The Minute Book
Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rations on the Western Front
Topic: CEF

Rations on the Western Front

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

"An army marches on its stomach," said Napoleon; he might have added with even more truth that it also fights on its stomach. Put a soldier in the front line, cold, wet, covered in mud, his stomach empty, and he becomes indifferent—nay, he even "looks for" a wound which will take him to "Blighty." But if the same soldier has a warm feeling in the region of his stomach, and has to let out a couple holes in his belt, he feels that the people at home can't be blamed for the mud and the wet, and it is his business to give Fritz "what is coming to him." Hence he "carries on" to the last ounce of his strength and the last drop of his blood.

The rationing of the British army is practically perfect, and rarely or never breaks down. Every twenty-four hours the Army Service Corps brings up rations to the brigade quartermaster. This officer divides them into lots, according to the numerical strength of the units to which they will be issued. By a further process of division, the supplies reach the company or battery stores. In each platoon a non-commissioned officer, usually a corporal, is detailed to draw and issue the rations for his platoon. Such supplies as fresh meats, tea, coffee, and flour are turned over to the company cooks by the quartermaster-sergeants, the individual soldiers handling only "dry rations" like bread, canned goods, jam, biscuits, and pickles. Tommy spends much spare time cooking, and, for originality if not for delicacy, his dishes would put a French chef to shame.

Here is a favourite recipe: Cut fine a half a pound of cheese, mix with a tin of canned beef, add bread crumbs and all the bacon grease available. Fry over a candle in a mess-tin and eat quickly, because, if the odour spreads, a crowd will gather, and you will either be lynched or forced to divide, according to the humour of the spectators.

Fearful and wonderful puddings are made from "plum and apple" jam, bread crumbs, and tea, and any other ingredients which come handy. Hot tea is usually the solvent for shaving soap. It may be a trifle sticky, but it has a wonderful softening effect on the stiffest whiskers, and is said to be a most beneficial demulcent.

When a soldier is in the front line, his menu will "take a tumble," because great difficulty will be experienced in bringing up hot food, especially if the Germans are bombarding. Under cover of darkness, usually about nine o'clock, the company transport—fifty men with mules and limbers—brings the rations to the entrances of the communication trenches. Here they are turned over to the company-sergeant-major, and through his distribution to the individual men. Each soldier carries what is called emergency, or "iron," rations, not to be used "except in dire necessity." These consist of a tin of corned beef, four hardtacks, oxo cubes, dry tea, and a little sugar. All fire and smoke must be very carefully screened, so as to not draw enemy artillery fire.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Ranger Creed

Ranger Creed

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

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 June 2015

The VC Centenary
Topic: Medals

The VC Centenary

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 10, No 4, Oct 1956
Written Specially for the Journal by Captain J. H. Golding, Public Relations Officer, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London, England

Early in the Crimean War, Queen Victoria wrote: "I regret exceedingly not to be a man and be able to fight." On January 29, 1856, Queen Victoria approved a warrant for a new decoration to be called the Victoria Cross—which could only be won by conspicuous bravery or devotion to the country in the presence of the enemy. From that day, the decoration became the most sought-after and it took precedence over all other orders and decorations. It ranks before the Order of the Garter which is some 600 years old. In Hyde Park, London, on June 26, 1856, the first presentation of the new medal was made when a representative parade of 9000 of the Armed Services, 7000 guests and hundreds of thousands of onlookers paid tribute while the Queen presented 61 Victoria Crosses. She was dressed as a Field Marshal and leaned from her horse to pin each medal on the left breast of the 61 heroes. One hundred years later, her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, reviewed 300 living holders of the Victoria Cross from many parts of the world. There were 36 from Canada, the oldest being 85-year-old Lieut.-General Sir Richard Turner, VC, KCB, KCMG, DSO, VD, of Quebec, leader of the Canadian VC party, who won his medal in the Boer War. A total of 1347 Victoria Crosses has been awarded since 1856: 118 to the Royal Navy, 867 to the Army, 31 to the RAF and 331 to the Commonwealth and Colonies. Today, anyone serving with the Commonwealth Forces, regardless of nationality, and whether a civilian or a member of the services, is eligible for the award. A VC has never been awarded to a woman. The Victoria Cross is fashioned from the bronze barrels of Russian guns captured at Sevastapol during the Crimean War. Supplies of the Russian bronze are unlikely to run out, since the award is rarely bestowed and scores of the massive guns are in museums. VC's are collectors' items, and it is said that while winning one is difficult, forfeiting one is impossible. Before the reign of George V, eight VC winners lost their medals for various contraventions of the law. But George V ruled that it was never to be taken from a winner—in fact, he could wear it on the gallows. A London publication noted: "The VC has been won by an American in The Canadian Army (Metcalfe), a Russian-born Canadian soldier (Konowal), a Dane serving with The Black Watch of Canada (Dinesen) and a German serving with the British in The Crimean War." Three men have won the Victoria Cross twice. Only one is living. He is Captain Upham of the New Zealand Military Forces. The other two were Captain Martin-Leake and Captain Chevasse of the Royal Army Medical Corps. While five padres wore VC's during the centenary celebrations, two assumed Holy Orders after the War, so that one of the three who won the medal as a chaplain was Major John Weir Foote, Minister of Reform Institutions, Ontario Government, Toronto.

Medal for Valour

In the Hyde Park parade of June 26, 1956, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and other members of The Royal Family stood on a canopied dais from which Her Majesty took the salute of the gallant 300 who marched as though they had been marching regularly. Those who could not walk were wheeled past the reviewing stand by soldiers of their own corps. There were 36 VC's from Canada and 98 wives and representatives of dead VC's. Australia produced 39 VC's and 111 relatives. From New Zealand came 12 VC's and 120 relatives. India was represented by 11 VC's, South Africa by six, Pakistan by two. There were three Ghurkas and others from Tanganyika, Cyprus and Fiji. The largest contingent, consisting of nearly 200 VC's and more than 700 relatives, naturally, came from The United Kingdom. Lord Freyberg, VC, commanded the parade. The Department of Veterans Affairs organized the Canadian VC party and after six months of arduous work had various groups from many parts of Canada ready to sail or fly to Britain. On the United Kingdom side of the Atlantic, Mr. Fred Jacques, Ottawa, conducting official of the main group, was assisted by the DVA Chief in London, Lieut.-Colonel Allan Chambers, Major Fred Clarke, also of DVA, and Captain Dugal Martin, Canadian Provost Corps, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London. A generous programme had been arranged by Whitehall and was executed with typical British thoroughness and that extraordinary flair the English have for dignified pageantry.

At 3 p.m. on June 25 there was a Service of Commemoration in Westminster Abbey when His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered an address. It was the quintessence of solemnity and launched a week of tribute to those recognized as the bravest servicemen in the Commonwealth. Following the Abbey service a tea party was given at the House of Commons by Sir Alfred Bossom, Bt., MP, on behalf of The Royal Society of St. George at which the VC's met members of the British Cabinet and members of Parliament. The big day, however, was Tuesday, June 26, when the grand review was held in Hyde Park. The VC's gathered in the forecourt of Wellington Barracks opposite Buckingham Palace. It was a glorious day with sun washing the newly-painted buildings which momentarily house The 1st Battalion, The Scots Guards. Asiatics came in uniform and national dress. The British wore uniform and bowlers—to a man. Canadians wore western-style summer clothing with the occasional ten-gallon hat offering contrast to the conservative bowler. They formed a colourful group. Hyde Park was a magnificent sight with the services on parade and the royal dais regally filled. Thousands of official guests sat in stands and the perimeter of the park, within sight, was jammed with eager Londoners and tourists. The sun was broiling but not a VC faltered—even the men who were wheeled past the Queen. The bands played. Hymns were sung. The radiant young Queen was most moving in her remarks, and she spoke to many of the heroes. After Her Majesty had moved off, the bands broke the noon air with martial music and the parade marched off the greensward with verve. Queen Victoria would have been extremely proud. That afternoon The Queen Mother was hostess at a garden party in the grounds of Marlborough House, former home of Queen Mary, to which the entire group of VC's and relatives was invited. The Queen Mother, accompanied by The Princess Royal and The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, moved among the guests with grace and warmth. Among those in her entourage were Earl, The Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and Countess Mountbatten, Anthony Head, the Minister for War, and General Sir Gerald Templar, Chief of The Imperial General Staff. The following day the VC party was taken to Windsor Castle to visit the State Apartments, followed by tea in St. George's Hall. That evening they were guests of The Lord Mayor of London when Aldermen and host were in ceremonial robes and moved among the guests to welcome them to London officially.

On Thursday, June 28, there was a Solemn High Mass in Westminster Cathedral at which His Eminence, Cardinal Griffin, presided. In the afternoon, The High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Norman A. Robertson, held a reception in Canada House on Trafalgar Square. Among the distinguished guests was Prime Minister St. Laurent, in London attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and Minister for External Affairs, the Honourable Lester B. Pearson. The same evening the British Empire Service League held a reception for the VC party at Church House.

On Friday, June 29, the VC's were guests of the Canadian joint Staff at the London Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Defence Research. The host for the occasion was Air Vice Marshal D. M. Smith, Chairman, Canadian joint Staff. Assisting him were Captain Ralph Hennessey, RCN, representing Commodore J. V. Brock, Naval Member; Brigadier J. E. C. Pangman, Army Member, Air Commodore Dwight Ross, Air Member, and Mr. E. L. Davies, Chief of Defence Research, and their officers. On July 1, Canada Day, the Canadian VC party went to Brookwood Cemetery near Woking to attend the annual memorial service for the several thousand Canadian dead buried there. On July 2, 24 of the VC's were special guests at a dinner of the Canada Club at the Savoy Hotel. Brigadier the Honourable Milton Gregg, VC, Minister of Labour in the Canadian Government, was guest of honour and he spoke optimistically of Canada and her future. So ended, officially, a strenuous whirl of official engagements which formed the salute to The Centenary of the Victoria Cross. Britain had done handsomely by her gallant guests. It was the first time that living VC holders had met together in one place.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 June 2015

Trench Warfare
Topic: CEF

Trench Warfare

Soldier Writes That Sometimes Months Pass Without Seeing Enemy

The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, 17 September 1916

In this trench warfare perhaps months pass without our men seeing one of the enemy. Their artillery bombards our trenches daily (we call it our ration) and rifles' and machine guns' fire goes on in a desultory fashion; every day brings its quota of casualties, and the communiques say that "everything is quiet on the western front."

That sounds most uninteresting. It simply means that no big action has taken place, but for those who are there it has been lively enough, with the constant toll of digging and repairing trenches, the carrying up of stores and rations, etc., all under enemy fire, writes William J. Adie in National Magazine. In these "quiet" times all the work is done under cover of darkness. During the day, if you could overlook the opposing lines of trenches, you would see not a sign of life—all you would see would be a few lines of earth all jumbled up and nothing would suggest war or danger to you. For everyone is underground, and no living thing could move above ground safely.

On approaching the trenches, sometimes when still over a mile away, you enter a communications trench which twists its way up to the front, passing through lines after line of support trenches until you reach the front trench, which may be only 30 yards from the enemy. Here you may move about freely unseen and perfectly safe, except when the enemy sends over his shells and rifle grenades and trench mortar bombs and other unpleasant things, in hope of hitting someone by chance.

elipsis graphic

To get under ground in this way means much labor. Someone with a fondness for figures has calculated that, considering that each side has about five lines of trenches stretching from Switzerland to the sea, that the trenches are of a certain width and depth, etc., more earth has been moved by soldiers with pick and shovel than was moved to make the Panama Canal.

And it is not as if trenches once made were permanent; shell and frost and rain combine to destroy them, and the labor of keeping them in repair never ceases. The fight against water and mud is another that never ceases. Neglect a trench for 24 hours, and in this awful land of Flanders you are up to your waist in water, so that draining and pumping work goes on all the time.

I have said that in the daytime no one moves above ground, but as soon as night falls the whole countryside swarms with men. Rations must be carried up and stores and ammunition.

elipsis graphic

All relief of troops are done at night, and at night the severely wounded are brought down, for the trenches are too narrow for a stretcher, so that the night time is my busiest time, as well as everybody else's. It is a weird business, stumbling about in the dark without lights, with odd shells and stray bullets constantly reminding you of the danger which is ever-present.

It is interesting to see th careless way in which all ranks go about their work without, you would think, any thought of the enemy or his bullets. A few months out here has one of two effects' either a man's nerves go to pieces and he is sent home for a rest, or he settles down to the work and takes everything as it comes without turning a hair.

On the whole, this regiment has been fortunate in keeping out of bad places, although we have been in some fairly big actions, and have experienced most of the horrors of war, including poison gas. At present we are well protected against gas and no one fears it, although it is very likely that the Germans will use it again.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Predicting the Next World War
Topic: Military Theory

Predicting the Next World War

An extract from War, Gwynne Dyer, 1985

We normally count only the two great wars of our own century as "world wars," but what this phrase means in practice is a war in which all the great powers of the time are involved. By that criterion, there have been six world wars in modern history: the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, the War of the Spanish Succession 1702-1714, the Seven Years War of 1756-63, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1791-1814 and the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

This is not a catalogue of random disasters. The list has an alarmingly cyclical character. Apart from the long nineteenth-century gap, the great powers have all gone to war with each other about every fifty years throughout modern history. Even the "long peace" of the last century is deceptive. Right on schedule, between 1854 and 1870, practically every great power fought one or several others. …

So why do the great powers all go to war about every fifty years? It is almost certainly because the most important international facts in any interwar period are determined by the peace treaty that ended the last war.

… At the instant it is signed, the peace settlement is generally an exact description of the true power relationships in the world. … [Once these relationships change] some frustrated power whose allotted role in the international system is too confining, or some frightened nation in decline that sees its power slipping away, kicks over the apple cart and initiates the next reshuffle of the deck. … It is easy to list the key changes that would violate or undermine the 1945 settlement in dangerous ways: the reunification of Germany, the rearmament of Japan to a level commensurate with its economic strength, or the relative economic decline of the Soviet Union to the point where it could no longer credibly sustain its role as a superpower and a guardian of the status quo.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 June 2015

"At No Expense to the Public"
Topic: Canadian Militia

"At No Expense to the Public"

In Defence of Canada; From the Great War to the Great Depression, James Eayrs, 1964

… powerful arguments … played their part in causing the government to provide the N.P.A.M. with an additional million dollars, bringing the available funds for 1931-32 to $2,600,000. Even so, the reserve militia had no more than about $15 to spend on each man of its authorized strength.

Militia life under such conditions was hard and it was earnest. The Canadian Scottish Regiment's experience was typical. "Am having a bit of difficulty with the Department at Ottawa," one of its officers wrote privately in September 1932. "They refuse to take over our Courtenay [B.C.] drill hall, and as a matter of fact refuse to consider any other obligation even though it is only $20 a month. The Agricultural Society there refuse to come down in their price, so I am between the devil and the sea. We cannot afford to eliminate 'C' Company and cannot afford to carry on with the rent." In the event the officers paid the rent themselves. [Quoted in R.H. Roy, Ready for the Fray: The History of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, 1920-1958, 1958] What they got for it was another matter. "I find that it is nearly impossible for us to carry on with our Parades owing to the condition of the … building," another officer wrote to its owners in January 1933. "Windows broken from the outside, doors broken off hinges and the front doors being opened allowing children to play there, leaving it in a filthy condition which necessitates our cleaning it up before using it on drill nights." [Ibid.]

There being no heat, one of the officers gave his lectures on "Tactics and Section-leading" in the dining room of his own home. Trainees were introduced to short-wave radio, but "at no expense to the public"—a phrase, the Regiment's historian records, "so common in the 1930's that it was frequently referred to as the motto of N.D.H.Q." [Ibid.]

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 22 June 2015

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk, M.C.
Topic: Remembrance

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk, M.C.

The Highland Light Infantry

53rd (Welsh) Division

When we think of Canadians at war, we tend to focus on a narrow set of well recognized names; among them Vimy and the Somme, D-Day, and more recently Afghanistan. But in our popular memory of Canada at War, there are so many other places, dates and people—soldiers, sailors and airmen(women) who served around the world— we overlook. Their stories have been easily forgotten because they do not coincide with one of Veterans Affairs Canada selected commemoration dates, or because the unit(s) involved may no longer exist or have a perpetuating active regiment. In many cases, such instances that do get mentioned can be either well-known, because of a family or personal research connection, to a listener or be completely unknown, in part because they have not entered the repetitious stream of media coverage of our country's past conflicts.

One of those lesser known contributions is the CANLOAN, Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers who joined the British Army in North Africa. On 5 January, 1943, it was announced that a detachment of Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers had landed in North Africa. These soldiers, the first of the CANLOAN program, would receive battle experience with the British forces, after which many would return to serve in their parent Canadian regiments, while a few would continue to serve in the British Army. Captain Joseph Hemelryk was one of these.

Hemelryuk was the younger son, out of two boys and five girls, of the children of Lt.Col. George Edward Hemelryk, OBE, JP (1881-1967), and Elizabeth Mary Smith (?-1943), of Dyserth, Flintshire, Wales. Having emigrated to Canada, he would join the Canadian Militia, being commissioned into the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and serving with the Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles before the Second World War. Joseph Hemelryk shows up twice in newspaper accounts discovered by Google archives searches. In one, published in the Ottawa Citizen on 4 September 1943, we are informed that among thousands of Canadian proceeding overseas, Captain J. Hemelryk of Brantford, Ontario, is "returning to Britain for the second time in this War."

The second newspaper mention is more sombre. Again in the Ottawa Citizen, with a publication date of 10 May, 1945 (two days after V-E Day), the sad news is presented in black and white: "Major Joseph Hemelryk, brother of Mrs. June Iley, Perth," listed as Killed in Action. This notice is listed immediately under a photograph of Lieutenant General Charles Foulkes accepting the German surrender in the Netherlands.

Capt Joseph Hemelryk, at the time of his death, was serving with the 1st Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry in the 71st Infantry Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, 30 (British) Corps. His death on 14 April 1945 came one month and ten days after the actions for which he was awarded the Military Cross.

As a Canadian, the citation for Hemelryk's Military Cross (Citation card PDF) can be found in the online holdings maintained by the Canadian Armed Forces' Directorate of History and Heritage.

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk (Can Loan)
Recommendation for the Immediate Award of the Military Cross.

1st Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry
71st Infantry Brigade
53rd (Welsh) Division
30 Corps

This officer was in command of the right forward company of 1st HLI when the battalion was ordered on the night of March 4th to gain part of a bridgehead astride the main roads in the woods N.E. of ISSUM (1926) in order to cover a bridging operation to allow the armour to advance toward the RHINE. In order to reach this objective he had to advance uphill over open ground swept by MG fire from spandau posts in the forward edge of the wood. In spite of the fact that both flanks of his Company were exposed to heavy and accurate MG fire, the Company on the left having been held up short of the wood, he put in a well organized assault on the enemy positions in the wood and succeeded in breaking through to his objective. Although this position became almost untenable by daylight as a result of an enemy counter attack astride the road on his left, Major HEMELRYK kept his company in good heart by his personal coolness and disregard for his own safety. Throughout the day of 5 Mar from exposed position under continuous mortar and small arms fire he accurately directed artillery and S.A. fire on enemy SP guns, MG posts and a tank which was little more than 200 yards from where he was.

It was largely due to his tenacity in holding such an isolated position, fine leadership and skill in directing fire under most difficult and dangerous conditions, that the bridgehead achieved its purpose and the armour was able to get through.

Joseph Hemelryk makes a case in point for how easily the memory of Canadians soldiers, including those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, can slip from our societal memory. He served in a Canadian Militia regiment that was converted to artillery in 1945 and its name lost in an amalgamation in the 1950s. He served overseas with the British Army and remained in the CANLOAN program, thus no Canadian regiment records his service and sacrifice among their rolls or remembers his service.

Joseph Hemelryk served his new country with as much dedication and commitment as any more popularly recognized soldier. He too, deserves to be remembered, as a Canadian, as a soldier, and as a fallen hero decorated for his actions in the face of the enemy.

Pervias Rectus — Always Alert
(motto of the Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles of Canada)

Montis insignia Calpe — Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar
(motto of the Highland Light Infantry)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 June 2015 12:10 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 June 2015

L'Initiative des Militaires
Topic: Leadership

L'Initiative des Militaires

"L'Initiative des Militaires," Colonel F. Gory, 1909

"For the ambitious, initiative consists in seizing every opportunity to increase notoriety."

"For disciplinarians, initiative on the part of subordinates is a misconception of their duties."

"For imaginative people, initiative is the right to do anything which suddenly strikes them."

"For lazy people initiative is the right to pass all irksome duty on to their subordinates."

"For the easy-going, initiative consists in modifying to their liking any order thay may receive."

"For the timid, initiative is the right to shirk responsibility."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 20 June 2015

Writes From Somme of the Big Fight
Topic: CEF

Writes From Somme of the Big Fight

Dawson Daily News, 5 February 1917

Harold Jukes Marshall, assayer of B.N.A. of this city, has received the following interesting letter from his brother, Major W.A.J. Marshall, of the Seventy-second Highlanders, who were recruited at Vancouver, and who have done some of the heavy fighting at the Somme:

"Guernsey, December 6, 1917—When we first went to France, we landed at La Havre, and after two days' wait went on trains to Ypres, where we had a couple of days in the trenches, and then moved on to Kimmelle, where we spent a month and thought the trench life, with the rats and other discomforts, very hard, but find it was nothing compared to where we were going.

"Near to the end of September we moved back to a little place near St. Omer. It was a very hard march of about fifty miles, which we covered in three days.

"There we went into training for the special kind of warfare in use on the Somme, and after a week there were moved down to the well-known Somme.

"On arriving there we were camped first outside Albert, in a sea of mud. The men had tarpaulins and the officers tents. We did not go into action for some time, though. Our work consisted of supplying working parties at night to fig new trenches when advances had been made, and carry up all kinds of material to the men in the trenches.

"This was particularly nasty work, because we were not fighting, but were always under fire and were continually losing men. Even in camp we were not free from shells, as the Boche often dropped a few close to us, and once in the middle of the camp, but no one was hurt.

"After that we went to the trenches to hold them, and, unfortunately, it was a new trench and when it rained the sides fell in and for three days out of seven we stood in mud up to and above our knees. The men we relieved had to dig out and when our men came out they were absolutely all in.

"It is impossible to imagine what it was like, and no matter how well it is told to you, you cannot realize what it was like, but you can think it was bad when I say the man and officers after the trip looked like walking ghosts—thin and weak. The trenches were in such a bad condition that it was hard to get food up to them, and water was scarce, too.

"The next time we went in was for forty-eight hours and the weather conditions were much better. I had then taken command of C Company and my job at that time was to go up and dig a new trench and occupy it, which we did. This had to be done under fire, and until the men had dug down to a depth sufficient to give them some cover we had quite a lively time, and never saw anything like the way they dug. The Boche was about 500 yards away. On the second morning, the thirteenth, I was hit in the arm.

"The day opened with our artillery starting a 'Hymn of Morning Hate,' as we call it, which is nothing but a heavy bombardment lasting about one hour. The Germans came back on our line with the same, as they probably thought we were coming over, and I got a piece of their shell.

"After things had become quiet and breakfast was over I went to the dressing station, and would have gone from there to the hospital only I saw the colonel, who told me we were to go over the top and take the German trench beyond Regina, which we held. So after being dressed I went back to the line and arranged everything for the attack in the afternoon.

"However, about noon it was all called off and we were relieved that night.

"After another rest of about five days we went back for a trips of forty-eight hours at most and had another trench to dig, but we did not come out for six days, the relief being postponed each day. You cannot imagine the strain of sitting in the trench with then Boche pounding you all the time with his artillery. The only thing we could do was a little sniping to help break the monotony, and we got many of his men at this game. The last day we were in it rained and we were over our knees in no time and were all soaked to the skin before we came out.

"That was our last trip on the Somme and after we started away from this area leave opened, and, being the senior married officer outside the colonel, I was first on the list, and very glad to get it.

"I will probably get back about the 15th and spend Christmas in the trench.

"I had my wound examined here yesterday and find the bone was cracked, but will be O K soon.

"I think I have covered most of my trip and all I can add would be horrors, and if you see the Somme pictures you will have a small idea of what goes on there nearly every day. Wishing you both a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 19 June 2015

Patronage and Appointments
Topic: Officers

Patronage and Appointments

Gallant Gentlemen; a portrait of the British Officer 1600-1956, E.S. Turner, 1956 (Footnoted as from: Captain F. Duncan: History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery)

This tale may be apocryphal, as no Governor of Vew York named "James Pattison" appears to have existed. The major-general may be James Pattison Cockburn, who was an artillery officer appointed to conmmmand the artillery in Canada 1826 to 1832. Most information avauilble on line regarding this officer covers his work as a painter rather than his military career in detail.

The Governor of New York at that period was Major-General James Pattison, a Gunner. One day he received a letter from a subaltern in Florida who had married without asking permission, and, feeling the pinch, had plucked up enough courage to ask for a quartermastership. How Frederick the Great's Staff would have dealt with this situation is not difficult to imagine. General Pattison was an English gentleman, and his reply, ironic though it is, shows the degree of personal, paternal interest displayed by general officers of those days in the domestic affairs of younger gentlemen, however misguided:

"The letter you favoured me with gives me, at last, an opportunity of congratulating you on your marriage. I am very sensible that it is a state which must be attended by extraordinary expenses, and wish it was in my power to enable you, with perfect ease, to defray them. I would even adopt the mode you propose, of appointing you quartermaster, if I thought the good of the service required it, but as it does not appear to me necessary for every detached company to have a staff annexed to it, I am sure you will have the goodness to excuse my incurring any extra charges upon Government which I could not properly justify."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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

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