The Minute Book
Friday, 16 January 2015

Canadian Navy Plans New Ship (1963)
Topic: RCN


Watch HMCS Brador on Youtube

Canadian Navy Plans New Ship

The Evening Independent; 21 September 1963
Copley News Service

Ottawa, Canada — An ocean-going hydrofoil ship is being developed for the Royal Canadian Navy for antisubmarine defence.

"No country has yet produced an ocean-going hydrofoil," Vice Adm. H.S. Rayner told the Parliamentary Defence Committee, at a recent hearing. "We hope Canada will be the first to do so."

A contract for the hydrofoil R-200, which Rayner called a "very interesting vessel," has been let to De Havilland.

It will be 151½ feet in length, have a bean of 21½ feet and a draft of 23 feet in displacement mode, and 7 1.2 feet when foil borne. It will displace 180 tons and cruise at 16 knots in the displacement mode and more than 50 knots when foil borne. Her crew will be more than 20 personnel.

If successful, the ship should place Canada in the forefront of hydrofoil design and construction, Rayner said. A design for a weapons system for the craft is being worked out.

The prototype is planned to be ready for trials in 1966, and it is expected that it will take eight to nine months to test the craft thoroughly. Weapons and sonar would be installed if the trials are successful, and the navy would decide sometime in 1967 whether to go ahead with a fleet of hydrofoils.

Hydrofoils which the Canadian navy has in mind would operate for seven or eight days at sea, mainly in the displacement mode, which would give them maximum endurance. They would step up to foil borne posture only to go somewhere in a great hurry, as when in contact with a submarine.

The cost of the prototype is estimated at $13 million. Not including money for development of a weapons system.


The Royal Canadian Navy entry on HMCS Brador as presented in Janes's Fighting Ships 1967-68.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Spirit of the Bayonet
Topic: Drill and Training


This photo, which shows the bayonet fighting team of The Royal Canadian Regiment in Bermuda (1915) illustates the seriousness with which this was taken as a military sport. Note the padded suits and protective helmets, as the training rifles with blunt tipped bayonet forms.

"Remember that every Boche you fellows kill is a point scored to our side; every Boche you kill brings victory one minute nearer and shortens the war by one minute. Kill them! Kill them! There's only one good Boche, and that's a dead one!"

The Spirit of the Bayonet

Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, Siegfried Sassoon, 1930

But the star turn in the schoolroom was a massive sandy-haired Highland Major whose subject was "The Spirit of the Bayonet". Though at that time undecorated, he was afterwards awarded the D.S.O. for lecturing. He took as his text a few leading points from the Manual of Bayonet Training.

To attack with the bayonet effectively requires Good Direction, Strength and Quickness, during a state of wild excitement and probably physical exhaustion. The bayonet is essentially an offensive weapon. In a bayonet assault all ranks go forward to kill or be killed, and only those who have developed skill and strength by constant training will be able to kill. The spirit of the bayonet must be inculcated into all ranks, so that they go forward with that aggressive determination and confidence of superiority born of continual practice, without which a bayonet assault will not be effective.

He spoke with homicidal eloquence, keeping the game alive with genial and well-judged jokes. He had a Sergeant to assist him. The Sergeant, a tall sinewy machine, had been trained to such a pitch of frightfulness that at a moment's warning he could divest himself of all semblance of humanity. With rifle and bayonet he illustrated the Major's ferocious aphorisms, including facial expression. When told to "put on the killing face", he did so, combining it with an ultra-vindictive attitude. "To instil fear into the opponent" was one of the Major's main maxims. Man, it seemed, had been created to jab the life out of Germans. To hear the Major talk, one might have thought that he did it himself every day before break fast. His final words were: "Remember that every Boche you fellows kill is a point scored to our side; every Boche you kill brings victory one minute nearer and shortens the war by one minute. Kill them! Kill them! There's only one good Boche, and that's a dead one!"

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 14 January 2015

LAC Research Guides
Topic: LAC

LAC Research Guides

From the Library and Archives Canada Blog, these links to research guides may help you in your ongoing research into the service of Canadian soldiers.:

Guide to Sources Relating to Units of the CEF (LAC Blog link)

The Guide to Sources Relating to Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force is an indispensable starting point for researching the records that document Canada's participation in the First World War. It is a unique finding aid that brings together references to records and files scattered throughout several different archival fonds, which relate to almost every unit in the CEF.

The Guide was originally developed over many years by Barbara Wilson, an archivist with the former National Archives of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada. The guide has subsequently been updated with more recent acquisitions from official records, private papers and diaries, and by many other contributors from Library and Archives Canada. The guide was reviewed and updated with references to the Ministry of Militia and Defence records and daily orders, which are described by Library and Archives Canada as Record Group 9 or RG9.

New Research Guides (LAC Blog link)

Library and Archives Canada has announced two new guides: Guide to Sources Relating to the Canadian Militia, 1855 – 1988 and Guide to Sources Relating to Canadian Naval Vessels, 1909 – 1983. The guides were originally compiled over many years by the late Barbara Wilson (1931 – 2014), an archivist with the former National Archives of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada.

 

Guide to Sources Relating to the Canadian Militia, 1855 – 1988

This guide is an indispensable starting point for researching the records that document Canadian militia units. It is a unique finding aid that brings together, by militia unit name, references to records and files scattered throughout several different archival fonds held at Library and Archives Canada.

Guide to Sources Relating to Canadian Naval Vessels, 1909 – 1983

This guide is an indispensable starting point for researching the records documenting Canadian naval vessels that served with the Royal Canadian Navy. It is a unique finding aid that brings together—by ship's name—references to records and files scattered throughout several different volumes of archival fonds of the Department of National Defence.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2015 7:20 PM EST
Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Medal Sales; it's easy to be critical
Topic: Medals

Medal Sales; it's easy to be critical

I was reading a post on facebook not long ago where someone on a soldiers' memorial site posted a link to an auction for the medals and Memorial Cross to a Canadian airman who died during the Second World War. As often happens, this was followed by a post stating that they "should NOT be for sale. Whoever currently owns these should do everything possible to locate a family member of the deceased and return the medals free of charge," and another that this sale was "Inconceivable …", and that it was "disgusting making money off of them."

In balance, other posters held more moderate views. These posted comments such as "if they are for sale then someone in the family did not want them. It may be better to have them in the hands of a collector who will treasure them more. Later they may end up back with the family or in a museum."

It's easy to be critical of someone else's actions. Offering criticism, either directly or by "innocently" suggesting what "should" be done, costs nothing. One doesn't have to open their wallet to offer criticism. One doesn't have to do anything to offer criticism. Yet by offering such remarks, they portray themselves as speaking from a position of moral superiority, their beliefs being reinforced by comments of agreement from others.

For those who would be critical and feel they need to declare what the seller should be doing instead, I would (and did) offer the following advice:

"If anyone thinks that efforts should be made to find the families connected to medals that are for sale, and believe that the price involved should be sacrificed by the current owner, then feel free to buy them with your own money and conduct that search for the family. Just remember that these medals, in nearly every case, were sold by family members in the first place (and not all to buy bread during the Depression years), so do not be surprised if you later see them somewhere for sale again. Not all families and not all individuals share the same feelings for the historic and sentimental value of these medals as you might. A few would happily take them graciously with one hand and sell them the following week with the other. And if you find several competing "claims" for a free gift of medals from you, how will you choose which descendant, or distant relative in the case of no direct offspring, will you give them to?

In a not unfamiliar trend, comments on the post continued in the vein that the choice of a family member to sell medals was a foreign concept. At face value, this is a well supported sentiment by those who might frequent a Facebook page commemorating soldiers, but it also fails to acknowledge that other views are possible, and equally supportable by those who hold them.

In commenting on this view, I added:

"It's not hard to imagine at all. Some people just don't feel the same way about parts (or any, for some) of their family history. Searches on ebay for "my father's medals" or "my grandfather's medal" will occasionally turn up auctions where the sellers are completely open about passing them along that way. It's also not hard to imagine someone having a father's or grandfather's medals, only to associate them with the pain he might have suffered from injuries seen or unseen. Those medals, for some, may be reminders, not of pride and honour but of pain and suffering, and they want to remove that reminder from their lives. Who are we to determine what justification someone needs to keep medals, or what reasons might be appropriate for medals to be sold by a family member. Many people talk about the freedoms soldiers have protected for us, one of those might be considered the freedom to choose what to do with personal property. Sentimental value, for that is what we are discussing, is a personal choice, not something to be directed, or expected of others.

It's easy to suggest that others should share one's own feelings about medals, or anything else one chooses. Social media sites, like facebook, provide a perfect platform where those of like mind continue to reinforce each others' opinions. But, as a popular book and television series states "words are wind," and leave as little impression once they are past. For those who would decry the sale of medals, and vilify the dealers and collectors, I would ask this:—

"Why aren't you buying them and donating them to museums, or returning them to families? It costs nothing to suggest they should be donated, but is that sentiment strong enough to be worth your money to put into action? Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?"

I have yet to see any grass roots movement to acquire medals to donate them to museums. Perhaps it is because some of those who might do so realize that medals in museums are often lost to public view, the space and money to display them being unavailable. Perhaps some actually realize that collectors do more to preserve and promote the history behind these medals them many museums are able to do. And perhaps some realize that dealers and collectors are willing to back their commitment to preserving history with time, energy and their own hard-earned money.

It's easy to criticize the selling of medals when you offer nothing but words.

I, for one, will continue to collect medals, to research the soldiers that were awarded them, and to add to my regiment's understanding of their service.

For those who would spend their time criticizing my hobby, perhaps you need one of your own.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2015 12:13 AM EST
Monday, 12 January 2015

Canadians on Salisbury Plain (1915)
Topic: CEF

Canadians Obtain Good Experience

Bad Roads help to harden Men for Work in France
Finishing Touches
Discipline Has Been the One failure—Disobedience Well Punished

The Toronto World; 12 January 1915
By John A. MacLaren, one of The World's Staff Correspondents with the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Salisbury, Eng., Dec. 22.—To turn the raw material into the finished product, to make the recruit—with his woeful lack of knowledge of matters military, probably the most important of which is discipline—into a real soldier, authorities have said that nine months of hard training is necessary. In the British regular army a soldier is not supposed to know all the ropes in less than that period. The Canadians have now been drilling for four months, and they believe they are ready to meet the enemy at any time. Their work has been harder than that of a recruit in the British army in times of peace. They have been living under practically active service conditions in the rain and mud of Salisbury, and not in barracks, with two or three weeks in the autumn of manoeuvres, which is the only occasion when the British regulars get a taste of what war may be like. So after our months, on account of the great emergency, the Canadian volunteers who have had to undergo untold hardships, may be almost as well equipped for genuine fighting as the an who spends nine months picking up the rudiments of the game in barracks.

There is much talk of the force going to France in the latter part of January, or five months after the call to arms was sounded throughout Canada, and if this should occur it will not come as a surprise but as a relief. The long waiting and suspense will be over.

Stand the Strain

There appears to be every indication that the finishing touches are being applied to the training course. It is recognized that the men are physically fit. Their muscles are hard, and working during such bad weather has placed them in splendid condition.

The old system of double company formation instead of platoons is now working smoothly, and officers, who were rather green at first, are handling their men with greater confidence and success. The reason for discarding the platoon formation was that it did not work satisfactorily in France. Right here it may be said that the men in harness in England getting ready to fight are taught to a great extent, according to wrinkles found in the firing line. The platoon system would not have been dropped had it not been found unwieldy in France.

There is a certain soldier greatly admired in England. He wears a blue and white ribbon on his sleeve. This is a sign that he has returned from the front on furlough. While he is in England his short vacation is not one entirely one of leisure. In many instances he is found teaching the young an idea of what he himself learned first hand. In the Canadian camp a few of these men have been giving instructions to those who are getting ready. For example, in the important matter of digging trenches they teach the Canadian the width and the depth of trenches and other valuable things in the use of the spade. It has been said that next to the gun the spade is winning this war. At all events the Canadians are taught how to dig trenches properly. These ditches zig-zag here and there across the downs, an indication of the industry of the men who may soon be performing similar work in France.

Leave Cut Off

As has been pointed out, I a cable all leave will be cut off after January 1st. One would imagine that this order would disappoint the men. But not so. It has had the other effect. The Canadians believe that it means a early departure, and that is what they want.

Some new equipment has been added to the force. Four or eight new machine guns will be used in each battalion, and each officer of a machine gun squad has been taking instruction on their use. The quick-firers are somewhat different from those formerly used. This type of weapon has been recognized as a great factor in the war. Capt. McKessock of the 48th Highlanders, Toronto, who practiced law in Sudbury for years, and Lieutenant Macdonald of the Queen's Own are both officers in command of machine guns. This branch od the service has proved very fascinating, if the large waiting list in any criterion.

Poor Discipline

One of the most difficult tasks confronting commanding officers is teaching their men to obey. There has been a lack of discipline apparent and this undoubtedly is due principally to the fact that neither Canadian officers nor men are professional soldiers. But there has been a great tightening up, and the men are gradually learning that it pays to obey. The penalty for disobedience is strict. Not long ago a man received his pay and went over to the canteen. He didn't come back for a week, for after visiting this little wooden hut where beer is served, he journeyed to London. When he returned he got thirty days in a military prison. It was his second offence. When the contingent first arrived here overstaying leave was quite common. But this has all changed.

The Canadians—many of them—salute only when necessary. They look upon this form of exercise as an inconvenience and unnecessary except when they meet one of their own officers. But, as in many other things, they are quickly learning to do the proper thing—to pay respect to the rank. British officers are sticklers for etiquette, consequently the British rankers are always very proper.

The other day General Pitcairn Campbell, commander of the Southern Command, while walking along a Salisbury street, passed a couple of westerners. They did not salute him. The general wheeled around and shouted, "Hey, hey, why the devil don't you salute me?"

No answer.

The Canadians immediately came to attention and saluted very briskly.

"You're not supposed to salute with one hand in your pocket," said the general to one of the offenders. "See that you salute an officer hereafter," and then the general and the two miscreants, which nerves were greatly on edge, parted company. The Canadian were thankful that nothing further occurred.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 11 January 2015

How the Legion Halls are Failing
Topic: Commentary

How the Legion Halls are Failing Todays Veterans

Michael M. O'Leary

The Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) continues to promote itself as the voice of the Canadian veteran in dealing with the Government and other national agencies. Despite the upsurge of splinter veterans' groups, admittedly the result of so many ex-service members being made to feel unwelcome in Legion halls because they were not official "big 'V' Veterans" under the old rules, the RCL continues to dominate the discussions that influence change, Many of those splinter groups are represented, at the media face of their operations, by angry representatives whose vitriolic speech achieves little but a hardening of the bureaucracy to not be held hostage to empty threats and bombast.

But the Royal Canadian Legion has its own problems. Most significant among these is the disconnect between the institutional goals of the RCL to support and help veterans, and the local goals of Legion branches to sustain brick and mortar Legion halls and their perpetual schedules of dart and euchre tournaments, fish fry dinners, and how to keep the lights on over the horseshoe pits. Increasingly, these Legion branches have been run by committees with no (or very few) ex-serving members among themselves or, in some cases, among their membership at all.

Many Legion branches have reached the point where they have little connection to, or understanding of, the needs of younger veterans as individuals. Most of the veteran care initiatives they have brokered over the past few decades have been geriatric care issues. This lack of connection is especially so in regard to young, newly released (or even still serving) soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women). Much of this disconnect comes from a failure to understand what the Legion hall did in its original conception, and how that served the veterans who frequented them in the early days of the institution.

As anyone who has been watching the explosion of on line discussions about actually helping and supporting new veterans will realize, the most valuable resource they need and capitalize on is effective communication. This is not communications with existing veteran organizations, or with Government agencies, it is communications among themselves. Nothing has changed from the days when their grandfathers and great-grandfathers returned from the wars of their respective generations.

Many of the Legion branches across Canada trace their roots to the years after the First World War or the Second World War. They were formed by local veterans who, by sheer demographic participation, were present in platoon and company and battalion sized groups in large and small towns across the country. I use those specific terms for their groups intentionally. In the First and Second World War, it was most likely that men who knew one another enlisted together. They joined the same units, trained together, and served together. They came home to the same towns, having shared the same experiences, having lost the same friends, and were there to remember and to represent that service and loss to the families of their friends whose sons, brothers and fathers did not return. The evolution of the Legion halls was a natural formation of structure around the soldiers, sailors and airmen with shared service who found comfort and communication among themselves, Their connection was not that they had served, but that they had served together.

Today, new veterans don't join the Legion, and the Legion doesn't really understand why. Legion executive members without military service see the Legions as "places where veterans gather" and have no personal experience to understand the essential context of shared experience which leads to the needed levels of inter-communication between veterans. Those executives confuse what the Legion halls became over 60 or 80 years with what their original purpose in supporting returned veterans was. What the modern veteran needs, the current Legion branches with their halls and bars cannot provide.

So, what are the new veterans doing? They are seeking and developing ways to communicate, with each other. Not just with other veterans, but with the veterans they served with, the same benefit those veterans of the World Wars found in their hometown Legion halls with the fellow Legionnaires that they served with. The new veterans are building, in the online environment, exactly what their predecessors used to have. The existing Legion halls have no role in the way this informal communication network is evolving. In fact, the way the new veterans are building their own virtual groups is completely foreign to most of the current generation of Legion executive members and only by radical change will the Royal Canadian Legion be able to repurpose their facilities to serve the new generation of veterans.

The new veterans aren't looking for bars, they're probably the first generation of veterans that widely understand that taking your hurting friend to the bar is probably one of the worst options in assisting him in getting help. They also aren't looking for halls, those Legion branch halls that grew out of the need for the original Legionnaires' children and grandchildren to have a place for wedding receptions, and to have dances and expanded games events for married Legionnaires as the Branches changed from close-knit veterans support groups into community service clubs. The new veterans are looking for what the original Legion veterans had before worrying about paying an over-extended mortgage on a dilapidated building became the executive's biggest worry.

In the 1920s, an ex-soldier might go to the Legion hall after work on Friday, and sit at the bar next to the guy he shared a trench dugout with for over three years in France. In the 1950s, his son went to the Legion hall and sat beside the guys he crewed a tank with in Normandy. Today's veteran walks past the Legion hall in southwestern Ontario, because he knows his fire team partner went back home to Prince George, British Columbia, and they will possibly never have a weekly chat together in person. He also knows that no-one in that hall can fill that role in place of his fire team partner. So he goes home, logs into the internet and asks his buddy on facebook or by email how he is doing, and sends along one of the photos he took of that friend sleeping against a mud brick wall in Afghanistan. They connect, they talk, they check up on one another, but the current Legion hall has no role because its current format does not serve their needs.

Want to revamp your branch's Legion hall? Sit down with a few of the new veterans (you know the ones, some of them are barely out of their teens) and ask what they'd like to see. It may be time to tear down half your bar and install a modern coffee facility, and train your bartender to be a decent barista. Ask how they talk to their fellow soldiers, the ones they served with that now live a thousand miles away. It may be time to install a wifi network, add internet terminals in quiet rooms, and video conferencing capabilities that let them see each other and talk to one another, or even to play video games with each other across that digital divide (because they are not going to be joining your euchre league any time soon). Build communication networks, ones that multiple veterans in Legion halls across the country can use to share a discussion. Facilitate the communication they are seeking, don't presume to be the people they want to talk to. In this way, there's a chance for the RCL to provide what the Legion halls did for past generations, but it needs the realization that the bar was a place to sit and talk; it was not a purpose in itself.

Today's veterans aren't looking to immediately become the new generation of blue-jacketed Legionnaires at Remembrance Day ceremonies. But they do have the same needs as the veterans of the 1920s and 30s, and of the 50s and 60s. They need to be able to talk to each other as the most important capability the RCL can provide them. The challenge comes from the fact that they don't live in the same towns the way those earlier generations of veterans did. But that's ok, the means and technology exist to support their needs. All it will take within the Royal Canadian Legion is the will to make it happen, both at the institutional level and in the individual branches across the country.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 11 January 2015 12:08 AM EST
Saturday, 10 January 2015

Shifting Ordnance Competition (1876)
Topic: Drill and Training

Dominion Artillery Association
Competitive Practice

Militia General Orders; Ottawa, 15 December 1876
Published in the Canada Gazette

Circular 14—Shifting Ordnance competition.—Open to all Garrison Artillery corps affiliated with the Dominion Artillery Association:

A 50 cwt S.B. [smooth-bore] Gun mounted on a wooden garrison carriage (sights removed) to be dismounted by an Officer or N.C. Officer with a detachment of 20. The gun is not to be dismounted by throwing it off the side of the carriage, or overturning the latter sideways; which would be likely to damage it. After dismounting, the gun is to be remounted on its carriage by parbuckling on a single skid, and a round of blank ammunition fired. The detachment dismounting and firing in the shortest time to be declared winner. Any mistakes in drill to be corrected by the umpire, and the time so lost will count against the detachment which must work by numbers, and keep silence; 10 seconds will he deducted for every word spoken by any one of the detachment, except the commander.

Stores and side arms to be arranged on the ground before the word "commence" is given.

Stores allowed:—

  • 1 long parbuckling skid 20 feet 8 x 8;
  • 2 parbuckle ropes;
  • 1 short skid 6 x 9;
  • 1 short skid 4 x 4;
  • 1 12-ft. lever;
  • 8 6-ft. handspikes;
  • 6 scotches;
  • 2 skids to receive the gun on the ground.

For the competition, men must be in uniform, but tunics may be unbuttoned and belts removed.

Prize: Gold embroidered badge, and "Hand-book, for Field Service," for the commander of the winning detachment; $20 for the detachment."


In accordance with the above circular;

  • "B" Battery G.A. competed on the 28th November, 1876 — Time 7 minutes.
  • "A" Battery G.A. competed on the 28th November 1876. Time 1 minute 33.7 sec.

The following Dominion Artillery Association Prizes were therefore distributed as follows :

  • To Staff Sergeant Swaine "A " Battery G.A. in command of the successful squad, a Gold Embroidered badge of cross skids and Hand-book for Field Service.
  • To the successful competing squad of "A" Battery G.A. a sum of $20.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 9 January 2015

Army Restructure (1968)
Topic: Canadian Army

Restructure of Army Combat Groups Means More French Canadian Units

The Montreal Gazette; 20 August 1968
By Larry McInnis (Staff Writer, The Gazette)

Formation of four combat units in Canada meant little more than a redesignation of Infantry brigade groups in Calgary, Petawawa and Gagetown, but Valcartier, the 5th Combat Group of French-speaking units will mean a substantial "shot in the arm" to the Quebec City economy.

Each of the combat groups will be composed of two infantry battalions, an armored regiment, an artillery regiment, and supporting units.

The 3rd Combat Group at Gagetown, for example, was formerly the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, and was made up of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch) of Canada (infantry), the Royal Canadian Dragoons (armored), and one of the four regiments of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery — plus the usual support elements.

The new new designation does not change this structure, except that each of the infantry battalions will now have three rifle companies instead of four, and the armored and artillery regiments will have two instead of three squadrons of batteries.

In Valcartier, though, the situation is quite different. In the past, it has been the home of three battalions of the Royal 22nd Regiment. And one of these has always been on duty overseas, in Germany or Cyprus.

At a press conference last Friday Brigadier-General Roland Reid, who will command the new combat group, confirmed that the existing strength of personnel in field units at Valcartier will increase from approximately 2,500 to 3,500 with formation of the new armored and artillery regiments.

At a rough guess, this increase will mean an additional $6,000,000 annually pumped into the Quebec City area economy as the result of wages alone.

Brig-Gen. Reid also confirmed that there would be a need for expanded permanent accommodation to correspond with the increase in troops strength.

Asked to put an estimate on the value of new construction, Brig-Gen. Reid said that although planning was underway, it was not far enough advanced to make a monetary estimate at this time.

The fact that an armored regiment is part of the new combat group will mean additional expenditures in preparation of adequate tank-range facilities. This is the first time that an armored regiment will be based at Valcartier.

Perhaps it was with a tank range (and artillery firing range) in mind that the Department of National Defence expropriated enough land just a couple of years ago to triple the size of the Valcartier training area. Although the residents of Shannon protested at the time, the expropriations stood, and while those expropriated didn't suffer financially, contractors are bound to benefit greatly over the next few years.

Equally important as construction in the fact that he formation of new units in Quebec marks the first time that there have been any real changes in the military structure in the province for a good many years, other than the usual change of names and roles of various units.

The new armored regiment — 12e Régiment blindé du Canada — will be equipped with the new Lynx reconnaissance vehicles that are currently being brought into service to replace the antique Ferret scout cars.

The Lynx is a first cousin of the M-113-A1 armored personnel carrier used by the infantry, so the maintenance problems should be simplified.

The establishment calls for a regimental headquarters squadron, three reconnaissance squadrons and a helicopter squadron. Due to the economic situation and peacetime restrictions, one reconnaissance squadron and the helicopter squadron will not be activated.

Choice of the name of the armored regiment is also interesting. During the Second World War, the Three Rivers Regiment (now called the Régiment de Trois Rivières) was designated the 12th Armored Regiment, and it is the Three Rivers Regiment that is being perpetuated.

Régiment de Trois Rivières is a Militia unit (armored) based at, naturally enough, Three Rivers. Brig-Gen. Reid surprised everyone, including many senior officers, at his press conference Friday when he said that the reserve unit has been called the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada (Militia) since may. All the glory of the reserve unit, including its battle honors and flags, will become property of the Regular element of the unit.

Officers at the conference only smiled when it was suggested that the name choice came because General Jean-Victor Allard, Chief of the Defence Staff, is from Three Rivers and in the fall of 1966 he was honored by the city with a presentation of historical documents of the area, and honored again in a long ceremony staged by the Régiment de Trois Rivières.

Gen. Allard, the first French-Canadian to command not only the land forces of Canada but all the forces, started his military career in Three Rivers.

The new units is described as a light armored regiment, with its primary role as reconnaissance. Realistically, however, it will be equipped not with any new, light tanks, but with the aging Centurion.

The artillery regiment will fare a little better. It will be equipped with the L-5, Italian designed 105 mm, howitzer. The new weapon is air portable, and so fits in well with the overall mobility plans of Mobile Command, which controls all the new combat groups. The Lynx, also, is easily adapted to air transportation.

But the Centurion …

The infantry battalions will suffer somewhat also. They are being trimmed from four to three rifle companies, primarily because it is expected that quite a few personnel now serving in the infantry units will transfer to the new armored and artillery units.

Besides that, though, only one of the three companies in each battalion will be equipped with the M-113-A1 armored personnel carriers. The other two will be motorized rather than mechanized, and will travel in trucks.

As one battalion commander pointed out, this does not mean that one company will be designated custodians of the carriers. All troops will be trained and practiced on them. And as far as training is concerned, he said, the new system will mean that personnel can be rotated on a man-for-man basis with personnel serving with the 4th Canadian mechanized Brigade Group in Germany, whereas in the past it required entire units for rotation.

Across Canada, the whole concept means a trimming down of establishment to fit the personnel available.

In Quebec, the approach is equally practical, but perhaps in a different direction.

Of all the young men joining the Canadian Armed Forces, 27 per cent come from French-language homes. However, the retention rate is so poor that of all those serving at present, only 15 per cent have French as their primary language.

The new combat group of French-language units, it is hoped, will reverse this trend and entice not only more French-Canadians to join the service, but will entice them to stay in. Another factor, of course, is that the working language will be French for the greater part of most careers, and families can attend French-language schools in Quebec.

In May, 1968, when the news that the French-language units would be formed (The Gazette, May 8, 1968), there was a lot of hard feelings in other parts of Canada, and particularly in the Maritimes. The issue was bitterly fought out in Cabinet before the 25 June election, and apparently those who favored the new system, such as Defence Minister Léo Cadieux, won out. There has been little comment or criticism since.

As yet it is hard to put a complete price ag on the benefits which will accrue to the Province of Quebec, but considering accommodation (military and private), development, construction projects, supplies, and that many, many other services required by the military from civilian sources, the cash amount pumped into the province should be substantial indeed, perhaps as high as $15,000,000.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 8 January 2015

Topp Commands the GGFG (1926)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Governor General's Foot Guards on parade, 1927.

Colonel Topp Now Gazetted O.C. of Guards

Col. R.F. Parkinson Goes to Reserve of Officers After Four Years at Head of Crack Regiment
Mentioned for Brigade Command before Long
New Commanding Officer Serving With Distinction During Great War

The Ottawa Citizen; 12 April 1926

C.B. Topp

C. Beresford Topp was born in Bracebridge, Ontario. He served in both the First and Second World Wars and was wounded three times in the First, when he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and bar and the Military Cross and bar as an officer of the 42nd Battalion, CEF (Royal Highlanders of Canada). For his services in the Second World War he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. He became commandant at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, during WW II. He was secretary of the Pensions Appeal Board from 1924 to 1935 and a member of the pensions commission from 1956 to 1964. Upon his death in 1976 he held the rank of Brigadier- General.

Lt.-Col. R.F. Parkinson, D.S.O., for the past four years the commanding officer of the Governor General's Foot Guards, ceases to command that regiment as from October 4 last, and major C.B. Topp, D.S.O., M.C., is promoted to Lt.-Colonel commanding the regiment.

Lt.-Col. Parkinson has completed the prescribed three years in command and an extra year by request. He thus automatically goes on the reserve list, is slated, it is understood from unofficial sources, for a brigade command in the neat future.

Lt.-Col. Parkinson has completed twenty-five years in the active militia of Canada, having enlisted first in the Collegiate Institute Cadet Corps of Woodstock, Ont., and later the 22nd Regiment, Oxford Rifles. On coming to Ottawa, he was given a commission in the 43rd Regiment Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles, in which corps he had attained the rank of captain in 1914 with the command of “F” Company.

On Active Service

At the end of 1914, when the 38th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was being organized in Ottawa, he was appointed captain and had the responsibility of organizing and mobilizing “A” Company of that unit, the recruits for which came largely from the 43rd Regiment.

Later, in the field, he filled the posts of company commander, with the rank of major, adjutant and second-in-command of the 35th Battalion, and after Vimy Ridge, 1917, commanded the battalion at various times in 1918, and in September of that year he was appointed to the personal staff of Canada's minister in England, Sir Edward Kemp. At the same time in addition to secretarial duties he became director of the Canadian War Records in succession to Lord Beaverbrook.

In Command G.G.F.G.

Lt.-Col. Parkinson returned to Canada in 1919 and was demobilized in June of that year. He was mentioned in despatches in June, 1917, and June, 1918. also being awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1918.

The colonel actively identifying himself with the reorganization of the Governor General's Foot Guards in 1930, was, on October 4, 1921, gazetted to command the crack regiment of the Capital. After serving the prescribed three year term he was requested, in view of past service, to accept a year's extension, the expiration of which now marks the change in command.

While he commanded the regiment the Governor General's Foot Guards established a record among Canadian regiments for rifle shooting, winning, in addition to the majority of team prizes at the big rile shooting competitions, such individual wins as the King's Prize and the Governor General's Medal. In addition the regiment secured more places on the Canadian Bisley team than any other single unit.

It was during Lt.-Col. Parkinson's regime that the regiment celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Guards' New O.C.

Lt.-Colonel C.B. Topp. D.S.O., M.C., new commanding officer of the Governor General's Foot Guards, was, at the outbreak of the war, a member of the editorial staff of the Toronto Mail and Empire. He proceeded to France with the first Canadian Division as a war correspondent. Shortly after his arrival in France he resigned from the staff of the Mail and Empire in order to join the fighting forces. After receiving a commission as a lieutenant he became an officer of the 42nd Highlanders of Montreal and served with distinction with that unit during 1916, 1917 and 1918, having the honor to command that famous battalion at various intervals, including the final days of the great struggle. He was wounded three times, and for his conspicuously gallant services was awarded the D.S.O. and the Military Cross and bar in additions to being mentioned in despatches.

Returning to Canada, Lt.-Col. Topp assumed charge of the Returned Soldiers' Branch of the D.S.C.R., and organized this important undertaking and remained in charge of administration until the period during which the returned soldiers' insurance was being given was ended. He then became secretary of the Federal Appeal Board, holding this post at the time of his present appointment.

At the present time in addition, he is an acting commissioner of the Federal Appeal Board.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Good Conduct Pay (1906)
Topic: Pay; the Queen's shilling

Good Conduct Pay

Canadian Militia; Regulations Affecting Pay and Allowances
Canada Gazette; 5 May 1906

Service Chevrons (1906)

The Quebec Saturday Budget,
6 January 1906

In order to provide a means of distinguishing those men under the rank of sergeant, and who have served continuously in their corps for three years, and has re-enlisted therein for a second period of three years of similar service, there will be issued to each a service chevron of one bar to be worn when in uniform (on the left arm below the elbow) during the period of re-enlistment.

An additional chevron of one bar will be issued, to be worn similarly, to those who re-enlist for further service, after completion of each period of three years.

147.     Acting bombardiers, lance corporals and men under those ranks shall be paid good conduct pay at the rate of twp cents per diem for the first, three cents per diem for the second and four cents per diem for the third year of service to be issued at the termination of engagement; and on re-engagement for a further period of three years shall be paid good conduct paay at the rate of five cents per diem for the first, six cents per diem for the second and seven cents per diem for the third year of re-engagement; issuable as above.

The latter rate, viz:—seven cents per diem, shall be continued without further increase to those who re-engage for a further period. (Para. 1003, R. & O., 1904)

148.     The issue of good conduct pay shall be, however, in any instance, dependent upon the service being continuous, dating from first enlistment in the corps. (Para. 1004, R. & O., 1904)

149.     Good conduct pay for three months, at the rate paid during the year, shall be forfeited for each entry against the individual in the Regimental Defaulter's Book (Para. 1005, R. & O., 1904)

150.     Hereafter, subject to the above provision, good conduct pay may issue for broken periods, completed prior to expiration of enlistment or re-engagement in cases where men are discharged by purchase or are physically unfit for service. (Para. 1006, R. & O., 1904)

151.     Men discharged on termination of period of enlistment or by purchase or otherwise, and subsequently re-enlisting in any branch of the permanent force, may reckon previous service for good conduct pay on the following conditions:—

(1) That he acknowledged his former service at time of re-enlistment; (2) that he was, when discharged, in possession of two good conduct badges; (3) and that he re-enlisted within one year of discharge. (Para. 1007, R. & O., 1904)

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Dry Canteens (CEF)

General Orders; 1915

Headquarters
Ottawa, 1st April 1915

General Order 43
King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1910 — Amendments

The following is added as Paragraph 954 a:—

Dry Canteens

1.     The establishment of dry canteens for each unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and also for each unit of the Active Militia during the period of training is authorized.

2.     These canteens are to be organized, administered and carried on under the supervision and direction of the officer commanding the unit, or a committee appointed by him. They are to be inspected daily by an officer, and once a month by the commanding officer the unit, or n officer appointed by him, at which inspection the books, accounts and vouchers, and also an audited cash statement are to be submitted.

3.     These canteens are to be maintained solely for the use and benefit of the unit and are not, on any account, to be sub-let or handed over to any other person or persons. They are to be managed by a member of the unit and no one else is to be employed in connection with the canteen unless he is an enlisted soldier of such unit. Any profits arising from these canteens are to be applied for the use and benefit of the non-commissioned officers and men of such unit.

4.     Garrison, Regimental or Corps Regulations governing such canteens, and also the hours of opening and closing of the same will be published in regimental or corps orders for the information of all concerned.

5.     The provisions of Paras. 950-954 inclusive, K.R. & O. 1910, will apply, as far as practicable, to all dry canteens established under the authority of this order.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 5 January 2015

New Emergency Kits for Seamen (1943)
Topic: RCN

New Emergency Kits for Seamen (1943)

Include Rum, Cigarettes
British Tell How to Scare Sharks

Ottawa, Jan. 22.—AP—The Royal Canadian Navy, which recently issued an emergency ration container to provide torpedoed seamen with concentrated foods and water for a number of days, announced today the production of a supplementary kit to help them battle the elements while on lifeboats and rafts.

Into each kit, with which each liferaft, boat and float is to be equipped, goes 35 ounces of rum, 180 cigarettes in a waterproof package and large-head fusees, or "wind matches" to light them. A waterproof flashlight, a highly polished mirror for day signaling, a clasp knife, fish hooks, lines, sinkers and trolling spoon, field dressings for injuries, jellies for treatment of burns and five tines of "canned water."

At the same time the British Government in London issued a booklet of instructions to seamen on how to save their lives if torpedoed at sea.

Besides advising them to jump feet first over the lower side to avoid fracturing the heels on the keel or receiving bad injuries from barnacles, the booklet told how to swim through burning oil to avoid bad burns.

"Jump feet first through the flames," it said. "Swim as long as possible under water, then spring above the flames and breathe, taking a breast stroke to push the flames away, then sink and swim under water again."

The booklet dismissed the danger of sharks in five lines. They may rub themselves against the lifeboat, it said, not to overturn the raft but to rid themselves of sea lice. They can usually be scared off by vigorous splashing.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 29 December 2014 10:18 PM EST
Sunday, 4 January 2015

The TEWT-O-GRAF
Topic: Drill and Training

The TEWT-O-GRAF

A mechanical aide memoire for Tactical Exercses Withour Troops (TEWT) developed by Major A.D.M. Matheson, Royal Canadian Dragoons (later Colonel A.D.M. Matheson, OMM, CD).

Click the cropped images below to open a larger scan of each side of the TEWT-O-GRAF.

ALTTEXT

ALTTEXT

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 4 January 2015 12:07 AM EST
Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Farrier Sergeant's Whiskey
Topic: Humour

Officers of the Governor-General's Body Guard. Humboldt, Saskatchewan. [1885] "L. to r. standing: Maj. Dunn, Lt. Col. G.T. Denison, Capt. Denison, Lt. Merritt. Seated: Quartermaster Charles Mair, Lt. Fleming, Surgeon Baldwin." (1972-270; LAC; C-002594)

The Farrier Sergeant's Whiskey

Soldiering in Canada; Lt.-Col George T. Denison, 1900

[The farrier sergeant] came to me one day [during the 1885 campaign] with a requisition for some horse medicines, for I had no veterinary surgeon, as ours had left Canada just before we started. I looked over the list of things ordered, and forwarded it to Colonel Jackson at Winnipeg. The farrier sergeant told me to mention a particular druggist in Winnipeg, who had furnished us supplies before we left; I did so. Before the box, or large case of medicines, arrived I had a slight suspicion in my mind that he might send a little liquor with the medicines.

When the box arrived, addressed to me and marked veterinary supplies, I said: "Put that in my tent." Major Dunn was with me. I opened it and found some dirty-looking bottles marked colic drenches, regular horse medicine to all appearance. I drew the cork of one bottle, poured a little of the contents into a tin cup, smelt it, tasted it very carefully and passed it to Major Dunn. He tasted it, looked at me and said: "The d—:—d thief." I ordered a parade of all the men, put the farrier sergeant under arrest and the box in front of the line of men. I took the bottles one by one, opened them, generally by knocking the necks off, poured a little into a tin cup and called out the men whom I thought were experts and would know whiskey and not object to it, and would hand them the cup and ask them what it contained. They would say "That is whiskey, sir," and I would empty the bottle out upon the ground. I went on for a number of the bottles, calling up different men and giving them about a glass each, so as to have evidence that it was whiskey. Among others I called Sergeant Patrick Macgregor, who had been in the 13th Hussars, and was a splendid swords-man, and an equally good judge of whiskey, from an experience gained by drinking all he could get.

I poured out a fairly good glass for him, he drank it solemnly and I said "Well, Macgregor, what is it?" "Colonel," he replied, "if I am to take my solemn oath before a court, I would not feel safe to do it on such a small taste as that." I poured out another good glass and he drank it slowly, looking up now and again and taking sips and evidently enjoying it, and everyone laughing at his wise and solemn expression, until he finished it. He then felt himself over the waist, straightened himself up with an air of satisfaction and said very seriously: "Yes, Colonel, that is whiskey, Iam ready to go before any court and swear to it. And what is more, it is devilish good whiskey."

I poured out eighteen bottles in this way and also a gallon or two of alcohol which was in a tin case, and when all that was out, all the medicines left in the box could have been put into a teacup. The farrier sergeant begged me to let him leave the corps and not to have him tried for the fraud. I thought the simplest way todeal with him was let him go, so we got him into plain clothes and started him back to the East.

The fame of this incident spread all through the North-West. Such a thing as spilling liquor was unheard of, except by the Mounted Police, and they were not keen to do it, and I am afraid my reputation in all that country was not improved by the story. I telegraphed to Colonel Jackson to stop the payment to the druggist, and wrote a full report. I am afraid that this sort of thing was done a good deal in ihe campaign, and that I only let in one little ray of light. The result of this was that I got the reputation of being very severe, and one who would destroy liquor like a fanatic id I heard of it.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 2 January 2015

The Art of Command
Topic: Leadership

The Art of Command

By; A.C.K.; published in the Sabre and spurs : the regimental journal of Lord Strathcona's Horse (R.C.) Cadets. Vol. 1, no. 1 (1933)

"Is command an art?" will perhaps be asked by some who feel that nothing can be easier than giving orders. Anyone, however, who thinks so, ignores the fact that the only man capable of command is the man who has learned to obey, and that an order is only justified, if, under the circumstances of the case, it was absolutely necessary. Even then, it can only be approved if it be unobjectionable both in matter and manner.

Every order places the subordinate to whom it is given in a position of constraint to which he willingly submits without any question if he recognizes the necessity for it, in such a case obedience is not a servile submission, but the free gift of a free man, but he complied with an order unwillingly it it is dictated merely by the pleasure of giving orders, or the desire to magnify one's own importance.

Fondness for domineering leads to tyranny and incites insubordination; it does no good but compromises discipline. We can see this in thousands of cases in the army, where there are superior officers who compel the willing obedience even of insubordinate men, while there are others to be found who make even the best men refractory.

Only the man who himself knows how to obey, who has learned from personal experience how grievous an inopportune or superfluous order can be, and how inexpressibly hard it is, in such a case, to resist the impulse to revolt, only such a man will avoid blunders when he is himself in a position of command.

We should always keep this fact before out eyes; we want a cheery and willing, nor a slavish servile obedience. It is the first alone which conduces to happiness in the regiment, ensures a firm unshaken discipline and inspires men to heroic deeds in action. It is the first kind of obedience alone, which acts educationally and forms the character.

Another serious drawback involved in a mania for giving orders is that all independence, all initiative, and all love of responsibility on the pay of subordinates are killed. Modern conditions require thoughtful leaders trained to be independent, and self-restrained men, capable, from devotion to their officers and their regiment, of proving their firm will to conquer even when their leaders are absent.

Good leaders and good men are not produced by orders, superfluous in themselves, and beside the mark; but we undoubtedly do get them if we give no more orders than are absolutely essential, and if we praise every independent action, even if it be not altogether apt or appropriate. In such a case what is wrong must be reproved, but not severely, not sharply, not in the form of censure, but only in the way of kindly instruction.

No man likes to be found fault with, but everyone is willing to accept instructions, and does better another time. The man who has cause to fear fault finding, forswears initiative. With regard to the form of an order, it should be borne in mind that only a definite distinct order, as short as possible, in which not a needless word is said, and which cannot be misunderstood. Every superior who finds that he has been misunderstood should first look for the fault in himself; if after careful consideration, he finds that it was not his fault, then, and not till then, he may take his subordinates to task.

We learn most from mistakes and misunderstandings, and it is therefore well to let them run their course. Untimely interference, repeated orders and such like, produce instead of trustworthiness, independence, and initiative which should be our aim, a feeling of insecurity and uncertainly which destroys all willing ness to accept responsibility.

This much is certain, that superior officers who give their subordinates…everywhere it is possible to do so…the independence which is their due, and even demand such power of initiative from them, will never be left in the lurch.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Sergeant Major's Welcoming Address
Topic: Drill and Training

The Sergeant Major's Welcoming Address

Sergeant-Major Rafuse's standard welcome to new recruits at Camp Aldershot, beginning around 1939.

A cartoon sketch from an earlier war, but showing the same spirit of presence that Sergeant Major Rafuse undoubtedly strived to maintain.

He spoke, "My name is Clifford Rafuse." Then, taking his swagger stick and touching the crown insignia on his arm, he would say, "I am a Sergeant-Major. You will not address me as Clifford, Cliff, Rafuse, sir, hey you, or any of the foul names you really think of me in your pea-sized brains. I am a Sergeant-Major – here, in the shower, in the latrine, in my drawers, in my pajamas, or when I am dead. I am, and always will be Sergeant-Major Rafuse to you. If you pumpkin-heads see me on the street twenty-five years from now—and most of you won't survive this training to live that long—I will still be addressed as Sergeant-Major by you. Do you understand that?" Then bellowing again, he demanded they scream an answer: "Yes, Sergeant-Major."

He would then go on: "I'm not your mother; I won't tuck you in bed; and I won't be your pal. I will make you bleedin', sloppy, unwashed, useless, pudgy loafers who thought this army was a holiday camp into battle shape. I shall turn your pudgy asses into such shape that you will have muscles in your defecation. Some few of you who fooled your way through some little school may think you are smart and will think you will fool me because you know the ABC's! You will not fool me; you are not smart. And when I say "jump", you say "How high". When I say "defecate", you say "Yes, Sir, and what colour, Sir?. I shall make you baggy, civilian lot of unwashed, sloppy, buggers into cleaned, shined, well-spoken, and obedient battle-ready troops. Or … you will suffer a fate and terror worse than heck.

"Your Mother can't save you. Nobody is tougher than I am. I am tougher than any Kraut you ever encounter. Even the Padre is scared of me. I'll march you, drill you, train you, punish you, and toughen you into soldiers. Don't talk back; don't complain, even to the Padre; because my words will even bring tears to his eyes. Now tighten up those soft pudgy asses, pull in those sagging chins, and suck in those baggy guts. Hands by your sides with thumbs down the seams of those potato-bag looking trousers.

"Like this," as he demonstrated, "and when you get that right, we'll take you ladies to a lovely King's breakfast of such quality you'll be glad when we let you work in our kitchen. Our next present to you slobs will be a visit to His Majesty's barber so as you can get that bleedin', mangled, lady-length, dirty, bug-infested civilian hairdo cut off. You will then, at least, not look like a bleedin' civilian, with a filthy mat on your head. Now fall out, ladies, and form up for the cookhouse. MARCH – quickly, before I lose my f…n' temper"

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Where the War-Dead Rest
Topic: Remembrance


Holten Canadian War Cemetery

Where the War-Dead Rest

The Beauty of the War Graves Commission Cemeteries

The Evening Citizen; Ottawa, Ont.; 6 November 1948

The well-kept beauty of the Canadian military cemeteries in Northwest Europe is a tribute not only to the care and skill of the Imperial War Graves Commission, but to the people of the surrounding areas. Writing in The Legionary, organ of the Canadian Legion, Major Colin McDougall, Canadian army photographer who visited Europe last summer, describes what he saw.

At Holten in eastern Holland, where lie men killed in the last stages of fighting in Holland and Germany, soil conditions were not right for landscaping, and in the past two years the weather has been bad. Yet the seed grass sown has now grown into a lovely lawn. Lying amid rolling country, the setting with its growths of Scots pines and a profusion of purple heather, reminds visitors of parts of Scotland.

The district is used as a holiday resort, and each day during the season hundreds of visitors enter the cemetery to view its 1,300 graves. At the head of each grave flowers bloom, and all around the flowers is the soft grass.

Similar scenes may be viewed at Groesbeek, also in Holland, where the cemetery, situated on a hilltop, overlooks the Rhine and the Hochwald, which Canadians will recall as the scene of particularly bitter fighting in February, 1945, when the drive to smash the northern flank of the Siegfried line was launched; and at Beny-sur-Mer and Bretteville-sur-maize in Normandy. At the former, one can see the English Channel over which the invasion fleet sailed to France, while the cemetery at Brettville is associated with the straight road from Caen to Falaise, scene of one of the bitterest struggles in Canadian Military annals.

The Imperial War Graves Commission plans to replace the crosses that now mark the graves with headstones, each with a Maple Leaf and a cross engraved on it. The Commission, which acts on behalf of, and is financed on a pro rata basis by all the Commonwealth governments, has kept in mind the overall simplicity and uniformity of design which is desired in these burial grounds. The caretakers it engages are veterans who approach their task with a sense of dedication.

Assisting the Commission is the National War Graves Committee, formed by the Dutch people. Through this committee many families and institutions in Holland have adopted allied graves on their soil. They visit the cemeteries regularly, to lay cut flowers on the graves, to pay homage to and pray for the men buried there. Many correspond with Canadian relatives of the dead, and inform them of the care received by the graves of their loved ones. And in Norandy, the people have similarly interested themselves in the Canadian cemeteries.

Besides visiting the cemeteries where rest the dad of the Second World war Major McDougall spent a brief time at Ypres, Belgium. Here at the Menin Gate each night Belgian veterans sound the Last Post in memory of the 50,000 men of the British Empire who perished in the Ypres Salient in the First World War. Damage to the area caused in the last war, is now being repaired. Workmen are restoring the historic Gate to its original perfection. Beside the new Cloth Hall built on the site of the old, some of the ruins have been left standing.

Each of the Canadian cemeteries was visited last summer by General H.D.G. Crerar, war-time commander of the First Canadian Army, while he was a member of as special Canadian mission which attended the coronation of Queen Juliana of The Netherlands.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 30 December 2014

MARBLEHEAD STORM 12; The Brigade Staff War Diary
Topic: Forays in Fiction

This is Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC (1833–1913). In the late Victorian era, Wolseley was a trouble-shooter for the British Army, he was sent all over the world to "unfuck" things and get them organized. He was so effective at this that the phrase "All Sir Garnet" came to be a euphemism for everything being correct and working efficiently. This story is not about him.

Advisory Note:

This is a work of speculative fiction. Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or headquarters staff is purely coincidental and should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Personal humour filters should be firmly in place before reading and set to highest tolerance levels for maximum enjoyment.

MARBLEHEAD STORM 12
The Brigade Staff War Diary

By: Michael M. O'Leary (copyright 2012)

Who's Who in the HQ Zoo:

The Brigade HQ Staff
Dramatis Personae

Obligatory literary quote to infer author is well-read:

The typical staff officer is the man past middle life, spare, unwrinkled, intelligent, cold, passive, non-committal; with eyes like a cod-fish, polite in contact but at the same time unresponsive, cool, calm and as damnably composed as a concrete post or a plaster-of-Paris cast; a human petrifaction with a heart of feldspar and without charm or the friendly germ; minus bowels, passion or a sense of humour. Happily they never reproduce and all of them finally go to hell. - Anonymous

The Chief of Staff (COS)—a Lieutenant Colonel, supervisor to all the headquarters staff. His mission in life is to make sure that the staff effort is efficient, economical, sensible, and moving in the direction indicated by the Commander's intent. His reality is like herding cats through a dog pound. His is an unforgiving existence, besides riding herd on a curious mix of staff personalities that might actually work better together than anyone might expect, he's also the foil that bears the brunt of dissatisfaction from subordinate commanders who discover that not following the Commander's plan doesn't work well for them. "The Boss," "The Old Man," or just plain "COS," the best chiefs of staff are patient and seldom surprised, they are a calming influence who maintain a steady keel even as others are launching life rafts. An embittered or hostile chief of staff infects the staff with his mood, creating more friction than he resolves.

The G3—Operations (Ops)—an experienced Major, combat arms, with a wealth of experience under the hat he wears to hide a rapidly receding hairline which wasn't genetically predetermined. He manages the day-to-day operations, doing his best to keep diverse unit command personalities happy and moving in concert with the issued plan. He's the Chief of Staff's right hand man in riding herd on the HQ staff and the solver of myriad problems that provide operational friction impeding the Brigade's training goals. Some of that friction comes from outside the Brigade and the G3 can bare his teeth and bite off big chunks. Some of it, however, comes from within, and then he grits his teeth, smiles politely, employs tactful delaying measures, and checks to see if the Chief of Staff is hungry.

The G5—Plans—a grizzled, gruff Major, with a wry sense of humour that few ever see. Usually, a Gunner or a Sapper because they tend to be detail oriented in planning, whereas Infantry officers are too quick to form square and bayonet the naysayers, while Cavalry officers never seem to understand why you need three options when they only plan charges. The G5's long years of experience give him the ability to close most of the loopholes in any Plan before it gets issued for Operations to execute. He's learned that some people will smile and nod while receiving the plan, and then fight their way upstream during execution while blaming the plan for their troubles, no matter how well it's written. Nothing surprises the G5 anymore, but the potential still exists to deepen his disappointment in humanity when his well-constructed plans go sideways.

The G1—Personnel—a youthful Major from a logistics background and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Always a study in contrasts; is it unknown to science how someone with such an unforgiving job portfolio (i.e., all the Brigade's personnel management problems) could actually smile so much. Yet, the G1 perseveres. A logistician, she may play second fiddle to her combat arms peers in the perceived pecking order, but gives no leeway when it's her turn to run an administrative sausage machine. The others know it's time to back away slowly after she loses patience with their sluggish combat arms minds.

The G4—Logistics—seemingly, the youngest Major of the four, though perhaps just because he doesn't bear the crushing weight of responsibility that they claim to. He, however, smiles at their claims, knowing well that "amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics." He also knows that no-one will recall later if the timings for a range got screwed up, but everyone will know who to blame if the rations are short. Logistics by trade and appointment, he also brings in a sense of adventure only a buoyant young officer from la belle Province could provide (because every Anglo staff needs its stranded Franco officer). His quick smile and eager readiness to cooperate with his peers may be hiding a deep uncertainly about their sanity.

The Public Affairs Officer (PAO)—a Captain—one of those odd positions that is seldom actually filled by a Public Affairs Officer, thank God! The incumbents seem to shift between two stereotypes. The first are young captains who dedicate themselves to following the PA guidance, even if most PAOs seldom seem to. The second are crusty old staff captains, who ignore the detail of the PA guidance and still produce credible staff work out of long habit. The advantage to either of these out-of-trade officers is that neither is going to try to explain to the COS how the operational plan has to change to match the public affairs intent.

The Adjutant—a Captain—vastly experienced on both sides of the commissioning divide, she's a stern and caring mother hen who keeps the paperwork flowing for the command cell and keeps the rest of the staff in line. Unafraid to lecture a Major for his overgrown haircut or counsel a Corporal with a personal problem, she's one of the few truly stable people in the headquarters staff. Her calm presence provides a stable point of reference when the rest of the place is heading for hell. But that caring and calm demeanour can only last so long, when the moment calls for it, an old school Adjutant comes forth like a summoned demon. Laying waste within the headquarters with knowledgeable criticism and cutting remarks, she can channel the memory of Adjutants past who have made Generals' blood run cold.

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19 August 2012
CFB Blankville, Camp "A"; EXCON

The day dawned bright, and almost clear, as soft scattered clouds floated over the slumbering Exercise Control (ExCon) staff who skipped breakfast to rest while the Primary Training Audience (PTA) counted heads and issued extra rations in honour of absent comrades. The G3 and G5 bickered over who was more agile at avoiding blame for the snags encountered during the deployment, deciding in the end to redirect all inquiries to the G4 for shits and giggles, while simultaneously cranking the G1 into a frenzy over nominal roll totals. Confusion reined outside the wire, as the sub-unit that decided to change bivouacs complained about the absence of shitters in their new location, and sections shrunk steadily as uncountable heads revealed the gaps in the multitude of attendance promises made by units in weeks past. Confusion may have existed, but it was not the white hot dysenteric failure that reputedly caused a sister Brigade to stand down for a day to unfuck their own efforts to launch an exercise in the beautiful vistas of CFB Pandastan. All in all, Day 1 was a success, as the Reservists achieved their best efforts at what they excel; the reorganization of a collection of arriving personnel and equipment into a training organization ready and capable to pursue the best level of training goals they could. As the day drew to a close and the creatures of the night (raccoons and, allegedly, recce forces) occupied the battlespace, the winner of the draw for a three-day all-expenses paid mid-week vacation in Collingwood was announced; sadly it was an unfilled line serial and the tickets mysteriously disappeared. All staff remain alert for the disappearance of any of the section heads for an extended period.

Late morning: tension grows and boundaries are being established. The G5 controls the printer in the Planning Quonset, while the G3 has a firm hand on the coffee urn. The two officers trade barbs, coming to an uneasy truce. The G5 can have coffee if he doesn't spill any in the G3's area, while the G3 can print documents … somewhere else. In the resulting atmosphere of tension, nearby staff wait uneasily for the appropriate time to abandon the camp for lunch.

The G4 shows up at lunch, his first appearance since disappearing "for the Log Brief" after breakfast. His growing boredom without enough to keep himself busy is evident in his call for a movie night in Camp "A". The Adjutant afterwards pronounces him ADHD, though perhaps not in so many words, a diagnosis not refuted by others with any haste.

The weather, unpredictable at best, has been unchanged for most of the day. After lunch a steady downpour traps the staff in the briefing Quonset. Despair sets in as the feelings of isolation increase. The rain stops after twenty minutes. Life goes on.

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20 August 2012
CFB Blankville, Camp "A"; EXCON

We are still here. The COS hasn't been seen in three days. The Adjutant swears. She also affirms that she has ensured that the COS has been fed and watered regularly. She takes credit for keeping him busy with real work and away from the exercise staff. The staff appreciate the fiction and express gratitude, however weakly it is inferred under its veil of sarcasm.

Beyond the camp concertina Brigade soldiers are counting accomplishments as they build tactical teams and prepare for the transition to Mudstone. In Camp "A", the inmates are scratching the numbers of days on the wall of the Quonset, counting sleeps until they can have a hot shower. The G5 starts rationing his own cigarette supply. He eyes the other smokers warily, wondering if they are hoarding theirs; wondering if he can convince the COS to order the collection of scarce supply items. Nicotine addictions can be dangerous things. The G3 laughs at him, calling him weak, and holds the coffee urn tighter.

The G4 continues to be in good humour, which only serves to accentuate the relative misery of those around him. Soon, the other section heads mutter, soon, his new headquarters appointment will suck the joy from his soul too. The G3 is quiet, too quiet, either things are going well, or they are so far off the rails he's afraid to start talking about them. Reports from the field are mixed, some may be incorrect, others may be wrong.

The G5 continues to get increasingly possessive of his corner of the briefing Quonset. We have to watch him when he prowls the room as he tries to determine if anyone has touched his stuff. We are concerned he may start pissing on the bounds of his declared territory, though we will laugh at those who afterwards sit in his folding chairs.

By days' end, the busy-ness of the staff was taking its toll. The Adjutant, a stalwart herder of colonels at the best of time, was near homicidal madness after a long day with one more errant Colonel and his 30 civilian visitors. Returned to Camp "A" after a steak dinner in the Officers' Mess, she was seen to be smiling. We're not sure if it's because she's happy, delirious, or she just saw someone hurt themselves.

Today the Intelligence Terrain Analysis team arrived. It's a small team, consisting of only one damn fine looking Sergeant. He smiles, but that will end, he hasn't been here long. True to form, they executed a terrain analysis of the inside of the Planning Quonset, and summarily took over half of it. After long hours of counter-attacks over the lost ground, his space was reduced to one-quarter of the hut. We smiled as he failed to understand he was next to the G5.

The G5 and G3 continue to snipe at each other. Rumour has it they challenged one another to a duel, but agreed it had to be a non-contact contest. They finally decided on a duel of wit by e-mail, but neither could identify a Second they trusted to proofread their work before it was fired at the other. The lack of connectivity in the Planning Quonset was also considered an obstacle to settling honour between them. In the end, they circled one another in a verbal standoff, facing one another like a stuffed tiger and a bas-relief lion carved in Ivory soap by a maximum security lifer, they postured aggressively but it was activity without influence. The tension between them remains, and continues to be ignored by everyone else.

The staff's day draws to a close as each day does, with the ExCon Coord Meeting. The G5 looks stern, but it doesn't last. The sister brigade is reported to be continuing their state of massive fail, having reportedly climbed inside their own colon and died there. The staff in Camp "A" celebrates. All things being relative, their failure can only make us look better to the General.

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21 August 2012
CFB Blankville, Camp "A"; EXCON

This is the twenty-first of August in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twelve. It is the third day of our estrangement from civilization. We strive to improve our living conditions, but we cannot yet forge iron, grow avocados or make a drinkable cafe mocha. This is the week of our discontent.

The day dawns bright. A black pall hangs over the Officers' Quarters. The G4, gentle soul that he is, accuses someone of disturbing his child-like restful sleep. "J'accuse", cries Bonhomme, to anyone who will listen. Sadly, precedents have been set, one officer having been voted off the island (allegedly for a snoring offence, or offensively snoring, as the case may be) even before the arrival of the main body occupants. Evil grins erupt, the cracks are showing in the G4's armour of joyful expressiveness. Plans are hatched to hide his ceinture fleche, so that no-one gets strangled in the night.

In the Planning Quonset, the G5 sits alone in his corner. No-one will talk to him. He tries raising any of his Observer-Controller staff by radio. He has less success than the SETI program. Life goes on around him.

A bright spot has emerged to illuminate this day. (No, not the sun, I said it was already up.) Showers have been authorized. "Bless us," rises the cry, in hopes that the G3 will be in a better mood once those around him stink less. Perhaps he will smile. It is accepted that the G5 will not smile. Reportedly, he has not smiled since the Leafs traded Gretsky and his own application for political asylum with Gretsky's new franchise city was denied.

The PAO wrestles with his Blackberry, having previously refused to join the smart phone era. He mutters regrets over having issued an exercise News Release in the first place. What reporters don't know of, they cannot ask to visit. He makes plans to drive a stake through the Blackberry's heart before he returns it to its rightful owner, the PAO who selfishly stayed home to bond with his new children instead of facing Exercise MARBLEHEAD STORM 12 like a man.

The G3 and G5 trade pithy barbs. No-one listens anymore. It is rumoured someone asked how long they had been married. No-one laughed. The joke is already old.

The mood in the Planning Quonset calms. The G3 and G5 appear to have made up, they are now chatting with mutual good humour. They're probably plotting one another's untimely demise. They trade stories of "the old army" as they remember it, before women joined the combat arms, when all they were expected to care about was having horses to ride and a regimental band to play in the Mess on dinner nights. (It has now become clear why the Gunner crossed the road … it was to get to the other gutter.)

The G5 describes some of the exercise players, mostly notional, as acting within the scenario under duress. This we can relate to. It becomes apparent that our own training audience has found a way around the limitations of the exercise instructions. Failing to read them, after all, has always been an available Course of Action (COA).

The Intelligence (Int) crew has been reined in. Their intended Motor Rifle Division meeting engagement poised to meet the battle group at the break-in to the Mudstone training area has had to be scaled back due to Opposing Force (OPFOR) limitations. They have no motors, few rifles, and the divisions among them are regimentally stimulated. The enemy, fierce as ever, will be a platoon(ish) sized force (that is, doctrinally, a section plus(ish)). Allegedly there may be ladies among the insurgent force. These could be single-minded fanatics, or hookers, volunteers are being sought. The G5 suggested the G1 could fill either role, but refused to mention it to her. While seeking to identify alternatives, the G4, stiletto heels and face paint were brought up. Everyone was uncomfortable after that. The willing readiness of the Int team to support the exercise is reflected in the support they were offered for weather reporting, which is apparently available for each ten-metre square section of the training area. So, if you don't like the weather you're having, move 33 feet in any cardinal direction for a new weather report.

The G5 continues to struggle with the battle group handling information differently than expected. The guiding principle countering his efforts is set forth by Norman Dixon in the seminal work "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence", in which one of the principles of military incompetence he identifies is "A tendency to reject or ignore information which is unpalatable or which conflicts with preconceptions." Coherent military forces can be shaped, silly putty, not so much. The battle group's coefficients of elasticity and cohesion continue to be observed to determine where they lay on that spectrum.

The G1 reports ongoing fluctuations in arrivals and departures. Exercise attendance numbers creep upwards, glacially slowly. Some units have deployed more soldiers than others. Some have met their forecasts better than others. The opportunity is ripe for the brigade report card to measure both attendance rates, and accuracy in prior reporting. We do all love the brigade report card.

The G4 dropped in to discuss the surprise plan to change the road move. This, unfortunately, would require a change to the environmental assessment and, for any hope of such a change actually occurring, a possible sexual act performed with the Pope. There were no volunteers for the latter, so the plan remained unchanged. In the ensuing discussion, the G4 did reveal to his peers his secret to being a new-generation, relaxed staff officer, which is to delete all e-mails that require scrolling because the sender is obviously incapable of distilling their message into a readable form that fits his attention span.

Waldorf and Statler continue to critique everything, especially each other, from their respective corners of the Planning Quonset.

The G5 posts a wanted poster, offering three packs of cigarettes to anyone who catches the good idea fairy in the exercise yard and shanks the bitch. The scraping sound of toothbrush handles being sharpened on concrete can be heard late into the night.

Rumour Int: Our sister brigade's woes deepen. Their attempts to exercise control themselves out of a pit of despair may have come in conflict with the expectations of other participants and supporting organizations which prefer to play through the set course. (Get on the pony troops; the more it hurts, the more you learn.)

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22 August 2012
CFB Blankville, Camp "A"; EXCON

Inevitably, dawn breaks once again over the slumbering souls of Camp "A." The world has not ended. The exercise must go on.

This is the day the River Styx must be crossed. The ferry man has been paid in advance with sweat, the companies and other sub-units formed into a semblance of readiness; now every piece of the battle group and exercise support staff must complete their small part of the evolution from National Park Blankville to the frigid waters and beautiful shores of a Great Lake. Unfortunately for the troops, it's hard to appreciate the beauty of the scenery when you're breathing pure dust and have eyes blinded by your own sweat. The G3 turns up the air conditioning in his truck to drown out their righteous soldierly grumbling. The G5 continues to tinker with the plan, writing new versions that no-one will read either. The G4 poses in the morning sunlight, his eyes hidden behind his trendy shades.

Military wisdom, such as it is, states that no plan survives past the start line. The plan may not survive, but all hope that the trucks and boats do. What happens inside the new camp boundary is the oncoming test, and even the best steel can break if struck just right. The G5 grins and flexes his stringy biceps, relishing the manly blacksmithing analogy for the plan he has hammered into shape to test the battle group. The battle group ignores him, and rewrites the plan as it advances into the unknown future.

The pack-up of Camp "A" begins. Organizations often have specialties, skills they have mastered beyond the average level of capability. For some Reserve units, that specialty is packing up. Many bases, particularly those staffed by anal-retentive groups of unicorn breeders and other unrealistic people, have such particular expectations of departing units. These may include expecting gold-plated toilets to be left where silver-plated ones were found on march-in, requiring all the pine needles in a bivouac area re-arranged in a fashionable herring bone pattern, or orienting the louvered screens of all the shitters to face the tropical trade winds for most efficient ventilation. To achieve these requirements takes a level of skill mastered by few, but deeply ingrained in those who have been subjected to them. Accordingly, the unnecessary parts of Camp "A" were bundled, stacked, sorted and counted with a determination and attention to detail not seen since the Grinch stripped Whoville of Christmas.

The Planning Quonset went from bustling staff centre to empty hanger in a flash, leaving not even a crumb that would be too small for a mouse. The coffee urn was torn from the G3's hands, the imaginary tape was peeled from the boundaries of the G5's cubicle (this last word only to be said with exaggerated finger quotation marks). The G4 and his staff worked around the clock to fit 30 people into 20 vehicles, revealing in the end the true nature of the G4 staff: "One man, One truck."

The remainder of the Planning Quonset chain gang ventured forth to face new adventures. Mudstone appeared soon enough on the horizon, truly an Army base compared to National Park Blankville, but one with its own pitfalls. Salute the front gate flag when the national anthem plays (a test of situational awareness), two-strap those small packs (lest some base staff Warrant Officer correct you), and watch your speed on those range roads (Range Control has been practicing all summer just to be ready to greet new training audiences with strong admonitions).

Most of our merry band: G3, G5, Adjt, and PAO, hurled themselves forward into the unknown, advancing on individual schedules to all end at Mudstone by nightfall. The G3 monitored the route sign following test, helping each winning team celebrate with a roadside fireworks display. The G5 gathered his flock of wayward infanteers, armoured recce, and sundry others in the woods at a local airport, there to wait for the next stage of their Exodus. The Adjutant came along to keep performing her most critical task, keeping the COS on the straight and narrow. The PAO took a few photos, found the boat launch site (thankfully with the help of a Pukka Sapper Colonel he encountered nearby) and made plans to watch the next day dawn while standing on the frigid bay's rocky shore.

Our protagonists would go separate ways for the next 48 hours, each chasing their own tail in new and interesting ways. Sadly for the tenor of our tale, that emotionally conjoined pair, the G3 and the G5, previously attached at the sarcasm and sharing a single sense of humour, would be apart for hours on end, neither being able to practice their self-proclaimed witty repartee on the other. The frazzling of nerves was the accepted risk.

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23 August 2012
Training Centre Mudstone, The Dreary Building; EXCON

This day started, and somewhat later dawn occurred. By then, too many people were already too tired to care about the artistically soft reddish hues in the Eastern sky, quite unlike the Group of Seven, which never had to carry 80 pounds of kit while they watched the summer sun rise over calm Canadian inland waters and shoreline copses. Although one company of infantry started the day with a pleasant boat ride on calm waters, theirs was not the fate of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Instead, they reached their shoreline destination and everything, although topographically uphill, was all downhill from there.

The PAO continued to cultivate his future media career by escorting a news videographer to the pre‑dawn boat launch. With a face for radio, and a voice perfect for silent films, we expect the PAO to go far in his new career, and hope he goes away to start it soon. Later in the morning he also interviewed live on air with a local radio station. Broadcast after a Led Zeppelin song, the station, mercifully for the sanity of listeners, did not let him sing along. The unanswered question continues to linger, like hazy blue smoke in a dingy 1980s strip club with a one-eyed hooker working the pole with the enthusiasm of a bored monkey; why … why would the COS let a guy with the people skills of an angry rhino talk to the media? This, surely, will go down as one of the mysteries of our civilization.

Amidst the turmoil of altered plans and drifting time lines, the G5 found his Zen. This was the challenge he lived for, one million moving parts, each of which required his constant director's cues to enter the stage according to the script and to remember their lines in an appropriate voice-procedurish manner. In all his glory, his face shining with sweat, his handshake still steady and strong, he strode across the battlefield, master of all he surveyed, and of the lint in his pockets. Under his tutelage, Saint Barbara would have her due.

The G3 grinned maliciously at hearing of his compatriot's trials, or maybe it was gas from his breakfast eggs. Regardless, he tirelessly worked to coordinate his end of the game, and also his escape plan in case disaster actually struck. Sadly, that plan was foiled by the G4 who laughed heartily when he reviewed the administrative request for "Batmobile, times one."

The G5 is found on the first enemy objective by the PAO. In the absence of the expected battle group rep in the grid square, the G5 graciously agrees to be filmed, recorded for posterity. He readies himself, practicing his lines under his breath as he inhales renewed life force through burning tobacco. At last, his face still glistening with sweat from charging about the training area with fierce determination, he turns to the camera, fixes his gaze on that lens and says: "Ladies, I am the man your man could smell like … don't look at him, just look at me ..."

The day drags on with the efficiency of a thick rope being pushed by the G5. Try as he might, even with the assistance of other staff, each heave on the hawser reveals new kinks, random interactions of forces, and unexpected changes of direction. Damning the nautical analogies as he gazes out over the quiet waters of the bay, the G5 raises his "God Gun" with a threatening look at anyone who meets his steely gaze. In the wilderness, assisted by a hearty band of misfit OCTs, the G5 tries to shape a battle that refuses to cooperate. Try as he might, the force of will of one stern looking Gunner cannot command thought and free will of others. And we won't let him use HE.

The G1 and the G4 have arrived in Mudstone. Each leap into action, the G1 renewing her efforts to count every soldier in sight, and then to sort them so many ways that each is placed into a unique and special category. The G4 asks that his category simply be labeled "special and unique." No-one disagrees.

The G4 drives forward like a prize-winning Canadian Forces Trucker, studying the requisite actions to separate the Brigade from Mudstone with a clean break and minimal hurt feelings. Having his feelings minimally hurt, that is. He seeks ways to return or, alternatively, to hide, destroy or sell vehicles, weapons and equipment with the best intentions of creating a material management smoke screen so dense he will be posted long before it clears. His first loyalties and objectives remain firm; these being to stay out of the COS' special projects gunsight, and getting himself home to a refreshing bath and a stiff cosmopolitan.

The staff settles into a new routine. The discomfiting lack of computer connectivity in Blankville has been replaced in Mudstone by more Army computers than people who want to use them. After almost a week of isolation, they throw themselves at the opportunity to send one another e-mails and retreat from that uncomfortably unpredictable spoken system of communications.

The reports from the field are mixed, the operational picture is confused. The staff has ceased caring; they have reconciled themselves to waiting to assist the G5 in recovering from his MARBLEHEAD STORM 12 PTSD. Priorities are shifting faster than the assignment of blame for Happy Hour shenanigans as each new detail is revealed. The Adjutant and the COS debate the Change of Command seating plan, doing their best to guess how many COs, Honoraries, and sundry hangers-on will require designated seating. The Adjutant prints hundreds of signs reading "YOUR NAME." She giggles fiendishly as she imagines saying to each invited guest, "Right this way sir, I have a seat with 'Your Name' on it for you."

The day draws to a close, sliding into night like a rat slipping into a sewer. The lack of interest in where it has been is only overshadowed by the lack of interest in where it is going. Darkness descends on our merry band as they await the sage wisdom of the G3 and the G4 in their nightly comedy routine. We all love late night coord meetings.

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24 August 2012
Training Centre Mudstone, The Dreary Building; EXCON

This is the day. The finale. The denouement. This day will dawn over the final attack, closing the tactical portion of the exercise and leading by day's end to another ending. As one Commander stands down to be replaced by a new Commander; the staff will bow low, murmuring "The King is Dead, Long Live the King." As the new Commander rises from the ashes of the signing ceremony, they will whisper, "I hear his middle name is 'Awesome'."

But first, Objective HUMMER. The staff rush to fulfill background responsibilities as the battle group prepares to strike. The PAO brings along the news video guy, showing once again that a crusty old grunt can be trusted to talk to civilians. The Adjutant plays mother hen to that most fickle of flocks, visiting COs and RSMs and Honoraries, all come to watch the war.

The G3 leads the watchers to their aerie, his control of the exercise already slipping to the G4 for the wrap-up and return to home garrisons. A gleam of megalomania has been seen shining in the G4's eyes, but all are willing to deny that there's any danger. He reminds them that "amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics." The others tell him to just make sure the buses are on time. The G1 prepares to count down her numbers of soldiers as they depart this slice of heaven on a Great Lake shore, as she looks forward to seeing the total near zero with a smile. She's probably imagining each of them disappearing in a puff of smoke as her white board dispassionately records their departures.

The G5 strides across the final objective. Wrapped in acrid white smoke he appears not like a god, but a man with a "God Gun," choosing to kill or revive as the whim strikes. In an amazing coincidence, that striking whim is in harmony with the needs of the evolving training. His calm determination contrasts with the camouflaged shapes leaping from first-floor windows to cross the danger zones between buildings. Some are like graceful athletes, others demonstrate somewhat less coordination, but all move with equal determination. The End Exercise signal beckons, like a Siren singing to sailors on a rocky shore, and the soldiers all plunge forward into the unknown; maze-like buildings with all the décor and atmosphere of square-cut caverns.

Finally, the buildings are occupied by the friendly forces. The staff breathes a deep sigh of relief as the successful conclusion is announced. Some of them may be no closer to having a stiff drink, but the sense of impending need for one diminishes slightly. A surprising number of soldiers appear from buildings and, those that aren't among the piles of bodies where approaches intersected with beaten zones. The OCT God Guns resurrect soldiers by silencing their squealing weapons' effects harnesses. The troops start to unload ammunition and clean weapons in an almost zombie-like state as the adrenaline seeps from their bodies. Exhaustion is a universal silencer.

The Adjutant releases her flock to visit with the troops. Soon she will usher them away, for there is much work to be done, by the soldiers. The G3 and the G5 congratulate one another on a successful week, as they describe each week when neither of them lands in cells. The COS is happy, despite his dour look, and all can rest on the ride back to ExCon where new tasks await immediate attention. There may be no rest for the wicked on earth, but staff officers will write memos in hell for all eternity because there isn't enough time on earth to punish them for their misdeeds.

As the end of our tale draws near, our valiant band of senior staff hope to live happily ever after, deluding themselves during that brief period of mixed exhaustion and sense of achievement. One exercise is behind them, another one, and many other tasks, are ahead of them. The COS magnanimously tells the senior staff to take two days off … Christmas and Boxing Day … of 2015.

The Frontenac Times


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2017 11:12 PM EST
Monday, 29 December 2014

No Better Soldiers
Topic: CEF

The soldiers of some countries have too much discipline. Some haven't enough. Some are brutal and some are soft. But the Canadians seem, to have about the right blend of discipline and democracy, dash and cool-headedness, of citizen and soldier.

No Better Soldiers

The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ont., 26 August, 1942
(William Philip Simms in New York, "World-Telegram" and other Scripps-Howard newspapers in U.S.)

Washington, Aug. 21.—That the smashing raid on Dieppe was a success (sic) came as no surprise to old-timers here when told that the 10,000 Commandoes who took part were largely Canadians. (NOTE: This article was writen within days of the Dieppe raid, at a time when any mention of the results of the operation would not have passed the censors.)

If the Canadians did not invent that kind of warfare, they most certainly were the first to make use of it during the first World War. Subsequently they developed its technique to such a point that it came into common use.

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Early in 1915, near Festubert, the Germans threw up a road block supported by a network of trenches which very much annoyed the Canadians opposite. These happened to be the Seventh Battalion, under a young major by the name of Victor Odlum. He worked out a plan to put an end to the nuisance, got it approved and carried it out with brilliant success.

What Major Odlum started is still going on, only it is blossoming into something bigger. I recall watching Canadian and, later, British units rehearsing a coming raid. Behind the lines they would mark out with white tape the exact trench formation they intended to invade, then practice on it daily until they could do the whole show blindfolded.

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Similarly they made life miserable for any Germans that gor into no-man's-land. They did not regard the space between their trenches as nobody's. It belonged to them. They patrolled it regularly, and woe to any hostile patrol they happened to encounter. So skilled did they become that they were seldom caught napping. They did the surprising.

The senior officer commanding the Dieppe raid was Maj. Gen. J.H. Roberts of Kingston, Ontario, and every Canadian air squadron in the area was in the umbrella protecting the raiders. But down under, in Australia, there is at least one man who may be excused if he reads about the Dieppe raid with envy. He is the Canadian High Commissioner, Major Gen. Victor Odlum, the major who staged the raid at Festubert in 1915.

It is nothing new for Canadians to be good soldiers. There are none better anywhere. During the first World War nothing made me prouder than to hear Allied generals compare out doughboys with the Mapleleafers and be told that ours were just as good.

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The soldiers of some countries have too much discipline. Some haven't enough. Some are brutal and some are soft. But the Canadians seem, to have about the right blend of discipline and democracy, dash and cool-headedness, of citizen and soldier.

I was with General Watson's Fourth Canadian Division when it took Regina Trench, in the Somme, in 1916. I saw the Canadians later at Mount St. Eloi, Sanctuary Wood and at Vimy when they stormed the crest of that chalky eminence and made it British for the duration.

It was with them still later, in Flanders, as the rains turned the whole plain into a quagmire. The tanks bogged down in the undrained fields. Strong men drowned in water-filled shall-craters which could not be seen beneath the surface of the muck. Countless wounded choked to death as they fell unconscious in the bloody mud. But Sir Douglas Haig needed Passchendaele, on the comparatively dry ridge east of Ypres, and asked the Canadians to give it to him. And they did.

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Near Lens, I saw a Canadian soldier rescue a mongrel dog abandoned by the Germans in a booby-trap dugout when he might have been blown to bits at any moment for his pains. Moreover, the dog, hungry and terrified by what it had been through, did its best to tear the soldier to pieces. Later it became a company pet named—of course—Fritz.

In the first World War the Canadians were sure-fire trench raiders and trouble-shooters. Where the going was hardest, there they were.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 28 December 2014

New Role For The Militia (1959)
Topic: Canadian Army

New Role For The Militia

The Montreal Gazette; 25 March 1959

The development of long-range missiles is forcing a drastic reorganization of the world's military forces.

The long-range missile means that in all-out was No-Man's-Land would be 5,000 miles deep and the front line on each side would be at home, the industrial centres which would be an enemy's prime targets.

In recognition of this fact the Canadian Militia, like the British home forces, has been given an increasingly larger responsibility in the preparation and organization of Civil Defence. For several reasons, the term Civil Defence, particularly in reference to the Army's role, is incorrect.

"I think it is unfortunate that the term civil defence should have been chosen to define this part of what is essentially passive military training …," said Lieutenant-Colonel Julian Benbow, commander of the Royal Canadian Hussars, in 1957, when the change in training had been introduced. Colonel Benbow explained that half the militia training was on the military role in civil defence, half on normal military functions.

"This new training that we have been called upon to undertake can be interesting," said Lieutenant-Colonel Benbow, "and should not have any adverse effect on the keenness of all members of the unit."

The militia's new role, as outlined by Prime Minister Diefenbaker this week, would include warning of attack, location and monitoring of explosions and fallout, assessment of damage, decontamination, clearing of affected areas and rescue of injured in such areas. Special equipment is being supplied militia units for such work.

This is similar to the reorganization of the reserve air force, which is being re-equipped to act as an emergency transport service. Both the militia and the air force reserve will be available for civil emergencies, as well as military.

Since the Second World War, the militia has been trained with Second World War weapons; now it is being given a job as modern as a ballistic missile. That job, as the Prime Minister outlined it, is a part of Civil Defence that might well be called Nuclear Survival.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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