The Minute Book
Monday, 19 December 2016

Reveille to Lights Out (part 3 of 5)
Topic: Drill and Training

Reveille to Lights Out (part 3 of 5)

The Montreal Gazette, 29 June 1942
By Machine-Gunner

(This is the third in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)

A chain is as strong as its weakest link; so goes the proverb, and Canada's army has forged a mighty chain of command, the links of which are orders.

The recruit is at first confused by, and then readily appreciative of the fact that orders are not always verbal; his behaviour must conform with, and is often changed by orders which he never hears, but reads. As an example, a soldier entering camp for training is immediately acquainted with camp Standing Orders. These orders tell him many things peculiar to the camp in which he is to live. The camp bounds, the procedure in case of fire, the respective times of reveille and lights out, meal parades and defaulters' parade; in short, anything in which the routine in his camp may vary from that of other similar camps. Some changes in camp standing orders are dictated by notations which appear, from time to time, in District Orders.

Canada has been divided into 11 military districts; each district has, quite naturally, a centre which is district headquarters, and from district headquarters proceed district orders, signed by the D.O.C., or District Officer Commanding. District orders carry new regulations and changes of previous ones which concern the individual district; promotions of officers within the district appear in these orders, punishments by courts martial, changes in dress regulation or any bits of arbitration which may affect the soldier serving in the district.

Routine Orders

Changes in procedure and new regulations in the Canadian Army are distributed from their source, National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

The orders with which a recruit comes in contact are Daily Orders, Part I and Part II. Part I orders (known as "part one"), affect a soldier's drill, duty and discipline. Extra parades, if there are any, appear in Part I orders. The orderly officer and orderly sergeant of the camp are notified for duty in the camp by warnings given in these orders. Writings in the direction of discipline for personnel within the camp appear there; as an example, some place may be put "out of bounds" to members of the armed forces for any one of many reasons, and if this occurs, notification of the fact is given in Part I Orders.

Part II Orders affect a soldier's pay, allowance and documents. Before a soldier may draw pay from a unit he must be taken on strength of the unit, and to be taken on strength his name must appear in Part II Orders. Likewise, if a soldier is to forfeit pay because of some wrong doing his name must appear in Part II Orders before the pay may be deducted. These orders constitute authority for the unit paymaster to act.

If a recruit is married, the permission for him to marry is given by his officer commanding, it appears in orders, and, when the marriage has taken place, the soldier's new dependent is authorized to receive a monthly cheque from N.D.H.Q. by virtue of the fact that notice of the marriage appears in orders. No notation of change may be made in a soldier's documents until the notation or change appears in Part II orders.

It is the duty of each soldier to read daily orders, and if he in guilty of a breach of a new order, that fact that he pleads ignorance is not regarded as an excuse. With the advance of education in the Canadian Army, the troops are more than ever anxious to "do the right thing," and the man is indeed the exception who does not try to keep up with the orders; in most units it is a boast of the men that they are never caught off guard.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 18 December 2016

Worthington Favors United Army (1942)
Topic: Canadian Army

Worthington Favors United Army, Abolishment of Corps, Regiments

The Montreal Gazette, 8 July 1942

An Eastern Canada Army Camp. July 7.—(CP)—Maj.-Gen. F.F. Worthington, commander of the 4th Armored Division, expresses the opinion that the Canadian Army should be one and indivisible.

A crusader for divisional esprit de corps among the troops under his command, this pioneer Canadian expert in tank warfare would like to see the present system of dividing the army organization up into corps and regiments abolished.

In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press at his eastern Canada training camp Gen. Worthington said when a man enlists he should join the Royal Canadian Army, just as when an airman enlists he joins the Royal Canadian Air Force and a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy.

"If you do that you will wipe out a mass of administration," he said. "I would like to see this army brought up to date."

In the 4th Division now practically all officers and men wear the black beret and badges of the armored corps. Regimental caps and badges are passing out of fashion although the general has not yet insisted on complete uniformity. That is the way he wants it. He wants his men to feel they are a member of the division and not of the Mudshire Fusiliers.

"Unit esprit de corps is all very well," said Gen. Worthington, "but it must go higher. We don't want petty jealousies between units. We don't want one unit taking pride in doing better than another. We want each unit to be ready to help the other if necessary."

He went on to say that he would carry the idea even higher than the division, to the army as a whole.

"I think we should scrap the whole army system as we have it both in Britain and Canada and have a Royal Army and a Royal Canadian Army."

When a man joined the air force he was proud to belong to the air force and didn't care what squadron he served with or what capacity. A sailor was proud of the navy but didn't worry what ship he served on. The same could be made true of the army. All a man wanted to know was that the organization he joined was doing a job and that he would be given the work for which he was best fitted.

The general has ways of overcoming men's preferences for certain units when they come to his division. If a man wants to serve in the Mudshire Fusiliers, his choice of a name for sample regiment and with no ther he is not scolded but given a sight-seeing tour.

"Men are simple to handle if you've got the patience," he added with a twinkle in his eye as he proceeded to outline the course given such recruits.

The Mudshire Fusiliers or Northing man is given a guide who takes him all around the division, lets him look inside tanks, handle the guns, send messages to his friends over the signaling apparatus. Soon the fellow sees some job he would like to do. He gets a chance to try out for the job, he likes it and he forgets about the Mudshire Fusiliers.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 18 December 2016 12:04 AM EST
Saturday, 17 December 2016

Soldiering in Annam (1883)
Topic: Discipline

Soldiering in Annam (1883)

Composition of the Annamite Army and its Discipline

Montreal Daily Witness, 6 September 1883

The St. James Gazette gives an interesting description of the army at the disposal of the King of Annam. It is reckoned officially at 200,000 men. Of these 40,000 garrison the capital, and half that number is assigned to Hanoi and the surrounding fortresses Nam Dinh, Nihn Bihn, Bach Nihn, and other places in Tonquin. The rest are ordinarily disguised in civilian attire, and are not to be distinguished from harmless agriculturists. When a man is dressed in the customary vestments of a Madras coast coolie—a handkerchief and a bit of string—it is difficult at the first blush to determine his profession. In Annam, however, the matter is rendered comparatively simple. The law is, from every three men one recruit. Except, however, in cases of extraordinary public necessity this rule is not acted up to; one man from every seven or eight is much nearer the average. The selection of the recruits is left entirely to the local authorities, and the village mandarins make a good thing out of the annual levies.

The Drill

In default of squad drill the Annamese recruits are put through a variety of unpleasant experiences designed to test their courage. Physical courage and endurance are supposed to be the primary requisites of a soldier, and, after that, the knowledge of how to load and let off a gun. It is pleasantly assumed by the military officers that the men chosen for the army are the worst of the population. The madarins are supposed to keep their districts quiet by drafting all their mauvais sujets into the annual levy. There is, accordingly, the less compunction in putting them through the prescribed tests. The first of these is to assault the raw recruit violently with a sabre. The sabre is a wooden one, certainly; but the drill sergeant hits hard, and knows from personal experience where it hurts most. Operations commence on the back and end with blows on the head. The recruit who stands battering about the head for a matter of five minutes without uttering a groan or flinching, even involuntarily, is hailed as a finished soldier and excused further "drill." To shrink, or even to moan, when beaten on the head with the wooden sabre is considered pardonable, and the victim is noted down as an "ordinary" soldier, instead of an "able bodied" one.


But the recruit who cries out when he is hit on the body or confesses by a wiggle that the exercise is painful is reported for punishment and then put through a new course of instruction. The punishment usually consists in a certain number of blows from a bamboo on the upper part of the thighs, so that, except for the dignity of the thing, there is a close resemblance between punishment and military discipline. The military mandarins defend the system on the ground that it is very ancient, and that it is unique in the military exercises of the world—the latter assertion being incontrovertible. Energetic officers of the army frequently invent fantastic tests of a similar character in addition to the regulation exercises. A story at Hue is related of a beau sabreur of the Tay-son rebellion who had a ditch dug and filled the bottom with swords and pikes stuck into the ground point upward. He then called upon his men to engage in drill. They were to fling themselves into the ditch. The most stoical of the "able bodied" shrunk from this novel addition to the manual of exercises. Only one man was found to do it. He went in with a rush, and the swords and pikes collapsed before him. They had been kept in position by the most slender of threads.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 17 December 2016 12:13 AM EST
Friday, 16 December 2016

Reveille to Lights Out (part 1 of 5)
Topic: Drill and Training

Reveille to Lights Out (part 1 of 5)

The Montreal Gazette, 27 June 1942
By Machine-Gunner

(This is the first in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)

A bugle is blown, a flag unfurled, and a new day has begun for the soldier in Canada's army. Routine is to be expected, but it may vary in camps, usually at the discretion of the officer commanding, a typical day begins at 6.30 a.m., or, in military terminology, 0630 hours.

Life, for the recruit, is ever-changing, and although Reveille is the name given to the hour of arising, it means more than "just getting up," First, of course, comes a shave, in one of the comfortable washrooms, and then a general clean-up of of the soldier's person and quarters. He soon learns how to fold his blankets in accordance with camp standing orders, how to arrange his kit, and in a matter of days after his initiation into the ranks he has learned to have pride in the appearance of his hut.

Breakfast, at 7 a.m., convinces the soldier that he is really being considered, because beside his plate he now finds fresh fruit. The first parade, physical training, is not until 8 o'clock, so, for a while at least, leisure is the rule; last night is discussed from many interesting angles and then back to work. Men are usually grouped in quarters as platoons, two platoons share a hut, and the huts are arranged to have companies centralized. The soldier's primary training is termed "basic" and in centres giving this training the number of men in a platoon varies, usually from 40 to 50.

The P.I. parade begins, and the wheels of defence have begun to hum in harmony with the calling of the step or time for exercises by platoon N.C.O.s. Days are divided into periods, in most camps a period means 45 minutes, and happily periods are separated by "breaks" of five minutes for relaxation. Before lunch time, the soldier has completed four periods, and has learned something new perhaps about the Bren Gun, map reading, and possible defence against gas. From 11.30 a.m. to noon he is free to do what he will, and then, with the other members of his platoon, he parades to lunch.

The afternoon consists of another group of four periods for the man in the army, beginning at 1.30 p.m., and ending at 4.30. Reasonably often his afternoon duties give him a chance to see the country beyond the limits of his own camp, because several periods are devoted to map treks and the study of field-craft. Both subjects consist of the practical application of knowledge gained in the classroom.

Except for occasional days, when for one reason or another, the entire establishment of a camp is confined to barracks, a soldier may leave his camp at 4.30 p.m. and his time is his own until 10.00. Although dinner is served at five o'clock he need not eat in camp and is free to keep such engagements as he may have made. Usually two nights a week are set aside as "late leave nights," and then he need not be back until 11.30 or midnight, depending upon the time stated in orders.

Entertainment is provided for troops in barracks by the Auxiliary War Services, and usually there are movies two nights a week and means of relaxation provided for the others. All troops may attend the shows with the exception of those undergoing punishment for some minor misdeed; these are given periods of C.B. (confined to barracks) by their company commanders, and while under sentence they are not allowed to enter the canteen in which the shows usually take place. In addition to this restriction, the offender has extra duties to perform after his day on the parade ground is finished. Grass has to be cut, dishes washed, and other odd jobs done; the C.B. man is usually the one called upon.

Off duty leave, that period between the completion of parades and the time the soldier must be back in barracks, ends in most camps at 10 o'clock. Roll call is taken by the N.C.O. in the hut, and any man marked A.W.O.L. on what is called a tattoo report. These reports are made out nightly, and a copy handed to the military police at the camp gate. A record is thus kept, and though a man may enter the barracks by some means other than the gate he is counted absent because his name appears on the list. This is considered proof that he wasn't in his hut at roll call, and tell his company commander that he came "over the fence."

Authorities agree, that the average soldier is a reasonable person, and the converse is true. If a soldier has sufficient reason, in the mind of his company commander, he may be granted a reveille pass which will allow him to remain out of barracks until reveille on the day after the pass was issued, and even without this pass exceptions are occasionally made when soldiers have been kept late by circumstances beyond their control.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 15 December 2016

Battalion Duties--General Remarks--Private Soldiers (1917)
Topic: Discipline

Battalion Duties—General Remarks—Private Soldiers

Soldiers on guard must remember that it is often from them only that a Regiment may be judged.

Notes for Commanding Officers, Issued to Students at the Senior Officers' School, Aldershot, 1917 (5th Course)

1.     Every soldier must remember that he may by his individual bearing and actions either enhance or injure the reputation of his Regiment.

2.     By good behaviour and civility to strangers, cleanliness and smartness in dress and turn-out and drill, gallantry and devotion in the field, he increases the reputation of his Regiment, he increases the respect for the Army, and creates self-respect in himself.

3.     Instant obedience is the root of discipline. A command must as cheerfully and quickly be obeyed. Whether given by a Colonel or a lance-corporal.

4.     Any soldier wishing to speak to an Officer must be accompanied by a non-commissioned officer. If the soldier then wishes to speak to the Officer on a private matter, the non-commissioned officer can, for the time, fall out.

5.     Employed men must show by their smartness that they are worthy of their employment.

6.     Dress in walking out must be carefully studied, and belts must always be worn.

7.     Soldiers on guard must remember that it is often from them only that a Regiment may be judged.

8.     Every soldier must think he belongs to the best section in the best Platoon, Company, battalion and Regiment in the Army.

9.     Every soldier will address a warrant officer (including Classes I and II) in the same manner as when addressing a Commissioned Officer, but they will not salute.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Most Efficient Cavalry Corps (1897)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Most Efficient Cavalry Corps (1897)

"Military News," The Montreal Gazette, 4 December 1897

The Montreal Hussars are to be heartily congratulated upon being the most efficient cavalry corps, as proved by the recent comparative efficiency returns. The results, in order of merit, are as follows:—

The marks were distributed as follows:—

  • Clothing and accoutrements, arms and saddlery, armories, sword exercise, interior economy and books and records – 10 points each.
  • Horses, squadron drill mounted – 20 points each.
  • Answers to questions by officers – 12 points.
  • Regimental drill by the commanding officer – 30 points.

To this is added the value of individual target practice and from it deducted the points for absentees from troops inspection and target practice. This gives the regimental figure of merit as shown above.

The full and detailed figures are given in the present issue of the Military Gazette. It is noticeable that in the returns of the Montreal Hussars that the total possible points were gained for armories, interior economy and books and records, and answers to questions by officers. For target practice a fair amount of marks were gained and for regimental drill by the C.O. 25 out of a possible 30 points. Lieut.-Col. Markham's corps is evidently the one with crack shots, for their target practice is away ahead of the others.

Major Whitley and the officers and men of the Montreal Hussars cannot be too highly complimented on this very successful result, the result of their first annual inspection as a separate organization. It will be remembered that last summer at the inspection Major Lessard, inspector of cavalry, gave the very highest credit and encouragement to Major Whitley and his men.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Rules to be Observed; Parcels to POWs
Topic: CEF

Rules to be Observed in Remitting parcels, &c., to Prisoners of War

Local Postmaster Tells How To Go About the Task

… must not be included in any parcel … tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

The South Shore News, St. Lambert, Quebec, 8 November 1917

As there appears to be some confusion in the minds of many relatives and friends of German prisoners of war in Germany as to the sending of parcels to such prisoners, The South Shore |news has obtained from Mr. John H. Horsfall (postmaster) the following information:—

Parcels may be sent direct to officers who are interned in Germany, but in the case of privates they must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. Parcels addressed to privates or to non-commissioned officers in care of the Canadian Red Cross must not contain foodstuffs of any kind, clothing or printed matter. There is, in fact, very little except tobacco that can be sent direct to privates who are prisoners. In the case of tobacco, too, it is well to remember that the regulations forbid "tins which cannot be conveniently opened for inspection." Clothing and food may be sent direct to officers, but the following articles must not be included in any parcel sent to any prisoner interned in a belligerent country; written communications (letters must be sent separately by letter post), printed matter, money, stationery, stamps, playing cards, textiles, including wool, cotton, leather, rubber (except clothing in the case of officers), tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

Parcels for privates (which parcels must not contain foodstuffs, clothing or other articles in the above list) must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. The address should be in the following form:

No. 12345

Pte A.G. Robinson
48th Highlanders, Canadian Contingent, B.E.F.
Canadian Prisoner of War
Gottingen, Germany

c/o Prisoners of War Department
Canadian Red Cross Society
London, England.

Persons desiring to have food or articles of clothing sent to a Canadian prisoner of war belonging to the Canadian contingent, should send money for the purpose to the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England. The remittance should be in the form of a post office money order drawn in favor of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England, for the prisoner of war in question. The letter containing such a remittance should be addressed to the prisoner of war, care of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross, London, and if so addressed may be sent free of charge.

Letters, postcards, parcels and money orders addressed to prisoners of war (including British civilians interned in enemy countries) may be sent free of all postal charges.

Remittance of money may be sent direct to prisoners of war, and should be made by means of post office money orders, which are issued free of commission. The transmission of coin, either in letters or parcels, is prohibited. Information and advice with regard to British (including Canadian) prisoners of war may be obtained from the Central Prisoners of war Committee, 4 Thurloe Place, London, S.W. England, or from any post office.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

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

Tactical Consideration (1855)
Topic: Military Theory

Tactical Consideration (1855)

Under the head of Marches, we are reminded of Marshal Saxe's profound dictum, that the whole secret of war is in "the legs."

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

From an interesting chapter on strategical science, we learn, among other things, that "a gentle slope is the most advantageous ground to have in front of a battery;" and that "fifty to one hundred and fifty yards of soft marshy ground, where the enemy's shot would sink; gullies or ravines crossing the enemy's fire at right angles, with a terrace of six to ten feet elevation, about twenty paces in front of a battery; are all good obstacles to the enemy's fire." This almost describes, verbatim, the best points of the Russian position above the Alma.

Some curious facts and calculations relative to the distance and proximity of an enemy, so important to be judged of in warfare, are set forth by the same authority. It is calculated that if the enemy's cavalry are one thousand yards off when they begin to move, they will take about seven minutes to come up—first at a gentle trot, then at a round trot, and finally at a gallop; and, during this interval, each gun can discharge at them, with great precision, ten rounds of round shot and four of case shot (that is, shot put up in a cylinder); or about one round every half minute. This is exclusive of the fire of the infantry with their small arms. The effects of a steady fire may be instanced in what took place at Dresden under napoleon's eye. A body of eight thousand splendid Austrian cavalry dashed down an easy slope at the French—a terrible sight to a young recruit but on this occasion they were met by the Emperor's Old Guard, who were used to it. They reserved their fire till the enemy were close upon them; and when they did fire, and the smoke had cleared away, four thousand of that immense host were on the ground, either killed or dismounted by the death of their horses.

At two thousand yards off a single man or horse looks like a dot; at twelve hundred yards infantry can be distinguished from cavalry; at nine hundred the movements become clear; at seven hundred and fifty yards heads of columns can be made out. Infantry marching send out strong lights; and, if the reflection be brilliant, it is probable that they are marching towards you. The dust raised by cavalry and artillery forms a thick cloud; but this is fainter when caused by infantry.

Under the head of Marches, we are reminded of Marshal Saxe's profound dictum, that the whole secret of war is in "the legs." Marches preface the victories, which battles decide, and pursuit completes. The order of march of an army is this,—infantry, artillery, baggage, cavalry; and a column of thirty thousand men this disposed, would occupy three miles, and would require two hours at least to range in two lines of battle. A day's march with the lightly armed Romans was eighteen and a half miles; but, for ordinary armies in more modern times fifteen miles is allowed, in consideration of the artillery, baggage, and other impediments. But we must not overlook what can be done on extraordinary emergencies.

For instance, General Crawford astonished even the Duke of Wellington, when he joined him after the battle of Talavera, with his light brigade, having marched sixty-two miles in twenty-six hours. Lord Lake's cavalry gallop of seventy-three miles, to the scene of Holkar's defeat at Furruckaband, was performed in the same number of hours. In forces marches, the greatest obstacle to the infantry is blistered feet, to prevent which, feet should be greased well beforehand. Tallow dropped from the candle into common spirits, and rubbed well into the feet, is a cure of blisters already raised. The ordinary quick step is equal to three miles an hour; but this race cannot be kept up after the first hour or two. Double quick is at the rate of seven miles an hour. On parade, a military pace is thirty inches, two thousand one hundred and twelve of which equal a mile.

Where troops sleep without cover—as we know will sometimes happen with the best-regulated armies—and must often happen in armies under red-tape rule, in which the men are governed by the general, their food by the commissariat, and their tents by the ordnance; each department utterly independent of the other—they sleep with their feet towards the fire (one fire to six men); but in a marshy country they should be made to sleep between two fires, which promotes a free circulation of air—the great secret of health where fever and ague are prevalent. A useful cookery hint:—Take your ration of meat, wrap it in a piece of paper or cloth, and cover it with a crust of clay; then you may bake it in any sort of holes well covered over with red-hot embers; and with good economy too, for not a jot of the juice of the meat is lost.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 11 December 2016

Canada Still Seeking Her Missing War Dead (1946)
Topic: Remembrance

Canada Still Seeking Her Missing War Dead (1946)

Ottawa Citizen, 11 December 1946

Over many lands around the globe, Canada is still seeking her dead and paying her last respects to the men who gave their lives on foreign soil in the Second Great War.

From the explosive pocked terrain of Northern Europe to the steaming jungles of the South Pacific, special crews still search for—and locate—the bodies of Canadian fighting men who fell quietly in far-off places.

Thousands Vanished

The army and the navy have completed this final gesture to their dead, but the air force, with the war long past, continues the long painstaking hunt for those thousands who vanished from the air to join the list of those "missing—believed killed."

More than 10,000 R.C.A.F. members were posted orginally under this heading. Many of these—perhaps half—never will be located, for they and their aircraft plunged into the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic, or met death in circumstances that precluded recovery of their bodies.

3,000 Found

Of the remainder, about 3,000 have been found, many of them buried in Germany or other enemy countries. For those still untraced, the search goes on.

It goes on in Northern Europe, Italy, North Africa, the far east and the distant lands of the Pacific Theatre. In Europe, the R.C.A.F. has 30 officers working in a "missing research and inquiry unit" with the Royal Air Force and the Australian and New Zealand air forces.

Investigating officers travel to remote spots through the area, check police files, German Red Cross files and hospital records. They start in with reports of a flier's last operation, and go on from there.

In the other theatres, allied officers act as on-the-spot investigators for Canada and pass on information regarding any bodies located. Canada's group does the same for other allies.

When a body is found in enemy country, say Germany, it is disinterred and reburied in a British military cemetery where the grave receives perpetual care through the Imperial War Graves Commission. Relatives are notified and the next-of-kin receives a photograph of the grave where the soldier or airman lies finally.

Many families refuse to give up hope that a son or husband still lives, and the services receive many letters suggesting they may still be wandering, with memory gone, around the old battlefields. But not a single case of amnesia has been found.

Other relatives want bodies brought back to Canada, and offer to pay the cost. But there is no indication here that there will be any change in the policy of leaving the nation's dead lie where they fought and won their victories.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 10 December 2016

Canadian Cavalry (1893)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canadian Cavalry (1893)

Troopers from Quebec—Quartered in the Old Barracks

The Toronto Daily Mail, 23 August 1893

The Province of Ontario now boasts of a Cavalry school. The Royal Canadian Dragoons, as they are called, left Quebec on Monday morning, at eight o'clock. They came by C.P.R. special, and were expected at the Queen's wharf here at ten o'clock yesterday morning, but it was half an hour later before the train pulled in. Lieut.-Col. Otter, D.A.G., and Capt Macdougall, with the band of No. 2 Co., C.R.I. were on hand to welcome the newcomers. Whilst the horses and baggage were being disembarks the band played several quick-steps. Among those present to witness the arrival was |Lieut.-Col. F.C. Denison, M.P. When everything was in readiness the troops started on the march to its new quarters, preceded by the band of No. 2 Co., C.R.I., which played the march commonly known as "Knock 'Em in the Old Kent Road." The infantry men in the barracks formed up and cheered the troopers as they came in. It is altogether likely the troop will be doubled in strength shortly, and the Cavalry school will be in full blast in a few days. The number of applications for admission to the school from officers of cavalry corps in the surrounding country is very large. Five officers are attached to the school, the troop being in command of Lieut.-Col. Turnbull. The troopers are quartered in the old stone barracks on the western side of the quadrangle. The officers will belong to the officers' mess of No. 2 Co. The Government will at once take into consideration the advisability of increasing the barracks accommodation for the officers. The accommodation for the infantry officers attending the school was rather limited, and with the increase in the permanent staff almost all the available room will be taken up. The two married cavalry officers will have to find quarters outside the officers' building. The troopers wear dark blue uniform with yellow facings, and they look very smart. Many of the men have seen active service. Captain F.T. Lessard is adjutant, Mr. W. Forester 1st lieutenant, and Capt. Hall, of "B" Battery, is attached as veterinary surgeon, and rumour has it that he will shortly be transferred to the cavalry. The trip from Montreal was very agreeable.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 9 December 2016

Pleasing the Brigadier (1917)
Topic: Officers

Some of the Things that Please an Infantry Brigadier, By a Brigadier

Notes for Commanding Officers, Issued to Students at the Senior Officers' School, Aldershot, 1917 (5th Course)

The following points, which have been compiled by the Commandant, with the aid and assistance of Lieut.-Colonel J.F.R. Hope, D.S.O., K.R.R.C., may assist Officers who find themselves promoted to the Command of battalions in France. (N.B.—All these points, if observed by Commanding Officers, bring contentment of mind to the Officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of their battalions.)

1.     A Commanding Officer who has knowledge, and who knows how to impart his knowledge to those under him.

2.     A Commanding Officer who salutes and turns out well himself, and insists on all his Officers doing the same.

3.     A Commanding Officer who does not get rattled directly the Brigadier or Divisional Commander or any other General hoves into sight.

4.     A Commanding Officer who insists on a good Headquarters mess and good Company messes for every one of his Companies.

5.     A Commanding Officer who trains his Battalion sensibly and in moderation.

6.     A Commanding Officer who does not permit his men to be pulled out of their beds before 7 a.m. either in summer or winter.

7.     A Commanding Officer who does not allow parades of any kind on an empty stomach before breakfast.

8.     A Commanding Officer with a cheerful attitude.

9.     A Commanding Officer who can answer any reasonable question put to him regarding his own Battalion.

10.     A Commanding Officer who insists on keeping up a good corps of drummers, buglers, or pipers.

11.     A Commanding Officer in whose Battalion crime is practically non-existent, and yet in which the Officers and men work hard and fight well.

12.     A Commanding Officer who is always thinking of, and encouraging day and night, esprit de corps in his Battalion.

13.     A Commanding Officer who reads his orders and correspondence with care, and deals with both in a sensible and systematic manner. Also, one who, when called upon to give his opinion on some point, keeps to the matter at hand, and does not break off into some extraneous subject.

14.     A Commanding Officer who insists on his Adjutant getting away from his office and being a fighting soldiers rather than an officer's clerk, which a good many Adjutants prefer and think it is their duty to be.

15.     A Commanding Officer who will not permit his Officers to wear freak garments (e.g., snow-white gloves, collars, ties, and breeches, pudding caps, etc.) or to grow Charlie Chaplin moustaches.

16.     A Commanding Officer who realises the importance of keeping for ever in front of his men the cause for which they are fighting.

17.     A Commanding Officer who is human and a man of the world, and who therefore sympathises with his Officers and men in their desire to enjoy whatever the opportunity permits (e.g., when the Battalion is billeted near towns or other places of interest, one who allows them to enjoy the amenities of life in those towns, provided the necessary leave is forthcoming).

18.     A Commanding Officer who says what he thinks in a tactful, yet determined, manner, and not what he thinks will please the Brigadier.

19.     A Commanding Officer who, in a tactful manner, will bring to the notice of the Brigadier any order issued from the Brigade, which may be unworkable and so unsound.

20.     A Commanding Officer who puts his battalion into action only after a thorough reconnaissance of the ground, and after pointing out to his Company officers on the ground exactly what he wishes done.

21.     A Commanding Officer who in action really commands his Battalion, and keeps the Brigadier accurately informed of the situation.

22.     A Commanding Officer whose men are playing games in the afternoon, or otherwise enjoying themselves and keeping fit.

23.     A Commanding Officer who plays himself and can lead his Battalion in games as well as in action.

24.     A Commanding Officer who knows his Officers and non-commissioned officers intimately, and who can address many of the private soldiers by name.

25.     A Commanding Officer who has the interests of his Officers and men at heart when alive, and when dead humours them by decent burial, and who thinks of their relatives.

26.     A Commanding Officer whose Officers, non-commissioned officers and men know the history of their regiment, and who are bent on making history for it.

27.     A Commanding Officer who knows when a gallant action has been performed, and sees that the right man is rewarded.

28.     A Commanding Officer who is respected and trusted by every member of his Battalion.

29.     A Commanding Officer whose battalion is clean, smart at drill, well fed, and on the march does not struggle. Whose Battalion can move off as a compact unit at very short notice, and for any purpose, cheerfully and in good heart.

30.     A Commanding Officer who has a good canteen, wet and dry, under all circumstances possible, a recreation-room properly equipped, and always a separate room or mess for his Warrant Officers and non-commissioned officers.

31.     A Commanding Officer who, if in the trenches, knows his line from end to end, not only as regards the actual trenches, but is also thoroughly acquainted with the actual ground in and in front of his sector.

32.     A Commanding Officer whose Officers, non-commissioned officers and specialists are the best in the Brigade—thoroughly trained and thoroughly reliable.

33.     A Commanding Officer who never forgets to praise where praise is due, but who allows no slackness or dereliction of duty of any kind whatever.

34.     A Commanding Officer who is not content with telling his non-commissioned officers that they are the backbone of the Army, but who, by taking an active part in their training, assists them to improve their knowledge, and who, by insisting on them living properly and under conditions in keeping with their rank and position, enables them to preserve their status in the eyes of the men.

35.     A Commanding Officer who has knowledge and because of this knowledge can handle his Battalion at all times in action in such a manner as to inspire his men with the utmost confidence.

36.     A Commanding Officer who personally sets every single Officer, non-commissioned officer and private in his Battalion the finest example in everything he calls on them to undertake.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 8 December 2016

Veterans' Medals to Rebuke Nations
Topic: Medals

Veterans' Medals to Rebuke Nations

Will Be Sent to 21 Countries as protest Against Nationalism and Greed

The Montreal Gazette, 8 Dec 1933
(By The Canadian Press)

Stratford, December 7.—Fifteen years after the war which was to end wars, 21 members of the Stratford branch of the Canadian Legion tonight surrendered their victory medals with a request that they be sent to the Finance Ministers of 21 nations—allied and enemy alike—to be melted down into metal "and swallowed with all other rewards of armed conflict in payment of the war costs of the world."

The gesture of the Stratford veterans, they said was taken in protest against the reappearance of forces against which they had fought from 1914 to 1918. A message in English, French and German will accompany each medal it reads:

"Fifteen years ago we laid down our arms, victorious over the forces of greed, nationalism, armament and war. Our victory was rewarded with these victory medals. Today, nationalism flourishes, greed is rampant, armaments menace our homes and war impends. The fruits of our victory have vanished. There remain to us who fought, nothing but our memories, our medals, and the war debts.

"The memories, we shall ever cherish. The victory medals, now empty emblems in defeat, we surrender, one to each combatant nation, to be melted down into metal, and swallowed with all other rewards of armed conflict in payment of the war costs of the world."

The medals will be sent to the Finance Ministers of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Russia, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Rumania, United States, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Serbia, and India.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Soldier's Uniform (1902)
Topic: Militaria

The Soldier's Uniform (1902)

… the reply of the soldier who, when asked how he would like to be dressed if he had to fight in a second Waterloo engagement, is reported to have said "I should like to be in my shirt sleeves."

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Australia, 8 March 1902

For some time past it has been rumoured that radical changes were to be made in the uniforms of the military. Several alterations have indeed already been made. It is now officially announced that the King has approved of the new design of service uniform for officers of all arms of the British army. Food and dress are two of the chief essentials to a happy and useful life, and the wise man who also has it in his power to act upon his judgment endeavours to adapt both to the requirements of his work. Although dress can hardly be said to be a natural necessity, yet it is the expression of a habit of civilised life that is in some respects more imperious in its demands than the craving for food. And it is remarkable that in spite of the kaleidoscopic changes in the fashion of dress there is the impress of a rigid conservatism in the main outlines. The same general ideas are to be seen in the dress of men and women to-day as might have been noted a century ago. There is a greater amplitude of material from which to make a selection, there is greater diversity in the shades of colour and in the designs, and these admit of such innumerable variation that it is hardly necessary to repeat exactly the same arrangement in any two articles of attire. But the radical alterations are exceedingly few. Even those which have been brought about by the changing conditions of life are for the most part modifications in detail only. And it is the strict attention to these that marks off the man or the woman of fashion from the individual who, either from choice or necessity or mere indifference, treats them with neglect. The changed conditions of modern warfare have led the naval and military authorities to pay special attention to the food and dress of those who may be called upon at any moment to fight in defence of the Empire. A few months ago an order was issued increasing the quantity and improving the quality of the food issued to the crews of the ships in his Majesty's service, in the belief that better results would follow from a more intelligent attention to this important detail. And following upon it is the order already referred to for several important changes in the service uniforms of military officers.

The very decided distinction between uniforms, and especially military uniform and the ordinary civil dress of the time, is of comparatively recent date. The serviceable buff coat of the Commonwealth era was the completion of the evolution from the mail and plate armour of earlier days. The changes which have taken place since up to the earlier part of the last century, and indeed some of a later date, were dictated by caprice and a desire for variety rather than by an intelligent attempt to adapt the soldier's dress to the exigencies of military life. Among the exceptions were those that were made at the instance of the Duke of Wellington. The great general probably felt the force of the reply of the soldier who, when asked how he would like to be dressed if he had to fight in a second Waterloo engagement, is reported to have said "I should like to be in my shirt sleeves." Since Waterloo, since the Crimean war, and in fact since the Franco-Prussian war, the conditions of warfare have been completely transformed. The munitions of war and military tactics have, in turn, become a cause and an effect of the modern methods of warfare. The formations of the troops on the battlefield that were effective a century ago are as thoroughly out of date now as the weapons that were in use before the invention of gunpowder. The pomp and panoply of war may look effective on the stage or at a review, but except as furnishing a target for the enemy's artillery would be useless on the battlefield to-day. Except in rare instances, the battlefield itself, in the old application of the word, has no existence. When the belligerents come to close quarters the dress and the accoutrements would have a marked effect, and might go a long wat towards ensuring victory if followed up by vigorous and decisive action. In these days of smokeless powder and quick-firing guns, throwing projectiles from an enormous distance, and when detached portions of the force may suddenly find themselves in the midst of a shower of bullets before they know from which quarter they are coming, dress and display count for little. Everything that is an encumbrance to prompt and rapid movement is thrown aside. The dress and the accoutrements need to be such as will facilitate and not impede the free movement of every part of the body, and the colour selected must be one that will not offer facilities for the distant and perhaps concealed marksman to take accurate aim. It is in these directions that the changes in the service uniforms of the officers point. The material is to be serge of a much darker shade than the khaki. The tunic will be close fitting round the waist, but easy elsewhere. Knicker breeches will take the place of trousers. Metal badges are to be discarded and coloured braid will be substituted. The official rank will be indicated by drab braid on the cuff. The coat, the cap, and the hat are all designed with a view to comfort and utility; while at the same time the whole kit will present a smart appearance.

The changes are significant in more ways than one. Hitherto the Imperial military authorities have not been too eager to march with the times. When subjected to an unusual and severe strain they have been found to be sadly deficient in qualities that make for success. There has been a disposition to cling to old traditions and continue useless methods of discipline. It seems as though all this is now to be changed as the result of the severe lesson that we have learned. So far, this is a cause for congratulation. There is another aspect of this question that gives rise to reflections of a mixed character. Long years of comparative peace created the tendency to regard the military profession as an ornamental rather than a practical pursuit. That illusion has been rudely dispelled. Though a soldier in time of peace may be out of place like a chimney in summer, of the fire brigade where there are no fires, yet each must be adapted and ready for the service required when the occasion calls. The military profession is to be coveted, not because of the gorgeous uniform which the member of it is entitled to wear on festive occasions, but because of the hard work in defence of the Empire which may fall to his lot when wearing his service uniform. And as the latter becomes more and more the badge of the soldier's work, the real reason for the existence and maintenance of a military force will appeal more strongly to the popular mind. "The apparel oft proclaims the man," and a military uniform specially adapted to the work which those who wear it have to perform will in the long run captivate the popular imagination more completely than the gold braid and gay colours which the thoughtless were proud to regard as the chief glories to be won.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
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

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