The Minute Book
Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Canadian Army in the Second World War
Topic: Canadian Army

The Canadian Army in the Second World War

Maple Leaf Against the Axis; Canada's Second World War, David J. Bercuson, 1995

A Canadian infantry division was a large and complex body of men. Commanded by a major-general, its basic war establishment was some 18,376 men. The largest single group of those men were the 8418 infantrymen organized in nine infantry battalions (the eventual infantry battalion establishment was thirty eight officers and 812 men). Each battalion had a support company, and four rifle companies. Each rifle company was made up of a company headquarters and three platoons of one officer (a lieutenant) and thirty-six men. The support company would eventually comprise a carrier platoon, a mortar platoon, a pioneer platoon, and an anti-tank platoon. Three battalions would be joined in an infantry brigade, commanded by a brigadier; an infantry division had three infantry brigades.

The bulk of the men in a Canadian division were not infantry; they were a combination of field artillery (2122 men), Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (1296), engineers (959), medical personnel (945), Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (784), signal corps (743), anti-tank artillery (721), and others. A study done after the war by Major-General E.L.M. Burns (who was a corps commander in Italy) concluded that Canadians allocated more men to medical and other ancillary services than they needed to…certainly more than the British did…and that Canadian divisions had far fewer combat troops as a proportion of their total strength than did American infantry divisions (which contained 14,037 men). Yet Max Hastings, who has written extensively on the Second World War, pointed out in his book on the Normandy campaign that only 65.56 percent of an American division consisted of fighting soldiers, against 89.4 percent in a German panzergrenadier (mechanized) division.

In general, therefore, Canadian divisions were far weaker in overall fighting strength than those of their allies and their enemies. That imbalance would later prove a source of great difficulty in combat and would hamper the Canadian Army in its efforts to keep its front-line units up to proper fighting strength. Put bluntly, the Canadian Army contained too many cooks and bottle-washers and too few riflemen, and the blame for this must be laid totally at the door of National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, which set the establishment for Canadian divisions.

Lack of equipment, lack of space for training, and a poorly designed divisional structure were not the only difficulties hampering the Canadian Army; leadership was a major problem, especially in the early stages of the war when most of the officers in charge of army units were incapable of leading men into battle. Since most of the army units being prepared for war in the fall of 1940 were militia units, most of the officers were militia officers. Few of them lasted even until their units entered battle; many of those who did succeed them in command proved inadequate. Many were veterans of the First World War and too old or too set in their ways to fight a new kind of war. For one thing, they did not have the physical stamina that younger men possessed.

When British General Bernard L. Montgomery reviewed Canadian units and their commanders in the spring of 1942, he concluded that almost one-quarter of the battalion commanders were totally unsuited to the job of training their men or leading them in combat. As a result, there was a wholesale housecleaning of officers right up to the divisional level. But in an army as wedded to the regimental system as the Canadian Army was, some of the retired battalion commanders were replaced by men who were little better. Still, there were some militia officers who were excellent and, by the time the war moved into its final year, they had come to the fore from the battalion level right up to divisional commands. Two of Canada's best field generals…Bert Hoffmeister, who eventually commanded the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, and A.B. Matthews of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division…were both militiamen.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Useful Hints for Young Gentlemen
Topic: Officers

Useful Hints for Young Gentlemen

Mr Bligh's Bad Language; Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty, Greg Dening, 1992

Christopher Claxton offered … in his manual, The Naval Monitor: Containing many Useful hints both for the public and private conduct of young gentlemen in, or entering, that profession in all its branches — in the course of which and under the remarks on gunnery, are some observations on the naval actions with America, also, A plan for improving the naval system as far as it regards that most useful set of petty offficers, the midshipman (London, 1815).

Claxton's advice to midshipmen was full of the commonsense of military institutions. The essence of learning command was to have a Machiavellian prudence on the inside of one's head and shining enthusiasm on the outside. 'Strive to do everything better than everybody else', he wrote, much in the fashion, one suspects, that Dale Carnegie would have written had he been of the eighteenth century. 'Never lose an opportunity of volunteering… The more hazardous and difficult the more credit.' 'Never admit an idea of not succeeding to enter your head. Want of confidence in yourself, if you feel it, will shew itself in your countenance.' 'It is a great blessing that British sailors have no thought or reflection. Men naturally look up to officers, particularly if they know him to be good.' 'To have the real glow of animation and confidence painted on your countenance, it is almost necessary to be in love with the enterprise. A gallant and confident inward feeling will display an animating, bold and encouraging exterior.'

Never walk, always run. Never take the slightest liberty with the men. Never reply to reproofs. Never refuse to dine or breakfast with the officers when you are invited. Never strike a seaman. 'The sting of the blow is felt much longer than the outward pain it inflicts… Nothing can palliate it. It is subversive of good order, discipline and regularity as it is disgraceful.' Be religious, but 'make no outward shew, profess nothing unless you are asked and then with conscious rectitude declare your precepts'. Hear as little as possible and betray still less knowledge. Take bitter pills with a wry face. 'If you say you will punish, abide by your word or your threat will be treated with derision, and be careful in your mode of punishment that you do not allow passion to get the upper hand of your reason.'

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Trench Training
Topic: CEF

Trench Training

How it is Carried On At Liverpool
Practical Work

Note: Although this article is sourced from an Australian newspaper (and may be about a training camp at Liverpool, England, or Liverpool, Australia), I've tagged it as "CEF" to group it with other First World War items in The Minute Book. The experiences of soldiers and evolution of training followed similar paths for British, Canadian and Australian forces diuuring the Great War.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 1916

It has been recognised during the present war that the old manner of drilling soldiers in long lines, or even teaching them to form the hollow square—so successful against native attacks when dealing with coloured enemies—has had to be abandoned. To-day once the soldier understands the platoon and extended order drill and the real meaning of the word "discipline" he is initiated into a class of warfare never dreamed of before. Shooting, of course, is an essential part of his training, but there has been added to this the work of the navvy and the cricketer. He is instructed in the art of trench digging at night. He is also taught to throw bombs and to catch them, and return them whence they came, if, in the meantime, they have not exploded.

When Liverpool camp was first established a series of trenches were dug on the eastern side of George's River in a line with the field hospital, and formed a show spot in the camp on Sundays and holidays when relations and friends trooped out there by the thousand. They were ideal trenches—for visitors—but were useless from the point of view of the man at the front. They were fine and roomy, and conveyed the impression that to line in them must mean to the men one long picnic.

Lessons From the Front

Then some officer at Gallipoli or in Flanders or France sent along some exact drawings of trenches as they really have to be dug in the fighting which goes on to-day, and all the ideas of those who had been instructing recruits in the science of underground warfare were suddenly and completely "knocked higher that Gilderoy's kite," and a readjustment of the work had to be made. Those "Sunday afternoon" trenches became things of the past. They may have taught the prospective fighter how to dig, but they were not the real thing, and they had to be promptly discarded.

Trenches, in the fighting now being waged, are not attractive, neither are they commodious. They are severely utilitarian. They are not dug during daylight, but after nightfall, and, as far as Liverpool camp is concerned, they are not one of the show features, being situated a considerable distance from the main camp in a paddock that runs down to a thick belt of bush on one side and on the other three sides has small patches of scrub, which would form ideal shelters for snipers if they chose to dig in behind them, as the Turks did at Gallipoli.

The officer in charge of the depot training school took a "Herald" reporter to see these trenches, and explained their construction, if one can use such a word with regard to excavations. Coming across the paddock suddenly and without having previously been warned that it was a care of "ware trench," the ordinary visitor would not know that those innocent mounds of dried turf hid a perfect network of trenches. Reaching the summit of the first mound one looked into a narrow pit 5-feet deep that seemed to lose itself in a kind of maze or Chinese puzzle.

Method of Construction

"Every part of the trenches must communicate with every other," explained the officer, "even if they extend for miles, and they must be so constructed that attacks from any quarter can be repulsed. We don't dig them in one straight line, as many people suppose, for the simple reason that we must be prepared for either flank or rear attacks. We don't dig them wide and deep, either, but in a sort of Grecian key pattern, so that if a shell explodes in one portion of the trench only the few men in that portion are placed hors de combat.

"To explain the trenches as simply as possible," continued the officer, "we make the men dig them down till the level of the ground is up to their shoulders, and the excavation is only as wide as their shoulders. This means a depth of five feet with a width of 18 inches. The fire trench is generally 15 feet in length, and then comes the traverse. This is a resisting block of land left on either side of each firing trench, but connected with it by a trench running round the rear. This block of land, which is about six or eight feet thick, is considered shell-resisting, or, as I explained before, it serves to prevent a shell falling in one fire trench harming the men in the next one. 'In other words, it is the armour-plating. In the fire trenches three dugouts are driven from the base forward towards the enemy lines, and these can be utilised as resting or sleeping quarters, and are practially impervious to either shell or rifle fire. These sleeping holes are driven in 13 feet.

Soldiers' House in War

"Behind the fire trenches is an observation trench, connected with the fire trenches by the same narrow slits in the earth, and behind these again run the communications trenches which zig-zag in and out to minimize the danger of officers of men moving up and down then being harmed by enemy fire. Should a man be bowled over in the trenches either by shell, bomb, or rifle fire, they are so constructed that, in spite of their narrowness, he can be removed on a stretcher to the communications trench, and so to the rear, where he can be attended to by the ambulance men.

"There is one other point I wish to impress upon you with regard to why we now dig in in such close quarters," added the officer. "Hostile aircraft above the trenches we dug in the early days of the camp could have spotted those trenches almost as clearly as they could George's River, but these new trenches, built on the lines of the experience gained in actual warfare, thanks to what we have learned from returned officers and men, are so narrow that it would take a smart pilot flying at over a thousand feet to distinguish them from their surroundings, which we make and keep as natural as possible.

"The men are taken out and taught to dig themselves into these trenches at night, where they often sleep and have their meals, and then we have given them further instruction and lectures on the why and wherefore during the hours of daylight. So much depends on how quickly men can dig themselves in now that trenching is one of the most important items in the training of every man who joins the A.I.F., and this portion of his training is as thorough as the experience of the staff can make it, thanks to the information forwarded by those daily and weekly living and fighting in trenches at the front."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 15 June 2015

Givenchy, June 1915
Topic: CEF

Givenchy, June 1915

Canada's Part in the Present War; Empire Day, May 23rd, Ontario Department of Education, 1918

Casualty figures for the 15 Jun 1915 attack at Givenchy, as recording in the 1st Cdn Inf Bn's War Diary, were as follows:—

  • Officers:—
    • Killed – 10
    • Wounded – 8
    • Missing – 2
  • Other Ranks:—
    • Killed – 58
    • Wounded – 218
    • Missing – 82

This battle was fought on June 15th, 1915, immediately north of La Bassée Canal. It was only one of a series of engagements between the close of the battle of Festubert, May 26th, and the beginning of the great battle at Loos on September 25th; and although it will not be given a large part in the history of the campaign—Sir John French in his despatch reviewing the conflict between Festubert and Loos merely mentions the engagement—yet it was a furious action, and one in which the Canadians again showed their mettle. It is true that the fortified positions which were won here had to be abandoned later, but that was no fault of the Canadians.

The 1st Canadian (Ontario) Battalion was detailed to secure two front lines of trenches running south for 150m yards from a fortified position called "Stony Mountain" to another known as "Dorchester." Previous to the day of the attack the men, with their usual energy and ingenuity, had secretly brought up to the front trench two 18-pounder field-pieces. Fifteen minutes before the attack was due to take place, these suddenly opened fire point-blank at the Germen defences only seventy-five yards away, destroying the enemy's machine-guns and smashing the barbed wire entanglements. These guns naturally became the mark of the German batteries, and after fifteen minutes they were both silenced, one by a direct hit and the other by the bursting of a shell; but they had dome good work in clearing the way for the infantry.

Just as the guns fired their last shot, the 1st Battalion, supported by the rest of the 1st Brigade, rose from the trenches and raced toward the front lines. In a remarkably short time they had taken possession of "Dorchester" and the front trench. Some remained to reverse the parapet—that is to change the sandbags so that the trench would face the enemy—others charged forward to the second line trench. Here there was a desperate resistance; many Germans were bayoneted, and others were taken prisoners. This trench, too, changed hands; and some of the 1st Company reached even the third-line trench, but this could not be held.

So much for the "Dorchester" end of the attack. The enemy's fire was much more deadly from the direction of "Stony Mountain," and the assaulting parties here suffered severely. Bombing parties sent against this fortress were almost annihilated; machine-gun and rifle-fire literally mowed down man after man, rank after rank; so that finally the Battalion had to be content with erecting barricades just south of "Stony Mountain" and with holding the second-line trench at "Dorchester." This latter was obviously a hazardous undertaking, because the trenches were raked by a flank fire from "Stony Mountain." To make matters worse, the supply of bombs ran short and could not be replenished. Four messengers who were sent back in succession were shot dead. The bombers were, therefore, helpless; and some idea of their chagrin may be gathered from the actions of some unknown man, who, having thrown his last bomb, stood on the parapet of the Germen front-line trench, hurling stones at the advancing enemy till he was shot down.

Since the terrific enemy fire from "Stony Mountain" prevented the British from advancing, they were unable to offer the Canadians any assistance. The latter held on doggedly ion the face of heavy casualties till about 9.30, when they fell back to their own trenches. Though the action had been a gallant one, it was fruitless. When it is stated that, out of twenty-three officers and eight hundred men, only three officers and two hundred fifty men were able to return, no further proof of the grim determination of the attack is needed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 June 2015

Critical Requirements of a Leader
Topic: Leadership

Critical Requirements of a Leader

Leadership in the Canadian Forces, 2007

1.     A successful leader seeks and accepts responsibility and accountability.

2.     A successful leader performs effectively under stress.

3.     A successful leader correctly applies skills and knowledge.

4.     A successful leader demonstrates initiative and decisiveness.

5.     A successful leader seeks and accepts advice and constructive criticism.

6.     A successful leader inspires team spirit, performance and co-operation.

7.     A successful leader plans effectively.

8.     A successful leader communicates effectively.

9.     A successful leader supervises effectively.

10.     A successful leader delegates effectively.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 June 2015 1:47 PM EDT
Saturday, 13 June 2015

Supplies Required for One Day (1914)
Topic: Army Rations

The Infantry Battalion (1914)

Supplies Required for One Day

(Annex E); Field Service Manual, 1914; Infantry Battalion (Expeditionary Force)

The following table, which is inserted for purpose of easy reference, shows the detail of supplies which would be required by a battalion for one day:—

Detail. Battalion Headquarters. M.G. Section One Company Battalion.
Establishmentpersonnel 81182271,007
Biscuits (lbs.)81182271,007
Bread (in lieu of biscuits) (lbs.)101 1/422 1/2283 3/41,258 3/4
Bacon (lbs.)1/44 1/256 3/4251 3/4
Cheese (lbs.)15 5/163 6/1642 9/16188 13/16
 Mustard (lbs.)4/161/1611.5/163 5/16
 Tea (lbs.)3 5/163/48 14/1639 6/16
 Sugar (lbs.)15 3/163 6/1642 9/16188 13/16
 Salt (lbs.)1 1/21/2 ozs.7 1/1631 1/2
 Pepper2 ozs1/2 oz.7/16 lb.1 3/4 lbs.
Jam (lbs.)21557252
 Fresh (in lieu of preserved) (lbs.) 1/422 1/2283 3/41,258 3/4
 preserved (lbs.) 81182271,007
Oats (lbs.)3726060672
 Fresh (a) (lbs.)40 1/29113 1/2503 1/2
 Or dried (lbs.)10 2/162 1/428 6/16125 14/16
Lime Juice (b) † (pts.)21/2 5 1/225
Rum (c) † (pts.)10 2 1/4 28 1/4126
Tobacco (c) † (lbs.)1 7/16 5 ozs.4 7/16 lbs.18 lbs.

‡Excludes A.S.C. drivers and horses of the train.

(a) To be issued when available, but not to be carried in regimental transport when troops are marching daily.

(b) Lime juice is issued when fresh vegetables are not supplied, or at the discretion of the G.O.C. on recommendation of the medical officer.

(c) Issued at the discretion of the G.O.C. on recommendation of the medical officer.

† Not carried normally in supply columns of A.S.C. trains.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 June 2015 9:35 AM EDT
Friday, 12 June 2015

Private Hercul Bureau, MM
Topic: Medals

Every Soldier has a Story: Hercul Bureau

As an avid collector of medals and badges of my own Regiment, I often scan the offerings at ebay to see if anything matching my collecting theme has shown up. In doing so I always review the newest offerings of medals awarded to Canadians. Among these, the Military Medals, awarded to soldiers for bravery on the field of battle, always catch my eye and cause me to look at the recipients regardless of their unit. Sadly, the specific act or acts for which a Military Medal has been awarded is seldom recorded in accessible documentation, but sometimes this examination leads to a soldier with a story that goes far beyond the answer to that query.

One such recent auction listed, now completed, was for the Military Medal awarded to 144743 Private Hercul Bureau of the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

The auction listing, describing a medal with damage to the rim, did not even provide the soldier's full details:

A search of the CEF Soldiers Database at Library and Archives Canada revealed that two soldiers had been given that service number (a rare error, but not unusual in itself), and the one whose personal details matched the medal was 144743 Private Hercul Bureau.

With a surname sufficiently early in the alphabet that his file has been digitized (27 Mb pdf) and uploaded by Library and Archives Canada (in a project that is starting to look like it will last longer than the Great War itself), we find some interesting notes about the military service of young Hercul.

Hercul Bureau, standing all of 5-foot, 2 and ½ inches in height, enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 16 August, 1915, at the age of 18. On enlistment, he joined the 77th Canadian Infantry Battalion at Ottawa. After the 77th Battalion sailed to England, it was broken up to feed the reinforcement stream. Young Hercul found himself serving in France with the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion, joining his new unit in the field on 8 June 1916.

Bureau's record of service demonstrates clearly that following rules was one of his weaker attributes. He becomes fully acquainted with the military justice system, as shown in these entries in his service record:

  • 20 March 1916 – 15 days detention for disobedience.
  • 20 June 1916 – 7 days Field Punishment No. 1 for being in town without a pass.
  • 17 August 1916 – 1 day F.P. No. 2 for being improperly dressed on parade.
  • 26 August 1916 – 1 day F.P. No. 2 for absence from parade.
  • 15 January 1917 – 7 days Field Punishment No. 2 for late for parade.

On 7 July 1917, Hercul Bureau was admitted to hospital with a severe bayonet wound in his left thigh. The battalion War Diary reports seven casualties that day, one killed and six wounded, the result of a German raid on the front trenches.

But Hercul's performance was clearly not always such to keep him in the Sergeant Major's crap list. On 7 November, 1917, the entry was made in his service record that he had been awarded the Military medal in the field. Private Hercul Bureau was not just the recipient of the Military Medal, he was actually awarded the Military Medal and Bar, which means he was decorated twice for bravery, each time being the deserving recipient of the Military Medal. The Bar to his Military Medal was recorded in his service record on 26 August 1919, catching up to him long after the end of the War as the backlog of paperwork and recommendations for awards were being cleared away.

In addition to his awards for bravery, Bureau's abilities as a soldier were clearly supported in his appointment as an Acting Corporal in October 1918 and the promotion to substantive rank in January 1919.

After the War, Bureau remained overseas with the CEF. This, unfortunately, led to his worst offences. His service records records the details of 5 August 1919:

"Joining in mutiny in His Majesty's Forces in that he, at South Camp, Ripon, on 17th of June joined in a mutiny by combining with soldiers of 23 Reserve Battalion to obstructing a fire picket in the execution of their duties in case of fire in Camp and to loot a canteen and maliciously to destroy public property namely building in said camp by fire and otherwise and to release by violent means prisoners lawfully confined in the guard room of said Battalion."

The result of Bureau's participation in the mutiny are also recorded:

"Tried by District Court Martial at Ripon 5 August 1919, and sentenced to be Reduced to [the] Ranks and two years Hard Labour, and discharged with ignominy from His Majesty's Service. In arrest 17 June 1919. Sentenced 5 August 1919. Confirmed 7 August 1919. Promulgated 8 August 1919."

On 12 September, 1919, Hercul Bureau's service record notes that the remaining portion of his sentence would be remitted on his discharge with ignominy. This was effected with his return to Canada in December, 1919.

If you only heard the story of Bureau's battlefield valour, you might call him a hero. But if you only heard the story of his role in a mutiny, you might call him a reprobate. Each soldier of the Canadian Expeditionary Force has a story. Each of these stories is worthy of being researched and brought back to light, and the work being done at Library and Archives Canada is enabling researchers to do this much more easily than ever before. Rediscovering the stories of soldiers like Hercul Bureau, both hero and reprobate, emphasizes that each soldier was as complex an individual as we like to perceive ourselves, and simplistic labels do not capture the depth of their characters.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2015 6:23 PM EDT
Thursday, 11 June 2015

Mascots; Second World War
Topic: Canadian Army

Services Mascots earn Place in Photo Gallery

One Mascot Sailed

The Coaticook Observer,
29 December 1939

Ottawa.—"No Mascots" was the effect of an order to all units of the First Division of the canadian Active Service Force and apparently, only one lot got away with a modest infraction of the rule, a lively Airedale pup scrambling past some one's blind eye. The Airedale had been smuggled into the port of embarcation by an Ontario Scottish unit. There are stringent quarantine regulations across the seas and it is highly probable the pup will have an enforced stay "Somewhere."

This was in strong comparison with the sailing of the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. No unit was complete without its mascot and the fleet assembled in Gaspe Basin sheltered a varied assortment of dogs, big and little, bear cubs and goats. This Noah's Ark contingent was promptly gathered up on arrival in England but even that drastic measure failed to diminish the army's faith in animal mascost.

Ottawa Citizen, 8 May 1948
By James B. Roe, Evening Citizen Staff Writer

As part of its week-long "Be Kind To Animals" campaign the Ottawa Humane Society's display of animal photographs in the Little Gallery on Spark street has already been visited by hundreds of persons. Although the display is devoted mainly to a pictorial appeal on behalf of the British Society fo the Protections of Animals in North Africa, which is supported by Canadian funds in part, two panels commemorate mascots of the Canadian armed forces who served with our fighting men during the war.

Made Life Happier

Many Ottawa ex-servicemen will remember these doughty comrades, whose devotion and friendship frequently made life a little bit happier for soldiers, sailors and airmen in strange wartime surroundings.

Mrs. James Schwartz, convener of the display for the Society, says that it will remain open another week. Already a considerable amount has been collected through voluntary contributions to aid the North African society in its efforts to rehabilitate thousands of mules, horses, and camels who served and suffered with the Allied troops during the Tunisian campaign of 1942-43.

Many a Canadian ex-soldier will remember the "wonderful mules of Tunisia" who were hastily pressed into service to meet the exigencies of the moment in war and are now returned to the old ill treatment and over-work disabilities at the hands of their North African civilian masters.

The display panels concerned with Canadian service mascots strike a lighter, happier note. Here are shown "Cheetah", the little monkey who served as an Able Seaman in HMCS "Restigouche" on many a North Atlantic convoy. Among "Cheetah's" Ottawa ship-mates in those days were the writer, Lieut. Commander Ralph Hennessey, Lieut. Commander Fred Toller and John Dunne, and many others.

Another naval protagonist shown is "George," a sea-gull who served his time, fair weather and foul, in HMCS "St. Stephen", serving as a weather ship in Arctic waters under command of Lieut. E.M. Chadwick, RCN, of whom he was a special chum.

Then there is another "George", the English bull mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment in Sicily, who usually took great pride in mounting guard outside battalion headquarters.

Shown also are the Saskatoon Light Infantry's donkey, "Flakers"; the kitten mascot of HMCS "Sault Ste. Marie", who was part of the ship's company on her maiden voyage in 1943, and scores of others.

In a world eternally an unfortunately distinguished by the propensity to talk too much and act too sparingly, man has long valued the animal as a companion and work-mate. When the going gets tough, the animal conforms in mute devotion and wordless sympathy. Sometimes that trust is abused.

elipsis graphic

From the Library and Archives Canada on line archive Faces of the Second World War, the following images of unit mascots can be viewed:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 3 May 2015 6:59 PM EDT
Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Trench Life very Different from Past Wars
Topic: CEF

Picture of Trench Life that is Very Different from War in Other Days

The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 23 June 1917
(Special Correspondent)

London, June 13.—The British infantryman in the trenches in France, where he will soon be joined by General Pershing's soldiers, live all his days and nights in danger. If he goes for six months unhurt he is an object of curiosity, a man with a strange fortune.

His working hours are governed only by the limits of his strength, yet he grumbles merely by way of diversions, for his desire is to win this war, and nothing else very much matters. If you were to ask him how he was winning the war, he would tell you, in his ironical way, that, so far as he could see, the way to win the war was not by fighting, as some who had never seen war, mistakenly thought, but by working, and that life for him was one long interminable working party. He would also tell you some entertaining things about them, for they are of endless variety.

There is nothing in the trenches that pays more than hard, well regulated work. In this way in a few weeks a miserable ditch can be transformed into a model habitation, complete with reception rooms, bedrooms, and all modern conveniences. Take as instance the largest and most enterprising work party on which a certain battalion was ever engaged. Its orders were simply to march out half-way across "No Man's Land" and dig there an entirely new trench complete with barbed wire entanglements, firestep and communications trenches. This task was accomplished in two nights, and remarkable as it may sound, with no casualties.

"Tommy's" private opinion was that "Fritz" was too much frightened by the mysterious something that was going on out there in the darkness, to fire straight. These trenches were subsequently revetted and equipped with dug-outs. Soon they became flooded, knee-deep in mud and slush and had to be drained day and night with scoops and pumps. Later they were furnished with scaling ladders and an attack launched from them. Still later they were completely obliterted by an enemy barrage and were entirely re-built more strongly than ever. There is always work for working parties in this changing world.

Work While They "Rest."

You might think, since war is nearly all working parties, that when a battalion "rests," it "rests" from working parties. But this is not so. On the contrary. Being comparatively fresh, a battalion "resting" is regarded as an ideal source of labor supply. A five mile march "there" at dusk and a five mile march "back" at dawn, irrespective of weather conditions, is very often how the night passes when you go to "rest."

Wire can never be too thick. That is one of the laws of working parties. Twenty men plus a "covering party" of say five men and an N.C.O. is an average size wiring party for a single Company frontage, making 100 men for the battalion. But if the wiring is urgent, it may be necessary to double or even treble these numbers. You must be a good soldier and well trained to do wiring properly. The knowledge that he is standing upright in the open without a vestige of cover, with machine guns, rifles, shrapnel, high explosive and "minnies" blazing all around, often tends to make it difficult for a man to concentrate his mind on what he is doing. Then the wire has a peculiar tendency to get entangles; the metal-work, screw-pickets clank together like church bells; the tin flaps at the sides of the coils clatter and scrape enough to rouse the dead, or so it at least seems to the wiring party as it gets to work in the open.

Almost equally important trench work is revetting; that is to say, strengthening by means of stakes, angle irons, wire netting, and sandbags, the walls of the trenches, the firestep and parapet, Unless a firestep is revetted almost at once it will quickly crumble away, and it is an only less urgent work to revet the trench wall and parapet. Rain plays havoc with a trench and it is far more difficult to repair a fallen-in section than it is to revet strongly in the first instance. Sandbag revetting is perhaps the most important of all, but like other simple things, a mystery until you know the way, for unless you know the way, bags piled on the top of one another with whatever care you do it, will bulge and collapse in two days. But by the proper use of "headers" and "stretchers" by keeping "chokers" turned inwards; by not filling the bags too full, and by properly "binding" angles and corners, you will make a sandbag revetment that will endure. Good revetting is a work of art.

Lively When Targets Appearance

It is most eerie of all when you must work standing at two or three paces interval along the top of the parapet, for then you become silhouetted against the sky or the glare of the enemy flares. A night may be as serene and quiet as paradise; but place half-a-dozen with pick and shovels on the parapet, and in two minutes it is as though there were a frontal attack in progress. In no other form of working party is the call more often heard of "pass the word for the stretcher-bearers."

So the nights pass. Hardly a trench or communications trench is without its own particular workers, and all are employed simultaneously. In one spot there may be pumping, in another revetting:—in another section of trench that has blown in during the day is being re-built; in another a party is deepening and widening; in another digging "sumppits;" in another constructing dug-outs. In yet another endless streams of carrying parties go past—some with engineers' materials, some with rations, some with mails, some with ammunition. But in every trench some working party is at work.

While all this is in progress the vigilant look-out is never for one moment relaxed. Each "post" and gap is properly provided with its look-outs and their reliefs (on urgent occasions—as at Loos and the Somme—even the sentries had to put in a spell of work during their "2 hours off"); the scouts have to make their usual excursions; the Lewis gunners carry out their fire orders, the company signallers are continuously linked by wire with the battalion headquarters, the officers on duty ceaselessly patrol their company lines, the bombers, the machine gunners, the trench mortar batteries, and behind all the artillery, are always in the alert. Everyone knows exactly what to do in case of a gas alarm or an attack; and each man as he works has his gas helmet, his rifle and ammunition ready to his hand.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 9 June 2015

CF-18 Hornet

Recruiting Information Card
CF-18 Hornet

This information card highlighting the characteristics of the CF-18 Hornet was probably produced for use by the Canadian Armed Forces recruiting system or for Royal Canadian Air Force public relations activities.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 8 June 2015

Calling Out the Militia (1941)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Carden-Lloyd "tankettes" at Wolseley Barracks. Between the Wars, even these were occasionally deployed in Aid of the Civil Power on strike duty.

Calling Out the Militia

Handbook of Canadian Military Law; Singer and Langford, 1941

The law in regard to the Militia being called out in aid of the civil power wil1 be found in the Militia Act, Sections 75-85 inclusive. K.R. (Can.) 848.

Who is Liable to be Called Out

"The Active Militia, or any corps thereof, shall be liable to be called out for active service, within or without the municipality in which such corps is raised or organized, with their arms, ammunition and equipment, in aid of the civil power, in any case in which a riot or disturbance of the peace requiring such service occurs, or is, in the opinion of the civil authority, hereinafter designated in that behalf, anticipated as likely to occur, which is beyond the powers of the civil authorities to suppress, or to prevent, or to deal with." M.A. 75.

Section 120 of the Militia Act provides that every officer and man of the Militia who, when his corps is lawfully called upon to act in aid of the civil power, refuses or neglects to go out with such corps, shall, if an officer, incur a penalty not exceeding $100.00 and, if a man, a penalty not exceeding $20.00.

"In any case where a riot or disturbance occurs, or is anticipated as likely to occur, the Attorney-General, or acting Attorney-General, of the province in which is situated the place where such riot or disturbance occurs, or is anticipated as likely to occur, on his own motion or on receiving notification from a judge of a superior or county or district court, having jurisdiction in such place, that the services of the Active Militia are required in aid of the civil power, my by requisition in writing (see M.A. 80) addressed to the district officer commanding the military district in which such place is situated, require the Active Militia or such portion thereof as the district officer commanding considers necessary, to be called out on active service to assist the civil power." M.A. 76

An Order-in-Council was passed on August 7th 1940 empowering certain other Provincial officials to requisition the services of the Active Militia when necessary. This was passed by reason of representations to the Minister of National Defence that situations might arise, during the state of war now existing, necessitating military action in aid of the civil power, and that delay might ensue, by reason of the Attorney-General or acting Attorney-General being absent or otherwise not available, or by reason of the locality where military aid was required being so distant from the place where the Attorney-General or acting Attorney-General could be found, that communication with him would entail considerable loss of time.

Accordingly, regulations under the authority of this Order-in-Council, empowering "any Crown Attorney or any other provincial official or class of provincial official designated from time to time for that purpose by the Attorney-General or acting Attorney-General of "the province concerned " as persons who, in the manner prescribed by the Militia Act, may requisition the services of the Active Militia in aid of the civil power, and "may notify the district officer commanding that their services are no longer required in aid of the civil power."

"The district officer commanding a military district, or the officer for the time being performing his duties, shall call out the Active Militia in the district of which he is in command, or such portion thereof as he considers necessary for the purpose of suppressing or preventing any actual or anticipated riot or disturbance upon receiving requisition in writing made by the authority hereinbefore designated in that behalf; Provided that, so far as the Permanent Force is available, it shall be employed upon the duty of suppressing or preventing such actual or anticipated riot or disturbance, and recourse shall not be had to other militia corps except to the extent that the Permanent Force is not available." M.A. 11.

"A district officer commanding, upon receiving a requisition from the civil authority empowered by law to make the same, has no discretionary power as to the necessity for aid, nor has he the power to call out the Active Militia in any district other than the one of which he is in command. (M.A. 78(1). Such district officer commanding has, however, complete discretion as to the number of troops he shall employ. If such district officer commanding considers that the services of the Active Militia in districts other than the one of which he is in command are necessary for the purpose of preventing any such actual or anticipated riot or disturbance as recited in the requisition, he is required by law (M.A. 18(Z), to notify the Adjutant-General of the number of officers and other ranks, together with their horses and equipment, which he considers necessary and of which number he is the sole judge, and upon receiving such notification the Adjutant-General is empowered to call out such of the Active Militia as in his judgment are available to meet the requirements of the said district officer commanding as set forth in the notification, and to cause them to be dispatched to him." M.A. 78(2), K.R. (Can.) 850.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 7 June 2015

Qualities of Good British Infantry
Topic: Drill and Training

Qualities of Good British Infantry

Colonel Mark Kingsley Wardle, DSO, MC, Leics. Regt.

  • Commissioned as a 2nd Lieut, Leics. Regt. 13 Oct 1909
  • Served in France and Belgium from 25 Sep to 5 Nov 1914, 7 Mar to 12 May 1915, and 4 Nov 1915 to 27 Apr 1918.
  • Distinguished Service Order, gazetted 26 July 1918: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. By a daring reconnaissance during a withdrawal he located the exact extent of a gap between our troops, and ascertained the position, strength and movement of the enemy. His report was of the utmost value to the brigade commander and to the Higher Command. All through the operations he displayed great courage and enthusiasm."
  • Wounded three times during the Great War
  • Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted 20 Dec 1918
  • Lieut. Col., Leics. Regt. on 8 May 1937
  • Honourary Colonel, 10 Jun 1945.

A Defence of Close-Order Drill; A Reply to "Modern Infantry Discipline" by Major M.K. Wardle, D.S.O., M.C., The Leicestershire Regiment
Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXXIX, February to November, 1934

In the training of troops for warm it is essential in the first place to be clear about the sort of man it is desired to produce. In the British infantry the emphasis necessarily falls more heavily on certain points than in other arms and armies; but I do not believe that the qualities that are the groundwork of good British infantry in 1934 are any other than they were in 1334, or 1734, or 1834. They are, and sure always have been:—

(1)     Physical fitness, that will make it possible for the man to answer the demands made upon him;

(2)     Steadfastness, that will enable him to endure fatigue, hunger, cold, heat, hardships and deprivations of all kinds, and fear, to the end;

(3)     Confidence in his leader's character and military efficiency, so that he will be immune from the insidious inroads of distrust and misinformed criticism;

(4)     Pride in the efficiency of his platoon, company, battalion, and in the certainty that they will do their duty under all possible circumstances, and in the knowledge that they have done so in the past;

(5)     Obedience, by which he embraces the intention of his leader as his own objective, to be attained by the exercise of every faculty, of courage, knowledge, or initiative, that he possesses in co-operation with the rest of his sub-unit;

(6)     A sense of solidarity with his leaders and comrades, by which it becomes impossible for him to fail them, as it is inconceivable that they should fail him.

These are the military virtues of the British infantryman.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 6 June 2015

Regimental Goats and Rams
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Goats and Rams

Regimental Mascots, by Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R. Hist.S.
The Army Quarterly, Volume LXIII (October 1951 and January 1952)

Possibly the most well-known animals of this kind are goats of The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The Welch Regiment. When on parade attired in their "full canonicals" they make a fine show. Their "full dress" consists of a handsome cloth embroidered with badges, etc., draped over the body, horns and hooves gilded and harness of high quality. They are led by goat-majors at the head of their units and lend a picturesque touch to ceremonial occasions. It is not known precisely when The Royal Welch Fusiliers had their first goat, but they certainly had one at the Battle of Bunker's Hill on the 17th of June, 1775, during the American War of Independence. It is not recorded whether his butting powers were put to any tactical use, but Major Donkin in his "Military Recollections and Remarks" has noted the following amusing incident:

"Every 1st March, being the anniversary of their tutelar Saint, David, the officers give a splendid entertainment to all their Welch brethren; and after the cloth is taken away a bumper is filled round to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (whose health is always drunk to first that day), the band playing the old tune of "The Noble Race of Shenkin," when a handsome drum-boy, elegantly dressed, mounted on the goat richly caparisoned for the occasion, is led thrice round the table in procession by the Drum Major. It happened in 1775, at Boston that the animal gave such a spring from the floor, that he dropped his rider upon the table, and then, bounding over the heads of some officers, he ran to the barracks with all his trappings to no small joy of the Garrison and populace."

This must have been a super-lusty goat for none of his successors appear to have given such a performance.

Queen Victoria appears to have liked the idea of this regiment having goats for in 1844 Her Majesty presented one to each of the two regular battalions, and all "replacements," for a considerable number of years afterwards, came from the Royal Herd at Windsor.

The Welch Regiment had a goat during the Afghan War, with which it marched into enemy territory, but died in the Bolan Pass in 1842. For many years these goats also came from the Royal Herd, but the early ones were gifts from distinguished personages, including the Duke of Wellington. During the South African War of 1899-1902 one was obtained in the theatre of operations for a pound of butter, which might be regarded as suitable exchange for a "butter."

In the matter of diet goats have a fairly catholic taste and hardly anything about barracks comes amiss. Even so they ought to exercise some discretion in what they eat. We remember one goat of pre-Great War vintage that celebrated Christmas Day by eating the paper decorations around a barrack room. Flour paste and tissue paper apparently have a habit of expanding considerably when "housed" together inside a goat. What the limit of expansion is we do not know, but we do know that this animal's interior had not the requisite elasticity—with fatal results.

elipsis graphic

Rex, the goat of The Welch Regiment, caused some embarrassment on Church Parade at Aldershot in November, 1932. Adorned in all his finery, he stood at the head of the battalion, but when the C.O. ordered "Quick March," Rex lay down and refused to budge. Neither persuasion nor threats could make him rise so he was dragged somewhat unceremoniously from the parade and placed "under arrest." His case was inquired into and it was found that the regular goat-major was on leave and Rex would take no orders from his deputy.

Rams seem to have some affinity to goats if only in general appearance and the 2nd Bn. The Sherwood Foresters had rams as their mascots ever since the first one was captured from the enemy at Kotah during the Indian Mutiny. Now that the 2nd Bn. has been disbanded the 1st Bn. is continuing the custom. During an assault on the mutineers the O.C., Lieut.-Colonel Raines, noticed a fine ram tethered in a temple compound, so he remarked to Private Cody of the Grenadier Company, "Do you think you could capture that ram?" and Cody replied assuringly, "Yes, Sorr, I'm sure I could." "Right-o, go ahead," said the C.O., and handing his rifle to a nearby sergeant the Grenadier crept towards his prize. The regiment watched with anxiety as Cody slithered over low walls under fire from a hidden enemy but fortune favoured him and he reached the ram without being hit. He fussed the animal a little to gain its confidence and then returned to his unit, lifting the animal over the walls. When the rebels saw their "rations on the hoof" being taken from them they increased their fire, but although bullets spattered on the wa1ls around him, Cody was unscathed.

The ram immediately became a firm favourite with all ranks and although he was originally intended "for the table" he was spared this fate and instead became the regimental mascot, being dubbed "Derby I," the old 95th Foot having had "Derbyshire" inc1uded in its official title in 1825. He proved to be the first of a long line for "Derby XVII" reigns at present [1952]. Derby I had a strong sense of ownership, and if any other ram came near the regiment he was "for it." Usually only one round was sufficient to settle any argument. The ladies of the regiment made him a beautiful scarlet coat and a plume for his brow: on the coat he wore the Indian Mutiny medal which has also been worn by all of his successors in the "appointment." Derby III was remarkable for the fact that he had two pairs of horns, the second pair curving towards the front, a few inches below his ears. He was the gift of the Maharajah of Kashmir. Derby VIII was a born atheist and strongly objected to attending Divine Service mainly, it is thought, because he did not like the music played by the band on church parade. He suffered from ingrowing horns which was incurable and he had to be "put away." The Regimental Magazine recorded his premature demise thus: "Deaths. At Solon on the tenth of October 1893, Derby VII. By the hand of a butcher." He became a hearthrug in his next reincarnation.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 5 June 2015

The Sabre
Topic: Militaria

The Sabre

Military Men and Matters
The Montreal Gazette, 8 January 1892

"The Sabre," said Colonel John S. Mosby, the famous Confederate soldier, recently, "is about as useless in actual warfare as the fifth wheel of a coach. It is only a tradition. Gunpowder knocked it out, and it has been retained in the service largely on sentimental grounds. On dress parades and occasions of ceremony the sabre does well enough, but no sane man would think of using a sabre in a modern battle, During the Franco-Prussian war only seven men were killed by the sabre on both sides, and you could count up the men killed in our own war by that weapon on your fingers. We discarded it altogether in my command. In the ancient days when King Arthur was on earth the sabre was of some use, but it is entirely out of place in the nineteenth century. The government could save money and at the same time improve the efficiency of the service by abolishing the sabre from the army.. Fiction writers will of course cling to it, for its loss would deprive them of one of the chief articles of their stock in trade. The paper hero must 'cut his way through the ranks of the enemy' just so often or his is no good. Then, it looks well—on paper—for a regiment or army to 'charge one the enemy with sabres drawn,' etc. All that kind of stuff may 'go' in books, but it is supremely ridiculous to military men."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 4 June 2015

Charging Trench Easier Than Holding It

Charging Trench Easier Than Holding It

Takes the Disciplined Soldier to Stand the Shelling

Capt. Albert Ernest Horsman Coo

Albert Coo served in France with the 27th Canadian Infantry Battalion from 21 May to 12 Nov 1917. He was wounded in the leg at Passchendaele on 6 Nov 1917, an injury which left him unable to return to front line service.

Citation for the Military Cross

Capt. Albert Ernest Horsman Coo, Inf. - For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his platoon to the objective, and in spite of casualties succeeded in consolidating and holding the position against heavy odds, until he was severely wounded. His cheerfulness and courage were an inspiration to his men under heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, and were the means of holding the platoon together and inflicting; heavy losses on the enemy during the attack. - London Gazette 25 April 1918

The Milwaukee Journal, 22 February, 1918

"It is easy enough to teach men to charge—to get out and take a trench—but the greatest difficulty is to train men to stand the shell fire after they are in their new positions," said Capt. A.E.H. Coo, who is in Milwaukee visiting his wife and children at the home of her mother, Mrs. Thomas Delaney, 111 Eighth-st.

Capt. Coo is a member of the Twenty-seventh Canadian overseas expeditionary force [sic] and is on a leave of two months as a result of being wounded in action. He has served in France and Belgium two years.

Troops need Experience

"The training that the Americans get in this country will be almost valueless," he said, "The real training consists in getting used to the hard knocks after they get over there. The Americans are bound to have reverses until they get used to the discipline of warfare. They are less used to discipline than the English and will probably make the same errors that the green Canadians did. With orders to take the next line of trenches only, they would go farther down the road and extend their conquests and would not be able to hold any of their new positions.

"After they are trained the soldiers from the states are bound to make good. Probably of all troops the English soldier is the easiest to train. He is more used to discipline and accustoms himself tio orders easier.

Must Stand Shell Fire

"Green troops are easily taught how to charge. But as soon as they have taken a position the Germans start shelling the place, and unless the men have been especially trained to stand this they will flee to their original trench. This training cannot be given in America. It is necessary to take the troops to the actual firing line to get them used to it."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Standing Orders, Rogers' Rangers
Topic: Drill and Training

Standing Orders, Rogers' Rangers
Major Robert Rogers, 1759

Ranger Handbook, Ranger Training Brigade, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, February 2011

1.     Don't forget nothing.

2.     Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.

3.     When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.

4.     Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.

5.     Don't never take a chance you don't have to.

6.     When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.

7.     If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.

8.     When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.

9.     When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.

10.     If we take prisoners, we keep' em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between' em.

11.     Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.

12.     No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.

13.     Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.

14.     Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.

15.     Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.

16.     Don't cross a river by a regular ford.

17.     If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.

18.     Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.

19.     Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Regimental Designation; PPCLI
Topic: Canadian Army

Regimental Designation; PPCLI

Regimental Manual of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, 2012

1.     The designation of the Regiment is "Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry" and the authorized abbreviation is "PPCLI."

2.     Editor's Note. It should be noted that the word "The" is not used in the official designation, nor are periods used while using the abbreviation, "PPCLI."

3.     The term "Patricia's" is commonly used as a short title for the Regiment. Careful note of the correct use of the apostrophe should be made when referring to the Regiment or to a group of two or more soldiers from the Regiment. When referring to the Regiment as an entity, the correct term is "Patricia's" as in "the Patricia's have an honourable history." A soldier in the Regiment is commonly referred to as a "Patricia" and it follows that two or more soldiers would be referred to as "Patricias" as in "three Patricias won the Victoria Cross."

4.     Although the Regiment bears the name "Light Infantry," it has never been organized or equipped solely in the traditional light infantry manner. The designation was chosen by the Founder Hamilton Gault, to reflect the "irregular force" of his original idea, and captured the traditional philosophy of light troops, that of the "fighting, thinking soldier" epitomized by the original members and carried on by the Regiment ever since.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 1 June 2015

A Question of Uniforms
Topic: Officers

A Question of Uniforms

Military Men and Matters
The Montreal Gazette; 14 April 1894

The London Daily News says that the unsuitability of the present regulation dress of our army for fighting and campaign purposes is held by Major-General Sir William Butler to be demonstrated by the fact that whenever a little war is announced the officer who has been fortunate enough to be selected for service instantly discard all idea of proceeding to the scene of strife in the habiliments he has heretofore been wont to wear. He goes straight to his tailor and orders a fighting kit more or less in accordance, so far as clothing is concerned, with what he has worn at polo, deer stalking, or salmon fishing. Canadian homespun, Bedford cord, Indian khaki, French merino, moleskin, are severally ans collectively called for use. Indian puttees, pith, leather, or cork helmets, puggarees of various colors, strange sword belts, boots of buff, gauntlets, revolver cases, and broadswords appear as if by magic; and the man who, during his period of tuition at Aldershot or the Curragh, has been rigidly restrained to the eighth of an inch in width of trouser stripe, and the exactest measure of cuff or collar, become all at once the more variably dressed and accoutred military unit that any army has ever seen. Sir William adds that no army in the world is clothed in a manner so opposite to common sense.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 31 May 2015

In Favour of Conscription (1915)

In Favour of Conscription

Proposed for Canada—How It Might Benefit
the World, Physically, Morally and Industrially,
Even If War Were Abolished

By E.W. Thomson
Boston Evening Transcript, 24 August 1915

Ottawa, Aug. 23—Here and in Montreal your correspondent has watched for nigh a year the development of young men by military training. Many of them came shuffling into the ranks, somewhat stooped, pallid, enfeebles by loafing and pleasure rather than by work, which seldom harms anybody. Of late the standard of height and teeth and eyes has been wisely lowered a little, wherefore the new recruits look worse in physique than former batches. One change came over Bigs and Littles alike, swiftly rather than gradually, wonderful to behold, All were speedily improved in bearing, complexion, strength, aspect of self-respect and cheerfulness—this came of an excellent preliminary system of setting-up drill. The rapidity with which the men learned the manual of arms, and gained facility in tactical marching and evolutions, surprised one who had previously, for many years, lost few opportunities to watch Regulars and Volunteers in training. This rapidity was due, no doubt, to the fact that Canadian levies to Europe generally mustered a more intelligent sort of man, better educated on the whole, better reared, than commonly enter any regular army or militia force. True, the new levies here are animated by a spirit eager to gain fitness for active service, a spirit which gives them more alertness than men exercised as matter of mere routine. Allowing for this, the display yet vehemently reinforces a belief strong in your correspondent for forty-odd years, viz. that military training is so beneficial to Youth that it might well be required of all they suitably strong human males of any or all Nations, even if War had been put out of prospect or possibility by some all-inclusive League for Peace with general disarmament.

elipsis graphic

Thereafter the assembling of young men—and young women, too, for that matter—for physical drill, exercise, marching in unity, would be expedient, for the sake of the physical and moral benefits thus obtainable or secured; benefits not to be obtained otherwise, so far as experience has shown. To diffuse these benefits through a purely voluntary system, one leaving entrants free to come in when they may choose, and go out when they may choose, is not possible. The chaps who need the training most won't come in voluntarily; those unstable or likely to be misled by pleasure, or by vicious distractions, won't stay in, even as the less resolute or more erratic boys won't stick to Boy Scout obligations because these are not enforced save by opinion of their compeers. To diffuse the great good accruing from military training it must be enforced by law. That is the sound argument for conscription, here, in the States, and everywhere. That which improves Youth, enhances vigor, and enforces the excellent habit of obedience, spreads benefits throughout the whole Nation, if the service be general, no evasion allowed save for physical incapacity. The Nation is entitled to obtain these benefits by any reasonable means. Public policy requires conscription for military training, or its equivalent. No equivalent has yet been devised. That the Nation may be put to war is a consideration which but enhances the expedicny of such general training, besides being in some sort a consecration thereof.

elipsis graphic

Consider the groups and throngs of young fellow who may be seen any evening in any city, town, or village of this continent, loafing, deplorable, disgusting, shambling, grinning vacantly, caps or hats on the backs of their seemingly brainless skulls, ogling girls and women vilely, without alertness, mean in bearing, reprehensible pockets of unmitigated democracy! Observe their inanity at the boshful Shows they frequent, their devotion to the more salacious in print and spectacle! How inexpressibly better for them, and all who have to do with them, were they compelled to take military training at least thrice a week, for two or three hours a day, or evening, every man-jack of them, peculiar care being taken that the richer and idler be most strenuously required to attend regularly, under peril of strict punishment. Ten years of that would remodel the American and Canadian people, en masse.

As for the industrial effect—consider Germany and France. I well remember discussions subsequent to the Franco-German war of 1870, when Germans and French alike resorted to a much more general and thorough conscription than they had practiced before. It was contended by Pacifists, by self-elected humanitarians, that Industry must suffer hugely from compelling all men to train and bear arms for from two to three years of what Pacifists were then wont to describe as "the formative period of human life." Germany and France must decline industrially therefrom! England and The States would profit hugely thereby, their young men being free for Industry during that "formative period." What happened? Precisely what was predicted by those who then contended contra to the Pacifists. They allege that the habits of obedience, discipline, physical exertion, associated movement in unity, &c., would better Germans and French industrially, give their Nations long credits in crafts and in commerce. We all know that this prediction proved true. The conscripting Nations flourished industrially far more than ever before. Germans, in especial, fairly jumped forward in manufacture, agriculture, ship-building, trade. While Great Britain and the United States, fancying themselves unhandicapped, relatively lost, though possessing far greater colonial fields and populations than their conscripting rivals. It was really absurd to imagine that industrial efficiency could be promoted as well by generations bred in youth to loafing, as by generations bred in youth to discipline under arms. As for physique and handsome appearance—one of the most disquieting observations arising from this war is that innumerable published photographs of the soldiery engaged show, almost invariably, a wondrous superiority of the Germans in standing, strength, and countenance. Discipline and schooling shine in their faces, as well as devotion, seriousness, and addiction to high music and song. That they so often individually and collectively appear fit aspirants to supermanity, scares me. I refer to the private soldiers. Their officers, in the photographs, commonly look either almost as brutal and able as Von Hindenburg, or almost as insolent as William. Is it not an army of enthralled supermen held down and led by Demons? That is the pity of it.

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Conscription seems sure to happen to Great Britain. A very good thing that will be for the British. More particularly for their Pleasure Classes, the Idlers had long made London the Wen of the World; the worthless loafer-wastrels, who won't enlist, will take their whack "as usual," and are truly careless concerning result of the war, feeling confident that any Master who may arrive will let them wallow in their luxurious sties. To muster them all in, and lash them into discipline and seriousness would be a work of philanthropy to themselves.

Conscription is talked of for Canada! It would benefit the general physique, certainly. All right, were they conscribed for service in Canada. But to conscribe Canadians for service in Europe would be quite another pair of sleeves. This Dominion volunteered volunteer troops for the war, one that really concerns us precisely as it concerns the United States' people—of whom we Canadians ever wonder that out\r neighbors can refrain from joining in hostilities against an Autocracy that most seriously threatens to domineer over the World. But we stand in no such relation to Great Britain, nor to the war, as would warrant conscription here for service in Europe. Were general enforced military training in Canada established, the conscribed being free as before to enlist or not to enlist for service abroad, individuals of your correspondent's way of thinking could not but profusely hooray. Its costs would have to come out of the pleasures and luxuries of the Houses of Have-more-than-is-good-for-them. Wherefore it would be a piece of pure philanthropy to them, as well as to the young men of Canada. A Spartan existence all round surely ought to be brought about in these times, as sound Public Policy.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 30 May 2015

Militia Is Reorganized (1936)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Non-Permanent Active Militia Is Reorganized


The Evening Citizen, Ottawa; 15 December 1936

Reorganization of Canada's non-permanent active militia has been completed, and as it emerges from the crucible the new form of the Dominion's citizen soldiers is greatly dwarfed in respect of units but sturdily consistent as far as personnel are concerned.

Last night Hon. Ian Mackenzie, minister of national defence, released the whole plan involving the reorganization of the non-permanent active forces. These contemplate restriction of units but are compensated by compactness in efficiency. They also elevate the militia from the prospective to the actual.

In brief, the militia is cut down with respect to paper units. Regiments which previously existed in the militia list only on paper entirely disappear. Those which persevered strongly in the piping times of peace remain, some of them amalgamated with others, it is true, but still with enough preserved in their new name to identify them with their former lustre.

The last thing to complete the reorganization was the finding of a name for the amalgamated Royal Grenadiers of Toronto and the Toronto Regiment.

A compromise was established in re-naming the new unit "The Royal Regiment of Toronto Grenadiers." This was an 11th hour adjustment which the minister made.

System is Drastic

So far as units are concerned, the Mackenzie system is drastic, and has been in process of organization for a year. Reorganization of the non-permanent active forces was the one big problem which confronted the minister when he assumed office last year, and since then the entire department has been working to effect the adjustments now announced by Mr. Mackenzie.

The new militia is reduced from 36 cavalry regiments to 20, of which four are armored car regiments.

The 135 infantry regiments are whittled to 91. These are made up of 59 rifle battalions, 20 machine gun battalions and six tank battalions.

Artillery is increased by 52 new units. Field artillery batteries wil henceforth number 110, and increase of 41; medium batteries are increased from 25 to 31. The heavy batteries remain as at present, two, while the coast brigades are unaltered at two. However, anti-aircraft units are increased from one, plus two sections, to six, plus two sections, an increase of five.

Minister's Statement

In his statement announcing the reorganization, the minister said:

"In effecting reorganization of the non-permanent active militia the following principles were followed:

"1.     Reduction of the establishment to dimensions consistent with what could be mobilized and maintained, having regard to population and financial ability.

"2.     Adoption of forms of organization appropriate to modern mechanized equipment.

"3.     Distribution of units (as to strength and character of service) in proportion to density of population and the dominant occupational characteristics in the various areas.

"4.     Desirability of limiting to a minimum the disturbance of existing units; efficient units surplus to future requirements being permitted to convert to other and necessary types.

"5.     Preservation in new and amalgamated units of the battle honors, traditions, and, part at least, of the names of former units.

"6.     Full consultation with the military districts and local militia officers."

According to Districts

On the last point the minister explained headquarters had allotted to each military district the number and types of various arms and services appropriate to that district. Responsibility for detailed proposals as to the best utilizations of the approved organization within the district devolved upon the district officer commanding.

Results were attained by consultations for the district officer commanding with the officers of the units affected. Final decisions were approved by headquarters. In almost every case it was found possible to arrive at results by agreements, he added.

"In only one or two instances, where agreement could not be attained, was it considered necessary to make a decision at National Defence Headquarters," said the minister, "I am confident, however, that the decisions reached will now be loyally accepted and carried out in a spirit of good will.

Reorganization Steps

The statement contained an account of the following steps leading up to the reorganizations and an analysis of the changes effected:

Immediately after the war, establishment of the Canadian militia was set at 11 divisions and four cavalry divisions.

In 1931 an international disarmament conference was summoned to meet at Geneva on Feb. 8, 1932. Canada, faced with the necessity of filing data at this conference, notified the secretariat that in future her land forces would be limited to six divisions, one cavalry division and certain fortress and ancillary troops.

Although this decision was made by the government in 1931, no instructions to put it into effect were issued up to the time when the present minister too office on Oct, 23, 1935.

On Dec. 4, 1935, a report was laid before the minister, containing a suggested scheme for reorganization. The minister thereupon gave instructions to proceed.

A Few Units Disbanded

The reorganization is now completed. A few inactive units have been disbanded. Thirty-six cavalry regiments have been reduced to 16 cavalry regiments and four armoured car regiments.

A total of 135 infantry and machine gun battalions have been reduced to 59 rifle battalions, 26 machine gun battalions, and six tank battalion.

By conversion of cavalry and infantry units, the Royal Canadian Artillery has been increased by 41 field batteries, six medium batteries, and five anti-aircraft batteries.

Some new batteries have not yet been organized. These will be set up only as conditions in the districts require them.

Authority has been given for establishment of the Royal Canadian Engineers to 26 additional companies.

R.C.C. of Signals

On complete reorganization the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals consists of one cavalry signals, six divisional signals (two of which are distributed among several districts), two corps signals and several smaller types of units.

On reorganization each divisional army service corps is to consist of one ammunition company, one petrol company, one supply column (maintenance companies are no longer required).

In the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps 13 surplus units, most of them inactive, have been disbanded. Officers are being reposted to remaining units.

The following other branches of the services have been reorganized. The Royal Canadian Army Ordnance Corps, the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, and the Canadian Postal Corps.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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