The Minute Book
Monday, 10 February 2014

Canada's Last Nukes (1984)
Topic: RCAF

McDonnell Douglas Air-2A Genie Rocket on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Canada Quietly Gives Up Last Nuclear Weapons

The Montreal Gazette, 15 November, 1984

The last nuclear weapons on Canadian soil were removed without fanfare in July [1984], the Department of Defence confirmed yesterday.

"These weapons were no longer required," said Lieut. Jill Robinson, a department official. The return to the United States of an estimated 55 nuclear-tipped was not publicly announced.

Robinson said the department simply followed up on a commitment made by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to strip the Canadian Forces of any nuclear role.

An official of the Department of External Affairs was there was "no great foreign-policy implications: in the removal, because Canada still remains a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

"We haven't completely disassociated ourselves:" said Louise de Lafayette. "We just don't have (nuclear weapons) and we won't use them."

Trudeau told the House of Commons in March that, with the introduction of the new CF-18 fighters, the Genies would be sent back to the United States.

The air-to-air missiles were located at Canadian Forces bases in Bagotville, Que., Comox, B.C., and Chatham, N.B.

The missiles were under U.S. control and, in the event of an attack on Canada by manned bombers, they were to be fitted to Canada's CF-101 Voodoo interceptors.

The aging Voodoos are being placed by CF-18s.

The Trudeau government made a commitment to equip the CF-18 with conventional weapons when it was chosen in 1981 as the main combat aircraft of the Canadian Forces.

Trudeau had frequently called on the western alliance to commit itself not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

NATO policy now envisages use of tactical "battlefield" nuclear weapons to stop an attack by Soviet bloc conventional forces on Western Europe.

In 1963, as a law professor at the University of Montreal, Trudeau was sharply critical of Lester Pearson's policy reversal in allowing nuclear warheads for Canada's Bomarc anti-aircraft missiles.

After he succeeded Pearson as leader of the Liberal party and Prime Minister, Trudeau oversaw the phase-out of the Bomarcs in 1971 and gradually changed Canada's NATO role.

The Honest John short-range nuclear missiles were taken away from Canada's ground forces in Europe and the CF-104 Starfighters based at Lahr, West Germany, were given a low-level ground-support and reconnaissance role, using conventional weapons.

While there are no nuclear weapons stationed in Canada now, U.S. bombers armed with nuclear weapons regularly fly in Canadian space and the U.S. Air Force uses Canada for cruise missile tests.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 9 February 2014

Red Ensign for Army (1955)
Topic: Canadian Army

Preference Over Jack

Canadian Red Ensign To Be Used By Army

Ottawa Citizen, 18 May, 1955
By: Franck Swanson, Canadian Parliamentary Writer

Governor-General's Speech on the Opening of Parliament, Ottawa, 6 September, 1945

"The government has directed that, pending approval by Parliament of a particular design, the Canadian Red Ensign which was the flag carried into battle by the Canadian army, and which was flown from the Peace Tower on V-E day and V-J Day as a tribute to the valour of our armed forces and to Canada's achievements in war, may be displayed whatever place of occasion makes it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag."

The army has decreed that the use of the Union Jack at defence headquarters, armories, forts, drill halls and other army buildings will be the exception and that the Canadian Red Ensign be flown in preference.

A May 6 [1955] order by National Defence Headquarters has instructed commands across the country that the flying of the Union Jack should be the exception and not the rule.

The order on "the flying of flags" was issued by Major-General Leo Brennan, adjutant-general. It specifies that the Union Jack or the Canadian Red Ensign, at the discretion of the commanding officer, may be flown at military establishments in or outside Canada.

Leaves No Doubt

It left no doubt, however, the Canadian Red Ensign is the flag that should be flown.

This is what the adjutant-general's order said:

"The Canadian Red Ensign or Union Jack will be flown at army headquarters, armories, forts, drill halls and other buildings within commands at the discretion of the officer commanding the command and by the Canadian Army when stationed outside Canada. The use of the Union Jack should be the exception and not the rule."

"At camps and station in Canada and the United States where both the Stars and Stripes and the Canadian Red Ensign or Union Jack are flown, the Canadian Red Ensign or the Union Jack should be half-masted on such occasions as the Stars and Stripes are half-masted."

Defence headquarters said today the new order does not break new ground but rather is the "official affirmation" of the army custom of flying the Red Ensign. The Royal Canadian Navy has adopted a blue ensign as its flag and the Royal Canadian Air Force as flag of air force blue.

The Red Ensign was proclaimed in an official government publication recently as the "distinctive Canadian flag" which Parliament has argued about for so long.

The Trades mark Journal carried the proclamation. It was stated in the Commons following publication of the notice that the action was taken to restrict the commercial use, without permission, of the Red Ensign.

Evolution of the Canadian Red Ensign

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Marine Tradition
Topic: Tradition

The Marine Tradition

MCWP 6-11 – Leading Marines; U.S. Marine Corps, 27 Nov 2002


Marines' Hymn

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

"Such as regiments hand down forever." The individual Marine, recruit and officer candidate training, "every Marine a rifleman," and our maritime character contribute to our heritage. Separately and collectively, they set us apart from other fighting forces and are the cement that glues the Marine Corps together and gives Marines a common outlook that transcends their grade, unit, or billet. Self-image is at the heart of the Marine Corps–a complex set of ideals, beliefs, and standards that define our Corps. Our selfless dedication to and elevation of the institution over self is uncommon elsewhere.

Ultimately undefinable, this self-image sets Marines apart from others and requires a special approach to leading. Consequently, Marine leaders must be forged in the same crucible and steeled with the same standards and traditions as those placed in their charge–standards and traditions as old as our nation itself.

Those who know Marines give many reasons why America needs a Marine Corps, but first and foremost, Marines exist to fight and win. From this duty, from this reason for being, everything else flows. If it doesn't, it is meaningless. This spirit is the character of our Corps. It is the foundation of our cohesion and combat effectiveness, and it gives Marines that "swagger, confidence, and hardness" necessary for victory–qualities seen in the hills of Korea and in hundreds of other engagements before and since.

Marines believe that to be a Marine is special; that those good enough to become Marines are special; and that the institution in which they are bonded is special. That is why the legion analogy is so appropriate for the Corps. Marines, far flung, performing dangerous–sometimes apparently meaningless and often overlooked missions–find strength and sense of purpose simply knowing that they are Marines in that mystical grouping they know as the Corps.

Among the five Armed Services of our nation, four have Service songs; only the Marine Corps has its Hymn. For scores of years before it became recently fashionable to stand for all Service songs, Marines always stood when our Hymn was played. And to this day, while others stand with cheers and applause to their Service song, Marines stand quietly, unwaveringly at attention, as the Hymn of their Corps is played. Marines are different.

"The 1st Marine Division, fighting its way back from the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950, was embattled amid the snows from the moment the column struck its camp at Hagaru. By midnight, after heavy loss through the day, it had bivouacked at Kotori, still surrounded, still far from the sea." The commanding general was alone in his tent. It was his worst moment. "The task ahead seemed hopeless. Suddenly he heard music." Outside, some Marines, on their way to a warming tent, were softly singing the Marines' Hymn. " 'All doubt left me,' " said the general. " 'I knew then we had it made.' "

For more than 200 years, the steady performance of the Marine Corps has elevated it to the epitome of military excellence. It is an elite fighting force renowned for its success in combat, esprit de corps, and readiness always to be "first to fight." "More than anything else, Marines have fought and … won because of a commitment–to a leader and to a small brotherhood where the ties that bind are mutual respect and confidence, shared privation, shared hazard, shared triumph, a willingness to obey, and determination to follow."

"The man who will go where his colors go, without ask ing, who will fight a phantom foe in jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to democratic America. He is the stuff of which legions are made.

"His pride is in his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for whathe must face, and his obedience is to his orders. As a legionary, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world; … he has been called United States Marine."

The Marine Corps' vision of leading is less concerned with rank, self-identity, recognition, or privilege than the essence of our Corps: the individual Marine and the unyielding determination to persevere because Marines and the Corps do not fail.Our vision of leading is linked directly to our common vision of warfighting, which needs leaders devoted to leading, capable of independent and bold action, who are willing and eager to assume new and sometimes daunting responsibilities, willing to take risks–not because they may succeed, but because the Corps must succeed.

This always has been, and always will be, what leading Marines is all about.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 7 February 2014

Service Rifles (1895)
Topic: Militaria

Military News

Comparison of Rifles Used by Standing Armies

The Daily Mail and Empire, 7 May 1895

The following lengthy, but clear and interesting, letter on the "rifle question" from an Ottawa corespondent, together with the tabulated statement attached, is worthy the attention of every military man:—

With reference to the adoption of a new rifle by Canada, there is much to be said pro and con. All countries which maintain a military or military and naval organization have within the past decade provided a new rifle, each adopting that which to them seemed the best and most effective, and all chose one with a small calibre and a magazine attachment, as may be seen in the statement attached, which has been compiled from the latest information. England has adopted the type known as the Lee-Metford, by which it is understood that a barrel grooved in accordance with the system used in the Metford long range rifle has been added to a breech action the invention of Mr. Lee. The object of these new arms is to obtain a weapon which is more deadly in its results and will kill at greater distances than the arms in stock in Canada, which elsewhere have become obsolete. The old Brown Bess could be depended upon up to 200 or 300 yards, and the percussion musket was but little better. Then came the Enfield rifle, with a reduced calibre and elongated bullet (and in a converted state, the Snider-Enfield), which was uncertain over 700 yards, and it gave place to the Martini-Henry with its further reduction in calibre and change in the bullet; a rifle which is uncertain beyond 900 yards, besides possessing defects—notably that of excessive recoil—which led to its abandonment and the adoption of the Lee-Metford, with its small calibre of .303-inch, and its certainly in firing up to 1,500 yards.

With the adoption of this rifle came a change in the ammunition; black powder had to give way to a smokeless explosive, and a bullet with a hard envelope or shell took the place of the soft leaden bullet of the Snider and the hardened one of the Martini-Henry; and so powerful is the explosive (cordite) used that the rifle is sighted to 2,900 yards, or nearly 1 2/3 miles It may be remarked that the magazine contains ten cartridges, which may be discharged continuously, or, by the action of a 'cut-off,' the supply from the magazine ceases, and the arm can be used as a single loader. The weight of ammunition a soldier can carry in the field is six pounds. With the Martini-Henry he could only carry sixty rounds, but with the Lee-Metford he is supplied with one hundred rounds. With the adoption of the Lee-Metford many thousands of martini-Henry rifles became dead stock, to utilize which it was suggested that those of the most improved type should have attached a barrel of .303-inch, and the breech action altered to suit the smaller cartridge. This was done to a limited extent and it is maintained that three different types of barrels have been supplied—(1) that the original Martini-Henry barrels were reamed out and lines with a tube carrying the .303 bore; (2) that billets of steel of the same external dimensions as the Martini-Henry barrel were bored out and rifled to .303-inch; and (3) that barrels similar to those in the Lee-Metford are used.

The objections to the first type of barrel are so serious that its consideration may be dismissed. With respect to the second type, it may be said that the rifle is too heavy and badly balanced. In the third type we have a rifle whose ballistic properties are identical with the Lee-Metford and less liable to damage from usage and neglect, and though only a single loader, as many shots can be fired from it in two minutes as from the Lee-Metford. But there are objections to both the Lee-Metford and the Martini-Metford, due to the erosion of the bore caused by the intense heat generated by the explosion of the charge and the high velocities of the gases generated, and , as claimed, the inability of the had bullet to form a perfect gas check, unless which is done a portion of the gases must escape between the bullet and the bore, to the detriment of the latter. In the Snider the soft leaden bullet is expanded, and the harder bullet of the Martini-Henry is 'set-up,' and fills the grooves, thus making a perfect gas check. Not so the Lee-Metford bullet. In the bore of the Lee-Metford are seven grooves, the spaces between which are portions of a cylinder .303-inch diameter. The grooves are .004 -inch in depth, and this the width from the bottom of a groove to that of the opposite one is .311 inch, and that dimension is the diameter of the bullet, which when fired is compressed to fit the grooving; and it is stated that this is not done to the extent required to form a perfect gas check, the opinion being based on an examination of fired bullets. It is said, and on good authority, that with black powder a rifle would stand some 12,000 rounds, but that with smokeless powder (cordite) 3,000 to 4,000 would be the limit of the Lee-Metford and Martini-Metford barrel.

The question what explosive shall be used is engaging the attention of the military and naval authorities in the United States, who have the advantage of the experience of those countries which have adopted a smokeless explosive, and yet after three years of trial and research the army department has not settles upon a powder to use in the magazine rifle which has been adopted. What is required of a suitable powder is that it shall give a high muzzle velocity, with a minimum of pressure on the barrel; quick ignition, and be smokeless, leaving but little if any residue or fouling in the bore; possessing good keeping qualities under all atmospheric changes; be safe to handle; easy to load into shells; comparatively safe to manufacture, and reasonable in cost. There are two classes of smokeless powders which can be used in rifles arms, viz.: those which are composed of nitro-glycerine and gun-cotton, like cordite, baltestite, maximite, and the Peyton and Leonard powders, with which the United States army authorities have been for some time experimenting; and those having gun-cotton or other nitro-products as their base, in which class we have rifleite, cannonite, etc. It is true that with the adoption of the .303 rifle a cartridge was made containing a charge of black powder compressed into a cylindrical pellet, but the service ammunition is filled with cordite, for which the rifle is sighted and adjusted; and though this subject is foreign to that of the rifle, yet it has an intimate connection therewith, sufficient at least to demand consideration when viewed from the standpoint of supply. If a .303 rifle be adopted by Canada, then provision must be made to obtain ammunition for it in such quantities as would create and maintain a reserve stock, and meet the yearly expenditure. Granted that the shells, etc., and completion of the cartridges can be done in Canada, the question arises, what explosive shall be used? Black powder in pellet form, or a smokeless powder? And if the latter, which class or kind shall be adopted? Black power of a quality suitable for a military rifle cannot—for the want of a proper charcoal—be made in Canada, high explosives for firearms of any kind are not manufactured here, and though we can in peaceful times obtain a supply from the British Government, yet a time when might arrive when that supply would be limited, if not entirely cut off. At present we obtain from England the powder for the M.-H. Cartridges made at Quebec; and in case of need could fall back on powder made in Canada. This question of ammunition should be considered in connection with that of the adoption of a small bore rifle.

There is a difference of nearly $10 between the prices of the L.-M. And the M.-M., the difference being in favour of the latter. If Canada should adopt either the Lee-Metford or the Martini-Metford—preferably the former—it would not be wise to issue them to the active militia for drill purposes, for the reason that they are not fitted to withstand the usage and treatment they would receive during camps of instruction, or in company armouries; nor are they as suitable as the Snider for recruit drill and instruction, for the latter is good enough for the 'twelve days' drill,' which the force is required to undergo. To improve the military rifle is the aim of to-day, and the tendency is towards an arm which, like the Maxin gun, will, on one pull of the trigger, act automatically, and maintain a continuous fir, only ceasing when purposefully stopped, or when supply of cartridges has failed, and such a rifle has been patented by Herr von Mannlicher, of Vienna. If such a rifle should be a marked success, it follows that the rifles of to-day will have to give place, and, like the Snider and the Martini-Henry, become obsolete. The L.-M. Is not a perfect rifle, for it has not held its own when compared with other systems, notably that Krag-Jorgensen; and much fault is found with the mode of rifling adopted, which, whilst it may have given excellent results with black powder and an expended or 'set-up' bullet, it is not suitable for a high explosive and a hard, compound, bullet, which has to be compressed; and there is a possibility that a new barrel of a harder material than ordinary steel, with a different system of rifling, will ultimately be adopted. The Martini-Metford is not a service rifle, and therefore very little is known respecting it. A few were distributed last year after the shooting season had practically closed, evidently without any defined conditions under which they were to be fired; and, according to the public press, the results obtained were not satisfactory, which may this be accounted for:—(1) The rifles were either of the first or second type stated herein; (2) that black powder cartridges were used, whereas the rifle is sighted for cordite, which gives a much higher muzzle velocity, and requires less elevation; and (3) the unfavourable season of the year, the want of practice and knowledge on the part of those using them, and the absence of rules and conditions under which a similarity of firing would be obtained, and the results compared and considered.

There is apparently a movement on foot to interview the Minister of Militia relative to a new rifle for the militia, and to suggest that such be procured with a little delay as possible. In view of existing circumstances and the probability that, whatever the kind of rifle procured, they will not be issued to the force, but remain in store undistributed, it would appear that action is nor desirable at present, and that Canada can afford to wait a further period, until it has been demonstrated by actual use that the L.-M. Is a serviceable weapon, and whether the experience gained warrants its detention in its present shape, or justifies changes and modifications to make it a more perfect weapon.


Statement of rifles which have been adopted:—

Nation System Calibre (in.) No. of Grooves Powder Sighted to (yds.) Cartridges in Magazine
ArgentineManyer0.3014Smokeless 5
AustriaMannlicher0.3154Schwab Rubin25005
ChinaLee0.33   5
FranceLebel0.3154Poudre B20008
FranceBerthier0.3014Smokeless 4
Great BritainLee-Metford0.3037Cordite290010
HollandMannlicher0.2564Smokeless 5
PortugalKropatchek0.3154Black 8
RoumaniaMannlicher0.2564Smokeless 5
RussiaMouzin0.34Kazan Factory 5
ServiaMauser0.315   5
SwitzerlandSchnivat0.2953P.C 1889210012
SwedenKrag-Jorgensen0.315   8
TurkeyMauser0.301 Smokeless 5
U.S. ArmyKrag-Jorgensen0.34  5
U.S. Navy 0.236    

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 6 February 2014

Canadian Army Arsenal Request (1958)
Topic: Canadian Army

Canadian Army Asks for Awesome A-Arsenal (1958)

The Ottawa Citizen, 6 December, 1958
By: Charles Lynch, Southam News Services

The Canadian Army is making a double-barrelled pitch for a hefty share of the defence budget for the coming year.

In the jockeying now going on between the three services while the defence estimates are being prepared, the army's case is based on these two points.

1.—A whole new family of weapons and vehicles is needed to implement the new tactical concept for atomic warfare.

2.—In the event of a nuclear stalemate, the army would provide the backbone of conventional forces that would be required. The value of conventional forces in special operations such as the United Nations Emergency Force also is being stressed.

The list of new equipment being requested by the Army is headed by an amphibious vehicle known as the "Bobcat," the Canadian answer to the problem of troop mobility on the atomic battlefield.

It's Army's Arrow

The Bobcat is to the Army what the Avro Arrow interceptor is to the RCAF. Army officials believe it is the most versatile military vehicle yet devised, and they are confident that if it is ordered into production here in Canada, it can be sold to other NATO countries.

It is a tracked vehicle capable of carrying infantry, signals, headquarters, radars and engineers. It can also be used as a gun mount and a supply vehicle. Its machine gun can be used in support of infantry.

In the words of Major-General Jean Allard, vice-chief of the General Staff, "the army's expenditures which will be asked for in the years ahead are essential from the operational standpoint, and have been planned in accordance with those commitments which the Government of Canada has already made and is most likely to make in the future."

The list of army requirements as set forth in September by Col. Norman G. Wilson-Smith, Director of Combat Development. is an impressive one.

Then comes the Bobcat, the basic vehicle known in army parlance as "Chassis Tracked Light." Various forms of this are needed for various tasks.


Next, a family of tactical air vehicles for troop movement and supplies—Helicopters.

The list continues:

  • Improved anti-tank weapons.
  • Improved tanks.
  • Improved small arms.
  • Reconnaissance aircraft, including helicopters.
  • Reconnaissance drones "unmanned aircraft" bearing special cameras.
  • Ground reconnaissance vehicles.
  • Battlefield surveillance devices (radar, infra-red cameras, television cameras).
  • Improved wireless equipment.
  • Harnessing of micro-wave and radio relay to replace land lines in battlefield communications.
  • Liaison aircraft.
  • Load carrying aircraft, and tracked vehicles for load carrying on the ground.
  • New rations, clothing and other equipment to meet the problems of widespread troop dispersal on atomic battlefields.

Spread Out

These things are needed to fulfil what General Allard calls "our agreed tactical concept and the basis for all our future military thinking."

Commenting on the army's requirements last September, he said: "It will cost money, but with a firm concept you can be assured that the money will not be misspent of wasted.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 5 February 2014

HMCS Niobe Courts Martial, Nov 1911, Part 3
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe Grounding and Court Martial;
Part 4: The Courts Martial, Day 3 of 3, Nov 1911

The Officer of the Day reprimanded, and the Navigating Officer dismissed from the ship, it is now Commander Macdonald who stands before the court. he too is charged with the grounding of HMCS Niobe. Today's report on the third day of the court martial is followed by an opinion article that was printed the same date, exploring the political machinations which caused HMCS Niobe ro be in Yarmouth in the first place.

The Montreal Gazette, 20 November, 1911

End of Niobe Court-Martial

Decision Reached that Charge Against Commander Macdonald is Not Proven
Sword Returned to Him
Accused Man Personally Asked to Admiralty to Make the Enquiry.

Halifax, N.S., November 18.—(Special) The court-martial on the Niobe this afternoon concluded the series of court trails which has engaged its attention, by giving a decision that the charge against Commander W.B. Macdonald, of the Canadian cruiser Niobe, was not proven. The president of the court, in rendering this judgment and handing back his sword to the commander, stated that it gave him great pleasure to state that Commander Macdonald was honourably acquitted. It came out in the defence of Commander Macdonald that the court-martial had been personally asked for by him. The commander explained this in the following terms:

On October 19, not having heard that any steps had been taken by which I could vindicate my conduct, and realizing that it was a critical time in my Imperial service career, I sent the following telegram:

'Admiralty, London.—Respectively submit convenience of service admits Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty may be pleased to try me at court-martial grounding Niobe.' "

Commander Macdonald, in the course of his defence, submitted a statement of what occurred from the time of leaving Yarmouth up to the time of grounding, and the subsequent steps that were taken to salve the ship.

"At 9.58, after getting away from Yarmouth, I rounded Blonderock bouy," he said, "and shaped course S. 74 E. The night was very clear. Up to this time no abnormal tide had been encountered, and nothing to lead me to suppose that any corrections other than those allowed fir in tide tables would be necessary, I am firmly of the opinion that Lieut. White's computation of tides was the correct one, which the point of our, which the point of our stranding proves, and that had there not been an abnormal tide the ship would have made the southwest ledge bouy even in thick weather. About 10.15 p.m. I gave my night order book to the officer of the watch on the forebridge and pointed out to him that the ship was making the southwest ledge bouy, to see that the ship was not set in to northwards, and on no account to get to port of his course, but to keep generously to starboard. At this time the night was extremely fine and starry, I then went into my cabin on the forebridge. On being called at midnight, I came out of my cabin and found that the ship had run into a fog. I called out Lieut. White's name, and was informed that he was not on the upper bridge. I sent for him. As my reduced speed had not enabled me to hear the southwest ledge bouy's whistle, I determined to haul out, and went into the chart house to determine a course, and had just leaned over the chart when the ship took ground. The time from my first being informed that the southwest ledge bouy was sighted to the time of grounding was about 20 minutes. I beg to state that the cause of our grounding was an abnormal tide, due either to the gale, the previous night in the Bay of Fundy, or to perhaps a hurricane in the West Indies. I would ask the members of the court to place themselves in my position on the night in question, to remember that at 10.25, when I gave the order book and instructions to the officer of the first watch, the night was exceptionally fine, exceptionally clear; that no abnormal tide had been experienced, and that I was kept in ignorance of the fact that Cape Sable light had not been seen when we were closely approaching it ; that when I was called about the time I expected to be, I was definitely informed that the buoy had been seen and heard immediately before the fog closed down in the position I expected it to be seen. I am of the opinion that neither the charts, tide tables nor sailing directions give the seaman, not possessed of local knowledge, any idea of the danger of the locality. I am not claiming to have grounded on an uncharted rock, though this may well be the case, and I think that this locality probably abounds in uncharted rocks, which only ships of deep draught discover."

The squadron sailed this afternoon for Bermuda.

The Montreal Gazette, 20 November, 1991
(Ottawa Citizen)

The Niobe's Mishap

What Preceded the Sending of the Ship to Yarmouth

The court martial at Halifax has already found one victim for the disaster to the Niobe off Cape Sable last July in the person of Lord Allister Graham, who was officer of the watch up to a quarter of an hour before the ship stranded on the rocks. From a naval viewpoint, from the technical viewpoint of marine navigation the decision may be quite correct. The British Admiralty is rather strict and severe in such cases, as may be imagined. But the average Canadian cannot help feeling that the whole affair has been one for which the country should feel heartily ashamed. Lord Graham is virtually made a scapegoat for an amateur naval department's rank blunders and a resume of the facts will show that the officials of the Niobe were practically ordered to go to dangerous localities whenever the presence of the ship as an attraction to local celebrations being held at the time was deemed necessary.

The Niobe, a training ship, was sent to the Yarmouth, N.S., old home week celebration on the order of Hon. L.P. Brodeur, who acted on the request of Mr. B.B. Law, M.P. But before Mr. Brodeur fulfilled his promise he had left for the Imperial Conference and, the celebration approaching, Mr. Law wrote to Commander C.D. Roper and Mr. P.J. Ling, of the Naval Department at Ottawa, on the matter. Both these officials refused to send the Niobe to Yarmouth as a civic attraction. In this the officials were justified, as it meant the disarrangement of training exercise on board the vessel. But Mr. Law persisted and again requested that the ship be sent. Once more the department refused. And once again Mr. Law came back by letter requesting the department cable Mr. Brodeur in London and remind him of his promise. Quite rightly the department refused to do any such thing.

Mr. law, whose prestige as a political advertiser was evidently in danger among his townfolk, therefore fell back upon the hope of the Maritime provinces when something was wanted—Hon. Mr. Fielding. Mr. Fielding was in London, but he cabled the naval department at Ottawa asking that Mr. Law's request be granted. Just why the minister of finance was allowed to dabble inj the administration of naval affairs is not quite clear, but Mr. Fielding took the chance without any hesitation. Mr. Law, encouraged by this acquiescence, got after Mr. Brodeur again on the latter's return to Canada on July 11, and extracted his signed promise that the Niobe would positively be at Yarmouth.

In the meantime, however, it is interesting to learn that Commander Roper only July 14, the day previous to the receipt by Mr. Law of Mr. Brodeur's definite promise, had written a memorandum, strongly protesting against the proposal. The commander made the significant remark that he considered that the opinion of the technical officers should be obtained before any promise was made as to the vessels of the department visiting any particular port, at given date. Admiral Kingsmill, on forwarding this memorandum, commented upon it favourably and endorsed its objection to the proposal. The admiral added that it would be impossible to carry out the training objects of the vessel if the visiting of the ship to ports where celebrations were being held was to become a recognized custom.

Notwithstanding the objections of the qualified officials of the department, Mr. Brodeur confirmed his promise to Mr. Law and on July 14 the Niobe reached Yarmouth. The men were landed to participate in the parade, some 4,000 visitors inspected the ship, a grand ball took place and other entertainments were given with the vessel as a center of social activity. On July 19 the disaster occurred when a gale sprung up in the harbour. Of the good seamanship and devotion of the officers on this occasion much has been written and deservedly so.

In view of all the facts the present court martial seems to be shaped in the wrong direction. It is quite true that the admiralty must enforce its Spartan regulations, but it is unfortunate that Canada is to receive advertising of this sort. The fact that the naval department was used as an advertising adjunct to please political friends of the recent administration, and that such action cost the country nearly a quarter of a million dollars in money and incalculable amount in prestige, is enough to make the man in the street feel hot under the collar.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 4 February 2014

HMCS Niobe Courts Martial, Nov 1911, Day 2
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe Grounding and Court Martial;
Part 3: The Courts Martial, Day 2 of 3, Nov 1911

With the first day of trials concluded, and the Officer of the Day, Lieut. Lord Allister Graham, having received a reprmand, the court martial contines its second day. On this day the navigating officer, Lieut. White, presents his defence.

The Montreal Gazette, 18 November, 1911

Navigator is Found Guilty

Lieut. White Suffered, Through Negligence, the Niobe to Strand.
Dismissed from the Ship.
Commander Macdonald Placed on Trial Following the Judgment.

Halifax, N.S., November 17.—Lieut. Charles White, navigating officer on board H.M.C.S. Niobe, was found guilty by court-martial here at noon today of suffering, through negligence, the Niobe to strand on the treacherous ledges off Cape Sable on July 30 last, and, in spite of a high tribute paid him by his commander, and his previous good record, he was severely reprimanded and dismissed from the ship.

The finding of the court came as a surprise to most of those who had followed the intricate case. It was felt by some that Lieut. White had made out a much better case than did Lord Allister Graham, who faced the same charge and got off with a reprimand. It had been clearly shown that Lieut. White had been overworked previous to the stranding. The night of the 29th he had gone to his room for a much needed rest, leaving word with the officer of the watch to be called when the Cape Sable lights were sighted and if he had known, he said, that the officer of the watch would not call him should the Cape Sable light, when within reasonable range, not be sighted, he would not have left the bridge.

Moreover, according to Lieut. White's reasoning, and his reasoning was borne out by the evidence of his witnesses, the stranding was due either to an abnormal tide, which it was impossible to foresee, or to an uncharted rock, the existence of which rocks having been amply proven by the grounding of H.M.S. Cornwall. Lieut. White also maintained he had not been informed of the facts as he should have been. In spite of all this, however, he was adjudged guilty and sentences as stated.

Lieut. White divided his defence into five points as follows:

1.     To prove that in the passage from Yarmouth to Shelburne, it was absolutely necessary to make the outlying bouy.

2.     That in shaping the course S 74, E, I allowed for tides estimated to the best of my ability, using the information contained in the chart set supplied by the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty at London and Ottawa.

3.     That before I left the bridge, at 10 p.m. on the 29th of July, I turned over an exact position of the ship to the officer of the watch, and saw the ship steady on her course.

4.     That at 10. p.m., the time I left the bridge, the weather was fine, the Blonde Rock bouy and Seal Island light were in sight, and consequently I was entitled to leave the bridge for a couple hours, leaving the officers of the watch in charge, as the state of affairs at that time was absolutely normal.

5.     That when there is any doubt as to the ship's position I invariably remain on the bridge until the exact position is found, keeping the Thompson sounding machine going until this position is found.

Lieut. White then dealt with each of his points in turn, elaborating on them with great care and attention.

"The Niobe went ashore and someone had to suffer for it," said Lieut. White, shortly after the sentence had been pronounced.

He declined, however, to comment further on the decision. The fact, however, that Lieut. White was convicted of suffering the Niobe to be stranded does not necessarily mean that the court considered that he had mapped out a wrong course for the Niobe. It may only mean that the court felt that Lieut. White should have been on deck at certain times when he wasn't there. The court makes no comment on its decision. There is no appeal from its findings.

The evidence is sent, however, to the judge advocate of the fleet in London, who examines it thoroughly. If he finds anything irregular or illegal in the proceedings, he quashes the whole case and it cannot be reopened.

Two years ago the British Admiralty found that there were more senior Lieutenants than there were ships for them, and invited resignations. Lieut. White was one of several who took advantage of the opportunity to retire. Almost immediately he applied to the Canadian Government for the berth on the Niobe and was readily accepted, as he was highly regarded as a navigator. He has a two years' contract with the Canadian Government, but just what will transpire now no-one seems to know. The sentence of the court went into effect immediately after it was pronounced, but Lieut. White is still on the ship and will remain a few days.

It is possible that the Canadian Government will see fit to appoint him to another position at once. It could even reinstate him as navigating officer on the Niobe, but it is scarcely likely that such a step will be taken. Until he secures another position Lieut. White remains on half pay. He is not a man of independent means. Lieut. White took his medicine with good grace, although feeling keenly the humiliation it meant to him. He is extremely popular with both the officers and men on board the Niobe and all feel deeply for him in his misfortune.

His wife and two children reside in Halifax. He is about 24 years old.

There was the utmost stillness in the little court room as the judge advocate arose to pronounce the sentence. All the witnesses in the case were there, as well as the newspaper writers, court officers, etc., and when the sentence had been pronounced there wasn't a man present who didn't feel sorry for the young Lieutenant. "But," as one of his fellow officers put it, "it might have been worse."

Lieut. White asked Commander Macdonald to make statement as to his character as navigating officer on the Niobe.

"Up to the night in question," said Commander Macdonald, "I have had the highest opinion of you as a navigating officer. You have always been most careful, conscientious and exact, and I have complete confidence in you as a navigating officer. I also consider you an excellent pilot."

Immediately on the close of Lieut. White's case Commander Macdonald was placed on trial by the same court-martial. He, too, is charged with negligence or by default stranding or suffering to be stranded the cruiser Niobe on July 30 last.

Captain Macdonald has as his advisor Commander martin of the Dick Yards. At 12.45 the court adjourned, and it wasn't until the court reassembled in the afternoon that the examination of witnesses was begun. The witnesses so far examined in this case are the same as in the two previous cases, and little that is new or important has developed. At 6.45 court adjourned until 9.30 tomorrow morning. Commander Macdonald's case is somewhat more thorough than the others, and will likely last all day tomorrow.

The Toronto Globe, 18 Nov 1911

The Toronto Globe headlines for this story (18 Nov 1911), although presented in a shortened length, were:

Niobe Officer is Dismissed

Sentence Meted Out to Lieut. White a Surprise,
Following Previous Light Penalty—
Officer Overworked.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 3 February 2014

HMCS Niobe Courts Martial, Nov 1911, Part 1
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe Grounding and Court Martial;
Part 2: The Courts Martial, Day 1 of 3, Nov 1911

Three officers will be court-martialed for the grounding of HMCS Niobe in July, 1911. It's now over three months later, early November, and a Royal Navy cruiser squadron arrives at Halifax to provide the necessary senior officers for the court. Over three days the trials will take place, these are reports of the first day.

The Montreal Gazette, 11 November, 1911

Fourth Cruiser Squadron at Halifax

Admiral Kingsmill

Halifax, N.S., November 10.—The fourth cruiser squadron arrived today and came to mooing off the dockyard. Rear Admiral Kingsmill arrived from Ottawa this evening in connection with the court-martial which is to be held by Rear Admiral E.E. Bradford, C.V.O., into the stranding on the warship Niobe at the end of last July.

Admiral Kingsmill will have a conference with Admiral Bradford tomorrow morning, when arrangements for the court-martial will be finally made. It will probably begin on Monday forenoon aboard the Niobe, and will be open to the public.

It has not yet been decided whether there will be be three separate trials or one. Three men are to be tried, the commander of the ship, the navigating lieutenant, and the officer of the watch. The court may decide to make one inquiry to cover the three cases or a separate court-martial may convene for each officer.

The squadron had a good voyage across. The ships called at the Azores but did not stay there long. The squadron will coal at the dockyard, two ships coming in at a time. The squadron consists of H.M.S. Leviathan, flagship; Berwick, Essex and Dongal.

Lewiston Evening Standard, 15 November, 1911

Naval Court Martial

Being Held Because of Standing of Canadian Cruiser Niobe Last July

Halifax, N.S., Nov 15.—A naval court martial convened here today to investigate the responsibility for the stranding of the Canadian cruiser Niobe near Cape Sable, last July. Commander Macdonald of the Niobe and two of his officers are on trial. In order to provide the officers of necessary rank for the court, the British Atlantic Squadron, consisting of Leviathan, Essex, Donegal and Berwick was sent here. Capt Baker of the Berwick is presiding over the court.

Commander Macdonald was examined today. In the course of his testimony he said that he was in his cabin at the time the ship struck the ledges. He said that he considered that the officer of the watch was responsible for the safety of the ship while the commander was in the cabin. The officer on watch at the time of the accident was Lieut. Lord Allister Graham, one of the officers under court martial.

The Montreal Gazette, 16 November, 1911

Blamed for Niobe Stranding

Lord Allister Graham Declared Guilty by the Court-Martial
Will Be Reprimanded
Was Officer of the Watch up to Fifteen Minutes of the Accident.

Halifax, November 15.—Lieut. Lord Allister Graham was found guilty today by court martial of causing, or suffering to be caused, the stranding of H.M.C.S. Niobe on July 29 last on the dangerous ledges of Cape Sable. He was sentenced to be reprimanded. Lord Allister Graham was officer of the watch up to fifteen or twenty minutes of the time the cruiser went ashore.

The proceedings began at 9.30 this morning and went until 6.30 this evening. The witnesses included Commander W.B. Macdonald, of the Niobe, and Navigating Lieut. James White, both of whom are charged with the same offence as Lieut. Graham. While the evidence seemed to show an absence of any deliberate negligence on the part of the accused, it developed the fact that he had not been as attentive to duty as he should have been. He was well aware of the existence of the Cape Sable lights, and the time they should have been discernible from the ship, but when this time passed and the lights were not seen he did not immediately report the fact to Commander Macdonald or the navigating officer.

Lord Allister Graham in presenting his defence maintained that hit was unfair to hold him responsible for the stranding of the ship when he had been relieved of the watch about twenty minutes before the accident occurred. Lieut. Graham's reprimand means nothing more than a black mark for him. Nevertheless he feels keenly his position in the matter, for up to the present time he has held an enviable record as an officer.

When the court opened the charge was read by the deputy judge advocate. Lord Allister Graham was specifically charged with the causing of the stranding of the Niobe while he was officer of the watch. Lieutenants Campbell and Cunningham of the flagship were instructed by the court to work out the course and position of the Niobe on the night of the stranding.

Commander Macdonald was the first witness called. Questioned by the court he said that Lieut. Lord Allister Graham was officer of the first watch when the ship grounded on Blonde Rock bouy on the morning of July 29 last. He (the commander) was on deck when the ship was stranded. The weather was clear before the ship passed Blonde Rock buy. He had not expected to see Cape Sable light almost immediately after passing the Blonde Rock bouy, returning twenty minutes later. The accused had not sent down a report that Cape Sable light was in sight. He had come up about 10.15. He considered that the accused should have notified that the light had been sighted when it became clearly visible. With a clear night, and under conditions then prevailing, he did not consider the soundings would have been of any use. There were very few soundings on the chart, in the position in which they were. When he returned to the bridge at 10.15 Cape Sable light was not in sight. It was not sighted at all. The ship was on her proper course when she grounded. The course by standard compass was south 74 east. Orders had not been given to the officer of the watch to frequently steady the ship on her course by standard compass. He expected the officer of the watch to fix the position of the ship on the chart when the navigating officer is below. The ship's position had been fixed by the accused after passing Blonde Rock bouy. Twenty minutes after passing Blonde Rock bouy witness told the officer of the watch the tide was expected. It was almost parallel of the course, but highly on the starboard bow. The direction of the wind was southwest force three. It was the duty of the accused to place lookouts above and below, but he did not think he had a chance, as the fog came on very quickly. The fog came on in a few seconds, and he placed lookout himself.

On cross-examination the witness said that the Niobe struck between 12.25 and 12.20. His written orders that night were: "Course south, 74 east; call me when required; when south-west ledge and Brazil Rocks are sighted at midnight and at daylight."

He showed the accused the ship's course, and warned him not to get set in on port to get off his course, but to keep generously to starboard.

Witness heard him repeat orders to the quartermaster to keep to starboard. This was about 10.15. He gave accused no extra orders as to speed. Accused called him shortly before midnight. Accused reported then that the southwest ledge light had been seen and its whistle heard on the port bow, and that a slight mist was drifting across the steaming light and that he thought a fog was coming on. He expected to sight the southwest ledge bouy light about 11.20 roughly. He considered accused an exceptionally trustworthy officer of the watch.

ON re-examination, witness said that Seal Island light and Blonde Rock light should have been sighted for at least an hour after rounding Blonde Rock. He was under the impression that Seal Island light was in sight. The officer of the watch, as far as he knew, did not fix then position of the ship by cross bearings of these two lights. He thought that if accused had got a correct fix at 11 o'clock it would have shown him that the ship had been set off her course. He could not say when the tide first made its effect on the ship. The speed of the ship was 45 revolutions, 7 ½ knots.

There was a southwesterly swell, but no sea on. Witness was in his fore cabin, which is on the bridge, that night. He considered that the officer of the watch was entirely responsible for the safety of the ship while he was in his cabin. He considered that the officer of the watch should have called him earlier than he did.

Navigating Lieutenant White was the second witness. He testified to the position of the ship and the orders given before going ashore.

Immediately on the conclusion of the first case, that against Lieut, White, navigating officer, was called, but was adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock. This case will likely occupy a whole day also, as will the case of Commander Macdonald, which follows. The court martial was conducted with all the old time ceremony of naval affairs of its kind. The members of the court as well as all the witnesses were attired in full dress uniform. The court consisted of: President of court, Capt. Lewis C. Baker, H.M.S. Berwick; Capt. John F.A. Green, H.M.S. Essex; Flag Captain Erick P.C. Bask; Commander Truesdale, H.M.S. Donegal; Commander Lancelet N. Tuston, H.M.S. Leviathan; prosecuting officer, Commander Albert C. Scott.

Lord Allister Graham, who is tall and spare with an exceptionally high and broad forehead and clear blue eyes, sat beside his counsel throughout the proceedings.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 2 February 2014

HMCS NIobe; The Grounding, July 1911
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe Grounding and Court Martial;
Part 1: The Grounding, 29/30 July, 1911

In 1911, the fledgling Canadian Navy possessed only two capital ships acquired from the Royal Navy. These were the cruisers HMCS Niobe, on the east coast, and the HMCS Rainbow, on the west coast. In late July, 1911, the Niobe was badly damaged when it ran aground on the Nova Scotia coast. Perilously close to being lost, she was saved and spent a year in repairs. Over the next few days, The Minute Book will relate the Niobe's story as it was printed in the papers of the day. We will, start today with the reports of the Niobe's grounding, followed by the court martials held in November, 1911, which tried three officers for the incident.

Lewiston Saturday Journal, 31 July, 1911

Canadian Warship Crashed on Ledges

Boat in Danger for Some Time but Later Floated Off Safely

Halifax, N.S., July, 31.—The new Canadian navy was nearly deprived of half its strength Sunday when the flagship Niobe crashed on the ledges on the southwest of Cape Sable. Five hours later she floated leaking badly and proceeded under her own power to Shag Harbour, ten miles away, where she is at anchor with six fathoms of water and a soft mud bottom under her. The first vessel to reach the side of the disables cruiser was the United States revenue cruiser Androscoggin which was cruising in the vicinity. The Niobe's wireless call for help was picked up by the Androscoggin which promptly flashed back that she would stand by to help and would do all in her power. Through the dense fog and heavy sea, the Androscoggin rushed and was standing by the Canadian cruiser when the steamer Lady Laurier and Stanley which had been sent to the scene, arrived from Westbay with the tug McNaughton of Yarmouth,

The Niobe, however, found that she was able to take care of herself. Although the water was pouring into several compartments her pumps kept fairly clear, and Commander Macdonald, of the cruiser, expressed his thanks to the American cutter for her help, proceeded to a safe harbour convoyed only by the tug.

At Shag harbour divers from the war ship went over the side and placed mattings over some of the larger rents in the hull and if the weather is favourable tomorrow Commander Macdonald is confident that he can proceed safely to Halifax for repairs.

The cause of the accident probably will not be disclosed until it is brought out at an official marine inquiry, which is certain to follow.

It is known that a heavy fog enshrouded the coast, and it is said also that there was a gale of wind blowing. Commander Macdonald and the other officers of the Niobe were non-communicative when queried by wireless for a statement as to the cause of the standing.

The accident, which threatened seriously to rob the young Canadian navy of half its strength (the Niobe, with the cruiser Rainbow, stationed on the Pacific coast, comprise the Dominion's navy) narrowly missed the further unhappy notoriety of bringing about the loss of 16 men. As it was these 16 sailors passed half a dozen hours in two small boats, lost in the fog and at the mercy of a heavy southeast wind which is was feared, would wreck them on one of the many ledges which abound about Cape Sable. But it was learned by wireless Sunday night that all had rejoined their ship in one boat, the other apparently having been wrecked, as was feared.

So extreme was the plight of the Niobe that Commander Macdonald had ordered all the boats cleared away, ready for abandonment of the supposedly doomed ship. The two boats which were lost for a time with their crews were the first launched, launching of the other boats having been deferred until the condition of the vessel had been more definitely ascertained. The Niobe held up on the ledge on 11.25 Sunday morning while rounding Cape Sable from Yarmouth where her officers and crew had been participating in an old home week celebration. The cruiser was feeling her way along the coast cautiously when she struck. She scarcely budged for a long time afterward, the impact being so terrific as to drive her hard into the pinnacle of rock. Everybody was brought up standing.

It was at once appreciated by Commander Macdonald that his vessel was in grave danger. The bugles at once sounded the reveille, bringing tumbling to the deck the whole ship's crew not on duty. More than 300 men were then assembled on deck. True to traditions of the British navy from which Canada's new sea fighting strength sprang, there was no panic. The ship's company found their accustomed posts, and stayed there apparently unmoved. The order to clear away the boats was executed in an orderly manner. There was no hurry manifested.

In response to Commander MacDonald's inquiry made at once after the impact the engineer signalled that water was rushing into the vessel at a rapid rate through a hole under the starboard engine room. Pumps were at once manned and set to work, and it was found that they could dispose of the water.

Then was begun the work of acquainting the outside world with the Niobe's plight, with the hope of securing assistance. The wireless was brought into play, and the operator flashed the "SOS" signal in all directions, with the vessel's position.

The Niobe, which is a protected cruiser of 11,000 tons, is the first vessel purcahased by Canada for its new navy last fall. She is the flag-ship of the little fleet of two, and like the Rainbow on the Pacific coast, is used as a training ship for the navy in the Atlantic.

The Toronto World, 2 Aug 1911

Canadian Cruiser Niobe in Danger of Foundering

Water is Slowly Gaining in the Ship,
in Spite of All the Pumps That Can Be Set to Work
and She May Have To Be Beached

Admiral Kingsmill

Halifax, Aug 1.— The condition of the cruiser Niobe at Clarke's harbour, where she is anchored, is one of grave peril for the warship. A despatch from there to-night says that in spite of all that her own pumps can do and although the pumping apparatus on wrecking steamers is kept going day and night, the water is slowly gaining, and the Niobe is settling by the stern.

This evening not more than ten feet were visible above the surface. The cruiser is anchored in seven fathoms of water, three quarters of a mile off West Head, a point in Clarke's Harbour. A red flag has been set half way between the ship and the shore, marking the most suitable spot to beach the cruiser it it comes to the worst. This would be done in six fathoms of water with a smooth sanfy bottom. The weather continues clear and fine.

One of the holes in the bottom of the Niobe is said to be twenty-five feet long and ten feet wide, One hundred and ninety boys and recruits were disembarked from the cruiser to-day and forwarded to Halifax. The reason given by Admiral Kingsmill for this is that they were only in the way and that as no training was going on it was better for them to be ashore, thus leaving the petty officers free for duty.

Additional pumps and divers were despatched from Halifax to-night in hope of keeping the cruiser afloat and of more quickly determining the exact extent of the damage sustained. The crew is still aboard.

Clarke's harbour is twelve miles from the southwest ledges where the Niobe struck.

Admiral Kingsmill, who commands the Canadian Navy, and who arrived from Ottawa last night, paid a warm compliment on the discipline on board the Niobe when she was ashore on the southwest ledges. Admiral Kingsmill based what he had to say on a letter received today from the Niobe.

"The discipline on the Niobe by the boys and young recruits," Admiral Kingsmill observed, "was everything that one could wish for. With the ship in the position she was, a gale of wind blowing and dense fog over all, the Canadian bots behaved fully up to the traditions of the British Navy. The discipline left nothing to be desired. Of course the ship's crew and officers displayed fine discipline, but I am speaking now of the Canadian boys and recruits."

In a cruel twist of fate, the HMS Cornwall, sent to tow the HMCS Niobe, almost suffers the same fate on ledges near where the Niobe had been stranded.

Meriden Morning Record, 7 August, 1911

British Cruiser is Stranded on Ledges

Halifax, N.S., Aug. 6.—A wireless dispatch received in this city tonight stated that the British cruiser Cornwall is stranded on the ledges of Cape Sable a few miles from the southwest ledges where the Canadian flagship Niobe went on the rocks July 30. The message stated that the Cornwall was not making water and sustained no serious damage.

The Cornwall is an armoured cruiser of 9,800 tons and is now used as a training ship. She has about 300 cadets on board besides a regular crew and was on her way from St John's, Nfld., to Clarke's Harbor to tow the damaged Canadian cruiser Niobe to this city. The Cornwall left St. John's last Thursday after she had returned from a cruise around the Newfoundland coast. The whole coastline was enveloped in a thick fog tonight and this is believed to have caused the Cornwall's stranding. The rock where she struck is about two miles from the ledges which nearly proved the undoing on the Niobe.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 1 February 2014

On Honours and Rewards
Topic: Medals

On Honours and Rewards

A General's Letters to His Son on Obtaining a Commission
By: Major-General Thomas David Pilcher, CB
Published anonymously, 1917

Maj-Gen Thomas David PILCHER

Service biography

Joined 5 Fusiliers 1879; Northumberland Fusiliers 1881-1897; West African Frontier Force 1897-1899; operations on the Niger 1897-1898; Commander, 2 Bedfordshire Regt 1899; South African War 1899-1902; Commander, 3 Mounted Infantry Regt 1900-1902; Commander, 3 Bde, 2 Div, Aldershot 1904-1907; Commander, Bangalore Bde, India 1907-1908; Commander, Sirhind Bde, India 1908-1912; Commander, Burma Div, Southern Army, India 1912-1914; World War I 1914-1918; Inspector of Infantry 1914; Commander, 17 Div, British Expeditionary Force (BEF), England and France 1915-1916; Commandant, Eastern Reserve Centre, St Albans 1916; retired 1919

February 1st, 1917.

My dear Dick,

You tell me that your friend Jack has received the Military Cross, and that although he is a good fellow and undoubtedly merited it, Ronald, who deserved a decoration twice as much, did not even receive a mention in dispatches. Except in that it will give great pleasure to his relations, I don't suppose that Jack is much happier than Ronald, if the latter is the man I believe him to be. He knows that he has done his duty, and he further knows that his friends are aware of it. Had he also gained a Military Cross, this Military Cross would not, to the outer world, be distinguishable from any other which had not been so deserved.

You also remark that farther seems that the it you are away from the firing line the more chance you have of being decorated, and that you hear that junior officers and men in the trenches resent the same decorations, which have been issued to them at the rate of about one to every twenty or thirty casualties, being distributed with a proportionately freer hand to others who have never got much farther than the base. You must remember that the work for which these men have been rewarded is, as a rule, more important for the general well-being of the force than the work of individual men in the trenches and that this work, as a rule, requires special qualifications. Moreover, many of men who do not succeed in getting farther than the base would give their the eyes to be in the firing line, though I admit this is not always the case. Nevertheless, I agree with you that it would be much more popular amongst officers and men in fighting formations if some other distinctions besides the V.C. could be reserved for work done in the face of the enemy. I wish also it possible to give every could be found man who passed one hundred nights some actually in the trenches badge of honour. In order to be a hundred nights in the distinctive trenches, the Division to which the in question have been at man belonged would, as a rule, least seven or eight months in the line whilst he was present with it, and this means something.

But, after all, what do these decorations really matter? Is it a greater satisfaction to a man to own a little know piece of silver or bronze than know that he has done his duty to the best of his ability? Do you remember the extract from the diary of the German soldier, which appeared in one of our papers, and read as follows?—

  • Monday. It rained heavily, and our Lieut. Müller was drunk.
  • Tuesday. The English shelled us, and our Lieut. Müller was very drunk.
  • Wednesday. The English shelled us more and our Lieut. Muller was drunk heavily, and incapable. Thursday. We were ordered to attack. Our Lieut. Müller called out to us from his dug-out to advance more rapidly.
  • Friday. Nil
  • Saturday. Nil.
  • Sunday. Our Lieut. Müller received the Iron Cross.

The fact it that he had so thoroughly deserved it no doubt very much added to the value of "our Lieut. Müller's" decoration.

It is significant that those decorations which are most prized are usually those of the least intrinsic value. The bay leaf cost even less than the Victoria Cross. What becomes of decorations , to obtain which has been some men's highest ambition

A friend of mine, who takes a great interest in everything connected with the history of the British Army, has made a collection of medals and now has many thousands. Nearly all of them had been in the hands of pawnbrokers before they found their way to him, although many them of are inscribed with illustrious names.

The following story of the German Emperor was told me by a highly placed German officer who knew him well. The old Emperor could always be distinguished from his Staff by the fact that he wore no decoration except the Iron Cross. This simplicity, however, did not suit the gaudy taste of the present Kaiser, and he very much envied the right to wear a certain handsome aiguillette which was worn by nobody but the Emperor's personal Staff, and he objected to being the only plainly dressed man among a glittering assembly. The order decreeing that this aiguillette was only to be worn by the Staff was an ancient one, with which he did not like to tamper, but he was not to be beaten, and on the anniversary of the birthday of the old Emperor, in honour, as he decreed, of the memory of his grandfather, he appointed himself and all his direct descendants in the Crown of Prussia as Aides-de-Camp to the dead Emperor, and from that day he has worn the aiguillette. I mention these incidents to show how valueless an Iron Cross, how ephemeral a medal conferring honour on a family, or how ludicrous the acquisition of a decoration may be. The only reward really worth having is the knowledge that you have done your duty, and whether your work be recognised, or whether you be blamed and others get the credit for what you have done, should not worry you as long as you have this knowledge in your heart. Your motive must be to do the best you can for your country and not to play to the gallery in order to obtain a reward. Do not give way to selfish vanity; it is not the acquisition of honours and rewards, but the abnegation of self that has wrought out all that is noble, all that is good, and nearly all that is useful in the world.

The man who does work which comes under the eye of those in high position is likely to receive a decoration, The man. who, day after day, and night after night, works unremittingly under shell fire in the trenches, waist-high in water, is much more likely to get a bullet than a mention, but he may have got farther through that mill about which I was talking, and through which all the corn has to go before it becomes flour, and he may have learnt and acquired things worth more than decorations. Again, do you think success has made those of your friends to whose lot has fallen to obtain it pleasanter men to meet? Is it not true that the only men who are not spoilt by it are those who do not care one straw about it? How many of these do you know?

Your affectionate father,

"X. Y. Z."

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 6:27 PM EST
Friday, 31 January 2014

Canadian Army SITREP 1952
Topic: Canadian Army

The 1 RCR Company Commanders in Korea, 1952: A Coy - Maj George G. Taylor, B Coy - Maj J.E.L. Cohen,
C Coy - Capt Robert H. "Bob" Mahar, D Coy - Maj R.S. "Bob" Richards & E Coy - Capt H.G. "Herb" Cloutier
Full image can be seen on the website of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Canadian Army
Standing Guard on Three Continents

Ottawa Citizen, 27 December, 1952
By: The Canadian Press

The Canadian Army in 1952 stood guard on three continents, fought sporadically on one of them and prepared to build the largest camp it has ever had in Canada. The latter, in New Brunswick, eventually ma be big enough to handle the maneuvers of a full division.

Looking back on the 12 months, army headquarters yesterday listed as highlights 10 events ranging from fighting on Little Gibraltar Hill in Korea to adoption of the 52-ton British Centurion tanks.

Manpower Totals

Heavy discharges of veterans of Korea kept manpower totals from increasing markedly. In January the army had roughly 45,000 men, in December about 48,000.

Throughout the year, the army maintained a brigade in Korea, another in Germany and a third at home, plus a couple of reinforcement formations roughly equal to two additional brigades.

In listing the year's 10 big events the army didn't mention the biggest explosion of all at home, the Currie report. This document, with its description of a "general breakdown" in the system of administration, supervision and accounting of the Army Works Service provoked Parliament's stormiest debates of the year, now awaiting renewal when Parliament reconvenes Jan. 12.

Events Listed

These were the events the army listed:

1.     Sporadic action by the 25th Infantry Brigade group in Korea while peace talks dragged on. The climax came in October when one of the fiercest engagements of the Korean conflict was fought atop the battle scarred peak of "Little Gibraltar" by troops of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. One company of the unit, aided by armored and artillery support, fought the Communists to a standstill in a see-saw battle to take the hill.

2.     The 27th Infantry Brigade group, under rigid training and discipline in Europe,became fully trained as part of NATO defence forces under General Mathew Ridgeway.

3.     At home and abroad, the largest troops movement since the Second World War was underway. Some 38,000 soldiers were on the move in 1952 by land, sea and air.

New Military College

4.     Educational facilities for the services' future officers were expanding with opening of Le College Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, St Johns, Que., by Governor-General Vincent Massey. Introduction of a regular officer training plan also opened up increased avenues of educational advancement for potential officers.

5.     To meet the increasing need for tradesmen and specialists, an apprentice-soldiers plan was announced under which boys 16 years of ae will be recruited for training in special trades.

6.     Looking northward, the army staged "Eager Beaver" 1,000 miles north of Edmonton on the shores of Kluane Lake, the largest since the war. Army engineers bulldozed two giant airstrips over ice and frozen muskeg in sub-zero temperatures. In the eastern Arctic, operations "Sun God III" brought a joint army-air force maneuver into Ungava Bay in Northern Labrador. Later in the year, a joint U.S.-Canadian artillery exercise stretched northward into Quebec.

International Parley

7.     In an effort to advance standardization of weapons among NATO countries, the army brought together top infantry leaders of the U.S., Britain and Canada in the first three-country infantry conference. Held at Quebec City, the conference was opened by Lt.-Gen. Simonds, chief of the general staff who called on delegates to "think always of the infantry soldier and make more efficient his weapons and lighten his load." the army also adopted the Centurion tank. This was the army's major change in equipment for a year.

8.     Canadian arms shipments to other NATO countries continued "in record quantities." Over a two-year period enough aid has been extended to equip three infantry divisions.

9.     Plans to construct the army's largest training camp in peacetime history were announced.

10.     On the female side, the army continued to build up the new reserve force CWAC organization. Members of the CWAC received their new uniforms in 1952 and are training in clerical and other skilled trades at manning depots across Canada.

Honors in Korea

During the year, 132 soldiers distinguished themselves in action in Korea and received awards that included four Distinguished Service Orders, 19 Orders of the British Empire [OBE, MBE], two Distinguished Conduct Medals, three Military Crosses, seven Military Medals four British Empire Medals and 93 Mentions in Despatches.

At the same time, 613 soldiers became battle casualties in Korea. During 1952, 100 were killed in action and 473 wounded or missing in action. Another 31 were injured as a result of action.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 30 January 2014

Brasso, Blanco & and Bull
Topic: Humour

This book is for anyone who enjoys stories of army life. We've all heard of training under Corporals over-acting in exercising their authority, and Regimental Sergeants Major whose bring forth emotions a recruit's mind that evolve from terror to admiration, or simply the trials and tribulations of learning to survive by the Army's own rules. This book captures so many of those scenes, and many others, with a personal touch that finely captures that balance between comedy and tragedy. In his brief time as a National Service soldier with the British Army, Tony Thorne has captured the spirit of soldierly experience in a wonderfully expressed way that will have you laughing as you imagine people you know in the roles he describes.

Brasso, Blanco & Bull

Brasso, Blanco & and Bull is available at Amazon


By: Tony Thorne, 23339788

A shout of "Mess" from the corridor outside our barrack room was the signal for us to grab our knife, fork and spoon, together with our white china drinking mug and race outside. There the ordeal began. We were required to line up in single file holding our white china mugs at the high port. This inspection was a Biggy. All three squads would be lined up in the corridor and this inspection would call for at least two, and sometimes even three, corporals. When we were all assembled, the pantomime began.

Cpl Jones pulls up opposite me. He peers into my spotless white china mug.

"'Ere look at this, Cpl Prudence."

Cpl Prudence scurries alongside Cpl Jones.

"What's this in there!" shrieks Prudence, pointing his little index finger inside my mug.

"Er, it's the bottom of my mug."

"CORPORAL! Call me CORPORAL. You shithead. What's that in your fockin' mug! You...."

"Er nothing, CORPORAL."

Prudence to Jones, leering. "What's that in that mug, Corporal!"

"Sheeet! " screams Jones. " 'E's got shit in his mug."

Prudence to me, "Now what's in that fockin' mug soldier!”

" Shit, CORPORAL."

"Louder," screams Prudence and Jones în unison. "Louder."

"SHIT, CORPORAL," I scream.

"Blimey," says Prudence to Jones, " 'E's got shit in his mug."

Jnes peers into my mug much as Sir Lancelot would have peered into the Holy Grail. "What are we going to do about it Corporal!" He asks earnestly of his colleague.

"Smash it. Smash it," they cry out gleefully together. Then they fight each other to grab the mug from my hand and hurl it down onto the concrete floor where i smashes into a thousand pieces.

New mugs had to be purchased from the quartermmaster's store and the stock market saw the price of North Staffordshire Potteries Ltd move to new heights daily.

This ritual was repeated three times a day, every day and the corporals never tired of it. Often the corridor looked like a snowstorm. Twice I bought a brand new mug and had it smashed the same day. On one occasion the whole of No. 3 Squad had their mugs smashed. Mug-smashing was a perk of Corporaldom and they loved it.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 30 January 2014 12:04 AM EST
Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Military Staff Clerks (1898)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Employment of Non-Commissioned Officers as Military Staff Clerks (1898)

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 15 January, 1898

The following regulations governing the employment of Non-commissioned Officers and men of the Permanent Force as Military Staff Clerks at Head-Quarters and District Head-Quarters, are published for general information:—

1.     A Non-commissioned Officer or man selected for this employment will serve a probationary term of three months, the pay to be, during this period, that of his rank, and, in addition, if serving elsewhere that at the station to which his Corps belong, 50 cents per diem in lieu of quarters, rations, light and fuel.

(1a.)     At the end of his probationary term, if his work is found satisfactory, he will be appointed Sergeant Staff Clerk. If serving at the same station as his Corps and living in barracks, he will receive the pay of a Sergeant in the permanent Corps. If serving elsewhere than at the station of his Corps, he will receive consolidated pay at the rate of $1.20 per diem.

(1b.)     After serving three years as Sergeant Staff Clerk and if recommended by the Officer under whom he is serving, he will be promoted to Colour Sergeant Staff Clerk, with the pay at the rate of $1 per diem, if serving at the same station with his Corps and living in barracks. If serving elsewhere than at the station of his Corps, he will receive consolidated pay at the rate of $1.40 per diem.

(1c.)     After serving three years as Colour Sergeant Staff Clerk and if recommended by the Officer under whom he is serving, he will be promoted to Quarter-Master Sergeant Staff Clerk, with the pay at the rate of $1.35 per diem, if serving at the same station with his Corps and living in barracks. If serving elsewhere than at the station of his Corps, he will receive consolidated pay at the rate of $1.75 per diem.

2.     At the end of six years from the 1st July, 1898, and thereafter from time ti time as the position becomes vacant, there will be selected from the whole body of Military Staff Clerks, one Sergeant-Major Staff Clerk, with consolidated pay at the rate of $2 per diem.

3.     A Military Staff Clerk serving at the station to which his Corps belongs, may, with the approval of the General Officer Commanding, be paid the consolidated rate of pay for his rank, and provide his own quarters, rations, light and fuel.

4.     Military Staff Clerks will be moved from one station to another as the exigencies of the service may require.

5.     Military Staff Clerks will be returned to their Corps only at their own request, or if they cease to be eligible for service in the Force, or for misconduct. In either case they will revert to the rank held at the time of appointment as Military Staff Clerk.

6.     Non-commissioned Officers and men employed as Military Staff Clerks will be borne as supernumeraries of their ranks in the Corps to which they belong, and the vacancies thus created in their rank at the time of appointment will be filled up, without increasing the establishment of the Corps.

7.     A Sergeant appointed Military Staff Clerk will rank as Sergeant from the date of his regimental promotion to that rank.

elipsis graphic

In 1905, the Corps of Military Staff Clerks would be formed.

Corps of Military Staff Clerks

Organization, Administration and Equipment; of His Majesty's Land Forces in Peace and War, by Colonel W.R. Lang, m.s.c., General Staff (Temporary); 1916

This Corps, which is administered by the Adjutant General's department, was organized 1st September, 1905, previous to which time clerks were borne on the strength of the R.C.R. Only men of a high educational standard and character are accepted for service. No establishment has been published since 1914, when the Corps had a total effective strength of about 80. Numerous appointments have been made since then.

First appointments are made on probation to the rank of corporal, when candidates undergo a course of training in the work and routine of a military office. If the period of training is dispensed with, first appointments may be made to the rank of Sergeant. The succeeding steps, based on efficiency, character and length of service, are respectively Staff-Sergeant, Sergeant-Major, and are obtained only if recommended by the officer under whom the clerk is serving.

Extra pay is granted for special qualification in short-hand and typewriting.

In several cases promotions to commissioned rank have been made.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Mobile Force Badge (1966)
Topic: Militaria

Mobile Force Badge (1966)

The Montreal Gazette, 20 October, 1966

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces' Mobile Command put up new red, white and blue sleeve badges of the Mobile Command on their uniforms yesterday.

For the 20,000 soldiers of Mobile Command's field units across Canada, the new patch will take the place of the rectangular red parch, traditional to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and first worn by soldiers at the Battle of the Somme, 50 years ago.

The new patch incorporates the dark blue, red and the light blue colours of the three services, as well as the red and white of the Canadian flag.

It is a white diamond, notched on each side, edged with a red border, with four light and dark blue arrow heads radiating from the centre, representing the cardinal points of the compass.

Superimposed upon the arrow shafts, is a red maple leaf. The 1st Canadian Division was formed in January, 1915, from the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force which had sailed overseas from Quebec City in October, 1914, and its distinctive red patch was frst worn at the Somme, in 1916.

elipsis graphic

Return of the Divisional Patches (2014)

On 9 Jul, 2013, the Canadian Minister of National Defence announced that the Canadian Army would return to an organization based on "Divisions," to be accomplished by renaming the existing Area commands as follows:

  • 1st Canadian Divisional Headquarters to be at Canadian Force Base Kingston (this division has no permanent subordinate brigades).
  • Secteur du Québec de la Force terrestre to become the 2nd Canadian Division.
  • Land Force Western Area to become the 3rd Canadian Division.
  • Land Force Central Area to become the 4th Canadian Division.
  • Land Force Atlantic Area to become the 5th Canadian Division.

In 2014, the Divisions will receive new coloured shoulder patches for wear on dress uniforms and they will also receive traditional flags.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 27 January 2014

British Army Rations Test (1909)
Topic: Army Rations

An example of the modern British Army field ration, a significant change from the rations tested in 1909.

British Army Rations (1909)

Changes Probable as the Result of a Recent Test

The Montreal Gazette, 6 November, 1909 (London Standard)

Corned beef, already a common field ration item, would not disappear from soldiers' packs for another 40 or more years.

The result of the army rations test is said to be highly satisfactory from the physiological point of view; but it is more probable that a change will be made in the preserved rations, which do not appear sufficient, either in quality or quantity, for the work expected from the modern fighting man.

The little army of Loyal Lancashires who have been marching fourteen miles a day for a fortnight, in full kit, and camping out, with nothing to sustain them but the service rations, did their last fourteen miles yesterday round the Ludgershall country, finishing at Tidworth Barracks, which they had left two weeks ago. The day was ushered in with a hurricane of rain and wind, but the little band struck tents, packed transport, and, after medical inspection, started out on their tramp with singing and whistling.

Behind them followed an ambulance and a water-cart, the former of which was not utilized, as the men have struck gallantly to the work without inviting medical aid. They were very little over three hours in reaching the parade ground in Tidworth, notwithstanding wind and drenching rain. After relieving themselves of their heavy equipment, they entered the medical inspection room, where they stripped and were subjected to the closest examination possible, to determine, amongst other results, the difference in weight during the fortnight's campaign, the state of the pulse, and the pressure of the blood at the femoral and brachial arteries. The heart was minutely examined with the stethoscope, and the men were exactly weighed, all the details being entered up in the records, together with the men's own opinions as to their physical condition. This examination was carried out by Lieut-Colonel Melville, Professor of Hygiene at the Royal Army Medical College, assisted by Major Beveridge, R.A.M.C., Dr. M.S. Pembrey, M.D., Civilian Member Army Medical Advisory Board; Dr. Haldane, etc.

As the men emerged from the examination room they fell in on parade, and before dismissal they were thanks for the manner in which they had carried out the experimental march, and for the loyalty at all times shown to the exacting regulations under which they had volunteered. Their comrades gave them a lusty cheer as they broke away from the parade.

The report, so far as the condition of the men generally is concerned, may be broadly summarized as follows.

1.     Undue loss of weight caused by absence of butter, cheese, milk, and of sufficient fatty foods.

2.     Neuralgia, caused by "run down" symptoms improperly nourished. Headaches, indigestion, and allied ills, due principally to absence of green vegetables.

As to the existing army food schedule the vegetable ration as it is at present stands is extremely varied, including as it does preserved potatoes, rice, pens, onions, leeks, calavances, dholl, and oatmeal, the issue of which is governed by the climate in which operations are taking place, and the nature of the indigenous vegetables. Most of these articles are issued in lieu of ordinary fresh vegetables, but split peas, oatmeal, etc., are the ration equivalent of flour. Porter can also be issued as a field service ration in the proportion of one pint for each rum ration of half a gill. Tea, which was formerly only ½ oz per man daily, was increased to 5/2 ounces, whilst the quantity (4 oz.) of dried vegetables was reduced by one-half. Of the meat ration is considered too much for the troops, 14 lb. of biscuits can be substituted for an equal amount of meat, and when cheese and bacon are procurable these comestibles can also be issued in lieu of meat.

The whole question of soldiers' messing is being taken up by a special War Office committee, which will meet in a few days and take evidence from both officers and men in regard to the food supplied and the methods of cooking.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 26 January 2014

Awards to HMCS Chambly
Topic: RCN

Decorations for Five Members of Royal Canadian Navy

Ottawa Citizen, 3 March 1942

Awards, Approved by King, Follow Corvette Chambly's successful Encounter with U-Boat.
Acting Commander J.D. Prentice Wins D.S.O.
More Details Given of Sinking of Nazi Submarine.

The navy announced last night the award of decorations to five members of the Royal Canadian Navy in connection with the successful encounter with a Nazi submarine by the Canadian corvette Chambly, announced last November.

The decorations, approved by the King, were:

Mentioned in Despatches were: Mate A.F. Pickard, Halifax, and South Porcupine, Ont., and Able Seaman L.P. Lehtu, Sioux Lookout., Ont.

Sinking Described

At the same time the navy gave out additional details of the sinking of the German submarine U-501 which was forced to the surface by depth charges from the Chambly.

"While engaged in independent maneuvers with another corvette (the Moose Jaw), Cmdr. Prentice's vessel came upon the German U-501 lying in wait ahead if a heavily attacked convoy, carrying out the well-known wolf-pack tactics," said the navy.

"Depth charges forced the enemy to the surface and a running pursuit developed. Gunfire from the Canadian corvettes and the danger of torpedo discharges from the stern tubes of the fleeing German enlivened the chase.

"After some miles the German captain lost heart and surrendered his vessel to the Canadians, jumping aboard one of them in a most abject manner as she lay alongside."

Led Boarding Party

The Distinguished Service Cross to Lieut. E.T. Simmons "results partly from his resolute action in leading a boarding party although the U-501 was known to be sinking," said the navy. "The danger was so obvious that only one person could make the perilous descent of the conning tower Simmons could see below him the water lapping at the deck plates of the submarine's control-room as he climbed on down.

"Very shortly after reaching the ladder's foot, the dim emergency lighting failed entirely as the rising water quenched its supply. At this point there seemed no alternative but to retreat and Simmons barely escaped through the hatch above as the sub made its last plunge; one Canadian sailor of the boarding party was dragged under, the rest including Lt. Simmons were picked up by the ship's boats.

HMCS Chambly


  • German submarine U-501
    • German submarine U-501 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 12 February 1940 at the Deutsche Werft yard in Hamburg, launched on 25 January 1941 and commissioned on 30 April 1941 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Hugo Förster. The boat served with 2nd U-boat Flotilla until she was sunk on 10 September 1941. - Wikipedia
  • Wreck Site
  • C.B. 4051 (30) "U 501" Interrogation of Survivors
  • HMCS Moose Jaw and the sinking of U-501
  • KK Hugo Förster -
    • KK Hugo Förster, ex-U-501, was captured on 10 September 1941 by HMCS Chambly and Moose Jaw during his first war patrol in this boat, his only command, when he jumped aboard Moose Jaw's foc'sle - as he said, to ensure the ships fired no longer as they had surrendered. He was taken to England, where reportedly he was to be tried by a secret ex-U-boat 'court' in the camp for deserting his sinking U-501. He was moved to Canada for his protection, repatriated in January 1945 in an exchange of prisoners, and committed suicide on 27 February 1945, mostly due to the criticism by his contemporaries.

Sailor lost on 10 Sep

In memory of Stoker William Irvin Brown who died on September 10, 1941

  • Service Number: A/4212
  • Age: 24
  • Force: Navy
  • Unit: Royal Canadian Navy Reserve
  • Division: H.M.C.S. Chambly

The Awards

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Importance of the Sergeant-Major
Topic: Humour

The Importance of the Sergeant-Major

Beau Geste, Percival Christopher Wren, 1927

He ignored me and all other insects.

How to attract his attention ?

I coughed gently and apologetically. I coughed appealingly. I coughed upbraidingly, sorrowfully, suggestively, authoritatively, meekly, imperiously, agreeably, hopefully, hopelessly, despairingly, and quite vainly. Evidently I should not cough my way to glory.

"Monsieur le Capitaine," I murmured ingratiatingly.

The man looked up. I liked him better when looking down.

"Monsieur would appear to have a throat-trouble," he observed.

"And Monsieur an ear-trouble," I replied? in my young ignorance and folly.

"What is Monsieur's business?" he inquired sharply.

"I wish to join the Légion Étrangère," I said.

The man smiled, a little unpleasantly, I thought.

"Eh, bien," he remarked, "doubtless Monsieur will have much innocent amusement at the expense of the Sergeant-Major there too," and I was quite sure that his smile was unpleasant this time.

"Is Monsieur only a Sergeant-Major then?" I inquired innocently.

"I am a Sergeant-Major," was the reply, "and let me tell Monsieur, it is the most important rank in the French army.'

"No?" said I, and lived to learn that this piece of information was very little short of the simple truth.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 24 January 2014

Permanent Force Increases (1905)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Colonel B.H. Vidal, Adjutant-General of the Canadian Militia and officers of The Royal Canadian Regiment in front of the Officers' Quarters, Wellington Barracks, Halifax. Circa, 1905. Source: Statistics Canada website.

Permanent Force Will Consist of 5,000 Men

St John Volunteer Artillery Force May be Increased
Fredericton Will Get Squadron of Cavalry
Where the Men Will be Placed

St John Daily Sun, 7 June, 1905
(Special to the Sun.)

Ottawa, June 6.—In the house this afternoon supply bills were passed for $8,364,522 for the year ending June 30, 1905, and for $36,638,269 for the year ending June 30, 1906.

Sir Fred Borden's resolution regarding salaries and expenses of the Royal Military College was adopted after some debate, the maximum cost being fixed at $35,000.

Sir Frederick Borden's resolution to increase the possible limit of the permanent force to 5,000 men, was taken up. Sir Frederick said that the original limit was 1,000, and that last year it was increased to 2,000. The government was now to take over the garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt, These would need about 2,500 men or perhaps less. The present permanent force was about 1,200 only. A depot of about 200 men would be established at Montreal, and one called the Strathcona Horse of about 225 men somewhere in the new province of Alberta, at Calgary or Medicine Hat, probably the former. In all about 5,000 men would be needed.

The distribution of the forces will be as follows:

The detailed distribution of these forces would be as follows:

  • One squadron of dragoons at Toronto, one at St. John's Que., and one at Fredericton, N.B., the latter two replacing the infantry, which would then be moved to Montreal;
  • Royal Canadian Rifles (mounted), one squadron at Winnipeg, three in Alberta, and two in Saskatchewan, at placed not yet settles, squadrons to number 125 men;
  • Artillery,
    • Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, two batteries at Kingston, Ont., and half batteries at Winnipeg, and at some place in Alberta, probably Calgary;
    • Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, two companies in the maritime provinces, at Halifax, one company in British Columbia, at Esquimalt, and two companies at Quebec city;
  • Royal Canadian Engineers, one company at Halifax, one at Esquimalt, and one distributed among the different depots;
  • Infantry, Royal Canadian Regiment, four companies at Halifax, one at Montreal, one at Quebec city, one at London, one at Toronto, one at Fort William, one at Esquimalt, and one company divided between Manitoba and Alberta.
  • The army service, medical and ordnance corps are to be distributed among the different depots.

Sir Frederick Borden explained that this distribution was the result of conferences between the military members of the militia council, and was based primarily upon the instructional requirements of the various provinces in accord with the final distribution of the forces throughout the dominion, and also upon the garrison requirements, and that it had been drawn by General Lake.

Dr. Daniel of St. John asked the minister how in his scheme of defense it was proposed to protect the important port of St. John. It appeared no permanent artillery force was to be stationed there.

Borden fell back on Gen. Lake's recommendations, while promising in a vague way that the volunteer artillery force of St. John would be increased.

Fowler of Kings and Albert badgered the minister with respect to ignoring Sussex in favor of Fredericton, and with leaving St. John unprotected. Finally Borden's resolution passed and the bill will be read a second time tomorrow.

After dinner Sir Frederick Borden read a statement as to the changes in the volunteer militia. The policy of reducing training establishments had been decided on by the militia council before it was decided to take over Halifax and Esquimalt from the imperial government. The council's report foreshadowed the elaboration of the policy of militia increase in the early future, but Gen. Lake, the chairman, had suggested it would take time to decide on particulars.

Borden stated it was proposed to drill 43,000 this year out of a total establishment of 46,000, but Col. Tisdale, after some debate, extracted from Borden the admission that apart from all the blow and bluster about reform and economy there was no practical reduction in the militia strength of Canada. Tisdale insisted on the adoption of a settled policy in dealing with the militia, as nothing was more disastrous to the morale and efficiency of the force than keeping it in a state of uncertainty as to what the nest year might bring forth. The militia items were pretty well disposed on in committee, but at Foster's suggestion two or three were held over until some military men now absent in Ontario should resume their seats.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 January 2014 12:02 AM EST
Thursday, 23 January 2014

CAF Withdrawal in Europe Commences (1970)
Topic: Canadian Army

Images are taken from the magazine of the Canadian Armed Forces, Sentinel, Vol. 6, No. 2, February, 1970.

Forces hope for new tanks from Trudeau

The Ottawa Citizen, 6 July 1970
By Greg Connolley, Citizen Staff Reporter

Soest, Germany.—Would Prime Minister Trudeau care to spend $30,000,000 to buy new tanks for the Canadian mechanized land forces in Europe?

The acquiring of 60 new Centurion tanks from the British is a fond hope, perhaps dream, of some of the Canadian officers stationed here who want Canada to continue a substantial military contribution to NATO.

Indications at the moment are that the prospect of the Canadian mechanized battle group replacing its aging Centurion tanks with the Chieftains is rather remote. Indeed by 1972 or 1973 the land forces may have to give up all their heavy equipment and mey even have been sent back to Canada.

No wonder that personnel of the armed forces in Europe are confused about pending and future changes. Even Defence Minister Cadieux seems far from clear as to what the future holds for Canadian forces in Europe.

The Trudeau Government has already set massive changes underway for the services abroad. The economy order to cut the 10,000 man strength of the land brigade and the air division to 5,000 will see 15,000 men, wives and children come home this year.

7,700 Moving

And the move of what is left of the brigade to the Lahr area will see 7,700 servicemen and dependents on the move via the autobahn and railways in September.

If the authorities can find enough accommodation for everyone at Lahr and nearby Baden-Sollingen where the air force will be located, the strength situation will be something like this:

The original mechanized brigade, which had 5,600 personnel and 1,500 vehicles, will be reduced to a mechanized battle group of 2,800 servicemen with 1,200 vehicles. The air division, which had six squadrons, will be replaced by three squadrons of Starfighters, one to be used for reconnaissance and the other two for nuclear strikes, should that become necessary.

Only Shortcoming

Lt.-Col. Rene Gutknecht, senior staff officer (operations) with the new battle group would love to see his unit get the new Chieftain tanks. The only shortcoming in the Canadian land force, in his view, is the Centurion tank which has been around in various versions since the Second World War.

Col. Gutknecht says the addition of new tanks to his unit would make it a viable mechanized force for years to come. He believes Canada should retain a mechanized force and not lose this skill.

It would be fair to say that if Col. Gutknecht, who is a highly regarded officer, had his way, Canada would maintain a mechanized land force in Europe, preferably armed with the latest British tank.

However, Mr. Cadieux has spoken of even the present modified role of the ground forces in Europe as being temporary. By 1972 he has suggested they may be converted to light, airmobile forces, shorn of all their tanks and heavy artillery and personnel carriers.

Plan Opposed

But many Canadian officers abroad think there is an "if" in this project announced by Mr. Cadieux. They hope it won't come about.

Yet, there is the pattern for the forces in Canada—lightly equipped forces that can move rapidly to meet a crisis in the Arctic or in world peace-keeping.

However, if Mr. Cadieux and prime Minister Trudeau decide to convert the army forces abroad from mechanized to mobility, it will cost a great many millions of dollars for new equipment, new transport aircraft—to an extent that the $30,000,000 for new tanks might look pretty modest by comparison.

What about the future of the three remaining air squadrons? By 1972 they will give up their nuclear bombs as the land element gave up their nuclear warheads this summer. The flying sector of the Canadian armed forces would like to convert in 1972 to an attack role using their Starfighter jets and conventional weapons.

Doubtful Future

There seems to be little enthusiasm among the squadrons to be re-equipped with the CF-5 ground support planes being produced by Canadair. Indeed the whole future of this aircraft seems to be in doubt, although several home squadrons have been equipped with it.

The determination of Prime Minister Trudeau to cut back Canada's NATO contribution has caused curious consequences. One development is that the Canadian land forces are leaving a front line NATO position on Northern Germany, much to the annoyance of the British, and moving to a southern reserve sector, under the Americans who don't particularly want them.

Nevertheless, Col. Gutknecht says his troops can fulfill a useful role in the Lahr area.

But Col. Gutknecht has hopes for his land forces and the desires of the air squadrons depend ultimately on what is decided in Ottawa. And that decision could be complete withdrawal from Europe—something Mr. Trudeau reportedly favors and something many of the military fear is only a matter of time.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 22 January 2014

New Machine Carbine for Canadian Army
Topic: Militaria

New Machine Carbine for Canadian Army

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April, 1953

Korea Troops Test New British Gun

New York, April 28 (A.A.P.)—Canadian and other Commonwealth units of the First Commonwealth Division in Korea are testing a new machine-gun.

The gun is the British made Patchett machine-carbine.

According to Canadian war correspondent Bill Boss, it will replace the unpopular Sten gun in the Canadian Army if the tests are successful.

The Patchett is described as the perfect paratrooper's weapon.

It is all metal and weighs 8 ½ lbs. complete with a 10-inch knife-type bayonet, sling and filled magazine.

It can be fired from the shoulder, using sights adjustable for 100 and 200 yards, or from the hip.

A Canadian warrant-officer said: "Its appearance alone gives the soldier confidence which he has not got in his Sten. Of 600 rounds I've fired, there has only been one feed stoppage."

Ottawa Citizen, 15 June, 1953

More Details Released on New Machine-Carbine

By Bill Boss, Canadian Press Staff Writer

With the Canadian in Korea—A few more details about the Patchett machine carbine, recommended for use by Canadians in Korea, have been released by 1st Commonwealth Division headquarters.

The weapon has been thoroughly tested by all battalions in the division as a replacement for the Sten carbine. Brig. Jean Allard, commander of the Canadian Brigade, on the basis of the Canadians' tests, has recommended that it be obtained for use in Korea only.

Test indicated, he said, that the Patchett is superior to the Sten, but still not the answer to the army's search search for an automatic weapon capable of good close-in performance, yet of accuracy at distances up to 200 yards.

It may be reported that the Patchett is a nine-millimeter weapon, the same calibre as the sten.

Its rate of fire is 550 rounds per minute, about the same as the Sten.

It's slightly curved magazines hold 34 rounds. They can be loaded by hand, and their roller-bearing platform feeds the round smoothly, reducing stoppages. Loaders are needed for charging Stan magazines which usually feed improperly, causing stoppages.

WO2 George Maguire of Ottawa, the brigade's senior armorer, who conducted the Canadians' Patchett tests, said: "At 30 yards it cam fire 2 1/2-inch groups, which is as good as a service rifle can do. I've been riddling tin cans regularly with it ay 150 yards. The effective range for most nine-millimeter is 125 yards."

Patchett features which persuade soldiers it is better than the Stan are its appearance, its precision machining, its weight (8 1/2 pounds) and its balance, with ot without its 10 1/2 inch bayonet.

The fact that its butt can be flipped under and locked to the barrel, thereby shortening it and making it suitable for both firing from the hip or close in fighting, is another advantage.

Allard and his staff feel, however, that though for immediate use in Korea it should be bought, it has defects which ought to be corrected before it is adopted for general use in the Canadian Army.

He recommended, indeed, that Canada continue her own research for a suitable automatic weapon.

The Patchett is going to be rechristened too. It is proposed to call it the Sterling machine carbine.

Ottawa Citizen, 20 December, 1956

Patchett Gun Replaces Sten

By The Canadian press

The Sterling sub-machine-gun, formerly known as the Patchett, has been adopted to replace the Sten gun used by the Canadian army since early in the Second World War.

Army headquarters announced today that the government munitions agency, Canadian Arsenals, Ltd., of Long Branch, Ont., will manufacture the new gun with production expected to begin next year.

The Sterling, a nine-millimetre, fully automatic and single shot weapon, is already in use by the British army. Test teams have fired it under all weather conditions, including the coldest temperatures of the sub-Arctic, and found it superior to anything now in use.

The new sub-machine-gun is a compact weapon weighing only six pounds. Because of its simplicity, it can be mastered in a short time and its size makes it ideal for carrying in the cabs of military vehicles.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 3 January 2014 11:20 PM EST

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