The Minute Book
Saturday, 21 February 2015

"B" Company, Royal School of Infantry
Topic: The RCR

Our Permanent Troops, I

"B" Company, Royal School of Infantry

The Dominion Illustrated, 1st November 1890

Royal Military Schools

On the 25th of May 1883, the Governor-General assented to an amended Militia Act, which had been introduced by the present popular Minister of Militia, Sir A.J. Caron, which provided for the organization of three companies of infantry, to be permanently maintained. The object was, in the words of the Act, "to provide for the care and protection of forts, magazines, armaments, warlike stores and such like service, also to secure the establishment of schools for military instruction." Such schools had previously existed in Canada, and, as a matter of fact, did exist at the time this act was passed. Their previous existence will be remembered by many, for they were in connection with Imperial regiments stationed in Quebec, Montreal, and elsewhere. The secure attendance at these Imperial regimental schools did not require a commission in the militia. Any one could attend, and, upon getting a pass certificate, secured a certain money payment. Hundreds availed themselves of this privilege. The withdrawal of the Imperial troops from Canada in 1871, necessitated the Canadian Government organizing regular troops of their own, to garrison the Citadel at Quebec and Fort Henry at Kingston. To perform this work, A and B Batteries of Canadian Artillery were called into existence on the 20th of October, 1871. These batteries were to consist of two divisions—"Field and Garrison"—and were shortly after called upon to perform the "school duties" which had hitherto been carried on by Imperial troops. In addition to their true military designation, they had given them the title of "Royal Schools of Artillery." To these schools went many officers of the militia force for instruction; but the infantry officers felt that an "artillery school" was hardly the place at which to get first-class infantry education. To meet this difficulty, the amended Militia Act of 1883 gave authority to call into existence three permanent companies of infantry. On the 21st of December, 1883, a Militia general order, the substance of which is as follows, appeared in the Canada Gazette:

Infantry School Corps

The formation of three schools of infantry having been authorized, the requisite number of militiamen will be enrolled and formed into one corps, to be known as the "Infantry School Corps."

The stations of these schools were to be: "A" Company at Fredericton, N.B., under Lieut.-Col. Maunsell, commandant; "B" Company at St. Johns, P.Q., under Lieut.-Col. D'Orsonnens, commandant; "C" Company at Toronto, under Lieut.-Col. Otter, commandant. Subsequent authority was given to organize a fourth company—"D" Company—and it was an is stationed at London, Ont., where a splendid new barracks were specially erected. In 1883 a troop of permanent cavalry—"The Cavalry School Corps"—was organized, under Lieut.-Col. Turnbull, and stationed in Quebec. In 1885 a company of mounted infantry was formed and stationed at Winnipeg, and in 1887 another battery—"C" Battery—was called into existence and stationed at Victoria, B.C. The three Batteries of Artillery—A, B and C—form "the Regiment of Canadian Artillery," under the command of Lieut.-Col. Irwin. By the end of January, 1884, the required number of men were enlisted for the infantry and cavalry—the period of enlistment three years—and in the spring of that year their educational work began and has continued ever since. Some three years ago Her Majesty was pleased to bestow upon them the title of "Royal Schools." The course of instruction lasts three months, and there are three courses in the year. The officers attached for instruction live and mess in barracks and receive one dollar a day pay. The instruction is carried on by the permanent or regular officers and non-commissioned officers under the direction of the commandant. In addition to militia officers, militia non-commissioned officers and men can also be attached. They receive fifty cents a day pay. The pay of the regular Canadian private soldier is forty cents a day and a full kit. The only stoppages are 15 cents a day when in hospital and a trifling stoppage for hair-cutting. Such is a brief outline of the organization of our small force of Canadian regulars—a portion of whose duty is that of "military schools" for our volunteers, the officers of which must qualify of lose their commission. To render the qualifying as easy as possible at the end of each regular course, special courses lasting about two weeks are given.

This issue of the Dominion Illustrated we devote largely to illustrating the Royal Military School in connection with "B" Company, Infantry School Corps, stationed in the barracks at St Johns, P.Q. A recent issue contained a view of the officers' quarters from the tennis ground and another taken from the river. The ground on which the barracks is built is memorable ground in connection with the early history of this country, and saw stirring scenes when occupied by the French, as it also did when assailed by an American force. The old French earthworks, which are still in a good state of preservation, show that the fort covered a considerable piece of ground and mounted a number of guns. The present barracks were erected in 1839, as we are informed by a brass plaque on the hall of the officers' quarters, which bears the following inscription:

This Barrack for
3 F. Officers, 27 Officers, 12 Sergeants, 800 Men
and Hospital for 80 Patients
Commenced June, 1839 — Completed December, 1839
Amount Estimated £19,209 1 5 ¼ stg.
Amount expended £117,231 5 7 ½ stg.
Executive officer, Major Foster, R.E.
Commanding Royal Engineers, Canada.
Col. Oldfield, K.H.

Old residents of St. Johns speak with feelings of pride when they tell of the famous British regiments which in turn have been quartered in the barracks, among them the 43rd and 71st. The late Col. Dyde once told the writer, of the gay scenes which marked the residence there of the latter regiment under Sir Hugh Dalrymple. Upon one occasion he with two or three good friends had gone out on "guest night" to dine with the officers. A snow storm of extraordinary severity came on and they were not able to get back for several days. Every night became a "guest night," "And a jollier crowd," said the old colonel, "I never saw." Even in those later days such an occurrence is not uncommon, and more than once, guests of "'B' Company—to Dinner" on guest night, have been compelled to remain till next day, because of an old-fashioned Canadian snowstorm.

In this connection let us say a word as to the hospitality of the permanent officers of "B" Company, Infantry School Corps. They are few in number, but a more generous lot of fellows it would be hard to find. Many an officer of the Montreal volunteer force has experienced it, and not a few of our Montreal citizens can testify that they have received a cordial welcome on "guest night" at the barracks, which is every Thursday night. At 6.30 the bugle sounds for dinner, and at 7 p.m. the call to dinner is resounding in the corridors. Then the ante-room presents a gay scene—the permanent officers in their beautiful scarlet mess jackets and dark blue vests; the attached officers, some in scarlet and some in rifle green; the civilian guests in full dress. As the mess door opens, the mess sergeant announces "dinner is served," the guests troop in, the band in the kiosk on the tennis ground, begins to play and continues to do so at intervals during the dinner. If the scene in the ante-room was gay, the mess room is even more so. The dinner table is beautifully laid, and is in season nicely decorated with flowers, while the officers' servants, acting as waiters, dressed in the regimental livery, (tail coat, with large brass buttons and scarlet vest and regimental trousers), move about, quietly attending to the wants of the guests. The only toast drank is "The Queen." Dinner over, the ante-room is once more occupied; then coffee and cigars; after which, cards for some, while others take to the billiard room. Any guest from Montreal wishing to do so can return by train, leaving St. Johns at five minutes to eleven, reaching his home by midnight. If he decides to stay all night, he gets a soldier's bed and a soldier's welcome. The band of the Company for its strength is an exceptionally good one. The officers, however, state that it is very difficult to keep it in good condition, as it hardly ever gets any outside engagements. The company is a short of two lieutenants—Captain Freer, who rejoined his regiment, and Lieut. Roche, transferred to Fredericton, not having been replaced. The school suffers in consequence. A few words now regarding our illustrations.

The Guard House and Barracks Guard.—The Guard Room is a new one—built some four years ago, the old one having been burned previous to the barracks being occupied by Canadian troops. It contains an officer's room, a room for the guard, a room for prisoners, and four cells. The barrack Guard consists of three privates, a bugler, and a non-commissioned officer. Occasionally for instruction an officer's guard is mounted. Sentry-go is two hours on and four hours off. On a blustry cold winter's night sentry duty at this post is cold work.

Barrack Gate and Guard House.—The approach to the Barrack gate from the town is over a road which is said to have once been splendid, but now it is always bad, and in wet weather a perfect "slough of despond." Pedestrians fare better, as the Government have given them a good wooden sidewalk. The gate is shut at 9.30; "last post" at 10 p.m., and at 10.15 p.m. "lights out" is sounded. A sickly lamp attempts to show the homeward bound soldier where the gate is, being placed above it. As a beacon it is a poor one; as a light to dispel darkness it is not a success.

Permanent Officers of "B" Company, Infantry School Corps.

In the centre of this group is the commandant Lieut.-Col. D'Orsonnens, whose whole life has been passed in the military service of his country. He served as an officer in the prince of Wales Rifles, in the Montreal Cavalry, and on the Niagara frontier during the time that Canada, owing to the American Civil War, kept a small volunteer force on the permanent frontier duty. Col. D'Orsonnens also served during both Fenian Raids. He subsequently became the Brigade Major at Quebec, from which place he was promoted to the position of Commandant of "B" Company, Royal School of Infantry. About a year ago he was appointed Deputy Adjutant-General of the 6th Military District. As a drill instructor Colonel D'Orsonnens is perfect, and as a Commandant of a School he is said to be about as perfect as it is possible for a man to be.

Surgeon-Major F.W. Campbell.—Dr. Campbell has had charge of the School since its formation, having been transferred to "B" Company, Infantry School Corps, from the Sergeoncy of the Prince of Wales Rifles, which he held for twenty-three years. He saw service during the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870. Both officers and men speak highly of the attention and kindness of their surgeon. That he has performed his duties will is proved by the fact that, notwithstanding a great amount of serious illness, the Company has had only one death since its formation.

Captain Charles J.Q. Coursol.—Captain Coursol is the son of the well-known late C.J. Coursol, for many years M.P. for Montreal West and Police Magistrate. He was at one time a member of the Victoria Rifles, and was transferred to the Infantry School from the 65th Battalion in which corps he held a captain's commission. He is an excellent officer and is beloved by his men.

Captain and Acting Adjutant Chinic.—Captain Chinic began his military career as an officer in the 4th Battalion (Quebec). When the North-West Rebellion broke out, Lieut. Chinic was taking a long course (then a year—now nine months) at this School. A portion of this course entails attendance for three months at the Royal Military College, Kingston, and while there he was attached to the Battery of Artillery for messing. The battery being ordered to the North-West he went with it and served with distinction. On his return he received his commission as an officer of the Infantry School Corps. He wears the North-West medal. Captain Chinic is an excellent adjutant. He is well up in his work and is admittedly a careful and painstaking officer.

Quarter-Master and Honorary Captain Frenette.—Captain Frenette served with the 9th Battalion (Quebec) throughout the North-West Rebellion, and, therefore wears the North-West medal. He is well up in his work, and does everything he can to make his fellow officers and the men comfortable.

"B" Company, Infantry School Corps (Royal School of Infantry) on Parade.—In this engraving the Company with band are drawn up on the Barrack Square. The attached officers are between the band and the Company, and the permanent officers are on the right. As the Company is only allowed 100 men, it is never possible to put a strong Company on parade. There is always to be deducted from any parade, guards, prisoners, men in hospital, cooks, officers' servants, mess men, etc. Those acquainted with the work these companies have to perform say that an addition of at least twenty-five, or even fifty, men is urgently needed.

Officers' Quarters from the Barracks Square.—This is the reverse view of the officers' quarters from that published in a previous issue. The barracks consist of two other wings occupied by the men and running at right angles to the officers' quarters. When originally built, a fourth wing completed the Barrack Square, but it was burned down a number of years ago, and as it was an unsightly ruin, it was removed some six years ago. In the centre of the Barracks Square stands the flag staff.

Hospital of "B" Company, Infantry School Corps.—The original Hospital of the Barracks was built outside of the Barrack Square, facing the river. It still stands but is not occupied. It was made to accommodate eighty patients. Such large hospital accommodation was not required for a force at most (with attached men) of one hundred and thirty. The Government, at the suggestion of Dr. Campbell, fitted up the building at present used as a hospital. Tot was originally the commissariat store building of the barracks. It contains ten beds, with room to increase to ten more. It is a model hospital in every way, and, in addition to two good sized wards, contains a surgery and the quarters of the hospital sergeant. Hospital Sergeant Cotton, which is in charge, may well feel proud of his neat and clean hospital. Surgeon Campbell says that he is a model hospital sergeant.

In conclusion, the Montreal volunteers take much pride in this military school; but while admitting its value where it is at present stationed, state that its value would be increase tenfold if it was where it ought to be—in the city of Montreal. They point to the visit which the School made to Montreal on the occasion of the review on the Queen's Birthday in 1889, and the enthusiasm which that visit created, as a proof of the assertion they make. The grounds which surround the officers' quarters have, under the horticultural guidance of Col. D'Orsonnens, have changed from a scene of desolation to that of beauty, the like of which, it is claimed, is not to be seen at any other military school in the Dominion. In future issues we hope to publish illustrations of the other military schools.

The Commandant's residence occupies the north-east portion of the officers' quarters. The ground in front us arranged in a tasteful manner, and is luxuriant with flowers.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 20 February 2015

The Soviet Soldier (1951)
Topic: Cold War

Characteristics of the Soviet Soldier in Battle

The Soviet Army, Tactics and Organization, 1949 (Reprinted with Amendments (No. 1), 1951)

The Russian soldier is extremely brave in the attach, stubborn in defence, and sets little value upon his own life. In addition to this, he is very tough and is an adept at field-craft, having all of the cunning of a hunter. His up-bringing has taught him to be self-reliant and resourceful, to live on the country, and to improvise anything from a sledge to a bridge capable of bearing tanks. Propaganda teaches him to regard an enemy soldier as a personal enemy, rather than the representative of a warring state, and on the strength of this he fights bitterly and ruthlessly.

Despite this natural courage, he is liable to become flustered, and alarmed when he first encounters something that he does not understand such as a tank attack, bombing and strafing, or an artillery concentration. But he learns how to deal with such situations after a little experience, and then they have less effect upon him than upon more civilized races.

There is a great shortage of technicians in the Soviet Army, and those available are mainly drafted into technical units, such as armour, artillery, engineers, and signals.

There are very few amenities in the Soviet Army, and consequently the administrative tail is considerably less than in most other armies. The Russian soldier is used to frugality and accepts it without complaining, as he has never known better conditions.

Officers have been brought up under similar conditions to the men, though a new officer class, specially trained and selected, is now beginning to appear. The majority of officers are painstakingly thorough, but are inclined to be slow, and lacking in initiative. As a result, all authority is centralized, and senior officers, such as corps and army commanders take too great a share in actual manoeuvre of sub-units. But a proportion of officers, particularly at the highest levels, are both thorough and brilliant, and this proportion will increase as time goes on. Most officers at present have battle experience, and have proved themselves adequate; no good officers have been demobilized, apart from some industrial specialists.

Examples of Russian bravery and toughness , quoted from German sources, are as follows:—

(a) Physical toughness. A Red Army rifle battalion attacked the outskirts of Medin at dawn in January 1942, in a temperature of minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit. After heavy casualties, the attack came to a standstill on a snowfield, no further movement being possible. The survivors remained lying motionless in the snow for 10 hours, without any special protection from the cold, and then renewed the attack at dusk with shouts of 'Hurrah!'

(b) Fighting despite privation. A Red Army task force, which had broken through the German line in wooded country, avoided all German attempts to destroy it for 12 days, and made seven attempts to break out. On the thirteenth day, the task force, consisting of 60 men, was surrounded and annihilated. It had, without any supplies, and without facilities for keeping a fire going, fed itself on only the bark of trees, fir shoots, and snow.

(c) Effect of propaganda. A reconnaissance pilot shot down at Yukknov in the spring of 1942, landed by parachute in the street. He immediately opened up vigorous tommy-gun fire on German soldiers running towards him, and forced them to attack in a regular manner, employing mortars. After wounding six Germans, he shot himself through the head with one of his last bullets, to avoid capture.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 19 February 2015

Motorcycles Technical Instruction 1914
Topic: Militaria

Technical Instruction of Motor Cycles

Appendix I, Cyclist Training (Provisional), 1914

All motor cyclists must be capable of executing simple repairs to their machines.

They will be instructed on:…

i.     Identifying the different parts of the cycle by name.

ii.     Lubricating the various parts of their machines.

iii.     Repairing and mounting tyres.

iv.     Adjusting brakes.

v.     Shortening, repairing and mounting driving chains.

vi.     Adjusting and tightening bearings.

vii.     Adjusting and cleaning of a carburettor.

viii.     Adjusting and cleaning of a magneto.

ix.     Adjusting and cleaning of belts.

x.     Cleaning, lighting and maintaining acetylene lamps.

xi.     Manipulation of the gas and air levels, so as to obtain the best running, with minimum petrol consumption.

xii.     The theory of a petrol engine, action of the "gears" and "timing wheels"; but these portions of the machine should only be dealt with by a qualified mechanic.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Topic: The Field of Battle

October 1942: German officer with a Russian PPSh-41 submachine gun in Barrikady factory rubble. Many German soldiers took up Russian weapons when found, as they were more effective than their own in close quarter combat. "Bundesarchiv Bild 116-168-618, Russland, Kampf um Stalingrad, Soldat mit MPi" by Bundesarchiv, Bild 116-168-618 / CC-BY-SA. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.


War on the Eastern Front 1941-1945; The German Soldier in Russia, James Lucas, 1979

Indeed the participation of very senior commanders became a feature of such operations and at Stalingrad it was accepted that general and field officers would take up machine pistols or rifles and act as infantry soldiers once their own commands had been destroyed or amalgamated.

… guidelines drawn up by the German Army for units which were encircled.

Three types of situation were catered for: the one where encircled troops stayed in position until a relieving force rescued them; the second, where they undertook a break out operation using just their own forces, or, thirdly, where the whole encircled body rolled, as a sort of mobile pocket, through enemy lines to regain their own main force.

The tactics governing each of these types of operation differed but two tenets were fundamental to each; firstly the maintenance of morale and the second a strong command. Taking morale first: the Germans appreciated that men surrounded by enemy forces are subject to neurosis, a so-called Kesselfieber (encirclement fever), wherein are exhibited the two great fears of beleaguered garrisons. These are the loss of links with home and medical treatment or evacuation of the wounded. The question of adequate food supplies was found to be of a less concern than that of ammunition. Thus, the successful pocket was one which had an air strip on to which planes could land with supplies, fresh troops, ammunition and mail and from which wounded could be evacuated to the main line. Failing an air strip regular and frequent air drops, especially where the supplies included little luxuries, maintained morale at a high pitch. Propaganda was another important factor and the realisation that Red Army men deserted to encircled German troops helped to maintain the spirits of the invested army. Particularly was their morale high if they could know that their defence was causing the enemy huge losses and that its morale was suffering as a result. The bringing in, wherever possible, of fallen German dead and their formal interment was in direct contrast to the heaps of fallen Russian whom their comrades did not bother to remove and bury. Then, too, the growing mounds of Soviet dead were a reminder of how successful was the defence.

Strong command was vital and, depending upon the size of the pocket, the commanding general had a number of staffs directly responsible to him for various services within the invested area. Also, it was important, indeed essential, that the ordinary soldier should be aware that the staff and the senior commanders were undergoing the same privations that he himself was expected to bear. The presence of the senior commander in the front line had to be a common occurrence. Indeed the participation of very senior commanders became a feature of such operations and at Stalingrad it was accepted that general and field officers would take up machine pistols or rifles and act as infantry soldiers once their own commands had been destroyed or amalgamated.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Physical Efficiency Tests 1942
Topic: Drill and Training

Physical Efficiency Tests (for Trained Soldiers)

Canadian Army Training Pamphlet No. 1; A General Instructional Background for the Young Soldier, 1942

Tests 1 to 9 to be carried out in battle order.

1.     Two miles cross country in 17 minutes.

2.     Run 200 yds. and, at the finish, carry out a firing test at which three hits out of five rounds must be obtained on a Figure 3 target, in one minute fifteen seconds.

3.     Forced march of 10 miles in two hours, followed by a similar firing test ro that in Test No. 2. (No time limit for the five shots.)

4.     Carry a man 200 yds. on the flat in two minutes. The man to be carried must be approximately the same weight as the carrier.

5.     100 yds. alarm race and bombing practice. Start in P.T. kit. Battle dress, equipment, etc., placed on a line 120 yds. from the start. Sprint to clothing, etc., and dress for action, keeping P.T. kit underneath, respirator at the slung position. Run the remaining 80 yds. to cover and from there throw two dummy bombs (1 ½ – 2 lbs.) our of five through a 2' by 3' vertical opening at 30' distance. To be completed in 3 ½ minutes.

6.     Jump a ditch 8 ft. 6 inches across, landing on both feet.

7.     Scale a 6 ft. high wall. Respirator to be short slung.

8.     Scale a vertical height of 2 ft. with the aid of a rope. Traverse a 20 ft. span of horizontal rope, and come down with the aid of a rope.

9.     Swim 20 yds. The respirator will not be carried. Boots to be attached to the rifle or to be slung round the neck.

10. Swim 60 yds. In fresh water or 100yds. In salt water in clothing without equipment or boots, then remain afloat out of depth for a period of two minutes.

(Note:…Static units who are unable to leave their sites may be unable to carry out all the above tests. In these circumstances the basic P.T. tests will be found to be suitable substitutes.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:04 AM EST
Monday, 16 February 2015

Helicopter Assault
Topic: The Field of Battle

Helicopter Assault

A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo, 1977

Nothing matters except the final, critical instant when he leaps out into the violent catharsis he both seeks and dreads.

A helicopter assault on a hot landing zone creates emotional pressures far more intense than a conventional ground assault. It is the enclosed space, the noise, the speed, and, above all, the sense of total helplessness. There is a certain excitement to it the first time, but after that it is one of the more unpleasant experiences offered by modern war. On the ground, an infantryman has some control over his destiny, or at least the illusion of it. In a helicopter under fire, he hasn't even the illusion. Confronted by the indifferent forces of gravity, ballistics, and machinery, he is himself pulled in several directions at once by a range of extreme, conflicting emotions. Claustrophobia plagues him in the small space: the sense of being trapped and powerless in a machine is unbearable, and yet he has to bear it. Bearing it, he begins to feel a blind fury to-ward the forces that have made him powerless, but he has to control his fury until he is out of the helicopter and on the ground again. He yearns to be on the ground, but the desire is countered by the danger he knows is there. Yet, he is also attracted by the danger, for he knows he can overcome his fear only by facing it. His blind rage then begins to focus on the men who are the source of the danger--and of his fear. It concentrates inside him, and through some chemistry is transformed into a fierce resolve to fight until the danger ceases to exist. But this resolve, which is sometimes called courage, cannot be separated from the fear that has aroused it. Its very measure is the measure of that fear. It is, in fact, a powerful urge not to be afraid anymore, to rid himself of fear by eliminating the source of it. This inner, emotional war produces a tension almost sexual in its intensity.

It is too painful to endure for long. All a soldier can think about is the moment when he can escape his impotent confinement and release this tension. All other considerations, the rights and wrongs of what he is doing, the chances for victory or defeat in the battle, the battle's purpose or lack of it, become so absurd as to be less than irrelevant. Nothing matters except the final, critical instant when he leaps out into the violent catharsis he both seeks and dreads.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Macadams Shovel
Topic: CEF

The Macadams Shovel

At the Sharp End, Tim Cook, 2007

The Macadams shovel, patented by Sam Hughes's secretary, Edith Macadams, was a combination of metal shovel and sniper's tool that could be fired through while supposedly offering protection. It was not a terrible concept in theory (the idea being to provide the infantryman with some armour), but it was useless as a shovel and lethal to use as a shield since its thin metal could not stop a high-velocity round. The soldiers voted with their hands, tossing away the tools and keeping the army-issued entrenching shovels that came apart for easy carrying. Although Edith Macadams---and her shovel---have long been the butt of many jokes, few at home could imagine the firepower unleashed at the front. Most of the 25,000 shovels were sold as scrap metal before they got anyone killed.

The Macadams Shovel Patent


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 14 February 2015

Only a Subaltern
Topic: Officers

Only a Subaltern

From "Only a Subaltern," The Man Who Would be King and other stories, Rudyard Kipling, 1994

When Bobby came up from Deolali and took his place among the Tail Twisters, it was gently but firmly borne in upon him that the Regiment was his father and his mother and his indissolubly wedded wife, and that there was no crime under the canopy of heaven blacker than that of bringing shame on the Regiment, which was the best-shooting, best-drilled, best-set-up, bravest, most illustrious, and in all respects most desirable Regiment within the compass of the Seven Seas. He was taught the legends of the Mess Plate, from the great grinning Golden Gods that had come out of the Summer Palace in Pekin to the silver-mounted markhor-horn snuff-mull presented by the last C.O. And every one of those legends told him of battles fought at long odds, without fear as without support-, of hospitality catholic as an Arab's; of friendships deep as the sea and steady as the fighting-line; of honour won by hard roads for honour's sake; and of instant and unquestioning devotion to the Regirnent- the Regiment that daims the lives of all and lives for ever.

More than once, too, he came officially into contact with the Regimental colours, which looked like the lining of a bricklayer's hat on the end of a chewed stick. Bobby did not kneel and worship them, because British subalterns are not constructed in that manner. Indeed, he condemned them for their weight at the very moment that they were filling with awe and other more noble sentiments.

But best of all was the occasion when he moved with the Tail Twisters in review order at the breaking of a November day. Allowing for duty-men and sick, the Regiment was one thousand and eighty strong, and Bobby belonged to them; for was he not a Subaltern of the Line — the whole Line, and nothing but the Line - as the tramp of two thousand one hundred and sixty sturdy ammunition boots attested? He would not have changed places with Deighton of the Horse Battery, whirling by in a pillar of cloud to a chorus of 'Strong right!

Strong left!' or Hogan-Yale of the White Hussars, leading his squadron for all it was worth, with the price of horseshoes thrown in; or 'Tick' Boileau, trying to live up to his fierce blue and gold turban while the wasps of the Bengal Cavalry stretched to a gallop in the wake of the long, lollopping Walers of the White Hussars.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
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

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