The Minute Book
Sunday, 20 April 2014

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero
Topic: British Army

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived

A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, Francis Law, 1983

In 1930 the regiment returned to London, this time to the Tower, and we took a house in Chelsea where our daughter Bridget was born. I had once been a keen, even an enthusiastic, soldier, but serious soldiering grew more and more difficult. I had commanded more men as a platoon commander on joining in 1915 than now as commander of a company. Reality vanished, make-believe was the order of the day. Flags and wooden rattles, not weapons, represented machine guns. Tanks were simulated by trucks marked with a large T or by cardboard shapes mounted on bicycles, antitank guns represented by green flags. There was little ammunition for range firing and few blank cartridges for exercises. Two men in canvas clothing carrying 'pole targets' with flapping strips of canvas represented a section, four such a platoon. Imagination was to be stretched to the limit and indeed far beyond. The pleasure of a day on horseback umpiring an exercise could not compensate for the stark unreality of the training: the whole thing was bogus.

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived. Everything - books, the press, the theatre - all conspired to ridicule the services and those who served in them. In addition an economy axe was wielded ruthlessly to the satisfaction if not to the plaudits of a forgetful, complacent, thoughtless people, careless of the future which was to catch up with them in less than a decade. Professionally, like many another who had served in the war, I became increasingly sad and disillusioned. It was a time of deep frustration for any one who thought realistically and was eager to give useful service. With many another I was forced to question the wisdom of remaining in the army with its prospects so bleak, with no glimmer of light ahead. Married, with the prospect of yearly changes of house a strain on finances and the inevitable restrictions on our freedom, I decided in 1931 to retire from the army and joint the regular army reserve of the Irish Guards.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 19 April 2014

Mess Night Manual
Topic: Tradition

Mess Night Manual

From the US Navy Department Library comes the 1986 edition of the Mess Night Manual published by the Naval School, Civil Engineer Corps Officers, Port Huenema, California, dated August 1986.


A "Mess Night" is a scheduled evening when mess members and their guests gather in the mess for dinner. A formal Mess Night is referred to as a "Dining-In." Normally only officers of the mess and command guests are included. When spouses and other personal guests are invited, the occasion is called a "Dining-Out." Throughout this publication, the term "Mess Night" will be used as synonymous with both "Dining-In" and "Dining-Out." "Dinings-In" and "Dinings-Out" are conducted in the same format. The only difference is in the attendees.

A Mess Night is more than an officer's dinner party. It is a military formation, as old and as rich in tradition as the quarterdeck or the mounting of the guard, and as essential to a close-knit, smooth-performing unit as are drills, inspections and military ceremonies. Throughout the messes of the world, military men meet to honor their regiments, ships, standards, battles and dead. It is significant to note that irrespective of nationality, these mess formations vary in form only so much as do the traditions of the military organizations. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that mess night is not a party in any sense; it is very similar to honors, for its purpose is to solemnly pay tribute to all of those intangibles for and by which the military unit stands.

The Mess Night format is derived through tradition from a number of sources, particularly the Vikings and the British Navy. Meticulous attention should be given to the traditional aspects of this format.

The "Dining-In" had its inception in the earliest military victory celebrations. In the opening centuries of the Christian Era, it took its first step toward a stylized format in the revels of the Viking Clans on the occasion of their return from successful raids and forays against distant shores. These celebrations saw all male clan members present with the exception of the watch. The leader took his place at the head of the board with all others to his right or left in descending order of rank. Those of the clan who did not participate in the raid were seated below the salt, and did not participate in the disposition of the spoils. Warriors who had conducted themselves with valor or distinction were "guests" for the evening. They were seated closer to the leader than their rank normally entitled them. These "guests" customarily received a bonus from the share of the leader for their deeds.

The celebrations of the Vikings were great feasts where vast quantities of food and drink were served. Down through the millennium since the heyday of the Norsemen, the practice of recognizing and perpetuating the anniversaries of significant battles and feats of outstanding heroes by formal ceremony became generally adopted as a natural outgrowth of the special camaraderie of the military.

Like so many of our service traditions, the term "Mess Night" and the format used in the U.S. Navy today was derived from the British Navy. Although the tradition is very old in England, it is not exclusively military. Tradition has it that the custom began in the monasteries, was adopted by the early universities, and later spread to military units when the officers' mess was established. At one time, the formal dining procedure was observed nightly in the British military messes. This nightly formality and elegance was abandoned by the United States Navy when alcoholic beverages were abolished aboard ship by General Order 99. However, Mess Nights are still observed on special occasions such as an anniversary, a commissioning or decommissioning, the visit of a senior officer, or simply to enjoy good company.

elipsis graphic

The manual is divided into several sections for the convenience of the reader.

  • Section I, Mess Night Origins, presents a capsule summary of the meaning of Mess Night and the background of the traditions which are observed at Mess Nights.
  • Section II, Mess Night Format, traces the various events which occur in a Mess Night.
  • Section III, Toasts, is a summary of the etiquette of toasting as practiced at Mess Nights.
  • Section IV, Arrangements, is intended primarily for those individuals who are responsible for planning and organizing a Mess Night, but may be of general interest to all officers.

The manual also contains several appendices which may be of assistance in planning a Mess Night.

  • Appendix A is a Summary of the Rules of Etiquette for Mess Night Attendees, which should be made available to all officers and guests attending the occasion.
  • Appendix B, Recommended Schedule for Mess Night Preparations, lists the "countdown" or actions which should be taken in preparing for a Mess Night.
  • Appendix C, Form of Toasts for Heads of State, may prove useful when foreign guests attend a Mess Night.
  • Appendix D, Sample Mess Night Script is included to serve as a guide in preparing the Mess Night Script.
  • Appendix E contains a Sample Mess Night Souvenir Menu.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 April 2014 2:37 PM EDT
Friday, 18 April 2014

Reinforcing Dien Bien Phu
Topic: The Field of Battle

Reinforcing Dien Bien Phu

The Damned Die Hard, Hugh McLeave, 1973

But for every man lost [at Dien Bien Phu], the French had two or three volunteers stepping forward to take his place. Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Lemeunier, with a safe Hanoi billet, heard that his friend Gaucher had died. He went to General Cogny, in charge of the Dien Bien Phu operation in Hanoi. "Mon ge'ne'ral, I'm the oldest legionnaire in Tonkin. Gaucher's place should come to me."

"But Lemeunier, if I said yes, how do we get you there?"

"I jump."

"Why, you don't know one end of a parachute from the other."

Nevertheless, Lemeunier jumped—and at night with only a flare to indicate the dropping zone. And Staff Captain Jean Pouget left his safe seat in General Navarre's headquarters to take his first jump. And hundreds of others, including Sergeant Chief Janos Valko, a legendary Hungarian NCO, made their first parachute jump in the dark. De Castries, now a general, Langlais, Lemeunier, and Major Vadot were playing bridge in the "Subway" (nickname for the headquarters tunnel system) when a thump shook the roof. "That one didn't go off," said Vadot, who had been in Gaucher's dugout. They heard footsteps crunch; a giant legionnaire appeared, still entangled in the chute he was wearing for the first time. Unabashed by all the gold braid, he accepted and drank half a pint of Vinogel from the general. Those first-time paratroopers revised military thinking about airborne operations. More than seven hundred dropped and had no more broken bones than the 2,300 regular paratroopers who jumped alongside them. One had a harrowing experience; after crash-landing in the dark, he groped for his bearings; his fingers encountered one icy face, then another. He had landed in the morgue. It took half a pint of brandy to bring him around.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sir Sam inspects the 19th Battalion
Topic: CEF

Sir Sam inspects the 19th Battalion

"The Orderly Sergeant," Five Nines and Whiz Bangs, 1937

Lieutenant General Sir Sam Hughes, K.C.B., M.P.

Painted by Harrington Mann
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art
CWM 19710261-0394

The weirdest notes ever sounded on this earth were heard at the Exhibition Grounds one raw, winter's day in December, 1914. The Hon. Sam Hughes had travelled down from Ottawa to review the troops, and there we stood, shivering and grousing, knee-deep in snow, waiting for the Great Man's arrival. On this occasion he was to be accompanied by the Governor-General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, who was very interested in the various gangs of enthusiasts scattered throughout Canada, all trying to learn this new soldiering game.

He did come, his descent being signalised by a snappy bit of invective levelled at General Lessard for something or other. Things got mixed. Everybody was in a rotten temper. The 19th Battalion tried to present arms from the order, or it may have been the other way about; and the pipe-band of the 19th made a stab at playing "God Save the King."

Did you ever hear a pipe-band playing the National Anthem? Did you? Well, did you ever hear a pipe-band, whose instruments were all frozen solid, trying to do it?

The squeaks and groans, the wails and the mi-a-a-oos that shuddered and shrilled from these bagpipes were plain awful. Some of the lads tried to go right through with it. Others, caught a few bars behind when the pistol went off, hurried along to catch up. One or two kept tuning up—all at the same time.

You'll understand, then, what I mean when I said the weirdest noises ever distilled on this earth poured into our ears that dreadful day. Dear old Sam got apoplectic. He stamped around roaring and hollering — "Take that g—d—band outa here," he bellowed.

Frightened brass hats, glad to escape from the wrath, scurried over to convey Sam's profound displeasure to the aggrieved virtuosi.

Discouraged, but unconquered, the pipers vanished.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:18 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Canadian Forces Arms Shortage (1949)
Topic: Canadian Army

Lessons Not Learned: some of the First World War era tanks that Canada bartered for on
the outbreak of the Second World War as much needed trainers to fill the capability gap
left by having none in Canadian inventories.

Shortage of Ultra-Modern Arms Disclosed in Canadian Forces

The Montreal Gazette, 26 November 1949
(Gazette Resident Correspondent)

Ottawa, Nov. 25.—Evidence of a startling shortage of ultra-modern equipment in the Canadian Army was indicated when the House of Commons studied Defence Department estimates yesterday.

Defence Minister Claxton admitted that "no provision whatever" was being made for new types sof tanks and self-propelled guns for armored regiments.

He disclosed that the recoilless rifle — and extremely efficient weapon developed at the end of the war — was a complete stranger to the Canadian Army.

He revealed that the proximity fuse — which appeared about the time of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and began to revolutionize artillery warfare — was not to be found in a single shell in Canada.

Questioned by incredulous officers sitting on the Opposition benches, Mr. Claxton shrugged his shoulders when questioned about the lack of all of these items and asked, in return, where could you buy them?

It started when Lt.-Col. D.S. Harkness (PC, Calgary East) asked about armor.

"Has there been any provision for new types of tanks and self-propelled guns in the past year or during the remainder of the year covered by these estimates?" he asked.

"No." Mr. Claxton told him. "There is no provision whatever." Col Harkness suggested that there should be some provision.

"Then I would ask the honorable member if he can tell me where he can get the tanks." commented the Defence Minister.

The Calgary M.P. Suggested that there should be an excellent possibility of picking up self-propelled guns of the recoilless model.

"We should be glad to hear about it," said the minister.

Opposition Leader Drew unearthed the proximity fuse lack.

Would the minister say, he asked, how many artillery or mortar shells in Canada were equipped with proximity fuses, one of the deadliest of modern warfare devices?

He sat down and waited expectantly, as Mr. Claxton rose.

"Not a one," declared the minister and sat down again.

The leader of the Opposition charged that this disclosure was proof that the artillery branch of the Canadian Army was not adequately equipped for modern defence emergencies and it was probably true, too, of other branches, he suggested.

The Defence Minister cut in to ask Mr. Drew what nations the latter believed were equipping their forces with proximity fuses. Mr. Drew named the United States, the United Kingdom "and the nation about which we are most concerned"—Russia.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 12:59 AM EDT
Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Strength of the Militia (1885)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Military Strength of the Dominion

The Val d'Or Star; 8 April 1885

At the present crisis we often hear the question asked as to the condition and actual strength of the military force of the country. Regarding the efficiency of the enrolled volunteer force, with the exception of some pet city corps, we far very little indeed can be said. If our own local battalions are any criterion, the country now, in this time of need, finds the want of a well-disciplined and equipped body of men. Sufficient money has been yearly expended by the government to have things otherwise. But, it is needless to find fault and recriminate on the errors and foolishness of the past.

The trouble is upon us, and it must be bravely and patriotically met. As we intimated in our last, the time is approaching when somebody will have to render to the people a strict account for all the shortcomings of the past. In his annual report, Dec. 30th, 1884, Major-General Middleton, commander of the forces, says the total strength of the active militia on the 31st of December last including all branches, was 37,036.

The officers and men composing this force are distributed among twelve military districts, of which four are in Ontario, three in Quebec, one each in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and the Northwest territories, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. There are altogether 194 companies, of which 180 are normally in twelve military districts and eight are made up of the Royal Military College cadet corps (one), the Cavalry School corps (one), the regiment of Canadian Artillery (three) and the Infantry School corps (three).

  • Of cavalry, the force in the cities is composed of 225 officers and men (including the Cavalry School corps 43); and that in the rural districts of 1,462, making a total of 1,987.
  • The field artillery numbers 1,440 — 722 in the cities; 718 in the country.
  • The garrison artillery has a strength of 2,472 — 1,550 in the cities (including the regiment of Canadian artillery), and 922 in the country.
  • Of engineers there are 243, of whom 198 (including the Royal Military College cadet corps, 64 strong) are in the cities and 45 in the country.

The entire strength of the infantry is 30,894, of which 7,414 (including the Infantry School corps, 315) belongs to the cities and 23,480 to the country.There is thus a total strength for the cities of 10,409, and of the rural militia of 26,627.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 14 April 2014

The US Army's "Soldier's Rules" (1993)
Topic: Discipline

The US Army's "Soldier's Rules" (1993)

US Army Regulation 350-41, Training in Units, 1993

1.     Soldiers fight only enemy combatants.

2.     Soldiers do not harm enemies who surrender. Disarm them and turn them over to your superior.

3.     Soldiers do not kill or torture enemy prisoners of war.

4.     Soldiers collect and care for the wounded, whether friend or foe.

5.     Soldiers do not attack medical personnel, facilities, or equipment.

6.     Soldiers destroy no more than the mission requires.

7.     Soldiers treat all civilians humanely.

8.     Soldiers do not steal. Soldiers respect private property and possessions.

9.     Soldiers should do their best to prevent violations of the law of war. Soldiers report all violations of the law of war to their superiors.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 13 April 2014

Wearing of Emblems with Uniform
Topic: Tradition

The Battle of Minden, by by Dawn Waring (Source)

Wearing of Emblems with Uniform

Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R.Hist.S., Some Military Customs and Survivals, The Army Quarterly, Volume XXXIX, October 1939 and January 1940

Wearing of Emblems with Uniform.— the custom of wearing emblems in various forms to commemorate important events is very ancient and is not entirely prohibited in the [British] Army, although "King's Regulations" prohibit the wearing of unauthorized ornaments and emblems with uniform. General authority is, however, given for all ranks when not on duty to wear their national emblem or flower on their respective Saint's day, i.e.—

  • Rose on St. George's Day (23rd of April) for English personnel.
  • Thistle on St. Andrew's Day (30th of November) for Scottish personnel.
  • Leek on St. David's Day (1st March) for Welsh personnel.
  • Shamrock on St. Patrick's Day (17th of March) for Irish personnel.
  • All ranks are permitted to wear a poppy on Armistice Day (11th of November).
  • Minden Day (1st of August). Of the more particular types of emblems worn perhaps the "Minden Roses" are the best known. … There are six "Minden" regiments.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2014 4:37 PM EDT
Saturday, 12 April 2014

Battle Precepts for Infantry and Armor
Topic: Military Theory

Battle Precepts for Infantry and Armor

Brig.-Gen. S.L.A. Marshall (U.S. Army) in "The 100-Hour War", published in "Army" magazine of the Association of the United States Army. (republished in the Canadian Army Journal, Vol 12, No 4, Oct 1958)

1.     Leading means moving to the point of main danger if decisive pressure is to be maintained. There is no excuse for holding back.

2.     When orders can't get through, assume what the orders would be.

3.     When in doubt, hit out. The short route to safety is the road to the enemy hill.

4.     Don't attack head-on; there is usually a better way.

5.     When troops are truly exhausted, hold back and rest them.

6.     Waste no energy in useless movement. Maintain the pace of the attack so long as physical resources seem sufficient.

7.     If the force designated to attack is not suitably armed to overrun the position, pull off and call for what is needed. Avoid useless wastage.

8.     Don't delay the battle because of supply shortages which lie beyond its probable crisis.

9.     Keep your sense of humour if you would save your wits.

10.     When trapped by sudden fire, movement means salvation more surely than a foxhole.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 11 April 2014

Quetta: The Indian Staff College
Topic: Officers

Quetta: The Indian Staff College

The Road Past Mandalay, John Masters, 1961, pp. 75-77.- quoted in Sword of the Raj, Roger Beaumont, 1977

… The capital of Baluchistan, the encyclopedia informed anyone who wanted to know. A variation of the word kwat-kot, signifying "fortress." (Come now, mind your language there, Britannica.) … 536 miles by rail north of Karachi; 5,500 feet above sea level. Pop.: 60,000 odd. (Not so damned odd, Britannica; just Baluchi tribesmen and army types.) Largely destroyed by earthquake May 31, 1935. Ringed by mountains. Standing eighty miles back from the Afghan frontier. A garrison town. Probably very hot in summer and very cold in winter. A dull place, the encyclopedia hinted.

It was right and wrong. The physical description was correct enough, especially the bit about the cold. The pass leading to Afghanistan is called the Khojak, and a diabolically cold, dry wind often blew in over it, chapping lips and freezing ears and drying the skin so that women poured olive oil into their bath water; and I had seen men and girls in Saint-Moritz clothes skiing down the wide avenues, and a string of camels coming slowly up in the opposite direction, snow on their heavy, supercilious eyelids, and the dark mountains towering out of the slanting snow above them all.

But Quetta was not dull. It was electric. Something in the air produced pregnancy in the childless, nymphomania in the frigid, larceny in the respectable, and scandals of wonderful variety…

There was the Musical Beds Scandal of the mid-1930s, when four officers in a remote outpost had passed three wives around in a year-long orgy—the odd man out, a week at a time, doing all the military work.

There was the Bhoosa Scandal. Bhoosa is chopped, dried straw, usually baled, used for fodder for the army's mules and horses, and the scandal was too complicated to explain here, but it involved two sets of scales, one accurate and one inaccurate, and midnight openings and illegal substitutions among the bhoosa stacks. And the Coal Scandal, when a quartermaster sergeant sold government coal to the local cinema proprietors (what they did with it I cannot imagine; they certainly didn't heat their movie houses), and pocketed the proceeds. And the Car Scandal, involving a chap who registered and insured an old heap as the military vehicle he was entitled to, and got a receipt for a new car, and bought a race horse, and won many races and much money with it. And a girl with unruly hair and disposition, known as the Passionate Haystack; and another as the Lilo (a form of inflatable rubber mattress); and another as the Sofa Cobra. There was a Vice Queen who collected other ladies' husbands and cut a notch in her bedstead for every conquest. No one knew why the bed was still standing.

And a major who leaned forward with a choked grunt at a ceremonial dinner party and hauled out of its shell the left breast of the lady sitting across the table from him. And another who applied for short leave, paid his debts, handed over his job to a brother officer, and shot himself. (His colonel had twice warned him about homosexual advances toward the troops, and told him that the next time he'd go to court martial. The third time had arrived.)

And there were hailstorms of stunning violence, when donkeys lay dead in the streets and camels lay stunned at the edge of the surrounding desert. And flash floods that swept away trucks, guns, and men, if they were caught in the usually dry river beds. And frequent earthquakes. And tremendous chukar shoots on the mountains, duck shoots far to the west, skiing, jackal hunts with the pack of foxhounds, point-to-point races, a race course with regular meetings. And the Staff College.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 10 April 2014

Walking Out Dress (1942)
Topic: Canadian Army

New Well-tailored Dress Uniforms To Be Issued to Privates in Army

Made of Khaki Serge, Latest Issue Is Designed
for Off-duty Wear and to Augment
Present Battle Dress 'Working Clothes'

The Montreal Gazette, 14 January 1942

The thousands of young soldiers in the Canadian Army will soon vie for placed as the best-dressed men in the Dominion as a result of the official announcement made last night by the Department of National Defence that they are to be outfitted with dress uniforms to augment the battledress they already possess.

Emphasis was placed on the fact that the new uniforms, which are smartly tailored and are designed for off-duty wear, are not replacements for battledress. Persistent rumours have circulated to the effect that such replacements are on the way but last night's announcement referred to the Canadian fighting dress as the most practical ever designed for battle conditions.

"It is decidedly not a replacement," Maj-Gen B.W. Browne, Adjutant-General, declared in Ottawa. "The walking-put dress is just what the name implies. It is a best suit to be worn when work is done for the day. The young men who form Canada's army today are typical young Canadians—the type of chaps who wouldn't think of going out for the evening in their working clothes and who like to wear the best suit on Sundays. Because they are in the army, there is no reason why their standards should be changed. Hence the issue of an extra uniform.

Because of the fact that two suits have more than twice the as long a life as a single one, economy also enters the picture, it was pointed out.

The actual ate of issue has not been definitely established, due to the necessity of designing the many sizes in which it will be made. It is expected, however, that deliveries of the new dress uniforms will start in toughly six weeks time.

Smartly cut, quite like the jackets and slacks worn by officers even to the brass buckled belt, the new outfits are tailored in regulation khaki serge. The tie to be worn with them is a beech brown in colour and collar pins form a part of the issue.

Low Shoes Allowed

Black socks, considerably finer than those which are now issued to soldiers to go with the battledress, and black, low shoes complete the walking out dress. The use of shoes rather than of boots issued with other uniforms is a major concession to smartness. The familiar khaki wedge cap or, if the soldier possesses one, the colourful wedge cap authorized already, completes the uniform.

The jacket has four pockets, with breast pockets being of the rectangular pleated pattern. The side pockets are large ones of the patch type. They differ only from those of the officers' tunics by being stitched all of the way around instead of bellowed. A deep bent in the centre back seam insures a good fit when sitting.

Old soldiers who remember the day when it was next thing to heresy for a private to be caught walking about with a swagger stick, are due for a shock. The swagger stick will be part of the issue to all soldiers.

Another feature of the new dress uniform will be the wearing of regimental collar-badges. It isn't so very long ago that these were a familiar sight.

Complete issue to soldiers will consist of a serge jacket, serge trousers, two collars, one collar pin, a brown necktie, black socks, black leather low shows and a waterproof coat.

Ottawa Citizen, 9 February, 1945

Army Will Withdraw Walking Out Dress

Issuance of the familiar walking out uniform of the Canadian Army, the open collar serge dress jacket and matching trousers has been cancelled, according to the latest district orders.

All such items of clothing on charge units and individuals will be withdrawn immediately by Ordnance to the returned stores section, according to instructions. Badges of rank or trade will be removed from the jackets and retained for re-issue to units.

Military authorities had no additional comment to add to the the situation at this time. Whether the calling in of the walking out uniforms mean that this dress will be removed entirely from the uniform list of the Canadian Army or whether there is possibly a re-issue in prospect for a later date could not be determined.

The Maple Leaf, 3 March 1945

Canadian Army drops 'zoot suits'

Ottawa---Khaki serge walking out uniforms introduced into the Canadian Army in 1942 and never popular with soldiers are being withdrawn from service, packeted and sent as mutual aid to the armies of liberated countries, it is learned here.

France, Greece, or Yugoslavia will probably receive these "zoot suits," which were issued only to men serving in Canada.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The National War Memorial
Topic: CEF

Canada's Great Response;
the National War Memorial

Silent Witnesses, Herbert Fairlie Wood and John Swettenham, 1974

Down the street from Parliament Hill, at the centre of Confederation Square, stands the National War Memorial. It is the most impressive monument erected in Canada and may best be viewed from Elgin Street to give as its background the Parliament Buildings and the distant Gatineau Hills.

In 1925 a competition for the design of a national memorial resulted in the selection of a model submitted by an Englishman, Vernon March. March's theme was "the great response of Canada" and uniformed figures representing all services, passing through a granite arch, eloquently portray the response of the Canadian people. These bronze figures, each about eight feet high, are purposeful; they pass through the archway and symbolize the going of the people to the triumph of their achievements overseas in a spirit of self-sacrifice and with no suggestion of glorifying war.

The figures were completed in 1932 but Confederation Square was being redesigned at the time; in 1933 the government decided to display the figures in London's Hyde Park and it was not until 1937 that they were shipped to Ottawa. More than five hundred tons of granite were then hauled to the site and construction began.

The memorial rests on a massive block of reinforced concrete which in turn is based on steel columns, sunk to bedrock. Little can affect it. Each year, since King George VI unveiled the memorial in the spring of 1939, on the morning of Remembrance Day (11th November) the traffic of Confederation Square is silenced and a solemn ceremony is conducted at the foot of this cenotaph. Wreaths are laid by the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the President of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Chief of the Defence Staff and a mother who has lost sons.


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Soviet Principles of Military Art
Topic: Military Theory

Soviet Principles of Military Art

From the Soviet Military Encyclopedia, as presented by W.P. Baxter in Soviet Airland Battle Tactics, 1986

1.     High military preparedness for fulfilling of missions under any conditions for starting or conduct of war.

2.     Surprise, decisiveness, aggressiveness of military activity, continuous striving to achieve and retain the initiative.

3.     Full use of the various means and capabilities of battle to achieve victory.

4.     Coordinated application of and close cooperation between major units of all the armed forces and branches of service.

5.     Decisive coordination of the essential force at the needed moment and in the most important directions and for the decision of the main mission.

6.     The simultaneous destruction of the enemy to the entire depth of his deployment, the timely accumulation of forces, the clever manoeuvre of forces and means for the development of military action at a rapid tempo, and the destruction of the enemy in a short period.

7.     Calculation and full exploitation of the moral-political factor.

8.     Strict and uninterrupted leadership.

9.     Steadfastness and decisiveness in fulfilling assigned missions.

10.     Comprehensive security of combat activity.

11.     Timely restoration of reserves and combat capability of forces.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 7 April 2014

Now that's soldiering
Topic: Leadership

Now that's soldiering

Sandhurst Academy Sergeant-Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, in a speech to the British Staff College

"I am going to relate to you something that happened to me which I think highlights this business. In my parachute battalion we had a Corporal Sheriff. He was a good corporal but he had his share of rockets and so on. He didn't make sergeant when there was plenty of promotion flying about but he was a good battalion and a good company man. He joined us in 41, fought with us in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and finally at Arnhem, and it was at Arnhem that he was wounded. We had been in the prison camp for I should think about three months with no knowledge of him at all when I was told that he was in the reception hut, and so I scrounged a few cigarettes which were available, because I was told he was in bad shape, and went up to the hut.

"I shall never forget it. As I opened the door everything stopped: there was a deathly silence and everybody looked round as they do under those circumstances. The hut was full of foreigners of various nationalities, a smell of unwashed bodies and a strange atmosphere. I looked around and saw Corporal Sheriff in some strange uniform — if you could call it a uniform — which had been supplied to him. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor, head hanging down, looking very dejected.

"I walked across towards him and you could have heard a pin drop. I went up to him and I said something to the effect, "Hello Corporal Sheriff, how are you getting on?" And in front of all those foreigners he stood up. It was three months since we had seen one another and he had no particular cause to love me. In front of all those foreiegners he stood up and he stood to attention and you could almost hear their astonishment.

"He turned his head towards me and said, "Hello Sir, it's good to hear your voice." He was blind. Even in those circumstances he was a member of the family, he felt he belonged again and he was back in the bosom of the family. Now that's soldiering, that's spirit, that's understanding. That's all the things I've been trying to say."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 6 April 2014

Frugality in an Age of Austerity
Topic: Canadian Army

Frugality in an Age of Austerity

In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, James Eayrs, 1964;
as quoted in
Wait for the Waggons: the Story of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, Arnold Warren, 1958

… I was a Captain commanding the Supply Details. We had a Horse Transport Company. We had harness. The troops were trained to take the harness apart, put it back together, and hang it up in the Quartermaster's Stores. That is about as far as it went. We never did have a horse. We never did have a waggon.

We had a Mechanical Transport unit… They had no equipment whatsoever—absolutely none. From 1926 until the outbreak of war we never had one item of mechanical transport issued to us. Not a motorcycle, not a van, not a truck…

Training was possible only by using our own imaginations and ingenuity. … I heard … about 1933 or '34 … that the Post Office had decided to write off two vans. … I went down and begged them, and got them. A firm in town had a big, solid-tired flat-top, which I got from them. … We had a couple of motor-cycles which we purchased out of our own funds, and in order to train our motorcyclists we produced a device with rollers which were held in place by a heavy steel and timber form which sat on the floor … We taught motorcyclists without going anywhere…

We got no pay. We waived our pay into the regimental fund—every cent of it. … When we attested a private soldier, he signed a waiver of pay along with his attestation card, or he wasn't accepted. … We used the money to buy equipment, to look after our weekend exercises, and to assist the sergeants and the other ranks to have some comforts in their common quarters. …

I got the Army printing done on the Board of Education presses operated by the apprentices that came in for training. I got my annual exer cises printed in the same way. There was no money for things of that kind. We bought our own typewriter for the Orderly Room and we coaxed someone to come in and type. Really my Orderly Room was at home.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 5 April 2014

Fuller on Operational Staff Duties
Topic: Staff Duties

Time, time, and the saving of it, should be the soul of every order and instruction, of every report and of every message.

Fuller on Operational Staff Duties

Armoured Warfare; An Annotated Edition of Fifteen Lectures on Operations Between Mechanized Forces, by Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, 1943

Orders, Instructions, Reports and Messages

Maj.-Gen. John Frederick Charles Fuller,
(1 September 1878 – 10 February 1966)

As I have pointed out more than once, orders, instructions, reports and messages will have to abandon their many official frills and step out stark naked unto the reality of war. The object of an operation order is to impart information you cannot actually convey by voice. It may be the word "move," or "halt," or it may be a long rigamarole; in either case it is seldom necessary to turn it into a ritual so holy that it is considered almost sacrilegious not to begin an operation order with "information" … "intention," and so on, etc., etc.

All order will have to be as brief as possible, and not as formal as possible. They should be based on a profound appreciation of possibilities and probabilities, which, as I have explained, will generally lead to a series of alternatives. Therefore an order should not be suited to one operation but to several possible phases of this operation. It should possess a central idea and several radii working out towards the final circumference — victory to you and defeat to the other man.

If we wish to prepare ourselves for mechanized warfare, it is time we broke away from existing conventions, substituting common-sense for ritual. A methodical soldier may be able to find everything, like a tidy person. This is excellent, but what is infinitely better is being able to make use of things instantaneously — anything, ground, tanks, infantry, broomsticks. What above all the fighting soldier requires is not a brain which works by rules, but a brain which rules by work — that is, immediate action.

A great deal of this training in spontaneity of action will depend on our orders and instructions. In the future much more must be left to the initiative of the individual than in the past. Though the central idea must be maintained, actions should be as flexible as possible. Reports must be as brief as possible and should always, when possible, suggest actions. To state that the enemy is blowing his nose may be interesting, but to report that he is looking eastward and is open to a backside kick from the west is something of real importance. Messages should be in code, and when sent in clear between units in battle they should generally be in clear. Time, time, and the saving of it, should be the soul of every order and instruction, of every report and of every message.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 4 April 2014

Combat Arms School Graduation Address 1976
Topic: Officers

Image from the magazine of the Canadian Armed Forces: Sentinel, Vol. 6, No. 2, February, 1970.

Graduating Ceremony
Combat Arms School August 1976

Address By Major General Bruce F. Macdonald, DSO, CD
Colonel Commandant RCAC
At Graduating Ceremony, Combat Arms School August 1976

Armour Newsletter, No 7, January 1977

Your Honour, (The Lieutenant Governor), General McGregor, Colonel Nicholson, Distinguished Guests, Visitors, Officer Candidates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

You young gentlemen by your presence and your performance here today do credit and honour to Canada, to the Armed Forces and to yourselves. I congratulate you.

I am sure your training program has been vigorous and difficult. Indeed I hope this is the case for you are all embarked on a difficult, hazardous and demanding profession. Those who aspire to lead Canadians in combat must be stressed and tested in their training. If the training is easy then it is not good.

You are fortunate to be getting your training here. This Combat Arms School is unique. For here you train as you will fight — not as Infantry, Armour or Artillery but as members of the ground team of combined arms.

Let me, for a moment, address myself to those of you who will join the Regular Forces:

a.     You have not chosen an easy profession.

b.     Your effectiveness rests on three bases, namely moral, mental, and physical fitness. Guard them well.

c.     You walk in the steps of some giants of history; men of the category of Wavell, Eisenhower, Marshall and Montgomery.

d.     Indeed, in a Canadian context we are all honoured today to have here with us General Jean Victor Allard. It might interest you to know that General Allard started his military career as a Second Lieutenant in the Three Rivers Regiment. Following a most distinguished wartime career he remained in the Regular Forces and became Chief of the Defence Staff.

If you are going to be professional soldiers you should expect to face some criticism and misunderstanding. Let me suggest what some of the charges may be and what your reply might be:

a.     People may charge that you, as a soldier, like war. This is like suggesting that the doctor who spends his life in the study and cure of cancer likes cancer.

b.     Some people may comment upon the futility of armed forces and allege that they contribute to the danger of war. May I suggest that you quote to them the following maxim "Love without power exposes the world to the frightening hazards of power without love".

c.     Thirdly, people may comment on how expensive the military are. I urge you to ask how expensive is unpreparedness? I think the record of history is entirely clear. It indicates that had the Allies been prepared to fight in 1914 or 1939 both of these wars could have been avoided — at a vast saving in lives and treasure.

d.     Last Spring I heard an address by Dr. Luns, the Secretary General of NATO. He made the point that the greatest act of provocation is to be unprepared for war. This is a very great truth. It should be remembered by all.

Finally, I wish to address a few words to those of you who upon graduation are proposing to enter Canada's militia:

a.     You also have chosen a challenging avocation.

b.     You are citizen soldiers who walk hand in hand with your Regular Force colleagues who are the soldier citizens.

c.     Your greatest enemies are frustration and public apathy. Remember that all the problems you confront have been experienced before. They happened in the days before 1914 and again in the days before 1939.

You who choose to serve in Canada's Reserve Forces are the present day embodiment of some one and one quarter million Canadians, living and dead, who proudly wore the uniform of the Armed Forces of Canada in World War II. You can serve proudly for you fill a great and fundamental need; though at any point in history this may not be recognized by some.

God forbid that there should be either war or revolution but the lesson of history is terribly clear. Heretofore there has always been war and revolution; there is nothing to suggest that the nature of man has changed.

In closing let me offer you this final thought. Sometimes it is suggested that Canada does not need armed forces in peacetime because if war comes we will be able to find the necessary experts. It is true that we can recruit doctors, engineers and the logisticians from civilian life. However, what is not understood is that we cannot find and we cannot hire from any civilian profession men who are skilled in the art of leading and training men for war. This is the special expertise possessed only by those of you who are trained in the art of military leadership. Men like you cannot be hired, they must be grown and educated in Canada, in peacetime.

Yours is an honourable profession that bears great responsibility. You must be proud of your task, you must be worthy of your great responsibility. I salute you for what you have done, for what you are doing and for what you will do.

Good fortune to all of you.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 3 April 2014

Canada Has Mutiny
Topic: Discipline

Canada Has Mutiny

Sixteen Men Confined in Halifax Barracks
Resisted Arrest and Rioted
Gunners Refused to Assist in Capture of Two Recalcitrant Members of Artillery

The Montreal Gazette, 4 August, 1906

Halifax, N.S., August 3.—(Special)—An incipient mutiny among the Royal Canadian Artillerymen broke out at the Citadel last evening, no less than sixteen men being placed in the guard room, under close confinement, as being the cause of the trouble.

The military authorities are angry about the matter, but from facts gleaned by your corespondent, it appears that one of the garrison police entered a saloon on one of the upper streets for the purpose of arresting two members of the artillery boat crew, who were in dishabile. One of the soldiers resented this and struck the arresting soldier a severe blow on the face. After a scuffle the offending men ran to the barracks, as did the guard policeman, who called for assistance to arrest the soldiers.

Several of the gunners on being warmed for escort duty refused to act. Extra assistance was obtained and with the aid of an unarmed picket and guard the mutineers were placed in confinement.

This caused further trouble and the rioting soldiers smashed the windows in the guard room, where they were in confinement, and tried to escape. Two of them succeeded, but were recaptured during the evening.

Besides the mutinous prisoners two senior non coms were placed under arrest for drunkenness. The prisoners will be arraigned in the morning.

Mutineers are Sentenced

By Associated Press
Dawson Daily News, 7 August, 1906

Halifax, Aug. 7.—The three men accused of being thre ringleaders in the recent mutiny of the Canadian artillery soldiers, have been sentenced today to ten days in the cells of the military prison at Melville Island.

The remainder of the prisoners, except two non-commissioned officers, are confined to the barracks for seven days, where they will do fatigue duty and be compelled to answer to their names every half-hour, night and day

The non-commissioned officers were reprimanded, which means that for six months their chances of promotion are taken away.

The matter proved at the hearing to be more a question of turbulence and riot, and perhaps of high spirits, with little of a serious nature excepting so far as it is undermining of discipline.

The men declare they are well satisfied with the punishment, if it will only result in the remedying of abuses complained of.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 April 2014

CGS Message to Canadian Army
Topic: Canadian Army

Private Heath Matthews of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment awaiting medical attention outside a regimental aid post, June 1952.

A Message to the Canadian Army from the Chief of the General Staff

Major-General Guy G. Simonds, Commander 1st Canadian Division in Italy, 1943.

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 6, No 5, December 1952

There are few national activities of our country in which Canadians ought to take greater satisfaction than in the record and achievements of the Canadian Army. To serve it has always been my greatest pride and I believe that every soldier who has the privilege to belong to it should share that feeling. I believe the Canadian Army today is fulfilling its duty to Canada in a manner fully in keeping with its high record of service in the past. If I did not hold that conviction, I would not continue as its head. The high tributes paid to Canadian troops serving in Korea and Europe have not come from me or from any other Canadian officer or civilian. They have come unsolicited from Supreme Commanders and a number of highly responsible observers, whose impartiality is beyond a doubt. Canadian soldiers serving at home are every bit as good as the Canadian soldiers serving abroad. Many have already served in Canada, Korea and Europe. The appreciation of their service is probably less openly expressed because they are not in the position of being compared with other armies by impartial critics. Canadians are notoriously critical of their own institutions. In recent weeks and months the Army has been the target of unremitting attacks from many sources. We have been criticized for the indiscipline of Canadian soldiers. We have been criticized for too much discipline. We have been criticized for extravagance and criticized for not providing a whole host of things which cost a very great deal of money. We have been criticized for lack of morale and accused of complacency and arrogance when we have shown or proclaimed a pride in the Canadian Army. We must expect and welcome constructive criticism. No one of us would claim that the Canadian Army is perfect and the expansion of the last two years has accentuated faults and weaknesses. These faults and weaknesses call for our full attention and the application of corrective action and improvement. Dishonesty, lack of integrity or indifference to sound administration are intolerable and will continue to be ruthlessly removed from the Canadian Army as diseased flesh from its body. None of this should give cause for any discouragement or depression. The only justification for the existence of the Canadian Army is to defend democracy of which free public criticism is an essential element. Some of this criticism has been, and will continue to be, unfairly biased and irresponsible but that will be as clear to the citizens and taxpayers outside the Army as to those serve in it. The Canadian Army today is certainly not perfect and in several respects falls far short of the standards which I hope and believe we can attain. I have made our policies and objectives abundantly clear to General Officers of Commands and to Commanders abroad. I have confidence that these will be conveyed to all the Army and pressed with loyalty and vigour. I charge every soldier to apply himself in all those matters where we clearly need improvement but not to be discouraged or depressed by criticisms which are neither founded on truth nor justified in the light of our positive achievements.

G.G. Simonds
Chief of the General Staff

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Canada buys anti-tank missile
Topic: Militaria

TOW missile being fired by the Armoured Defence Platoon of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry at CFB Shilo. Photo by Mr. Doug Devin. From the back cover of the Canadian Armed Forces Sentinel magazine 1977, Vol. 13, Number 2.

Canada buys anti-tank missile

$30 million cost

A TOW missile crew in action during Exercise CARBON EDGE in Germany in September [1976]. (ILC 77-934) Canadian Armed Forces Sentinel magazine 1977, Vol. 13, Number 2.

By the Canadian Press
Ottawa Citizen, 11 January 1974

The armed forces will spend about $30 million on a new anti-tank weapon comparable to anything that was used by either side in the recent Middle east hostilities.

The forces have announced they are acquiring TOW—tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided—an American missile being used by several countries, including Israel.

TOW is a highly accurate, semi-automatic missile system capable of destroying a tank at ranges from 70 yards to about two miles.

Col. Philip Neatby of Regina and Ottawa, director of land plans and of armor in the armed forces, said in an interview Friday that the highly-sophisticated weapon involved a computer attached to a missile by wires.

The forces will start taking delivery in 1975 of 150 of the anti-tank units, which weigh 200 pounds and can be mounted on vehicles, helicopters and on the ground. It will be used by Canadian NATO. forces in Europe as well as infantry and reconnaissance units in Canada.

Announcement of acquisition of the new weapon comes only a short time after the Middle East war focused attention on the tank and anti-tank weapons. Both sides had big losses and there was some talk that the role of the tank was on the way out.

But Col. Neatby said the tank will be very much a part of land forces at least until almost the end of this century.

elipsis graphic

It would not be until the summer of 1976 that the first TOW missiles would be fired in a demonstration at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. By 1977 the weapon system would be deployed with Canadian army units in Canada and Europe.

Members of 2 PPCLI's Armoured Defence Platoon prepare to fire the TOW missile at CFB Shilo. (IW 77-341) Canadian Armed Forces Sentinel magazine 1977, Vol. 13, Number 2.

Sgts George Genge, Marc Bouchard and Peter Anderson compare mock-ups of the TWO missile (background) and the SS-11, which TOW replaces. (GN 76-4807) Canadian Armed Forces Sentinel magazine 1977, Vol. 13, Number 2.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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