The Minute Book
Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Halifax Explosion; The Devastated Area
Topic: Halifax

The Halifax Explosion; The Devastated Area

On 6 December 1917, the largest man-made explosion known to that date occurred when the munitions ship SS Mont-Blanc exploded in the inner narrows of Halifax Harbour. The resulting explosion killed approximately 2000 and injured a further 9000.

Shown on the Nova Scotia Archives pages for Historical Maps of Nova Scotia is the following map, which details the extent and the degree of damage to the most affected parts of the city:—

"Plan showing devastated area of Halifax City, N.S."

elipsis graphic

Other posts on The Minute Book which reference the Halifax Explosion:—

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 5 December 2016

Training New Soldiers (1933)
Topic: Drill and Training

Training New Soldiers (1933)

Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon 29 April 1933

Having spoken his mind with refreshing frankness about faulty organization in the War Department, the useful and outspoken Maj.-Gen. Johnson Hagood is now proposing a radically new system of training army recruits.

At present, as everybody knows, the new recruits spends weeks and months just in learning how to do squads right. The intricacies of parade-ground maneuvres, the manual of arms and so on make a long primary course in the school of the soldier. And it takes a long time for the pupils to graduate. It is commonly stated that it takes from one to three years to fit a recruit for actual combat service.

General Hagood thinks this is all wrong. He would teach rookies to handle their guns in the field first and let them learn the other stuff later; and he asserts that it ought to be possible to fit a rookie for active service in no longer than 10 days. His battalions doubtless would be sorry sights on the drill field; but he says that they would be able to fight acceptably—and that, after all, is the main job of the soldier.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 4 December 2016

Fieldworks (1855)
Topic: Military Theory

Fieldworks (1855)

In the seige of the Peninsular war, next to the sappers, the guards, we are told, were found to be the best workmen; and this is the character they bear at Sebastopol.

From: Field Service; The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 May 1855
(From the Household Words)

From fire we pass to ice, to mention a recipe for improving the passage across a frozen river. When ice is thick enough to bear a man, lay six inches of straw down, and pour water on it; and when the whole mass has frozen together, lay down planks, and it will be strong enough to bear a train of field artillery. Great caution is used in passing a pontoon bridge, as well as a suspension bridge; and, to counter-act the dangerous rocking to which there is a tendency, the troops should never keep step, or halt upon it, unless it has begun to rock. In swimming a horse, give him his head; and, if he is distressed throw yourself off and hold on by the mane, or the tail; for he cannot kick in the water. But, as he swims nearly upright, the mane is more convenient.

Temporary works in the field are hastily raised to afford protection to the camp, and to enable the troops to annoy the enemy more effectually. The main features are a parapet breast high, for a screen; and a ditch or trench outside. The cubical contents of these two are about equal; so that what is thrown out of the trench just serves to make the parapet; as in planning a railway, the great art of the engineer is to lay his line at a such inclinations, that the stuff taken from the cuttings shall suffice to form the embankments. One to two cubic yards per hour is the allowance for each soldier, who under these circumstances works without additional pay; the use of the spade, pickaxe, and barrow being as essential for the defensive, as that of the musket and bayonet for the offensive operations of the army. An exception is however justly made for the performance of certain duties at sages—say, the siege of Sebastopol—and in special cases. Where the soil is unfavourable, or time forbids its use, artificial parapets are raised with piles of gabions, fascines, and sandbags. To obstruct the enemy, sharp palisades are stuck in the ground here and there; and abatis, or small trees in the rough state, are dispersed in all directions.

The fascine is a large faggot, the full size of which is eighteen feet, and the weight one hundred and forty pound; the gabion is a coarse basket, a foot and three-quarters high, weighing when filled forty pounds. Along with tarred sandbags, these are used in immense quantities to build up the extempore walls of batteries, made on the same principle as field-works. It is the proper business of the sappers and miners of the engineer department to construct such batteries, and it is usually performed in the night-time, that the men may be less exposed to the enemy's fire. Working parties are at the rate of eleven to fourteen per gun, assisted by volunteers from the rest of the army. In the seige of the Peninsular war, next to the sappers, the guards, we are told, were found to be the best workmen; and this is the character they bear at Sebastopol. Such is the zeal of their officers, that they do not disdain to act the part of foremen over their men, under the direction of the engineers.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 3 December 2016

Royal Visit Prompts Rush for War Medals
Topic: Medals

Royal Visit Prompts Rush for War Medals

The Montreal Gazette, 3 December 1938

Ottawa, December 2.—(CP)—Prospects of the visit to Canada next year of the King and Queen prompted a brisk demand upon the records office of the National Defence Department for war medals. Anticipating they may be invited to take part in functions for Their Majesties, war veterans who had long neglected to claim their badges of service are now doing so in large numbers.

Since the war nearly 80 per cent. of the veterans have claimed and received medals, leaving approximately 50,000 still to be issued.

For those who served in France two medals were issued, the General Service [i.e., the British War Medal] and the Allies Victory Medals. A third is the 1914-15 Star, reserved only for those who served in France prior to December, 1915.

Additional to those service badges, however, a number of decorations are still unclaimed. These embrace some Distinguished Conduct Medals and Military Medals.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 2 December 2016

Royal Military College of Canada (1891)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Royal Military College of Canada (1891)

Northern Messenger, Montreal & New York, 17 April 1891
From an obituary/biographical sketch; Captain Huntley Mackey, R.E.

The Royal Military College, of Canada, writes the assistant secretary to the High Commissioner for Canada to a London paper, was founded in Kingston in the year 1875, and was opened in June 1876 with a class of eighteen cadets and a staff consisting of a commandant, a captain of cadets, and three professors.

The only available building at first was the old Naval Barrack at Point Frederick, now used as a dormitory. The present college building was completed in the summer of 1878; new batches of cadets were at first admitted every six months, and by June, 1878, when those who had originally joined completed their course, the number had increased to about ninety. The staff had in the meanwhile been gradually added to, and is now complete with a Commandant (Major-General; D.R. Cameron, R.A., C.M.G.), ten Professors, three Instructors, Staff-Adjutant, Medical Officer, and Paymaster, etc.

The total number of cadets approved for admission to the present date is about 250. Of these 235 actually joined. The number who have graduated is 135. The number of cadets who have, so far, been gazetted to commissions in the Imperial Army, between the Cavalry, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and Infantry services, is sixty-nine. In addition to these ex-cadets have been appointed to Commissions in the Mounted Police of Canada, the Schools of Artillery, Schools of Infantry, and to the Staff of the Royal Military College.

Of the cadets who have not obtained military employment, the greater portion have become civil engineers, and the services of these gentlemen have been much sought after, and very highly valued, not only in Canada, but in the United States also. Two of the graduates are employed on the Hydrographical Survey of the Canadian Lakes, three on the Geological Survey, and about seven in other Government Departments. About thirty cadets took part in the suppression of the Rebellion in the Northwest in 1885. The present strength of the cadets is about eight-five, and this may be expected to increase, as some twenty-four may be admitted every year. The age of admission is over fifteen and under eighteen years of the 1st of January preceding the entrance examinations, which takes place annually in the month of June.

The College course, being a four years' one, allows ample time not only for a thorough military training, but also for the study of Civil Engineering, Civil Surveying, Physics, Practical Chemistry, and other subjects which are naturally of great use to cadets in civil life, the course comprising Military Drills, both Infantry, Artillery, and Engineer; Signalling, Fencing, Riding, tactics, Strategy, Military Administration and Law, Fortification and Military Engineering, Mathematics and Mechanism, Astronomy, Geology and Mineralogy, Chemistry and Electricity, etc.

The college possesses a small observatory, and a most valuable assortment of surveying instruments, a most complete chemical laboratory, physical apparatus of almost every description, and a good selection of drawing and other models.

All of this has been gradually built up, and, needless to say, at great expense to the Dominion. But the growth of the college in public estimation warrants the expenditure, and it is an institution of which Canada may well feel proud; in fact, its success has been so noted that it seems likely a similar college will shortly be started in Australia.

Would space admit, much more might be said in justice to the Royal Military College of Canada, tending, as it does, to develop a true and loyal spirit towards the Mother Country.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 2 December 2016 12:25 AM EST
Thursday, 1 December 2016

German Soldiers and English Athletes
Topic: European Armies

German Soldiers and English Athletes

When we have put an idle loafer through two years of military service we cannot but notice what a self-respecting, well set up young fellow he has become. But we declare that we have found an alternative for military service in our national enthusiasm for athletes.

The Age, Melbourne, Australia, 26 February 1897

Despite our robust insularity, a wholesome fear of our German rivals has (says the British Review) grown throughout the country. Recent speeches by members of both political parties have not been calculated to allay the scare. Yet the average Englishman still finds consolation in two facts which he considers irrefutable. Nothing has shaken his belief in the unsurpassed physique of our working men; everything has pointed to the exhausting nature of the burden which compulsory military service imposes on a rising commercial nation such as Germany. With so heavy a handicap in the race for the trade of the world, she cannot, he thinks, do more than toil after us at a respectful distance.

Every year some 300,000 young Germans join the ranks. Not all their number receive the full military training, but the great majority pass through a military course offering exceptional advantages for developing the physique. From half-starved villages and from close suffocating courts the most miserable are rescued for a time. They are taught to square their shoulders and step out from the hips; to keep clean and know the meaning of discipline. They live in sanitary barracks and are clad in suitable clothing. They have already passed through a strict mental training, which renders their physical education all the more necessary. That the latter is successful is abundantly proved by the military statistics. For the last five or six years the average chest measurement has steadily increased, and the German soldier of the present is the German workman of the future. When we have put an idle loafer through two years of military service we cannot but notice what a self-respecting, well set up young fellow he has become. But we declare that we have found an alternative for military service in our national enthusiasm for athletes. Our athletes, we argue, obtain all the physical advantages of conscription without costing the country a single penny. But as regards any permanent physical benefit to our huge operative class, athleticism is but a broken reed for this country to lean upon. It is an unpleasant fact, which, however, must be faced. The German, on the contrary, is unathletic in his tastes. He objects to all violent and, as he considers it, unnecessary exercise. But his military training, with its physical drill and gymnastic course, saves him from himself. It is a military dictum that, all else being equal, the army which is the heaviest in pounds avoirdupois wins the battle. It will be an ill day for England when in the great commercial struggle the workers who boast the broadest backs as well as the best trained brains are "made in Germany."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Soldier's Slang (US Army, 1909)
Topic: Soldier Slang

The Soldier's Slang (US Army, 1909)

Army Vernacular as Odd as That of the Navy
Many Queer Expressions
A Man Just Enlisted is Called "a Rooky," and men Who Enlist at the Beginning of Winter and Desert in the Spring Are Called "Snowbirds."

The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, 9 July 1909

The army has just as odd a vernacular as the navy. To the uninitiated some army expressions would convey little or no sense, as, for example, if a soldier were heard to say, "The top told me to report for kitchen police and help skin the spuds for slum for supper," the hearer would have several guesses before he would come anywhere near what this meant in the patter of the barracks.

In plain language, it means that the first sergeant (the ranking or orderly sergeant) had told him to report to the cook to assist him in peeling the potatoes to make the hash or stew for supper. Hash or stew is always "slum," and the first sergeant is "the top;" "kitchen police," a man who assists the cook in the preparation of meals and the washing of dishes, pans, etc.

A man who has just enlisted or who has not yet been in the ranks long enough to be considered a full-fledged soldier, having learned all his duties, is called "a rooky," and woe be unto the "rooky" who gets "fresh" before old sergeant who has been in the ranks since before the fresh "rooky" was born! He will be told in any but gentle terms by the old timer: "Shut up and go about your work. Your name is not yet dry on your enlistment paper!" meaning that when he was sworn in and promised to serve for three years and obey the "orders of the president and the officers appointed over him" he had signed his name to this paper and the signature had not had time to get dry.

When a man says he is going to "take on" or "take on another blanket," he means that he is going to re-enlist. The government, in the clothing allowance for each man, provides a blanket; hence the term to "take on another blanket."

The guardhouse is called "the mill." Some ill-behaved soldier away back in the past (the term is a very old one) no doubt thought his term in the guardhouse ground out toward its end very slowly, so he applied this now much used name to the prison of the garrison.

When "the top" says, "Get your blanket and go to the mill," the soldier knows he is in for a tour of duty in the guardhouse, and his blanket means one of more nights, for in that much to be avoided place nothing is supplied in the way of comforts, and each occupant carries with him his blanket, or more if he has them, to make his rest more comfortable.

All meals are called "chuck," and along toward mealtime the expression, "Is it not time for chuck call to blow?" is heard very frequently.

"Snowbirds" are men who enlist in the winter about the time the snow begins to fall and the real snowbird puts in is appearance and desert in the spring when the robin appears. They "take on" only to tide over the winter with its discomforts.

The oldest man in the company is "dad" and the youngest "the kid."

Any deserter is called a "skipper."

Two men who share the same small tent or whose bunks are side by side in the barrack room are called "bunkies." This ancient term originated in the days of the very old army, when the bunks were "built for two" and two men slept side by side on a mattress filled with straw and one blanket apiece, much different from today, when each man has his hair mattress, pillow, sheets and blankets. A "bunkey" always has a chew or a filling for a pipe for his mate, when he might tell another man that he has not enough weed to "put under your nail."

All fines received in court are called "blind," so that a man who received ten days in the guardhouse and a fine of $5 would tell his comrades that he "got ten days in the mill and five blind."

The commanding officer of a company or the post is always the "old man." If he is not liked other terms, not parlor talk, are used.

All field musicians are called "wind jammers" on account of their jamming of wind into a trumpet that calls the men to labor or rest.

Every man on the completion of his term of enlistment is given a discharge. At the bottom of his paper in olden times was a space in which the character borne by the man during his enlistment was written. If his service had been bad this part of the discharge was cut off, and it was called a "bobtail." In speaking of the length of time a man had to serve before he had completed his term of enlistment the term "butt" means less than a year. So to say he has a year and a little less than two years he would say "a year and a butt."

There are a number of men in the ranks who save their money and lend it to others. The rate is very high. If a man borrows $2 he must pay $4 at pay day. This is called "cent per cent."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Apprehension of Deserters (Halifax, 1860s)
Topic: Halifax

10th June, 1861

"Nile" at Halifax

The British Colonist, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 22 June 1861

The Naval Commander-in-Chief deems it necessary again to make public the notice of last year, respecting Deserters from the Royal Navy, in order that Individuals harbouring or employing such Deserters, may be aware of the penalties to which they will be subject by doing so.

The Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Naval Forces on the North American and West India Station—makes known the following information respecting the rewards for apprehension of Deserters from Her Majesty's Naval Service.

1.—There will be paid to any person who apprehends a naval Deserter, or any Seaman, Marine, &c., endeavouring to escape from a Sea Port Town or from the immediate neighbourhood of the place where their Ships may be, or who may place such Deserter or person so escaping, in any Jail in the province of Nova Scotia, the sum of £3 15s.

2.—Should any Deserter be brought to Halifax and delivered over to then Commanding Officer of the Flag Ship or to any Naval Officer in Her Majesty's Dock Yard, a reasonable amount of travelling expenses, if such expenses have been incurred, will be paid in addition to the foregoing sum of £3 15s.

3.—In any special case, when it can be shewn that loss of time, expense or difficulty has arisen in the apprehension of a Deserter, a further reward will be paid by the Naval Commander-in-Chief in addition to the before mentioned sums, on proof of the circumstances as the case may seem to deserve.

4.—It is enacted, by the Laws of the Province, that whoever shall procure or solicit and Soldier, Seaman, or Marine, to desert Her Majesty's Service, or shall assist any Deserter from Her Majesty's Service in deserting, or concealing himself from such service, knowing him to be a Deserter, shall forfeit not less than Twenty Pounds, nor more than Fifty Pounds; and in default of payment shall be committed to jail for a term not exceeding twelve months.

5.—Whoever shall buy, exchange, or detail; or otherwise receive from any Seaman or Marine, upon any account whatever, or shall have in his possession any arms or clothing , or any such articles belonging to any Seaman, marine, or Deserter, as are generally deemed necessaries, according to the custom of the Navy, shall forfeit not less than Fifteen Pounds, nor more than Thirty Pounds, and in default of payment shall be committed to jail for a term not exceeding nine months.

6.—All forfeitures incurred under the preceding Sections may be recovered, without any reference to any amount of such forfeitures, by summary process before any two Justices of the Peace, except in the City of Halifax, where the same may be recovered before the Mayor and one Alderman, or the Recorder and one Alderman; and one half of such Forfeitures shall in each case be paid to the party on whose information or through whose means the person accused shall have been convicted.

7.—The Naval Commander-in-Chief hereby gives notice, that if any person shall afford such information as may lead to the conviction of any person or persons procuring, soliciting, or assisting Deserters, he will receive in addition to the penalties before mentioned, the sum of Ten Pounds.

8.—Any person reasonably suspected of being a Deserter from Her Majesty's Service, may be apprehended and brought for examination before any Justice of the Peace; and if it shall appear that he is a Deserter, he shall be confined in jail until claimed by the military or naval authorities, or proceeded against according to law.

9.—Local authorities on the Coast of Nova Scotia will be informed by Electric Telegraph when Seamen have absented themselves from their Ship, and the are requested to communicate by Electric Telegraph with the Captain of the Flag Ship or Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief at the Dock Yard, Halifax, on all subjects connected with Desertion.

Note.—The foregoing sums are in Currency.

Rear Admiral and Comm'r-in-Chief.

H.M. Ship "Nile," Halifax, 10th July, 1860.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 28 November 2016

Relics of Boer War
Topic: Militaria

Relics of Boer War

Canada gets Four Large Guns and 700 Mauser Rifles

The Montreal Gazette, 8 August 1904

Ottawa, August 7.—(Special)—Of the extensive armament captured from the Boers during the war of 1899-1903 the British Government has awarded four large guns and 700 Mauser rifles to Canada in recognition of the part it took in the great campaign. The weapons will most likely be allotted among the larger cities, the big guns to adorn the public places as mementos of Canada’s baptism of fire and the rifles to do similar duties in military and public museums. These trophies will be of great benefit in preserving the memory of the war that welded the Empire and inspired the young with that hardy manly spirit that forms a strong power in the preservation of the life and virility of a nation.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Horse Artillery (1855)
Topic: British Army

The Horse Artillery (1855)

On one occasion, we are told, a troop advanced five hundred yards (more than a quarter of a mile), fired two rounds, retired five hundred yards, and fired one round, in three minutes and four seconds.

From: Field Service; The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 May 1855
(From the Household Words)

A practical work has just been compiled by the joint labours of several experienced artillery officers, from which we glean a variety of facts, that may prove interesting in reference to the great events of the last few weeks.

The most destructive and scientific arm of the service is the horse, or flying artillery; the performances of a troops of which are sometimes astonishing. A battery of horse artillery is in fact a beautiful machine, composed of a great number and variety of parts. Say it is a battery of six nine-pounder guns with their concomitants. It is waited upon by one hundred and ninety men and one hundred seventy horses,—augmented during the present war, to one hundred and eighty-two horses.

Among the men we find six officers; that is, the captain of the troops, a second captain, three lieutenants and one assistant-surgeon—there being no want of medical aid for such an important arm. Then there are two experienced staff-sergeants, and thirteen other non-commissioned officers. The gunners and drivers form the greater portion of the privates, amounting to about one hundred and sixty men. The residue is made up of two trumpeters, to transit the signals which are given to them by word of mouth from the officers; a farrier, four shoeing-smiths, (each horse requires twelve sets of shoes a year), two wheelwrights, and two collar-makers, with some others.

Of the horses, two each are allowed to the officers; there are four to spare; and the rest are attached, with their riders, to the nine-pounder guns for firing solid shot; the twenty-four-pounder howitzer for firing shells, which accompanies them; the ammunition waggon, the store limber waggon, the store cart, the forge waggon, and the rocket and spare gun carriages.

The list of the articles carried with the guns and waggons is a long one. Round the gun and limber (the limber is the hinder part of the gun-carriage, containing ammunition for immediate use, and which, like the tender to a locomotive, can be detached from the trail of the gun-carriage) are placed felling-axes, bill-hooks, grease-pots, ropes, spades, pickaxes, buckets, lifting-jacks, swingle trees to which the traces are fastened, a prolonge or drag rope, port-fire, spare sets of horseshoes, tent-poles, pegs, picket-posts, reaping hooks for cutting forage, mauls, camp kettles, blankets, and corn-sacks—all of course packed in the most perfect apple-pie order. Among the contents of the various boxes attached to each gun-carriage—near-box, off-box, middle box, and so on—are cork-screws, files, funnels, fuse-boxes, knives, linch-pins, wallets, pincers, saws and a setter, scissors, needles, and a homely bale of worsted; accompanied by solid shot, cartridges, shrapnel shells, bursters, quick-match, and fuse-bags, with other inflammables. Close to the gun are boxes containing a slow match, a set of priming irons, a tin primer—a gun-lock, ten flints, two punches, two spikes, a sponger-head for the gun cleaner, and thumb-stalls; which are flanked by a wadhook, spare sponge, hammers, handspikes, wrenches and pincers. So much for the gun-carriage and limber. Upon looking at the ammunition waggon we see a little magazine with duplicate supplies of every sort of munition—seventy or eighty solid shot, abundance of cartridges, port-fires, tubes, shrapnel shells, fuses, and other scientific appliances for mowing down "good tall fellows" in the most decisive manner. The very sight of these would have utterly extinguished the dandy lord who tried the patience of Hotspur, when "dry with rage and extreme toil," after a hard fight. All are carefully stowed away, according to the homely Teresa Tidy maxim, which is the soul of military arrangements—a place for everything, and everything in its place. To these are added store cart and store lumber waggon carrying supplies of rough iron, wood, and leather, for repairs; also light baggage. The forge waggon carries smith's tools, bellows, iron, shoes, and coal. There is besides a spare gun-carriage with stores, besides a rocket-waggon. Twelve-pounder rockets are destruction against troops at eight hundred to a thousand yards range, and against buildings at six hundred yards. They are especially useful to frighten horses; but they require careful management; without which they are as destructive to friend as to foe. In this train the heaviest load is a twenty-four pounder, on carriage complete, for which ten or twelve horses are required.

The wonderfully rapid evolutions of this expert corps ought to be witnessed on a review-day at their headquarters, Woolwich. On one occasion, we are told, a troop advanced five hundred yards (more than a quarter of a mile), fired two rounds, retired five hundred yards, and fired one round, in three minutes and four seconds. To appreciate this feat it is necessary to remember that, besides getting over the ground, at each halt the guns have to be unlimbered, loaded, pointed, fixed and limbered up again.

A ricoshet fire should be tried as much as possible; that is, the shot should be made to graze the surface at a ground—hop, then fly off again—like a boy, playing at ducks and drakes in the water. It will sometimes hit the ground ten, fifteen, twenty times, and more. The most elevated positions are not the best for artillery, for the greatest effects are produced at a height equal to one-hundredth part of the range of the shot.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 26 November 2016

Bully Beef Apparently on Way Out
Topic: Army Rations

Bully Beef Apparently on Way Out

Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, 25 June 1959
By Jim Becker, of the Associated Press

Kota Belud, North Borneo—The days of the British Army's infamous "bully beef" are apparently over. The Queen's soldiers are living it up with a new canned ration that has even Americans envious.

Some genius in the British Quartermasters Corps has developed a ration for field troops that is considered superior to the American "C" ration in taste, ease or preparation and compact size.

That was the opinion of American Marines training with British soldiers in a joint manoeuvre in the steaming North Borneo jungle recently.

The Americans from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Division were invited to sample the British field fare and were loud in their praise.

The ration comes in a square box that fits neatly in the mess kit, saving on carrying space.

It contains a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, vitamin-enriched and a soup can that heats in seconds by a chemical process.

There is also a toothpaste-type tube of cream and sugar combined, which can be squeezed over oatmeal or used in tea.

Also in the ration is a tiny collapsible stove which is discarded after a day in the field. It neatly holds the mess kit when used as a cooking pot.

Small squares of a wax-like substance—the compositions of which is not known even to British supply officers—supplies the fuel.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 26 November 2016 12:29 AM EST
Friday, 25 November 2016

The Militia System of the Dominion (1871)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Militia System of the Dominion (1871)

Many battalions are provided with colours and bands, and during the annual training the officers generally mess together. A very sensible arrangement, ending both to increase a military feeling and to create an impression on the enemy is the supplying of infantry with uniforms similar to that worn by the Imperial army.

The Daily Standard, Victoria, Vancouver Island, 31 July 1871

A short time since we gave a brief summary of the militia law of the Dominion, shadowing forth how it would affect the Province. In a recent article we gave a somewhat imperfect idea of the military stores of the Dominion. We now find, in the London Saturday Review, an article on the military system of Canada, and as it grasps and handles the subject in such a masterly manner, supplying an amount of information difficult to get every day, we have given up our editorial space to lay an extract before our readers this morning. Here is the extract:

While we in England have been employed in noisily discussing the best defensive organization, the Canadian appear to have quietly, with a minimum both of cost to the country and hardship to individuals, solved the question. Indeed, we should say that, with the exception of Prussia and Switzerland, Canada is far in advance, as regards defensive organization, of every country in the world. After calm consideration and successive elaborations, the following results have been attained. The foundation of the system is the axiom that every man owes it to his country to serve in its defence against its enemies. All British subjects between the ages of eighteen and sixty—with a few necessary exceptions—are liable to military service. The exceptions referred to are judges, ministers of religion, professors in Colleges or Universities, the officials in penitentiaries and public lunatic asylums, persons disabled by infirmity, and the only son of a widow, being her sole support. Half-pay and retired officers of the regular army and navy, sailors and pilots when employed in their calling, and masters of public schools are enrolled, but are only liable to actual service in case of war, invasion or insurrection. All others are both enrolled and liable to serve when called upon, and are divided into four classes, constituting the whole—with mere nominal exceptions—of the adult population of the colony, constitute the regular or reserve Militia. The total population of the North American Confederation is estimated at about 4,000,000, and the number liable to service at 675,000 men. For purposes of organization, the whole country is divided into nine military districts, which are further subdivided into twenty two brigade and one hundred and eight-six regimental divisions. The Minister of Militia and Defence is at the head of the whole organization, and is assisted by a chief executive officer styled the Adjutant General, who has under him at headquarters a deputy. The Militia of each district in under command of a Deputy Adjutant General, and in each brigade division there is a brigade major, who seems, however, to be simply a staff officer, and to exercise no actual command. To each regimental division are assigned a lieutenant colonel and two majors, and to each company division a captain and two subalterns. The regimental and company divisions correspond as closely as possible to electoral and municipal divisions. The regimental officers attached to the Reserve Militia reside in their respective districts, and are appointed principally for purposes of enrollment and ballot; consequently, the recruiting and organizing staff would not be, as would be the case with us, dislocated in the event of an invasion, but a continual flow of recruits to the active army could be kept up. The organization we have described, except as regards deputy adjutant generals and, to a certain extent, brigade majors, is essentially of a reserve character, and simply provides for the immediate carrying out of any measures deemed necessary without imposing any actual duty in time of peace. In England, on the contrary, the organization for the ballot is not to be commenced until the emergency arises.

We now come to the actual army of Canada, or, as it is termed, the Active Militia. At present the consists entirely of corps raised by voluntary enlistment, and numbers on paper 44,519 men, or 1 in 15 of all men liable to serve, and 1 in 100 of the population. The different arms of the service are thus represented:

  • Cavalry, 1,666, chiefly organized in isolated squadrons and troops;
  • 10 field batteries with 42 guns, 441 horses, and 750 men;
  • 4 companies of engineers, 232 men;
  • 3 marine companies, 174 men; and
  • 73 battalions of infantry numbering 36,729 men, and
  • 2 battalions for Service in the Red River District, 862 men.

In addition to the above, twenty-five new corps are in process of formation. When organized, they will raise the strength of the Active Militia to 45,040 men.

According to the Militia law of the Dominion, it is only required that the Active Militia should amount to 40,000 men, furnished in due proportion by the different districts, and to be raised by ballot if necessary. Hitherto there has been no necessity to have recourse to the ballot; there is, however, a growing feeling in the Dominion that voluntary enlistment involves undue hardship on individuals, and it seems probable that the ballot will ere long be brought into operation. At present, volunteers enlist for three years, but according to the law, men obtained by ballot would serve only two years. At the end of their service in the Active Militia the men who compose it re-enter the Reserve, and are not liable to be called out until all other men in the same company division have volunteered or been balloted to serve. The number of men called out for training each year is 40,000, and the number of days' drill is sixteen, during which the men receive pay. A system of assembling the troops in each brigade in camps for the purpose of annual training has also been introduced with the best possible results, and the practice is likely to be extended. During the time that the militia is embodied, it is subject to the Queen's regulations and the Articles of War, and, as a matter of fact, discipline appears to be thoroughly maintained. Rifle practice by companies is sedulously practised, and skill in the use of the rifle is encouraged by the bestowal of prizes at the annual training. The great assimilation to the customs and practices of the regular troops is remarkable even in social and ornamental details. Many battalions are provided with colours and bands, and during the annual training the officers generally mess together. A very sensible arrangement, ending both to increase a military feeling and to create an impression on the enemy is the supplying of infantry with uniforms similar to that worn by the Imperial army. It may be remarked here that the men of the Canadian Active Militia are far taller and larger than the soldiers of our regular regiments. As regards both combatant and non-combatant staff, no efforts have been spared to render the local army efficient, and a still greater improvement is to be looked for shortly. It is proposed that then Adjutant-General of the Militia should be styled in future Major-General Commanding the Militia; that his staff officer—the present Deputy Adjutant-General at Headquarters—should be turned Adjutant-General, and receive the rank of Colonel; that the Deputy Adjutant generals who command districts should receive the title of Colonel on the staff, and that all staff officers should in future before appointment, pass a special examination, and only hold their offices for five years, and not be eligible for reappointment in the same office. With a view to obtaining properly qualified officers for the staff, it is recommended that a Canadian Staff College should be established; and in order to obtain competent instructors for it, the suggestion is made that the Imperial Government be asked to allow a certain number of Canadian officers to join the Staff College at Sandhurst. But the Canadian authorities have already take practical steps to secure a good professional training for their officers, by the institution of schools of instruction, in which measure they were far in advance of Mr. Cardwell. These schools of instruction were first established in 1864, and already nearly 6,000 young men have passed through them. Some of the graduates now hold commissions in the Active Militia, while other will be provided for as vacancies occur. And on an increase to the Active Militia, being required, would furnish an ample supply of well-qualified officers. Moreover the boys in most large schools undergo elementary drill. Thus it will be seen that a large proportion of males of all ages from ten to sixty receive a certain amount—in some cases a very considerable amount—of military training, and that, if the ballot is enforced, there will in course of time be probably about half a million of men more or less trained to arms. We have shown that the combatant and recruiting staff is completely organized, and considerable attention is now being paid to the administrative staff or store department, and arrangements have been made for a due supply of all the arms, camp equipment, and other stores required for field service or camps of instruction.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Bayonet has its Occasional Uses
Topic: Cold Steel

The Bayonet has its Occasional Uses

"The Sword in the Scabbard," by Michael Joseph, 1942

"I dare say the bayonet has its occasional uses, but I am prepared to wager that in this war not one infantryman in a thousand ever has a chance to use it. But the Army still swears by the bayonet. The bayonet legend is upheld by newspaper men who never miss an opportunity of referring to positions captured 'at the point of the bayonet.' In case there should be any doubt as to the functions of the obsolescent weapon, the B.B.C. naively refers to 'hand-to-hand bayonet fighting.' Our troops are still taught that the Germans ‘hate cold steel.' No doubt they do, but I somehow don't think we shall win the war by insistence of the vital importance of the bayonet in modern warfare. Bows and arrows were good weapons once."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2016 11:05 PM EST
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Regimental Organization and Tactics (1855)
Topic: British Army

Regimental Organization and Tactics (1855)

It is only "devils dressed in red and white" who go up—as the gallant light division of infantry at the Alma did—and, contrary to all the rules of strategy, take a battery of artillery in the face of an astonished foe.

From: Field Service; The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 May 1855
(From the Household Words)

Popularly, a regiment is said to consist of a thousand men, but at present the actual strength of an infantry regiment is a battalion of thirteen hundred and thirty-seven men of all ranks. One third of this number, or four companies (each company being composed of a captain, two subalterns, five sergeants, five corporals, ninety-five privates), form the depôt or reserve at home; while the other eight, amounting to eight hundred and ninety-five men, are the service companies on duty abroad.

A regiment of cavalry numbers two hundred and seventy-one horses, or three hundred and sixty-one in the dragoons, and as many as seven hundred and three in the East Indies.

What is called a division of an army is a force of from five to ten thousand men, in command of a general, and made of of two or three brigades of three or four regiments each of infantry, two or three gun batteries of six pieces each, and a proportion of cavalry. In reckoning their number, it is customary to deduct ten per cent, sick or disabled; so that five regiments of say eight hundred each would represent three thousand six hundred fighting men actually in the field.

A division in line of battle is posted in two lines, one in rear of the other with cavalry behind, and a reserve of guns and one or two regiments behind these, to be kept fresh in case of need. Some idea of the extant of a line may be gathered from these numbers; a regiment of eight hundred stretches two hundred and fifty yards; a division of three brigades, seven hundred and thirty-five yards, allowing for spaces between; and a regiment of cavalry, four hundred yards. The guns are posted in front, or at the flanks, at each end of the line; the right flank and wing being at your right hand as you face the enemy, the left flank at your left hand. Generally, the artillery have the honour to begin the encounter, supported by the fire of infantry. When the former have done sufficient execution, the latter advance with the bayonet to complete the business; and when the enemy is disorganised, or in flight, cavalry follow up the blow and dart off in pursuit. Artillery are usually employed opposite artillery, cavalry against cavalry, and so on, according to circumstances. It is only "devils dressed in red and white" who go up—as the gallant light division of infantry at the Alma did—and, contrary to all the rules of strategy, take a battery of artillery in the face of an astonished foe.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Tribal Warriors Stalk Axis With Strange Weapons
Topic: Militaria

Tribal Warriors Stalk Axis With Strange Weapons

The Sherbrooke Telegram, 25 May 1944
By The Canadian Press

There are strange warriors with the Allies—black, brown, yellow, bronze, some a loin cloth for a uniform and a snickersnee for a fighting tool.

Some are virtually unknown soldiers of the United Nations. Who ever heard of the Tcherkesses, the Atjehnese, and the Dyaks, the Gojjams, the Tanganyikas, or the redoubtable Wah?

Or who can say what manner of weapon is the dah, the koumia and khukri? Yet the Axis soldier fears them more than all the secret weapons turning on the lathes of the propaganda mills.

The little-known people, and many more, are making stout contributions toward the day of victory, says the United Nations Information office.

Take the Tcherkesses, fur-bonneted Syrian cossacks. They were stalwart allies of the British and Free French in Syria and Iraq.

The Atjehnese and Dyaks are some of the fierce guerillas who have kept the Japanese "masters" of the Netherlands East Indies clinging to the beaches, afraid to enter the interior except in force.

Gojjams provided loyal Ethiopians with a base for revolt and with the Armachahos, Wikaits and Bagemirs made the return of Emperor Haile Selassie from exile infinitely easier. Tanganyikas are blacks who with Kenyas, Ugandas and Nyasas make up the crack King's African Rifles who shooed Italians out of East Africa.

The Wah Has a Dah

And the Wah is an interesting party who may give the British a lift in Burma. His weapon is the dah, an evil looking bowie with the blade of a broadsword and the edge of a razor.

The British booed Mussolini out of East Africa and the Nazis out of North Africa with such characters as the Ghurkas, Punjabis and the Sihks that made up most of the 300,000 Indians in the British Army.

The Afrika Corps especially disliked Ghurkas, who made a habit of lopping off heads with a Khukri, a curved knife.

From East Africa come black, spindly-legged Sudanese, who are silent fighters. The Somali camel corps, Askaris from Eritrea and Turkanas helped to throw Italians out of Italian Somaliland. South Africa sent 32,000 native soldiers to North Africa and the Middle East—20,000 Bechuanas, 9,000 Basutos (who are so fond of drilling that the only way to punish them for infractions is to not let them drill) and 3,000 Swasis. Zulus fought well in Kenya. Many black Nigerians were in the Nigerian force which swept 1,054 miles in 30 days through Italian Somaliland.

Most populous of the Burman allies are the Burmese—also handy with the dah—who are training in India agsinst the day of liberation. The Chins and Kachins are unhealthy guerillas to start trouble with in a Burman jungle.

The Free French have some tough customers. Pig-tailed Goumiers from Morocco swing a Kouma, another of those ugly exotic knives. There are the Spahis, native cavalry from North Africa and the Senegalese.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 21 November 2016

The Rifle Brigade in Canada (1865)
Topic: Officers

Photograph | Rifle Brigade group, Montreal, QC, 1865 | I-15545.1

Rifle Brigade group, Montreal, QC, 1865; William Notman (1826-1891); 1865, 19th century; I-15545.1; © McCord Museum.

The Rifle Brigade in Canada (1865)

The Montreal Gazette, 14 May 1927

Sir Leopold V. Swaine, who once commanded the Rifle Brigade, came out to Canada in 1865 with a battalion of his regiment, and camped over at Point Levis for a few months, helping the Royal Engineers to construct field-works. After they had been there for some six weeks or more, men began to desert, as the U.S.A. frontier was within such easy reach. Swaine consulted with his commanding officer and got his sanction to open all letters that came for men from the United States. Most, if not all of these, contained offers of high wages if the men would come and work for the writer. These were, of course, all burnt. But, in three and a half months, they tried between ten and fifteen men by district court-martial for desertion; awarded something like twenty years' imprisonment with hard labor, fined them over £50 for loss of kit, and flogged three men, awarding one hundred and twenty-five lashes. One of the three kept a diary of their wandering, which showed that, for the three days they were away, they had continually walked in a circle and had never been more than three miles from camp.

One day, when the working parties came in for dinner, they reported than an American had been attempting to set fire to some huts. He was stopped from doing so, but claimed that they were his own property and heavily insured. After mess that evening an individual entered their tent and drawled out a request to know who was the boss of the establishment. He was a bit incoherent and had evidently been doing himself well at supper. They were quite sure that he was the man who had been reported in the morning so they surrounded him, and someone mentioned the fact that there was a pond handy. So they carried him triumphantly through the camp, swung him three times, and launched him into space.

Next morning a message came from the Colonel saying that he wished to see all the officers of the regiment in the mess tent at twelve o'clock. When they were all assembled he began: "I have had a visit this morning from an American gentleman, who gave me an account of the disgraceful manner in which he had been treated by the officers of this battalion. Mr. Swaine, you will be good enough to tell me who were the ringleaders in this affair." Swaine replied, "I was one, sir," and all the subalterns present re-echoed his words. On hearing this, the Colonel said, "I confine all officers to camp for the day."

The 1st battalion was quartered at the time at the Citadel at Quebec, and immediately after lunch the culprits were sent over to invite them all to come to tea and to bring anyone else they could think of. Among them were the Colonel and his wife. They had a glorious time, only marred by the fact that they were all invited to dine at the Citadel the same night, and had a hard time inventing previous engagements. Years afterwards the Colonel confided that the American had owned up to being drunk.

In the ensuing winter they had to learn to march on snowshoes, with the result that when the commanding officer gave the words "Fours right," nearly half the men fell on their noses.

In 1866 the Fenians began to give trouble, and they were ordered to St. Armands. Apparently the only casualty was the killing of some old woman who was stone-deaf, and who was seen trying to escape in the darkness and who continued to run in spite of repeated orders to halt. The Royal Fusileers gave her a great funeral, and, thirty years later, when he was a Major-General, the author received the Fenian medal, inscribed to Lieutenant Swaine.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 20 November 2016

What Not to Feed Him
Topic: Army Rations

What Not to Feed Him

Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley, California, 20 June 1919

Have you a returned soldier in your home? And would you like him to be happy? To forget those French mademoiselles Tout Suite? To go back to his old job and stick, even though it does seem to be a bit of a bore at first? Then follow this advice, approved by Colonel Woods, assistant to the secretary of war.

Feed him well, and you will make him happy. Give him good food, plain cooking and very fancy cooking. But remember that he has acquired certain inalienable hatreds.

Don'tgive him beans. Green beans are alright. But never give him the comedy beans.

Don'tgive him salmon. Not cooked or smoked or in salad.

Don'tgive him hash. Not even if he liked it before.

Don'tgive him corned beef. Not even in sandwiches or with eggs. When he was over there he called it "Corned Willy," "Monkey Meat" and "Bully Beef."

Don'tgive him bread pudding. He has had a great deal too much of it.

Don'tgive him rice pudding. It will make him think he is being forcibly fed.

Don'tgive him condensed milk.

Don'tgive him Irish stew. He used to call it "slum" in the army. He no longer desires it.

Don'tgive him horse meat. You wouldn't anyway, but nevertheless—Don't.

This leaves a number of pleasant dishes which you may serve him. He will welcome chocolate ice cream, thick steak, roast beef, French fried potatoes, salad with Russian dressing, ham and eggs, and other delectable dishes.

If you treat him in accordance with the culinary advice so outlined, he will once more be one of the world's happy workers, and stick to his job, old or new.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 15 October 2016 12:13 PM EDT
Saturday, 19 November 2016

Militia Matters at Halifax (1905)
Topic: Halifax

Militia Matters at Halifax (1905)

103rd Company of Royal Artillery to be Transferred to Canadian Artillery

St John Daily Sun, 10 November, 1905
(Special to the Sun.)

Halifax, Nov. 9.—It was reported at the militia headquarters this morning that nearly all of the 103rd company of the Royal Artillery will be transferred to the Canadian Artillery tomorrow. Several of the other company of Royal Artillery have also expressed a desire to remain. A number of the Royal Engineers have also signified their intention to join the Canadian corps. Besides those already mentioned there are some forty artillerymen who are not connected with any particular company but are familiar with all the supplies and the location of them in the various forts, and these were also to remain. It was learned this morning at the armories that when everything was finally settled the Canadian government will have about 1,200 troops in Halifax. Of that number 650 will be infantry, 460 engineers and gunner and about 100 men on the staff.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 14 October 2016 11:17 AM EDT
Friday, 18 November 2016

Tanks (1920)
Topic: Military Theory

Tanks (1920)

Field Service Regulations, Volume II; Operations, 1920 (Provisional), General Staff, War Office

1.     The tank is a mechanically propelled armoured vehicle which affords protection to its crew, armament, and machinery from ordinary rifle and machine gun fire and from shrapnel bullets. Its fire power and mobility make it essentially a weapon of offence. Its capability of delivering a large volume of accurate fire during movement is an important characteristic. Its moral effect on hostile troops is very great.

2.     The tank can move over country where roads and tracks do not exist; it can cross trenches and surmount obstacles; when moving through entanglements it crushes down the wire to form lanes passable by infantry in single file. The weight of the tank can be utilized to destroy hostile weapons and personnel by passing over them.

Deep cuttings, swamps, very heavily shelled ground, rocky mountainous country, and thick woods are serious obstacles.

3.     The size of the tank makes it a conspicuous object, and the noise of its engine, when running at high speeds, necessitates driving at low speed in the vicinity of the enemy when surprise is intended. The track of a tank make a distinctive mark on ground which is not very hard.

4.     The limiting factors of the tank are its visibility and its vulnerability to shell fire, which render effective counter battery support of great importance. The radius of action is governed by the amount of petrol, &c., that can be carried on the tank and the physical endurance of the crew.

5.     The power of delivering successful surprise attacks against almost any type of defences is one of the most important advantages of the use of tanks in large numbers.

6.     The size, weight, speed, armament, strength of crew, and other factors vary with the different types of tanks. These details are given in the training manual of that arm.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 17 November 2016

Camp Petawawa (1947)
Topic: Canadian Army

"Permanent force units now stationed [at Petawawa] are the Royal Canadian Dragoons, an armoured unit; the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment; "W" Battery, of the 81st Field Regiment, RCA, and "X" Battery of the 79th Field Regiment, RCA; No. 3 Engineer Stores Depot, No. 1 Air Observation Flight, RCA, and others known as the "services." Among these are the RCEME, Ordnance, dental, Medical and Army Service Corps." (Ottawa Citizen, 11 August 1953)

Camp Petawawa (1947)

Ottawa Citizen, 17 November 1947
By V.A. Bower, Citizen Parliamentary Writer

Petawawa military camp, 10 miles north of Pembroke, which during the war was one of Canada's greatest military camps, accommodating some 20,000 troops, is to have a new lease on life.

The camp, which since the end of hostilities has been used for reserve army troops with a few permanent force troops for maintenance, about the end of March will see the first influx of permanent force units who will in future make Petawawa their permanent home.

Infantry Formations

The camp, according to army authorities, will be occupied by infantry formations with their necessary ancillary and servicing troops and units. But before the winter is out the ranges formerly echoing to the thunder of 25-pounders of the Royal Canadian Artillery may echo once again, this time with the clanking of armoured corps units.

Plans are completed for the moving in of infantry units and consideration is being given to moving in armoured corps units, though decision in this latter move is not yet reached.

In all the strength of the camp will not come near the 20,000 figure of war time.

The Canadian Permanent Force, even if recruited to full strength, would number 25,000 troops. However, there will be several thousand new troops moving into the area. Total strength may go as high as 5,000.

Marriage Problem

One of the problems at present facing the authorities is the fact that many of the permanent force troops are married and in many instances have converted huts near their present stations into living quarters. This means new living quarters—married quarters as the army calls them—will have to be provided at Petawawa. There are ample buildings at the sprawling camp for the unmarried troops quarters, messes, canteens, garages, hospitals, and other use. But married quarters are scarce.

The army's idea is not to convert temporary barracks to married quarters since this would only be a temporary solution. Thus new married quarters will probably be erected on the station.

The military reservation of Petawawa embraces in all over 100 square miles which gives ample scope for both infantry and armoured corps training. The old artillery ranges which were abandoned when the RCA moved west are ideal for tank maneuvres, and will fill a need which the armoured corps has found lacking in Borden.

Camps Linked

Camp Borden and Petawawa are linked together in the scheme to give permanent units of the permanent force home stations in Ontario.

Royal Canadian Signal Corps, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, RCEME, RCAMC, and other troops sufficient to service the camp will also move to Petawawa.

The move will give new life to the town of Pembroke, long familiar with the marching feet of Canadian soldiers. The close down of the big camp came as a serious blow to Pembroke merchants and the news of the reopening on an expended scale is being received with satisfaction.

The removal of the RCA was not due to the presence of the Atomic plant at Chalk River, but rather due to the fact that modern artillery guns have a firing range too great for available ranges, army authorities said.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2016 7:04 AM EST

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