The Minute Book
Friday, 13 February 2015

Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose
Topic: Leadership

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team hiking up a muddy French road in the Chambois Sector, France, in late 1944. – "442 regimental combat team" by US Army - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose

"Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose," by Major Richard M. Sandusky, U.S. Infantry, Candian Defence Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 3, April 1939

Your stereotyped commander will insist on discipline though he lose morale. The true leader of enduring fame seeks rather the spirit of his men, knowing that when he has this he has all.

Little is taught of such [moral] leadership in our military instruction. We lay great stress on sound strategical and tactical objectives-a frontier, a city, a river, a ridge line. We are interested in things. The army cannot attack until the railroads deliver so many trains of ammunition, so many tons of rock. But morale is assumed to flow constantly as from a spigot. Sometimes it does, and again it doesn't. When the supply of morale is depleted, the stockage of depots and refilling points becomes relatively unimportant. That army cannot win. The spiritual ammunition train is empty.

Our map problems however, fail to emphasize this truth. No student, heedful of the marking committee, would attack a corps with a single division. But if his force had superb morale and if the enemy had none, any real leader would succeed either on paper or in war, because he had the high courage and the prophet's vision to estimate the spiritual as well as the material situation.

It may be difficult to evaluate intangible factors and to establish their coefficient with the physical. But is this any reason for ignoring them altogether, especially when they outweigh so definitely all other considerations? The map-problem room of today becomes the command post of tomorrow. So long as military students are trained to think in terms of numbers and size alone, we shall have an abundance of commanders but no real leaders. For they will have no course in the tactics and technique of moral forces.

Too often and too long has the human factor been allowed to shift for itself. It is in this field, more than any other that, by self-inflicted wounds, we weaken our potential power and fail to produce genuine leaders. If we think of psychology at all in military human relations, it is, in most cases, a warped and outmoded psychology which does not fit at all the problems of leadership of today.

In the end, the methods of leadership are good to the exact extent that they encourage human devotion and co-operative response. Nor is there conflict between discipline and morale. Without discipline an army is a mob; without morale it is a hollow shell. Possessing both, it is invincible. Your stereotyped commander will insist on discipline though he lose morale. The true leader of enduring fame seeks rather the spirit of his men, knowing that when he has this he has all.

The Senior Subaltern

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

Canadian Army Field Rations
Topic: Army Rations

Combat Ration Program

Excerpted from Food and beverage consumption of Canadian Forces soldiers in an operational setting: Is their nutrient intake adequate?; Pamela Hatton, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGiII University, Montreal, September 2005

CR    Combat ration
CRP    Combat Ration Program
DRI    Dietary Reference Intakes
IMP    Individual Meal Pack
LMC    Light Meal Combat

Canadian combat rations are shelf-stable foods designed and developed to meet military members' physical and dietary requirements, while incorporating Canadian cultural food preferences as well as common preferences of the military members. As a primary alternative to a freshly prepared meal, combat rations are used when it is not feasible or practical to serve fresh rations. Specific training or exercise purposes, rapid-response emergency situations and when over-riding practical considerations preclude the use of fresh food necessitate using combat rations. Combat rations are designed for healthy Canadians who do not require special therapeutic dietary needs and are not subject to food allergies, food intolerance or food sensitivity. The meal components offer common foods based on Canadian eating patterns (DND 2002).

The food components of the Combat Ration Program include Individual Meal Packs, Light Meal Combat, arctic and tropical supplements and survival packets. The Individual Meal Pack (IMP) is shelf-stable for three years and identified by meal (breakfast, lunch and supper). The intent of the IMP is to provide a nutritionally adequate diet, including sufficient energy and other nutrients for up to 30 days without supplementation with fresh rations. Ali components of the IMP are prepared or require limited food preparation or reconstitution. The retort pouch packaging of the main entrée allows eating the contents unheated or heated in boiling water or by body heat. Eating the entire three meals per day provides between 3600 to 4100 kcal. Macronutrient composition ranges between 35-65 g of protein, 188-282 g of carbohydrate and 18 to 62 g of fat per complete meal (DND 2002).

The Light Meal Combat (LMC) component supplements IMPs when arduous activity or severe weather conditions warrant extra energy intake. The LMCs can also substitute for IMPs for a maximum of 48 hours when the situation precludes carrying, preparing or disposing of IMP components. The LMC menus range between 1300 to 1471 kcal with 25 to 33 g of protein, 25 to 39 g of fat and 213 to 256 g of carbohydrate per package (DND 2002).

In extreme climatic conditions, the arctic supplement or the (tropical) ration supplement can provide additional nutrients, energy and fluids (DND 13/1272002). The starch jelly composition of the basic survival packet provides emergency sustenance for two days. The air survival food ration consists of the basic survival food packet and hot beverages for a period of three days. The Maritime survival ration includes two jelly food packets and a fresh water ration providing emergency sustenance for five days (DND 2002).

elipsis graphic

Recommendations for adequacy

The nutrient density of IMPs needs to be increased, to ensure that all dietary reference intakes (DRI) can be met. Too often, foods contributing significant nutrients are not necessarily identified as high nutrient sources as seen in the "top ten foods" table (Table 8). By offering the IMPs and LMCs together, the total nutrient profile of the combat rations improves with potential energy at ~5500 kcal, fibre at 36 g and potassium at ~5000 mg. As seen with the extent of discarded or "stripped" foods before going to the field, simply increasing the quantity of menu offerings does not translate to consuming enough food. Individuals choose what they think they need and do not necessarily make appropriate choices. As a result, a majority (78%) of Exercise Narwhal subjects did not meet the target amount of ~580 g carbohydrate/day for military manoeuvres (Jacobs, Anderberg et al. 1983; Jacobs, van Loon et al. 1989). The reality of soldiers discarding or "stripping" rations needs addressing. Since many potential nutrients are thrown out, such as the rarely consumed potatoes, rice and puddings, these nutrients need replacing with foods that soldiers will eat under operational requirements.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Topic: Humour


Canada in Warpaint, Capt. Ralph W. Bell, 1917

No man is a hero in the eyes of his own batman. He knows everything about you, even to the times when your banking account is nil. He knows when you last had a bath, and when you last changed your underwear.

This war has produced a new breed of mankind, something that the army has never seen before, although they have formed a part of it, under the same name, since Noah was a boy. They are alike in name only. Batmen, the regular army type, are professionals. What they don't know about cleaning brass, leather, steel, and general valeting simply isn't worth knowing. They are super-servants, and they respect their position as reverently as an English butler respects his. With the new batman it is different. Usually the difficulty is not so much to discover what they do not know, as what they do! A new officer arrives at the front, or elsewhere, and he has to have a batman. It is a rather coveted job, and applicants are not slow in coming forward. Some man who is tired of doing sentry duty gets the position, and his "boss" spends anxious weeks bringing him up in the way he should go, losing, in the interval, socks, handkerchiefs, underwear, gloves, ties, shirts, and collars galore! What can be said to the wretched man when in answer to "Where the is my new pair of socks?" he looks faint and replies: "I've lost them, sir!" Verily, as the "professional" scornfully remarks, are these "Saturday night batmen!"

Yet even batmen are born, not made. Lucky is he who strikes on one of the former; only the man is sure to get killed, or wounded, or go sick! There is always a fly in the ointment somewhere. The best kind of batman to have is a kleptomaniac. Treat him well and he will never touch a thing of your own, but he will, equally, never leave a thing belonging to any one else!

"Cozens, where did you get this pair of pants?"

"Found them, sir!"

"Where did you find them?"

"Lying on the floor, sir," with an air of injured surprise.


"I don't justly remember, sir."

Voice from right rear: "The Major's compliments, sir, and have you seen his new pants?"



"Give me those pants … Are those the Major's …"

"Yes, sir, them's them."

Cozens watches the pants disappear with a sad, retrospective air of gloom.

"You ain't got but the one pair now, sir." This with reproach.

"How many times have I got to tell you to leave other people's clothes alone … The other day it was pyjamas, now it's pants. You'll be taking somebody's boots next. Confound it. I'll—I'll return you to duty if you do it again! … How about all those handkerchiefs? Where did they come from?"

"All yours, sir, back from the wash!" With a sigh, one is forced to give up the unequal contest.

Albeit as valets the batmen of the present day compare feebly with the old type, in certain other ways they are head and shoulders above them. The old "pro" refuses to do a single thing beyond looking after the clothing and accoutrements of his master. The new kind of batman can be impressed to do almost anything. He will turn into a runner, wait at table, or seize a rifle with gusto and help get Fritz's wind up. Go long journeys to find souvenirs, and make himself generally useful. He will even "bat" for the odd officer, when occasion arises, as well as for his own particular boss.

No man is a hero in the eyes of his own batman. He knows everything about you, even to the times when your banking account is nil. He knows when you last had a bath, and when you last changed your underwear. He knows how much you eat, and also how much you drink; he knows all your friends with whom you correspond, and most of your family affairs as revealed by that correspondence, and nothing can hide from his eagle eye the fact that you are—lousy! Yet he is a pretty good sort, after all; he never tells. We once had a rather aged subaltern in the Company whose teeth were not his own, not a single one of them. One night, after a somewhat heavy soiree and general meeting of friends, he went to bed—or, to be more accurate, was tucked in by his faithful henchman—and lost both the upper and lower sets in the silent watches. The following morning he had a fearfully worried look, and spake not at all, except in whispers to his batman. Finally, the O.C. Company asked him a question, and he had to say something. It sounded like "A out mo," so we all instantly realised something was lacking. He refused to eat anything at all, but took a little nourishment in the form of tea. His batman was to be observed crawling round the floor, perspiring at every pore, searching with his ears aslant and his mouth wide open for hidden ivory. We all knew it; poor old Gerrard knew we knew it, but the batman was faithful to the last, even when he pounced on the quarry with the light of triumph in his eye. He came to his master after breakfast was over and asked if he could speak to him. Poor Gerrard moved into the other room, and you could have heard a pin drop. "Please, sir," in a stage whisper from his batman, "please, sir, I've got hold of them TEETH, sir! But the front ones is habsent, sir, 'aving bin trod on!"

The biggest nuisance on God's earth is a batman who spends all his spare moments getting drunk! Usually, however, he is a first-class batman during his sober moments! He will come in "plastered to the eyes" about eleven o'clock, and begin to hone your razors by the pallid rays of a candle, or else clean your revolver and see if the cartridges fit! In his cups he is equal to anything at all. Unless the case is really grave the man wins every time, for no one hates the idea of changing his servant more than an officer who has had the same man for a month or so and found him efficient.

Not infrequently batmen are touchingly faithful. They will do anything on earth for their "boss" at any time of the day or night, and never desert him in the direst extremity. More than one batman has fallen side by side with his officer, whom he had followed into the fray, close on his heels.

Once, after a charge, a conversation ensued between the sergeant of a certain officer's platoon and that officer's batman, in this fashion:

"What were you doin' out there, Tommy?"


"And why was you close up on his heels, so clost I could 'ardly see 'im?"

"Follerin' 'im up."

"And why wasn't you back somewhere safe?" (This with a touch of sarcasm.)

"Lord, Sargint, you couldn't expect me to let 'im go out by 'isself! 'E might ha' got hurt!"

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Two Sorts of Discipline
Topic: Discipline

Two Sorts of Discipline

The Soul and Body of an Army, General Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., 1921

Once more, there are two sorts of discipline, distinct in principle although sometimes they may overlap in practice.

The one is born in coercion and sets the soldier outside the ring of homely sentiment which surrounds the ordinary citizen from his cradle to his grave. … Coercive as the old discipline may be, it by no means despises the moral factor. It tries to make a religion out of something very near and real, yet, at the same time, high, intangible, romantic — the Regiment! …

The other sort of discipline aims at raising the work-a-day virtues of the average citizen to a higher power. It depends:

(1)     Upon a sense of duty (res publica).

(2)     Upon generous emulation (force of example).

(3)     Upon military cohesion (esprit de corps).

(4)     Upon the fear a soldier has of his own conscience (fear that he may be afraid).

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 9 February 2015

Fighting Spirit
Topic: Leadership

Infantrymen of Lieutenant D.S. Barrie's platoon of The Highland Light Infantry of Canada relaxing during a rest period, France, 20 June 1944. Location: France. Date: June 20, 1944.
Photographer: Ken Bell. Mikan Number: 3205673.
From the Library and Archives Canada virtual exhibit "Faces of War."

Fighting Spirit

Notes From Theatres of War, No. 10, Cyrenaica and Western Desert January/June 1942; The War Office, October 1942

The following is a precis of a short "talk" prepared by a platoon commander in the Middle East before starting a period of intense training. It is reproduced in these Notes as it expresses the true infantry fighting spirit, mental state of determination, and ruthless aggressiveness which must form the foundation of all training, and without which we shall never destroy our enemy.

"From the start this morning I want to make one thing clear. The object of this training is to give you confidence in your ability to carry out any task asked of you.

"The first essential is discipline, the second aggressiveness. You have got to train yourself to think and to act hard, toughen yourselves up bodily and mentally, and start right from this moment. At all times you must be keen and alert. Think about, and live, your job always.

"Most of you have played games at one time or another and you no doubt always followed the code of sportsmanship. Well, now is the time to forget it. You are up against a ruthless enemy who has no code of sportsmanship or honour; he is a trained killer, capable and sure of himself, in perfect physical condition, and all out from the word 'go.' We must beat him in his own style. Blow for blow is no good, you must give him two for every one received. In this war you must kill to exist—that's your motto—KILL TO LIVE.

"You men at the moment are fit, but not fit enough. You are going to be taught fighting, wrestling, and unarmed combat. Throw yourself body and soul into all your work, for physical fitness is the keynote of all your operations.

"Finally, remember, to enable us to play our particular part in this war, we must have aggressiveness, fitness, keenness of mind, and a cold, callous, hard-fighting nature."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 8 February 2015

A Cavalry Charge
Topic: The Field of Battle

A Cavalry Charge

Scarlet Fever; A Lifetime with Horses, John Cusack, MM, and Ivor Herbert, 1972

It was every cavalryman's ambition to get into a charge and use his sword. That was what I had been trained for, for nearly ten years, and here was a damned farrier getting into one instead of us. No wonder he felt so pleased with himself!

…I also found my old friend Farrier-Sergeant Bert Turp in a state of extreme happiness and excitement. He told us: 'I've just been in a cavalry charge!'

We all laughed at him, frankly disbelieving him, but it was perfectly true, and here, over fifty years later, is his own account of what happened:

…'Shortly before noon our patrols reported that German infantry were advancing from some woods about 500 or 600 yards away on our flank--a perfect cavalry situation, with infantry in the open.

'A major of the 10th Hussars gave us the order to draw swords and to hold them down along our horses' shoulders so that the enemy would not catch the glint of steel, and we were told to lean down over our horses' necks. A moment later, we wheeled into line, and then, with a loud yell, it was hell for leather for the enemy!

'We had of course been taught that a cavalry charge should be carried out in line, six inches from knee to knee, but it didn't work out like that in practice and we were soon a pretty ragged line of horsemen at full gallop. We took the Germans quite by surprise, and they faced us as best they could, for there can't be anything more frightening to an infantryman than the sight of a line of cavalry charging at full gallop with drawn swords. I cannot remember if I was scared, but I know that we were all of us really excited, and so were the horses. The Germans had taken up what positions they could in the open, and I remember seeing three or four machine guns, and each of them seemed to be pointing straight at me as they opened up!

'Men and horses started going down but we kept galloping and the next moment we were in amongst them. Oddly enough, at this moment of the real thing, I remembered my old training and the old sword exercise. As our line overrode the Germans I made a regulation point at a man on my offside and my sword went through his neck and out the other side. The pace of my horse carried my sword clear and I then took a German on my nearside, and I remember the jar as my point took him in the collarbone and knocked him over. As we galloped on, the enemy broke and ran and I gave a German a jab in the backside which couldn't have hurt him much but which sent him sprawling. We kept galloping and, circling the woods on the far side, we halted while some of the 3rd Dragoon Guards who had got round to the flank cleaned up what was left of the enemy.'

That was the closest I ever got to being in a cavalry charge myself and, frankly, I was jealous of Bert Turp. It was every cavalryman's ambition to get into a charge and use his sword. That was what I had been trained for, for nearly ten years, and here was a damned farrier getting into one instead of us. No wonder he felt so pleased with himself!

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 7 February 2015

A Command of French
Topic: Officers

A Command of French

The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, Christopher Duffy, 1987

'What distinguishes a man from a beast of burden is thought, and the faculty of bringing ideas together … a pack mule can go on ten campaigns with Prince Eugene of Savoy, and still learn nothing of tactics'

One of the most valuable things a young officer could acquire was a fluent command of French, a language through which he could make himself understood in the ruling circles of army and state in all the major countries of Europe, with the possible exception of Spain. The linguistic demands on the Austrian officer were exceptionally heavy, because so many different nations were represented in the Habsburg service, but it was considered desirable for the officer of every army to have some comprehension of the tongue the local people spoke in the theatre of war.

A knowledge of geography, law and history was useful for every man of affairs. Mathematics and geometry were believed to sharpen the understanding, and in addition they provided the foundation for the science of fortification and helped the officer to calculate distance and movement. It is remarkable, however, that Frederick the Great was bad at sums and held mathematics in the utmost abhorrence.

A sense of proportion came with drawing and an acquaintance with civil architecture. Fencing endowed a young man with speed and strength, and dancing brought elegance and dignity to carriage and movement.

"Dancing is most necessary for the man of good education and for the officer. It makes him acceptable or even indispensable at parties when he relaxes in his off-duty hours. It is good for the officer to betake himself to such assemblies, and especially the mixed companies attended by ladies and pretty girls, which are an education for all persons of the male sex." (O'Cahill, Major Baron, Der Vollkommene Officier, Frankenthal, 1787, 41-2)

Wealthy young men completed their civilian education by going on their travels, armed with sheaves of introductions to useful foreigners. They toured the famous sights and collections, they sampled the delights of society, and, if they were of a genuinely military turn of mind, they inspected fortresses, arsenals and battlefields.

By the 1750s the belief was current that experience alone did not enable the military man to progress in his knowledge: 'What distinguishes a man from a beast of burden is thought, and the faculty of bringing ideas together … a pack mule can go on ten campaigns with Prince Eugene of Savoy, and still learn nothing of tactics' (Frederick, 'Reflexions sur la Tactique et sur Quelques Parties de la Querre', 1758, Frederick, 1846-57, XXVIII, 153-4). There was every confidence that men of insight would be able to reduce field warfare to firm principles such as those which had already been established for fortification and the natural sciences, and meanwhile an untutored courage was likely to do more harm than good. The bookish studies could not begin too early, for 'by means of theory a captain may learn what he has to do as a general, and it will be much too late if he postpones this task until he actually takes on the responsibility of field rank (Warnery, 1785-91, III, 115. See also Rohr, 1756, I, xv).

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 6 February 2015

Right Out of Joint
Topic: Humour

Right Out of Joint


Racoon, Right Out of Joint, The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, Volume XCVII, October 1968 and January 1969

The Major cleared his throat, stroked his luxuriant moustache and spoke. "Good morning, gentlemen. As Chairman it is my pleasure to welcome you two representatives from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to this joint planning conference for Operation SOAK AWAY. My name is Major Largeboot and perhaps I may be permitted to say at this point that, although a Brown Job, I did attend the Royal Air Force Staff College, so I have a keen inter-Service outlook."

"Well, that is rather strange, in fact," said the Lieutenant-Commander. "My name is Anchorage, but I too have external connections, so to speak, since I did in fact attend the Staff College at Camberley."

"Shiver my timbers!" exclaimed the other. "Strange indeed. My name is Wingspan and though, of course, you have no way of guessing it, I attended the Staff Course at Greenwich."

"Bang on!" said Largeboot. "I'm sure it will make the world of difference to our joint work here today. Now to business. Operation SOAK AWAY."

"I think it might save a lot of time, in fact," said Anchorage, briskly, "if I tell you chaps now that I have in fact already worked out the problem. It's quite simple, actually. Two up, bags of smoke, regulation pause of two three and hit them for six right in the F.D.Ls. Then neutralize, harass and destroy them with the 105s and finish up by dominating no man's land."

"Belay there!" said Squadron Leader Wingspan. "Don't you feel that is perhaps a bit excessive? I rather favoured a landing party from H.M.S. Dockworthy. Nothing quite like twenty pairs of bell-bottoms to quieten the place down. Pick-helves, of course, and then if that doesn't work, a platoon of Royals with a string band, followed by a football match against the locals in the afternoon."

"Wizard, old chap!" said Major Largeboot. "But both of you have forgotten the ground support. Now I was thinking in terms of a squadron of Hunters Mark 6, 12 U.E., with Decca Nav-Attack Head-Up Displays to do the trick. With a bit of top cover and flak suppression thrown in, I reckon that, using S.N.E.B. from 1,200 feet, there's a 17% probability of causing 50% casualties to a platoon of infantry dug in with 0% overhead cover."

Wingspan looked interested. "Really"' he said. "Never knew that."

"Let's cut out the frills and get down to details," said Anchorage impatiently. "First of all, morale must be high and admin good there's no point in our discussing high-flown mathematics if Private Snooks on his flat feet hasn't got his blankets and overcoats. How are they going to be brought?"

"L.P.D. of course," said Squadron Leader Wingspan. "It so happens that I've got the charts here with me — we can get to within 5 miles of the coast when the monsoon is from the Nor-Nor-West and chopprr them in."

"Just not cost-effective enough, old boy," exclaimed Major Largeboot. "You can get 931,723 greatcoats in a C5A. Land on a football field. Twenty-eight landing wheels, you know."

"Look," said Lieutenant-Commander Anchorage sharply. "I'm not interested in your technicalities when my soldiers are cold and hungry. You B1ue Jobs are all the same. No doubt the first thing you'll want to do when you land is crash into your bunks and rest for 19 hours."

"You're adopting a very single-Service viewpoint on this, old boy," said Major Largeboot. "Typical of the Army. All gummed up with tradition and gaiters. I suppose you'll be wanting the Mess Silver flown in next. You're a disgrace to the colour of your uniform."

Lieutenant-Commander Anchorage flushed, picked up his papers and moved towards the door.

"I shall deem it my duty to report your non-cooperative attitude to my General — Rear-Admiral Gannet," he said, and walked out of the room.

There was a moment's silence. "Well, there's a thing!" said the Squadron Leader. "Terrible how blinkered some chaps can get. Suppose we'd better adjourn, Largeboot. How about a rum below decks?"

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 5 February 2015

Basic Officer Training; Sandhurst
Topic: Drill and Training

1960 - The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; Intake 28. Junior's Drill Cometition. The Inspection!, posted to flickr by Brian Harrington Spier

Basic Officer Training; Sandhurst

Quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford

Consequently, under the enthusiastic control of Sgt. John France, Scots Guards, we began our drill training on the second day — before we had any uniforms! I remember thinking how my calf-leather shoes were standing up to the punishment. Every opportunity was taken for a few minutes drill as we waited, for example, for kit issues. The training got under way. Two periods of drill a day, two of physical training, the next made up of weapon training, map reading and basic infantry skills. We were up at 6.30, washed, shaved, bed made and dressed for BRC or Breakfast Roll Call Parade, at 07.00. On this parade we had to be immaculate or be punished.

During the first six weeks there were many ways in which we could get into trouble — from BRC to lights out at 11 p.m. we negotiated what seemed to be a continuous minefield of potential disaster. The smallest fault in turnout meant 'show parades'. The inspecting cadet NCO would pick a fault and say, "Show belt brasses" or "Show boots" as appropriate, and that meant that in addition to the rigours of evening work, the unfortunate junior would parade in a specified uniform at 10 p.m., carrying the offending article suitably prepared for a second inspection. Failure to get on parade on time, or being generally scruffy and disordered in dress, were the juniors' ticket to 'changing parades'. The senior cadets would stand after supper in 'Picadilly', the concourse of the four platoon corridors, in the company block, and the first parade would be called. Out would come the juniors from their doors — "Stand to your doors juniors" was the call — and be inspected. Then they would be told the next form of dress and to parade in five minutes for another inspection. Usually it would go from Service Dress to Combat Dress to PT Kit to Battle Order and so on. In each inspection you could be checked and given extra changing parades as a result. When we got to rifle inspection the situation became even more precarious. We had to parade with rifles 'dry cleaned' meaning not a scrap of oil on them anywhere and achieved by using liquid stain remover 'thawpit', and a stiff brush. On the order "Strip the rifles for inspection" we had to take it apart without putting any of the eight basic pieces down. Always somebody dropped a component and depending on the mood of the Cadet NCO, he or the whole platoon had to do it again. Having satisfied the inspection team, rifles had to be re-oiled and reinspected along similar lines of discipline.

All this 'harrassment', as the Americans call it, went on after a full and exhausting day's work and was in addition to room inspections and cleaning muddy gear after periods on the training area.

I remember noting the ironical comment of our Sergeant Major, when he was showing us how to polish boots. He said that best boots had to be polished all over to a glassy shine, including the welts, and the soles had to be brush polished. However we were on no account to polish the studs, because that was 'bull' and not allowed in the army of the 60s!

After work we would spend hours polishing boots. We had three pairs — weapon training (brush polished only), drill (toes and heels polished), uppers (brush polished), and best — every bit polished. We were not allowed out of uniform at any time during the day. We wore plain clothes once, after about four weeks when we were allowed a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon to attend the Horse Show in the grounds — then back into it. Seven days a week and church parade on Sunday. No old soldier will need to be reminded of the methods used to clean uniform and equipment but for the record and for the uninitiated, the glassy shine was achieved on leather boots with a polish painstakingly applied with the index finger cloaked in a yellow duster. The technique was to dab the duster in polish, spit on the boot and rub in the polish in a small circular motion until, after what seemed an eternity, a shine would begin to appear. It took hours and was not just confined to boots. We had brown leather belts and bayonet frogs which had to be equally glassy. My intake was the last to wear the khaki battledress, and this presented additional joys in that it included webbing anklets with brass buckles and leather straps. The webbing had to be blancoed, the straps polished to a high shine and a scrap of polish or blanco on the brasses meant trouble on inspection.

The rifle was no exception; the sling was of webbing and was bound in brass at each end. Similar rules of perfection were applied. The wooden parts of the rifle were polished with what was universally known as 'the brew', of which each company had its own closely guarded recipe. We agreed amongst ourselves that it was basically french polish, with methylated spirit and one or two extra touches. It was doled out by the seniors from the brew bottle shortly before the juniors' competition, with a view to giving us the edge on the other eleven platoons competing. It must be said that when we went on parade, once we had become familiar with the uniforms and equipment, we sparkled. We were absolutely immaculate from top to toe, and in an odd sort of way the work we had put in seemed worthwhile. We began to swank a little. There were times when I wondered if it would ever end. As we flew from one end of the Academy to another we would pass more senior cadets in plain clothes, going to their academic studies in the manner of university students, which in effect they were. Would we ever reach that stage of languid serenity or were they a race apart? Of course, a few months before these young men had been through the rigours we were experiencing, but it was difficult to believe.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Worthy Leader
Topic: Leadership

A Worthy Leader

US Army Infantry Journal, February 1943

A leader then, to be worthy in the eyes of his men would do well to follow these commands:

1.     Be competent.

2.     Be loyal to your men as well as to your country and Army.

3.     Know your men, understand them, love them and be proud of them.

4.     Accept responsibility and give clear, decisive orders.

5.     Teach your men by putting them through the necessary action.

6.     Give necessary orders only, but —

7.     Get things done.

8.     Be fair.

9.     Work hard.

10.     Remember that a leader is a symbol. Men need to respect and trust you — don't let them down.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Winter on the Somme
Topic: The Field of Battle

Winter on the Somme

The Roses of No Man's Land, Lyn MacDonald, 1980

In that winter's [1916-17] lull in the fighting along the vast frozen length of the line, the elements were the real enemy. It was worst of all on the Somme. After the Germans retired to the Hindenburg Line they left behind a frozen tundra—pock-marked with shellholes, scarred by a network of now-useless trenches, and devoid of any shelter but the concrete chill of old dugouts, which were swiftly occupied by squeaking packs of the outsize, blood-bloated rats that preyed on the corpses of long-dead soldiers. The few dreary encampments that marked the staging posts of the long haul through the wilderness to the new front line offered little in the way of comfort to the half-frozen infantry who trudged up to man it.

Although there was little fighting in the winter wastes, and little was expected before the spring, it was not possible to withdraw large numbers of men to the comparative comfort of billets in the rear and to garrison the line with a skeleton force. Forty-eight hours were as much as a battalion could be expected to remain in the open trenches, and large numbers of troops had to be frequently rotated if the fighting force was not to succumb en masse to exposure, pneumonia or trench-feet. As it was, the large numbers of men sent down the line suffering from trench-feet caused the army such anxiety that special orders were issued. Every man must carry a spare pair of dry socks at all times. At least once a day every man must remove boots and stockings and rub his feet with whale-oil, and every platoon officer was to be held responsible for seeing that this was done.

But it was not easy to persuade a shivering soldier to divest his icy feet of what little protection they had. When the trenches were merely frozen hard the problem w as less acute. When the sun came out or when the thermometer rose a degree or two above zero and the icy ground began to thaw, the soldiers sank up to their knees into a layer of icy slush. In such conditions it was physically impossible to carry out the whale-oil-rubbing, foot-inspection drill. Frozen and wet, stiff and numb, with no means of exercising to restore the circulation already impeded by tightly-bound wet puttees, the feet of the unfortunate infantrymen turned into one vast and excruciating chilblain. In the worst cases, men were literally unable to walk. In the face of mounting casualties, GHQ grumbled and roared, threatened and sent demands for explanations to corps, to brigades, to battalions and to companies in the line, warning dire consequences if the situation did not improve.

The exasperated CO of the 16th Battalion, the Highland Light Infantry, driven to distraction by the continuous badgering, eventually wrote to Brigade, 'I have given you every explanation that is humanly possible. If you are not satisfied, I must refer you to God Almighty.' He heard no more.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 2 February 2015

Keeping Up Soldierly Appearances
Topic: Discipline

Keeping Up Soldierly Appearances

The Miracle of Dunkirk, Walter Lord, 1982

Nineteen-year-old 2nd Lieutenant William Lawson of the Royal Artillery knew that appearances were important, but he felt he had a good excuse for looking a little scruffy. His artillery unit had been badly mauled on the Dyle, again at Arras, and had barely made it back to the perimeter—two rough weeks almost always on the run.

Now at last he was at La Panne, and it was the Navy's turn to worry. Wandering down the beach, he suddenly spied a familiar face. It was his own father, Brigadier the Honorable E.F. Lawson, temporarily serving on General Adam's staff. Young Lawson had no idea his father was even in northern France. He rushed up and saluted.

"What do you mean looking like that!" the old Brigadier thundered. "You're bringing dishonor to the family! Get a haircut and shave at once!"

The son pointed out that at the moment he couldn't possibly comply. Lawson brushed this aside, announcing that his own batman, a family servant in prewar days, would do the job. And so he did—a haircut and shave right on the sands of Dunkirk.

At the mole Commander Clouston had standards, too. Spotting one of the shore patrol with hair far longer than it could have grown in the last three or four days, he ordered the man to get it cut.

"All the barbers are shut, sir," came the unruffled reply. Clouston still insisted. Finally, the sailor drew his bayonet and hacked off a lock. "What do you want me to do with it now," he asked, "put it in a locket?"

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Value of a Tradition
Topic: Tradition

The Value of a Tradition

"Looks or use?," by Major E.L.M. Burns, M.C., p.s.c., Royal Canadian Engineers; Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. IX, No. 1, October 1931

It may be said — "Oh, but the crowd likes the bright uniforms." Admitting for the moment that the crowd does like bright uniforms, let us ask ourselves whether that would be a sufficient reason for wearing them. It is always degrading to seek the approval of the witness. But it is by no means certain that the crowd is fooled. I quote from a recent popular song:

"The King's Horses and the King's Men!
They're in scarlet, they're in gold,
All dolled up, it's a joy to behold
The King's Horses and the King's Men!,
They're not out to fight the foe,
You might think so, but Oh! Dear No!
They're out because they've got to go
To put a little pep in the Lord Mayor's Show."

Popular songs, it may be said, are not made on themes which are contrary to popular beliefs.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ceremonial Drill
Topic: Drill and Training

Ceremonial Drill

"Old Military Customs Still Extant," by Major C.T. Tomes, D.S.O., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXX, February to November, 1925

General Sir David Dundas, GCB
(1735 – 1820)

Ceremonial Drill is not merely a collection of movements designed for the improvement of discipline and to test the steadiness of the men in the ranks. Our modern "Infantry Training" deserves a little study.

There is the "Advance in Review Order," which is nothing more than a rehearsal of the attack for the benefit of the reviewing General. Arms are presented at the close as a sign that the movement is completed. It used to be the last of eighteen complicated manoeuvres performed by a battalion when tested as to its preparedness for war. In this process was included an advance in line, a volley fired obliquely to the right, another to the left, a further advance and two volleys to the front, officers and colours then took post, the whole moved forward fifty paces and the inspection concluded with a Royal Salute. The last movement is now all that remains.

(From a related note: The Chairman; The Hon. J.W. Fortescue, C.V.O.: —The eighteen manoeuvres did not come in till 1781, and were invented by David Dundas in the first drill-book issued for the whole Army written by a private individual and sanctioned by authority. Everybody had his own drill book before that and did what was right in his own eyes. The eighteen manoeuvres became famous because officers considered that they were the beginning and end of their duties. You remember the remark Sir John Moore made to Dundas: "Your drill book would have done a great deal of good if it had not been for those damned eighteen manoeuvres;" whereupon Dundas replied: "Blockheads do not understand. That is the danger of making a drill book.")

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 30 January 2015

A Calculated Risk
Topic: Officers

A Calculated Risk

Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection, Leonard F. Guttridge, 1992

According to the Time magazine article: "We all have a little of the Captain Queeg in us," admitted one officer. "But Arnheiter had more than his share."

(Quoted at Wikipedia.)

… regard for an objective appraisal of facts and implications was all but lost in the attention focused upon the captain himself as a bizarre figure hitherto encountered only in the pages of popular fiction or in television farce.

In February 1966, during naval operations off the South Vietnamese coast, … the destroyer escort Vance had repeatedly fouled [another] ship's gun range and had spent useless firepower by hurling shells at sand dunes and barren rocks. Superior intervention at this point, perhaps a stern warning to the captain of the allegedly offending vessel, might well have prevented the development of a public tragicomedy that did nothing to enhance the prestige of the American navy.

Career recommendations are sometimes founded as much on a person's aggressive zeal and powers of imagination as upon his or her academic attainments. An abundance of the former qualities can often make up for deficiencies in the latter. But when a selection board weighs these intangibles, its decision may amount to what a confidant in United States naval service told Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter had applied in his case: "Your assignment to command," wrote Capt. Richard Alexander, "was, quite frankly, a calculated risk."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 29 January 2015

CWGC; New Research Resources
Topic: CWGC

CWGC; New Research Resources

CWGC Disclaimer

This collection of documents relating to the First World War was assembled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and its predecessors as part of the processes involved in the commemoration of individuals. As a result, they contain many corrections and alterations which reflect their use as working documents. For further information concerning the history of the collection, please see the About Our Records page.

Please be advised that some of the documents, especially the burial returns and exhumation reports, may contain information which some people may find distressing. The original archive records and their digital copies remain the property of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but are available for re-use for private and non-commercial purposes.

For genealogical and medal researchers who have been researching casualties, there have been some new additions to data available from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that you may not be aware of. The CWGC has added documents to many of their on line records for casualties of the world Wars.

These documents, which can be found linked from the CWGC casualty pages, might include any or all of the following (descriptions from the CWGC FAQ page):

Grave Registration Documents

Grave Registration Reports (Final)

Grave Registration Reports (GRRs) are standard forms which record details of all graves for which the CWGC is responsible. They provide basic details of the individuals, such as name, service number, rank, regiment, unit and date of death, and are listed in Plot, Row and Grave order. The CWGC used GRRs only for burials in countries where it was responsible for registering graves. Where the Army Graves Service was responsible for registration, the CWGC was supplied with a document called a Certified Comprehensive Report, which contained similar information to a GRR. GRRs contain a number of abbreviated words and phrases. Please consult our glossary for details.Grave Registration Reports (Working Copy)

These are draft working copies of the final Grave Registration Reports and are indicated as such by being completely struck through as 'Cancelled' or 'Removed'. Often these refer to graves that were either reorganised within a cemetery or removed (in particular the graves of foreign nationals). As a result, the grave details shown in these documents may differ from those shown in the final version.


After the end of the First World War, the CWGC compiled a full list of all of the war dead it was responsible for commemorating. These registers were produced on a cemetery-by-cemetery or memorial-by-memorial basis, and eventually ran to 1,500 volumes. They contain an entry for each individual, with details of their rank, regiment, unit and date of death. Many of the entries also include additional information such as next of kin details and, on occasion, some information about how they died. These register images are taken from a master set of registers kept by the CWGC which were used and revised by staff as new information came to light, hence they may contain many amendments.

Concentration Documents

Alternative Commemoration Documents

These are collections of grave registration documents for graves and cemeteries that have been lost or abandoned. Sites were abandoned for many reasons, but most commonly because the grave or cemetery could not be maintained due to restricted physical access to a site. As a result, the individuals were alternatively commemorated at a different location, usually on a memorial.

Burial Returns

These are lists of individuals who have been recovered or exhumed from their original burial location, and moved or concentrated to a particular cemetery. They provide basic details of the individual, but in addition may also include information as to their original location prior to burial (which in many cases is simply a trench map grid reference), and occasionally some details of how the individual war dead were identified. Exhumations occur when removing remains from a formal place of burial, whereas recoveries occur when remains are discovered but have not been formally buried.

Concentration Cemetery Documents

These are collections of grave registration documents which record details of individuals who were originally buried in smaller or isolated cemeteries, but who at a later date were exhumed and reburied (concentrated) in war cemeteries for ease of maintenance. An example of this would be individuals moved from Rosenberg Chateau to Berks Cemetery Extension.

Exhumation Documents

Exhumation Reports

These are documents which were produced when the war dead were exhumed in order to move them into a war cemetery or to confirm their identity. They generally include details of physique, dentistry, clothing, and equipment and can provide some location information about the initial burial. Examples are rare during the First World War and most of the exhumations occurred in the 1930s.

Final Verification Documents-

Verification Forms

These forms were posted by the CWGC to the next-of-kin listed by the service authorities following the end of the First World War. They contain the individual's basic details (name, rank, regiment, number and date of death), plus any further information provided by the next-of-kin, such as their chosen personal inscription, religious emblem, age and details of the next-of-kin. The CWGC used these documents to verify the information within its' own records, and to ensure the correct information was engraved on any headstones or memorials produced. Unfortunately, around 99% of the Final Verification forms for First World War were destroyed during the Second World War.

Headstone Documents

Headstone Schedule (Originals)

These documents provide details of what was actually inscribed on a headstone. Most headstones for the graves of Commonwealth forces conform to a basic layout of details:

  1. Regimental badge and layout code
  2. Service number and rank
  3. Initial(s), surname and military decorations
  4. Regiment or unit
  5. Date of death and age
  6. Religious emblem
  7. Personal inscription

Schedules for the First World War run to two pages in length, with the details of the individual on the first page and the personal inscription, if any, on the second. The CWGC used these documents to help manage the enormous programme of headstone production after the First World War.

Headstone Schedules (Appendices)

These records contain details of any special layouts that may have been required for CWGC headstones.

While most CWGC headstones conform to a standard layout, there are occasions when changes to this layout are required. For example, where an individual is known to be buried in a particular cemetery but the exact location of their grave is not known, a headstone would be erected with the superscript 'BURIED ELSEWHERE IN THIS CEMETERY'. Examples of inscription used include 'KNOWN TO BE BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY' and 'BELIEVED TO BE BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY'.

Panel List Documents

Panel Lists

These are lists of individuals commemorated on memorials, memorial stones or screen walls. They reflect the details that were inscribed on the individual memorial panels. Documents will normally list individuals under either regiment and rank sub-headings or individual entries which include rank, name, regiment and date of death.

Panel List Addenda

These documents refer to individuals who may have been added to a memorial at a later date, and who were therefore added to memorial addenda panels rather than the main memorial panels.

More CWGC Links

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?
Topic: Drill and Training

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?

Is the Pen Still Mightier Than the Sword?, Major J.M. Walsh, M.C., R.A., The Army Quarterly, Volume LXIV, April and July 1952

The arts of military writing are taught principally, we suppose at the Staff College. Some of our readers will remember the neatly typed precis which urged students to write their writings in the same form as the writing written on the precis itself. We learned about unnumbered sideheadings in blocks and numbered sideheadings not in blocks; of first indents lettered and second indents in little roman numerals; of the correct use of abbreviations and capital letters. We were impressed by the importance of simplicity, of avoiding slang and journalese, and above all, of the virtues of brevity.

But we received a rude shock when we went out into the big military world outside, for we discovered that few people seemed to obey these rules. We found that practically every unit and formation in the British Army had its own particular ideas on how to compose and lay out its correspondence and memoranda (or so it seemed). We learned that the higher the headquarters the more verbose became the signals. We found that sometimes individuals introduced their own idiosyncrasies (we once joined a headquarters in which almost invariably every letter began with the phrase "It is advised that … "). It was all very disappointing to a keen young Staff College graduate anxious to practise his newly acquired skills to find that only lip-service was paid to many of the principles to which he had devoted so much effort to mastering.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 7:35 PM EST
Tuesday, 27 January 2015

24-Hour Invasion Ration
Topic: Army Rations

Lots to Chew in 24-Hour Invasion Ration

The Maple Leaf; 13 May 1944
By Ross Munro, The Canadian Press

With the Canadian Army Invasion Forces—Canadian and British Assault troops in the invasion of Western Europe will carry with them special 24-hour ration packs of concentrated food.

Each man will carry a ration box which fits into his mess tin. It will be the first time Canadian and British soldiers had such a compact pack.

The new pack's contents include:—

  • 10 biscuits,
  • two seeped OXO blocks,
  • a powdered compound of tea, sugar and milk pressed into small blocks which makes a good brew of tea,
  • a block of meat which looks like pemmican,
  • three slabs of chocolate,
  • boiled candy,
  • chewing gum,
  • salt,
  • six meat extract tablets, and
  • four lumps of sugar.

Instructions in a cardboard box give suggested menus for breakfast and supper and tell the men how to prepare the food. A simple, compact canned hear cooker is carried by each soldier.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 6:31 PM EST
Monday, 26 January 2015

Leadership Qualities
Topic: Leadership

Corporal T.C. Mackenzie [Loyal Edmonton Regiment], Sergeant R.W. Williams [Calgary Highlanders], Private N.E. Smith [North Nova Scotia Highlanders] and Gunner H.D. Gingell [13 Canadian Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery], who all received Military Medals, at Buckingham Palace, London, England, 27 June 1945. Photographer: Harold D. Robinson. Mikan Number: 3205673. From the Library and Archives Canada virtual exhibit "Faces of War."

Leadership Qualities

"Moral, Instruction and Leadership," Brevet Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, D.S.O., Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXV, February to November, 1920

Leadership presupposes two things: — A leader, and men capable of being led. A stag cannot lead an army of lions; a lion cannot persuade an army of stags to follow. What then is required? A lion leading lions. In other words, the qualities of leader and led are very similar. The chief of these qualities are: —

(1)     Knowledge.

(2)     Skill.

(3)     Determination.

(4)     Endurance.

(5)     Courage.

(6)     Cunning.

(7)     Imagination.

(8)     Confidence.

No one is greater than the other, but the first of all is knowledge.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 25 January 2015

Supporting the Troops
Topic: British Army

Army Service Corps troops - See full image.

Field Marshal William Joseph "Bill" Slim,
1st Viscount Slim,
(6 August 1891 – 14 December 1970)

Supporting the Troops

Unofficial History, Field-Marshal Sir William Slim, K.G., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., 1960

…a lieutenant-colonel of the Supply and Transport Corps. … He looked very fierce and military … officers who dealt with bully-beef and biscuit in the back areas so often did … I was informed that his supplies were not for issue to any casual subaltern who cared to ask for them, and, if my detachment had not got everything that was necessary for its comfort, it was either because;

(1)     I was incompetent,

(2)     The staff at the Reinforcement Camp was incompetent, or

(3)     A combination of (1) and (2).

I gathered he rather favoured the first alternative. He ended with the final warning: 'And don't let your fellows come hanging round here. The British soldier is the biggest thief in Asia and his officers encourage him.'

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 10 January 2015 7:18 PM EST

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