranks, and some whom left here as privates are already majors.

    What does a young officer need? Chiefly self-confidence, because if he is not certain of himself his men will not be certain of him.

    Captain Hutchin's book is designed to guide the ambitious, and to stimulate the diffident. It deals with what may be termed the philosophy of junior command. It has nothing to say about the technicalities of traininf, for these may be learned from other books; it is concerned with the things that a young officer should feel and imitate rather than matters of tangible knowledge. The subaltern is paid more than the sergeant; receives more show of respect; has a more comfortable time all round. The advantages are his because his responsibilities are greater. Everyone would agree to this off hand, but if the average man were asked to define precisely the nature of those responsibilities and the psychological factors that contribute to their successful assumption he would require a volume. Captain Hutchin does it in a few score of short pages.

    What does a young officer need? Chiefly self-confidence, because if he is not certain of himself his men will not be certain of him. It is not necessary that he should be perfect in the art of strategy; that is the business of generals and suchlike potentates. Indeed, the lesson of this war has been that in modern conditions the platoon commander is the man that counts. War has become a thing of sudden, deadly melees, in which it is every unit for itself. "If a leader understands the action of his own unit, and has a proper conception of its functions in regard to the next higher formation of which it is part, he will know a great deal, and can be a valuable leader." he would do better to spend his scanty leisure in the study of his men's feet than in the study of major operations. He will have ample time for the latter before his time comes to conduct them. The ablest theorist is of little value as an officer unless he has character, and this must be of the positive and not the negative quality. "No person can hope to lead Australians effectively if he does not bristle with character. The civil life of the population is of the freest type. Nobody is of any account in this country unless he has made good by personal exertion, it matter not is what walk of life. The good boxer is more thought of than the mediocre divine." And the zealous officer, despite all imperfections, is more thought of than the one who betrays the least sign of slackness.

    The Australian officer as a neophyte is exposed to a trying ordeal. His platoon watch him with knowing eyes; all are conscious of each other's infirmities. Many are militant unionists, who have surrendered the eight-hour principle for the way they have in the army, where there are no "hours." But if they find that their immediate officer grudges a moment of his time from a duty that may seem trivial of superfluous, but is nevertheless a duty, they will at once take their cue from him. Therefore, the officer must always be "all-in." Courage is required also but there is no reason to be afraid of being afraid. There are tow kinds of fear, says Captain Hutchin, that which prompts a woman to take an umbrella on a wet day, and that which throws her into a panic at the sight of a mouse. The one is a sensible precaution; the other, a matter of nerves. Fear, or its absence, is largely a question of physical condition (for which the Army provides) and discipline, of which the author says much hereafter. On the other hand, daring, unless controlled, may be as disastrous as cowardice. He mentions an episode of which we have already heard whispers. An Australian unit on the Western front was appointed to take two lines of trenches. It did so at a canter. "This is too easy," it said, and proceeded to take the third line. Then the tragedy began. On either side the Germans appeared, and enfiladed our men; there were no supports because the plan was only to take two lines; the artillery could not help because we and the Germans were indistinguishably mixed up. The survivors who cut their way out were too few and too exhausted to hold even the second trench.

    With units, so with officers. Gallantry is presupposed, but a live subaltern is more useful than a dead hero. To put it brutally, officers are not paid to win posthumous glory; they are paid to lead their men, to do a job for which they are specially chosen and trained. They will find sufficient risks in this job without going out of their way to invite them. Still, Captain Hutchin, the stern utilitarian, ever concerned to remind the officer that neither his soul or his body is his own, but belongs to his country, unbends to some extent. Speaking of the traditions among British subalterns that they must despise danger to the point of folly, he observes, "This utter recklessness in the absence of necessity has only it picturesqueness to recommend it. Otherwise it is a waste of good material; but perhaps it is better that it should go on so than that there should grow up a type of leader who shows even the slightest hesitation to sacrifice himself. Much better to die a reckless hero than to survive a 'Dugout King.'"

    The aspirant officer may have courage, character, assiduity, and many other excellent qualities, but they will avail him nothing unless he grasps what discipline means. This is more important in the Australian army than in any other, for we, as a people, are said to be rather antipathetic to discipline. If we knew what it was we would be less recalcitrant. For it is nothing more or less than training, the shaping of a weapon to its particular object. One has seldom seen the idea of discipline explained so compactly, Captain Hutchin begins with the general principal that it is the primal instinct of self-preservation organised and controlled for the purpose of fighting. Man took long to learn this; those who were quickest to realise it made history. It is a mistake to think that discipline means merely efficiency in formal drill or smartness in saluting. These are simply the outward and visible signs of the informing spirit. It is equally a mistake to think that discipline is a burden to be borne by the rank and file. The higher the officer the more arduous his discipline. The drill an observances paid to superior rank are all part of a scheme which had proved its usefulness long before Rome conquered Britain. When Private Jones is made to slope arms in precise time with his company it is not because ceremonial will beat the Germans. When Private Jones salutes Lieutenant Smith, his own subordinate in civil life, there is nothing servile in it. It is impersonal. He may be a batter man in every way than his lieutenant; he is saluting not the man, but the flag and the army. We may belittle tradition, but it counts. A hundred, a thousand small things, handed down by tradition, have come to make discipline. When a man feels that the habit of going forward in obedience to orders conquers the shrinking of the flesh; when he knows that his safety lies in obedience to orders; when, without understanding what may be happening around, he goes on with his appointed task; when he realizes that himself, his lieutenant, his captain, aye, and his brigadier are but persons in a great game; when he can experience defeat without demoralisation, the victory without excess, then you will have the ideally disciplined soldier.

    In the meantime, Australia will be glad of recruits. The scheme of training has ceased to be formal and monotonous. Everyone is told why they are learning what they are learning. Even if their task is not very exciting they are shown the reason of it.

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Thursday, 14 July 2016

    Stolen Valour, 1931; Imposter Fined
    Topic: Stolen Valour

    Imposter Fined

    Military Rank Assumed

    The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 19 September 1931

    Adelaide, Friday.—James Gilbert Low admitted in Adelaide Police Court to-day that he had unlawfully made use of the military decorations M.V.O. and M.C., and had assumed the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was fined £10 on each of two charges, with £2/10/ costs.

    The assistant police prosecutor (Mr. J.P. Walsh) informed the court that two police officers told Low that the military records did not show the name of Lieutenant-Colonel J.G. Low. He denied that he had ever told anyone that he was a lieutenant-colonel or a major. He admitted that he might have allowed others to introduce him as a lieutenant-colonel after he had a few drinks, and said "It was just for swank." He said he was a captain.

    The police showed him a prospectus of a company in which he was described as Captain J. Gilbert Low, M.C., D.C.M., R.E., and asked him what was his motive. He replied, "Nothing."

    The police found in Low's rooms a photograph of the Governor of Queensland shaking hands with Low and bearing the words, "Governor of Queensland greeting an old comrade, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Gilbert Low, M.V.O., M.C., D.C.M., R.E., one of the survivors who held Delville Wood with the South African Brigade for 13 days against 14 German divisions.'

    There was also a framed letter from the pricate secretary, Government House, Brisbane, which stated:—"The Duchess of York has read your letter with the greatest interest, and regrets that she did not have an opportunity of seeing you. The Duchess sends you her warmest regards for your welfare."

    Low admitted to the police that he had been introduced to Lord Baden Powell as a lieutenant-colonel.

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
    Wednesday, 13 July 2016

    The Why of the Trenches
    Topic: CEF

    The Why of the Trenches

    Practical Points from a Practical Soldier on the Use of Front Line Positions, with Some Suggestions to the Men Who Are New at the War Game on the Routine and Life at the Extreme Front

    The Milwaukee Sentinel, 29 September, 1917
    By Captain David Fallon, M.C. (Late of the British and Australian Forces)

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

    To those who have never interested themselves in military matters the trench fighting on the western front in Europe seems to be very new tactics, but to the student of military history it is more than two thousand years old. Never before, however, has it been so perfectly organized.

    The first time in history field fortifications and obstacles in the field were used to keep back the attacking forces they were constructed in China. They were built by the then emporer of China to keep away marauding Tartarsand wild men of Northern Asia. The remains of this fortification system we know as the Great Wall of China, about 1,500 miles long, 300 feet high, and 50 feet in width.

    Before the Romans attacked any position they would dig themselves in and build fortifications to hide their forces from their opponents. The American civil war developed much trench fighting, and a good example of this kind of warfare was seen in the Russo-Turkish War of 1878. At the battle of Plevne the Turks, under Osman Pacha, were seriously outnumbered in men and munitions. Osman Pacha, remembering an old axiom which says, "When a force is outnumbered in men and munitions they must build fortifications to be able to hold their own territory, for a trained man strongly intrenched is equal to forty of the opposing forces," told his army to "dig in." This maxim has proved still good, for at the battle of the Marne and the Aisne the British and french troops dug themselves in so quickly that the Prussians thought that they had literally disappeared.

    One of the great defensive incidents of the war occurred in Belgium when General Leman, commanding the Leige defences, with only thirty hours' start made such fortifications that he was able for ten days to withstand the constant onslaught of five of the best trained and equipped corps of German forces.

    elipsis graphic

    Although the intensive kind of fighting now in progress abroad is new to America, yet you possess, as I have learned, "the art of adaptation which seems to grow with you" and comes natural to many. You will, therefore, have no difficulty in adapting yourselves to the present kind of fighting, which you soon will be called upon to wage.

    Trenches are systems of openings in the ground and fortified in such a way as to permit a soldier to reist an attacking force. The purpose of trenches is to protect men in them from fire and thus enable them to fight against more than their number of the enemy. There are three kinds of trenches, each for an entirely different purpose:—

    • First—Front line fire trenches, in which men fight.
    • Second—Sheltered trenches, in which the supports and reserves rest, protected from fire and also from the weather.
    • Third—Communicating trenches, which act as safe paths from the sheltered trenches to the fire trenches.

    If you would become acquainted with trench life in winter dig a hole in the ground six feet deep and two feet wide, fill it three-fourths full with water and stand in it. Carry sixty pounds on your back and eight pounds on your head and get some one to throw water continuously over you. Your supply of food must first of all be dropped into the hole; then get the assistance fo two of your friends and tell them to keep up a continuous bombardment with bombs, which can be improvised by filling a jam tin with needles, old nails, and amonal—or any such explosive will do—then set the fuse, which should be lighted and thrown on the ground surrounding your position.

    In summer dig the same hole at an abattoir an "carry on" as in winter.

    This ought to give even the unimaginative some conception of trench life.

    elipsis graphic

    Trenches serve the same purpose as armor used to against men without armor. In making armor, its shape, and thickness depended upon the sort of blows it would have to withstand, whether from swords or arrows. In the making of trenches in the same way the sorts of fire which they will have to guard against are the thing that decides what their shape will be. The sorts of fire which the Allies are subjected to are, first, rifles and machine guns, in which are used the same bullets, and therefore can be regarded as the same weapon; second, artillery fire.

    In order to make trenches suitable for protecting men from these two kinds of weapons we must consider what the effects of their fire is in each case. Rifle bullets in this war are always fired at trenches from very short range, normally fifty to three hundred yards. The skim over the ground in a flat, level course and may be regarded at this short range as travelling in as direct a line as the rays of a searchlight. Therefore, as long as a man has any kind of bullet proof cover which hides him from the front he is safe.

    A man during his first appearance in the trenches will be eager to look over the top of the parapet and see what all it means. Periscopes are provided for this purpose to obviate any chance of the man being hit. One day one of my men, after doing duty in the trenches for ten days without a wash or shave, looked into the periscope through the wrong mirror, and instead of seeing what was going on in No Man's Land he saw his own reflection in the mirror, but, not having seen his own reflection for some time, he dropped the periscope, rushed for his rifle and remarked, "There's a damned ugly Boche looking into my periscope.

    Every night the front part of the trench should be inspected for breaches, which may be caused by regular sniping from the from the front. This is a regular practice of snipers, and many a man has paid with his life for this neglect. One day I took over some trenches, and the officer explained that they had lost one officer and six men before they tumbled to the game.

    elipsis graphic

    Artillery shells fired from a distance of, say, two miles are fired upward in the air in order to carry such a distance, much as a baseball player throws the ball if he wishes it to reach a long distance. As a result of this, artillery shells as the approach a trench are falling as well as moving forward. They slant then somewhat like the rays of the sun. If the sun is high in the sky a man to get shelter behind a wall from its heat must crouch down and sit very close to it. To give protection from a shell the trench must be deep and have a steep side, under which a man can crouch. A shell may fall into a trench although it safely passes over the head of the man in it. It will then burst and probably will kill or wound the men in that length of trench. The war has produced many incidents where men have picked up a shell and have thrown it over the parapet, thus saving the lives of their comrades. It is necessary to prevent shells from falling into the mouth of the trench. To do this a trench must be short and narrow, so as to make the mouth of it as small as possible. A rule which you must remember is this:—

    "The shorter and narrower a trench is the safer it is."

    Again, "The lower a man can crouch in a trench the safer he will be from pieces of a shell which bursts close to the trench.' This brings another rule which must be remembered:—

    "The deeper the trench the safer it is."

    The continuous bombardment of these trenches levels them to the ground and keeps the men perpetually busy rebuilding them. Even when one is dog tired there must be no slackness or indifference in the reconstruction, otherwise men will pay the penalty for their lethargy. It is obvious that a trench not easily visible is less likely to be shelled than one which is conspicuous. From this can be formulated:—

    "The better hidden a trench the safer it is."

    elipsis graphic

    Artists, painters, and decorators are used to make screens with which to hide the artillery. If this were not done no battery could escape the eagle eye of the aviator. Dummy trenches are often made to amuse the boys in the trenches. A man is sent along with plenty of black powder, and during one of the bombardments he is told to light the powder. The thick black smoke which ensues catches the Boche's eye and he thinks that is where the guns are, so they train all the guns on the dummy trenches, much to the amusement of the boys.

    In taking over a line of trenches the men are formed up and receive their food, water and ammunition. The are led by guides and are marched through the communicating trenches in single file to the front line trenches, some going to the support and others to the reserve lines. Units should not move along the trenches more than sixty strong, and men should not be too close together, for any shell that might drop into the communicator would kill or wound more than is absolutely necessary. This gives us another rule:—

    "Don't crowd the communicator [trench]."

    Officers, non-commissioned officers and men, on handing over their particular posts, should explain to the incomers the extent of the trench, who are on the flanks, dumps, continuity, bombs, ammunition, &c.

    The usual routine in the trenches provides for the inspection of rifles twice daily—morning and evening, and every precaution must be taken to keep all other equipment in good order. The chief problem to be faced in the ordinary routine of trench work is to insure the maximum amount of work daily toward the subjection and annoyance of the enemy and the improvement of the trenches consistent with the necessity for every man to get the proper amount of rest and sleep. This can be done only by a good system. A definite programme and time tables of work must be arranged and adhered to as far as possible. A simple system by which a unit in the trenches obtains the material required for the construction and repair of the trenches has been worked out.

    elipsis graphic

    In every regiment a "regimental workshop" is usually formed, the necessary personnel (from twelve to twenty men) being found in the battalions who are carpenters and artificers by trade. This establishment is as near to the trench line as possible consistent with the men being able to work in reasonable safety. Its functions are to make up the material obtained from the engineers into shapes and sizes suitable for carrying up to the trenches and to construct any simple device required for use in the trenches, such as barbed wire, knife rests, box loop holes, rifle rests, floor gratings, grenade boxes and sign boards for communicating trenches with which to guide one where to go.

    The importance of working on a definite system and with a definite programme has already been emphasized. The essential requirements for a front line trench are:—

    (a)     The parapet must be bullet proof.
    (b)     Every man must be able to fire OVER the parapet with proper effect (that is, so that he can hit the bottom of his own wire).
    (c)     Traverses must be adequate.
    (d)     A parados must be provided to give protection against the back blast of high explosives.
    (e)     The trace of the trench should be irregular to provide flanking fire and if the trench is to be held for any length of time:—
    (f)     The sides must be revetted.
    (g)     The bottom of the trench must be floored.

    The following points come next in order of importance:—

    (a)     The provision of good loopholes for snipers, at least one for each section of men in the trench.
    (b)     The construction or improvement of communication trenches; there should be one for each platoon from the from the support line to the front line trench, if possible.
    (c)     Listening posts, one for each platoon, pushed well ahead of the front line trench.

    elipsis graphic

    A good system of observation and sniping is of the utmost importance in trench warfare. Usually every battalion has a special detachment of trained snipers working under selective officers or non-commissioned officers. Their duties are to keep the enemy lines under constant observation, note any changes in the line, any new work undertaken by the enemy, keep the enemy snaipers in check and to inflict casualties on the enemy whenever opportunity offers.

    During a reconnaissance patrol I stumbled across a sap, which, coming from the Boche lines, made me suspicious that there was something doing at the forward end. I followed the sap until I spotted a Boche sniper, who was luxuriously entrenched in a bullet proof cage. Coming from the rear, the sniper did not hear my approach, so he fell an easy victim. On searching the post I discovered a telescopic rifle, plenty of ammunition, food, beer and German literature.

    Communications in the trench line are established by telephone, but it must be realized that in the event of heavy shelling all telephone communications is likely to be interrupted, and an efficient alternative system of orderlies—runners—must be arranged and tested.

    Most of the honors fall to the lot of the runners, and I recall one of my own orderlies who for forty hours carried messages to and from a heavily shelled position where my men and I were fighting for our lives. The position in question had been captured and retaken about ten times.

    It must be clearly understood that trench fighting is only a phase of operations and that the instruction in this subject, essential as it is, is only one branch of the training of troops. To gain a decisive success the enemy must be driven out of his defences and his armies crushed in the open. The aim of trench fighting, therefore, is to create a favourable situation for field operations, which the troops must be capable of turning to account.

    Although life in the trenches becomes very monotonous and dreary there is plenty of ground for humor, which relieves the nervous tension.

    During these momentous times the thought of the soldier is:—"God for us all and every man for the side." the make audacity their battle cry, and these usually are the ones who return to relate the experiences of trench life.

    Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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