The Minute Book
Thursday, 10 October 2013

CEF Enlistments in England
Topic: CEF

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Enlistments in England

Adjutant-General's Branch

Report of the Ministry; Overseas Military Forces of Canada; 1918

Applications for enlistment into the Canadian Forces in England were constantly being received. Some of these were from persons who alleged themselves to be Canadians, and who had been called up for Service by Imperial Authorities and who desired to serve with the Canadians rather than with the Imperial Forces; others were from Canadians, who, for various reasons, happened to be resident in England and who desired to join the Canadian Forces there. Requests were also received from Canadian who had, voluntarily or otherwise,

The last class of applicant was advised that he must apply through his Imperial Unit for transfer to the Canadian Forces, and where the Imperial Authorities saw fit to forward his request for such transfer, together with the statement that there was no objection to his discharge from his Imperial engagement and his re-enlistment in the Canadian Forces, his application was approved, provided that the man concerned satisfactorily passed a medical examination by the Canadian Authorities and was found in Category A as fit for General Service. All individual applying for enlistment in England were advised that their applications could not be considered unless they furnished a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship issued by the High Commissioner for Canada in London. This certificate was only issued by the High Commissioner after he has satisfied himself that the man's claim as to Canadian citizenship was well founded. In addition, all applicants had to submit to examination by the Canadian medical Authorities and be found fit for General Service.

The applicant having fulfilled these conditions was sent to a territorially affiliated Reserve Unit. There he was again medically examined, and if considered fit, was enlisted. His completed documents were returned to the Adjutant-General's Branch and a record kept of his enlistment. The documents were sent to the Canadian Record Office, London, and a copy of the Attestation Paper sent to the Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, for custody. The man's Certificate of Canadian Citizenship was kept on file in the Adjutant-General's Branch.

The number of enlistments completed in England from the beginning of the War to December, 1918, was 1,733, representing approximately 10 per cent. of the applications actually received, the balance of applications having been rejected either as a result of medical examination or through inability to produce the requisite Certificate of Citizenship.

In some cases applicants were unwilling to persist in their applications after they had filed them.

Except in special circumstances applications for enlistment in England were only accepted for service in the Infantry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A Toast to the Regiment
Topic: Tradition

Brig Murphy

Click to see full image at the Library and Archives Canada online exhibit Faces of War.

Brigadier William Cameron Murphy, CBE, DSO, ED, commanded the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade in Italy and Northwest Europe from 27 Feb 1944 to 25 Jun 1945.

What is Tank Country?, by William Murphy, as published in Canadian Military History, Vol. 7, No. 4. Autumn 1998.

A Toast to the Regiment

Canadian Army Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 1952

The following is the text of a Toast to the Regiment proposed by Brigadier William Murphy, CBE, DSO, ED, at the annual Officers' Mess dinner of the British Columbia Regiment (DCO) (13th Armoured Regiment) held in Vancouver earlier this year. Brigadier Murphy, who is president of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association, is the author of the article entitled "What Is Tank Country?" published in the April 1951 issue of the Journal. - Editor.

Mr. President, Your Honour and Gentlemen:

It may seem strange to some of the younger Officers here tonight that I should be called upon to propose the Toast to the Regiment. After all this is my Regiment. I was commissioned with it and served with it, from Lieutenant to Major, for a period of some fourteen years. The fortunes of war did not permit me to fight with it - nevertheless it is my military home. It might well be asked then, by those new to military tradition, how it is that I propose a toast to my own Regiment. Again, some of the younger Officers may wonder, when the toast is proposed, if they too should rise and drink. Surely, they might say, this cannot be the correct procedure. It is like toasting oneself. In the answer to these queries lies the true meaning of the Regiment. It is not only right and proper that I should propose this Toast, however poorly I may do so, but it is also right and proper that every Officer in this room, whether he is now serving with the Regiment or whether he has ever served with the Regiment, should do it honour by rising and drinking to its name. The Regiment is not the officers and men who serve it. The Regiment is not those officers and men who originally founded it or who fought in its name in the Boer War and the two Great Wars or who served it in the intervening years of peace. The Regiment is not those officers and men who will proudly carry its name in the years to come. The Regiment is above and beyond those who serve it. It would take a far more eloquent speaker than myself to adequately define for you that intangible something to which we do honour at this time. The Regiment is tradition - the Regiment is service - the Regiment is love of country - the Regiment is unswerving loyalty to our Queen and all that She stands for - the Regiment, above all else, is sacrifice. Those who served it yesterday, those who serve it today, and those who will serve it tomorrow, have added, and will add, glory to its name. They are honoured in that opportunity. Year by year the faces in our ranks change. Year by year young men come forward to take the places of older men and of hose who fall in battle. But the Regiment goes on. When all here tonight are but a memory, the Regiment will still stand - famous for past deeds, ever ready for new duties.

Gentlemen, I give you the Regiment.

Brigadier Murphy's Obituary, as published in The UBC Alumni Chronicle, Vol 15, No. 4, Winter, 1961

William Cameron Murphy, D.S.O., E.D., Q.C., BA, LLD45, died October 20, 1961 in Vancouver at the age of 56. While at U.B.C., he was associate editor of the Ulyssey, represented the university in intercollegiate debating and played on the rugby team. He was called to the B.C. bar in 1929. Brig. Murphy was an army man from the time he was 15 years of age when he joined the 31st Battery, Field Artillery, in Vancouver. He had reached the rank of major in the militia when he reverted to the rank of captain to go overseas with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1942 and took command of the B.C. Dragoons Regiment in the United Kingdom. He rose to the rank of brigadier and in 1944 was placed in command of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.

Brig. Murphy was appointed to the Vancouver Police Commission in 1955 and served until March, 1958. He was a member of the Alumni Association (president in 1931-32), the B.C. and Canadian Bar Association and a trustee of the Poppy and Last Post funds.

Besides being a partner in Campney, Owens and Murphy and president of Canadian Western Pipe Mills Ltd., he was a director of many companies.

Brig. Murphy was the son of the late Mr. Justice Denis Murphy, BA, PhD (Ottawa Coll.), LL3’36, who served on U.B.C.’s Board of Governors during the years 1917-1935, and 1938-1946. Three of Brig. Murphy’s brothers and sisters also graduated from U.B.C.; Mrs. John Creighton (nee Sally Murphy, BA‘23), the late Denis W. Murphy, BA‘29, and the late Paul D. Murphy, BA‘29. Another sister, Mrs. Margaret MacFadyen, is living in Watchung, New Jersey. He leaves his wife, Mary, and two daughters, Mrs. Waiter Green, and Patty, all of Vancouver.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 October 2013

3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry
Topic: The RCR

General Orders — 1900

Ottawa, 1st April, 1900

General Order 28
Provisional Battalion to Garrison Halifax, N.S.

One piece gilt officer's badge.
One piece brass soldier's badge.

It is believed that these one-piece versions of the 1894 pattern cap badge of The Royal Canadian Regiment were worn by the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion.

1.     The formation of a provisional Battalion from the Active Militia (the Permanent Corps, Cavalry and Field Artillery, and the Active Militia of the City of Halifax, which is already allotted to the defence of Halifax in the Imperial Defence Scheme excepted), is authorized to replace temporarily, the 1st Battalion Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), at Halifax, N.S.

2.     This Battalion will be designated the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.

3.     The establishment of this Battalion is as follows:—

  • 1 – Lieutenant Colonel
  • 2 – Majors
  • 1 – Adjutant
  • 8 – Captains
  • 8 – Lieutenants
  • 8 – 2nd Lieutenants
  • 1 – Quartermaster
    • 29 – Total Officers
  • 1 – Regimental Sergeant-Major
  • 1 – Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
  • 5 – Staff Sergeants
  • 8 – Colour Sergeants
  • 32 – Sergeants
    • 47 – Total Sergeants of Regimental Staff and Sergeants
  • 40 – Corporals
  • 16 – Drummers and Buglers
  • 872 – Privates
    • 928 – Total Rank and File
      • 1004 – Total all Ranks
  • 4 – Officers' Horses

4.     Officers, non-commissioned officers and men serving in this Corps will be paid the rates of pay and allowances provided for the Active Militia, which they will draw, in the case of officers, from the date upon which they report for duty, and in the case of non-commissioned officers and men, from the date of enlistment.

elipsis graphic

General Order 7, of 1 January, 1901

Establishment of 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.

General Order 28, or April 1st 1900, is amended as follows:—

  • For 32 Sergeants, read 33.
  • For 40 Corporals, read 41.

The 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, was disbanded in late 1902, with the return of a British battalion to the Halifax garrison. Only a few short years later, in 1905, the last British Army garrisons in Canada would be withdrawn. At that time, The RCR would expand to a ten-company organization (from four) and Regimental headquarters and six new companies would occupy barracks in Halifax as the garrison battalion.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 7 October 2013

Saluting the out-of-uniform Officer
Topic: Humour

Saluting the out-of-uniform Officer

From Humour in the Army, by John Aye (1932)

The order that a soldier should salute an officers whom he knows to be such, whether in uniform or plain clothes, is one that gives a good deal of trouble to the ordinary soldier. Unfortunately, unless he has a good memory for faces, he is very liable to omit to salute Captain Ironbrace, who has come out in a dirty old flannel suit, while on the other hand he may give a seven-horse-power salute to a smartly dressed individual who turns out to be the colonel's batman on leave or the assistant in the regimental barber's shop. For those who suffer from this difficulty in recognising people there are a few well-established rules for their guidance:—

(1)     If you see a monocle in barracks it usually has an officer behind it. Salute.

(2)     If the individual approaching you has an " I can do no wrong " air, that's either a junior officer or a sergeant-major. In both cases be on the right side and salute.

(3)     If you see anything habited in freak clothes, that's usually an officer. Salute.

(4)     If, in a gentlemen's outfitter's shop, you see a very, young gentleman buying crimson braces, magenta socks, and pink shirts, that's probably a young officer. Salute.

(5)     If you meet an elderly gentleman who prefaces everything with " Eh what? " that's probably a senior officer. Salute.

(6)     If you discover an individual ramming his unpaid bills into the fire, that's sure to be an officer. Salute.

(7)     If you meet a militant-looking young gentleman who speaks of "d--d civilians," that's probably a newly commissioned Territorial officer. Salute twice.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 6 October 2013

1943 Message from the Commandant
Topic: Officers

In the January 1943 edition of the newsletter "BMA Blitz" published by the candidates and staff of the Officers' Training Centre at Brockville, Ontario, the commandant provided this guidance in his message. Known as the "Brockville Military Academy," the OTC was commanded by Colonel Milton Fowler Gregg, V.C., M.C.

1943 Message from the Commandant

By Col. M.F. Gregg, Commandant, Officers' Training Centre

1.     This year anything may happen. I will not wish you "A Happy and prosperous New Year" because it can be neither in the old meanings of the words.

2.     Unless you have a foolproof formula — which I haven't — it isn't much use to speculate about what will happen in theatres of operations this year.

3.     There are, however, some things, to keep us from being easy optimists can do with serious thought by all of us at B.M.A.:—

(a)     The Hun and the Jap are still at the top of their form.

(b)     Much as we hate to admit it, up to now their form has indicated pretty skillful training.

(c)     The Canadian Army, as such, has not yet entered sustained battle.

(d)     We, of the Canadian Army, have had over three years of training — attempting to acquire skill but, in the main, without the enemy present to prove that it will work.

(e)     I believe it will work, and I think you do too. But, for that reason, we can't afford to be smug and self-satisfied that all the answers have been found.

(f)     When the Canadian Army goes into sustained action, the training picture will change within a month.

(g)     Then the demands will be such that there won't be time for much training speculation in quiet places like Brockville.

(h)     The battle itself will provide the ruthless test of what will work and what won't.

(i)     Under fire, the ideas and methods that won't fit that battle picture will have to be improvised into something that will.

(j)     It may sound prety desperate, but it has been done often before and turned the tide by a hair.

(k)     Often the good old principle of war—"Surprise"—will be forced upon you because the Hun will know your standard plays in advance and you'll have to "improvise" to survive.

4.     If you agree, then you will know why we at "B.M.A." harp upon the importance of the maximum use of these three months for:—

(a)     Solid foundation in orthodox skill, based on such experience as now available. You must ave that for you will have plenty of times to use it. Without it, you'll be in a muddle which will sap confidence and kill initiative. With it, your show will kick off in tidy fashion and leave you free to be on alert for an opportunity to vary or improve upon the standard play. It's exactly the same as in football or hockey.

(b)     Practice in improvisation after the groundwork is laid. When you played your practice games at school, you tried out some of your own canny stunts—some of them proved foolish and you discarded them. But the effect was, that when the league games came, you had confidence in yourself, to improvise at the vital moment. You've got to have some confidence in your ability to "ad lib" in the battle or you won't have the nerve to try it when it is essential. That's why this is a good place to start to create that confidence.

5.     So I ask instructors and candidates to make the most effective use of all th time granted in 1943 (whether at Brockville or beyond) to:

(a)     make sure your skill with men, weapons and equipment is sound.

(b)     imagine how the items of your training can best be fitted into the battle and inquisitively let that be the urge for your study and questioning.

(c)     let your enthusiasm out-do the B.M.A. 1942 model. It has proved that sustained enthusiasm and controlled speed are potent factors in overcoming the handicap of the shortness of this Course.

(d)     practice in making your decisions quickly without dithering, both during training hours and after. Don't worry when they prove silly but keep at it until you can make a sound decision on anything in three seconds.

(e)     take advantage of the field work and bits of mild battle inoculation here, not only to learn to do, but to plan quickly so you will be able to do it when real fear, fatigue and excitement will combine to freeze your mind. mental and physical stamina, the capacity to improvise with your team in a pinch—will be your salvation while shaking yourself out of the first tense stages of the battle.

6. As I passed these notes to the Adjutant to have them types, he said "They sound pretty gloomy." All right, then. For all of you, may 1943 be a year of Happy Humiliation of the Hun.

Brockville, 1 Jan., 1943

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 5 October 2013

HMCS Bonaventure
Topic: RCN

HMCS Bonaventure
Click for larger image. Image published in Jane's Fighting Ships 1967-68.

HMCS Bonaventure

Preceded by HMCS Warrior and HMCS Magnificent, HMCS Bonaventure was Canada's last and longest serving aircraft carrier.

A Majestic class carrier, The Bonnie served in the RCN 1957 to 1970. She was laid down 27 Nov 1943 for the Royal Navy as HMS Powerful, and launched for completion afloat on 27 Feb 1945. With the end of the War, but work on her was suspended in May 1946. Purchased by Canada and renamed HMCS Bonaventure, work resumed in July 1952 and she was completed 17 Jan 1957 and thereafter commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Initially carrying 34 aircraft in five squadrons:

The Banshees were retired I 1962 and a few years later new Sikorsy Sea King helicopters were added to the Bonaventure's complement. After the Bonnie's 1967 refit, the air component consisted of 21 aircraft.

HMCS Bonaventure was decommissioned by the Canadian Armed Forces on 3 July 1970 and broken up in Taiwan in 1971.

HMCS Bonaventure

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 4 October 2013

Reading Advice for a Newly Appointed Officer
Topic: Officers

On being asked by a young officer for reading recommendations, rather than simply compiling a list, I returned with the following advice.

Reading Advice for a Newly Appointed Officer

Good afternoon, and congratulations on your appointment,

In general, my advice for reading usually comes down to "read anything." The long-winded answer follows:

While the recent publications on Afghanistan may catch your eye, one thing to keep in mind is that the next war (when and if) will be different. What our troops did in Afghanistan was what worked there, our newest challenge will be to get a generation of soldiers to understand that it was only one solution.

Balance reading on unconventional warfare with some of the older Cold War stuff, like "First Clash." All arms combat against a balanced enemy is something we haven't focused on in some time, but still need to know. While "today's enemy" may be a Taliban fighter with an IED and an AK, "tomorrow's enemy" may be equipped with T-72s, rocket artillery and the threat of chemical weapons. Also look for works like "Empty Casing" for an understanding of the range of employment our soldiers can experience.

Read anything that interests you on leadership and command, decision making, and management. Pick and choose the elements that suit your style; it will also help you understand others' approaches. Find "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence" for a good read.

For history, I'd suggest starting with the history of your own regiment. Then explore the campaigns and battles the regiment celebrates. Becoming one of the local experts in regimental lore is never a bad thing and it can take years to absorb and place in context the minutiae.

Always keep in mind that what you need to pass your courses will be taught to you. It's easy to overwhelm yourself with detail that confuses the course learning environment, and you'll have time to layer on information you get afterwards to fill in what you feel are gaps.

I've always found that reading items of interest in science and technology is good to have for background knowledge. War may be an art, but we deal with a lot of science based realities. Physics, math, chemistry, the science of ballistics, anything you can think of has some applicability, and a little bit of knowledge is never a bad thing. Take care not to "lose" time going too deep into things where a basic level of knowledge will suffice. You can always revisit specific areas when your interest piques. Be a generalist until you find an area of focus.

Challenge yourself occasionally, Pick up a book that stretches your reading level by its scholarly presentation, or even just the density of material. read them in small chunks and push yourself to digest complex material. One of my first tastes of this was Norman Dupuy's "Numbers, Predictions and War," an excellent little work that forces you to look at the concept of combat power in measurable terms.

And when you're not reading something specific to your military interests, look for things that are completely outside the framework. Read the occasional layman's book on economics, science or culture. Broaden your horizons and you'll start to look at the military side of things from different angles as well.

I tend to have two or more books on the go at once. Some I read a few pages at a time and digest the material slowly. Others I take chapter by chapter, or more. But when my mind tires of one, there's always another one I can pick up if the mood strikes me, usually with the intent of returning to finish the first.

And don't ignore fiction. Fiction has the advantage of simplifying the scenario to just what the story needs. You can isolate and examine as you read and ask if you would have take the same decisions as the major characters.

I hope that offers a few lines of approach. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to not streamline your reading to such a tight focus that you can't see problems from other perspectives. (And there's a huge thread on the forum about Reading Lists, etc., for specific recommendations.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 3 October 2013

"Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line"
Topic: Tradition

From "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line"

Pubished in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

By Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles)

Yet it is only human for one who is proud to belong to some perhaps ancient and honourable institution, be it a college, society, firm or regiment, to need some outlet for his pride: and this is often found to take the form of deprecatory references to a rival or neighbouring institution of the same sort. If it is admitted then that the British find pleasure, and perhaps even some moral profit, in their traditions, it seems likely that British soldiers too will tend to prize the military traditions they have inherited.

More particularly, the soldier's trade is a dangerous one, especially the infantry soldier's; any man who is to face danger and death must be in some way built up and fortified before he can be confident that he will not flinch from that stern assignment. Saints and martyrs have in themselves enough spiritual toughness and faith to be able to endure without human aid; but the ordinary man, it is suggested, needs to feel that he is one of a specially chosen and selected company, membership of which at once inspires him to the utmost of which he is capable and reassures him that his comrades too are of the same high quality. It may be further suggested that such a consciousness of belonging to a corps d'elite may be induced in four main ways:—

(i)     By selection. Thus the commando raider or the airborne soldier knows that he and his fellows have passed a rigorous physical test and have emerged successfully from a period of intense and exacting training and testing. He is confident that having endured so much nothing can defeat them.

(ii)     By obvious differentiation. This explains why the Royal Navy has no need to try and maintain "crew spirit (if that is the equivalent of regimental tradition): every rating knows that simply by being a seaman he is a different kind of person from a mere landsman, and, because he has mastered an element which the latter instinctively dreads, a superior one: and so are all "they that go down to the sea in ships" along with him.

(iii)     By technical attainment. here again the Royal Navy scores, and so do the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Engineers to both of whom still accrues the prestige due to a "scientific corps": every gunner and sapper knows that he is a skilled man to whom, as to his companions, delicate instruments and weapons of precision are entrusted.

(iv)     By membership in an organization which has its own strongly marked and characteristic habits, standards, codes of behaviour, even a distinctive dress, in a word, its traditions, in which the individual can share and take pride.

It follows that while those in any of the first three classes often enjoy the advantages of the fourth as well (a member of the King's Troop, R.H.A., is an example of a soldier who can be included in all four) the infantry soldier must depend entirely upon the fourth, for it is all that he can hope for. Whatever laudatory things important people can find to say, especially in war-time, about the infantryman, it must be admitted that he is what is left over when all the experts, scientists, and intellectuals have been taken away, and, while everyone else who is employed in the fighting Services is some sort of specialist, the infantry soldier is a Jack of All Trades if there ever was one: though he has certainly shown a remarkable aptitude for mastering them successfully.

It is for this reason that the infantryman, and particularly the infantry officer, sets far greater store by tradition than do members of the other arms; it is a sound instinct which makes him insist upon the differences which distinguish his regiment from others, even if he seems thereby to attribute undue importance to minutae of dress, drill or deportment. Upon precisely such details is founded conviction of the foot soldier that he is indeed one of the Elect.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What Happens to Old Captains?
Topic: Humour

What Happens to Old Captains?

by Master Captain JP McManus, CD

From the CFB Gagetown "Junior Officers' Journal" July 1977

There comes a time in the life of many Captains when it suddenly occurs that their peers and, in fact, many who are far, far junior, have been promoted to the dizzy heights of Major. One or two of these promotions are understandable because there is always a small percentage of clever individuals whom everyone realizes will be promoted quickly. Allowances are also made for the politically sound individuals who have been promoted because of good postings. For example, being PA to a General Officer, doing a good job and having a PER signed by him is very helpful. However, when several of these promotions occur it suddenly strikes home that something is amiss. With this realization comes a self appraisal, usually with some astounding conclusions. First and most important is the realization that he/she is as highly skilled as the people who have been promoted. Usually though, there are one or more large holes in his career progression pattern; a vital course that was missed or an essential job that was never held. In addition, there is also the realization that his postings have not been too good. Four years as the Recce Platoon Commander in an Airborne Commando may have been fun, but it did not do much for a career. When he realizes that he is now doing the same job that he did in 1972, and also in 1968, the Captain realizes that something is wrong.

The annual visit by the Career Manager is another milestone, especially when he says that the Captain's Regiment can expect only two or three promotions to Major in the next year.

All of these things usually come together at about the time the Captain has seven years in rank. With the realization that promotion is a very dim prospect, the Captain tries to figure out why he has not been promoted.

Odds are that he is an old man; at least 30 years of age. His ailments and old injuries are starting to become more important because they affect his work. No longer can he recover quickly from the effects of Happy Hours, Mess Dinners and impromptu parties.

He already knows that he is highly skilled in his profession, but his skill was gained by practical experience not formal training. Me also realizes that his staff work leaves something to be desired, he is short on tact, long on support for his soldiers, frustrated in his present job and generally disillusioned with the Army. Also important is the fact that he is unilingual. He is also committed to his profession by a sense of duty, a need for security and inertia. Also by the hope that next year will be his year for promotion.

Time, however, has a habit of creeping up on him. Before he realizes it two or three years have passed with no promotion and only horizontal job expansion. There he sits; able to do any job in his unit to at least one higher rank level. He is, in fact, a resource that the CO draws on when he wants a particularly complex, or sticky job done without having to personally supervise every step of it. Often the Captain fills a Major's position, doing the job without benefit of the pay or privileges that go with it.

Such was the case in early 1977 in 2 PPCLI. The Battalion had four Majors (including the DCO) and 10 Captains. The time in rank of six of these Captains ranged from seven to nine years. These six elderlyCaptains shared a disdain for Majors and outright hostility to Lieutenants. They were also veterans of the days when the Subalterns' Protective Society flourished. In addition, because of their age, they were regarded with some awe by the other junior officers and were permitted some leeway that the others did not have. Ever mindful of this these six Captains began to search for a method of protecting their positions. Mutiny was out of the question, so a more subtle method had to be found.

From this search developed the Master Captains' Association, an organization dedicated to the overthrow of Field Officers. After much discussion and soul searching, a list of membership criteria was developed, the main points of which are:

a.     seniority in the rank of Captain equal to or superior to that of the junior member;

b.     possession of at least two medals, one of which must be a CD;

c.     a superior level of skill at one's profession;

d.     hatred of subalterns;

e.     disdain for Majors, particularly those younger than oneself; and

f.     an undying belief in promotion "next year".

Membership carries certain privileges and responsibilities. First, and most important, is the fact that as a Master Captain one is too junior for command and too senior for responsibility. Next is the God-given right to call all Majors by their first names. There is also the privilege (and requirement) to wear one combat pip sewn to the underside of the left lapel of one service dress, and, in other orders of dress, to carry a combat pip at all times. Failure to produce it on the demand of another Master Captain costs a drink. Any amendments to the association constitution requires 100% concurrence, therefore members must leave their proxy vote with another member if they are away from their units.

The greatest responsibility lies in promotion. If, through some ghastly error, a member is promoted, he must bear the cost of a formal mess dinner for all the other Master Captains on his Base.

There are plans for the future also. Membership cards are a definite item, as is a modification to the Mess Kit. The old one, of course. Since all of us were fitted for it many years ago, there are now problems in getting into one's waist coat. The association intends to solve this problem by replacing the waist coat with a good quality T shirt, in the approved Regimental colour, bearing the logo (with appropriate MOC):

The initial intention was to limit membership to Combat Arms Officers, but this has been amended to permit select Corps types to join. Only if it is to the association's advantage, however. To keep the record straight, and for the sake of posterity, the charter members of the Master Captain's Association are:

  • MCapt Doug Arril, PPCLI
  • MCapt Bob Beggs, PPCLI
  • MCapt Dave Brigden, PPCLI
  • MCapt Gerry Jensen, PPCLI
  • MCapt Pat McManus, PPCLI
  • MCapt Gord Shields, Chap (P) just for class
  • MCapt Woody Woodward, PPCLI

One other member has been added to this august group since its inception; MCapt Jim Van Dusen, Log; a fine old Mother Trucker. While at the Combat Training Centre recently I discovered that considerable interest in the association existed, with many officers wanting to join. Should this be the case with you, and you meet the criteria, please forward a written application outlining your reasons for wanting to join and a summary of your service to:

Master Captain's Association
Kapyong Barracks
Letter Carrier Depot "M"
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3N 0V9

Attn: MCapt JP McManus CD

A warning about applications. If they are too good you will be turned down because you are Field Officer material. And, finally, a word of hope for non - CD holders. Your application will receive especially favourable consideration if you "Failed CD".

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 October 2013 12:23 AM EDT
Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Private Charles Daniel Smith, D.C.M.
Topic: CEF

Private Charles Daniel Smith, D.C.M.
1st Canadian Infantry Battalion

In 1914, Charles Daniel Smith was a 19 year old artisan from Listowel, Ontario. The son of Reverend Thomas J. Smith, the family is shown in the 1911 Canadian Census as living at the Saugeen First Nation, but by 1914, Smith records his father as next-of-kin living at Listowel, Ontario.

Smith was one of the thousands of young Canadians who traveled to Camp Valcartier at the outbreak of the First World War to be attested for overseas service as a soldier of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion. Smith is described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 8 inches in height with a 36 inch chest measurement. he had a fair complexion, grey eyes and black hair. he was pronounced fit to serve overseas and completed his attestation on 22 Sep 1914.

It is clear that Smith performed well as a soldier of the 1st Battalion. By the spring of 1916, he would be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). The DCM was awarded to soldiers for gallantry in actions and the only higher award for soldiers was the Victoria Cross.

The citation for Charles Smith's Distinguished Conduct Medal was published in the Supplement to the London Gazette, dated 11 March, 1916.

6856 Private C. D. Smith, 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion. - For conspicuous gallantry. After the capture of the enemy's trenches, and all the supply of bombs having become exhausted, Private Smith, on his own initiative, and after several attempts had failed, made five successive journeys through a fire-swept zone and back, bringing up fresh supplies of bombs, thus contributing by his bravery and determination to the successful maintenance of the position won.

He has also been previously awarded a Mention in Despatches, which was Gazetted in Issue No. LG 29422, dated 31 Dec 1915.

Following the end of the First World War and the disbanding of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, The 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion was perpetuated by The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Perpetuation ensured that the honours, awards, and history of CEF units would be carried forth by existing units of the Canadian Army, and not put away to be forgotten as those CEF units were disbanded. The Canadian Fusiliers would be amalgamated with The Oxford Rifles and The Royal Canadian Regiment in the 1950s, with the perpetuation of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion (along with five other units) passing to The RCR to sustain.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 30 September 2013

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)
Topic: Military Theory

Canadian Army Training Memorandum No. 29, Aug 1943

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)

1.     Study of recent operations in all area in which our forces are fighting, continue to emphasize that the principles of war must be fully appreciated and clearly applied if successful results are to be achieved. The first requisite then is that the principles of war are known and understood.

2.     The following doggerel was recently issued in a training document by G.H.Q., MIDDLE EAST, and while its origin is obviously pre-war since references are made to horses, etc., its truth remains unaltered:—

Oh always Maintain your Object-ive
Offensive your action should be
Surprise 'gainst the foes is effective
and Concentrate on him, he'll flee.
Economise always your forces.
Security seek from alarms.
Make Mobile your columns — like horses
and Co-operate with All Arms.


When you make appreciation
Of a given situation,
Time and date and place are due,
and of whom the point of view.
First the Object you require.
SecondFactors and Deductions
Strength — localities — barbed wire—
Topographical obstructions—
Character — Morale and Training—
Methods of Communication—
Time of year and dry or raining—
Food and water — Transportation—
Factors too of time and space
Must not be without a place.
Third — the Courses for the foes—
FourthOur Own best line of action—
Last the Plan which seems to show
Greatest chance of satisfaction.
Plans must be concise and clear
so the Orders can appear.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 29 September 2013

Historic Names For Camp Gagetown
Topic: Tradition

The current sign at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, soon to be changed to the 5th Canadian Division Support Base.

Historic Names For Camp Gagetown

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 13, No 4, Oct 1959
From A Public Relations Report Issued At Camp Gagetown, N.B.

Areas occupied by the Army garrison at Camp Gagetown, N.B., are to be named after persons prominent in Canada's growth and military history, it has been announced by the Camp Commander, Colonel C.H. Cook, ED, of Ottawa. Names selected perpetuate battles in which Canadian soldiers distinguished themselves, they include also a deceased Victoria Cross winner of the First World War, a deceased Canadian general, an early Canadian fort and others of historical and regimental significance. The names will identify messes, quarters and other accommodation occupied by Camp Gagetown's four major elements, including field and permanently-established units. Signs are to be erected in the areas so designated.

Parade at Camp Gagetown (circa early 1960s). MIKAN 4234182: Copyright belongs to the Crown; Credit: Canada. DND/LAC.

Fort Carleton, built by the Hudson's Bay Company on the North Saskatchewan river, will be perpetuated in the name to be applied to the area occupied by Camp Headquarters and the static units. The area will be known as "Fort Carleton Barracks". Choice of Carleton was made because of a county in New Brunswick of that name, and because of the former Carleton and York Regiment, now perpetuated in the Royal New Brunswick Regiment.

The name of a St. Catharines, Ont., soldier who won the Victoria Cross in the First World War, will be given to a junior ranks club for personnel of Camp Headquarters and static units. He is the late Lance Corporal Frederick Fisher who won the VC in the [1915] Battle of Ypres while serving with the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion. The club will be known as "The Frederick Fisher Club".

The name of a former Honorary Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery will be bestowed on the area of the camp occupied by the 3rd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. He is the late Maj-Gen. H.O.N. Brownfield, of Brockville, Ont.

The junior ranks club of 3 RCHA will be called "The Grenade Club". because of the grenade insignia of the artillery and its association with the weapon.

Two battles of the First and Second World Wars will denote the barrack areas and junior ranks club of the 1st Regiment, 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's). The barrack areas will be known as "Cambrai Barracks", after the Battle of Cambrai in 1916 in which tanks were first used. The Hussars junior ranks club will be known as "The Coriano Club", commemorating the Battle of Coriano Ridge in Italy in 1944 in which the 8th New Brunswick Hussars (Princess Louise's) played a leading role.

Buildings at Camp Gagetown (circa early 1960s). MIKAN 4234336: Copyright belongs to the Crown; Credit: Canada. DND/LAC.

St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, lends his name to the barrack areas of the 2nd battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. The cross of St. Andrew is duplicated on many of the Black Watch insignia.

The unit's junior ranks club will take its name from the brilliant red plume worn by members of The Black Watch on their balmorals, the red hackle. The club will be designated as "The Red Hackle Club". The red hackle originated with The Imperial Black Watch in 1795. At that time the regiment was covering the retreat of a British force at Gildermalsen, Holland, who were falling back before the French. An artillery unit left its guns in the retreat and The Black Watch counter-attacked, recovered the guns and manhandled them back to safety. In commemoration of this event, the artillery unit lost its right to wear the red plume on their headdress in favor of The Black Watch. The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, this country's oldest highland regiment, gained the right to wear the red hackle in 1915 for their part in the Battle of St. Zubien's Wood> in France.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Carden-Lloyd Carrier
Topic: The RCR

From the journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment, The Connecting File, 1965.

The Carden-Lloyd Carrier

By: Brigadier WJ Moogk

Carden-Lloyd Vickers Machine Gun Carriers were the first mechanical transport of [The Royal Canadian] Regiment acquired before the Second World War.

Their first operational use was in aid of the Civil Power at the Stratford Strike in 1933. They were excitingly described by the press as "whippet tanks." Thus the strikers gained a moral victory as the sad picture of labour being crushed by the brutal soldiery was fearfully exploited. The carriers came with top covers which lent some credence to this story. When these lids were down the result was nearly carbon monoxide poisoning for the driver and gunmen. needless to say the covers were soon removed permanently.

My own pride in assuming command of this early example of mobile armour was exceeded only by my ignorance of their care and handling. hence when Graeme Gibson returned from exchange in England, all "batted up" with the latest lore and Regimental course was set up I was greatly pleased to be included. The candidates who were to learn about these fearsome objects came from the London, Toronto and St. Jean Stations.

The greatest fun was derived from driving. Steering was accomplished by "braking" one track at a time. Two penalties of a sudden turn were either stalling the motor or "throwing" a track. The second resulted in the tiresome procedure of replacement. A heavy, dirty and disagreeable hour's work. The motor made a further contribution to dangerous living by having a penchant for bursting into flame.

With all her faults we loved her still and the full value of this Carden-Lloyd course would be difficult to overestimate. few of us had more mechanical skill that sufficient to operate a bicycle. Only the members of the Sergeants' Mess could afford cars. We were exposed to the rudiments of motors and the driving system and driving. We were among the few prepared for mechanization which burst on us shortly.

It is also highly probable that this pool of mechanical lore, as well as the Carden-Lloyds, was an important factor in the decision to form the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School at Wolseley Barracks. This School became the nucleus of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps and [The Royal Canadian] Regiment may take pride in having provided important assistance in the formation of this great corps.

Carden-Lloyd Carrier Course – 1935. left to right, front row. Lt JHWT Pope, Lt RM Crowe, Capt TG Gibson, Lt WJ Moogk, 2Lt DC Spry; Back row, Pte Smith, Pte G Taylor, LCpl Dean, SSgt Jim Fawcett, Pte Ron Spurgeon, Pte JP Cook, Cpl Paddy Garritty.

  • Lt JHWT "Billy" Pope – Joined The RCR, 1932. Killed in action, 1943, while serving with The RCR in Sicily.
  • Lt RM Crowe – Joined The RCR, 1933. Killed in action, 1943, while commanding The RCR in Sicily.
  • Capt TG Gibson – Joined The RCR, 1931. Retired at the rank of Brigadier; CBE, DSO, CD. Deceased, 3 Jan 1986.
  • Lt WJ Moogk – Joined The RCR, 1934. Retired at the rank of Brigadier. Deceased 3 May 1990.
  • 2Lt DC Spry – Joined The RCR, 1933. Retired at the rank of Major-General. Deceased 2 Apr 1989.
  • Pte Smith
  • Pte GA Taylor – Regt no 15191. Attained appointment of Company Sergeant Major. Deceased 7 Jun 1989.
  • LCpl Dean – Regt no 16001.
  • SSgt Jim Fawcett – Regt no 12375. Retired at rank of Major. Deceased 3 Dec 1967.
  • Pte Ron Spurgeon – Attained appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major. Deceased 15 Nov 1990.
  • Pte JP Cook – Regt no 13157. Retired at rank of Major. Deceased 31 Jan 2002.
  • Cpl Paddy Garritty

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 September 2013 2:35 PM EDT
Friday, 27 September 2013

Halifax Armouries; Floor Plans
Topic: Halifax
Cunard Street elevation

Halifax Armouries – Floor Plans

The following images, taken from a foldout plan published in Canadian Architect and Builder, Volume XI., No. 2, February 1897 show the floor plans of the Halifax Armouries, as draen by the architect, Thomas Fuller, Chief Architect, Department of Public Works, Ottawa. The "Armouries" drill hall opened in 1897. Close examination of the floor plans reveals the originally intended occupation of the building.

Click on the images to see larger versions.


Halifax Armouries, floor plan, basement level

Drill Floor Level

Halifax Armouries, floor plan, drill floor level

Balcony Level

Halifax Armouries, floor plan, balcony level

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 27 September 2013 8:55 AM EDT
Thursday, 26 September 2013

4.2 inch mortar
Topic: Mortars

The 4.2 inch mortar as shown in a 1960s, recruiting souvenir card. The text on the reverse of the cards reads:

"The 4.2-inch mortar is a rifled, muzzle-loaded weapon. Its principal mission is the delivery of high angle, indirect fire. The mortar can be hand-carried for short distances when dismounted into five loads. A sight is provided to lay the mortar for elevation and direction. It has a maximum range of 6,000 yards."

Heavy mortars on the Canadian Army have been fielded by both the infantry and the artillery.

Operated by a six-man detachment, the M107 4.2-inch mortar was employed by "L" Battery of the 4th Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, from 1964 until 1969, when it was replaced by the L5 pack howitzer. The Battery had eight mortars to sustain the airportable support role necessary for Canada's Allied Mobile Force commitments.

Standing Orders – Chapter 10; A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998

In the early fifties, each of the four Regular Force [Artillery] regiments were provided with a fourth battery armed with 4.2-inch mortars. In the mid-fifties the RCHA regiments turned in their 25-pounders for the US 105mm M1A1 towed howitzer (the C1 in its Canadian form), and in 1958 replaced the 4.2-inch mortar in the light batteries with M114 155mm medium towed howitzers.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Discipline and Military Law (1918)
Topic: CEF

Adjutant-General's Branch

Discipline and Military Law

From the Report of the Ministry; Overseas Military Forces of Canada; 1918

The discipline of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada for the year 1918 was distinctly satisfactory and this was largely due to the efficient administration and discipline by Commanding Officers and the the esprit de corps which has been nourished and developed among all ranks of the Canadian Forces.

Originally, the administration of Military aw affecting the Canadian Troops in this country was carried out solely by the Imperial Authorities acting through the Army Council and the General Officers commanding the different Imperial Commands. Since December, 1916, however, this position was carefully but steadily modified by the adoption of the principles of control of Canadian troops in England by the Canadian Government through the Minister, Overseas Military Forces of Canada and his Military Advisors.

The first modification arose in connection with the applicability to Canadian Troops of the Royal Warrant for their pay, etc., and early in 1917 it was established that Canadian Orders in Council and Canadian Pay Regulations should govern this subject exclusively.

Since then the principle has been extended to all disciplinary regulations. King's Regulations (Imperial) are still, it is true, in general use, but this is for the most part a matter of convenience and it is recognized that they are only applicable where they are consistent with Canadian Regulations bearing on the same subject. Army Council Instructions and Routine Orders are only made available to the Canadian Forces when considered desirable by the Canadian Authorities. No Imperial Order or Army Council Instruction is applicable to the Overseas Military Forces of Canada unless made so in Headquarters Canadian Routine Orders.

Further resources:

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Principles of War for the Platoon Commander; 1943
Topic: Military Theory

The Eight Principles of War as Applicable to the Platoon Commander's Job

Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 22, January 1943

Lieutenant W. Smith, a platoon commander, and Sergeant F.G. White, a platoon sergeant, both of The Royal Canadian Regiment, resting after the capture of Pontecorvo, Italy, 24 May 1944.
Photographer: C.E. Nye; Mikan Number: 3202714. From the Library and Archives Canada presentation Faces of War.

1.     Maintenance of the Object:

Never forget your job. Remember you are here to turn out a platoon of fully competent soldiers. Stick to it night and day. Before you take time off- Think! Is there anything you slacked on that you could make up Now I Time lost can never be regained, keep on the job.

2.     Concentration:

Are you using all the stores available to you for the job. Are you wasting time on useless "palaver and bitching"? Are your N.C.Os doing their best, are they concentrating on the job? Do you find yourself for hours in the Mess or at the Show. Put all your excess time and energy on your job, that's where it does the most good!

3.     Economy of Force

Don't send a man to do a boy's job, a boy to do a man's job. Distribute your N.C.Os to the best advantage. Keep your men fit, in camp a full strength platoon each day. See that your men get only a fair share of fatigues, training is the thing.

4.     Offensive Action:

Don't dodge your problems, sink your teeth into them and tear them apart. Work hard! Think hard! Play hard! You are in this thing to win I Give it everything you've got I When the day is done, and your dog tired, the O.C.'s a grouch, the Adjutant is cracked and the Company Commander a bloody fool-forget it! Be a man and give that extra bit to show the world you are.

5.     Surprise:

Get a new idea, surprise the C.O. with a bright suggestion, if you are shy and distant with the platoon-surprise 'em. Show them that you are human- If your crowd is slack-surprise 'em, show them you can crack down. Bowl them over with something new-if it makes sense, you can keep them interested every minute.

6.     Security:

Keep your mouth shut, train your men to do the same. Don't be a cad, your rank and appointment gives you the dangerous privilege of knowing information on which may depend the lives of thousands of men, if one dies because you talked, his blood is on your head, you have dishonoured your rank and betrayed your country's trust in you. Be Thoughtful! Be Cautious! Be Honourable!

7.     Co-operation:

Do your job with regard to the jobs of others, you are a small cog in the machine but if you don't click the whole machine is out. Think before you curse the Q.M., he's human, think before you call the M.O. a bloody fool, he only has two hands and a small staff. Remember the Adjt. is a harassed careworn individual, when he wants information get it fast and straight. Learn to work with others and they'll work with you.

8.     Mobility:

Keep your mind open and agile. Don't become a slave to Manuals and Pamphlets. Learn to meet the situations as they arrive and be alert to change your plans accordingly-remember a fast mind is often better than a fast vehicle-out of it comes the practicable application of all the other principles.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 23 September 2013

Halifax Armouries; Elevations and Cross Section
Topic: Halifax
Cunard Street elevation

Halifax Armouries – Elevations and Cross Section

These images, taken from a foldout plan published in Canadian Architect and Builder, Volume XI., No. 2, February 1897 show the elevations and cross-section of the Halifax Armouries as drawn by the architect, Thomas Fuller, Chief Architect, Department of Public Works, Ottawa. The outside views show the sides of the building facing Park Street and Cunard Street, and section A.B., (through the centre of the main entrance on Cunard Stereet). The "Armouries" drill hall opened in 1897.

Click on the images to see larger versions.

Park Street Elevation

Halifax Armouries, Park Street elevation


Halifax Armouries, cross-section

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 22 September 2013

The RCR Museum - 28 Sep 2013
Topic: Events

Everyone is Invited to The RCR Museum

On 28 Sep 2013, The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, at Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, will be hosting an event to celebate the opening of new Galleries. Held during Doors Open London, for which the Museum will be open throughout the day, the ceremony will be the official opening of the recently expanded Museum.

Click this invitation image for a larger version (please note that the stated "attire" is for official guests, it is not necessary for members of the public who wish to attend):

See new Gallery spaces covering:

  • The Cold War
  • The RCR in Afghanistan
  • Infantry Weapons and Communications
  • Bands of The RCR
  • The Reserve Heritage and Lineage of The RCR

Tour the Museum before or after the opening ceremony (please make sure you sign their guest book). At the opening ceremony you will also see:

London Heritage Council

Doors Open London

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 September 2013 1:10 AM EDT
Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Soldier's Load; a historic problem
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldier's Load; a historic problem

The 1700s

Meanwhile the strength of the army was being eaten away by the physical demands of the march. Until the truck and the armoured personnel carrier were invented in the twentieth century, those requirements had differed very little over the centuries. With remarkably consistency the load of the foot soldier has amounted to as much as any man can bear over a length of time, which comes to about 60 pounds. By English, Hanoverian and Prussian calculations the approximate weight of the components amounted to 10 or 11 pounds for the musket and its bayonet, 10 pounds for the cartridge pouch with sixty rounds, 3 pounds for the sword and its belt, the empty knapsacks at 3 1/2 pounds, brushes, shirts and other small items of clothing or equipment at 8 pounds, and bread for one or two days at 2 pounds per day, to which must be added the clothing which the soldier wore on his person, the water bottle, and extra items like shovel, axe or light pick, tent pegs or tent poles, or the Kameradschaft's field kettle.

Over the course of history the soldier's burden has been carried in styles which have proved equally uncomfortable in different ways, according to which part of the anatomy bears the main load. For most of our period the belts of the knapsack and haversack crossed with that of the cartridge pouch over the chest (with the sling of the musket sometimes added on top), which caused deep and permanent bruising and an actual indentation in the chest. Towards the end of the century a fashion set in for transferring the weight of the knapsack to small straps which passed over the shoulders and under the armpits. The soldiers considered the new style unmilitary, and they found that it caused the arms to swell up and grow numb. - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987

The American Civil War; A Study in Contrasts

In speaking of our soldiers [in May 1863],…[e]ach man had eight days' rations to carry, besides sixty rounds of ammunition, musket, woolen blanket, rubber blanket, overcoat, extra shirt, drawers, socks, and shelter-tent, amounting in all to about sixty pounds. Think of men, (and boys too) staggering along under such a load, at the rate of fifteen to twenty miles a day.

By the summer of 1864 Major Robert Stiles drew a much neater picture of the veteran Southern infantryman in what he called, "Campaign trim:"

This meant that each man had one blanket, one small haversack, one change of underclothes, a canteen, cup and plate of tin, a knife and fork and the clothes in which he stood. When ready to march, the blanket, rolled lengthwise, the ends brought together and strapped, hung from left shoulder across under the right arm; the haversack— furnished with towel, soap, comb, knife and fork in various pockets, a change of underclothes in the main division, [of the sack] and whatever rations we happened to have in the other—hung on the left hip; the canteen, cup and plate, tied together, hung on the right; toothbrush at will, stuck in two button holes of jacket or in haversack; tobacco bag hung to a breast button, pipe in pocket. In this rig,…the Confederate soldier considered himself all right and all ready for anything; …and this "all" weighed about seven or eight pounds. - Gregory A. Coco, The Civil War Infantryman; In camp, on the march, and in battle., 1996

The British Army in Africa; the 1870s

Accouterments had finally received some professional attention in 1868, and ammunition pouches, knapsack, mess tin, waterbottle, greatcoat, blanket and spare boots had been strapped and buckled into a complicated unit. Properly worn, the ammunition pouches were in front, a haversack for rations and loose gear on the hip, and everything else behind, where the various items stretched from the ears to well below the hips.

The equipment cut into the small of the back and banged into the buttocks on the march, and on campaign the men carried the pouches and a haversack and slung everything else into a company wagon. Fully accoutered, with rifle, seventy rounds of ammunition and two days' rations, each man carried 57 pounds.

The Army was equipped with an excellent single-shot breech-loading rifle. The Model 1871 Martini-Henry fired a black-powder .45 caliber center-fire Boxer cartridge of thin rolled brass, with a heavy lead slug weighing 480 grains, paper-wrapped at the base to prevent its melting in its passage down the bore. The breechblock was hinged at the rear and dropped to expose the chamber when the lever behind the trigger guard was depressed, flipping out the expended case. A fresh round was laid atop the grooved block and thumbed home, and the piece was cocked when the lever was raised. There was no safety. …

The men carried no arms except for the rifle and the old triangular bayonet they called the "lunger." Their cartridges came in paper packets of ten rounds; each man carried four packets in the leather ammunition pouches on his belt, ten loose rounds in a small canvas ex pense pouch and two additional packets tucked into his knapsack. If an alarm was sounded in camp, he would grab his rifle and belt and fall in with fifty rounds; on the march he carried the full seventy. - Donald R. Morris, The Washing of the Spears; The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, 1965

The CEF in 1917

Some problems seemed almost insoluble. Obviously soldiers in the Somme battles were hopelessly overloaded. Experts concluded that a healthy man could carry up to sixty-six pounds (modern thinking puts the maximum load at under a third of body weight). A post-Somme reform was "fighting order," but what did a soldier actually need to fight? The list had to include his uniform, a weapon and ammunition, a shovel, a respirator, a haversack with food, a waterproof sheet, a mess tin, a water bottle, and his share of the grenades, machine-gun belts, and aircraft flares. Despite imaginative efforts, the load never got close to sixty-six pounds. In 1917, a rifleman carried at least sixty-eight pounds of clothing, kit, and arms, a bomber or rifle grenadier seventy-eight pounds, and the Lewis-gunner ninety-two pounds. The tactics of the war were governed by a soldier's back and legs. After endless debate, the major reduction of a soldier's load was elimination of a second water bottle: "Men must be trained to drink sparingly." - Desmond Morton, When Your Number's Up, The Canadian Soldier in the First World War, 1993

1959 – The British in Oman

Our main load was ammunition." recounts Cpl. "Lofty" Large of the Jebel Akhdar campaign in Oman, 1959: "I remember having two 3.5 rockets, four 90 (Energa) grenades … Eight No 36 grenades, six No 80 (white phosphorous) grenades. Five 20-round magazines of rifle ammunition, plus 100 rounds in bandoliers. One 250-round box of .30 calibre machine-gun ammunition … My bergen rucksack, loaded and ready to go, weighed 98lb. My belt weighed 22 lb. – 120 lb total [without] my rifle. Everyone had similar loads to carry. - Lofty Large, One Man's SAS

1962 – The US Army

Concerning the load each man had to carry, SLA Marshall once recommended that the soldier be extended the same courtesy as the pack mule--not to load either with more than 1/3 his body weight. He went on to say the average soldier weighed 153 pounds; therefore, his load should not be more than 51 pounds.

In spite of historical examples and combat experience, the soldier's load is still too heavy. Machinegunners carry a load of 78 pounds; rifle squad leaders, 62 pounds; and M14 (modified) gunners, 61 pounds. If the platoon leader is made to carry all the equipment so often required, he would carry 68 pounds!

The soldier cannot fight with the burden he inherited… - Maj Joseph J. Ondishko, Jr., Infantry; "A 32-pound Rifleman," from [US Army] Infantry, January-February 1962

The US Army in Vietnam

All these studies and experiments notwithstanding, the Vietnam Gl was frequently loaded down with close to 60 pounds of ammunition and equipment. One battalion of the 1st Infantry Division required each rifleman to carry fourteen magazines of ammunition, two smoke grenades, two fragmentation grenades, a gas mask, weapon-cleaning equipment, two canteens, three boxes of C rations, a Claymore mine, trip flares, an entrenching tool, twenty sandbag covers, poncho, and poncho liner. On operations where commanders expected to need extra ammunition or specialized equipment, the GI's combat load could easily exceed the normal 50-60 pounds carried in the tropical heat of Vietnam. Echoing the German medical students of seventy years before, an infantryman with the 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry in Vietnam observed: "It doesn't take long to get you run down when you're carrying everything you own on your back."

"Extra gear or ammo deemed personally useless was frequently dumped at the first opportunity," recalled Igor Bobrowsky, who served with the Fifth Marines, "… in spite of the knowledge that what was only dumped but not destroyed would probably end up in Charlie's hands. As frequently as possible extra loads were eased by unloading them via the expedient of "lighting up" some target of real or invented opportunity. This of course lightened the individual's load of "useless" ordnance, such as LAWs, mortar rounds, etc.—and also tended to level a lot of the surrounding countryside. Of course, there were many times when it turned out that what had been thus unloaded was very much missed when the "fit hit the shan." - Ronald H. Spector, After Tet, 1993

1982 – The Falklands

Lying before us was about twelve kilometers of ground and a river. My kit alone weighed about a hundred pounds, possibly more. Many lads in our group had to swap kit throughout the march – a machine gun for a tripod for example. Milans, being bulky and awkward, went from shoulder to shoulder. As daylight faded I could see the thin line of troops disappearing into the darkness, struggling with their kit … - Vincent Bramley, Excursion to Hell – The Battle for Mount Longdon

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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