The Minute Book
Sunday, 3 November 2013

Rhymes Without Reason
Topic: Humour

Rhymes Without Reason

By P.B.I.

From the "Wipers Times" 1914-1918, reprinted in The Infantry Journal, No. 21, Spring 1991


Arise, My Muse, and from the muddied trench
Let us give utterance to the malicious thought,
Shouting aloud the things we never ought
Even to dream of: come, you shameless Wench,
With tongue in cheek let us set out to strafe
Gunners and Sappers, and the Gilded Staff.


Gunners are a race apart
Hard of head and hard of heart.
Like the gods they sit and view
All that other people do:
Like the Sisters Three of Fate,
They do not discriminate.
Our Support Line, or the Hun's, -
What's the difference to the Guns?
Retaliation do you seek?
Ring them up and - wait a week!
They will certainly reply
In the distant by-and-bye.
Should a shell explode amiss,
Each will swear it was not his:
For he's never, never shot
Anywhere about that spot,
And, what's more, his guns could not.


Sappers are wonderfully clever by birth,
And though they're not meek, they inherit the Earth.
Should your trenches prove leaky, they'll work with a will
To make all the water flow up the next hill
(And when I say "work", I should really explain
That we find the labour, while they find the brain).
They build nice deep dug-outs as quick as can be,
But quicker still mark them "Reserved for R.E."
And, strangely, this speed of theirs seems to decline,
As the scene of their labours draws near the Front Line.


Realizing Men must laugh,
Some Wise Man devised the Staff,
Dressed them up in little dabs
Of rich variegated tabs:
Taught them how to win the War
On A.F.Z. 354:
Let them lead the Simple Life
Far from all our vulgar strife:
Nightly gave them downy beds
For their weary aching heads:
Lest their relatives might grieve
Often, often, gave them leave,
Decoration, too, galore:
What on earth could man wish more?
Yet, alas, or so says Rumour,
He forgot a sense of Humour!


And now, Old Girl, we've fairly had our whack,
Be off, before they start to strafe us back!
Come, let us plod across the weary Plain,
Until we sight Tenth Avenue again.
On up the interminable C.T.,
Watched by the greater part of Germany:
And, as we go, mark each familiar spot.
Where fresh work has been done - or perhaps not:
On, past the foot boards no one seems to mend,
Till even Vindin Ally finds an end,
And wading through a Minnie-hole (brand-new),
We gingerly descend to C.H.Q.
Our journey ended in a Rabbit-hutch -
"How goes the Battle? Have they Minnied much?"

  • AFZ 354 – An Army form number
  • CT – Communications Trench
  • CHQ – Company Headquarters
  • Gunners – The Artillery
  • Minnie – A German trench mortar
  • PBI – Poor Bloody Infantry
  • RE – Royal Engineers
  • Sappers – The EngineersvStaff – The Generals and other officers at headquarters behind the front lines
  • Tenth Avenue – A trench
  • Vindin Alley – A trench

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 2 November 2013

Does this sound familiar?
Topic: Commentary

Does this sound familiar?

"Years ago it was sufficient if the soldier gave a more or less rigid, unwavering, physical adherence to his leaders and comrades. Nowadays, however, his adherence must be mainly intellectual. Standing in line to meet the massed attacks of advancing battalions required another type of discipline--which we are not losing very fast. The absolute subordination of the man was the only criterion of those days. Individuality was ruthlessly suppressed, and if at times it did display itself, it was in spite of, and not because of, the system of training then in existence. Marching, shooting, and obedience were about the only things which a soldier of former days had to learn. To-day the soldier is, comparatively speaking, an intellectual giant. To-day, our soldiers are not only required to march, shoot and obey, but they actually dabble in the realms of science. They study physics, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and what not. Men who are able to tackle such subjects cannot be disciplined by the old methods of constant soul-killing drill. Instead of instilling in the soldier the fear of punishment we must inculcate ideals of conduct and achievement; we must develop his mental faculties and we must encourage a display of reasonable judgment and initiative. There must be an appeal to the soldier's intelligence and our training must be moral training of the highest type."

We often hear such word spoken of our soldiers today, that they are smarter, better educated, and more aware of the word around them then their predecessors. Even as we demand more of our soldiers, for them to be the "Strategic Corporal," to learn and effectively employ ever more complex technologies for communicating, finding the enemy, and killing him, yet we still also find that some soldiers have always maintained a propensity to misbehave. Those unavoidable combinations of youth, immaturity, alcohol, testosterone and the predilection for males to head butt one another (physically or metaphorically) over everything from a woman's attention, a favoured sport's team's legacy, or even a perceived slight against one's cap badge, lead to the fact that the Discipline volume of Queen's Regulations and Orders is as important and useful as it ever was.

We may have better educated soldiers (on average) with each passing decade, but they are still soldiers. As much as some things change, others never really do. For some of those troops that keep landing on the sergeant-major's naughty list, some of that old school parade square discipline may not be a bad thing.

Oh, and that quote above … it was written in 1925. — Taken from "Discipline and Personality," by Sergt.-Major E.J. Simon, The RCR, Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 3, April, 1925.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 1 November 2013

Mobile Command, circa 1978
Topic: Canadian Army

Photo provided courtesy of Al Ditter (The RCR). Although this photo shows Canadian atmy M113s and Centurian tanks, it actually shows 3 Cdo, and unit of 4 CMBG (which was not part of FMC).

Mobile Command, circa 1978

From: The Defence of Canada, by Colonel Norman L. Dodd, The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, Vol. 108, No. 1, Jan 1978

The Commander of Mobile Command has his headquarters at St. Hubert, Quebec, and is responsible tor providing operationally ready land and tactical air forces to meet any military commitments decided upon by the Government. He is also the Commander of the Eastern Region. The strength of his command is about 17,000 regulars with 4,520 civilian employees and some 17,700 militia men and women. The latter correspond to the British TAVR and play an important part in all major exercises and provide reinforcements for the limited regulars.

Mobile Command is presently undergoing a reorganization which will result in the formation of one brigade group in the West with its HQ at Calgary and another brigade group at Valcartier, Quebec, in the East. An air droppable/air portable combat group is moving to Petawawa, Ontario, from Edmonton. Out of these formations must come the Canadian land contribution to the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF), this consists of an infantry battalion, a field battery, some logistic personnel and is supported by a squadron of CF-5 fighter aircraft provided by the air command. Canada has also agreed to provide other reinforcements for operations in North Norway in emergency, the exact numbers and their deployment is presently under discussion with General Haig, the Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Europe (SACEUR). Mr Danson said in early 1977 that the Canadian role in NATO must be credible, reinforceable and supportable and he considered that the main role in the Central Front of NATO is a realistic one.

The 5,000 strong Canadian 4th Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) and the 1st Canadian Air Group (1 CAG) are located at Lahr in the Central Army Group/4th Allied Tactical Air Force sector of Allied Command Central Europe. The 1 CAG has three squadrons of CF-104s and a Kiowa helicopter squadron. The main armament of the Canadian armoured units is still the Centurion tank of which there are about 225 in service. However an order has been placed for a total of 128 Leopard tanks from Germany. Thirty-five Leopards have been loaned to the 4 CMBG and are in use at present, these will be returned as the main order is fulfilled. It is the intention to have sufficient for three squadrons in Germany although normally only two will be manned in peacetime.

Other army equipment includes 50 105 mm pack howitzers, 150 105 mm howitzers, 50 M- 109 mm SP howitzers, 150 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, 100 Blowpipe surface to air missiles, 170 Lynx recce vehicles and 170 Ferret armoured cars. In the modernization programme 350 general purpose six wheeled armoured vehicles have been ordered. They are of Swiss design and will be built by General Motors in London, Ontario. There will be three models; 152 will be Cougar fire support vehicles with a 76 mm gun in the British Scorpion turret, 175 Grizzly armoured personnel carriers each able to carry nine infantrymen and 19 Husky maintenance and recovery vehicles. They have a good cross country performance, a speed of 100 kph, a range of 600 km and are air transportable. The armour, built in Canada, is proof against small arms and shell fragments. The new vehicles will be used in Canada mainly by the Militia, for UN peacekeeping duties and in Germany.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 11 November 2013 8:20 PM EST
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Corporal Dunphy's War
Topic: Leadership

Corporal Dunphy's War

2PPCLI in Korea

From: Pierre Berton, Corporal Dunphy's War, June 1, 1951, reprinted in Canada at War; from the archives of MacLean's, 1997

A section, normally ten men, is the smallest infantry unit in the army and a section leader the most common casualty. A corporal gets only four dollars a month more than a private but his chances of going for the long sleep are infinitely greater (the Canadians had seven killed and wounded in the first three weeks of action). He has some of the responsibility of a commissioned officer but none of the privileges. In action, the lives of nine men depend to a great degree on what he does.

Section leaders are chosen for a variety of qualities: ability to lead, efficiency, general savvy. Cpl. Karry Dunphy, leader of No. 1 Section, No. 4 Platoon, Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was given his chance because he has a knack of keeping up morale. Although he is not yet considered a truly first-rate NCO, men will listen to him and follow him because of his personality.

Dunphy is the kind of man who emcees all battalion parties, writes a column in the battalion paper, can sing all the old army songs to the fiftieth verse and make up new ones on the spur of the moment. After taking over his section he dubbed it the Leper Colony—a steal from the movie Twelve O'Clock High, and his slogan, "Once a Leper Always a Leper," worries his officers because it tends to make Dunphy's section a tight clique within the platoon.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Day in the Life of a Sub
Topic: Officers

A Day in the Life of a "SUB" in Divisional Reserve by Himself

From: The Church Times; with which is incorporated in The Wipers Times, No 4. Vol 1., Monday, 29th May, 1916

"Leave," a cartoon by First World War artist Bruce Bairnsfather. Published in "Fragments from France."
Click to see full image.

12:40 a.m.:— Sleeping peacefully.

12:45 a.m.:— Not sleeping peacefully.

12:50 a.m.:— Awakened by a noise like a fog-horn gone quite mad.

12:55 a.m.:— Realise someone has smelt gas, cannot find gas-helmet or shirt.

1 a.m.:— Grope about for matches and candle— find out to my discomfort several extra articles of furniture in the hut:— curse volubly.

1:05 a.m.:— People rush in to remind me that I am orderly "bloke." Have heated altercation with "next for >duty" as to when term of office ends. Matter settled by the entrance of C.O.— AM orderly officer.

1:15 a.m.:— Stumble round camp— rumour of "Stand-to"— curse abominably.

1:30 a.m.:— Rumour. squashed— gas alarm false somebody's clockwork motor-bike horn came unstuck:— curse

again:— retire to bed.

3:30 a.m.:— Sleeping peacefully.

3:35 a.m.:— Alarming noise. Somebody with bigger feet than sense of decency, enters the hut; and knocks over >a bullybeef box doing excellent work as a chair, collides with everybody's field-boots, mistakes my bed for his, and sits down on same—…

3:59 a.m.:— Order restored by Company Commander.

6:00 a.m.:— Reveille.

6:30 a.m.:— Get up, and wearily put on one or two garments, including somebody else's tie. Spend pleasant moments searching for my wandering collar stud.

7 a.m:— Go out and wave my limbs about for 45 minutes to the tune of "Head backward be- e-e-nd."

7:45 a m:— Try to shave:— we have one mirror amongst six.

8 a.m.:— Breakfast. The cook has plentifully peppered the sausage, put salt in my tea by mistake.

9 a.m.:— Take party to and from the baths:— one man has no cap badge— collect a bird from Adjutant. Have a bath myself, when nicely soaped the water gives out, becoming mud— curse offensively.

10 a.m.:— Orderly room:— attend with Company conduct sheets, collect another bird. Make arrangements for a cage and a supply of seed for same.

11 a.m.:— Retire to hut and quaff a stoop of ale.

11:05 a.m.:— Two in-command arrives inopportunely, speaks his mind and retires.

11:10 a-m.:— Inspect my huts and men, their clothes, rifles, gas-helmets, feet, etc.

12 noon.:— Realise I am not being as offensive as I might be, so go and annoy the next Company (who were working last night); by creeping in, starting their gramaphone with the loudest, longest and most loathed record, and creeping out again.

12:10 p.m:— Angry "sub" in pyjamas enters; am busy writing letters. After a few choice remarks about people in general and myself in particular, he goes away.

1 p m.:— Lunch.

2 p.m.:— Sleeping peacefully.

4 30 p.m :— Tea.

5 p.m.:— Fall in working party, astonishing number in my platoon suffer from bad feet at this hour: Discuss their ailment with them, and inspect members affected.

6:30 p.m.:— Reach lorries and pack men in. No. 9999 Pte Jones, X falls off and sprains his ankle, and proceeds to camp.

7:30 p.m.:— Arrive at rendez-vous and await R.E.

8 p.m.:— Await R E.

9 p.m.:— Await R.E.

9:15 p.m.:— R.E. arrive in the shape of one most intelligent sapper.

9:30 p.m.:— Loaded with material, proceed to job.

9:45 p m.:— My sergeant rushes up. Pte McNoodle, a sheet of corrugated iron, a duckboard, and a crump-hole full of water have got rather mixed. Leave a lance-corporal to straighten matters.

10 p.m.:— German machine-gun annoying. Grateful for tin hat.

1 a.m.:— Return to lorries.

2 a.m.:— Reach camp and retire to bed.

The Senior Subaltern

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 October 2013 1:42 PM EDT
Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Rifle Practice for NCOs and Men (1888)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Militia General Orders
Headquarters, Ottawa, 1st June, 1888

General Order No. 4

Permanent Corps

System of Rifle Practice for Non Commissioned Officers and Men

Preliminary Practice

To consist of position drill, (when practicable) and blank firing.

Target Practice

1st Stage – 30-50 rounds

All ranks to fire 5 rounds at each range of 50, 100, 150, 200, 400 and 500 yards. At least 8 points to be made at each range before proceeding to the next, and for this purpose an additional series of 5 rounds to be fired, and repeated if necessary, until the necessary number of qualifying points are obtained, or until a total of 50 rounds have been fired.

2nd Stage – 20-30 rounds

All non-commissioned offioers and men qualifying in let stage , to fire 1 0 rqunds . eaoh,at 400 and 600 yards.

At least 20 points to be made at each range before proceeding to the next and for this purpose practice will be continued until 15 rounds are fired at each range or until the necessary qualifying points are obtained.

3rd Stage – Final – 30 rounds

All N.C. officers and men qualifying in 2nd stage to fire 10 rounds each at 200, 500 and 600 yds, quàlifying points, 20 at each range. All men obtaining 165 points or upward in the three stages, and who have qualified in each stage, to be considered marksmen.

Volley Firing

At the conclusion of the practice all N.C. officers and men to fire 10 rounds each, volley firing at 300 yds, in two ranks with bayonets fixed, front rank kneeling.


At ranges from 50 to 200 yds will be standing, over 200 yds, any military position.

Targets for Range Practice

3rd class. — Size, 6 ft . by 4 ft.

  • Bull's eye. — 12 in in diameter.
  • Centre. — 3 ft in diameter.
  • Outer. — Remainder of the target.

2nd class. — Size, 6 ft . square.

  • Bull's eye. — 2 ft. in diameter.
  • Centre. — 4 ft. in diameter.
  • Outer. — Remainder of the target.

3rd class targets to be used at distances from 50 yds to 300 yds. inclusive.

2nd class targets, from 300 to 600 yds, inclusive volleys to be fired at a target 6 ft. by 12 ft.

Value of hits.

  • Bull's eye, 4.
  • Centre 3.
  • Outer 2.

When the circumstances of the Range will permit, the system of scoring will be as detailed on p. 113, Regulations for Musketry Instruction 1887, but in all cases the above dimensions of targets and value of hits to be maintained.

Note. — Not more than 20 rounds per diem are to be fired by any soldierat above practice.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 October 2013 9:18 AM EDT
Monday, 28 October 2013

This Bloody Bird
Topic: Humour

This Bloody Bird

From: The Memoirs of Field-Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., 1958

I returned to the Western Front in France early in 1916, this time as a brigade-major. During the Somme battle that summer an infantry brigade, which had better remain nameless, was to be the leading brigade in a divisional attack. It was important that the Brigade Commander should receive early information of the progress of his forward troops since this would affect the movement of reserves in the rear. The problem then arose how to ensure the early arrival of the required information, and intense interest was aroused at Brigade H.Q. when it was disclosed that a pigeon would be used to convey the news. In due course the bird arrived and was kept for some days in a special pigeon loft. When the day of the attack arrived the pigeon was given to a soldier to carry. He was to go with the leading sub-units and was told that at a certain moment an officer would write a message to be fastened to the pigeon's leg; he would then release the pigeon which would fly back to its loft at Brigade H.Q. The attack was launched and the Brigade Commander waited anxiously for the arrival of the pigeon. Time was slipping by and no pigeon arrived; the Brigadier walked feverishly about outside his H.Q. dugout. The soldiers anxiously searched the skies; but there was no sign of any pigeon.

At last the cry went up: "The pigeon," and sure enough back it came and alighted safely in the loft.

Soldiers rushed to get the news and the Brigade Commander roared out: "Give me the message."

It was handed to him, and this is what he read: "I am absolutely fed up with carrying this bloody bird about France."

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 27 October 2013

Austerity Measures
Topic: Commentary

The Officers' Quarters at Wolseley barracks, London , Ontario, now surreounded by contractors fencing. The building is being demolished as part of measures to reduce DND infrastructure as a long tem cost saving measure.

Austerity Measures

As every Government Department seeks ways to economize to meet new Government austerity targets, the Department of National Defence among them, the following excerpts show that periods of austerity are not new to the canadian Armed Forces. Of course, anyone who was serving in the 1980s will remember the last such period, when some unit budgets were so tightly controlled that asking to borrow the use of a photocopier was often replied with by the question: "Did you bring your own paper?"

Austerity was now the order of the day. Interspersed at regular intervals among the files of National Defence Headquarters for 1931-33 are the chits by which its senior members meticulously indicated the disposition of street car tickets for transportation between the Woods Building and the various ports of call on official business in the capital. Any extra expenditure, however slight the project or small the amount, came before the Chief of the General Staff for his personal consideration and decision. "I think that the O.C. [Camp Borden] has made a case for the dish washing machine, the mixing machine, and the toaster in addition to the bread slicer," General McNaughton wrote to the Quartermaster General on 23 March 1931, "and that on its merit this proposal should be approved." ["Memorandum by the Chief of the General Staff for Quartermaster- General," 23 March 1931, McNaughton Papers (C.G.S., 76)] Less fortunate was a proposal that the men's barracks at Borden should be converted into officers' quarters The Minister "thinks that after the 1st May [the officers] should be able to manage under canvas for six months," a General Staff officer wrote plaintively to McNaughton in January 1932, "and that, in the meantime, they must shift as they are at present. If the personnel attending training courses … cannot be furnished with improvised accommodation, then he says some of the courses must be cancelled…" [Lt.-Col. H.H. Matthews to MacNaughton, 28 Jan. 1932, Ibid.] A few days later he reported that "a proposal is now being put before the Minister to fix up the interior of the Men's Barrack Block and kitchen accommodation at a cost of about $6,000… This seems a reasonable solution of the difficulty, but it is possible the Minister may not sanction the spending of even this amount of money just now."" [Lt.-Col. H.H. Matthews to MacNaughton, 3 Feb. 1932, Ibid.] And, on 9 February: "The Minister continues resolutely to refuse to authorize any expenditure which he thinks can be postponed. Consequently no real progress has been made regarding the fixing up of accommodation for the Air Force officers at Camp Borden…"" [Lt.-Col. H.H. Matthews to MacNaughton, 9 Feb. 1932, Ibid.] – James Eayrs, In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, 1964

The "rust out" of vehicle fleets, i.e., the loss of vehicles through wear and tear before replacements are acquired, and the deleterious effect of same on the training of soldirs are not new problems either:

Since the withdrawal of harness from practically all the militia batteries, the guns have become completely immobile. No adapters have been issued, which makes it impossible to move them with trucks which could be obtained locally, nor would authority be granted even if we had the equipment in any of the larger centres, because the guns are not equipped with the rubber tires which are necessary to make it reasonably safe to move the field pieces over hard roads. As a result, all we can do is train the gunners on guns which almost assume the role of garrison pieces, and train the other specialists independently. It is true that very valuable preliminary training can be carried out before going to camp, but it is not very effective in teaching a gunner his real job, which is that every member of the battery takes his part in directing the shell fire of the battery at a given target… [Drew to D.M. Sutherland, 3 Dec 1931. Bennet Papers] – James Eayrs, In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, 1964

The question for those who continue to serve always remains: "How best to maintain required levels of training of essential skills in an environment defined by reduced resources and budgets?" This is the new challenge for a generation of soldiers and commanders that enjoyed great support, of all kinds, during a decade of combat operations.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 26 October 2013

Artillery Practice (1889)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Militia General Orders
Headquarters, Ottawa, 17th May, 1889

General Order No. 1

Active Militia – Artillery Practice

Artillery Practice (1889)

Field Batteries 9-pr. R.M.L. Guns.

The following number of rounds are allowed for instructional practice, to Batteries in camp where a suitable range is available, viz:

Common shell percussion fuze — 24
Shrapnel shell, time fuze — 8
Total — 32

The following number of rounds are allowed to be expended by each detachment at a general meeting for Field Artillery practice, to be held at Kingston during September, viz :_

Eight N.C. officers or gunners selected as marksmen to fire six rounds each.

4 common shell, percussion fuze — 32
2 shrapneIl shell, time fuze — 16

Officers instructional practice—

3 common shell, percussion fuze — 12

Trial shots—common shell percussion fuze — 2

Total — 63

Detailed instructions for the above gun practice composed, will be issued by the Inspector of Artillery.

Garrison Batteries

The number of rounds allowed, to be expended as follows :—

8 marksmen, selected as above, to fire — when S.B. guns are used, — 5 rounds each, viz :

3 solid shot — 24
1 common shell, with time fuze — 8
I shrapnel shell, with time fuze — 8
Trial shots and instruction—Solid shot — 4
Total — 44

64-32-pr. R.M.L. Guns.

Eight competitors to be selected by the officer commanding the Battery, from amongst the best and most efficient N.C. officers and men, to fire two rounds each, viz:—

2 common shell plugged — 16
Trial shots—common shell, plugged —
Total — 18

The above rounds to be fired deliberately, and the result of each shot signalled from the range. Range to be at least 1,700 yards.

The four competitors making the highest score at above practice to fire three rounds each, viz:—

2 common shell, plugged — 8
1 shrapnell shell, time fuze — 4
Officers instructional practice—common shell, plugged — 9
Total — 21

Total rounds — 39

When 40-pr. R.B.L. guns are used in the preliminary practice each competitor will fire:—

2 common shell, plugged — 16
1 shrapnell shell, time fuze — 8
Trial shots—common shell, plugged — 2
Total — 26

And in subsequent competition

3 common shell — 12
1 shrapnell shell — 4
Officer's instructional practice – common shell, plugged — 9
Total — 25

Total rounds per Battery — 51

Officers are not eligible as competitors, but should act as instructors, and note the result of each man's shooting.

Annual gun practice of Garrison Batteries will be held under arrangements similar to those in force for the past year, the Inspector of Artillery will make the necessary arrangements.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 October 2013 9:16 AM EDT
Friday, 25 October 2013

Football in South Africa (1900)
Topic: The RCR

Football in South Africa (1900)

Cap badge worn by the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, in South Africa (1899-1900).

The Queen's South Afrca Medal.

From: With the Royal Canadians, Stanley McKeown Brown, 1900

The day was celebrated by a great football match in the afternoon between the officers of the Gordon Highlanders and the Royal Canadians' officers, which went to our men by a score of eight to nothing. Two tries, and the Scotch gentlemen failed to score.

I had seen many football matches but never one exactly like this. It was a colored panorama, but still a white man's game.

Lieut. Marshall of Hamilton, of Tiger fame, who seemed so much at home among the hills there, put a few choice words of advice in the ears of the Canadians before they scampered out to the gridiron in true college fashion. Each winked at the other as if he understood what the Hamiltonian meant when he spoke.

Bloemfontein people came all the way from town to see the struggle, anxious Tommies crowded the touch-lines, and an empty cab, with a driver not quite so empty, supplied the grandstand.

Meanwhile our officers were busy looking up English rules under which the game was played. Having fully considered the seriousness of the proposition the Canadians left their dressing quarters, and headed by Capt. Maynard Rogers of Ottawa, with a solemn face, the procession started for the enemy's country.

The Canadian's team was dressed and undressed this way:—

  • Chaplain Almond, resplendent in new underwear, a Boer hat and a smile or two on his determined face.
  • Lieut. Temple, "B" Company, looked dainty in red and black, with bright socks and a becoming "T" on his breast.
  • Capt. Barker, "C" Company, wore a cigarette and dum-dum bullets, a cap three shades too small and leather stockings. His hair was neatly brushed, so were his boots.
  • Lieut. Swift, " E ' Company, came in the garb of a Quebec lacrosse player and was very spry in his trim white outfit. He had been looking back and forward to the game for a long time.
  • Lieut. Marshall, "C" Company (captain of the team), had a tickled look on. also a pair of kharki trousers shorn from the knees down. He wore large boots and no stockings.
  • Lieut. Armstrong, "E" Company, arrived in a choice red sweater of Alfred the Great pattern. He was also adorned in dress trousers and a sleeping cap.
  • Lieut. Lawless, "D" Company, hove in sight in the swimming suit which had made him famous in Ottawa and Hull, with a reinforcement of duck trousers. He donned a peanut cap and looked airy and light.
  • Lieut. Willis, "G" Company, was buried beneath a bunch of woollens, which looked like blankets. His knees were the only parts of his anatomy visible.
  • Lieut. Oland, "H" Company, was dressed as an Italian count, who had recently struck hard luck. He brought extra boots with him.
  • Lieut. Lafferty, Quartermaster, flew on to the grounds in his Yukon suit, and struck fear in the hearts of the Highlanders.
  • Lieut. Stewart, "D" Company, wore whiskers and also had on a toboganning outfit from the Canadian capital.
  • Lieut. Laurie, "E" Company, had a sort of Sing Sing jersey with klcGill University colors on it. He was also well groomed.
  • Capt. Burstall, "B" Company, waddled in with an outfit which may have belonged either to Poundmaker or Noah.
  • Capt. Weeks, came decked in the same suit that his great-grandfather wore in the charge of the Light Brigade. He wore the latest shape in soft veldt hats.
  • Capt. Fraser, "E" Company, wore lace and chiffon, and, up to the time that he was released from the team, looked extremely smart.

The Canadian officers took the lead and the result was never in doubt.

It was a novel affair in war time, the most interesting part being the study of the Canadian football uniforms worn on that occasion.

Library and Archives Canada Database - Soldiers of the South African War (1899 - 1902)

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 24 October 2013

Confectionery in Army Rations
Topic: Army Rations

Confectionery in Army Rations (c. 1900)

Medical Record, published in the Journal of the Military Service Institute of the United States, Vol. XXVI., No. CV., May, 1900

The Germans about ten years ago [i.e., circa 1890] introduced the use of candy into the diet of their soldiers. The idea was the outcome of experiment undertaken by the German government. It was demonstrated that the addition of candy and chocolate to the regular ration greatly conduced to the improvement of health and endurance of the troops, and at the present time the army authorities in Germany issue cakes of chocolate and a limited amount of other confectionery. The British were the next to follow this example, and the queen, as has been extensively advertised, forwarded five hundred thousand pound of chocolate in half-pound packages as a Christmas treat for the soldiers in South Africa. Jam has also found great favor with the British War Office, and, 450,000 pounds have been dispatched to South Africa as a four months' supply to 116,000 troops. The United States is following in the same path, and candy has been added to the regular army ration of the American soldier. It is stated that one New York firm has shipped more than fifty tons of confectionery during the past year for the armies in the Philippines, Cuba, and Porto Rico. The candy supplied is of excellent quality, consisting of mixed chocolate creams lemon drops, cocoanut maroons, and acidulated fruit drops. These are packed in tins specially designed to fit the pockets of a uniform coat. The question of providing jam with the army ration is also under consideration.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jomini's Twelve Essential Conditions
Topic: Military Theory

Jomini's Twelve Essential Conditions

Jomini and his Summary of the Art of War, Condensed Version, edited by Lt. Col. J.D. Hittle, U.S.M.C., 1947

Twelve essential conditions in making a perfect army:

1.     To have a good recruiting system,

2.     A good organization,

3.     A well-organized system of national reserves,

4.     Good combat, staff, and administrative instruction,

5.     A strict but not humiliating discipline, and a spirit of subordination and punctuality, based on conviction rather than on the formalities of the service, and

6.     A well-established system of rewards, suitable to excite emulation,

7.     The special arms of engineering and artillery to be well instructed,

8.     To have an armament superior, if possible, to that of the enemy, as to both offensive and defensive arms,

9.     A general staff capable of applying these elements and organized to advance the theoretical and practical education of its officers,

10.     A good system for the commissariat, hospitals, and of general administration, and

11.     A good system of assignment to command and of directing the principal operations of war;

12.     To excite and keep alive the military spirit of the people.

None of these twelve conditions can be neglected without grave inconvenience.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 October 2013 12:19 AM EDT
Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Canadian Red Ensign, seeking the owner.
Topic: Militaria

Received from the Deputy Director, Administration, of the Royal Canadian Legion:

A flag (see images) was recently donated to The Royal Canadian Legion by an American citizen.  Its background is a bit sketchy however the story goes like this:

An American soldier as part of the European WWII effort took this flag from a captured German soldier.  The German soldier told his captor that this flag was taken from a Canadian soldier at Dieppe (uncertain whether that soldier was alive or dead).  The American soldier intended to return it to the Canadians however he did not encounter any while in Europe and therefore kept it in a locker until he passed away.  A friend of this American soldier located in Virginia contacted the Legion to donate the flag or perhaps return it to the rightful owner(s) relatives or regiment – that was all the information provided.

Research reveals that  this version of the Red Ensign dates to just after Manitoba joined Confederation, but before BC.  That means 1870-1873.  The flag itself may or may not be that old.  You will also note that it measures 20” tall by 33” wide.  It has a very thin sleeve sewn onto the left side that would fit a radio antenna – the sleeve material is not the same as the flag material.

This e-mail is an attempt to find out the history of the flag and to discover its rightful owner – be it a regiment or an individual.  If anyone has any information that could help in this search or knows someone who does please contact Danny Martin through e-mail or the numbers listed in the signature block. 



Deputy Director, Administration
Directeur adjoint, Administration
The Royal Canadian Legion
Dominion Command
La Légion royale canadienne
Direction nationale
86 Aird Place, Ottawa, K2L 0A1
613-591-3335 ext 249

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 October 2013 12:03 PM EDT
Don't Salute the Bandmaster
Topic: Officers

"Leave," a cartoon by First World War artist Bruce Bairnsfather. Published in "Fragments from France."
Click to see full image.

Don't Salute the Bandmaster

From: Gallant Gentlemen; a portrait of the British Officer 1600-1956, by E.S. Turner, 1956

In an attempt to save new subalterns [during WWI] from social pitfalls, the veterans began to publish little books of 'useful advice.' Besides listing those taboos which survived from days of duelling—no mentioning of ladies' names in the mess, no unsheathing of swords in the ante-room—these authors offered detailed instructions on the drinking of toasts and the circulation of the port. In his Straight Tips for Subs, Captain A. H. Trapman added these:

  • Don't salute the bandmaster;
  • Never address a captain by his military rank alone—it is only tradesmen who do that;
  • Don't resent being fallen in for drill with ordinary recruits;
  • Always say 'Good morning' when returning a soldier's salute;
  • When marching with your men you may salute ladies and personal friends unless your men are marching to attention;
  • You are not expected on entering the mess to invite anybody to have a drink—so don't do it;
  • When the senior subaltern speaks to you seriously it is wise to listen and to take notice, for he has the power to convene that totally illegal assembly, a subaltern's court-martial, if your general behaviour gives him any excuse.

The author of The Making of an Officer, who signs himself 'C.N.', is anxious that no subaltern shall spend his leisure time 'motor-cycling with females' or becoming a 'kinema creeper, bookworm, or bar-loafer.' He pictures a senior subaltern haranguing a newcomer who is showing signs of slackness—and the period, be it noted, is 1916:

'You have got to adjust your ideas. By the mercy of Heaven, you've come into the finest regiment in the British Army. You are on trial—if we don't like you, you will have to go. Up to date youve done very well; you haven't talked too much or butted in when other fellows were gassing—but now we want a bit more. This regiment hunts; we always have hunted, we always shall hunt. You need not drink, you need not smoke if you are hard up--but hunt you must. If you are hard up you can quit toddling up to town for the week-end; nothing runs away with money like that. You can keep two horses on what you spend on a couple of weekends in town; and in this regiment we will have fellows spending their money the right way. It's the tradition of the regiment … When you can ride hard without turning your head there's plenty of time to think of messing about with girls.'

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 October 2013 1:39 PM EDT
Monday, 21 October 2013

Equitation for Officers of Dismounted Units
Topic: Canadian Militia

Militia General Orders
Headquarters, Ottawa, 1st December, 1897


Equitation for Officers of Dismounted Units

(1.)     Courses for instruction in Equitation will be laid on follows:—

  • "A" Squadron, R.C.D., Toronto. A course each month.
  • "B” Squadron, R.C.D., Winnipeg. A course each month.
  • "A" Battery, R.C.A., Kingston. January, February and December in each year.
  • "B" Battery, R.C.A., Quebec. January, February, March, November and December in each year.

Courses will commence on the 1st day of the month , except the 1st should he a Sunday when they will commence on the following day.

Duration of Course

(2.)     A Course will last for a period not to exceed 28 days; but so soon, after the commencement of a Course, as any candidate is prepared to qualify, his examination will take place.

(3.)     Gencral Order (13 ) of 1896 (Syllabus for Equitation for Officers of Dismounted Units) is hereby cancelled and the following in substituted therefor, and will be added to paragraph 1082 Regulations and Orders for the Militia, 1897:—

  • Equitation Course — 100 marks.
  • Sword Exercise — 25 marks.
  • Stable Duties — 25 marks.
  • Fitting Saddlery — 25 marks.
  • Total — 175

Of the total marks obtainable 70 per cent will be neccesary to qualify for a certificate.

Pay, Subsistence and Transport

The provisions of Regulations and Orders for an ordinary "Special" Course will be applicable for these Courses.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 20 October 2013

Walking Wounded, North Africa 1943
Topic: Leadership

Walking Wounded, North Africa 1943

[North Africa, 1943] "The fighting here was very heavy and many casualties occurred. My Sergeant was Allen Watson and he would often ask me to accompany him on patrols, these were extremely dangerous and I would not have been with anyone else. Later when I was positioned about two hundred feet up on the side of Green Hill, the Germans had launched their usual dawn attack causing many wounded, and I received a chest wound. The medical orderlies were unable to evacuate the wounded quickly as the ground was so precarious when hauling stretchers. The Company Commander therefore ordered all walking wounded to make their own way to a gully below, where they would be collected and taken to headquarters situated about a quarter of a mile away. I was bleeding rather badly so holding a field dressing to my chest I decided to make my way down to the gully. I rolled and staggered to the bottom of the hill, and then after a pause to readjust the dressing and check direction, went on my way. My progress was rather a stoop—stagger—and rest. Moving towards the headquarters I had not been mobile for long when I was abruptly halted by a roar, "Corporal Sheriff—if you can't walk in a soldierly manner—lay down!" Naturally I quickly obliged and I saw RSM Lord standing over me. As he was carrying a sten gun in his right hand I thought he might just shoot me. "What's your trouble Corporal?" he asked. I replied that I had a chest wound, hoping vainly for some show of sympathy. John Lord glanced me up and down for a brief moment then said "You haven't shaved this morning Corporal", "No sir, I admitted, "I didn't have time as the Germans attacked at dawn." There was a pause as 'J.C.' [Lord] growled that this was no excuse, but he then softened, suddenly stooped and made me comfortable and handed me a cigarette. He then went away to find a couple of men to carry me in, and still affected by the confrontation, I was laying in a position of attention and smoking by numbers when he returned. As we waited he spoke of the days gone by and of the many men of the battalion who were now missing." – Corporal Ray Sheriff, 3rdBattalion, The Parachute Regiment; quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 October 2013 4:36 PM EDT
Saturday, 19 October 2013

Oldest vs. Senior
Topic: Tradition

From the cover of Sentinel 1974/5, A Centurion tank of the Royal Canadian Dragoons passes through a town in the Federal Republic of Germany during a NATO exercise.

Oldest vs. Senior; Precedence and Component

The Canadian Armed Forces Magazine Sentinel, in their Volume 10 (1974), Issue No. 5, made the following statements in an article on the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Canada's Senior Armoured Regiment

The Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canada's oldest permanent force cavalry regiment, was formed just over 90 years ago on December 21, 1883, in St. Jean. P.Q., as the Cavalry School Corps.

These seemingly innocuous statements resulted in two letters to the editor, in each case with further editorial reply. These are presented below, and well illustrate the long and often repeated debates in both the armoured and infantry corps regarding regimental seniority, and the complications of precedence dictated by component.

"Oldest" Controversy

As published in Sentinel, Volume 11 (1975) , No. 1

I do not wish to split hairs, but your article in Number 5, Volume 10 of the Sentinel uses the words "senior" and "oldest" as though they were synonymous.

The RCD are indeed Canada's senior Armoured (and senior Cavalry) Regiment; however, they are not the oldest. That distinction belongs to the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) who were formed as a Regiment in 1848 from eleven independent cavalry troops, the first of which was raised in 1825. I refer you to CFSO 43/72 and to Hansard of 4 April 1973.

J.R. Beveridge (Col.)
CFB Suffield
Ralson, Alberta

Director of History, W.A.B. Douglas, confirms that the date of formation of 8 CH was established as April 4, 1848. The date was officially recognized when CFSO 43, published Feb. 4, 1972 corrected the organizational date of the regiment, previously listed as Jan. 3, 1866. Thus 8 CH began as The New Brunswick Yeomanry Cavalry of the N.B. Militia.

The Director of History points out that the date of formation is not the only consideration in determining a regiment's position in the order of precedence. So 8 CH takes the "left of the line" to LSH and RCD, because as a regular unit it only dates from Jan. 29, 1957, while the other two regiments were regulars from their formation on July 1, 1901 and Dec. 21, 1883, respectively. — Editor.

RCD Guidon

The Guidon of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (above) and the Standard of the Governor General's Horse Guards (below), as seen on the Directorate of History and Heritage page for Colours:Armoured Regiments. (See the DHH page for larger versions.)

GGHG Standard

Senior Shock

As published in Sentinel, Volume 11 (1975) , No. 4

I was amazed at the statements made both by Sentinel and Col Beveridge (1975/1), under the illusion that the RCD and the 8CH are the senior regiments of this country. I am shocked that neither of you knew this was an accomplishment of the Governor General's Horse Guards in Toronto. This honour was awarded to the Governor General's Body Guards on 27 April 1866, General Order No. 1 states this fact. Therefore, the regiment is the SENIOR regiment of either armour or cavalry, and the GGHG provides mounted escorts for ceremonial occasions with a full squadron of cavalry. The only claim to fame of the RCD's is that they are the senior regular unit.

A note worthy to add, if you check the CFAO's is that the GGHG is the only Canadian cavalry or armoured unit to parade a Standard. The RCD and 8CH carry only Guidons. This tradition is copied from the British who only allow the senior regiment to parade a Standard.

E. Heidebrecht (O/Cdt)
Toronto, Ont.

(Officials in Ottawa's Directorate of Ceremonial advise that the senior armoured or cavalry regiment in the Forces is the RCD, as regular regiments take precedence over militia regiments. However, the senior militia regiment of cavalry is the Governor General's Horse Guards, as by tradition Horse Guards take precedence over other cavalry regiments, in this case, the older 8 CH.

The statement that the British only "allow the senior regiment to parade a standard" is, of course, wrong. The Life Guards, The Blues and Royals, and all regiments of Dragoon Guards are authorized a standard, as was the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards of Ottawa before its disbandment. The GGHG is authorized a Dragoon Guards type of standard, not a Household Calvary standard. — Editor)

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 18 October 2013

The Needs of Infantry
Topic: Drill and Training

The Needs of Infantry

By Arthur Bryant in the London Times
Republished in Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 57, December 1945

In every war, victory in the final resort depends on the Infantry. "The least spectacular arm of the Army," Field Marshal Montgomery has described it, "yet without them you cannot win a battle. Without them you can do nothing at all. Nothing!" Or, as "Field Service Regulations" puts it, "success in war, which is won by proper cooperation of all arms, must in the end be confirmed by Infantry." The only arm which can penetrate virtually anywhere it has to fight its way to and through the objective. "It is in this that Britain—not normally regarded as a military nation at all—has always excelled.

Though despised at the start of our major wars as military bunglers, and hopelessly handicapped at first by lack of equipment and up-to-date training, we have always emerged victorious in the end, not only at sea, our traditional element, but on land, with our Infantry—guards, riflemen, Highlanders, Light Infantry, fusiliers and county regiments alike—winning for themselves an international name. The archers of Agincourt who so unexpectedly routed the armoured knights of the Middle Ages, the British line which did the same to Napoleon's Grande Armee, the men of Arnhem; the story is always the same. The phrase and the weapons change, but the genius of the British foot soldier remains a constant, or at any rate, recurrent factor. In time of peace, this is forgotten, and nowhere more quickly than in England.

Outside the little world of the professional army a profound ignorance of our military tradition settles down like a fog at the end of every war. The popular conception of the Infantryman in the twenties and thirties was of a dense if honest, chap carrying a rifle, mechanically forming fours, and going through much inexplicable marching and "spit-and-polish." Support was lent to this view by recollections of the last war, when the true function of Infantry was largely lost sight of and when great masses were mown down while mechanically walking behind barrages which a machine-minded age supposed could take the place of human resources and skill. In 1940 the Germans reminded us they had given a preliminary hint in March, 1918—what Infantry, properly trained and supported by other arms coordinated to a single purpose, could do in the way of penetrating even the strongest defensive position. The great men who led the British Army through the fiery ordeals of Norway, Dunkirk and Greece took the lesson to heart and improved on it.

Today, the British Infantryman is almost the most versatile craftsman in the world. His is an astonishing range. He has to be able to handle and service a wide variety of weapons and to use them under conditions of close fighting in which the slightest error or mechanical defect may bring immediate and fatal retribution. His is no single-type job, like a gunner's or signaller's, but a multiple one in which he must constantly adapt himself to unforeseeable conditions. He has to be what the Commando is in the popular eye—a jack-of-all-trades—of infinite resource, ready to look after himself in all situations and to turn his hand to anything at any moment. Digging in with pick and shovel, crawling silently on patrol In the dark, climbing cliff and rock and crossing river, swamp and forest, negotiating minefields and wire, manning trenches, storming positions, repelling tanks or dive-bombers, these are all in a day's—or night's work. He has to be alert and quick in practical common sense, always on his guard against danger, versed in the arts of concealment, observation and deduction, and perfectly coordinated in body, mind and heart. Between him and his officers and comrades there has to be the closest and, at the same time, most flexible cooperations practised and tested teamwork on which perfect confidence can be based. And, because in modem war dispersal is essential, and because once battle is joined there is little time or opportunity for orders, he has to be able to act on his own initiative. It is on the individual Infantryman and the platoon and section that the fate of even the best-planned action depends.

Above all, the Infantryman has to be physically strong and spiritually courageous. His place in action is nearest to the enemy; that of the greatest danger and discomfort. Carrying his own weapons and equipment, fighting sometimes for days without sleep or rations, living in wet clothes and sodden or frozen trenches amid din, stench and horror, he needs the highest standard of fitness and toughness. Without a great heart he is nothing. In defence he has to hold on when every natural feeling prompts him to yield. In attack he has to force his way through the line where the defender has planned to hold him and get under his guard. Only the flame of his spirit can enable him to maintain the momentum of attack. It is not that he is braver than the men of other arms—he would be the last to make such a claim—but that he needs his courage more. The sailor has his ship, the artilleryman his gun, the cavalryman his tank, but the foot soldier has little but his pride and morale. On the day of battle everything turns, not as in a ship on the captain, but on the individual private the lowest common denominator—standing firm, even though there is no one to oversee him. If he does not, the best-laid scheme will fail.

First Problem

The first problem of training, therefore, is to give the Infantryman an invisible armour of personal pride and morale that will stand the test of battle. In our army this has always been the task of the regiment, and it is the essence of a British regiment that it regards itself as second to none.

In continental armies the conception of the elite stormtrooper has often prevailed, with the great mass of Infantry regarded as mere cannon-fodder and as socially inferior to other arms. "Notre armée," an Italian officer remarked before the war to a Highland officer, "Cavalerie bon, Infanterie très bourgeoise." "Dans noire armée," the indignant Highlander replied, "Artillerie bon, Cavalerie bon; Infanterie bon, tout bon; Infanterie avec la jupe creme de la creme!"

Nothing could have expressed more perfectly the attitude of the British Infantryman. He regards himself, however, recruited not as a pawn in a despised bourgeois corps, but as a member of a peculiar, distinguished and exclusive tribe. It is his pride in this which gives him background in battle. There is not a regiment in our army whose history embalmed in its peculiar traditions, idiosyncrasies and customs—is not worthy of a Homer.

Anything that tended to weaken the morale-building qualities of the regiment would be a fatal blow to the fighting strength of the British Army, yet the regiment by itself is not enough. For one thing, it is too small a unit to stand up to the casualty drain of modern global war. Again and again in the present and last war, it has proved impossible to fill the depleted ranks of a front-line battalion with men of the same regiment. Instead, men from other regiments have been hastily drafted in and sent into action before they have had time to acquire new loyalties and pride - sometimes with serious results. Men who have to stand the unpredictable strains of battle are not arithmetical digits who can he moved about to satisfy the demands of logistics. For this reason some who most value the regimental tradition have begun to ask whether a regional grouping of our historic regiments for common training and drafting in time of war might not he an advantage. Local pride and feeling, especially in the ranks, can be a very potent factor in creating morale and the geographical evolution of our regimental system begun in the days of Cardwell—might perhaps now be taken a step farther. Martial loyalties need not conflict, a man may be as proud of his division as of his regiment and the better soldier for his dual pride. But the main new development in Infantry training has been the Battle School. This, born in the dark days after Dunkirk to train men in a new technique of war, has grown into the School of Infantry.

In the famous parent school on the northern moors and in the satellite and divisional schools now established in every command and theatre of war, Infantry Officers and soldiers are trained in the latest developments of their craft and—in General Paget's phrase—"physically and emotionally prepared for the shock of battle." With an equipment and range of experience greater than that which any regimental training unit can command, the School of Infantry, like John Moore's School for Light Infantry at Shorncliffe, has not weakened the regimental tradition but has fed and strengthened it. It has almost certainly come to stay as a permanent institution.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 17 October 2013

CEF Discharges in England
Topic: CEF

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Discharges in England

Adjutant-General's Branch

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

Prior to the Armistice the discharge of Canadian Other Ranks in England might be roughly divided into two classes-those who were discharged in order that they might accept commissions or be re-engaged on some branch of the Imperial Service, and those who were discharged to civil life or to engage in work of National Importance. Those of the first class included soldiers whose applications for training with a view to commissioned rank in the Imperial Service had been favourably considered and those who had undergone a course of training at a Cadet School and had been granted a commission in the Imperial Army. It also included those who had been granted commissions under the Admiralty and those who had been appointed Flight Cadets in the Royal Air Force.

The second class consisted of men who might have been asked for by the Imperial Authorities for work of National Importance in such departments as the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Shipping. Such men were usually in a low category, and in most cases it was considered that they would be of greater value if they were employed on such work rather than if they continued to serve in a Military capacity. In the same class also came the very infrequent cases of men who were discharged in England on compassionate grounds and also those cases of soldiers boarded for discharge or invaliding to Canada on account of medical unfitness, who had applied for discharge in England.

In respect to the last-named cases it was the settled policy of the Canadian Government that members of the Canadian Forces found no longer fit for War service should be discharged in Canada, and that discharge would not be permitted in England except under very exceptional circumstances and where grave hardship would otherwise be caused to the individual concerned. Applications under this heading were not numerous, but they were very carefully scrutinised as it was not considered advisable that the Canadian Government should allow disabled Canadians to remain in England. In all such cases the application had to be put forward by the man himself, and it should be clearly understood that before the application was allowed it was necessary to prove that very great hardship would be entailed if the applicant were returned to Canada. In addition the man was required to provide written guarantees by a responsible citizen in England to the effect that he would not become a charge upon the public, and it was also necessary that he should furnish a Magistrate's Certificate to the effect that the person acting as guarantor was able to fulfil his obligations.

All discharges in England were carried out through the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot in London, and on being discharged the soldier was required to sign a waiver of any claim against the Canadian Government for free transportation to Canada. He was also required to sign a statement that he understood that by being discharged in England he would not be entitled to receive the three months' bonus of pay under the arrangement which was then in existence. He was given the usual Discharge Character Certificates, and when his documents were completed they were sent for custody to the Officer in Charge of the Canadian Record Office, London, by the Officer Commanding the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot.

Present Policy re Discharges in British Isles. — Since the Armistice, it has been laid down that a soldier may only receive his discharge in the British Isles provided

(a)     He was born in the British Isles.

(b)     He has no dependents in Canada.

(c)     He has dependents or relatives in the British Isles in such circumstances as warrant his retention here for financial or domestic reasons.

(d)     He has a bona-fide offer of employment or has independent means of support irrespective of any pay or gratuity payable by the Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"Gentlemen — The Queen!"
Topic: Tradition

A Mess Dinner table including regimental silver trophies, flags and menus.

"Gentlemen — The Queen!"

By Lieutenant F.S. Dowe,
Army Headquarters, Ottawa

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

How often have we heard that toast and how little have we thought of its origin, development and variations. In fact, why do we drink a toast at all, and in doing so what significance has it? Let us then attempt to briefly trace its origin, development and variations through the years. It was the custom in Ancient Greece and Rome to drink libations to the gods and later when mortals qualified for this honour a toast "This to thee" was proposed and the cup handed to the person so honoured. This is probably the origin of our custom of raising the wine glass when drinking a toast. "Health drinking" was a great and favoured pleasure of the Saxons and later when the habit was turned, by monks, into more or less of a religious custom, the wussail bowl became known as the poculum caritatis or loving cup. In some parts of England, and particularly Scotland, it is still known as the "grace cup". This term was given to a bowl of wine passed around by the hostess to induce guests to remain seated until grace was said after the meal.

In the 17th Century when loyalty to the Sovereign was somewhat divided, officers were ordered to drink the King's health as a sign and token of their devotion. To salve their consciences, the Jacobites and their sympathizers used to place their glasses over their finger bowls and so drink "To the King over the water", meaning, of course, the exiled House of Stewart. To avoid this insult, and up until the reign of Edward VII, finger bowls were not permitted in Officers' Messes. It might be interesting to add at this point that George IV, when he was Prince Regent, introduced the Regent's allowance to assist poorer officers in meeting their wine and liquor bills. This custom held good until 1919 when the Pay and Allowance Regulations for the British Army were revised. There are many ways in which the Queen's health is, and may be, drunk. Once they were drunk on bended knee, and, in Scotland, with one foot on the table and one on the chair. In some messes this may still be seen, particularly Highland messes, and the custom is referred to as Highland honours.

The usual procedure, however, is to have the wine passed around the table to the right left and the last glass to be filled is that of the Commanding Officer. This is done so that he will know that every officer has got his glass filled and is ready for the toast. The Commanding Officer then gives the signal and the Mess President rises, saying "Mr. Vice - The Queen". The "Vice", who is generally the most junior officer in the Mess and who is seated at the foot of the table, rises and seconds the toast, saying "Gentlemen - The Queen". All officers then stand, raise their glasses, and respond. The toast is drunk, and after a slight pause, taking the time from the President, the officers sit down. If the Regimental band is in attendance, the officers stand while the first six bars of the National Anthem are played, holding their glasses in the meantime. The toast is then drunk after the band has finished playing. It is at this point that I would like to point out the variations and customs that have crept into the toast. In some Regiments all officers respond to the toast by saying "The Queen, God bless her"; in others only field officers may respond, and in a few the officers remain silent. In some messes the custom is to drink "no heel taps", that is, a bumper glass (brim full) drained at one swallow. The expression "heel tap" came from the reference to one thickness of leather making up the heel of the old boots. Some Regiments do not drink the toast at all and others drink it only on special occasions; some - and indeed most Regiments stand for the toast, some remain seated, only the President and Vice President standing, and others remain seated throughout.

I will, a little later on, give examples of these various deviations from the normal and quote, if possible, the incident that gave rise to the custom. However, before doing so I would like to state that as far as the Canadian Army is concerned any deviation from the normal method of toasting the sovereign is a result of affiliation with a British Army unit that observes some custom. However, many Canadian Regiments observe special days of remembrances and it is possible that some custom has been carried on that as a result of usage has become a tradition of the Regiment. The following are some examples of the deviations by Regiments of the British Army, together with the reason for the custom which has now become tradition. The Royal Navy and Royal Marine Regiments remain seated during the toast while they are afloat. This custom arose from the fact that years ago wardroom ceilings were so low that it became quite a game to avoid hitting the beams and to avoid a loss of dignity inherent with the dodging and darting, officers were permitted to remain seated.

Some line Regiments of the British Army have during their period of existence served as Marine regiments and to commemorate the occasion remain seated during the toast. The Rifle Brigade remain seated because their loyalty has never been questioned. The King's Own Shropshire Light Infantry do not drink the toast and this arose from an incident in Brighton in 1821. During the course of a Regimental dinner, at which King George IV was a guest, he declared that, as a result of the actions of the officers in dispersing some rioters who threatened him while he was attending the theatre in Brighton "Such loyal gentlemen as these need never drink the King's health or stand while the anthem is being played". During the reign of Victoria, the Scots Guards remained seated during the toast, except for the President and Mr. Vice. Those seated drank the toast in silence. In the Royal Tank Regiment the toast is drunk in the normal manner however, the words "God Bless her" are optional to everyone. On guest nights the Gordon Highlanders drink the toast in silence. Unless a member of the Royal family is present the 17/21st Lancers do not drink the toast, and in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry it was the sentiment that "it was wrong and unregimental to parade loyalty; a thing to be taken for granted". Consequently the toast is not drunk. The list is almost endless and it is safe to say that no two regiments do the honours in precisely the same manner. Like life, where variety is the spice, so tradition and custom make mess life unusual and interesting. What a grasp tradition and custom have become, how rigid and persistent.

Letters to the Editor — Toasts and Traditions

Canadian Army Journal; Vol. 6, No. 3, July 1952

Editor, Canadian Army Journal.

The article "Gentlemen - the Queen!" in the May 1952 edition of the Journal contains some points which invite comment. The author refers more than once to the "usual procedure" but one is left in some doubt as to just what this procedure is. He states "the wine is passed around the table to the right and the last glass to be filled is that of the Commanding Officer." Many variations in the procedure for the loyal toast do exist among the regiments of the British Common wealth, but I venture to believe that in no mess is the wine passed "around the table to the right".

Further, it is a rare occasion when the Commanding Officer is the last officer to fill his glass. The most common procedure is for the Commanding Officer to be seated in the centre of the table on the side nearest the main entrance to the dining room, with the President at the right and the Vice at the left end, respectively. Actually, the President can be seated anywhere, i.e. from where he can best supervise the table and the service. The wine decanters are placed in front of both the President and the Vice and on a signal from the former both taste it to "assure those present that it is fit to drink". The wine is then passed "to the left" and the Commanding Officer fills his glass in turn. In large messes where two or more tables may be in use, some local variations of this procedure undoubtedly will exist, but the general form remains the same. For example, the Commanding Officer rather than the President may propose the toast, and at extra long tables decanters may have to start being passed from several points, but these are just more of those deviations mentioned in the article.

The author also infers that Canadian regiments or units allied to British take on the traditions of the latter. This is a misconception prevalent among Canadians and devoutly to be discouraged. No Canadian regiment would consider adopting the battle honours of its allied British regiment, yet regimental traditions, customs or quiffs are usually honours won long ago on the field of battle or distinctions awarded by a reigning sovereign or other high personage. The person who granted the tradition in the first instance is now hardly in a position to permit its delegation to another regiment. To request authority to adopt one or more of these "honours" may prove embarrassing to the British regiment and to adopt without sanction would be Regimental Marched even more embarrassing to the Canadian regiment. In essence, therefore, Canadian regiments should earn their own traditions.

Lieut.-Col. R.H. Webb, Army Headquarters.

The Senior Subaltern

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