The Minute Book
Saturday, 12 November 2016

English Soldiers Cookbook
Topic: Army Rations

English Soldiers Cookbook

Several Recipes That Are Sanctioned by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army

Meriden Morning Record, Meriden, Connecticut, 22 January 1900
(From the London Mail.)

Occasionally one hears a great deal about the bad cooking and insufficient food of British soldiers. Every now and again some fadist takes the matter up and tries to lead the public to believe that our troops are condemned to live entirely upon unpalatable food.

Here are three recipes from "Tommy's" cookery book which are sanctioned by no less than the commander in chief himself:

Meat Soup.

"Ingredients: Sixteen and one-half pounds meat, one pound onions, one pound flour, five ounces salt, one-fourth ounce pepper, five ounces sugar, small faggot of herbs, 3 1/2 gallons of water.

"Cut the meat into pieces about four ounces, take eight ounces of the fat and chop it up; slice the onions. Put the fat in the boiler; when melted, add the onions; stir them well, so that they do not get brown. In five minutes add the meat, which keep stirring or turning over for five minutes longer. Then add the boiling water by degrees; let it simmer gently for one hour. Mix the flour with cold water very smoothly, add it to the soup, with the salt, pepper, sugar and herbs. Simmer gently for 30 minutes; keep stirring to prevent flour from settling at the bottom."

No doubt the result of these careful operations is a most sustaining and excellent soup, and one wonders how many artisans or laborers get anything better for dinner.

The recipe for "a hurried dinner" is much less elaborate; but if soldiers opinions go for anything, it is by no means a bad one. It is as follows:

"Cut your ration of meat into pieces about the size of a penny, but three of four times thicker. Skewer them only a piece of iron wire or hard stick. A few minutes will cook them if hung before the fire."

Plum pudding in "Tommy's" cookery book"

"Put into a basin one pound of flour, three-fourths pound of raisins (stoned, if that can be allowed), three-fourths pound of the fat of salt pork (well washed, cut into small dice or chopped), and two tablespoonfuls of sugar, or treacle. Add half a pint of water, mix all together; put into a cloth tied tightly; boil for four hours and serve. If time will not admit, boil only for two hours, though four are preferable."

There seems a touch of human nature about the war office, after all.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 11 November 2016

Canada to Honor Her Unknown Dead (1921)
Topic: Remembrance

Canada to Honor Her Unknown Dead (1921)

The Evening Record, Ellensburg, Washington, 26 November 1921

Ottawa, Nov. 26.—Canada is to pay her tribue to her unknown war dead. The body on an unknown soldier from the Dominion will be brought fron the Western front and burined beneath the Victory Tower of the new Parliament buildings, it was announced yesterday.

It is proposed that the body shall be placed in a vault excavated in the solid rock foundation under the great archway of the Victory Tower and between the two portals which give entrance to the buildings.

The grave will be set almost immediately below the altar in the memorial chamber overhead, and will be marked by a marble slab raised above the grave level.

Thus, all who enter the Parliament building through the two portals under the archway of the tower, will pass by the last resting place of Canada's "unknown" warrior.

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Canada did not repatriate the body of an Unknown Soldier of the Great War until 2000.

The chosen resting place for this soldier, the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is in front of the National War Memorial.

"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom. Furthermore, the Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts - past, present, and future." (Source)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 10 November 2016

War Graves to be Held In Perpetuity
Topic: Remembrance

War Graves to be Held In Perpetuity

The Sherbrooke Telegram, 25 May 1944

Ottawa, May 25.—All necessary steps to ensure that the land containing Canadian War Graves Overseas will be held in perpetuity for the Canadian people, were taken long ago by the Dominion Government, Defence Headquarters announced.

By virtue of a long-standing agreement with the Imperial War Graves Commission all such properties requisitioned during hostilities by the Canadian Army, will be acquired, "not in the manner or with the consequences of a private sale," but for permanent possession by the Dominion of Canada, the statement revealed.

The Imperial War Graves Commission is the accredited agent of all the governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the "custodian in perpetuity" of all the graves of fallen members of the Commonwealth's forces. The Commission was formed during the Great War and operates under special powers conferred by Royal Charter. Its headquarters are in London, England, and its Canadian member is The Hon. Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada.

Although, due to the exigencies of war, the Canadian Army has had to assume the duty of choosing War cemetery sites, marking the graves with the approved, temporary crosses, maintaining the cemeteries during hostilities and keeping detailed records of those buried, it has carried out all such preliminary work under the guidance of the Commission. The transfer of active responsibility from the Army to the Commission, at the end of the war, will thus be effected smoothly and without the confusion which might otherwise occur.

When that time comes, of of the first duties of the Commission will be the replacement of all temporary memorials with permanent headstones. Such headstones, however, cannot be erected now, due to shortage of labor, lack of transport and—Overseas—the ever present danger of war damage.

As a temporary measure, therefore, all known graves will remain marked by specially designed wooden crosses; by the Star of David in the case of Jewish graves, or by other appropriate forms of memorials approved by the Commission. These temporary memorials are ruggedly built, painted white and bear the regimental particulars in black letters. In the Overseas theatres most of them are constructed on the spot by men of the Royal Canadian Engineers.

After peace is declared, and the danger of war damage removed, the Commission will erect the standard, copyrighted headstone which, since 1914-1918, has been reserved as a mark of honour used only on graves of fallen members of the Commonwealth's forces. As a symbol of equality of sacrifice all headstones are identical size and design, regardless of rank.

This traditional stone memorial is 2 feet 6 inches high, 1 foot 3 inches wide and 3 inches thick. Ample space is provided on each stone for a personal inscription and the engraving of a religious emblem, if the next-of-kin so desires.

The Commission in due course, will write to all next of kin to obtain full particulars of such inscriptions, so that all may be in readiness to make and erect the permanent memorial as soon as opportunity permits. Such details as the next-of-kin wish to have recorded in the permanent printed register will be secured at the same time and in the same way.

As in the late war, many are missing and have no known graves. In such cases the Commission will invite the next-of-kin to supply the necessary particulars for inscription on whatever type of memorial is chosen to commemorate their sacrifice.

No charge is made for temporary markings, permanent headstones or the necessary engravings. The Commissions funds are provided by the various Governments of the Commonwealth.

The Commission is prepared to mark all War Graves with the same distinctive headstone, not only in military cemeteries and Service Plots, but also in cases of single and private burials, where relatives wish their dead to share the traditional memorial with their comrades who rest in foreign lands.

The erection of private or unit memorials in military cemeteries of Service plats, however, cannot be permitted. Such a practice would destroy the harmonious appearance of the plots and violate the Commission's policy of equality of treatment. Civil cemetery authorities, for a like reason, also prohibit the erection of private memorials in service plots.

These policies, which have guided the Commission since it was first entrusted with the marking and care of the graves of those who fell during 1914-1918, have won the sympathy and understanding of the British Commonwealth. The War Graves Cemeteries which were laid out in all parts of the world, as a result of the Commission's labors, have been universally recognized as placed of quiet beauty, fitting memorials created by the Commission's architects and landscape artists as a final tribute to those who gave their lives in the course of duty. The same meticulous care governs the work of the Commission in the present war.

To attempt such an undertaking in the midst of the confusion of war, however, would not, in the Commission's opinion, be conducive to the satisfactory discharge of its responsibilities to the next-of-kin. Until hostilities cease, therefore, Canadians War Graves Overseas will remain marked by temporary memorials, while the cemeteries themselves will remain in the care of the military authorities until taken over by the Commission for permanent embellishment and maintenance.

Relatives who wish to make enquiries respecting war graves should address them to Imperial War Graves Commission, Canadian Agency, 312 Transportation Building, Ottawa, Ontario. [Current address: Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Canadian Agency, 66 Slater Street Suite 1412, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P4, CANADA]

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Scanned Sites for Canada's Monument (1927)
Topic: Remembrance

Scanned Sites for Canada's Monument (1927)

Canadian and U.S. Officials at Arlington—Four Spots Considered

The Montreal Gazette, 14 June 1927

Washington, June 13.—The possible sites in Arlington Memorial Cemetery for Canada's monument to those citizens of the United States who died in Canadian uniform during the great war were inspected today by Canadians and United States officials. Four sites are under consideration; Three near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Amphitheatre, and the fourth alongside the section the main entrance road in the World War section among thousands of victims.

The Canadian favour proximity to the Amphitheatre, and the matter will be taken up with the Fine Arts Commission, who administer that section of the great national cemetery.

The inspecting party today consisted of Hon. Vincent Massey, the Canadian Minister, E.H. Scammell, Canadian Deputy Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Col. Henry Osborne, of the Canadian War Graves Commission, and Merchant Mahoney, of the Canadian Legation staff. The United States was represented by Colonel Hampton, of the Quartermaster-General's office, and F.J. Glochette, superintendent of the cemetery.

Preparations will go forward immediately for the cutting of the Canadian monument, which will be a cross of sacrifice of Canadian granite similar to those already erected in Europe in memory of both canadian and British was dead. The cross will stand twenty-four and a half feet high. It will be embellished with a crusader's sword in bronze, superimposed on the face of the cross, and a suitable inscription.

The monument will be made in Canada and shipped here in time for unveiling some time in October. Plans for the unveiling ceremony are yet to be announced in Ottawa, but they include the despatch of a detachment of Canadian militia and a military band to Washington. It is not yet known who will perform the ceremony of unveiling. The Governor-General may be asked to come down or possibly Premier King will officiate.

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The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2016 10:19 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 November 2016

30 Tons of World War Trophies
Topic: Militaria

30 Tons of World War Trophies Turned Into Arms for Dominion

The Montreal Gazette, 31 January 1941

Ottawa, January 30.—German rifles, shell cases, trench mortars and other pieces of equipment of the Great War are being thrown in the melting pot whence come Canadian arms and ammunition to fight new German aggression.

Dr. Gustave Lanctot, Dominion archivist and chairman of the Military Museum Board told The Canadian press tonight that 30 tons of German equipment taken in the last war had been sold for scrap at Ottawa and—he hoped—would soon be on its way to Germany in the form of shells, bombs or bullets.

Dr. Lanctot explained the equipment was surplus stock not required by the Canadian war museum. It has some value as metal.

The museum's idea of thus disposing of German war equipment it does not need, has its counterpart in several cities and villages in Canada which have written asking how they can turn in the German guns loaned them to exhibit as trophies of the last war.

Before these trophies could be sold or given away permission of the Dominion had to be obtained, because the arms were only loaned to cities and municipalities for display.

"If some municipality writes us and says that they have been offered a good local price for a trophy, the chances are that we will permit them to sell it and turn the money over to the Government," said Dr. Lanctot.

"But the cost of transporting a two or three-ton gun is high and the need of scrap metal is not so pressing that it is economical to ship trophies for great distances for melting down."

No action has been taken to encourage municipalities to turn in the German trophies loaned the, although the Military Museum Board has made inquiries to see what demand there is for such scrap metal. Munitions manufacturing forms have informed the board they need to know the composition of the metal in the gun, whether it is suitable for their furnaces and whether the laid-down price at their factories will compare with the market price for metal.

Because the trophies have been loaned, an annual report on their condition is required by the Dominion. Latest reports showed some of the guns were in good repair, having been cleaned and painted. Others had deteriorated badly. Some reports bore the notation, "wheels missing."

The trophies were distributed after the war on the basis of enlistments by provinces. Guns placed on display numbered 592, and machine gins 2,111. They are scattered across Canada, most of them at the points where they were first placed. A few have been exchanged by municipalities which no longer wanted them and presented to other communities where a trophy had been requested.

If ever an urgent need for scrap metal arises, the Dominion has the power to call back all trophies on loan.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 7 November 2016

War Medals Ready in 1948
Topic: Medals

War Medals Ready in 1948

Over Three Million To be Distributed

Ottawa Citizen, 7 November 1947 By Frank Swanson, Citizen Parliamentary Writer

Canadians who won campaign medals in the last war likely won't get them before late in 1948, according to the Department of Veterans' Affairs which has taken over the huge task of distributing the awards.

There are 11 stars and medals to be awarded and the total number to be handed out when the time comes will run around the staggering figure of 3,356,000, the department reported.

Although thousands are now being stamped out at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, only 537,450 of the medals so far have been made. Production on two of the 11 has not yet been started because the Mint is still awaiting official dies from Britain. Production of four of the medals has been completed.

Will Get Set

There will be no distribution of any of the medals until all are completed, the department said. At that time, each recipient will receive a complete set of the medals to which he or she is entitled, all at the same time.

There have been no arrangements yet as to the system that will be used for the medal distribution, but its expected that each veteran will be asked to apply in writing when the time comes, giving his or her present address. Otherwise, it was stated, a great many of the packages will go astray.

Meanwhile DVA and service headquarters united to ask veterans not to write requests for medals or stars yet. They say it will create a huge amount of needless work which will only complicate the eventual distribution of the awards.

Meanwhile, a new card index system bearing the complete war records of all servicemen is being compiled at DVA. This will be used as the basis of awarding the stars and medals. When the applications are finally called for quick reference to the system, it is hoped, will establish whether ot not the serviceman or woman is entitled to the various awards. This will eliminate the necessity of drawing out an otherwise bulky file from the immense collection in possession of the three services.

As for gallantry awards, Canada has nothing to do with them. All the decorations are made in Britain and supplies are sent to Canada as soon as they are available. They are considerably behind at present owing to the shortage of supplies in Britain.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 6 November 2016

No Canadian Soldier to Remain Buried in Germany (1945)
Topic: Remembrance

No Canadian Soldier Will Remain Buried In the Soil of Germany

Ottawa Citizen, 30 October 1945

No Canadian soldier of the Second World War will remain buried in the conquered soil of Germany.

In accordance with the policy adopted by the Canadian army overseas, the Canadian bodies which were first buried in Germany will be brought out to one of the Allied countries and re-interred in one of the eight permanent Canadian military cemeteries, the nearest of them in Holland with 1½ miles of the German frontier.

By Dec. 1 the army hopes to have completed concentration of all Canadian killed on the western front within the eight cemeteries—four in France, one in Belgium and three in Holland.

That task has already been completed in Sicily and Italy with the main concentrations at Agira and Ortona and in the British cemetery at Cassino and lesser concentrations at 25 other points that once echoed to the sounds of battle.

The concentration is the responsibility of two army graves registration units. It is believed less than 1,000 remain unidentified and a specially qualified unit is laboring to lessen that number.

Col. Osborne Interviewed

In Italy, roughly 40 bodies remain unidentified.

Giving these facts in an interview, Col. H.C. Osborne, secretary-general of the Canadian agency for the Imperial War Graves Commission, said the commission was planning a list of British Commonwealth military cemeteries, giving their official name, the number of their dead, the nationalities and the location.

The general Canadian policy in northwest Europe was to establish Canadian military cemeteries in areas where operations were "essentially Canadian." But this would not preclude the burial of some British and Allied bodies in their plots.

The policy in Italy and Sicily had largely been dictated by the same circumstances which resulted in the burial of the Canadian dead in British cemeteries, since the Canadian role was played within British armies.

This Agira, one of the two official Canadian cemeteries in that theatre, contained 474 Canadian bodies compared with the 770 buried in the British cemetery at Cassino, scene of Italy's most bitter battle and neat the last few miles of the Liri Valley where the Canadian broke their sector of the Hitler Line.

The procedure practiced in establishing cemeteries provides that "on their completion, the graves are marked, the adjoining area cleared of fences, gates, flag poles, register buildings, tool houses and temporary crosses are constructed by the army."

When final graves registration is properly prepared, the graves are handed over to the Imperial [War Graves] Commission which assumes responsibility for permanent construction, the creation of memorials, horticulture and the general upkeep or maintenance.

The policy adopted by the Canadian army overseas that no Canadians of this war were to remain buried in Germany met the requests of more than a few bereaved mothers who wrote authorities requesting that their sons be removed from German soil.

Canadian soldiers of the First Great War were buried near Cologne and Berlin, Col. Osborne said, among the total of 6,560 British Empire dead who were laid to rest in the soil they, too, had conquered.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 5 November 2016

Cemeteries for Canada's Fallen (1919)
Topic: Remembrance

Cemeteries for Canada's Fallen (1919)

War Graves Commission Decides on Immense Plots in France and Belgium

The Toronto World, 7 February 1919

Ottawa, Feb. 6.—Canadian soldiers who gave up their lives for their country on the battlefields of France and Flanders will lie, as they fought, together facing the line they died to hold. Comrades in life, they will be comrades in death.

The Imperial War Graves Commission has issued its report to the various governments of the empire, the following memorandum on which is issued by the militia department here:

"Among other matters which were discussed by the Imperial War Graves Commission were two important questions. First, the bringing into cemeteries the bodies buried in isolated graves on the battlefield; and secondly, the exhumation of bodies, whether in isolated braves or in cemeteries, in order to transfer them to their native countries.

"The Commission recognized the existence of a sentiment in favor of leaving the bodies of the dead where they fell, but, in view of the actual conditions, regarded it as impracticable. Over 150,000 such scattered graves are known in France and Belgium. These will shortly be restored to cultivation, or possibly be afforested and the bodies cannot remain undisturbed.

"The Commission resolves to apply to the French Government for permission to gather these bodies into cemeteries as close as they may be to the place where they lie.

"Adopt" Our Dead

"With regard to the removal of bodies to their native countries, the Commission were aware of a strong desire in a small number of cases that such exhumation should be permitted, but the reasons to the contrary appeared to them overwhelming. The empire had gratefully accepted the offers made by the governments of France, Belgium, Italy and Greece to provide land in perpetuity for our cemeteries, and to 'adopt' our dead. The Commission felt that a higher ideal than that of private burial at home is embodied in these war cemeteries in foreign lands, where those who fought and fell together, officers and men, lie together in their resting place, facing the line they gave their lives to maintain."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 4 November 2016

Halifax is Vulnerable (1900)
Topic: Halifax

Halifax is Vulnerable (1900)

Sham Battle Results in Success of the Attacking party

Boston Evening Transcript, 3 July 1900

Halifax, N.S., July 3—Halifax was proved to be vulnerable in yesterday's mobilization manoeuvres by the troops in this garrison. The militia and the British regulars were divided into attacking and defending forces and Halifax was declared to be in a state of siege. The attacking party were enabled to make a landing and to successfully force their way for several miles in towards the city. In doing this they captured two companies of the Third Royal Canadian Regiment and took two guns from the Royal Artillery. The umpires decided that the attacking party had scored a success. The defence duplicated some of the mistakes made by the British in South Africa, for it was on account of their lack of a full knowledge of all the roads that it was possible for the attacking party to entrap them and capture a large number of prisoners.

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The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 3 November 2016

Grave Headstones Are Still Supplied (1926)
Topic: Remembrance

Grave Headstones Are Still Supplied (1926)

Veterans, Dying of War Effects Before September, 1929, to Benefit

The Montreal Gazette, 27 August 1926
(By Canadian Press)

Ottawa, August 26.—An order-in-council has been passed extending for a further period of three years the authority under which headstones are erected on graves in Canada of members of the royal and military forces whose deaths are attributable to the war. Such authority would have expired the end of the present month but the order-in-council will continue it until August 31, 1929.

The Imperial War Graves Commission only has authority to provide headstones in cases in which death occurred prior to September 1, 1921. The Canadian Government decided, at the time, having regard for the large number of patients in military hospitals in Canada and the number of men still suffering from the effects of their service in the great war, that it would supplement the work of the commission by providing at its own cost headstones for the graves in Canada of ex-members of the forces who might die subsequent to that date. The only condition being that death should occur under such circumstances and from such causes as would have brought the case within the scope of the Imperial War Graves Commission had death occurred on or prior to August 31, 1921.

Under this authority, 1,050 headstones were provided and erected in Canada up to March 31 of [1926]. Cases coming under the above order-in-council will continue to be dealt with in the office of the Canadian Agency, Imperial War Graves Commission, Department of National Defence, the cost being wholly borne by the Canadian Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Dieppe DCM Wins Medal in Africa
Topic: Medals

Dieppe DCM Wins Medal in Africa

Sgt Hickson, Kitchener, First Canadian to Get Two Battle Awards if War

The Montreal Gazette, 9 July 1943

Ottawa, July 8—(CP)—Defence Minister Ralston today announced award of Military Cross to Capt. William Harold Victor Matthews of Milne's Landing, B.C., and the Military medal to Sgt. George Hickson, D.C.M., of Kitchener, Ont., for "Gallant and distinguished service in North Africa.

Hickson, who won the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Dieppe, thus became the first Canadian soldier to win two battle decorations in this war.

Citations covering the North African awards were not made public in today's Army statement. Capt. Matthews and Sgt. Hickson were among the small number of Canadians attached to various British units in North Africa for battle training.

Capt. Matthews, 28, is a member of the Canadian Infantry Corps, and enlisted in a Scottish regiment from British Columbia. He was promoted captain last September 1. His wife, Mrs. Shiela Maxwell Matthews, lives at Milne's Landing, on Vancouver Island.

Sgt. Hickson, also 28, won the D.C.M. at Dieppe when his platoon commander and senior non-commissioned officers became casualties and he led the platoon against strongly-held enemy positions.

Under his direction an enemy gun crew was wiped out, and a six-inch naval gun and two machine guns destroyed before he ordered his party to withdraw. His own personal fighting ability won special attention when accounts of his exploits reached headquarters.

A hydro-electric lineman at Kitchener in civil life, he enlisted with a field company of engineers at London, Ont., in January, 1940. Before the wart he was a corporal in the Scots Fusiliers of Canada, in the Reserve Army. His wife lives at Kitchener.

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Award Citations

Award citations for Canadian service members of the Second World War can be found at the website of the Directorate of History and Heritage of the Canadian Armed Forces — Canadian Army Overseas Honours and Awards (1939-45).

For those researching awards, an excellent further resource is the "Courage & Service; Second World War Awards to Canadians" CD compiled by John Blatherwick and Hugh Halliday, from Service Publications. The following citations are extracted from "Courage & Service":

Hickson — Distinguished Conduct Medal (Dieppe, 1942)

HICKSON, George Alfred, Lance-Sergeant (A.19407) - Distinguished Conduct Medal - Engineers (7 Field Company) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 10 October 1942; confirmed by CARO/3580 dated 2 September 1943, "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the combined attack on Dieppe". Hydro lineman; enlisted in London, Ontario, 9 January 1940; had served in Scots Fusiliers of Canada since 1932.

Lance-Sergeant Hickson was in charge of a group charged with destroying the main telephone exchange in the Post Office. Finding the fire on the beach too heavy to move directly to his target, he assisted an infantry platoon in mopping up enemy machine gun positions and destroyed a three-inch gun by detonating a three-pound charge on the breech. When the Platoon Commander and most of the senior Non-Commissioned Officers were put out of action, Hickson assumed command and led the platoon to the Casino where strong enemy opposition was nullified. Using explosive he blew his way through the walls to reach a large concrete gun emplacement. Then another charge blew in the steel door killing a gun crew of five. He then destroyed the six-inch naval gun and two machine guns after infantry had cleared the post. Lance-Sergeant Hickson then reorganized his platoon and despite heavy enemy opposition led them into the town as far as the St.Remy church. Unable to find Brigade Headquarters and being without support, he withdrew his party to the Casino. Lance-Sergeant Hickson throughout the day showed determined leadership and high qualities of initiative and was among the last group to evacuate.

Hickson — Military Medal (North Africa, 1943)

HICKSON, George Alfred, Sergeant (A.19407), DCM - Military Medal - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 10 July 1943 and confirmed by CARO/3580 dated 2 September 1943, "for gallant and distinguished services in North Africa."

On the 8 April 1943 during an attack on Recce Ridge in the area of Medjez el Bab a squadron of infantry tanks was held up owing to the presence of an enemy mine field. Sergeant Hickson promptly organized a detachment of Royal Engineers to clear a gap so that the tanks could advance. Although the section of the mine field was under constant shell and mortar fire this Non-Commissioned Officer moved freely and by his personal example and encouragement to his men was responsible for the clearing of a gap 40 yards wide by lifting over 100 mines in under an hour. It was undoubtedly due to the coolness and efficiency of this Non-Commissioned Officer that the task was completed and the tanks enabled to pass through the minefield and assist the infantry in the capture of the final objective.

Matthews — Military Cross (North Africa, 1943)

MATTHEWS, William Harold Victor, Captain - Military Cross - Infantry (Canadian Scottish Regiment attached British Army) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 10 July 1943 and confirmed by CARO/3580 dated 2 September 1943, "for gallant and distinguished services in North Africa." Original citation on H.Q.S. 54-27-94-20, Folio 8. His medals are on display in the Canadian Scottish Regiment in Victoria and include: Military Cross and Bar, Serving Brother Order of St. John, 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, 1939-1945 War Medal, United Nations Korea Medal, EIIR Coronation Medal, Centennial Medal, Efficiency Medal and the CD (EIIR).

Captain Matthews has shown a splendid example of leadership and courage while he has been with his battalion. In his patrol work at Hunts Gap he was outstanding and in the battle of Bou Arada on the 22 April he was the only officer left in his company. Under extremely heavy fire he collected them together and with the remains of the other companies consolidated his position on the second objective when a counter attack seemed imminent. All the time the enemy shelled his position but he remained calm and collected and set an example to all.

Matthews — Bar to the Military Cross (Normandy, 1944)

MATTHEWS, William Harold Victor, Captain - Bar to Military Cross - Infantry (Canadian Scottish Regiment) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 19 August 1944 and CARO/4819 dated 26 August 1944. Initiated by Lieutenant-Colonel F.N. Cabeldu, Commanding Officer, 1 Canadian Scottish Regiment; approved by 7 Canadian Infantry Brigade on 16 June 1944; endorsed by Major-General R.F.L. Keller, General Officer Commanding, 3 Canadian Division on 21 June 1944 and passed forward on 22 June 1944; supported by Lieutenant-General J.T. Crocker, Commander 1 British Corps on 25 June 1944 and passed forward on 11 July 1944; approved by General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, First Canadian Army; approved by Field Marshal B.L. Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief, 21 Army Group.

On 6 June 1944, throughout the assault landing and the advance into the hinterland, Captain Matthews' conduct was an inspiring example to the men of his company. On two occasions when the advance was held up, he led parties of men to clean up centres of resistance, on both occasions under intense machine gun and mortar fire.

On the morning of 8 June 1944, a platoon of the company became pinned down by heavy machine gun fire. With utter disregard to his own safety, Captain Matthews went forward to liaise with Sherman and Honey tanks to procure assistance. Unable to gain the tank commanders attention, he walked around to the front of the firing tanks in full view and under fire of the enemy's guns and pointed out the position to be fired upon.

During the attack on the Royal Winnipeg Rifles position at Putot-en-Basson on 8 June 1944, he was always forward urging and directing until on the final objective he was rendered unconscious by blast.

On regaining consciousness he carried on with his work. His advice, coolness, disregard for personal safety and inspiring leadership saved the situation on many occasions, won praise from all ranks, and were a deciding factor throughout the assault.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Pay While a POW (1898)
Topic: Pay; the Queen's shilling

Pay While a POW (1898)

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 26 March 1898

A correspondent writes to the Broad Arrow as follow:—

It will occasion surprise to learn that on Colour-Sergeant Walker, Royal Scots Fusiliers, rejoining his battalion, after being six weeks in the hands of the Afridis as a prisoner of war, he was tried by district court martial for absence without leave. He was of course acquitted, but was sentenced to lose his pay from the time he left his regiment. It may, however, be pointed out that the course adopted is in accordance with the regulations on the subject. Article 954 of the Royal Warrant says that:—A soldier shall not be entitled to pay during the period of his absence as a prisoner of war; but upon rejoining the service, due inquiry having been made into the circumstances of the man's imprisonment, the Secretary of State may restore the whole or any portion of the arrears of pay for the period of such absence. This course will undoubtedly be followed in the case of Colour-Sergeant Walker.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 31 October 2016

"Old Contemptibles'" Pilgrimage (1938)
Topic: Remembrance

"Old Contemptibles'" Pilgrimage

Silent March to Cenotaph in London

The Glasgow Herald, 5 September 1938

Fifteen hundred members of the Old Contemptibles Association from all parts of Britain took part yesterday in the Association's annual pilgrimage to the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London.

The parade assembled on the Horse Guards Parade, where the men were inspected by General Sir Felix Ready (president of the Association). A memorial service was conducted by the Rev. H.M. Webb Peploe and an address given by the Rev. J. Cawley (late of the Manchester Regiment).

With the band of the Scots Guards and the drum and fife band of the 2nd Grenadier Guards at their head, but not playing, the parade marched in silence to the Cenotaph, where General Ready laid a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers.

Included in the parade were six holders of the Victoria Cross and three limbless men in wheeled chairs. The parade afterwards marched back to the Horse Guards Parade, where General Ready took the salute.

elipsis graphic

YouTube – "The Old Contemptibles" (1931)

YouTube – "Old Contemptibles" March To Cenotaph

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 30 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 5)
Topic: CEF

Lieutenant Mitchell Tells Results of British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 27 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

It has been stated that there are aliens in the United States of ages specified in the selective draft act. Owing to the fact that treaties are in effect between the United States and the various foreign countries, none of these aliens who have not taken out their first papers can be taken for service in the United States and at the present time laws do not provide for the conscription of these aliens by their own government.

Owing to the fact that men are urgently required at the front at the present time, the United States government has been kind to permit the British and Canadian governments to establish a recruiting mission in this country for the purpose of enlisting these men voluntarily. In response to the appeal sent out by the British-Canadian Recruiting mission, a large number of men have come forwarded and enlisted in the armies of their native country. A statement a week ago from headquarters of the mission in New York city, said that 15 regiments had been recruited since the mission was established in July. The number of recruits obtained in this country depends almost entirely on the attitude of the American people and the amount of help they are willing to give the mission.

The people of Spokane and of the Inland Empire should appreciate that whenever a British or Canadian is exempted on account of the fact that he is an alien, it simply means that an American must be called to take hi place and fight his battles. While the British alien is under a double obligation, first to his native country and next to the United States, at the present time he cannot be compelled to go unless it is by the weight of public opinion, which will not tolerate slackers.

In Spokane county alone there have already been exempted 52 aliens and this has meant that 52 young Americans have had to step forward and serve in their places. The British-Canadian Recruiting mission wishes to ask the people of Spokane if they will not insist that the aliens who are slackers shall serve. If these Canadian and British aliens do not wish to return to serve in their own country, the British and American governments are quite willing that they serve in the United States forces and all recruiting agents have been informed of this fact.

Since the recruiting mission was opened at W603 Sprague avenue, in August of this year, the number of men enlisted run well into the hundreds. Many of these are at the present training in England and probably some are in the trenches. A large proportion of these have gone into the Canadian infantry which is the only branch of the Canadian army open for voluntary enlistment at the present time, and the rest have gone into the Canadian navy and into all branches of the British army.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 29 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 4)
Topic: CEF

"Trench Raids" Is the Topic of Recruiting Officer in Today's Article

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 26 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

One of the most interesting and important minor operations is known as the "trench raid." A trench raid in its perfected state was first carried out by the 7th British Columbia Battalion at the famous Messines Ridge, early in 1915, and since that time these raids are carried out nightly by the opposing forces on the western front.

A trench raid is made for three purposes—all of which may be combined at one time. First, it is made to obtain prisoners as a means of identifying what hostile forces are holding the lines; secondly, to destroy any special troublesome enemy positions, and thirdly, to demoralize and break down the morale of the troops holding the position. When the Germans first raided trenches held by the American troops, they had probably the first idea in view, and in this they were successful. However, we may expect to hear at any day that the American soldiers have played the same trick on the Germans and probably with much greater success.

After the Canadians succeeded in the first trench raid, the method was adopted by both the British and French armies. Marshal Joffre mentioned this raid in his orders of the day as an example of how such an operation should be carried on. It has been the practice with the allies to have those raids carried out by practically every infantry battalion and they have been very successful. The German adaptation of the trench raid has been characteristic of his whole method of war. He has not been able to rely upon his ordinary troops to furnish raiding parties, and so has selected especially trained men and formed them into what is known as "storm troops." These are not used for ordinary trench duty but are moved from point to point to carry out a raid and thus to stiffen the back bone of the German troops holding that sector.

The trench raid, as usually carried out by the allies, is a very elaborate affair, calling for the closest cooperation of the infantry and artillery, and is undertaken after a period of intensive training for that purpose. After the point at which the raid is to take place has been determined, exact models of German trenches are laid out on the training grounds on which the enemy trenches are located. These trenches are laid out from photographs taken from aeroplanes.

After training has been completed in these trenches and every man is familiar with the part which he is to play, the party is then transferred to the trenches and the actual raid takes place. The raid is usually preceded by the artillery shelling the enemy's line at various places so that he will not be aware of which point the raid will take place and so that he will not be especially aroused by artillery fire directed against his position. The wire is usually cut either by this artillery fire or by fire from the trench mortars. At the moment the attacking party leaves their trenches, the artillery lay down a barrage of shells on both sides and behind, the object being to cut off the enemy in that sector from support. The attacking party then storm the trench, taking prisoners and machine guns and destroying dugouts, and killing many of the enemy who refuse to surrender. The operation is usually successful and with small loss to the raiding party, as from the time they leave their own trenches only a few moments elapse before they return with the prisoners.

In many particulars the German is a very fine soldier, but he often fails completely when called upon to act on his own initiative when he is not under the command of his officers, and this has been responsible for the failure of a great many German raids. It is naturally expected that the American troops in France will prove themselves expert in this form of fighting. The success of an operation of this kind depends largely upon the capability and resoluteness of each man employed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 28 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 3)
Topic: CEF

Fighting Is Not Only Game in Front Line Trenches, Mitchell Says

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 24 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

The time spent by troops in the front line trenches is not entirely occupied by fighting. By far the larger part of it is spent in hard, dirty work, or tiring and straining periods of sentry duty. Major John Beith, better known as Ian Hay, says in his well-known book "The First Hundred Thousand," that "trench life consists of long periods of intense monotony punctuated by short periods of intense fright."

The trenches vary according to locality—in Flanders the ground is moist and the trenches consist mainly of parapets of sandbags of earth thrown above the ground level, while in France the ground is hard and in some places chalky and permits elaborate and well-protected trenches to be dug.

An ideal front line trench should consist of first a firing trench nearest the enemy, well protected by broad belts of wire entanglements and a short distance behind this should be a support trench, in which the men spend most of their time—eat and sleep. The firing and support trenches are connected by communication trenches and these also lead back to other positions in the rear. During an offensive such as the British army is now carrying on, it is impossible to construct well defined trench systems and the infantry are forced to live in large shell craters which they connect up with each other by short lengths of hastily dug trench.

During an ordinary tour in the front line trenches , that is, when no offensive or attack is taking place, most of the work is done at night. During that period portions of the trench which have fallen into disrepair or which have been damaged by enemy shell fire are repaired and new trenches and saps are dug. At night also fresh wire entanglements are built in front of the trenches, this last being a rather nerve-racking job. Men are forced to work entirely in the open, throwing themselves flat or standing motionless when a flare goes up from the opposing lines. Patrols push out into No Man's Land sometimes for the purpose of obtaining information as to the strength of the enemy's trench and the state of his defenses, and other times for the purpose of combating hostile patrols.

The American troops during their stay in the trenches have shown that they are very apt pupils at this style of warfare and there is no way in which they could have given the Germans a better idea of their superiority than by the patrol work that they have done. The Germans soon learn that they have very well trained troops opposed to them and it is very imprudent to venture into No Man's Land, and the fact that they do not know what is going on in front of them tends to make them apprehensive and nervous.

Machine gunners are active on both sides at intervals during the night—their favourite targets being working and wiring parties and parties bringing up rations to the front line. A considerable amount of indirect machine gun firing is done at night. Indirect firing is done when the target is not in view or in direct line with the gun. It is carried out by ranges obtained from maps. The gun is elevated to its extreme elevation and the bullets descend practically vertically on the target.

Just before dawn all tasks are completed and as daylight begins to break troops "stand to" to repulse any possible attack and to insure that each man is in his proper position. As soon as it is light enough to clearly see the enemy's lines, the sentries occupy the positions which they are to hold during the day time and the remainder of the men get their breakfast. This is usually one of the most quiet periods of the day, but immediately after breakfast the opposing artillerymen and trench mortarists take up their daily duty of annoying the enemy's infantry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 27 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 2)
Topic: CEF

Trench Relief is Dangerous Piece of Work, Says Lieutenant Mitchell

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Mission

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 23 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

The problem of trench relief is a very difficult one, especially to troops who are going in the front line for the first time or even to experienced men when they have to occupy trenches which are new to them. Reliefs are always made at night and it is considered an unusual opportunity to inflict damage upon the enemy when it is possible to know that a relief is taking place.

During the relief the trenches hold twice as many men as there is accommodation for. The communication trenches are usually crowded with men passing up and down. If any unusual noise or activity is observed by the enemy, a bombardment may be started which would cause demoralization and heavy loss of life.

The relieving troops leave the camps or billets by daylight and proceed as near as possible to the front lines, and wait until it becomes dark enough to enable them to be free from observation during the relief. Each platoon, consisting of from 35 to 60 men, moves forward under command of the lieutenant, as an individual unit. Every platoon is met by a guide sent back from the platoon which it is to relieve. The guide then leads the platoon into the sector of the platoon which it is to relieve, and the different positions are exchanged as rapidly and as quietly as possible.

Each man of the relieving platoon carries his day's rations, water, ammunition and periscopes with him. Bombs, rifle grenades, flares, rockets, etc., are known as "trench stores." They are left in the trenches and handed over from one platoon to another, thus cutting down the amount of supplies which necessarily has to be carried in with each relief.

As has been stated before, every precaution is taken so that the enemy may not be aware that the units in the trenches have been relieved. The same amount of firing and the same quantity of flares are sent up by the relieving troops after they have taken up their position as has been done by the men who have held the trenched preceding them, and in most cases, even though the enemy trenches are only 35 or 40 yards away, reliefs are accomplished without difficulty. After being relieved the troops who have held the trenches get clear as rapidly as possible, their one idea being to get back to more comfortable surroundings. In some cases troops after being relieved in the front line are sent back into support and reserve positions and then forward into the front line again before being finally relieved.

The return from the trenches to billets is a very tiresome journey, as the men are tired, sometimes wet, and the march is fatiguing after the time spent in the trenches, during which there is little movement. On arrival in camp, breakfast, including plenty of hot tea, is served, and the day is spent in rest and cleaning up. The next day, if possible, men are given hot baths at the army bath houses and fresh clothing and as soon as this is done training again starts and is continued without pause until they are again called upon for duty.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 26 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 1)
Topic: CEF

Canadian Officer Who Saw Service in France Discusses Trench Warfare

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 22 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

The American soldier on his arrival in France will find himself confronted with the hardest and most difficult work he has even undertaken in his life, in order to prepare him for service in the trenches. The training he has been given before leaving the United States will be of great value to him, but it is found that men in training under the instruction of officers and non-commissioned officers who have actually seen service at the front, and where all the modern devices of trench warfare are available, will in most cases learn far more rapidly and thoroughly than they would at home.

It may be borne in mind that while aircraft and artillery play important parts in war, all battles are decided by the infantry at close quarters, and that all training is carried on with this end in view.

First of all, the American soldier will be brought to the highest standard of discipline and physical fitness and his training will start at the very fundamentals of the manual of arms and simple movements and finally culminate in sham attacks in which his whole regiment will act as a unit. Portions of the German trenches will be duplicated from airplane photographs and the advance will be made under conditions as realistic as possible.

Before this last step can be taken, he must learn many things. Bayonet fighting is of the highest importance, and training for this form of fighting is carried out, not with the idea of teaching a man a number of difficult but picturesque poses and thrusts, but simply with the idea that when he meets a German face to face he will know that he is the better man and that he will be able to dispose of his antagonist in the shortest possible time.

Bombing is also taken up, first with dummy bombs and then with the live ones. Each man will be carefully taught what to do in case of a gas attack and the final part of his training in this respect will consist of an actual experience on the training grounds of what a gas attack really is.

The American army has long been considered one of the straightest and best shooting armies in the world, and the experience of the British army in the early part of the war proved how valuable this training is. In spite of the time spent in training with other arms, musketry will not be neglected, and a large amount of practice will be carried out on ranges under actual service conditions, the targets representing the enemy. A large proportion of the infantrymen will be trained as machine gunners, as this arm is playing an more and more important part in the warfare at the front. Other men will be trained in the operation of trench mortars.

All this training will be carried out in very gradual stages. Men will be under the instruction of their own officers and also of French and British officers, but as further American contingents arrive in France, more and more American officers will be used for instructional purposes. While the infantryman is carrying out his training as detailed above, the artillery, medical corps and quartermaster corps will also be training along lines which will make them as proficient in their work as the infantry.

The final step in the training takes place when the United States troops are sent in to the front line trenches for an instructional tour under the guidance of the troops that have held that sector for some time. After the tour is completed the troops will be considered finally trained and fully capable of holding any section of the line which is assigned to them.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 25 October 2016

With a 70-Pound Pack (US Army, 1925)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.

With a 70-Pound Pack (US Army, 1925)

Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, Kansas, 16 October 1925

Whenever a regular army man opens his mouth these days he must expect to have a critic pounce upon his words and show him where he is wrong. The Ottawa herald's military critic is inclined to be severe with General Summerall for saying recently that the main reliance of this country for the defence must be placed in infantry soldiers.

This, the Herald says, is just the traditional view—meaning that it is old-fashioned and behind the times. The Herald doubtless has learned that from the brilliant young aviators, some of whom were in training during the world war, who recently have been giving the country the benefit of their opinions on defence.

One of the curious things about General Summerall's statement, when carefully considered, is that it seems to be true. It would be an easy matter to blow the "traditional view" sky-high by producing some means of defence that would dispense with the lowly infantry man "with the dust behind his ears." This all the inventors have conspicuously failed to do.

Tanks, trench mortars, long range guns such as were never seen before, poison gas and combat aircraft were used for the first time in the world war. But no ground was gained and held by any of these means. The infantry had to occupy and consolidate positions. He was always at the finish of every job, no matter who began it. All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.

The Herald makes us think of some of the fiction turned out in the early days of the war when imaginative American shrank somewhat from what they saw ahead. Innumerable stories were printed that featured some imaginary invention which mowed the enemy down without loss or hard work on our side.

All these fancies belong in the category of things that haven't happened yet. Let us imagine all we please a war confined to the air, the men who will win the next one probably will do a lot of foot-slogging, just as has been done in the past.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 24 October 2016

Will Mark Graves of Canadian Heroes (1920)
Topic: Remembrance

Will Mark Graves of Canadian Heroes (1920)

Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley, California, 6 December 1920

Private William Lawrence King returned from the front and died in Winnipeg. He is buried in the Winnipeg (Brookside) Cemetery and is commemorated with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission stone.

Ottawa, Ont., December 6,—Six thousand soldiers' graves, located in 1200 cemeteries scattered throughout Canada, are to be marked with suitable headstones and given perpetual care by the Imperial War Graves Commission. These are the graves of members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Royal Air Force who died in Canada on the way to or from the front.


elipsis graphic

Note: These graves would also include those soldiers who were repatriated from overseas sick or wounded, and who died in Canada before 31 August, 1921. That date was the cut-off used by the Imperial War Graves Commission for official recognition of war dead. Canada would extend that date a number of times for the provision of soldier's gravestones at the expense of the Canadian Government for those who died later of causes related to their wartime service.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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