The Minute Book
Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Inspecting Generals and their telltale signs of incompetence
Topic: Humour

Stories abound of generals who, when inspecting units under their command, fall into the habit of always looking at the same items to check attention to detail and overall efficiency. They seldom realize that they become known by these very personal inspection expectations, or how focused units might become on satisfying these singular points of interest with lesser regard to the big picture that is seemingly overlooked. From the New "Punch" Library, a 20 volume set of books published in 1935 with the cartoons and excerpts from Punch magazine from 1900 onwards, is a delightful volume titled "Mr. Punch and the Services." Within its pages, we find this tale of an inspecting Brigadier and his personal bugbear:

The Door that was Locked

The trouble with our Brigadier is that his early training was neglected by a too fond mother or too lazy nurse, and we have to duffer for it. There is no doubt whatsoever that as a small boy he used to throw himself on the ground and howl with rage every time he was baulked; and the passage of fifty years has not altered his character to any marked degree; he has broken himself of the habit of throwing himself on the floor, but he still howls at the top of his voice if thwarted, and attempts to sooth him merely cause him to yell louder.

Like all Generals who duty it is to inspect battalions, he has his pet "stunts" and anathemas; and it has long been accepted a the first duty of Commanding Officers and Adjutants that they should make themselves acquainted with the speciality of the Brigadier immediately they arrive at a new station. The little points in question are nearly always something absurdly trivial; such as the carrying of a spare pair of bootlaces by all ranks or the complete absence of cobwebs in barracks, and the really efficient adjutant knows that there is only one thing worse than every man on parade being deficient in spare bootlaces, and that is for every man at once to produce from an accessible part of his clothing these necessary adjuncts to his footwear. To do this is to rob the tiger of his prey, and is always regarded as silent insolence. It must be borne in mind that the Brigadier has got up early that morning to fulminate over at least one man deficient in laces, and to deprive him of this pleasure is merely asking for it; so let him have one deficiency or one small cobweb as the case may be for your sake and everybody else's.

Out Brigadier's pet aversion is a locked door. It seems that in the early days of his inspecting career he came across a locked door adjoining the sergeant-major's bunk and demanded the key. This was found after a long search and much protestation, and on opening the door the Brigadier was richly rewarded, for the room was a masterpiece. It was filled with every conceivable form of insult, from dirty clothes to rusty rifles, and on top of a disgraceful bed was a bull-terrier with a little of pups. There was an historic scene—the Colonel was retired, the Second-in-Command passed over and the Adjutant went to the other battalion in Shanghai; and since then our Brigadier has had one idea in his head and only one—every battalion has a locked door and behind it corruption unspeakable. He is so intent on finding one that he will overlook everything else during his quest; and the secret of success during an inspection is t see that he discovers one with just a taste of disorder in the room—a mere rub of garlic around the bowl.

We were inspected last week, and there is a nervous restrained attitude about everyone, for no one knows what the future holds. In the first place it must be understood that our barracks were built in the days of the Peninsular War, and to make them habitable the Works Department have added and pulled down bits at various times, so that the original lay-out of the buildings has been lost entirely, and the natural appearance is an untidy one. This is not exactly our fault, but our Brigadier is quite capable of holding the Commanding Officer responsible for what happened in 1812 if he is in the wrong mood.

Our Adjutant had arranged everything for a most successful inspection—minor details like drill and kit inspection, reserve ammunition, and Quartermaster's stores were beyond reproach, and the most important point—the locked door—had been most carefully staged. It was that of a small room in "D" Company's block, and the furnishing of it lacked no detail. It was spotlessly clean and swept, it contained a tiny bed, a table, a chair and well-oiled rifle. For a moment the Adjutant had thought the rifle might be a trifle rusty, but decided this would be too drastic, and had finally selected a cigarette-end lying on the table as just that little touch of disorder to give the Brigadier entire satisfaction—the olive in the cocktail, as it were.

Everything went swimmingly till we arrived at "C" Company's rooms, and then the Brigadier, somewhat nettled at having been baulked for so long in a barracks that seemed to be all doors, stalked on ahead and rattled the handle of the door at the far end—and it was locked!

"How often have I said that every door in the barracks must be open when I inspect?" he roared, "Open it at once!"

"But Sir——," began the Commanding Officer.

"Don't argue with me, Sir!" yelled the Brigadier, hammering on the door with his stick. "Open it at once. Fetch the key! Who's got it? Send for the Armourer-Sergeant!"

"But Sir," interposed the Adjutant, "There is no key."

"Don't answer me, Sir. Every door has a key!" yelled the Brigadier. "fetch the Armourer-Sergeant and break it down at once."

The Armourer-Sergeant having been produced got busy with screw-driver and brace-bit till suddenly the door creaked on its hinges and moved slightly in a cloud of dust and plaster. The Brigadier, intent on being the first to view the disorder he counted on finding inside, pushed his way to the front. The door creaked again and suddenly swung open; the Brigadier stepped forward into a blaze of sunshine and disappeared completely from view. Looking out over the threshold of the door, closed for some forty years, we saw him lying twenty feet below in Sergeant-Major Bartlett's lettuce-bed, the bright green of the plants contrasting delightfully with his purple face.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The McGill University War Poster Collection
Topic: Militaria

The McGill University War Poster Collection

The holdings of the Print Collection in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division [at McGill University] include some 250 Canadian posters from the two World Wars. The posters are accessible to researchers who visit the Division's Lande Reading Room; a printed finding aid is available from the Reading Room Supervisor.

This website contains basic descriptions and images of each poster, an artist index, a search facility, and an essay about Canadian War Posters. The search facility enables you to search by World War, by Category, by Artist, or by keyword. The results of your search are displayed as thumbnail images. Click on a thumbnail to obtain a larger image and a full description. Each description includes the following information: the poster ID number and title or lead text; the date, artist, and publisher, when known; size, and appropriate notes.

It is possible to obtain digital or physical reproductions of the posters in this collection by using the available order form. Either digital copies, or printed copied (12” x 18” in size) can be ordered.


From the introduction page for the collection:

War posters aimed to impart a clear message to the viewer. Whether a poster encouraged the purchase of Victory Bonds or discouraged talk of Allied troop movements, its mission was to convey a specific message that could be interpreted only one way. The methods by which posters imparted their messages were different in each of the World Wars. In the First World War, posters were beset with text, while Second World War posters more effectively used emphatic slogans and intense graphics. Overseas Battalion 148 Now Recruiting, a First World War poster designed by the architect and artist, Percy Erskine Nobbs (1875-1964), offers an image of an officer slaying a German eagle. Compared to Allons-y Canadiens, a Second World War recruiting poster by Henri Eveleigh (1909-present), the Nobbs poster has less colour, more text, and less emotional impact. The officer is without expression as he slays the symbolic eagle. In contrast, the soldier in the Eveleigh poster charges toward the viewer, brandishing his weapon, an expression of intense emotion on his face. The simple text, Allons-y Canadiens, is splashed in bold letters across the lower quarter of the poster. This is not merely an invitation to join the army, as was the case with many First World War posters, but a passionate command. During the Second World War, more effective appeals were made through posters, partly because the world had already experienced the horrors of one world war, and also because advertising experience and contemporary studies had shown that dramatic and emotional appeals were more effective methods of reaching the Canadian public. A study by the Young and Rubicam agency of Toronto in 1942 found that the most effective posters were purely emotional, "appealing to sentiment through realistic images with photographic details, accessible to millions of middle-class citizens" (Choko 1994). The study found that symbolism and humour were considered ineffective by the public. The artists who designed war posters ranged from anonymous graphic artists to well-known Canadian painters and for this reason Canadian war posters present a wide variety of styles. Sometimes the artists were winners of war poster design competitions which were held during both wars. The need to find effective imagery for posters gave many artists and graphic designers a new opportunity to hone and expose their talents. Montreal-born and -trained architect and painter, Harry Mayerovitch, was one such poster designer. He worked in Ottawa from 1942 to 1944 and created a number of posters for various war- time campaigns under the pseudonym "Mayo". He won the first and third prizes for Canadian war posters in 1944.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 May 2013

North-West Canada Medal 1885
Topic: Medals

Militia General Orders
Ottawa, 18th September, 1885

G.O. No. 2 — For Service in the North-West in 1885.

The Minister of Militia and Defence has been informed through the Secretary to His Excellency the Governor General, that His Excellency has received intimation from the Imperial Secretary that an Imperial War Medal will be conferred upon the troops recently engaged in the suppression of the Rebellion in the North-West Territories.

In 1885, thousands of Canadian Militia soldiers, accompanied by a handful of Permanent Force (Regular Force) soldiers from "C" Company of the Infantry School Corps at Toronto, deployed west to suppress the Rebellion led by Louis Riel. To mark their service in the west, these soldiers were awarded the North West Canada medal.

5,650 North West Canada medals were issued, of which 16 went to British officers that served on the campaign. Of these, 1,753 soldiers were also eligible for the SASKATCHEWAN clasp (bar) for fighting at Fish Creek, Batoche, Cut Knife and/or Frenchman's Butte along the Saskatchewan River.

The North West Canada medal was issued to recipients unnamed, but many can be found named, either contracted privately by recipients, or with consistent naming among members of units indicating a common effort to have their medals impressed or engraved with the recipients' details.

Militia General Orders
Ottawa, 7th May, 1886

G.O. No. 2 — For Service in the North-West in 1885.

Adverting to No. 2 of General Orders (21) 18th September, 1885, these "War Medals" may be delivered to "next of kin" of deceased members who had become entitled to such. The Officer commanding the Corps, or other, entrusted with the delivery of medals to members of his Corps will satisfy himself that the person to whom he delivers the medal is "next of kin" to the party originally entitled to receive it, the receipt for the same to be so expressed.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Entrance to the Citadel, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Topic: Halifax

One of the iconic views form Halifax, Nova Scotia. preserved in generations of postcards, was the entrance to the Halifax Citadel. The stone fort on the Halifax peninsula overlooking the harbour, is the fourth set of fortifications at the site and was always the central feature of a system of fortifications that grew over centuries as threats and defensive weapon technologies changed. Even as the fort itself became obsoleted it remains a central feature of the Halifax landscape, consolidating itself as a primary tourism site even as many of the supporting and later independent battery locations fell into disrepair and were forgotten even by the local residents. Some of those outlying batteries can be found in ruins, in areas like Point Pleasant Park, other enjoy their own continued maintenance and attention as tourist sites, like York Redoubt.

Notable for many over many decades until more recent restoration work, was the placement of two large calibre land service mortars over each side of the entrance. These mortars were brought back from the French Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island after the last British defeat of that French stronghold in 1758.

The current view of the entrance from Google maps streetview. (Google maps streetview.)

But the entrance to the Citadel remains a well-known view from Halifax, even though it bears little truly unique features of its own. Wide enough for a single wagon, the passage through the rim of the glacis leads to a wooden bridge crossing the ditch into the fort's interiors. (It's a ditch, not a moat. Ditches are dry, moats are wet.)

A view of the ditch and entryway bridge from the ditch. (Google maps streetview.)

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 4 May 2013

Advantages of the Permanent Force (1912)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment at Petawawa, 1912, from a postcard.

Advantages of the Permanent Force

As published in the regimental journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment; The Connecting File, Vol. XXVII, No. 1; Spring–Summer 1955

A booklet entitled "Advantages of the Permanent Force," dated during the year 1912 sates in part that a Private Soldier on enlistment is entitled to a pay of $.70 per diem with an automatic increase of $.10 per diem after four years service.

It goes on to say that in addition to his pay which is $15.00 per month for the private soldier exclusive of deferred pay, a soldier receives the following, free:—

FOOD—A daily ration of 1 pound of read, 1 pound meat, 2 ounces bacon, 1 pound potatoes, 2 ounces beans, 2 ounces jam, 2 ounces butter, 1 ounce cheese, 1/1 ounce salt, 1/3 ounce coffee, ¼ ounce tea, 1/36 ounce of pepper, 6 ounces fresh vegetables.

Quarters, Bedding, Fuel and Light are supplied without payment, but the soldier has to pay for his washing and hair cutting.

MEDICAL ATTENDANT—Soldiers admitted into hospital receive the necessary diet and surgical and medical treatment. If admitted from wounds received in action, from illness contracted on service in the field, or from injuries received during drill or manoeuvre on peace service, free treatment is given. If admitted on account of injuries received in the performance of military duty a stoppage of 10 cents a day is made (including washing). In other circumstances a stoppage of 15 cents is required.

A soldier on joining the Permanent Force may be said to receive in pay, rations, lodging, etc., the equivalent of $1.10 per day which sum gradually increase according to his promotion and length of service. He also receives in addition to the above his deferred pay which in three years amounts to $32.00 and increases with further service.

A soldier also benefits by the following advantages—

(a)     Prizes for good shooting, etc.

(b)     Refreshments, groceries, tobacco, etc., from Regimental canteen at very low ates.

(c)     The use of library, recreation room and gymnasium.

(d)     Opportunities at learning a trade.

(e)     Cricket clubs, athletic sports, &c., at most stations.

(f)     The grant of a furlough, periodically for 21 days, on full pay.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 April 2013 8:26 PM EDT
Friday, 3 May 2013

2RCR Trooping of the Colour; 19 Oct 1957

The Ceremony of
Trooping the Colour
of the Second Battalion
The Royal Canadian Regiment

London, Ontario — 19th October, 1957

On 19 October, 1957, the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, performed the ceremonial parade for Trooping the Colour. Commanding the Battalion was Lieutenant Colonel G.C. Corbould, DSO, OBE, CD, and the Regimental Sergeant Major was WO I G.H. Fuller, CD. Second Lieutenant A.J. Lawson was the Ensign for the Colour. Taking the Salute was General Charles Foulkes, CB, CBE, DSO, CD.

Trooping the Colour is an historic ceremony whereby, with due solemnity, the Regimental Colour (or Queen's and Regimental Colours if a Royal or Vice-Regal personage is present), is paraded before the soldiers of a Battalion. Trooping the Colour displays for all the soldiers the unit's most prized possession, representing the history, service, and sacrifice of those who have gone before them, and charging them with their duty to continue to uphold that honour in the future.

The following is the musical program for the 2nd Battalion's Trooping (links go to a variety of artists on Youtube):

1.    "Advance" is sounded by the Buglers of the Corps of Drums. The Guards march on to the Square to the 2nd Gloucestershire March.

2.    Corps of Drums: "Drum Section March "

3.    Corps of Drums: "Officers' Call" and play the "Assembly "

4.    Regimental Band: "Slow March" "Pro Patria "

5.    Regimental Band: "General Salute "

6.    Regimental Band: "Troop" "Pageantry" "The Colours "

7.    Regimental Band: "Slow March" "The Duke of York"
"Quick March" "Sons of the Brave"
"Drummers' Call"

8.    Regimental Band: "British Grenadiers"

9.    Regimental Band: "Regimental March"

10.    Regimental Band: "Slow March" "Grenadier March"

11.    Regimental Band: "Quick March" "The Maple Leaf Forever"

12.    Regimental Band: "Slow March" "Kynegard Slashers" "1st Gloucestershire"

13.    Regimental Band and Corps of Drums: "Quick March" "The Regimental March"

14.    Regimental Band: "Quick March" "The Maple Leaf Forever"

15.    Regimental Band: "Quick March" ""The British Grenadiers"

16.    Regimental Band: "General Salute"

17.    Regimental Band and Corps of Drums: "Quick March" "The Regimental March"

Photo (above): RSM Fuller receiving the Colour from Sgt Wilkinson.

Below, excerpted page from the regimental journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment; Summer, 1957:


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Canadian Guards; Definitions (1966)
Topic: Tradition

Every regiment prides itself on being unique in ways that differentiates itself for other regiments. The following, from the 1966 Regimental Standing Orders of The Canadian Guards provides some of that regiment's definitions as applicable to service and daily life in that regiment.

The Canadian Guards
Regimental Standing Orders — 1966

Chapter 3 — Customs
3.3 — Definitions

3.30    Applicable to Persons.

  • The Colonel: Colonel of the Regiment.
  • The Lieutenant-Colonel: Lieutenant-Colonel of the Regiment.
  • The Commanding Officer: Officer commanding a battalion or Regimental Depot.
  • Senior Major: Second-in-Command of a battalion.
  • Captain of the Guard: Officer commanding a Guard irrespective if his rank.
  • Field Officers: Brigadiers, Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonels and Majors.
  • Mounted Officers: The Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Officers, Senior Majors and Adjutants.
  • Captain-in-Waiting: Captain of the week.
  • Subalterns: Collective term for lieutenants and ensigns.
  • Ensigns: Second lieutenants are referred to by their ancient title of "Ensign."
  • Picquet Officer: Officer commanding the Inlying Picquet.
  • Royal Family: Includes only those members of it who are styled "Royal Highness."
  • Field Officer in (Brigade) Waiting: Field Officer detailed for attendance on Her Majesty or the Governor-General at specific functions.
  • The Sergeant-Major: Warrant officer class I appointed Regimental Sergeant-Major of a battalion or the Regimental Depot. The title is extended to all ex-regimental sergeant-majors.
  • Band Sergeant-Major: Warrant officer class I of the Regimental Band.
  • The Band Master: Warrant officer class II of the Regimental Band.
  • Drill Sergeant: Regimental warrant officer class II appointed Drill Instructor. The appointment is senior to Company Sergeant-Major.
  • Colour Sergeant: Company Quartermaster-Sergeant and Regimental Staff Sergeants.
  • Picquet Sergeant: Orderly sergeant and second-in-command of the Inlying Picquet.
  • Picquet Corporal: Orderly corporal.
  • In-Waiting: Regimental duty, normally for a period of one week.
  • The Drums: Expression meaning the body of all non-commissioned officers, drummers, fifers and buglers composing the Drum and Fife band of a battalion. These individuals are referred to as "Drummers."
  • Pipes and Drums: Expression meaning the body of all non-commissioned officers, pipers and drummers composing the Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Battalion.
  • Trained Soldier: Title given to a guardsman employed as Assistant Squad Instructor at the Regimental Depot. (He wears a special badge on his upper right sleeve.)
  • Recruit: A soldier who has not completed his recruit training.

3.31    Applicable to Duties.

  • Inlying Picquet: Small body of troops held in readiness in quarters. The Inlying Picquet includes the fire picquet, the security picquet, and police picquet employed in garrison town. It does not include the Quarter Guard. Individual guardsmen are known as "Picquet" not as "Sentry."
  • Barrack Guard: Regimental appellation of a Quarter Guard. Daily guard for the security of the entrance and exits of a garrison, barracks or grounds.
  • Visiting Rounds: Visit of a Guard by the Guard Commander or the Picquet Officer.
  • Grand Rounds: Visits to the Guard by by the Captain-in-Waiting during his tour of duty.
  • Sentry: Member of a Barrack Guard, doing duty.
  • Details: Collective term for unit duties.
  • Evening Parade: Evening detail parade.
  • Staff Drill Parade: Special drill parade and inspection for employed personnel of the unit, e.g., clerks, batmen, regimental police, etc.
  • Shine Parade: Special parade, not exceeding two hours for the sole purpose of cleaning and polishing personal kit. Normally held on week-days after supper.
  • Orders: Summary trials or interviews conducted by Commanding Officer.
  • Memoranda: Summary trials or interviews conducted by Company Commanders and Adjutants.

3.32    Miscellaneous Expressions.

  • Credit: Special recognition for excellent turnout on parade, in quarters and for action or duty performed in an outstanding manner. Three credits are normally rewarded with a 24-hour pass at the discretion of the Commanding Officer.
  • Forfeiture: Loss of a credit or deprived of permanent pass. Automatic forfeiture of pay. Loss of privilege of wearing civilian clothes.
  • Placed in the Book: Placed on report or charged.
  • Tunic: Used only to identify the jacket of the full dress.
  • Jacket: Used when referring to all other uniforms or civilian clothes.
  • Civilian Clothes: proper term to be used instead of "mufti."

3.33 to 3.39 – Not allocated.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 April 2013 6:33 PM EDT
Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, the 1950s
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Thanks to the University of Western Ontario, we can explore the development of London through their online publication of local aerial photos. Among their resources can be found a series of images taken of London's urban area in the 1950s, including the neighbourhoods covering and surrounding Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Barracks, created in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Carling family, saw the construction of Wolseley Hall between 1886 and 1888 and the occupation of the barracks by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. The Infantry School Corps has become The Royal Canadian Regiment, which had had a continuous presence in London since the 1880s and still recognizes Wolseley Barracks as its Home Station today. Today the 4th Battalion of the Regiment and The RCR Museum remain quartered in Wolseley Hall.

In these aerial photos taken in 1950 and 1955, we can see the development and growth of the buildings at Wolseley Barracks in the post Second World War decade. During the War, Wolseley Barracks was the home of No. 1 District Depot which saw Canadian servicemen at the start and the end of their service, passing through Wolseley Barracks for some of their training and then again for discharge. The RCR, which always maintained a foothold in Wolseley Barracks, returned in strength with a battalion of soldiers in 1952, necessitating the rebuilding of the base to replace the Second World War era hutments with new modern barracks, kitchen, headquarters and supporting services buildings.


In 1950, the base area looks much as it did at the close of the Second World War. Filling a good share of the base property are Second World War "H Huts," construction of which started in 1941. These buildings, named for their distictive shape were, in their simplest use, two long open barracks joined in the centre by washrooms and utility areas. These will be familiar to anyone who has served on almoat any Canadian Army base from that era to the 1990s, and some are probably still standing around the country.


By 1955 we see the change of the base to the look it would have in until the 1990s. The H-Huts are starting to disappear and new buildings have been going up. In the lower right corner of the base is the building that will be the bataliosn maintenance hangar, above that three barracks blocks and a kitchen building are starting to circle an area that will soon be a newly paved parade square. In the centre of the base, the white-roofed "U" cshaped building will house base and battalion headquarters and the large "U" shaped building at top centre will be another barracks, holding 500 men when packed with four soldiers to a barrack room (spacious accommodations indeed after the bunkbeds found in the older H-Huts). yet to apear in this image are the chapels, the base gymnasium, new Mess buildings for the Officers, the Warrant Officers and Sergeants and the Junior Ranks.

The aerial photos at Western Libraries Map and Data Centre are provided with the following source data:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Military Medal (M.M.)
Topic: Medals

The original text of the Royal Warrant as published in the London Gazette authorisng the intitution of the Military Medal follows:


War Office,
5th April, 1916.

Royal Warrant Instituting a New Medal Entitled "The Military Medal."


GEORGE THE FIFTH, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India,

To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting:

WHEREAS We are desirous of signifying Our appreciation of acts of gallantry and devotion to duty performed by non-commissioned officers and men of Our Army in the Field We do by these Presents for Us Our heirs and successors institute and create a silver medal to be awarded to non-commissioned officers and men for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field:

Firstly.– It is ordained that the medal shall be designated "The Military Medal."

Secondly.–It is ordained that the Military Medal shall bear on the obverse the Royal Effigy, and on the reverse the words "For bravery in the Field," encircled by a wreath surmounted by the Royal Cipher and a Crown.

Thirdly.– It is ordained that the names of those upon whom We may be pleased to confer the Military Medal shall be published in the London Gazette, and that a Register thereof shall be kept in the Office of Our Principal Secretary of State for War.

Fourthly.– It is ordained that the Military Medal shall be worn immediately before all war medals and shall be worn on the left breast pendent from a ribbon of one inch and one quarter in width, which shall be in colour dark blue having in the centre three white and two crimson stripes alternating.

Lastly.– It is ordained that in cases where non-commissioned officers and men who have been awarded the Military Medal shall be recommended by a Commander-in-Chief in the Field for further acts of bravery, a Bar may be added to the medal already conferred.

Given at Our Court at Saint James's, this Twenty-fifth day of March, 1916, in the Sixth Year of Our Reign.

By His Majesty's Command,


Total Awards

Approximately 115,000 Military Medals (M.M.) were awarded during the First World War (with 596 first bars, 180 second bars and one third bar). Each bar represented a subsequent award f the same honour. Over 15,000 Military Medals were awarded during the Second World War (with 177 first bars, and one second bar). About 300 Military Medals were awarded between the wars and another 932 with eight first bars since 1947.

Awards to Canadians

During the First World War; 12,341 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal. Of these, 830 received a second award and 39 received a third award of the M.M. One of the best known recipients of the MM with two bars was Cpl Francis Pegahmagabow, the most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War. He served with 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

During the Second World War, 1235 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal. Of these, 10 received a second award and 1 received a third award of the M.M. The sole recipient of the MM with two bars was Regimental Sergeant Major Frank Leslie Dixon, of the Essex Scottish Regiment.

During the Korean War; 53 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal.

In 1993 the Military Medal was discontinued in the British honours system and the Military Cross became available to all ranks.

The equivalent award to the Military Medal in the modem Canadian Honours system is the Medal of Military Valour. As of 1 June 2012, this medal has been awarded 83 times for actions in Afghanistan.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 29 April 2013

Wellington Barracks, Halifax
Topic: Halifax

Wellington Barracks was one of a number of barracks used to house soldiers of the British Army, and later the Canadian Permanent Force, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Built on land now occupied by HMCS Stadacona, Wellington Barracks was once the home of The Royal Canadian Regiment when it provided the garrison battalion in Halifax.

The Evolution of the Halifax Fortress; 1749-1928 by Harry Piers (Revised by G.M. Self, Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1947)

"The destruction by fire (11 December, 1850) of the soldiers' quarters at the North barracks very seriously reduced the available accommodation for the large force on the station ( ... the whole of the North Barracks, with the adjoining Officers' Quarters, Mess Rooms and the contiguous buildings were entirely consumed …), but it was not until seventeen years later that the erection of th present Pavilion Barracks or Married Soldiers Quarters was begun on the site of the old building. Almost immediately after the fire the Halifax Hotel on Hollis Street was leased as quarters for the Officers, and an uproarious time they had there. The rank and file were accommodated thus: the 7th Royal Fusiliers in casemates at the Citadel; the 88th in South Barracks; and the 35th, two companies at George's Island, and other harbour forts, one in the Naval Hospital, and one on the ground floor of the Pavilion Range of the North Barracks."

"Fortunately steps had already been taken to build in another part of the town large and thoroughly modern permanent barracks, later named Wellington Barracks. On 17 July, 1850, Lt. Colonel Savage had sent to England a full description and plans for permanent barracks for a battalion of infantry, to be erected on the Ordnance Field, Gottingen Street, south of Fort Needham; officers' quarters to accommodate two field officers, twenty-four officers and twenty-six servants, enlisted men's barracks for 555 NCO's and privates, and a 40-bed hospital. Authority to proceed with the work was given 30 December 1850, and the preparation of the site apparently begun in 1851. In June, 1852, the tenders of Peters, Blailock, and Peters, of Quebec, £43,271, was accepted; and they commenced work about 1 August, 1852, under the superintendence of Captain Barry, R.E. The buildings were nor complete until April, 1860."

These new barracks would also be built to the newest standards, meeting the high expectations of the reform movement seeking to improve living conditions then gaining strength in England. Accordingly, as quoted in "A Brief History of Wellington Barracks" by Barbara Winters (1989), it would include:

"...the creation of separate quarters for married soldiers, as well as separate dining facilities, day-rooms, ablution rooms and baths, laundry and drying rooms, They proposed the removal of urine tubs from the barracks, the erection of proper urinals outside the rooms, the replacement of cesspools by a drainage and sewage system and the provision of an abundant water supply."

Wellington Barracks was completed in 1858, but no troops occupied the quarters until 1860. the contract to build the barracks was fraught with problems, including the dismissal of the contractors before all work was completed.

Built originally to house the British Army garrison units at Halifax, the Barracks would house The Royal Canadian Regiment on two occasions. During the first such occasion, it housed part of the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion of The RCR, which was raised between 1899 and 1902 to garrison Halifax while the British Army focused its efforts, and its own battalions, in South Africa. Later, in 1905, when the last British garrisons were removed from Canada and The RCR expanded to create a battalion headquarters and six new companies of infantry at Halifax, Wellington Barracks again became one of the Regiment's homes until the Regiment departed for the First World War.

Wellington Barracks, after being damaged in the Halifax Explosion, was never returned to full use. Its outbuildings were torn down after the Explosion and the property transferred to the Navy in 1941.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 April 2013

"Over the Top," by Arthur Guy Empey (1917)
Topic: CEF

In 1917, Arthur Guy Empey, an American who served in France with the British Expeditionary Force, wrote the book "Over the Top." Pitched to the growing public interest in the War in the United States, Empey's story of his service, from his decision to go to England to enlist after the sinking of the Lusitania to his wounding and discharge, provided a tale of the popular hero doing the right thing. His narrative covers all the familiar ground of the Great War soldier, and reads as well today in harmony with popular perceptions of the War as it would have to his audience in 1917.

Empey's story, perhaps, fits almost too nicely with those popular perceptions, polished as they have been for us now by almost a century of repetitive descriptions of the same elements of Great War service. While some of Empey's tale might need to be taken with a grain of salt, even if only for the way his service seems to include every stereotypical experience of a soldier of the Western Front, we find that the included "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" offers the best view that he is writing to entertain, perhaps more so than to educate. Some selected examples are included below:

"Any complaints" – A useless question asked by an inspecting officer when he makes the rounds of billets or Tommy's meals. A complaining Tommy generally lands on the crime sheet. It is only recruits who complain; the old men just sigh with disgust.

Bayonet – A sort of knife–like contrivance which fits on the end of your rifle. The Government issues it to stab Germans. Tommy uses it to toast bread.

C.C.S. – Casualty Clearing Station. A place where the doctors draw lots to see of Tommy is badly wounded enough to be sent to Blighty.

Crime Sheet. – A useless piece of paper on which is kept a list of Tommy's misdemeanors.

C.S.M. – Company Sergeant Major, the head non–commissioned officer of a company, whose chief duty is to wear a crown on his arm, a couple of Boer War ribbons on his chest, and to put Tommy's name and number on the crime sheet.

"Lonely Soldier" – A soldier who advertises himself as "lonely" through the medium of some English newspaper. If he is clever and diplomatic by this method hegenerally receives two or three percels a week, but he must be careful not to write to two girls on the same block or his parcel post mail will diminish.

Mentioned in Despatches – Recommended for bravery. Tommy would rather be recommended for leave.

Military Medal – A piece of junk issued to Tommy who has done something that is not exactly brave but still is not cowardly. When it is presented he takes it and goes back wondering why the Army picks on him.

"On the mat" – When Tommy is hauled before his commanding officer to explain why he has broken one of the seven million King's regulations for the government of the Army. His "explanation" never gets him anywhere unless it is on the wheel of a limber.

Runner – A soldier who is detailed or picked as an orderly for an officer while in the trenches. His real job is to take messages under fire, asking how many tins of jam are required for 1917.

Sergeant's Mess – Where the sergeants eat. Nearly all of the rum has a habit of disappearing into the Sergeant's Mess.

Trench Feet – A disease of the feet contracted in the trenches from exposure to extreme cold and wet. Tommy's greatest ambition is to contract this disease because it means "Blighty" for him.1

V.C. – Victoria Cross, or "Very careless" as Tommy calls it. It is a bronze medal won by Tommy for being very careless with his life.

1.     Hardly a minor concern, trench feet could lead to severe infections and amputations. By the winter of 1915–16, trench foot was considered a crime and a unit could lose leave privileges if it became prevalent.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 27 April 2013

A Staff Officer's Dictionary (1963)
Topic: Staff Duties

The Owl (1963)

Course journal; publication of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan

A Staff Officer's Dictionary

by Major M. Bashir Ahmed, The Baluch Regiment

1PlanningFogging the issue.
2Under active considerationWill have a shot at finding the file.
3Has received careful considerationA period of inactivity covering the time lag.
4For commentsTo be honest I know nothing about it. Could you put me wise?
5Ascertained informallyHad a cup of tea.
6Transmitted to youTry holding the baby for a while.
7ConcurHave not read the document!
8Kindly expedite replyFor God's sake try to find the papers.
9In abeyanceA state of grace for a disgraceful state.
10Appropriate actionDo you know what to do with it? We don't.
11DADOS*Greek work meaning "Unobtainable."
12On a high levelA talk between two junior officers of different branches.
13DecisionA staff officer's last resort.
14This must await my returnEnsure destruction or loss before I return.
15Immediate or PriorityColoured slips of paper to be attached to any file you want to foist on to somebody else at the eleventh hour on a Saturday.
16Urgent reminderAn uncalled for note normally issued in panic when at last remembered. To be placed at the bottom of the "pending" tray.
17Pay slipsMysterious pieces of paper bearing no apparent relation to what you imagine your pay to be.
18RocketA projectile traveling from a greater to a lesser elevation.
19Putting him in the pictureLong and confused statement to a new-comer.

* Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 April 2013

The Canadian Honours System
Topic: Medals

Courtesy of the Department of National Defences Directorate of Honours and Recognition, comes this site on Canadian Honours. The Canadian Honours Chart identifies the many honours, awards and medals that can be worn by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Ranging from the Victoria Cross to the Commissionaires Long Service Medal, each identified medal links to an associated page giving general information and eligibility requirements.

For medals that are no longer issued, a similar series of pages can be found in the Veterans Affairs Canada website; Orders, Decorations and Medals.

Recipients of honours and awards for valour and meritorious service can be researched at the Governor General's website:

Earlier recipients of valour, meritorious and long service awards can also be sought among the pages of the London Gazette and the Canada Gazette, but be warned, the searching of either archive can require patience.

For guidance on wearing of medals and ribbons, see the following guide:

For those with an interst in learning more about Canadian medals and awards, there is no better source to start with than Christpher McCreery's book; The Canadian Honours System.

For research into older medals, try the Medal Yearbook and/or British Battle and Medals, two valuable references for collectors and researchers.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 April 2013

Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, the 1940s
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Thanks to the University of Western Ontario, we can explore the development of London through their online publication of local aerial photos. Among their resources can be found a series of images taken of London's urban area in the 1940s, including the neighbourhoods covering and surrounding Wolseley Barracks.

Wolseley Barracks, created in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Carling family, saw the construction of Wolseley Hall between 1886 and 1888 and the occupation of the barracks by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. The Infantry School Corps has become The Royal Canadian Regiment, which has had a continuous presence in London since the 1880s and still recognizes Wolseley Barracks as its Home Station today. Today the 4th Battalion of the Regiment and The RCR Museum remain quartered in Wolseley Hall.

In these aerial photos taken during and just after the Second World War, we can see the development and growth of the buildings at Wolseley Barracks during this very busy period for the base. During the War, Wolseley Barracks was the home of No. 1 District Depot which saw Canadian servicemen at the start and the end of their service, passing through Wolseley Barracks for some of their training and then again for discharge.


The 1942 arial photo shows the base area as still mostly open ground. Now bounded on the east by a solid row of civilian housing on Sterling Street, that boundary plus Oxford Street on the North, Elizabeth Street on the west and the rail tracks to the south will be the familiar base property for generations of Canadian soldiers who served in London. The base area is still anchored on its west boundary by the (still-standing) buildings of the old Quartermaster's stores in the lower left corner (now found behind McMahen Park) and by Wolseley Hall in the upper left (the home of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, the 1st Hussars, and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum).

Most of the First World War generation of buildings are gone in this image, starting to be replaced by the ubiquitous Second World War "H Huts," construction of which started in 1941. These buildings, named for their distictive shape were, in their simplest use, two long open barracks joined in the centre by washrooms and utility areas. These will be familiar to anyone who has served on almoat any Canadian Army base from that era to the 1990s, and some are probably still standing around the country. In the upper right of the base area, tent lines can be seen as the need for housing easily outstripped available barracks space.


By 1945 we find more "H-Huts" filling in the base, the tent lines are now gone and more training facilities have been created, the majority of these having been completed by the end of 1942. By 1946, over 30,000 servicemen would return through Wolseley Barracks for demoilization. The turning point in the function of District Depot No. 1 was V-E Day, when the emphasis changed from enrolment of recruits to discharging returning servicemen.

The aerial photos at Western Libraries Map and Data Centre are provided with the following source data:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013 1:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Researching the CEF; The Works of Ted Wigney
Topic: CEF

Anyone who researches soldier of the Canadian Expeditionary Force eventually comes across the name of Edward Wigney. A tireless researcher and compiler of information, Edward left behind a series of works that presented an incredible amount of his own research.

The C.E.F. Roll of Honour (1996)

The best known book produced by Wigney is "The C.E.F. Roll of Honour." In this 866-page volume, Ted compiled a comprehensive listing of the 67,000 "members and former members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who died as a result of service in the Great War, 1914-1919." Using the Canadian Books of Remembrance and the War Graves Registers as his starting point, he tackled the great challenges of reconciling conflicting information on individuals, the use of aliases and the many errors of spelling and transcription of numbers that previous recorders left in their paths. Wigney's Roll of Honour is an impressive work linking the soldiers personal details to unit, date or death, cemetery and notes containing details of unit of enlistment, nature of death and age where known.

"The CEF Roll of Honour" is available through

This book lists every Canadian servicemen who died during WWI. It involves seven years of work and brings together previously disjointed and unknown information into one substantial text. This book is a joy to peruse and easy to use in that all 67,000 names are listed alphabetically! This is a limited quantity printing and will be a necessary addition to any library. 880 pages, beautiful hardcover; 67 000 names; full Christian name, rank, serial number; place of burial; honours and awards, cross-referenced alias names; cause of death (i.e., KIA, DOW); Canadians who died serving with British, Australian, New Zealand, South African and U.S. forces; identification of all North American Indians; P.O.W.'s; listed alphabetically and much more. Probably the most important book you can own on WWI.

Mentioned in Despatches of the C.E.F. (2000)

Researching Mentions in Despatches (MiD) can be a frustrating exercise because the varying ways names might be listed in the London Gazette can make for slow and seemingly futile searches. This can be compounded when a recipient may have received more had one mention, or when a note in a file or personal history identifies the receipt of a Mention in Despatches, but it turns out to be something quite different.

Wigney's "Mentioned in Despatches of the C.E.F." is actually two compiled lists. The first is the listing of those Mentioned in Despatches and Names Brought to Notice to the Secretary of State for War (A List) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This list includes the recipient's details, with rank at the time of each award as applicable, unit, and the London Gazette issue number and date of issue.

The second part of this volume provides the listing of those Names Brought to Notice to the Secretary of State for War (B List) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Similar to being Mentioned in Despatches, this degree of notice did not include the privilege of wearing the MiD emblem.

Self published by Wigney, copies of Mentioned in Despatches can often be found through on line sources.

Guests of the Kaiser; Prisoners of War of the CEF 1915-1918 (2008)

Sadly, Edward Wigney died on 28 Sep 2008 while completing preparations for publish "Guests of the Kaiser." His family ensured that the manuscript was completed and his roll of 3800 CEF Prisoners of War became an available reference to Canadian Great War researchers.

"Guests of the Kaiser" is available through Norm Christie's CEF Books.

The late Ted Wigney was Canada's foremost Great War researcher. His Roll of Honour of the CEF has become the WWI Researchers Bible. Ten years in the making in Guests of the Kaiser Ted has compiled the details of 3800 CEF POWs. The majority were taken at Ypres and Mount Sorrel, but Ted's meticulous list gives details of all POWs, those lost on Trench Raids, The March Retreats, and even divulges the Alias of the RCR deserter, Otto Doerr, who went over to the Germans before Vimy, and gave up much information on the Canadian Plans. Only Ted Wigney could unravel the story of the RCR deserter. The book also contains the stories of the 100 Escapers, gallantry awards, and many other fascinating details of this forgotten piece of Canadian history.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 April 2013 7:45 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Victory Medal
Topic: Medals

Over 350,000 Canadians received the Victory Medal (Inter-Allied War medal) for service in the First World War. The Victory Medal is the second most common medal awarded to Canadians for Great War service after the British War Medal. The Victory Medal is always accompanied by the British War Medal, and, for those whose service in theatre started before the end of 1915, also with the 1914-15 Star. These groupings are colloquially referred to as the First World War "pair" (BWM + VM) and the "trio" (1914-15 Star + BWM + VM). Unlike the British War Medal, the Victory Medal could not be issued as a sole entitlement, i.e., alone.

Eligibility for the Victory Medal required that the recipient had served on the strength of a unit in a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. Soldiers who reached France but did not transfer to the strength of a unit serving in France before the Armistice were not eligible, alternatively, a soldier who had been posted to a unit became eligible even if he did not reach his unit before the cessation of hostilities.

There were no clasps (bars) issued for the Victory Medal. If the recipient was also Mentioned in Despatches, the oak leaf emblem for that honour was mounted on the Victory Medal ribbon.



Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 April 2013 1:21 AM EDT
Monday, 22 April 2013

Battle Honours for Afghanistan
Topic: Battle Honours

What will it take to award Battle Honours for Afghanistan?

While I do not know where the Canadian Forces currently stands on the possibility of Battle Honours being awarded for Canadian battle groups in combat in Afghanistan, I expect that the confirmation of eligibility requirements, etc., will not be made until we are finally (completely) out of theatre and then the stage will be prepared for regiments to identify which honours they believe the should receive and can justify. Some, like Theatre Honours (e.g., "ITALY 1943-45") have historically been straightforward, the year dates indicating continuous service in the theatre, but we didn't deploy like that. Battle honours for specific battles have traditionally required the unit's headquarters plus a minimum of 50% of that unit's troops to be involved … but we didn't always build battle groups for Afghanistan that would meet that type of criteria (mixed groupings of sub-units don't qualify under the old terms). The bottom line is that the old rules don't apply very effectively. To overcome this deficiency in the older regulations, it is likely that the Canadian Armed Forces Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) has been working on building new criteria from the ground up to align with the way we force generate and deploy battle groups in the modern era.

This subject is one of recurring discussion topic in the online forum "" The recent, and ongoing, award of Battle Honours to modern units designated as perpetuating units of the War of 1812 has also served to bring this topic to the fore with regularity. While some correspondents have readily commented on which units and which actions they feel are deserving of honours, the question usually runs aground when it is explained that the existing terms and conditions for the award of Battle Honours don't match the way the Canadian Army fought in Afghanistan. Because of this, there a lot of groundwork to be laid before individual actions can be debated. That is also why we need re-engineered guidelines before regiments can start to look at what actions may or may not fit the new criteria (or where they may have to make a special case to support nominating an action that falls "outside" the boundaries).

The existing regulations for Battle Honours show a consistency between the First and Second World Wars, with the latter as the basis for awards for the Korean War. For review, these can be found at the following links, note also the time period between cessation of hostilities and the promulgation of the conditions:

To prepare the ground for regiments to identify the Battle Honours they want to receive, the essential introductory steps will be, in some form:

a.     Review and confirmation of the conditions for selection and award of honours,

b.     Creation of an approved list of operations (see reference to the Battles Nomenclature Committee in the First World War terms and conditions), and

c.     Standing up of the applicable Regimental Committees to draft proposed regimental lists of honours.

The greatest departure from the "old" regulations will be in addressing the modern approach to building Battle Groups which may have seen a deployed organization employinng sub-units from three different parent units (not to mention the broad possibilities for other augmentation). If the engaged subunits in a given combat action did not all come from the unit providing the headquarters, then which regiment is entitled to receive a Battle Honour? One could argue that the battle honour go to the deployed Battle Group as a unique unit, but that brings us full circle to the problem faced at the end of the First World War. In early 1918, it was realized that the disbandment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force would result in almost all honours that might be awarded for the service of CEF units would be shelved with the records of the disbanded units. To avoid this fate, the concept of perpetuation was created, by which CEF units were linked to existing units of the Canadian Militia for the purpose of carrying forward with active units the history, heritage, and honours of those CEF units. Without perpetuation, few units in the Canadian Army would carry Great War honours today. Similarly, awarding Battle Honours to Afghanistan battle groups which were dissolved as unique units on redeployment would mean that the honours would belong to units that no longer exist.

So, would such Battle Honours then be perpetuated by the regiment that provided the headquarters? Or would a different solution be desirable?

An alternative solution can be found in the old regulations with the conditions recognizing "exceptional cases where individual squadrons or companies took an important part in certain operations, and in such cases any claims submitted will be treated on their merits" or "where a regiment was represented in a theatre only by a squadron or a company operating independently". This condition did not apply in the First World War, and so the Machine Gun battalions of the CEF only received battle honours dated after the formation of Battalions from the Machine Gun Companies in each Division. We see the effects of this change with the Second World War where, for example, parent regiments received battle honours for the actions of the Support Companies to the Brigades (such as the Princess Louise Fusiliers) and in Korea with the Lord Strathcona's Horse for the actions of its deployed squadrons over three years.

The award of Battle Honours based on the actions of individual sub-units is a valuable precedent for the Afghanistan problem, but the conditions would need to reflect had become a approach to building battle groups for Afghanistan, and was no longer the "exceptional case." The complementary requirement that would need to be considered is that nominations for battle honours may need to examine the locations and participation of each sub-unit level within a battle group.

"What about the Reserves?" will likely be an attendant question to discussions of Afghanistan battle honours. In this too there are precedents to be considered.

For the South African War (1899-1902), 26 Militia regiments received theatre honours for the numbers of soldiers they provided to the deployed field units that formed the Canadian Contingents. Similarly, for the First World War, honours to some Militia regiments which, while not perpetuating combat units of the CEF, proved that at least 250 men (see paras 10 to 13 here) from their perpetuated battalion(s), or that they directly sent overseas as a Draft, were present with eligible combat units at specific battles. The key, in both cases, is the requirement that the numbers of soldiers being examined were in front line units and in action. To apply this concept for Canadian Reservists in Afghanistan would also require identifying those soldiers from each unit that were with the deployed battle groups, i.e., the "units" that were determined to have earned Battle Honours.

The other precedent for battle honours to Reserve units has its own flaws. The awarding of Battle Honours for the War of 1812 to units of the Canadian Militia which served in that war is an ongoing project of the Government of Canada. These honours are being perpetuated by existing units of the Reserves (and the Regular Force) based on geographical connections to the towns and counties in which the War of 1812 units were raised. The method by which eligible units were identified leaned heavily on lists of units recorded as having soldiers present at the various actions, although apparently without detailed consideration of force structure, level of participation, or battlefield actions of individual units. To show what result this an lead to, the extreme example was the award of a battle honour to the Middlesex Regiment of Militia for the presence of a single officer at the battle of Detroit.

The Canadian Armed Forces have a daunting challenge to overcome in order to develop a modern set of terms and conditions for the award of Battle Honours to meet the operational context and force generation methods for Afghanistan. Whatever is developed then becomes the baseline for discussions between regiments and any formed committees for considering battle honours to determine what honours should be awarded, either based directly on the guidelines or defended as special cases. The question of Afghanistan Battle Honours is too important for this work to be rushed, or over-ridden by political manoeuvring seeking solutions without due care for detail. The best thing we can do is stand back and let the staff do their work to lay the foundation for Battle Honours that any eligible regiment will be proud to carry and to share the history of their participation in Afghanistan to earn them. It will, at the least, establish a baseline from which the negotiations can begin. (Like the issue of medals, no plan is going to make everyone happy, and rushing forward with a plan that "looks good" at first glance can cause years of bitterness afterwards.) If for no other reason than the importance of getting this right, it may take longer than people think to complete the necessary administration and review processes.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 April 2013

Flags of our Fighting Troops
Topic: The RCR

Thanks to Google's ongoing program to scan and make available a wide range of old and rare books, the occasional treasure is found that can support any particular area of research. One of these is "The Flags of our Fighting Troops; Including Standards, Guidons, Colours and Drum Banners" by Stanley C. Johnson, M.A., D.Sc., F.R.E.S. (Published by A. & C. Black, Ltd, Soho Square, London, 1918.) Surprisingly, this small volumes covers not only the Colours of the British Army, but also includes notes on the Colours of Canadian battalion that fought in the First World War. While not comprehensive, it does provide some intersting bits of information, the extracts below are those on units now perpetuated (2 of 5 perpetuated infantry battalions) by The Royal Canadian Regiment (or on The RCR itself).

33rd Battalion

Made and presented by I.O.D.E, London, Ontario, July 21st, 1915; accompanied the unit to England and deposited in Canterbury Cathedral on Aug 26th, 1916.

142nd Battalion

Colours made by Messrs Ryrie Brothers, Toronto, and presented by Sir Adam and Lady Beck, of London, Ontario, on Aug 19th, 1915; deposited in St Paul's Cathedral, London, Ontario.

The Royal Canadian Regiment

Colours in Halifax. (As of the writing of the volume in 1918.)

At the end of the Appendix on Canadian Colours, the following synopsis history of The Royal Canadian Regiment was provided:

The Royal Canadian Regiment is the only regular unit in the Canadian Forces. It was first raised in December, 1883, for the purpose of instructing the Canadian Militia, and was called the Infantry School Corps. Since then it has been known as the Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry, then the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, and later by its present title.

In 1894 H.M. Queen Victoria gave her Imperial Cypher V.R.I, as a badge. The Regiment was increased during the South African War by the raising of a 2nd and 3rd Battalion; these were afterwards disbanded.

In 1885 the Regiment took part in the suppression of the North West Rebellion under General Middleton at Batoche and Cut-Knife Creek.

In 1896 (sic) it formed part of the Expedition sent up to police the New Yukon District, where it remained for two years. In 1899-1900, the 2nd Battalion fought in South Africa with the 19th Brigade, doing particularly good service at Paardeburg (sic). In 1905 the establishment was increased, when the Imperial Troops handed over the garrisoning of the fortresses at Halifax and elsewhere to Canadian Troops.

In 1914, on the outbreak of war, the Battalion relieved the 2nd Bn. Lincolnshire Regiment at Bermuda, whre it remained for eleven months.

It landed in France in November, 1915, and took part in the battle of Ypres of June, 1916, Somme, September, 1916, and Vimy, 1917. It particularly distinguished itself on the Somme and Vimy.

H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught is Colonel of the Regiment.

In 1901, H.R.H. the Duke of Cornwall and York (now H.M. King George V.) presented Colours to the Regiment at Toronto. In 1904, H.E. Lord Minto, Governor-General of Canada, presented at Ottawa a special Banner given by H.M. King Edward VII, for service in South Africa.

Note: The Colours of both the 33rd and 142nd Canadian Infantry Battalions are currently laid up in St Paul's Cathedral, London, Ontario. The orginal Colours presented to The RCR are laid up in the Bishop Cronyn Church, London Ontario.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 April 2013 2:36 PM EDT
Saturday, 20 April 2013

Commonwealth War Graves Commission; The Cemeteries
Topic: CEF

Anyone who has followed the news reporting around Remembrance Day each year is aware of the cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. When they are shown in news clips, it is usually one of the larger cemeteries, the reports comments remarking on the many roes, hundreds or thousands of graves, and the inevitable line about "the horror of war." But what seldom gets shared is not the overpowering images of the large cemeteries, which convey sacrifice in numbers beyond easy comprehension, it is the fact that there are thousands of smaller cemeteries, some with only a few burials, that poignantly rest among the hills and valleys of the French and Belgian countryside.

While researching the First World War casualties of The Royal Canadian Regiment, I expected to find them lying in a number of cemeteries following the Regiment's movements about the theatre of war. But I did not expect to identify, locate and record 183 separate burial and commemorative sites in seven countries. And this, to place it in perspective, was in searching for the fallen of only one infantry battalion (of the CEF's 48 battalions within the four infantry divisions).

Quiet beautiful cemeteries are the resting places for many of the Canadian casualties of the First World War. Well cared for in perpetuity, these sites exist in a state of grace, where visitors automatically fall into pensive silence as they walk between the rows of white or grey stones, either to visit an ancestor, perhaps the first of the family to do so, or to absorb the immensity of the sacrifice of so many fallen from so many families.

For those without the opportunity to visit the CWGC cemeteries in Europe, similar experiences may be found in many community cemeteries in Canada. Many soldiers, wounded or sick, managed to return to their families before succumbing to their wounds or illness. They too are among the dead of the Great War, and lie in cemeteries closer to home, most still marked by the familiar gravestone supplied through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Sacred Places; Canadian Cemeteries of the Great War

For those with an interest in learning more about the CWGC cemeteries, a new series of books now available from Norm Christie identifies each cemetery in France and Belgium with Canadian burials. Each entry is supplemented by notes on some of the soldiers whose graves can be found there.

  • Sacred Places, Vol I – Belgium = "...tells the stories of the 168 cemeteries that contain the graves of Canadians who died in Belgium during the Great War."
  • Sacred Places, Vol II – France (A-K) - "...the details of 240 Great War cemeteries in France and explained, giving location, historical background and stories of the Canadians buried there."
  • Sacred Places, Vol III – France (L-Z) - "...the details of 241 Great War cemeteries in France..."

Remembered; The History of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

For anyone seeking more in depth information into the history of these cemeteries, I would recommend the following volume:

Remembered; The History of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission"This lavishly illustrated book marks the 90th anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which pays tribute to the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Charting the development of the magnificent cemeteries and memorials built in 150 countries, "Remembered" emphasizes the importance of the commission's work not only in commemorating the dead, but also in preserving the sites of some of the most historically significant battles of the twentieth century. The first major illustrated history of its kind for almost fifty years, "Remembered" is an engaging introduction to the work of the CWGC and its enduring relevance today."

Lest we Forget

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 April 2013 12:38 AM EDT
Friday, 19 April 2013

The Royal Canadian Regiment Gate; Halifax, Nova Scotia
Topic: Halifax

On Gottingen Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia, set into the wall of the main Royal Canadian Navy shore establishment in the city, HMCS Stadacona, is a gate named for Canada's senior infantry regiment. While most Haligonians have probably never noticed the gate, and even for those whose daily commute takes them along that street it has probably faded from notice, even fewer could probably explain the connection between an infantry regiment and a unused gate in the wall of a Navy property.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Gate (The RCR Gate) links the City to its past, when The RCR was the garrison battalion in Halifax from 1905 to 1914. The Regiment's links to Halifax reach back even further, to when a 3rd (Special Service) Battalion was raised in 1900 and served in Halifax until 1902 while the British Army was focusing its efforts in South Africa. But in 1905, the British Army withdrew its last garrison soldiers from Canada, and that led to the expansion of The Royal Canadian Regiment, with a battalion headquarters and six new companies of infantry being formed to man the defences of Halifax.

The Regiment maintained one Company of infantry in the Citadel, but for the bulk of the Regiment's solders in Halifax, their home was Wellington Barracks. Wellington Barracks was located within the bounds of the current HMCS Stadacona property, with the soldiers' barrack building near Gottingen St and the officers' quarters closer to the harbour by a hundred metres or so. And the gate? The RCR Gate on Gottingen Street was the original entrance to Wellington Barracks.

The officers' Quarters was damaged in the Halifax Explosion on 6 December, 1917. The damage to the buildings was such that it took some days for the elements of the Regiment remaining in Halifax to recover the Regimental and King's Colours from the wreckage of the Officers' Mess. This was, no doubt, an important task in addition to aiding and assisting rescue and recovery efforts after the devastating explosion of the Mont-Blanc. The officers' quarters remained unoccupied until 1931 following extensive repair work, while the soldiers barracks was repaired and reoccupied after the 1917 Explosion.

In 1941 , the Wellington Barracks property was transfered to the Navy and HMCS Stadacona was forned from the expansion of the adjoining Navy property. The current sailor's barracks, "A" Block, occupies the orginal location of Wellington Barracks soldiers' barracks, which was known as "A" Mess. In the evolving reconstruction of the Stadacona site, and particularly the need to accommodate increased traffic flow, a new main gate was built further south on Gottingen Street and The RCR Gate became a historical artifact, maintained as a link to the past.

Today, The RCR Gate remains part of HMCS Stadacona, a reminder of when the local garrison included a Canadian Permanent Force (i.e., Regular Force) infantry battalion. The gate can be seen adorned with a regimental banner and cap badge over the gates, and the emblazoned battle honours of the Regiment on the stone Gate posts. The regimental cypher also decorate the two pedestrian doors flanking the main gate.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 April 2013 11:19 PM EDT

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